Sunday, February 26, 2017

Top 5 Things to do on Cape Ann, MA

Cape Ann is a rocky cape located northeast of Boston, Massachusetts. With its peaceful coastline and iconic northeast flare, it is the perfect seaside escape. Here are the top 5 things to do on Cape Ann.

1. Whale Watching
Whale watching is a must do while visiting the northeast and there is no better place to do it than Cape Ann. Grant and I went through Capt. Bill and Sons Whale Watch out of Gloucester, MA and had a great experience. We were able to see humpback, fin, and minke whales as well as a basking shark on our tour. I would go again in a heartbeat. For more information on whale watching on Cape Ann go here.
Humpback whale

Basking shark

Fin whale

2. Explore BearSkin Neck 
BearSkin Neck is located in Rockport, MA. The area is loaded with local shops and delicious  dinning. We had a great time exploring and taking in all of the northeastern architecture. Parking is a challenge in the area though, so expect to park a distance away and walk.

View of the harbor from Bearskin Neck

Iconic building in Bearskin Neck

3. Halibut Point State Park
Halibut Point State Park is also located in Rockport, MA. The park offers easy trails and serene coastal views. It is the perfect place to spend a few hours taking in the beauty of Cape Ann. For more information and pictures go here.

Lighthouse at Halibut Point State Park

4. Relax on the beach
Most of Cape Ann's shoreline is rocky but there are beaches. We stayed at Cape Ann Motor Inn which was located right on Long Beach in Gloucester, MA. The beach was absolutely gorgeous and the perfect place to relax. Grant and I ran along the beach one morning, enjoyed stargazing, and I even watched the sunrise (for pictures and more about watching the sunrise on the beach go here). Relaxing on the beach is another must while visiting Cape Ann.

Long Beach

5. Eat great seafood 
Cape Ann is a wonderful place to check out fresh and local seafood. Our goal was to try as much fresh seafood as possible and we were successful!
A few of our favorite places were:

The Pub at Cape Ann Brewing Company
We enjoyed typical bar food at the Pub and some local brews.

Growing hops at Cape Ann Brewing Company

Roy Moore Lobster Co.
Grant and I enjoyed a lobster roll and crab cakes at this small restaurant in Bearskin Neck.

Captain Carlos
Captain Carlos was the perfect place to grab a bite to eat after our whale watching excursion. The patio was a great touch as well!

Mile Marker One Restaurant and Bar
A spot for great seafood and a good bowl of clam chowder.

Outside of Mile Marker One Restaurant and Bar

Cape Ann is a beautiful place to relax and take in the beauty of the northeast coast. We had a great experience during our time here and cannot wait to come back! 

Been to Cape Ann, what was your favorite activity? Comment below! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Whale Watching off the Coast of Massachusetts

Whale Watching was one of the most humbling and exhilarating experiences. Seeing these gentle giants in their natural habitat is like nothing else. It is hard to put into words how quickly I fell in love with whales after seeing them in nature.

Capt. Bill and Sons Whale Watch
Grant and I booked our whale watching expedition through Capt. Bill and Sons Whale Watch, out of Gloucester, MA  and were not disappointed.

Laura and Grant

Our Trip
We took the Miss Cape Ann out and had a pleasant time. Miss Cape Ann was a spacious and very accommodating boat. The trip lasted between 3 to 4 hours but I could have watched the whales all day, if they had let me. At first, we wanted to be on the upper deck but it was full; therefore, we found room on the lower deck. I think finding room on the lower deck was a blessing because we were able to go inside the cabin to escape the chilly wind on the ride to and from seeing the whales. Also, we were able to stand along the edge of either side of the boat, at the front, to be in a prime spot to see the whales. If ever in Gloucester I would highly recommend Capt. Bill and Sons Whale Watch.

We paid $48 each for the trip. The price seemed very reasonable and was totally worth it. I would recommend eating before because the food was pricey and they only accepted cash on the ship.

What to Bring
Jacket- As I mentioned before, the wind from the ocean is chilly even if it is a nice day out. A jacket of some sort is a smart choice.
Camera- This seems obvious but should be said. I would recommend a camera with some sort of strap. I saw lots of phones being held out over the water. It just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.
Sunscreen- All that sun shinning off the water will increase those UV rays, so sunscreen is a good choice.
Sunglasses- Makes it so much easier to see the whales underwater, especially if they are polarized.

