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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Massachusetts: Bouncing around the Bay State
TRAVEL Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2012-02-28

This article shared 2 times since Tue Feb 28, 2012
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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is also known as The Bay State and located in the New England region.

Boston is the capital and a good place to start the journey. The Inn @ St. Botolph makes a great home base for downtown Boston. The place is modern, masculine and maintained by the guest. It has a virtual check-in with a key code so there's no need to even see anyone at the front desk. It is basically like having a private apartment with a living room instead of a hotel feel to it.

There is a huge mall around the corner; another option is to head over to the Bully Boy Distillery, where founding members Will and Dave Willis make small limited run batches of rum, whiskey and vodka. These farm boys gave up previous careers to make spirits for local restaurants and bars.

The Boston Railway and bus system was very easy to use and on par with Chicago. Take the green line over to Haymarket Square where the area is quite charming with restaurants and nightlife. Tucked away on the Waterfront is Aragosta. The Italian cuisine is prepared before your very eyes at the chef's counter by chef David Daniels, and it literally melts in your mouth. Don't miss signature drinks such as a S'more martini or the oak sage margarita.

After dinner try local karaoke or visit Club Café with a fun photo booth, music and dancing. There was an appearance by RuPaul Drag Race star Pandora Boxx the night I was there.

Take the Reverse Walk Into History Tour with up to 16 historic sites such as Paul Revere's house.

For lunch after the walk Bin 26 is a welcome change, serving 200 wine selections. The cocoa tagliatelle with porcini mushroom is a must try at this Beacon Hill restaurant. If you still have you walking shoes on then continue down side streets to see the architecture and picture the history of this area.

Tourists love the Sam Adams Brewery as they sample award-winning beers and learn about the brewing process.

Don't miss the hip Island Creek Oyster Bar. Fresh oysters and seafood work in harmony with atmosphere with this newly opened restaurant that is packed on the weekends. The setting for the television show Cheers is nearby in this upscale neighborhood.

For a luxurious stay spend the night at the Hotel Marlowe. This Klimpton Hotel rates four stars and comes complete with a roommate, a fish named Francisco, to keep the weary traveler company.

Anytime is the perfect time to visit the bewitching city of Salem ( although Halloween might be best ) . The feeling of the Salem witch trails still hang in the air as tours go over the history of hysterical young girls in the summer of 1692 causing townspeople to be accused of witchcraft. Using life sized figures and narration viewers are sunk into a world where witch-hunts were commonplace. Afterwards take a walk through the history of witches to learn that maybe they aren't all bad from the Wizard of Oz to current day Wiccans. TV Land even placed a statue of Samantha from Bewitched in the town square as an homage.

The House of the Seven Gables raises the roof on history with a large collection of antiques and architecture inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Shops are in walking distance ran by modern day witches selling fortunes and trinkets.

Finz Seafood & Grill serve a raw oyster bar right by the bay. The stoli-wasabi oysters are very popular with the locals and a must try.

Many people enjoy the Peabody Essex Museum including the Yin Yu Tang house inside that is over 200 years old. There are other collections housed inside from Asia to Africa.

Take a train to Gloucester, which is the United States' oldest seaport and is still one of the busiest harbors on the eastern seaboard today.

Not too far from the train station lies the Sleeper-McCann House is originally owned by gay designer Henry Davis Sleeper, who created each room with a theme. The tour really emerges the viewer into the living quarters of one of the world's first interior designers.

Family-owned Ryan & Wood Distilleries makes vodka in large vats or try some from the Cape Ann Brewing Company with their long hall style seating to meet the neighbors.

For dinner be submerged under the ocean at Latitude 43 and nosh on fish & chips.

If you like modest accommodations and bright sun, check out the Blue Shutters Beachside Inn that is just steps from the Ocean in Cape Ann.

It was women's weekend in Provincetown and there are several ways to get there. The Bay State Cruise Company offers a high-speed ferry that was a bumpy ride on a windy day or Cape Air brings travelers across the great divide in about 30 minutes as opposed to the driving around the arm of Massachusetts for four hours.

The Sunset Dune Tour takes visitors by car through the sand to see where artists have lived with no electricity or running water ending with a clambake at sunset.

The Harbor Hotel at the tail end of the strip offers retro styled rooms and ocean views. There are many timeshares and bed & breakfasts along the road. Expect to pay big money for some but the views are breathtaking.

The Mews Restaurant was a bit of a walk from the hotel but well worth it. The service was top notch and on Bravo's Tabatha's Salon Takeover this hotspot was used as a lesson for customer service. Also featured on that reality show was Dougie Freeman's salon and spa where celebrities drop in such as Anderson Cooper getting manicured privately a few years ago.

For women's weekend, there were performers up and down the strip from comedian Kate Clinton to rock group Betty. Fantasia week was the following week, and it spotlights transgender people. Provincetown is an LGBT mecca, where people of all sexual orientations can really cut loose. Gay bars were easy to find with Atlantic House ( or commonly referred to as A-House ) being the most popular to dance late night at. Also try Shipwreck with a cozy outdoor fire pit and friendly staff or Purgatory for the grittier tourist.

Located in the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is one of the safest and LGBT friendly areas in Massachusetts. Pilgrims actually landed in Provincetown making Plymouth the second settlement. Learn all about this and more by taking a trolley tour around town picking guests up at the town square.

The Bay State provides, among other things, seafood, history and distilleries. With a quick flight visitors can be vacationing in no time. Recommended times to travel are any time after April. The sunshine, tours and architecture are not to be missed.

For more information on travel to Massachusetts, visit www.massvacation.com .


This article shared 2 times since Tue Feb 28, 2012
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