There's Nothing Common About the Salem (MA) Town Common

We couldn't resist showing you a few more perspectives of Salem, Mass., this one from the Salem Common. Founded in the 17th century, this large, historic district provides a wonderful setting for a downtown district stroll. Amazing, well-preserved 18th century homes surround this eight-acre Common that also features a beautiful gazebo (pictured below), well developed paths, plenty of benches and an overall sense of peace and quiet. Directly across from the Salem Witch Museum and a couple minutes' walk to the impressive downtown Salem shopping district, be sure to put this on your list of things to do when visiting Salem! Book a room in Salem MA at the lowest available rate

A Sweet Cupcake Experience at Butter Cafe and Bakery in Walpole, Mass.

Cupcake display at Butter Cafe and Bakery, Walpole, Mass. (photo by Eric)

We have tasted many fine cupcakes through the years, but Butter Cafe and Bakery in Walpole, Mass., comes up with flavors that "take the cupcake" in the Boston area.

Root beer, blueberry pie, red velvet, orange creamiscle, Andes mint, ice cream sundae, peanut butter cream, Boston Creme Pie, and their own version of a Hostess cupcake (much, much better than the Hostess brand!) are just a few of the cupcakes offered at Butter Cafe and Bakery that are nothing short of mouthwatering.

Butter Cafe and Bakery is also a great spot for breakfast and lunch with some creative, delicious dishes like the braised short rib grilled cheese and pressed duck sandwiches -- but be sure to not to miss out on these delicious cupcakes!

Butter Cafe and Bakery is located at 935 East St., Walpole MA. Tel. (508) 668-2123


Cheese Rolling Competition Rolls into Belfast, Maine, July 20-22

Today's New England public service announcement (PSA) podcast focuses on a cheese rolling competition to be held this summer in the beautiful coastal town of Belfast, Maine. This calcium-rich event is one of the more unusual attractions that has come across our news desk in quite sometime, but it sounds awfully fun and an event we might just attend ourselves! For full details, click on the audio clip above.

Thanks to the Office of Maine Tourism for tipping us on the event. If you have a travel-related PSA that you'd like to hear announced through our blog, drop us a line and we'll consider it for broadcast. Thanks, and happy travels!

Book a room in Belfast Maine, at the lowest available rate

Dude, That Pinterest Social Media Site is Unbelievable!

Last night, I had this rather interesting dream about a social media competition, and the judges were Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler from American Idol. Their focus was on judging the hot social media site, Pinterest.

In the dream, Randy started out by saying, "Yo, yo, yo! Dawg, every time I think I have seen it all, someone like you comes along and gives its own special voice to social media. When you hit your visual note, I was like, "yo," this social media site can rock! You are definitely in it to win it! Dude, you were unbelievable! I mean, that was dope, man!"

Next in the dream, J Lo said, "Pinterest, you know how much I love you -- you know, that you make your social media site so visual and full of pretty images like flowers, arts and crafts, and fashion. And it's that visual element that makes you so special. I know you're new to the social media game, so you've got to keep believing in yourself. You've been great all along and I think you have what it takes to be in the finals of social media (BIG SMILE)."

Then, in my dream, Steven Tyler said about Pinterest, "That was beautiful, man, you've nailed this social media thing. Great job!"

Now I don't know what Randy, J Lo and Steven think of Pinterest in real life, but I can tell you that it has been a godsend for my social media program here at our web sites and blogs. Quite simply, Pinterest allows us to give our readers a comprehensive visual tour of New England unlike anything we've ever done before.  You can start following our Visiting New England pinboards right here.

Ultimately, Pinterest allows us to help you, the reader, with your New England trip planning  -- whether it be a vacation or a day trip. It's like the online version of taking a touring bus across New England. Ever wondered what pristine Acadia National Park in Maine looks like? We've got some amazing photos on our pinboards. Curious about what it feels like to be on sunny Cape Cod in the summertime? We have personality-filled downtown and beach shots of quintessential Cape Cod on our pinboards. Looking for a hidden New England travel destination, but worried that it will be too boring or more aligned with the movie "Deliverance?" Don't worry, you'll be able to get a taste of the what the area is like through photos and, often, descriptions -- or links leading to detailed articles. Curious about what our New England cities are like. We have lots of photos that, figuratively, rise above the skyline!

