An East Coast Road Trip: Americana with a Touch of Class
Whether it's the thrill of escaping our everyday routines, or the anticipation of what you'll find on the open road, there's just something about a road trip that invokes a feeling of freedom. So, if you're ready to indulge in a classic American pastime, do it in style, and set your compass toward the nostalgic, and driver-friendly, East Coast.
Kick off in D.C.
Shift into vacation gear and start your trip with a night at The Fairmont Washington D.C., Georgetown, in the fashionable West End. Once you've settled in, step into your walking shoes and discover the sweeter side of our nation's capital. Take a DC Metro Chocolate Tour and sample scrumptious truffles and homemade baked goods while strolling along the historic C&O Canal. Just up the hill from busy M Street, stately old homes line the leafy streets. When it's time for dinner, stop by Martin's Tavern, where JFK proposed to Jackie. In fact, Martin's has been host to every U.S. president since Harry Truman, with the exception of President Obama (at least not yet). The menu is classic American, with favorites such as Colonial Brunswick Stew, steaks and pot roast.
On the Road Again
After a refreshing night's sleep, you'll be revved up and ready to take to the road. With Georgetown in your rear-view mirror, why not stop and smell the roses along the way? About halfway between Washington and New York, (off route 1-95) the lush Gardens at Winterthur provide the perfect place to do so. While there, tour Henry Francis du Pont's 175-room mansion, home to one of the nation's most extraordinary collections of American furniture and decorative arts. If you're ready for a little antique hunting, head to the nearby borough of Kennett Square and wander through a maze of rooms at the Brick Garage for an estate find to bring home. It's a good idea to call ahead; operating hours are left to chance.
For a post-shopping lunch, locals recommend Capriotti's Sandwich Shop. The Bobbie, a sandwich that mimics a Thanksgiving feast, is a popular choice, but take it to go. It will taste better in the fresh air at Brandywine Creek State Park, a former dairy farm once owned by the du Pont family. Don't forget your camera. Meandering stone walls and lazy streams beckon.
Dazzle the Senses in New York City
Leave nature behind and check into The Plaza, a Fairmont Managed Hotel with a prestigious Manhattan locale at Fifth Avenue and Central Park. It's been said that "Nothing unimportant ever happens at The Plaza," and your stay is bound to prove it. Now that you've arrived, stretch your legs and take a walk to Riverside Park from where you can view a spectacular sunset. Mingle with the locals while exploring the rocky outcroppings that descend to the Hudson River shoreline. For a bite to eat, New Yorkers in the know rave about The Leopard at des Artistes, located in one of the city's most illustrious buildings, Hotel des Artistes. Norman Rockwell, Isadora Duncan and Noel Coward all lived and practiced their crafts here. While you dine on Southern Italian cuisine, feast your eyes upon the rather racy "Fantasy Scenes with Naked Beauties" mural from the early 1930s. Wrap up your evening at The Rose Club at The Plaza. The Moët Imperial Gatsby cocktail is the perfect end to your relaxing evening.
Next morning, set your sights on Boston via the scenic Taconic State Parkway, which may not be the direct path, but it will allow you to pass through The Berkshires, one of Massachusetts most picturesque regions. The Gilded Age estate Naumkeag was once home to renowned 19th-century New York attorney Joseph Choate. For three generations, the 44-room "cottage" served as a summer retreat. You'll be surrounded by stunning panoramic views, with Monument Mountain in the background.
The nearby town of Great Barrington is an ideal stop for eclectic shopping. Peruse the rare and used book collection at the Yellow House of Books or indulge your inner child as you explore the collection of whimsical toys at Matrushka, the Berkshire Toy Company. Before getting back on the road, swing by Fuel Coffee Shop for a strong cup of joe, and lunch on one of "Uncle Frank's" sandwiches.
Soak up Boston Culture
Make the elegant Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston's Back Bay, your final driving destination. Here, the concierge is happy to share insider tips on what to see and where to dine. The Boston Public Library, just steps from the Fairmont Copley Plaza, offers complimentary tours of its McKim Building, featuring artworks by John Singer Sargent and Edwin Austin Abbey. It also houses the John Adams Presidential Library. Following the tour, try the Herb-Roasted Lamb with Vermont Goat Cheese at the library's Map Room Café; it's reason enough to linger as you browse a book. Winding down, make your way back to The Copley Plaza's OAK Long Bar + Kitchen and sip a classic sidecar or contemporary Rosebud while planning the next day's activities.
After a day in the sophisticated Back Bay, head over to The North End Waterfront. Spend some time shopping at North End boutiques. For an authentic Italian shopping experience, Officina 189 sells designer handbags and rare perfumes. The North End also offers an array of tempting cafes, where you can sip a foamy cappuccino or indulge in an Italian delicacy, perhaps a slice of ricotta pie, a lobster tail, or a luscious pastry filled with cream. Complete your Boston experience, with a New England Lobster Bake. Served on the waterfront terrace at the Copley's sister hotel, Fairmont Battery Wharf, guests are served a cast-iron pot filled with lobsters, clams, potatoes, corn, sausage and an aromatic fennel broth, which is plenty for four. After the lobster, s'mores kits are included for a sweet finish to your experience.
Liisa Sullivan is a freelance content writer who lives in Asheville, NC. She has written on a great number of topics for multiple industries, but has a strong focus on hospitality and travel. (And yes, the spelling of her first name is correct – it's Finnish).
C&O Canal, Georgetown, Washington DC by Samir Luther
Boston Public Library by Mararie
Red Carpet by Dan DeChiaro