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Summer Travel

Summer Travel: Outdoors

By Jenna Pelletier
May 16, 2010

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Bike Around the Block Rhode Island: To make the most of a trip to Block Island, lose the car or moped and hop on a bike. At just 7 miles long and 3 miles wide, the whole island (nearly half of it delightfully free of development) can be covered in a day. Here’s how: Catch an early ferry from Point Judith in Narragansett and, if you haven’t brought your own wheels, pick up a rental bike at one of the many shops near the dock. Begin by pedaling 4 miles up ocean-hugging Corn Neck Road to North Lighthouse. After checking out the solar- and wind-powered light, return the way you came, breaking halfway for a low-intensity hike on Clay Head Trail (use one of the racks to lock your bike). Back in town and in-season, grab a sandwich at Three Sisters (443 Old Town Road, 401-466-9661), where the turkey-bacon-avocado Twisted Sister draws raves. After a long rest at one of the shop’s picnic tables, start a second ride by heading 2 miles south on Spring Street. Be sure to stop at Southeast Lighthouse and nearby Mohegan Bluffs, 200-foot clay cliffs fronting the Atlantic. After soaking up the scenery, continue on Lakeside Drive before turning left onto Cooneymus Road. Hit the brakes at dramatic Rodman’s Hollow, a 230-acre glacial outwash basin that protects threatened and endangered wildlife. Then follow West Side Road (Great Salt Pond will appear on the left) until you reach Payne’s Dock, home to great pond views and even better saltwater taffy. You’re probably getting worn out at this point; good thing the center of town is just a short ride away. Hurry back in time to score a seat at Eli’s (401-466-5230, http://elisblockisland.com) for dinner. Go all out – the tuna nachos and grilled rib-eye are good bets – because when you’ve just biked an entire island, there’s no need to worry about calories.

Get Smart, Get Tough Vermont: If you’re not the outdoorsy type but wish you were, Vermont Adventure Tours can get you up to speed. The Rutland-based guide service runs crash courses on everything from mountain biking and rock climbing to paddling and fly-fishing. More-experienced adventurers can really get out there and rough it on one- and two-day wilderness survival courses that teach things like fire starting and shelter building. 223 Woodstock Avenue, Rutland, 802-773-3343, http://vermontadventuretours.com

Hot to Trout Connecticut: Oliver Wendell Holmes is known for saying “There’s no tonic like the Housatonic.” There’s debate over whether the expression actually originated with him, but there’s no doubt that the sentiment lives on among the many trout seekers who today flock to the western portion of this river in Connecticut. In need of a fly-fishing tutorial? See the guides at Housatonic River Outfitters for a half- or full-day one-on-one class on the river. 24 Kent Road, Cornwall Bridge, 860-672-1010, http://dryflies.com

Screaming High and Low Massachusetts: Outfitter Zoar Outdoor in the Berkshires is one-stop shopping for adrenaline junkies. Start with a wild ride on the Deerfield River’s class II-III or IV white-water rapids, then see the river valley from a different perspective altogether on a three-hour zip-line tour that starts at Zoar’s base. You’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the northern Berkshires while flying from tree to tree (think Tarzan) on 11 double-cable lines. 7 Main Street, Charlemont, 800-532-7483, http://zoaroutdoor.com

Paddle and Smooch Rhode Island: Dinner and a movie? Nice, but predictable. Yet a sunset paddle in the harbor of one of Rhode Island’s most picturesque villages, now that’s different. Perennially popular with sweethearts, The Kayak Center of Rhode Island’s Friday night guided trips in Wickford Harbor go out at sundown and return as the stars are coming out. Choose a two-seater or your own boat, depending on how much you trust your date. 9 Phillips Street, Wickford, 401-295-4400, http://thekayakcentre.com

A Winged Experience Massachusetts: Dust off the binoculars for a trip to Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. The 7,500-acre Chatham preserve serves as safe haven for nearly 300 species of migratory birds like terns and piping plovers. There’s plenty to see on the mainland, but for the full experience, ride the Monomoy Island Ferry (monomoyislandferry.com) to the south island and take a naturalist-led walking tour. 30 Wikis Way, Morris Island, Chatham, 508-945-0594, http://fws.gov/northeast/monomoy

Hunt in the Hills Maine: Think of it as a modern spin on the treasure hunt. With help from your own GPS unit, Acadia National Park’s free EarthCache Program takes you on an adventure through much of the 47,000-acre Maine park. Supplied coordinates lead you to a location where you’ll see a posted clue in the form of a riddle or puzzle; solve it to reveal the next set of coordinates. Revel and repeat. There’s no hidden loot at the end of the four- to six-hour tour, but you will walk away with lots of fun facts about how glaciers shaped the park. Bar Harbor, 207-288-3338, http://nps.gov/acad/earthcache.htm

Lazy Island Day Massachusetts: Not much happens on Cuttyhunk Island – and that’s the reason to go. The scrap of land off the coast of New Bedford, measuring about 2 miles by 1 mile, offers a glimpse of what neighboring Martha’s Vineyard was like before it became the Vineyard. For a low-key (and low-cost) day trip, hop a ride over on the M/V Cuttyhunk and fall into the island’s timeless pleasures: hiking, reading on the beach, and ambling over to the dock for ice cream. M/V Cuttyhunk, 66B State Pier, New Bedford, 508-992-0200, http://cuttyhunkferryco.com The Coast Is Here Maine: Ogunquit’s Marginal Way is not one of those places where you have to tread for miles and miles until you finally make it to the spectacular lookout point. Rather, the entire mile-and-a quarter paved walking path offers one jaw-dropping view of the rugged Maine coast after another. Starts at Shore Road, Ogunquit, http://ogunquit.org

New England's best summer travel ideas
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New England's best summer travel ideas

The region's top attractions for getting the most out of summer.
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