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Friday, May 27, 2016

Celebrating Our 4th Anniversary at ActiveTravels Thanks to You!

In 1990, I left my job as an insurance broker in Manhattan, booked an open-ended ticket to the South Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia, and wrote my first travel story, “Dining with the Descendants of Cannibals on a Fijian Island” for the Miami Herald. It would prove to be start of a career where I would write more than 1500 stories (over 300 articles for the Boston Globe alone) and visit over 90 countries. Then the recession hit. I lost more than half my editors in 2008-2009 as magazines folded and newspapers either eliminated or greatly reduced their travel sections. Wanting to utilize my travel expertise, I convinced Lisa to join me in a business venture and become an accredited travel agent. 

 
Close family and friends scoffed at the idea, as if I just announced that I was becoming a blacksmith. After all, wasn’t it President Obama who suggested in a town hall meeting that travel agents were becoming obsolete? How could they possibly prosper against big-pocket online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, and Orbitz? There was just no need for them anymore, or was there? Since we opened ActiveTravels 4 years ago this month, without benefit of advertising dollars or a marketing department, there has been a steady stream of traffic. In fact, we just hired another assistant, Jainy, so you might be hearing from her. 
 
We want to sincerely thank you for trusting us with your travels! Enjoy the long weekend! While relaxing on your chaise lounge chair, please check out our latest newsletter. We cover Alaskan cruises, divulge our favorite resorts in the Turks & Caicos, and introduce you to one of our beloved Italian outfitters. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/27/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cape Cod’s Ocean Edge Resort Teams Up With Orvis

Driving along Route 6A in Brewster, it’s hard to miss Boston banker Samuel Nickerson’s century-old mansion. Today, it’s the centerpiece of the sprawling Ocean Edge Resort. Add six pools, the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus redesigned golf course, nine tennis courts, and bike paths that connect easily to the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail, and you understand why Ocean Edge has been a perennial family favorite on the Cape for decades. We love the property because it’s always trying to enhance the experience, not just relying on its lengthy history. Last summer, Ocean Edge introduced a chance to go oystering on the bayside beach with a local oyster farmer. After learning about his line of work, you head back to the outdoor deck overlooking the expanse of water to sample those oysters, washed down with a pale ale brewed for the resort called Bayzo Brew. This summer, Ocean Edge has teamed up with the well-known fly-fishing outfitter and retailer Orvis to offer fishing lessons on one of its ponds. Also opening on July 4th will be a new beach bar. If you haven’t been to Ocean Edge in a while, it might be time for a return visit. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/26/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Boston’s Emerging Seaport District

Peering at the sailboats slicing through the harbor from the sixth-floor roof-deck bar of the new Envoy Hotel, it finally dawns on you that, yes, Boston really does rest on the shores of the Atlantic. For some silly reason, Boston has never taken proper advantage of its ocean setting. When the Institute of Contemporary Art opened in a gem of a building on the edge of the harbor in December 2006, publicists started to dub the evolving neighborhood the Seaport District. Yet, five years after the ICA opening, not much changed. A sea of parking lots continued to surround the ICA and wharves still lined the harbor of this industrial port.

Then, in 2013, Vertex Pharmaceuticals made the bold initiative to move the company’s global headquarters to twin 18-story buildings featuring 1.1 million square feet of research labs and office space. Other companies joined them, including Manulife Financial, Fidelity Investments, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. At last, the late Mayor Menino’s dream of a burgeoning Seaport District has taken root. Everywhere you look along the waterfront today, new condominiums and office buildings are being constructed. 
 
