Budare Grille, Central Falls RI

The lunching hour was upon us as we made our way through Rhode Island. Looking for an interesting casual spot, Budare Grille [716 Dexter St, Central Falls, RI] caught my eye. I had never tried Venezuelan cuisine before, so I was quite excited.

budare_grille_rhode_islandThe staff is friendly and the place is cozy, we felt comfortable on a quiet Sunday. Food is cooked up fresh to order so it was a few minutes before everything came out, and worth it. Plus, if you have a fresh passion fruit juice to sip it’s not hard to relax. We each ordered an arepa, a flat corn cake stuffed with meats and veggies – traditionally Venezuelan and Colombian. They are pretty big so one paired with an app to share worked perfectly. I got the Miss Venezuela which had chicken salad, avocado, and Spanish cheese. Jeff got the la llanera with grilled steak and the same fixings. Slather with the phenomenal homemade sauces and the concoction is absolutely delicious.

budare_grille_central_falls_We chose the la parilla to split, he had the steak component and I the chicken. It came with fried yucca, avocado, and tomato – all sorts of yummy flavors and textures. This was the perfect lunch stop along the road for us, really fresh, pretty fast, and quite friendly.

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DeCordova Sculpture Park, Lincoln MA

Sculpture parks are one of my favorite places to frolic (other include fields of wildflowers and sandy shores) amidst larger than life imaginative creations under the big ole sky. Sunday was all about road tripping back from New Hampshire, and DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park [51 Sandy Pond Rd, Lincoln, MA 01773] was first stop on the list. There is certainly an eclectic variety of sculptures found throughout the winding trails.

DeCordova_Sculpture_Park_5I especially love interactive ones, such as the xylophone! During our visit there was a kiddie-parent yoga class going on by the double heart. I always appreciate those sculptures infused so well with nature around them, some so much so they almost camouflaged.DeCordova_Sculpture_Park_1Kid-sized or not, if you find it – get in that weeping beech!DeCordova_Museum_and_Sculpture_Park_9At the far end of the parking lot there is a path into the woods skirting by the town reservoir if you are looking for a quiet little hike. With admission you gain access to the museum (nice and air conditioned) with plenty of floors with more interest art!

DeCordova_Museum_and_Sculpture_ParkMake sure you go all the way to the top and check out the view from roof.

DeCordova_Museum_and_Sculpture_Park_6I wanted to pair this with Walden Pond (a favorite spot of Thoreau) across the street, and even though we got there before 10AM, the place was already filled to capacity! Next time, if we can get there early enough.

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An afternoon in Kittery, Maine

Just a hop, skip, and a jump over state lines from Portsmouth, NH is Kittery, ME. Seriously, the two towns are only 2 miles from one another, 10 minutes away. I thought it would be a shame not to double dip right into Maine. The two are so close I actually stayed at an AirBNB in Kittery, with this fantastic ‘Norwegian forest kitty with some of the biggest paws I have ever seen, named Turney.

kittery_maineI digress.

Hike

Rachel Carson National Wildlife, Near intersection of Cutts Island Lane and Seapoint Road, Kittery

rachel_carson_national_wildlife_refuge_kittery_maineFirst things first. Don’t even THINK about coming here without bug spray! Even with it on we got massacred. Maybe it was just the day, but be prepared. The tiny kiosk for the Cutts Island Trail (one of three maintained by the preserve) is barely visible, there is a gravel pull off beside the bridge and boat launch with room for about one or two cars. Without looking at the map hard, the shape of the trail kind of fooled me, initially. The path is well marked and maintained so you won’t get lost, but take a good look at the map so you won’t be disoriented.

rachel_carson_national_wildlife_refuge_It’s a reverse lollypop (1.8 miles long), where you start going one direction of the loop, then out and back to a vista, and around the back end of the loop. Interesting. So we started out into the quiet woods, no one else around, and saw some great trees, mushrooms, and heard many birds (but saw none).

rachel_carson_national_wildlife_refuge_1Along the path there are a few historical plaques and maps that let you know where you are in regards to the path. Out at the vista the trees vanished to reveal some of the most beautiful grass I have ever seen.

cutts_island_trail_kittery_maineThe name Rachel Carson was so familiar to me, I had to look up where I remembered it from. She was the conservationist who wrote Silent Spring, a book which shed light on the horrors the pesticide DDT was wreaking on the environment.

History

Fort Foster, Pocahontas Rd., Gerrish Island, Kittery Point, ME

There is a little bit of everything here. Explore World War II fortifications and take in the views of Whaleback Lighthouse and Portsmouth Harbor. You will find trails to hiking, a swimming beach with tide pools, playground, and picnic areas.

