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  • New Bedford, Massachusetts
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    New Bedford,

    Massachusetts

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    New Bedford (Massachusett: Accushnet) is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2020 United States Census, the city had a population of 101,079, making it the state's sixth-largest city and the largest of the South Coast region. New Bedford is nicknamed "The Whaling City" because it was one of the world's most important whaling ports in the nineteenth century, along with Nantucket, Massachusetts; and New London, Connecticut. The city remains known for its fishing fleet and accompanying seafood industry, for its high concentration of Portuguese Americans, and as the primary setting of Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby-Dick.
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    New Bedford Articles

    Road Trips

    Ultimate Art Lover’s New England Road Trip

    Each time my family drives into Bennington, Vermont, it feels a little like coming home. Though I’ve never lived in this little town for more than a few days at a time on vacation, it strikes a deep, familiar chord with me. Perhaps arriving in Bennington feels like home to me because, as a boy growing up in the Bronx, I recall vividly my first discovery of the great American painter Anna Mary Robertson, better known as Grandma Moses, who lived and worked in Bennington. The gentle curves of the Green Mountains just outside of town provide a soothing natural backdrop to this historic place, and they are the very mountains that appear in Grandma Moses’s folk paintings, depicting rural life and seasonal rituals such as sugar-mapling and trick-or-treating. The interplay between the natural world and the art world is at the very heart of this short and totally manageable road trip. DAY 1: BENNINGTON, VERMONT Bennington offers a range of accommodations, but we’ve become fond of the family-friendly Knotty Pine Motel, which has a dog-friendly policy, a very attentive and helpful staff, and a lovely swing set and pool. We especially appreciate the big map of New England that hangs in the main office. My youngest daughter kept asking to go visit the map, and I was so pleased that she’d connected with New England, tracing her finger over my sister’s home in New Hampshire, the beaches of Falmouth and Nantucket where we’ve visited, and the charming little city of New Bedford. It was only later that I realized that my daughter was actually less interested in the map and much more interested in the bowl of Tootsie Rolls the motel proprietor kept on her desk. Oh, well. The map is still a sweet memory, even if the candy was sweeter. In Bennington, the must-see for art lovers is the Bennington Museum and Grandma Moses Schoolhouse. Here, you can view a wide variety of art in a charming and manageable setting. The museum’s permanent collection includes fine art, furniture, and household items from Vermont’s history as well as strikingly modern work by contemporary Bennington artists. The rooms devoted to Grandma Moses (the largest public collection of the “primitive” artist’s work) offer you the chance to see the Green Mountains in Moses’s iconic paintings or rural life and then peek out the window and see the real thing. Unforgettable. The adjoining one-room Grandma Moses Schoolhouse includes chalk-boards and antique schoolbooks, games, and dress-up clothes. If you’re traveling with kids, they may be more enthralled by the schoolhouse than the art, and that’s fine: Let them go. They’ll remember how that schoolhouse made them feel long after they’ve forgotten your lectures on folk art. In 1777, Bennington was the site of a major Revolutionary War battle, and each August, the town celebrates with a parade. Residents and visitors alike line the streets and cheer for the bands and marchers. We’ve been lucky enough to time our visits to parade weekend, and it is a nice way to meet the town’s year-round residents. Don’t be fooled by the name. Kevin’s Sports Pub and Restaurant, in North Bennington, is much more than a place to watch a game on TV. We love its imaginative riffs on burgers, fish and chips, and other pub fare, and the local ales on tap offer a variety of vibrant flavors and textures. In nearby South Shaftsbury, the Robert Frost Stone House Museum surprises, delights, and educates visitors with Frost’s famous poetry, such as “The Road Not Taken,” adorning the walls, with brief, easily digested lessons on his rhyme schemes and meter that even young kids will understand and appreciate. (If you’re headed for the Atlantic coast, drop by another Frost museum, his farmhouse in Derry, New Hampshire, on the way.) Psst! Outside Bennington, there’s a hidden gem of a local lake whose name I promised not to publish because its modest snack bar and canoe rental business are really meant for locals. If you find yourself in conversation with a Bennington local, do ask about places to canoe. We had a family paddling adventure on the lake and down a nearby creek that we’ll never forget. DAY 2: WILLIAMSTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS Williamstown, just across the border into Massachusetts down U.S. 7, is another town where you can easily stay more than one night just to drink in all the art and natural beauty on display. The Clark Art Institute is home not only to a world-class permanent collection that includes European and American art from the Renaissance to the early 20th century (especially rich in work by American painters Winslow Homer, George Inness, and John Singer Sargent), but also to one of the finest museum snack bars I’ve ever experienced. For real. I recommend its salads and sandwiches, especially in good weather when you can eat out on a terrace. The museum’s grounds, including a children’s learning center, are a work of art themselves (they made Architectural Digest’s list of “buzz-worthy” museums). Williams College Museum of Art is another fine collection; focused on the college’s mission, the museum offers a broad range of pieces, from ancient Egyptian art to contemporary American and international work. Williamstown Theatre Festival has been bringing acclaimed productions to the Berkshires each summer since 1955, another example of the exciting synergy between the natural world and human creativity that makes this region so special. Williams Inn is a cozy place in the heart of Williamstown to rest your head in the Berkshires, having welcomed visitors since 1909. As with Bennington before it, you may want to stay more than one night to see all the sights. DAY 3: NORTH ADAMS, MASSACHUSETTS The cherry on top of your art lover’s road trip is the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), in North Adams. The nearby mountains and small-town vibe on the streets are a contrast to the hot, ultra-modern work you’ll encounter inside this restored 19th-century mill complex. The museum is an epicenter for the making of visual and performing arts, with residencies that bring cutting-edge creators to town. New exhibits of contemporary artists, including the museum’s Kidspace, are ongoing; check the museum’s excellent website, massmoca.org, for updates. When you’re ready to refuel, MASS MoCA’s Lickety Split lobby bistro is open during museum hours for breakfast and lunch (plus ice cream, espresso, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and, on show nights, a light dinner menu). The cute streets of North Adams also teem with international cuisine, funky cafés and coffee spots, and cool pubs.  Ready to hit the hay? The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA is self-consciously kitschy. (In keeping with the museum’s mission, the inn describes itself as “retro-edgy, industrial granny chic.”) You’ll enjoy closing your little hipster eyes in the imaginative heart of the Berkshires. BOOK YOUR HOTEL WITH BUDGET TRAVEL You can find and book a great hotel deal right at Budget Travel's Book a Hotel page.