To read more about visiting the Boston Waterfront, including my hotel and restaurant picks, check out my latest story for Global Traveler
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/25/16 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, May 20, 2016

Trustees Sites Not To Be Missed, Mytoi and Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, Martha’s Vineyard

Beach lovers headed to East Beach on Chappaquiddick have to pass the Japanese-style garden called Mytoi. Worthy of a stop, azaleas, daffodils, dogwoods, and rhododendrons line the fresh water creeks. The dirt road eventually crosses a bridge, stopping at East Beach. Walk the beach to see one of the most pristine stretches of coastline on the Atlantic. Part of the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, this barrier beach is the best place to birdwatch on the Vineyard. Ospreys, oystercatchers, piping plovers, terns, and the occasional bald eagle nest here. To get a close up look at the birds, sign up for the guided kayak tour with the Trustees. 

 
It’s been fun to reminisce about my favorite Trustees sites in the commonwealth this week. Don’t forget that tomorrow is the kick-off of the Trustees 125th anniversary summer bash. The Great House on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, the Old Manse in Concord, and seven other historic homes will be open to the public for free for “Home Sweet Home” Historic Open House Day. Enjoy the weekend and keep active! I’m off to Ithaca to pick my son up at Cornell, back on Wednesday. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/20/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Trustees Sites Not To Be Missed, The Guest House at Field Farm, Williamstown

Two of the finest art exhibitions in New England will take place in the Berkshires this summer. “Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes From the Prado” will be on display at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown from June 11th through October 10th. Twenty-eight Old Master paintings, including works by Titian, Velasquez, Rubens, and Tintoretto will be on display. Just down the road in North Adams, Mass MoCA will feature “Explode Every Day: An Inquiry Into the Phenomena of Wonder.” Opening on May 28th, the ambitious show will exhibit works designed to explore wonder through the eyes of 20 contemporary artists. 

 
Once you’ve had your fill of art, relax at the Guest House at Field Farm in Williamstown, a 5-bedroom inn run by the Trustees. The Bauhaus-era home is also an art piece, a perfect example of American modernism. Walking into the living room is like walking into a post-modern early 60s museum set where Don Draper is your host. Unlike the rectilinear architecture, all furniture seems to have curves, from the Isamu Noguchi glass coffee table to the swan-backed couch by Vladimir Kagan. Large glass windows take in the stunning views of Mount Greylock. Grab a glass of wine, sit outside on the patio, and take it all in. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/19/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Trustees Sites Not To Be Missed, Long Hill, Beverly

As editor and publisher of the Atlantic Monthly, Ellery Sedgwick worked with some of the finest writers of his time, including Ernest Hemingway and Robert Frost. Yet, it’s his marriages to not one, but two accomplished gardeners and horticulturists that has had far more of a lasting impression. In 1916, Sedgwick moved with his first wife, Mabel, to a 114-acre hillside property on the North Shore. The house sits atop a drumlin staring out at forest, but it’s the wonderful gardens at Long Hill that will capture your attention. No matter what season you visit, there will be something in bloom, from blue forget-me-nots to exotic Chinese redbuds to the soft yellow and very rare Molly the Witch peonies. The assemblage of trees is also intriguing, from the tall dawn redwood planted by Sedgwick’s second wife, Marjorie, to the century-old signature copper beech in front of the house. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/18/16 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Trustees Sites Not To Be Missed, Bartholomew’s Cobble, Sheffield

At the southernmost point of the Berkshires, near the Connecticut border, you’ll find Bartholomew’s Cobble. Walking on the Ledges Trail, the Housatonic River snakes through dairy farms on the left while eroding limestone and quartzite rocks form the cobble to your right. Take a slight detour at Corbin’s Neck to get a closer view of the river and the cows resting on its banks. Then continue on the Tulip Tree Trail to stroll uphill through a forest of tall hemlocks before reaching a clearing. At a short summit, take advantage of the bench to sit and take in the views of Mount Everett and Mount Race, part of the Appalachian Trail. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/17/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Trustees Sites Not To Be Missed, Tully Lake Campground

This coming Saturday, May 21st, the Trustees of Reservations will kick off their 125th anniversary celebration with a “Home Sweet Home” Historic Open House Day. The Great House on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, the Old Manse in Concord, and seven other historic homes will be open to the public for free. To get the festivities rolling, all this week I’m going to divulge 5 unheralded Trustees sites that might not be on your radar. The non-profit conservation organization maintains over 100 sites in Massachusetts including their crown jewel, Crane Beach. Others, like Tully Lake Campground in Royalston, should be on your list. 

