When I was 11 years old, the number one song on the radio was “Please come to Boston” by David Loggins. The catchy tune opens with the line “Please come to Boston for the springtime.” Since this month’s magazine features “spring getaways” you’ll understand why that particular song has been bouncing around my brain. That’s because when it comes to spring trips, my favorite, by far, was a weekend that started in Boston. And when I tell you where I went from there, all in the span of 24 hours, you’ll think I’m fibbing but the truth is these fabulous destinations are all just a stone’s throw from the Capital Region and quite doable on a modest budget. So grab a friend, pack some snacks and let’s go for the ride.
We’ll start our day at 8am backing out of your driveway, destination Boston. Most of you have been to Bean Town before but I’ve learned a few tricks along the way. For starters, I want you to use your phone’s GPS and punch in the New England Aquarium. Less than three hours after you leave home you’ll be turning off a surface street into the aquarium entrance. There’s a big garage but don’t park there; instead, park next door at the Marriott Long Wharf hotel. Just pull out front and tell them you are not checking in but would like to park the car for a couple of hours and the valet will take the vehicle. It’s not cheap but boy is it convenient. Ten seconds after pulling in, you are out of the car and can now cross the street to visit the aquarium or walk a block over to Quincy Market.
However, before I do either of those fun things I like to pop into the Legal Seafood restaurant (which is right in front of you) to get a bowl of clam chowder. There’s a reason they ship that chowder all over the country; it’s that good. That bowl takes the edge off your growling tummy and you are now ready to shop or eat some more in Faneuil Hall (next to Quincy Market). If you are feeling romantic, take a horse and carriage ride down the cobblestone streets over to the North End and if you’re itching to shop, hop a cab over to Newbury Street. I try to limit my time in Boston to three hours because we have places to be.
Once you’re back in the car, tell the GPS you are going to historic Salem which is only 25 miles away. It will take you less than an hour unless you are actually a witch and can fly your broom there. Salem is a delightful place with unique shops and people. I suggest the trolley ride, which shows you everything and comes with a live narrator to answer your questions. You can hop on and off where you please and I highly recommend the Witch House where the judge in charge of the Salem witch trials actually lived. Very neat place. Oh, and keep your eye out for real life witches because they really do live here.
When you’ve cast a spell or two, hop back in the car and drive 17 miles up the coast to Gloucester. This is where they shot the film “The Perfect Storm,” telling the real life drama of fishermen lost at sea. There is a memorial right there along the beach with a haunting statue of a fisherman hanging on for dear life. Take a moment to read the names of all those lost. You’ll be tempted to eat here but wait and drive another 4 miles north to Rockport. There is a lovely shopping area (as seen in the movie “The Proposal”) and marvelous places to eat. My wife and I found one at the end of a pier where the waves lapped the rocks just below our table on the deck.
When you are full and exhausted, spend the night in one of the B&Bs or motels near the water. Then when you wake the next morning to the sound of the ocean, grab your box of candy from The Fudgery (Rockport’s best sweet shop) and set your sails for the trip home. You’ll be back in your driveway in a little more than three hours with lots of wonderful memories. If you play your cards right you can do this trip on a tank of gas and three Benjamin Franklins.
When your friends ask you on Monday morning what you did over the weekend you can say, “Well, we went to Boston and had fun at the aquarium and shopped and ate the best chowdah. Then went to Salem and met a real life witch. Then we stood on the very dock where George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg shot a move. Then we walked hand in hand down the street where Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock fell in love in Rockport. How about you? Oh, you did laundry? Well that sounds like fun.” Happy spring!