During our trip we saw two humpback, 10 fin, and eight minke whales, as well as a basking shark! We were only able to see the minke whales from afar but we got a close up of two different humpback whales, a fin whale, and the basking shark. I will never forget the feeling of a humpback whale swimming right under our boat! It was absolutely amazing! The crew did a wonderful job of spotting the whales and also giving us great information about them. Whales are absolutely amazing animals and I truly hope they are around for many years to come.
Fin Whale

Basking Shark! 

We were so close that my larger zoom lens couldn't zoom out enough to get its full length in one picture

Such a peaceful animal

Humpaback Whale

I was so excited about this shot!

Everyone on the boat was looking to get the perfect whale tail photo

One of the humpback whales loved to turn on its side 

It was so amazing when they would pop up right by our boat! 

I will most definitely be doing more whale watching in my future. It is an experience that should be put on everyone's bucket list. I would highly highly recommend doing it.

Have you been whale watching? Where is the best place? Comment below!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

10 Things to Do in Boston

Boston, Massachusetts is a city filled with history and excitement. Although we only had two days to explore, we were able to see a big chunk of the city doing these 10 things. For us they were the perfect combination of activities to get the most Boston has to offer.

1. Boston Red Sox Game
Any sports fan will appreciate a Red Sox game. The atmosphere is amazing and the stadium is filled with baseball history. We went to an evening Boston Red Sox vs Baltimore Orioles game. Even though we are not Red Sox fans we really enjoyed going to the game and the entire experience.

Laura and Grant at the Orioles and Red Sox game

Grant had fun getting action shots of the game

2. Samuel Adams Brewery Tour
Calling all beer lovers! Samuel Adams does an amazing, free (they do ask for/accept donations) brewery tour. The best part of the tour was the free beer at the end! We were able to sample 4 different beers and got to keep our sample glasses. We even got a free pint glass with our coupons from the duck tour we went on.

Outside of the brewery

Brewery tour

3. Take in the History
As a 5th grade teacher, who teaches the American Revolution, I was extremely excited to take in all of the history that Boston has to offer. From the site of the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party, there is so much to see. It is amazing to see the sites where our founding fathers were planning our country's independence. One of the best ways to do this is to walk the freedom trail. Although we did not have the time to walk the trail, I plan to do so when I get the opportunity to go back.

Site of the Boston Massacre

Boston Massacre

Site of the Boston Tea Party

4. Aquarium
As I have said before and will surely say again, I love aquariums! As soon as I found out Boston had an aquarium I was hooked. I was impressed with the main features of the aquarium but honestly thought it might be a little larger. We really did enjoy getting to see all of the aquatic life though.

Penguins at the aquarium

5. Duck Tour
Now non-touristy people bare with me here. A duck tour is a very touristy activity but when time is limited, it is a great way to see a HUGE part of the city in little time. The tour guide also is able to point things out and give information that might have otherwise been overlooked. It's not for everyone but don't count it out just because it is too touristy.

Duck tour

6. Enjoy Local Eats and Seafood
Seafood is a must while in Boston.We ate at a cafe that was set up outside of the aquarium in June.  All of the seafood was caught safely. The food and service were both great!

Loretta's Last Call
Loretta's was the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before the Red Sox game. It was typical bar food but very tasty.

Ole Scollay's RED HAT
Another bar, that offered a great burger and cold beer after our brewery tour at Samuel Adams.

7. Ride Like a Local
I would not dare try to drive around Boston, what a headache! Instead, opt for the subway. We were able to get a 7 day unlimited pass. Although we were not in Boston 7 days, it ended up working out great because it was unlimited.

8. Whale Tour
Seeing the whales was my absolute favorite part of our trip to the Boston area. Although we did not do our tour out of Boston, there are tours that leave from there. It is a must do! The next chance I get, I will be on another tour to see whales. It was the most humbling and exhilarating experience I have ever had. I fell in love with whales that day. For more information go here.

Laura and Grant on the boat to see whales

Humpback Whale

One whale swam right under the boat, it was amazing!

9. Appreciate the Beautiful Architecture
I came to Boston expecting the history and seafood but was rewarded with an extra surprise. I was amazed at all of the beautiful architecture throughout the city. Every where I turned I found another building that I wanted to photograph.

10. Get Out of the City
While the city is beautiful, I would highly recommend taking a detour up the coast to one of the many small coastal towns. These towns offer so much and are just as amazing as the city itself.
Check out:
Sunrise on Cape Ann
Halibut Point State Park
Plum Island

Sunrise on Cape Ann

Amazing little restaurant at Bearskin Neck that has the best seafood!

Boston was great and I cannot wait to head back to the northeast! What activities did we miss? Comment below!