A Fall Break in New England
Visiting New England in autumn must be the best time to see the region. I was really looking forward to the postcard like views of trees in the seasonal colours of reds, yellows and orange and it didn’t disappoint. The autumn was definitely in full swing. The sun was shining, the air was crisp cold and all types of maples were proudly displaying their stunning colours. Perfect!
Boston is only a short flight away and a trip on the biggest plane in the world is a treat in itself. As we had a nippy SUV with our package, we decided to explore a bit of the region. We booked a few days in Cape Cod and a few nights in Boston which perfectly combined relaxation with discovering the sights of the big city.
Cape Cod is less than two hour drive from Boston airport and is a popular summer destination. It has everything you need – beautiful clean beaches stretching for miles, sea food, quaint shops and a much needed relaxed atmosphere.
We arrived in Cape Cod at the end of the season and everywhere was pretty quiet. It was a sort of blessing in disguise as we had beaches to ourselves and we didn’t have to queue anywhere. There were a lot of pretty little towns on Cape Cod which reaches out to the Atlantic like a bent arm. We stayed in the charming town of Chatham located just at the elbow of that bent arm in the amazing Chatham Bars Inn hotel overlooking a quiet bay. Warmed by a roaring fire in our cosy room, we walked along the private beach looking for crabs, breathing in crisp air and watching the boats coming in with the morning catch.
Chatham’s Main Street is lined with art galleries, shops selling local goods and restaurants offering famous lobster rolls and clam chowder. While we were there, the town was all set all for Halloween with its annual charity pumpkin patch sale at the main church and a Pumpkin People in the Park organised by the local Chamber of Commerce and promoting local businesses. The kids loved that.
The Land of Beaches and Lighthouses
One of the best bits about Cape Cod is that due to its geography it has numerous sandy beaches and some stunning lighthouses lined along the coast to warn the sailors of the treacherous waters around the peninsula. The whole eastern part of the cape all the way to the top belongs to the National Seashore Park with six stunning beaches to explore, each with its own interesting natural features, and some with cultural associations.
We chose to visit Marconi Beach due to its place in the radio history as this is the place where an Italian inventor, Marconi performed the first successful wireless transatlantic transmission in 1903. My husband is a radio journalist so it made sense to visit the place where it all started. The vistas from the top of the sandy cliff were absolutely stunning. It proved to be a great vantage point for my younger daughter who was desperate to spot a whale or a shark in the distance after seeing plenty of warning signs at the entrance.
As a change of scenery, we also followed a short Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail. It is a mile long nature trail that meanders through the thick forest into a swamp environment and hosts Atlantic white cedar and red maple trees which were showing their beautiful autumnal colours.
Another beach definitely worth visiting was Race Point Beach which is at the top of Cape Cod near Provincetown. Looking around us there was just a single ranger’s house in the distance, an old Life Saving Station and nothing else for miles. As it was famously put by one of the 19th century writers visiting Cape Cod, A man may stand there and put all America behind him. No wonder people choose to come here to be closer to nature and to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
On the Way to Boston
You don’t need to be a whizz in American history to notice that New England, and Massachusetts in particular, had very strong connections with England. Whilst driving along the coast towards Boston you are constantly reminded by the names of the towns and roads that this once used to be a British colony.
Boston was definitely my kind of city. It had history, old buildings, sky scrapers and plenty of fine shopping. It is also pretty well contained so you can easily walk and see all the sights without hopping on the tour bus.
We only had two half days to see the most important sights in Boston and it definitely can be done. I would recommend treating Boston Common as a starting point. The walk round this oldest park in the US is a must, especially in the autumn when all the trees change their foliage. From here you can either aim west towards Newbury street where all trendy and designer shops are or you can head east and engross yourself in the American history and follow the famous Freedom Trail.
The Best of Both Worlds
Newbury Street and the area around it is packed with fashionable designer shops, expensive hotels and plenty of trendy restaurants and cafes. There are also a few big shopping malls that were a great shelter from the cold weather that we experienced during our stay. The area provides a very impressive combinations of historical design like the rows of Victorian brownstone homes or the breathtaking Trinity Church with contemporary skyscrapers towering above.
As Boston was the cradle of the American Revolution, not surprisingly, there are quite a lot of reminders of that point in history around the city. The best thing to do is to follow the Freedom Trail which starts near the Park Street subway station and is, basically a red brick line in the pavement that the tourists follow to see all the main historic buildings.
The red brick line took us past the graveyard where all notable figures are buried, past the architectural beauty of the Old State House building still bearing the British lion and the Scottish unicorn showing the past British dominance here. The Trail continued past the site of the Boston massacre to the Faneuil Hall which houses some amazing street food vendors and proves to be a very popular and busy lunch stop.
Unfortunately, this was the end of the trail for us as we had to make our way to the airport but there was definitely plenty more to see and explore. It will have to be continued next time we visit Boston and New England as it is one of those places your want to come back to.