For most of us, the ideal winter activity is snuggling up on our couch with hot cocoa, reading the books piling up on our bedside table, or catching up on our favorite shows. But after COVID lockdowns and long hours of working from home, a “staycation” has lost its appeal. For all these reasons and more, trips along the Downeaster train are perfect for a weekend getaway.
You can plan your entire itinerary ahead of time. Or make an impromptu plan as there are five daily scheduled Amtrak trips on the Downeaster line to accommodate last-minute ideas. Here are some destinations and activities to consider on your Downeaster trip.
Portland is a great destination for outdoor activities, shopping and culture, offering something for every age group and interest. But this city is worth a visit for the atmosphere alone. Home to the novelist Stephen King, Portland is the site of many living eccentric characters including “The Whistler,” who was once arrested for whistling too loudly in one spot during his daily walks around the city, and a gentleman who prefers riding his horse into town instead of driving a car. Described here is just a small sampling of Portland’s eccentric magic, and there is so much more to enjoy. While in Portland, relish in Maine’s tradition of a hand-caught lobster meal, and end the trip with a well-crafted beer, from one of the city’s best breweries.
If you live in New England, you have likely gone apple picking in the fall. Now for the winter months, consider a visit to the cider farm that brews cider from heritage American apples, the kind of apples you may no longer be able to find at the grocery store. Portersfield cider farm and tasting room is 10 minutes from downtown Freeport. A visit to the cider tasting room can be timed after a winter hike in one of several parks around the Freeport area.
Exeter, New Hampshire
The city is most often associated with the prestigious Phillips Academy, one of the oldest independent residential high schools in America. There are also many surprising historical elements here that make Exeter an interesting place for a quick visit. In this small city, you can view one of the last surviving original prints of the Declaration of Independence. The American Independence Museum was established after one of the original printings was discovered under the floorboards in 1985. The one-acre museum is a lovely educational stop. There you will discover that the city celebrates National Independence Day on July 16 because as the story goes, it took two weeks for the Declaration of Independence to arrive from Philadelphia in 1776.
Dover, New Hampshire
Dover is the oldest settlement in New Hampshire. A walk on the road that rings the downtown area provides an opportunity for visitors to view the old mills from the early 1800s. The mills are a window into America’s industrial revolution era. There are also several great restaurants for food in the area, especially La Festa Brick and Brew if you are looking for a great slice of pizza. The highlight in Dover is the Children’s Museum. The fully accessible Children’s museum in Dover is a great day destination for people with children. The museum offers several exhibits, along with workshops and classes for children of all age groups.
For vacation-worthy food and activities without traveling out of state, give Haverhill a try. From burgers and beer at The Hidden Pig to pastries and cappuccinos at Battle Grounds Coffee and beyond, there’s no shortage of great dining options downtown. Take in the snowy grounds of Winnekenni Castle or take a class at The Yoga Tree’s indoor and outdoor studios. No need to stay the night, just hop on the returning Downeaster and get back to Greater Boston in no time.
For more ideas for day trips and local travel destinations, visit our blog archives. We’re focused on your future, wherever it takes you! Senné Associates are licensed in a number of areas around New England. Contact our team today to start your real estate journey.
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