I'm liking the way our New England pinboards are coming together, and hope you do, too. For your browsing ease, we have categorized pinboards that include Favorite New England Places, Bucket List New England Hotels, New England Restaurants, Affordable Travel, Family Friendly Lodging in New England, Romantic New England Dining, Date Night Restaurants, Diners and Roadside Restaurants, Best Shopping and Classic Family Attractions. We also have locally-flavored pinboards on Food and Drink, Wicked Good Ice Cream in New England, The Amazing York Beach (Maine), Main Streets Across New England (my personal favorite!), Connecticut Scenery, Maine Scenery, Massachusetts Scenery, New Hampshire Scenery, Rhode Island Scenery and Vermont Scenery. We have also set up "Share Your New England Vacation Photos," as well as a "Goodwill in New England" pinboards to get the word out on New England businesses and organizations that do a lot of good in the community.

I hope you get to see what Pinterest in all about, and looking at our New England pinboards. Happy travels and we hope you find New England to be unbelievable, dude!

Podcast: Maine Outdoors Adventure Announcement

 We are excited to bring you our first New England Travel News Network podcast, focusing on a great resource for outdoor adventures in northern Maine. You can access this news by clicking on the audio player above.

Thanks to the Office of Maine Tourism for tipping us on the valuable resource!

If you have a New England travel related news item that you'd like to hear announced at the New England News Network, drop us a line at Have a great New England day!

Spring is a Great Time to Visit Kennebunkport, Maine

I was thinking this morning about a nice place to visit in New England on a great spring day like this.  Kennebunkport, Maine, instantly came to mind.

In reality, I won't be able to travel there due to prior work commitments, so the following pictures will be a prime motivator to put Kennebunkport on the "very near future" travel calendar...

Colorful Dock Square (pictured above), is such a fun place to shop -- so many neat, colorful mom and pop shops there. For dining, we always go to Allison's for a great cup of chowder and 
fresh catch" seafood special...

There's nothing quite like getting out to Goose Rocks Beach and enjoying the spring solitude while strolling the expansive beach...

Or enjoying some windy weather and fantastic water views by the rocky Maine coast at Cape Porpoise...
Driving along Ocean Avenue (pictured below), is always a treat with more great water views. Farther up the road from Dock Square, you'll find some amazing waterfront resorts and inns like the Colony Inn and Nonantum Resort.

Beautiful, isn't it? I guess the moral of this story is "When you're in doubt on where to travel in New England during the spring season, go with Kennebunkport!"

Book a room in Kennebunkport, Maine at the lowest rate

Cheers to a Famous Boston, Mass., Restaurant Tourist Attraction!

Cheers Boston (Photo by Eric)

We're generally not big on over hyped tourist attractions, but sometimes you just have to say "Cheers" to some of these popular spots. Case in point: Cheers Boston, the inspiration for the hit TV series "Cheers" and where exterior shots were filmed for the show.

From the crowds to the souvenirs, Cheers Boston indeed has tourist attraction written all over it. On the other hand, it's a very well run bar/restaurant with friendly service (including the bartenders) and a casual, comfortable atmosphere. For a burger and brew -- or other bar food basics and drinks -- Cheers is a perfectly acceptable restaurant to dine. I think if it wasn't a tourist attraction, some of media hipsters and various elitists would like this restaurant. I like to look beyond the obvious. In this case, I really see Cheers not only as a tourist destination but also a very solid restaurant. Plus, what would a visit to Boston be without doing the time-honored and tested "tourist" thing?

Cheers Boston
84 Beacon St.
Boston MA
(617) 227-9605

World Travel Guide on Full Day Hatta Desert Safari

Dubai is one of the fastest developing cities in the world. In fact, there are many modern architectures being developed in the area such that it is slowly but surely turning into a modern vacationeer's dream vacation. But if you are an adventure lover, there is still a reason to visit this city because you can hop on the Full Day Hatta Desert Safari for a one of a kind experience. Hang on tight and clip your seatbelt in this world travel guide that will make your vacation quite unforgettable.

