Monday, April 9, 2012

Wolfeboro Chamber of Commerce is a Great Starting Point for Visiting Wolfeboro, N.H.

What a great introduction to Wolfeboro, N.H., when the Chamber of Commerce is located in an absolutely beautiful, historic building called Wolfeboro Station!

We highly recommend visiting the nice folks at the Wolfeboro Chamber of Commerce before exploring Wolfeboro, N.H., and surrounding communities. Wolfeboro -- nestled on the eastern shores of Lake Winnipesaukee -- goes beyond just being a place with a lake and some cute, little shops, inns and restaurants. It is a classic New England small town with lots to do, but not in an overbearing programmed "Hey, everybody, look at how much fun I am having" kind of way. Museums, sightseeing tours, theater, concerts, arts and crafts shows, community dinners, hiking trails, scenic back roads drives and boating, fishing and swimming opportunities await you in a truly underrated area of New Hampshire. It just feels normal here, not some phony manufactured marketer's dream.

Known as the "Oldest Summer Resort in America," Wolfeboro might not have that high profile personality of some other New England travel destinations where every vacation element is at your doorstep. To me, Wolfeboro has so many memorable vacation peaks and very few valleys -- a place where you might have to explore a little more to capture the true magic of the area. I have experienced this feeling time and time again, starting as a kid and getting to know the area better as a young adult. You come away with an added appreciation upon every visit, it seems.  Now well beyond a young adult, I hope to get to know this Lakes Region town even better after not visiting for several years.

Again, we highly recommend chatting with an expert on the region at the Wolfeboro Chamber to fully maximize your Wolfeboro vacation. I regard them as some of the nicest, most knowledgeable Chamber people I've talked with around New England.

If you have been to Wolfeboro, we'd love to hear your comments!

Related article:
Wolfeboro, NH offers rest and relaxation in America's oldest resort community 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Visiting Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream in Mystic, Conn.

Let's continue the ice cream blogging one more time by giving a shout-out to Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream in Mystic, Conn. Now, it's always good to find an ice cream place in a great travel destination like Mystic, and even nicer when the ice cream, atmosphere and service are outstanding. The ice cream is definitely more expensive, but it's well worth the slight increase in price. The reason: most ice cream has a higher volume of air, which means less taste. You'd be surprised how many well-known ice cream places employ this method. Creating one batch at a time of creamier, superior tasting ice cream with premium ingredients, as well as frozen yogurt and sorbet, really elevates this ice cream into our personal "Best of New England" category. When visiting here, I always get the "Lemon Chocolate Kiss," a mouthwatering combination of, surprise, lemon and chocolate!

The atmosphere is bustling and the frequent lines move right along due to some skilled, well-trained employees. What's more, we love sitting outside in the summer on the narrow deck overlooking the Mystic River. Right next to the Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream is the Mystic Drawbridge, an awesome sight. The 21 ft. long Mystic Drawbridge has a counter weight of 230 tons each and movable span length of 85 ft.  That means the moving parts are really heavy and the overall size of the operating elements of the bridge gigantic!

Mystic Drawbridge also serves sandwiches, wraps, salads, fresh baked pastries, and some very good coffee, but we like the ice cream the best!

Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream is located at 2 West Main St., Mystic CT. Tel. (860) 572-7978. We recommend checking the Mystic Drawbridge Web Site for seasonal hours.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kimball Farm is Westford, Mass., a Classic New England Ice Cream Stand

We all love those classic New England ice cream stands -- rural ambiance and all -- but it does absolutely no good if the ice cream is lousy. Fortunately, Kimball's in Westford, Mass. (about an hour northwest of Boston), has kept its long-time quality tradition intact by serving what we feel is some of the best ice cream we've ever sampled in New England. Whether a traditional vanilla or a creative gingersnap molasses, the ice cream is always richly flavorful here -- and served in generous portions. Kimball's also has two state-of-the-art miniature golf courses, an outdoor grill and seafood shack a bumper boat area, an animal petting area, arcades, a golf putting area, driving range and batting cages. The setting is beautiful -- not touristy at all -- and the overall experience some of the most fun we had when traveling New England last summer.

I remember when Kimball Farm was just an ice cream stand. Those were truly memorable times driving in my dad's wood paneled station wagon 40 minutes west of our home to enjoy ice cream as the sun went down. I think of all the special memories back then; however, I like Kimball Farm better in the 21st century. With more flavors of ice cream and all the other activities going on here, it's easy to spend a morning or afternoon at this landmark ice cream stand -- so you just don't go for an ice cream cone and then drive home. Kimball Farm is clearly more of a complete New England travel attractions destination now! Be sure to get here if you're in the area!

