Long Weekend in the Northeast: Itinerary

Finally, I had the time to sit down and write about our Northeast Road Trip Extravaganza. I recommend visiting in the fall for obvious reasons (leaves, crispness, etc.) but I could see this being an awesome spring or summer weekend trip. Winter for sure if you’re psychotic and enjoy being outside when it’s cold.

The shortlist for our itinerary was as follows, but please note I don’t recommend it. We were pretty rushed, and with early sunsets, we didn’t get to see as much of the towns as we would’ve liked.

  • Day 1: Fly into Boston, spend day/night in Burlington, Vermont
  • Day 2: Burlington, Vermont in morning, drive to Montreal for afternoon/night
  • Day 3: Montreal, Quebec in morning, drive to Portland, ME for night
  • Day 4: Portland, ME, Portsmouth, NH, and Salem, MA on the way back to Boston

Instead, look at these options:

If you have four days: Boston → Burlington, Vermont → Portland, Maine → Boston
If you have five days: Boston → Burlington, Vermont → Montreal, Quebec → Portland, Maine → Boston

For both trips, I do recommend stopping in either Portsmouth and/or Salem on the way back to Boston. They’re such charming towns that won’t add much stopover time to your trip back. Now! Let’s get into the highlights of our weekend trip.

Burlington, Vermont

While I dedicated a whole post to this magical city here, I’ll give you the lowdown. Burlington is Vermont’s biggest city, with a mere 42,000 people. The town is centered around Lake Champlain, an area our weather didn’t allow to us enjoy, but that I heard thrives in the summer.

We drove straight from Boston, winding through New Hampshire (a SERIOUSLY underrated state) and Vermont’s rolling mountains. Renting a car this trip is a must– not only are the views gorgeous, but I’m not sure the trip is doable without it, lol.

Activities

Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour – Our first stop was one of Vermont’s most well-known and best tasting attractions. The tour was pretty good for its low price tag, and honoring the creators in their hometown felt pretty cool. It’s hardly out of the way to stop on the way to Burlington, so if you’re coming from Boston, I’d definitely recommend.

Around Burlington – If you’re visiting in the summer, take the time to see Lake Champlain. If not, Church Street is beautiful rain or shine. This tree-lined street is quintessential Burlington and is packed with shops, restaurants, coffee shops and more. I could’ve spent hours taking photos strolling around.

Food and Drink

American Flatbread – A hippie, homey, wood-fired pizza place with great local beer offerings and veggie specials. SAY. NO. MORE.
Citizen Cider – For those who are into cider and those who are not, you will enjoy. I never thought I wanted basil-flavored cider, but boy did I ever.
Feldman’s Bagels – Because brunch is overpriced and bagels are underrated.

More recommendations on my post, here!

Montreal, Quebec

Boy, Montreal, you ended up being out of the way, but I’m sure glad I met you. Now, I have to preface, you know when you go somewhere and it feels like everything about the place is against you? The weather, the festivities that are happening, etc.? That’s kind of how Montreal was for us. We got rainy, gloomy, and cold weather (which I actually hear is pretty common- so I’m not sure I should be complaining), and one of the main walking areas that was known for its charm was under construction.

Looking past the obvious annoyances, I could see what people loved about the city. Montreal is a modern city mixed with areas that felt straight out of Europe. Think: cobblestone streets, grand churches, and detailed architecture that you just don’t get in America. The fact that most people were speaking French probably contributed to that feeling as well, haha. It was a cool feeling, though, driving less than two hours north of Burlington and practically being transported to France.

Activities

Our activities, like in many European cities, involved walking around, admiring the architecture, and of course, finding food the country was known for. In this case, poutine, a dish with french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy.

I recommend walking around Old Montreal, specifically Rue Saint Paul. On our second day, we spent time around the Mile End area of Montreal, more of a hipster neighborhood (that was home to my favorite meal of the trip, below)

Food and Drink

Olive & Gourmando – We came here for coffee and pain au chocolat, and I would like to go back every day for the rest of my life. I’ve heard great things about the paninis, but I think you’ll score regardless of what you order.
Tsukuyomi – This was the real winner of the trip. I dream about this ramen. And because ramen is inherently a meat-based dish, you’d think you’d miss out getting a vegan ramen. BUT NO! Simply phenomenal.
The Cold Room – There’s just something about speakeasies in Montreal. We had so much fun searching for the entrance, and were greeted and brought to a dim but chic basement, if that’s a thing. My server even custom-made a spicy drink for me because I’m an asshole. Five stars.
L’Orignal – Everyone was pleased with their food here, but it wasn’t mind-blowing, and that’s what I’m looking for always.

Portland, Maine

I’m all about precursors here, and for Portland, my precursor is that I could absolutely see myself living here. I am PARTIAL to Maine now, and that just means I enjoyed it, so I’m going to continue to give my recommendations.