 
Come to this tranquil Tully Lake where there is little or no motorized boat traffic and tents-only campsites and you’ll understand why campers return year after year. Many bring their own kayaks to paddle to the sandy isles and within sinuous Tully River. The Trustees offers kayak rentals and stand-up paddleboarding lessons on Sundays in season. Hiking trails lead to stunning Doane’s Falls, where Lawrence Brook tumbles over a series of ledges before it reaches Tully Lake. Rangers lead paddlers to see beavers and teach kids how to fish. You may want to bring your mountain bike, since there’s a 7-mile loop around nearby Long Pond. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/16/16 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Memorable Spring Bike Rides, Biking the Shores of Keuka Lake

Known for its award-winning Rieslings, the Finger Lakes deserve its reputation as one of the best spots in America to go wine tasting. Yet, its resplendent beauty also lends itself well to adventure. At the southern end of Seneca Lake, we hiked alongside a handful of waterfalls in the famous gorge of Watkins Glen. The next morning, my wife and I kayaked through a cattail-laden marsh and saw countless herons, turtles, and a beaver. Talk about adventure—a 40-pound carp jumped out of the marsh and slammed against my arm as I shrieked. But my favorite part of the weeklong trip was a quiet bike ride along a peninsula that juts into Keuka Lake. Start your ride from Keuka College and follow East and West Bluff Roads as they pass the small waterfront cottages with cute names like Hide N’ Seek. There’s one killer hill on the 20-mile ride that takes you atop a bluff, before cruising downhill back to the college. Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with a lobster roll and glass of semi-dry Riesling at Heron Hill’s outdoor café. We were fortunate to book the next two nights at the Black Sheep Inn in Hammondsport, on the northern tip of Keuka Lake. Owners Debbie Meritsky and Marc Rotman spent over 6 years refurbishing the rare octagonal-shaped house, which turns 157 this year.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/13/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Memorable Spring Bike Rides, The Westport Ramble, Massachusetts

South of New Bedford lies countryside so fertile, you’ll feel like you’re in Vermont.  Stretching from Dartmouth, Massachusetts, to Little Compton, Rhode Island, the area is known as the Heritage Farm Coast. It has the sunniest and most temperate climate in New England and thus the longest growing season. Vast dairy farms, cornfields, even vineyards, border the Westport River as it washes into the Atlantic. Add the dunes of Horseneck Beach and you have the perfect country and coast ride, especially in the spring before the beach traffic starts to arrive. 

 
Turn left out of the Westport Middle School parking lot onto Old Country Road to start this 21-mile loop (give yourself at least two hours). A right turn onto Pine Hill Road heads downhill, but the route is relatively flat for most of the ride. Within a mile, you’re lost in acres of farmland. Historic Cape Cod shingled houses and barns are bordered by old stone walls. Continue on lightly traveled Old Pine Road to see cornfields edging towards the horizon. A mile later, turn right onto Hix Bridge Road and then left a half-mile beyond that onto Horseneck Road. The Westport River appears on your right, a strip of dark blue snaking through the green pasture. 
 
Around the halfway mark, the ocean starts to appear on your left and the area becomes more developed.  A good choice for lunch is the Bayside, known for their cod wraps and lobster rolls. Veer right on East Beach Road for expansive views of the ocean. Another right onto Route 88 leads to the sweeping beach and dunes of Horseneck Beach State Reservation. After crossing a small bridge which rewards you with views of the harbor and its numerous fishing boats, turn right onto Drift Road. This leads to Old County Road, where you turn left to return to your car. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/12/16 at 06:00 AM
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photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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