    Inspiration

    Eat Like a Local in the Azores

    The Azores have climbed to the top of my bucket list lately. On a trip to New Bedford, MA, last summer, my family and I learned about the importance of the North Atlantic islands, part of Portugal, to the maritime history of New England. We also noticed that if you put your finger on a globe and trace a straight path from Massachusetts to the Azores, you'll be surprised at how close the islands are to the U.S. Now, imagine a four-hour flight from the East Coast to nine volcanic islands with extraordinary lakes, craters, mountains, and thermal pools. And with a mild, moist climate and a number of centuries-old European influences (most notably Dutch and Portuguese), the Azores have a food scene that will make it difficult to head back home. CATCH THE DAY'S CATCH It's no surprise that nine islands in the Atlantic would have a serious seafood scene. In fact, the Azores boast Europe's biggest sea zone, and sustainable fishing methods such as live bait and single poles have always been in style here. Some seafood we'd like you to try when visiting include: Grilled limpets (drop by Beira-Mar Restaurant in Sao Mateus on Terceira, among other great local restaurants). Clams grown in the lagoon of the Faja de Santa Cristo on Sao Jorge. Caldeirada de Peixe fish-and-potato stew. CARNIVORE'S DELIGHT With acres of green pastures and a mild climate, the Azores support a thriving cattle industry, and meat eaters will enjoy the resulting beef dishes, including: Cozido das Furnas, a beef-and-potato stew that's cooked for hours in hot volcanic rock. Steak, simply seasoned with local red pepper, the high-quality meat speaks for itself. Alcatra, beef cooked in a clay bowl in a wood-fired oven, served with traditional Portuguese sweet bread. POP THE CORK Azoreans enjoy a relatively undiscovered wine scene. There's a wine museum on Terceira, and Pico Island Vineyard Culture Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You MUST try the local favorite, Verdelho, and you can indulge in a wine tasting adventure at Pico Island Cooperative Wine Cellar or Buraca Wine Cellar. SAY CHEESE! The pastures that provide the Azores with a home for its cattle industry also help sustain a thriving dairy business. Semi-hard Sao Jorge cheese is aged for three to seven months, in the tradition of Dutch cheesemaking brought to the island of Sao Jorge by settlers from the Netherlands centuries ago. You can taste the cheese, often enjoyed with a local wine, at the beginning of a meal, or in a local dish, at Cooperative de Lacticinios dos Lourais cheese factory. Other Azorean island offer their own distinctive cheeses as well. SWEET DREAMS In addition to traditional Portuguese sweet bread (which is a minimalist wonder!), the islands are known for an array of pastries: Queijada de Vila Franca, a tartlet made with flour, egg, butter, milk, and sugar. Queijada da Graciosa, a star-shaped tartlet with caramel. Dona Amelia on Terceira, made with eggs, molasses, cinnamon, and corn flour, topped with powdered sugar.