We drove to Portland from Montreal which was not necessarily a FUN ride in the dark, but boooooy this is where New Hampshire comes back into play. We drove through the White Mountains, passed through the most quaint little towns, and I almost cried of its beauty. Don’t let people rip on New Hampshire, you guys. I’m about to plan a trip back to the MOUNTAINS where I BELONG.

Anyway, back to Portland. It’s not the capital of Maine, but it’s the SPOT, ya know? There’s lobsters, and cobblestone streets (we are in New England, of course), and poutine again, some more seafood, and great, great beer. The people were laid-back and friendly. I felt like everyone in town was a childhood friend that had that mutual feeling of knowing better than to say hello to you in public. Does that make sense? They were cool with us being there, but did their own thing, and everyone was okay with that. On to the good stuff:

Activities

Walk around Old Port – Old Port, or the downtown area, is a beautiful mix of New England coastal charm with Portland’s artsy vibes. This is a popular walking area for tourists, but didn’t feel touristy at all. Give yourself a couple hours to browse shops and stop at the Holy Donut, which I will cover below.

Allagash Brewery Tour – There’s many reasons this should be on your list, and they’re as follows: 1) it’s beer, 2) it’s free, 3) and it’s actually super interesting. They don’t skimp on time here, and you’re given a FULL tour, as this building does everything from the brewing to the bottling and shipping. Remember to book ahead as slots fill up quickly– we had an 11am tour (not complaining though, lol).

Portland Headlight/Ft. Williams Park – I’m a liiiiittle pissed I didn’t get to see a proper lighthouse while in Maine, but you can’t win them all. This is one of the closest and most popular lighthouses to visit while in the area.

Food & Drink

Eventide Oyster Co. – Home of one of the most famous lobster rolls in Portland, as well as, you guessed it, oysters. Mostly a seafood place, we all loved our dishes– and there was vegetarian specials for all you fellow veggies out there. Grab a drink at a dive bar called Tomaso’s Canteen while you’re waiting and MAKE SURE your table is ready before you leave : )
The Holy Donut – As a Chicagoan (or really any big city lover), I have an affinity toward donuts, specifically funky ones. The Holy Donut makes donuts out of fresh Maine potatoes, giving them a rich, moist (ha!!!!) texture. Combined with their fun flavors, this was one of my favorite stops of the trip. Highly recommend.
Lincoln’s – Another speakeasy because they’re way more fun than walking into REGULAR bars! This one was tough to find, but we did with the help of a local who was more than willing to watch us look like idiots walking into back doors of random establishments. The kicker: everything is $5! Again… say no more. (Bring cash) (Thanks, Zack, for this recommendation).
Bite into Maine – We stopped here on the way out for one of Portland’s acclaimed lobster rolls. People argue this is one of the best.

Others that we didn’t see that I would’ve liked to:  Duckfat, Central Provisions, Hot Suppa

Portsmouth, New Hampshire & Salem, Massachusetts

On our way back to the Boston Airport for our flight, we took two little detours in Portsmouth, NH and Salem, MA. I had coached a cheer camp in Portsmouth a few years back and remember how much I loved the town, so we did a 30 minute stop in the harbor town. I’ll let the photos speak for itself.

Salem was an obvious stop, as we were in town October 30th. If you’ve seen Hocus Pocus in the last five years (I hadn’t) you’ll absolutely love it. However, I’ll never complain about a New England town in the fall, and that’s a fact.

Have you visited any of these places? Hopefully! Did I miss some major spots? Most likely!

Thanks for listening to my rants of excitement and amateur food reviews,

1 Day in Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont was just the city I wanted it to be. It was small — about the same size population as my hometown. It was charming — I’ll let the pictures do the talking. And everyone was as eco-friendly and tree-hugging as I’d heard. Burlington was the first stop on our Northeast Road Trip Extravaganza, (blog post coming shortly), so there was a lot of pressure to start the trip on a high note, and despite the cold and rainy weather, it really did. Here’s what we squeezed in our (less than) 24 hours in Burlington, Vermont.

Note: If you’re just here for the cold, hard facts, scroll down to the bottom for the overview and additional recommendations. 

We started our trip from Boston, driving in what appeared to be the Northeast’s first snow storm of the season. Making the best of the 4+ cars we saw in ditches, we blasted some Christmas music and got on our JOLLY WAY.

First Stop: Ben & Jerry’s Factory.

This was on my list of must-do’s — the $4 tour price tag and the simple prospect of ice cream had me sold. While the tour itself was only okay, the story of the ~birth of Ben & Jerry’s was interesting and inspiring. These were just two hippie guys trying to make chunky ice cream, and now here they are in every Target freezer in America! On a more serious note, Ben & Jerry’s had a nice little political plugs and sustainability comments in the tour that didn’t go unnoticed (in a good way). Very on-brand Vermont.

These tours run every half-hour at the factory in Waterbury, Vermont.

Second Stop: Freshen up and head to dinner.

