For my first real full-time job after I finished college I worked at a company that had head offices in Gloucester, Massachusetts. My position required that I had to learn a specialized programming language and the firm wanted me to come from Montreal, where I was living and employed at the Canadian branch, to the Gloucester office to take training courses for two days each week. Once I got a taste of Massachusetts hospitality I knew I would be headed back on my own time!
Gloucester has over 60 miles of coastline with so many stunning views to enjoy. It is a fishing community and there is fresh seafood at every turn. The town is so picturesque it has been used in many Hollywood movies including: The Perfect Storm, Captains Courageous, Mermaids, and The Russians Are Coming to name just a few. The town itself is in close proximity to so many interesting things to do, see and visit. It makes a great base for travel and vacationing.
With summer right around the corner after our frigid and long Montreal winter, my husband and I were beginning to plan for our family vacation and because I liked Gloucester so much we decided to plan a road trip there. There is nothing quite like packing up the car and heading out on the road for an adventure.
Headed on the road trip was my husband, my five-year-old daughter and I. We knew our ultimate destination was only a 6 hour drive from home and we decided to drive straight through rather than stop along the way.
I spoke to one of my colleagues and she suggested I stay at the Bass Rocks Ocean Inn on Atlantic Road. The first thing we noticed when we got to the hotel was the incredible view. It was located directly across from the Ocean and you could hear the waves crashing on the rocks. The owner of the hotel was very friendly and helpful and my family quickly experienced that good-old New England charm – the people of Massachusetts are friendly, welcoming and helpful.
On our first day in Gloucester we planned a visit to Good Harbour Beach. The beach is one of the most popular ones in Gloucester and rightfully so. There is a long stretch of white sand that overlooks the Atlantic and it is great for children because it does not get deep fast. You can wade out literally a couple of hundred yards before hitting waist deep water. There was so much to do – we climbed on the rocks, played in the sandbar and looked for crabs at low tide. My daughter, Robyn was very impressed with the crabs and kept chasing them. I am not sure if the crabs were that impressed with her. We loved the Italian ice that was sold on the beach. This was just one example of the beaches in Massachusetts. We visited Crane Beach in Ipswich which is as good as any beach I have visited in the Caribbean. A different and memorable experience was Marblehead. Some parts of the town especially along the coastal road are like a mini-trip to Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Stunning homes and views with lots of access to the sea. Of course Devereux Beach was lovely for a picnic. With more than 1500’s miles of seacoast in Massachusetts there are countless beaches to choose from.
We spent a lot of time eating in Gloucester and the surrounding areas and I have to say we had some of the best seafood, period! – Especially restaurants featuring Portuguese and Italian style preparation. Although dining is a subjective experience, Massachusetts offers some of the most unforgettable dining experiences I’ve enjoyed anywhere. With literally hundreds of options at our fingertips, it was quite easy to enjoy a different form of ocean-based fare every single day of our vacation.
Another experience we tried was whale watching. We had no idea what to expect. Robyn was very excited and was ready to be on the lookout for whales. When we arrived at the Yankee Whale Watch the staff were not only professional, they were personable. We were more than pleased with the whale sightings – we saw five humpback whales in all. Not only did we see the whales but the crew gave us the history and biology of marine life and answered all the questions we had. We had an amazing and fun trip thanks to the kindness, helpfulness and knowledge of the crew.
Since Salem, Massachusetts was a short 25-minute drive away we decide to visit one day. Salem was the location of the famous witch trials in 1692 and most of the city’s culture is identified with this. From the Wiccan shops, witch museum, police cars with witch logos and Halloween there is so much to do it is hard to choose. We browsed the streets of the quaint little town and it was lovely to explore. We decided to go to the Salem Witch Museum where they give you a walk through a history of the witchcraft lore. The visit was particularly interesting because the first famous witch of Salem was Sarah Good. When my husband told the tour guide his last name was Good she made sure to stay a fair distance from us. She feared that my husband might have been sent back by Sarah Good from the beyond for revenge!
Because we had only planned for a 6 day trip there were several things we wanted to do we that we had to skip – like visiting Cambridge to see Harvard and MIT, attending a Boston Red Sox or Boston Celtics game and visiting a few galleries and museums. We just added them on to our bucket list for future visits.
Massachusetts has more institutions of higher learning per capita than any other state and the folks there are devoted fans of their professional sports teams – not to mention avid participants in amateur sports as well. A key point that was driven home to us and enhanced our vacation while rambling around the state is that modern America in many respects started in Massachusetts – from Plymouth Rock on down through Paul Revere’s Ride you are surrounded by well-preserved historical sites that enrich any vacation and enthrall both children and adults. Whether you’re at the home of the Kennedys or the New England Patriots, Massachusetts represents America at its best and offers Canadians excellent vacation opportunities. Don’t forget that everywhere in Mass is closer to Montreal, Toronto and the Maritimes than it is to the rest of Canada!
Of course there is something for everyone in Massachusetts and what trip would be complete without a trip to the Outlet Malls and Massachusetts has plenty of them. I got to choose from dozens of designer and name brands and picked up quite a few bargains to take home.
Our vacation ended too soon and we had so much more we wanted to see. Massachusetts is really somewhere you can go for all types of vacations. There is excellent shopping, beautiful beaches, historic monuments, outdoor adventure, tons of entertainment and delicious food that can all be enjoyed in a single day. What’s unique about Massachusetts is there is no need to choose a beach vs. city trip because you can do both.
Our family visited Massachusetts many times after this trip and we made so many loving Mass memories that we have shared over the years. Our first vacation to Massachusetts went down in our family history as the best vacation ever.
So make sure to start planning your family vacation to Massachusetts today and create lasting family Mass memories. Head over to the Massachusetts Tourism website to plan your vacation. To find out more about Massachusetts head over to their Vacation blog to read up on the great events and destinations Mass has to offer.
Good News! You can enter the “Massachusetts Memories” contest to WIN a $500 Air Canada Gift Card and be on your way to experience all that MA has to offer! It’s easy! All you have to do is vote on where you would like to create your Massachusetts Memory.
Sheblogs Canada is hosting the #TakeMe2MA Twitter Party where they will be discussing Massachusetts as a top travel destination…. and you’re invited! So don’t forget to attend the twitter is – @sheblogsmedia and the hashtag is #TakeMe2MA. Mark your calendar and don’t forget to attend – May 29, 2014 from 7‐8pm
Disclaimer: Although this post has been generously sponsored by Massachusetts Travel and Tourism, the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect Massachusetts Travel and Tourism.