Our travel writer shares his New England summertime favorites, from the best beach to the perfect miniature golf course - The Boston Globe (2024)

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It may sound brazen, but I’m declaring Island Line the best bike trail in New England. And that’s just the start. After years of disagreeing with best-of lists, I decided to create my own. I’ve lived in New England my entire life, and for the past decade, I’ve enjoyed exploring it further for work. I’ve seen influencers with far less experience and acumen declare themselves experts. Why not me?

I carefully pondered categories, leafed through old notebooks, and consulted with fellow New Englanders. So, my friends, here it is, the inaugural edition of Christopher Muther’s Completely Random and Highly Personal List of New England Summertime Favorites.

Our travel writer shares his New England summertime favorites, from the best beach to the perfect miniature golf course - The Boston Globe (1)

Best Beach: Misquamicut State Beach

Declaring any beach superior to another is a sure way to upset New Englanders. They’re either angry you didn’t mention their favorite beach, or they’re angry you did. I’m calling Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, R.I., the best because it has more facilities than most (playground, concessions, outdoor showers, and wheelchair accessibility), plus, the ocean water will not give you frostbite. I love Ogunquit Beach in Maine, but I’m just not a cold plunge kind of guy. When you’re done at Misquamicut, grab a drink on the Verandah at the Ocean House, which is just 10 minutes away. 257 Atlantic Ave., Westerly, R.I., riparks.ri.gov/beaches.

Best Miniature Golf Course: Putters Paradise & Ice Cream

This is one of the most challenging categories to narrow down. New England has so many old-school miniature golf courses with amazingly kitschy obstacles that I felt guilty choosing one. My first inclination was to give the win to the delightfully bizarre Miniature Golf on the Village Green in Natick. The 60-year-old course is focused on the American Revolution, and kids are always begging to play American Revolution-themed miniature golf. With apologies to the Founding Fathers and Natick, I think the best course can be found at Putters Paradise Mini Golf & Ice Cream in West Yarmouth. It’s filled with memorable obstacles (A pink octopus named Princess Tina! A maniacally happy dolphin!), and the course is well-maintained and challenging enough for all ages. 119 MA-28, West Yarmouth, 508-771-7394, www.puttersparadise.net.

Our travel writer shares his New England summertime favorites, from the best beach to the perfect miniature golf course - The Boston Globe (2)

Best Boston Roof Deck: Long Bar, Raffles Boston

Boston’s rooftop eating and drinking scene has experienced a growth spurt over the past decade, which made choosing a favorite city roof deck harder than I anticipated. I was ready to give this category to Deck 12 at the Yotel in the Seaport (and I still recommend it), but the patio at the Long Bar elevates al fresco imbibing, and not simply because it’s located on the 17th floor of a posh hotel. There are some drawbacks to the terrace at the Long Bar. It’s a hard place to score a table, and the menu isn’t necessarily wallet-friendly. But the views of the Back Bay and the innovative co*cktails make up for its shortcomings. Pick a special occasion, or make one up, as an excuse to experience it. 40 Trinity Place, Boston, 617-351-8888, www.raffles.com/boston.

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Our travel writer shares his New England summertime favorites, from the best beach to the perfect miniature golf course - The Boston Globe (3)

Best Glamping: Huttopia White Mountains

Huttopia, a French-owned chain of glampgrounds, has found the magic formula between old-school camping and modern comfort. Their tents (particularly the Trappeur tent) actually feels like camping. It’s still a canvas tent, but it also has a bathroom, comfy beds, and a basic kitchen inside. You can opt for a more rustic experience (the tiny Bonaventure tent), or go full glam in the modern and chic Vista tiny house. Either way, make s’mores by the fire at night and pretend you’re roughing it. The New Hampshire location is situated on 50 acres of lakefront forest and is in the heart of the White Mountains. There’s also Huttopia in Sanford, Maine. Prices generally range from $125 to $350 depending on the season and availability. Pine Knoll Road, Albany, N.H., 603-447-3131, canada-usa.huttopia.com.

Our travel writer shares his New England summertime favorites, from the best beach to the perfect miniature golf course - The Boston Globe (4)

Best Way to Beat Summer Traffic: CapeFlyer

I’m here to deliver good news, and, of course, bad news. The good news (in case you missed it, and a lot of people have) is that there’s train service between Boston and Cape Cod. The CapeFlyer has been around for 11 years and runs from South Station to Hyannis with stops in Braintree, Middleborough, Wareham Village, and Buzzards Bay. It’s 2 hours and 20 minutes of watching scenery instead of taillights. The bad news is that the CapeFlyer’s schedule is incredibly limited. The train runs one round trip per day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. On Saturday and Sunday, trains depart South Station for Hyannis at 7:45 a.m., and depart Hyannis back to Boston at 6:10 p.m. On Fridays, the train runs in the evening. Boston-to-Hyannis round trip tickets are $40 ($20 for seniors). You can bring your bike on the train at no charge, or, when you get to Hyannis, you can take the free trolley service around the town and to the beach. capeflyer.com.