Fort McClary, Pepperrell Rd, Kittery Point, ME 03905

Learn about the history of a fort that was active in five different wars. There are bunkers to enter, an underground tunnel, and an 1844 blockhouse. Top floor will grant beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Shopping at Kittery Outlets, 306 U.S. 1, Kittery, ME 03904

If you’re looking to score some sales, this is your stop!

Dinner at Robert’s Maine Grill, 326 Route 1, Kittery, ME 03904

My imagination had me thinking this was going to be a little shack, with just a few tables, on the side of the road. In reality, the place is huge boasting it’s very own decorative lighthouse and right across from the outlets.

roberts_maine_grill_kittery_5I almost stopped to have a parking lot party, the view from these Adirondack chairs was tempting.

roberts_maine_grill_kittery_9However, request a seat up on the deck for a view of the water. Also – call in advance for a reservation and skip the line, this is a popular place! The food is great and the service is top notch. They started us off with an assortment of yummy crackers and some garlicky spread, kitschy. We ordered a little lobster slider (because, Maine), and crispy buffalo blue cheese oysters sounded too good to pass up.

roberts_maine_grill_kitteryOur mains were as good as our apps! My baked cod was incredible, delicate and flaky, with a flavorful lemon herb crumb. The asparagus and potatoes were a great accompaniment. Jeff got an east coast jambalaya with shrimp, mussels, chicken, sausage, and crispy fried local fish. It was a feast and a half! Couldn’t have asked for a better quick Maine experience.

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A day in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

I was surprised to see so much action going on in a town I’d barely heard of. As we were walking around a heard a lady say to her companion ‘more and more people come here every summer.’ Portsmouth is definitely catching on, and with good reason. The city is oozing with New England charm, there are plenty of fantastic restaurants, shops, nearby beaches, and more than enough things to do to fill a weekend. Really a full week would be better! With just a few hours we barely scratched the surface, but what we found was gold.

portsmouth_new_hampshireDining

Surf Restaurant, 99 Bow St, Portsmouth, NH 03801

surf_restaurant_portsmouth_On a hot day we were happy to sit in the air conditioning, but there is a gorgeous deck overlooking the water which was tempting. I loved the trendy decorations inside, and we could still see the water from our table. Service was prompt and the fish tacos were on point! Fresh blackened cod with a bright mango salsa, tasty guac, and a zing of chipotle-lime sour cream. They were filling, yet light, and made an excellent lunch option. There is an extensive raw bar menu and this is a great spot for dinner as well!

Popovers, 8 Congress Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801

popovers_portsmouth_nhSitting on the patio, people watching, over a popover sundae was the cherry on top to a perfectly busy and fun day! There are so many dessert options to choose from, but the lady behind the counter sold us on ‘you can’t find a popover sundae anywhere else!’ It was epically delicious, but to tell it true, a bit too much after a full dinner. The popover itself was surely the star of the dish, so warm and flakey. Unless you’ve got a serious appetite, a simple popover with maple butter would certainly suffice.

Shopping

The busy streets in town are lined with so many unique local shops you can spend a whole afternoon and not get through them all! Bonus, there is no sales tax. A few spots that stuck out were nautical Tugboat Alley [47 Bow St, Portsmouth, NH 03801], silly Marco Polo [89 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03801],

marco_polo_portsmouthartsy Tulips [62 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03801],

tulips_portsmouthand the spot to get all of your accessories, Prelude [65 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03801].

Prescott Park, 105 Marcy St, Portsmouth, NH 03801

After dinner as the day was cooling down, we took a stroll through the town park. There are many fountains and flowerbeds to admire.

prescott_park_portsmouth_nhA walk down the pier to view the Piscataqua River and Memorial Bridge was very calming as the sun was setting.

prescott_park_portsmouthDuring our visit there was live music, and after checking the events calendar I found out some pretty great acts play there (like Shakey Graves!) and often times there are plays as well.

History

A town that has been active with European settlers since 1630 as an important military base and trade port, you can imagine there is quite a bit of history in the area. Strawbery Banke Museum [14 Hancock St, Portsmouth, NH 03801] is a living history museum with many restored buildings ranging from the 17th-19th centuries. Isles of Shoals Steamship Company [315 Market Street Portsmouth, NH 03801] offers informational and scenic cruises. On board you will learn about the history of the islands that were charted by John Smith and have the option for a walking tours on Star Island. The USS Albacore [600 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03801] was a Navy research submarine now available for self-guided tours.

Nearby Hike

great_bay_national_wildlife_refuge_Just outside of Portsmouth is Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge [28 Arboretum Dr, Newington, NH 03801]. great_bay_national_wildlife_refuge_new_hampshireThere are two easy walking trails totaling 2.5 miles and plenty of wildlife to see!