    Inspiration

    48 Hours in New Bedford, Massachusetts

    After a few minutes in New Bedford, MA, a welcoming little city of about 95,000 people less than an hour's drive east of Providence and south of Cape Cod just off I-195, you'll notice that the residents love to talk about their town. A few more minutes and you'll totally understand why. Few places in New England pack as much history, food, and fun into a handful of cobblestoned blocks. I started my visit, appropriately enough, at the New Bedford Whaling Museum (18 Johnny Cake Hill, whalingmuseum.org, adults $14, seniors $12, students 19+ $9, children and youth $6). In the 19th century, New Bedford was the epicenter of the international whale-oil industry (comparable at that time to today's oil industry in its importance to the world's economy), and the city's whaling museum is the largest of its kind in the U.S. As my 11-year-old daughter and I walked into the museum's beautiful big lobby, with its impressive whale skeletons hanging from the ceiling, I was anxious. After all, my daughter was brought up to understand that hunting these amazing sea mammals is wrong, and she was extremely vocal in her objection to the very idea of a whaling museum. But as soon as our guided tour began, I breathed easy: The staff of the New Bedford Whaling Museum love these animals as much as any of us, and a good portion of the galleries are devoted to ecology, conservation, and putting history—including not only whaling but also the slave trade, New Bedford's ethnic diversity, and the city's role in the Underground Railroad—in a clear context. I recommend setting aside an entire day or more to take in all this museum has to offer, including replicas of whaling ships (one of which is half-life-size and can be boarded and explored by grown-ups and kids alike), beautiful works of art, and multimedia presentations. Step outside the whaling museum and you're smack in the middle of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park (nps.gov/nebe), which includes a number of restored 18th-century buildings and a superb visitors center at 33 William Street, featuring displays about the city's history, a theater, and presentations by rangers. Stroll the streets and you'll meet New Bedford residents who can't wait to tell you about their downtown's great food, public gardens, bustling harbor, and festivals. Admire the stately homes that once belonged to whaling captains and their families and you may recall what Herman Melville wrote of the city in Moby-Dick: "... all these brave houses and flowery gardens came from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. One and all, they were harpooned and dragged up hither from the bottom of the sea." Speaking of Melville, one of the most popular sites in downtown New Bedford owes its celebrity to that author's wild imagination: In the 1840s, Melville himself set sail aboard a whaling vessel out of New Bedford and, like many sailors before and after him, attended services at the Seamen's Bethel (15 Johnny Cake Hill, admission free), which he immortalized as the "Whalemen's Chapel" in Moby-Dick. I was blown away to discover that the pulpit of this little chapel is actually shaped like the prow of a whaling vessel—exactly like the one Melville describes in the chapter "The Sermon" in Moby-Dick. My enthusiasm was only slightly dampened when I learned that the pulpit was, in fact, added more than a century after Melville's visit in order to delight visitors who had enjoyed John Huston's 1956 film adaptation of Moby-Dick (starring Gregory Peck as the monomaniacal Captain Ahab), in which Orson Welles, as Father Mapple, climbs a rope ladder to deliver a booming commentary on the story of Jonah—from an elaborate, prow-shaped pulpit. Spend some time exploring the chapel's artwork and enjoy friendly and informative conversation with one of the enthusiastic docents on duty (and don't forget to leave a donation). New Bedford abounds in historical, artistic, and just plain fun sites. Rotch-Jones-Duff House (396 County Street, rjdmuseum.org, adults $6), with its gorgeous articles of furniture, handpainted wallpaper, crystal, and gowns lets you see how the other 1 percent lived in the 19th and early 20th centuries thanks to both the whaling and oil industries. The New Bedford Museum of Glass (61 Wamsutta Street, nbmog.org, $5) is a must-see, with a growing collection of art glass that includes masterpieces of New Bedford's fabled Mt. Washington and Pairpoint factories. And after all that history, kids of all ages will enjoy a walk on the wild side at the Buttonwood Park Zoo (425 Hawthorn Street, bpzoo.org, adults $8, children $4), with lovely exhibit areas and habitats for animals as diverse as elephants, coyotes, river otters, and harbor seals—and super-helpful staff who give user-friendly talks and demonstrations throughout the day. Hungry? Cork Wine Bar and Tapas (90 Front Street, corkwineandtapas.com) blew me away with its pan-seared scallops over sticky Jasmine rice and quirky multicultural riffs like cheesesteak spring rolls. You can order main courses, or do what we did and keep the small plates coming, happily sharing till you cry "uncle." You'll appreciate New Bedford's cultural melting pot when you tuck into traditional Cape Verdean cuisine like Shrimp Mozambique at Izzy's (72 Spring Street, 508/977-7077). Tia Maria European Café specializes in Portuguese favorites, including Portuguese-style nachos and an amazing egg-topped steak (42 North Water Street, 508/993-8900). In the midst of all this history, the lovely, comfortable rooms at the thoroughly modern Fairfield Inn & Suites (184 MacArthur Drive, marriott.com, from $164) are a welcome place to catch some shuteye after a day of pounding the cobblestones. You'll enjoy elbow room, a spacious pool, hot tub, and fitness center, a very short walk from the historical district and harbor.

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