Favorite ice cream flavors:
Gingersnap molasses
Orange pineapple
Black Raspberry
German chocolate fudge
Cherry vanilla chip

Kimball Farm is located at  400 Littleton Rd., Westford MA (Route 110). Tel. (978) 486-3891. I'd recommend visiting the Kimball Farm Westford Web Site to find out seasonal hours and what's open and what isn't!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Baked Ziti Reigns at Mario's, Lexington, Mass.

Mario's Italian Restaurant in downtown Lexington, Mass., has been around, seemingly, forever. A small, slightly noisy and always crowded restaurant, Mario's makes some amazing homemade baked ziti with the right combination of layers of pasta, seasoned ground beef and tomato sauce, and a creamy cheese Bechamel sauce cooked to a golden brown. Mario's also makes some very good pizza and other pasta dishes, but I always make it a point to get the baked ziti here. There's nothing quite like it in my restaurant book -- and that includes those pricey, higher profile restaurants in the area. Hope you get to try some, whether as a local or a tourist visiting historic Lexington!

 Mario's is located at 1733 Mass. Ave in Lexington, Mass. Tel. (781) 861-1182

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Best Lobster in New England Pinterest Pinboard

We were fishing for some new ideas for Pinterest pinboards and thought it would be a great idea to create a "Best Lobster in New England" pinboard.

Highly visual and showcasing some of the best lobster shacks and full-service restaurants in New England that we and our friends embrace, these are definitely "go-to" dining spots for local lobster and lobster rolls. Some lobster dining destinations you'll see on this Pinterest pinboard: Barnacle Billy's in Ogunquit, Maine, Abbott's Lobster in the Rough, Noank, Conn., Woods Seafood in Plymouth, Mass., and Markey's Lobster Pool in Seabrook, N.H. That's just a sampling so for a full-course online tour of more incredible lobster destinations in New England, we recommend following this appetizing pinboard for current photos and descriptions and future updates!

Related articles:
The best lobster rolls in New England
Maine lobster salad from the Maine Diner
Seafood dining, Rhode Island style

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bath, Maine, Earns a 2012 "Great American Main Street" Award

Congratulations to Bath, Maine, for being chosen by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a 2012 Great American Main Street Awards winner. The National Trust chose only five communities in the United States "whose successes serve as a model for comprehensive commercial district revitalization." Other winners include Culpepper,Va., Jacksonville, Ill., Valley Junction/West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, Mo.

I know it must have been a daunting task for the Preservation to choose towns and cities for this award, as so many communities in our great country have worked so hard to improve their downtown districts. Locally, I think of, in addition to Bath, Melrose, Mass., Wakefield, Mass., Bellows Falls, Vt., and Saco, Maine, as shining examples. That being said, I believe that Bath was a fine choice for this accolade. Last time, I visited in 2008, Bath really impressed me with its nice mix of stores and restaurants, and the renovated historic commercial buildings displaying good signage and American flags. There's clearly a pride of ownership element going on here.

As a sucker for the "Main Street USA" look, it was a revelation to see the independently-owned Wilson's Drug Store, Bath Book Shop, Bath Sweet Shoppe, the historic-looking J.R. Maxwell and Pub bringing and other local businesses bringing an appealing back-in-the-day look to downtown Bath. All in all,  it was really a pleasure to visit this revitalized downtown! I suppose that's what happens when there's a mandate for equal representation amongst Bath businesses, residents, and city government to improve its community. Every town and city should follow this model!

"It's the dedication behind the 'Main Street' team that really helped change Bath," said Samantha RickerGoad, the director's assistant at VisitBath. "The downtown has completely turned around from 10 years ago. The people here can be proud of where they live. We've always been known as the home of Bath Iron Works, which is very special, but I always knew it could be so much more...It's definitely the quintessential New England downtown."

As a kid in the 1970s, I remember a more different Bath. If my memory serves me correct, downtown Bath looked like any other gritty small industrial city. I didn't want to be here as a place to stop for lunch, especially after visiting beautiful Acadia National Park and Boothbay Harbor.

Now it's a different story in Bath. Although you can still see some gritty elements, I believe this works to Bath's advantage -- that is, the "roots" of this city remind us of the great shipbuilding industry while keeping the community from becoming just another gentrified, overly precious reclamation project. I look forward to seeing continue relevant, appropriate development in what is one of my favorite small cities in all of New England!



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