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Great Island Common, New Castle NH

On a quick weekend trip to Portsmouth, we only had one day to experience the New Hampshire coast! So many beaches to choose from I was swimming in decisions. I do declare I picked the perfect little beach, Great Island Common [301 Wentworth Rd, New Castle, NH 03854].

great_island_common_nhTucked away from the bustling town, a hidden gem off of a residential street we felt like locals. It is currently $4 a person to enter, much more affordable than other local beaches. The beach itself is relatively small, but the sand is soft and the water isn’t rocky like other areas in the state. Plus, it is crystal clear, pristine, gorgeous.

great_island_common_nh_4Even in the middle of July the water was seriously FREEZING. Painfully good and refreshing, a dunk will change your entire existence. If you are brave enough to go past your ankles where most are standing, you’ll have the place pretty much to yourself. Just beside the swimming area are great tide pools to explore.

great_island_common_nh_3There are two lighthouses within eyeshot of the park and the historic Isles of the Shoals.

great_island_common_Take a walk past the grassy field (perfect for frisbee, kite-flying, or a picnic!) and discover a creative sculpture,

great_island_common_nh_2possibly a woodchuck,

great_island_common_nh_1and other great views. There are restroom facilities, but no trash cans! This is a carry in-carry out park.

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Pinball Wizard Arcade, Pelham NH

Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve played the silver ball. From Asbury Park to Budapest, I’m doing my best to play them all. Pelham, New Hampshire is kind of in the middle of nowhere (under an hour from Boston), but completely worth the expedition if you are a pinball lover. The Pinball Wizard Arcade [150 Bridge St, Pelham, NH 03076] is a fantastic arcade.

pinball_wizard_arcade_4Convert your dollars into tokens, you’ll get a slight discount for spending $20. Some games will give out tickets and there are prizes to redeem at the front counter. I love trying out new machines I’ve never seen before. Some of my favorites at this arcade were Space Invaders, Gilligan’s Islands, and Super Mario Bros Mushroom World (which was the only machine I encountered that gave tickets for prizes).

pinball_wizard_arcade_pelhamOld favorites include Dr. Who, Tommy, Tales from the Crypt, South Park, and Simpsons machines. The widest machine in the arcade was Hercules, almost double the size of a regular one!

pinball_wizard_arcade_nhThere were plenty of rows of pinball machines over 100 games to choose from, but also a ton of retro arcade games as well! Tons of pac-man, space invaders, driving games, fighting games, almost anything you can hope for.

pinball_wizard_arcade_nh_1And skeeball! Plus air hockey, craning, and a bunch of pool tables.

Pinball_wizard_pelham_nhWe got a few good hours out of our $20 investment, and at the end of the night we went to cash in our tickets. Meager, because we mostly played pinball, but I knew exactly what I wanted.

pinball_wizard_arcade_nh_5I’ve always been slightly obsessed with sixlets. We had enough tickets for one packet, but when the man handing out the prizes saw my excitement, he tossed me a second one on the house and made my day!

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Fatima’s Café, Worcester MA

Between the service and the food, I cannot rave enough about the wonderful experience at Fatima’s Cafe [43 W Boylston St, Worcester, MA 01605].fatimas_worcester_ethiopian

It was the perfect place to stop on our road trip from Albany to New Hampshire and a good excuse to experience a town I’ve never been to before, Worcester! We drove right passed the tiny storefront without even realizing. No problem! A quick u-turn in a strip mall and holy moley, these weary travelers were driving down a one way street. Whoops, don’t make that mistake! We corrected our situation and parked in the little lot on the side and settled right in. The space was quiet on a Friday evening, though many would come to pick up orders.

fatimas_ethiopian_I was excited to get a little caffeine boost (for the part two of the drive) and comfort with a wonderfully warm fresh brewed cup of chai while Jeff tried a fresh fruit smoothie.fatimas_worcester_

We just ordered entrees, but our waiter kindly came out with some samosas for us to sample. They were the best I have ever had! The dough was so delicate, filling velvety, and the dipping sauce was lip tingly HOT. I would order a whole slew of these next time.

fatimas_worcester_maFood is cooked up fresh to order, so it was a bit of time until our meals appeared. To tell it true, I’ve never been 100% satisfied with any previous traditional African cuisine – feeling it always fell short of the mark. This was a total deal breaker. Both of us went for the Ugali with Sukuma, a traditional Kenyan dish – vibrant and mouthwatering. Ugali is a cornmeal based porridge, our waiter instructed us to mix it into the tender chicken and gravy, seasoned to absolute perfection.fatimas_worcester_1

Add to your spoon bits of succulent collards (rivaling any I’ve encountered down south), onions, peppers, and spinach to find a heavenly symphony in your mouth! If you find yourself passing through Worcester, don’t pass up a chance to have dinner at Fatima’s.

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