The Full Day Hatta Desert Safari tour usually begins at 9:30AM wherein participants of the tour will ride a four-wheel drive vehicle for a taste of the desert. After the vehicle departs from the city in the morning, the tourists will be taken to a dune drive, which in itself is quite an experience already. You will go through a variety of terrain for the whole duration of your drive as you make your way to Hatta. The spectacular scenery is something that is picture-worthy, so don't forget to bring your camera for this desert safari tour!

In addition to the undulating desert, you will also pass by rocky mountains and trails. The first stop for this tour is the Hatta Heritage Village. A world travel guide to Dubai won't be complete without getting some historical background about this former mountain village. It dates back to the 16th century wherein you will learn more about the life and development of this village. This is also where the tour stops for your lunch to be served.

It won't take long though until you proceed to a lush greenery that surrounds these rugged mountains. You will once again embark on a drive over the golden sand dunes in the desert. Tourists can also stop for a while and take in the view of the canyons. This is quite a tranquil scene, so make sure to enjoy it to the fullest when you make a stop on the Full Day Hatta Desert Safari tour. In addition, you will visit a camel farm to get up close and personal with these desert animals. As the tour draws to a close, savor the fabulous view of the sunset along the desert. This is one of the memories that you will cherish most from this tour.

By the end of your Full Day Hatta Desert Safari tour, you can head straight to the Evening Desert Safari Dubai Drive, if you like. This will be held in a desert camp that is fashioned to look like a traditional Arabian feast, complete with belly dancers, Arabian carpets, aromatic Sheesha, and Arabian meal – all of it under the canopy of brightly glistening stars.

This world travel guide on Full Day Hatta Desert Safari will surely bring you memories that will surely last.

Enjoying the Peaceful Coastal Setting of Jamestown, R.I.

Newport, R.I., is a favorite vacation destination to many visiting "The Ocean State," but let's not forget about the less-hyped towns and cities worth seeing in this small but packed-with-things-to-do state. The other day I was driving through Jamestown, R.I., and felt instantly attracted to the small town charm in this community with little more than 5,000 residents. The downtown is low-key with a few restaurants (a few with outdoor seating), galleries and service shops, but it looks great when juxtaposed with the pleasant, scenic views of the Narragansett Bay. At the small park area located by the Bay, you'll also see fine views of the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge that leads to Newport.  You can really have the best of both worlds in Jamestown, enjoying its peaceful coastal setting or driving the bridge en route to Newport.

Here are some photos I think capture the serene feeling of Jamestown...

This view of the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge is one I could look at all day!
I thought about how lucky the people of Jamestown are to have a downtown with water views framing an already pleasant central district.

New England coastal scenery doesn't get much better than this!

As you can see, Jamestown really has a nice location and one worth staying if you like your vacations a little less busy. Hope you get to see this great Rhode Island town! Book a hotel in Jamestown RI at the lowest rate

The Essex St. Pedestrian Mall in Salem, Mass., Offers Vibrant Shopping, Restaurant Scene

Essex Street Pedestrian Mall, Salem, Mass. (photo by Eric)
The Essex St. Pedestrian Mall in Salem, Mass., rivals some of the best northern New England small coastal city downtown districts like Market Square in Portsmouth, N.H., the Port Exchange in Portland, Maine, and central Newburyport, Mass.

In this section of a great North Shore city, you'll find an extended brick and cobblestone stretch of mom and pop shops, boutiques and galleries, coffeehouses, cafes and restaurants -- many that are housed in beautifully restored historical buildings. I had a chance to walk the Mall on a warm spring day, and, quite simply, was amazed by its appeal. We all know Salem is most famous for its witch attractions and the Peabody Essex Museum (known for its outstanding art and cultural exhibits), but the Essex St. Pedestrian Mall is a destination by itself. The restaurant scene has grown significantly with diverse cuisines (I had a terrific lunch at the cozy, eclectic Front Street Coffeehouse), and you'll find places that sell books, toys, clothes, ice cream, baked goods and everything you would expect in a vibrant downtown district. The difference here, however, is that the sense of history is well intact with its 18th and 19th century architecture and that cars will not interfere with your downtown shopping experience.
The East India Marine Hall at the Peabody Essex Museum and the Essex St. Pedestrian Mall (photo by Eric)

We can hardly wait to visit during the summer when I'm sure things will be even more festive and the warmer weather will be ideal for evening walks and outdoor dining and entertainment.