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Best Hike: Flying Mountain Loop, Southwest Harbor

Flying Mountain Loop in Acadia National Park isn’t a well-guarded secret trail only used by locals and in-the-know hikers. It’s quite popular. Despite this, I’ve never encountered crowds when I hike Flying Mountain. That could also be because I steer clear on weekends, or perhaps vacationers are more intent on tackling better-known hikes. Their loss is our gain. Flying Mountain is the shortest labeled peak in Acadia, but despite the limited height, it offers sweeping views. It’s a quick, mile-and-a-half round trip hike. The trail is labeled moderate, so it’s better for kids who are a little older and active adults. But it’s a limited physical investment with a big payoff. In less than an hour, you see Somes Sound and the surrounding mountains stretched all around you. The entire hike usually takes less than two hours, but it can go much longer depending on how often you stop to gaze at the scenery. 96 Fernald Point Road, Southwest Harbor, Maine, www.nps.gov.

Our travel writer shares his New England summertime favorites, from the best beach to the perfect miniature golf course - The Boston Globe (5)

Best Maple Creemee: Canteen Creemee Company

I’m brazenly declaring a lot of superlatives in this list, but even I’m not foolish enough to think I could possibly choose the best place to get ice cream in New England. It’s like trying to choose which one of your cats (or, for most people, children) you love most. But, I’ve eaten more maple creemees than anyone should be legally allowed to consume in a lifetime, and can hands-down say that the Canteen Creemee Company in Waitsfield, Vt., has perfected the creamier-than-soft-serve creemee. It’s rich, smooth, and the maple tastes fresh. Canteen Creemee gets inventive with chocolate, cinnamon, and ginger creemees, and by all means, you should try them. But their best offering remains the original maple. 5123 Main St., Waitsfield, Vt., 802-496-6003, www.canteencreemee.com.

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Our travel writer shares his New England summertime favorites, from the best beach to the perfect miniature golf course - The Boston Globe (6)

Best Beachfront Bargain Lodging: The Surfside Hotel

Escaping to a seaside hotel at the height of summer in New England is not for the faint of heart. Both procuring a reservation and paying the nightly rate can be daunting. However, there’s a dreamy retro hotel on Long Island Sound in Connecticut that was recently renovated, sits on the beach, and is priced around $250 a night through most of July and August (price always changes with demand and availability). The Surfside Hotel in Stratford opened just after the pandemic with rooms that look like a breezy mashup between the Hamptons and Southern California. I’m highlighting the Surfside in an effort to get you to check out the beaches in this part of New England, and also so you’ll explore the rest of Stratford. The town has 18 miles of shore, plus a museum dedicated to railroad and model railroading (Boothe Memorial Park and Museum), the National Helicopter Museum, the Ruby and Calvin Fletcher African American History Museum, and even a museum dedicated to the Merritt Parkway. You laugh now, but on a rainy day when you can’t go to the beach, you’ll be thanking me for the Merritt Parkway Museum recommendation. 10 Washington Parkway, Stratford, Conn., 475-476-7873, www.thesurfside.com.

Best Fried Clams: Bob’s Clam Hut

New Englanders are obsessed with lobster rolls. We debate what temperature they should be served at, if they should be dressed with mayonnaise or butter, and if the roll should be grilled or not. While all of that crustacean controversy is happening, I’m content to sit in the corner, away from the cross fire, and devour a basket of fried clams. Unlike the lobster fracas, there’s no bickering over what constitutes a perfect batch of fried clams. They should be meaty, but not rubbery. Hot, but not just-out-of-the-fryer scalding. Battered, but not lost in breading, and just a touch over-salted. We are blessed to live amongst so many clam shacks, but there’s one that makes them best. Bob’s Clam Hut has been perfecting the art of frying clams since 1956. I’m not the kind of person who takes pictures of their food, but everytime I’m at Bob’s, I take a photo of my fried clams and text it to my mom to make her jealous. She does the same. Strangely, I never tire of seeing those pictures. 315 US-1, Kittery, Maine, 207-439-4233, bobsclamhut.com.

Christopher Muther can be reached at christopher.muther@globe.com. Follow him @Chris_Muther and Instagram @chris_muther.

Our travel writer shares his New England summertime favorites, from the best beach to the perfect miniature golf course - The Boston Globe (2024)
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