A New England Coastal Road Trip with Vacation of a Lifetime Winner Michele Chandler

The following is a blog post from Select Registry Vacation of a Lifetime winner Michele Chandler. Here is the original publication.


The stunning Cliff Walk in Newport Rhode Island

I will admit that I am a misplaced resident in an inland province. Any opportunity that presents itself to get near the ocean is an excuse for me to ‘go coastal’. Planning this wonderful leg of the Trip of a Lifetime soothed my land-lubbing existence..


One beautiful Sunday afternoon with the convertible top down, I drove southeast towards the Connecticut shore.  What a glorious drive it was to the Saybrook Point Inn in Old Saybrook on the Long Island Sound.  The hotel provided a lovely room facing the marina, and its restaurant Fresh Salt, was a great place to sit outside and enjoy one of the first al fresco evenings of the season.


An early morning walk along the roads and shore afforded me a great initial connection to the salt air and environs.
A quick drive southbound in the state provided some further exploring, great antiquing, and back road noodling before doubling back towards Rhode Island and the spectacular town of Newport.  My previous visits here focused on the mansions and the harbour, but I took this opportunity to really explore the town on foot.


Gracious hosts Grant and Dennis, and welcoming Innkeeper Robert made my stay absolutely perfect. Their Hydrangea House Inn is wonderfully located right on Bellevue which is walking distance to everything. And even though I didn’t see Hydrangeas, I arrived right at the height of Rhododendron season.


This was my first SR trip I would say that was multi-sensory – sights, sounds but also smells. All the locations were bursting with spring blooms, perfuming the air with Wisteria, Honeysuckle, Lilac and the occasional Mock Orange. I did get some floral whiplash and had to keep focused on the road!
Hydrangea also set a very high bar for breakfast– both with atmosphere and culinary expertise. After some hugs goodbye, I set off along the Ocean Road, towards northeast Rhode Island and Cape Cod.


Another beautiful driving day through the Western Cape let me take in the salt air and arrive at a leisurely pace in Sandwich, Massachusetts-location of the Isaiah Jones Homestead. Sandwich’s location really is the gateway to the rest of the Cape, and its lovely main street and shops provided for a great afternoon diversion.
Cape Cod at its finest - pea soup fog


Owners Don and Katherine and their 2 exuberant pups were charming hosts. It was a great base to visit friends, and explore points further east, towards Chatham and Provincetown. Of course it wouldn’t be a complete visit to the Cape without some fog, and Chatham offered up the perfect socked-in day.
The rain didn’t let up all the way from Chatham up to my next stop in Concord. At this point my friend Day joined me for the rest of journey. Quick to want to explore the extensive history, the 2 of us made our way around the town and environs,sloshing through puddles and dodging downpours.


Our hosts at the Hawthorne Inn  Marilyn and Greg are long-standing SR members (over 30 years), and know how to make guests feel truly welcome. Canine companions Pashka the black shepherd pup, and elder Sky also were great to have around the property. Another highlight of our visit was Marilyn’s extensive salt and pepper collection. Providing great conversation and amusement over breakfast, I wonder if there are repeat guests that keep a log of how many ‘sightings’ they have enjoyed chez Hawthorne?


It was unfortunate that the weather didn’t co-operate for real outdoor exploration of the Minute Men history and Walden Pond, and I hope to get back to the area again before the end of the year.


The teeming rain didn’t relent as we drove up through Salem, Marblehead and onto our destination in Rockport, MA – Emerson Inn by the Sea. Truly one of the eastern outposts of the United States, the views were gorgeous as the weather finally started to break up over the Atlantic.


The Grand Dame of the Sea in Rockport, MassachusettsRockport is charming and the hotel is a Grand Dame from days gone by. Interestingly, Rockport as a town is ‘dry’, but luckily the Emerson persevered and got the first liquor license issued since before1900. A charming twist continues that you must order food with alcohol, so the perfunctory $3 shrimp was purchased to accompany a glass of rose.


Emerson is located near a residential neighbourhood replete with gorgeous gardens and vistas. We took a great morning walk to savour the landscape and fresh air. I got to meet Bruce, the owner/Innkeeper over breakfast and we discovered that we shared a common bond with degrees from the Cornell Hotel School – it really can be a small world.


Driving north towards Maine, the weather just got better and better. As we pulled into Kennebunkport, the sun shone and the temperatures rose for our stay at the Captain Jefferds Inn.


886829_origOf course the mantra once we crossed the state line, was “LOBSTER, LOBSTER, LOBSTER”! Spring crustaceans are always wonderful as the water is still so cold, and shells are hard, so every opportunity I had, was seized with lobster every which way.


But truly one of the highlights of our visit was our stay with Sarah and Erik, the Innkeepers at Captain Jefferds. We arrived happily in the middle of the Kennebunkport Food and Wine festival. All the local SR properties participate in a tasting event and Sarah graciously extended the invitation to Day and I.



Feted with Blueberry pies, Lobster rolls, Moxie (the state beverage) and Coffee Brandy (the other state beverage) it was really hard to leave Kennebunkport. But with the sun blazing, and the top down, it was a short drive north to Freeport.


Goose Rocks Beach - Maine strutting her stuff..

Driving along as much coast as possible the huge beaches of southern Maine really strutted their stuff on what was probably the first warm weekend of the season. Wherever we had the opportunity to drive coastally, we did, and stopped to walk in the sand and take the sea air in.


The Brewster House was a destination I was looking forward to, after my cyber introduction to the Innkeepers Scott and Mary. Scott had been sending me funny emails before our arrival, so I knew that this would be a good visit, and it didn’t disappoint!


From a midnight run to LL Bean – yes they really are open 24/7 – to watching the Belmont Race in our room with our own picnic, it was a very relaxing and comfortable stay.


Scott & Mary in Freeport at the Brewster HouseWhat a gorgeous setting that was! Our balcony overlooked the natural harbour, and had it not been for the gigantic mosquitoes, all the windows and doors would have been left open all the time. It was just warm enough for Day to jump into the ocean, and actually float around before racing out. The charming town beach was packed on this hot Sunday afternoon, and I could really see why people worship Maine as a summer destination.


The Dockside Inn has charming accommodation and a stunning restaurant. This seasonal property operated by Eric, Carol and their son Harrison really stole my heart. To me this is what Maine is – coastal, rugged, warm and welcoming.


Day and I could not stop giggling about the local beer – Smuttynose – and became quite fascinated with its lore and that of the other off shore islands in the Isles of Shoals.


After a great morning walk, and breakfast al fresco, we bid our hosts goodbye, with an offer by me for adoption in lieu of residency privileges. We took a quick detour through the town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and then turned inland towards the Berkshires.


Quinn of the Birchwood Inn

Our final destination was Lenox, Massachusetts, a very different topography and climate from the past 7 days. Our elegant Innkeeper, Ellen, and her constant companions, Quinn and Charlie greeted us warmly at the gracious Birchwood Inn.


The Birchwood has great public rooms, porches and stunningly appointed suites. Ellen is also one of the “Broads”, so by now I have met 3 of the 8 notorious female Select Registry chefs.


In front of Ellen's elegant Birchwood InnRight across the street from the Inn are miles and miles of trails, so a hike before breakfast let us work up an appetite. We saw beautiful mountain vistas, and some unusual wildlife before returning to Ellen’s amazing repast.


The weather had turned cool again, so the top was back up on the car as I drove west on the NY State Thruway, with some residual salt spray on the paint to remind me of 8 days of serendipity.

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