Growing up in the area, I don't quite recall downtown Salem ever looking this nice. It shows what a little vision and follow through can do when local elected and appointed officials, the community and business people come together. Coupled with the witch attractions, the beautiful nine acre Washington Square Town Common surrounded by spectacular early to mid 19th century dwellings and the pleasant Pickering Wharf district with more shops and (waterfront) restaurants, Salem has truly become a major travel destination. Once a personal "B" list travel spot, it is now on my "A" list!

For more information on Salem, I recommend logging onto the Official Salem MA Guide, or stopping by the Salem Visitor Center at 2 New Liberty Square (around the corner from the Pedestrian Mall). Hope you get to visit this great small city!

The Salem Old Town Hall, just off Essex St., is a prime example of historical preservation in Salem. (photo by Eric)

Visiting Woodstock in the "Quiet Corner" of Connecticut

I had a chance a few weeks ago to revisit Woodstock, located in the "Quiet Corner" of Connecticut. Largely unspoiled and with quintessential New England elements intact, this beautiful little town best represents the "Quiet Corner" region with its downtown skyline being a tall white steeple, well kept old homes that never fail to make me say "Wow!" and an absence of commercial and industrial development that fly in the face of our modern world. I highly recommend visiting here is you like peace and solitude, a sense of historical preservation and memorable rural scenery of farms, forests and landscapes that seem virtually endless. It really feels like you're a million miles from civilization here. I'll now let the pictures do the talking to give you a taste of one of my favorite towns in New England...

The Roseland Cottage was once a summer home to a wealthy New York family and now can be toured between June 1 and October 15. As you can see, it's really a spectacular sight! touring the home, you'll see steep gables and stained glass, boxwood parterre garden, a bowling alley, garden house, aviary, carriage barn, ice house, various outbuildings and some beautiful landscaping.

The Town Cemetery has a beautiful rural look, further enhanced by scenic rolling hills in the distance.

No real New England town is complete without a stately, old church. Here in Woodstock, you can really feel that authentic New England presence.

The Inn at Woodstock Hill sits on a hill overlooking those amazing rolling hills. We've stayed here several times and consider this charming inn the ultimate getaway. I think even the most stressed out person would be forced to relax here.  You can read our full review on the Inn at Woodstock Hill here.

World Travel Guide: Experience The Wild Side of Emirates Mountains

If you are looking for more variety in your vacation to Dubai, why not try a trip to the Emirates mountains? Indeed, it can still come as a surprise to many that there are several activities in store for tourists who are in for adrenaline rush in this part of the world. Buckle up, for you are in for some wild ride! This world travel guide is going to take you for a ride to the wild side. You will kick off your tour to the mountain trails in the Emirates in the morning.

You are free to explore these mountains on your own. However, it would be best if you can get a tour package because you will have an established itinerary and you will be driven around in a four wheel drive vehicle. Thus, it should be easy for you to get around to some of the most notable tourist attractions as you traverse the Emirates mountains. Some tours also include pick-up from and drop-off to your hotel after the tour, which will add more to your convenience.

If you are in for a wild adventure at the mountains, this world travel guide suggests you check out the East Coast and Hatta. You will begin your journey by stopping along the Lehab sand dunes. Then, you are off to a very long tunnel carved straight to the Emirates mountains. Meanwhile, the rugged Hajar mountains is teeming with lush greenery all around it, so this one promises to be a meandering route that would suit any adventure seeker.

While you are in the midst of this breathtaking and adventurous mountain trail, it is best to stop for a moment and let everything sink in. Take time to admire the cliffs and watch the valleys. This is when a camera would come in handy, too. And if you're tempted, take a dip at the tempting cool and blue waters at the wadis. If you're that adventurous, why not go on a short trek along these mountain paths? Or, enjoy a picnic lunch as you marvel at the sights around you.

The scenic drive to and from the East Coast to experience the Emirates mountains up close is a truly unique experience. Most tours along the mountain trails of Dubai will feature a speaking guide so you can also have some glimpse into the culture and history of the place.

This world travel guide also recommends wearing the appropriate clothing for your trip along the Emirates mountains. For most part of the year, light summer clothing is good enough. But when you are visiting during the winter months, don't forget to bring your jacket or sweater as these mountain trails can be quite chilly.