After unpacking and freshening up from a long day of travel, we headed to Burlington’s main area near Church St. After a few recommendations, we chose American Flatbread for dinner, and I highly recommend. The restaurant has a great beer list from Zero Gravity Brewery (get the Forty Thieves Double IPA if you like hoppy beers), an eclectic menu, and a cozy atmosphere complete with wood-fire grill. I got the veggie special flatbread and loved every bite.

After Dinner, Grab Drinks

Not everyone loves hoppy beers (ugh) so we ended the night at Citizen Cider. Whether you’re a cider person or not, this place is definitely worth visiting. I spent $7 for a flight of five samples that included fun cider flavors, like ginger and basil — my two favorite. If you simply cannot give up an ounce of your masculinity, Vermont Pub & Brewery is convenient and close to many restaurants in Burlington. Now get some rest!

In the Morning…

Remind yourself you’re in beautiful Vermont upon waking, and then promptly grab breakfast. We opted for something simple and got bagels and coffee at Feldman’s Bagels. This is a great option for those who want something quicker, want to keep costs low (why is brunch so expensive?), or just like eating really good bagels. We like eating really good bagels.

Time to Explore

We spent our first few daylight hours roaming around Church Street– to me, this is quintessential Burlington. There are shops and cafes lining the street, a VERY photogenic church at the end, and tree lights lit during the daytime. This was my favorite part of Vermont, even in our rainy weather.

Conversely, if you happen to visit during the summertime, there are a ton of activities to do on and around Lake Champlain. This is probably (definitely) the most photogenic part of Burlington, and while we’re sad we missed it, it’s just another reason for us to go back.

To Conclude

Vermont was one of the few New England states I had yet to see, and it was not a disappointment. If you ever find yourself in the area — make the trip. It’s well worth it. Sparknotes below : – )

The Overview

Where to fly into:
Close, but limited – Burlington International Airport | Cheap, but far – Boston Logan International Airport (a little over 3 hours) | Somewhere in between –  Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (about 2 hours)
Where to stay:
Airbnb (Option 1, Option 2, Option 3) | Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain | Hotel Vermont| Courtyard Burlington Harbor | Hilton Garden Inn Burlington Downtown
Where to eat:
– Breakfast: Feldman’s Bagels | The Skinny Pancake | Butch & Babe’s 
– Lunch/Dinner: American Flatbread Company | Farmhouse Tap & Grill (local recommended) | Revolution Kitchen (veg) | Duino Duende (eclectic)
What to Do:
Walk down Church Street | Visit Lake Champlain | Eat maple syrup, a maple creemee, and Vermont cheddar

Huge thanks to Sam & Taylor for hosting us and showing us the best parts of your city! Check out more of my travel posts here, and thanks for reading!

Girl’s Weekend Guide to Milwaukee

Milwaukee is underrated. I know Chicago gets all the Midwest city love, but Milwaukee, Wisconsin has truly stepped up its game since my 8th grade years driving up for pop-punk concerts at the Rave.

Now, if you don’t live in the Midwest or haven’t stepped foot in Wisconsin, know that it’s much better than it sounds (and hopefully I can prove that to you). And if you like beer and cheese, I won’t have to do much convincing, because that stereotype is absolutely true.

After spending an amazing ~girl’s weekend there, I’ve compiled a little itinerary modeled off our own. Thanks to Meghan for planning a perfect weekend and for helping me add more Milwaukee gems 🙂 Without further ado… the itinerary!

Friday:

We drove up to Milwaukee after work and had what I believe all weekends should start with– a night in. We cozied up with wine and cheese, put our phones down and caught up. Staying in on Fridays should be a given– first for the quality time, and second for that magical feeling waking up Saturday morning without a hangover.

Saturday:

8:30 am – Workout Class
Start your day with a morning group workout class. We went to Orangetheory in the Third Ward (must try if you haven’t– your first class is free!) and it absolutely killed us. Boutique fitness classes are a great way to try something new and get a sweat in early on, and besides, dying is always more fun when you have good company. Milwaukee is scattered with boutique fitness studios, see below.
Other options:
Spire – cycling, rowing, TRX | Hot Yoga Milwaukee | Yoga Squad

Bianca Bialk

10:00 am – Breakfast
Time to treat YO SELF! We opted to go for breakfast right after Orange Theory so we could beat the crowds and also so we could ruin everyone else’s dining experience 🙂 We headed to Sweetdiner, a trendy and bright cafe with delicious food. If you decide to visit, spend some time walking around Milwaukee’s super cute Third Ward area. Then go home and shower, jeez!
Other options:
Cafe at the Plaza | Honeypie Cafe | Toast | Café Benelux | Urban Beets Cafe (vegan) | Merriment Social

12:00 pm – Milwaukee Public Market
One of Milwaukee’s biggest tourist and local attractions is the Milwaukee Public Market. Hang out for an hour, walk around, and try some of the vendor’s fresh food. The public market also has classes and events sometimes, if you’re into that kinda thing. It’s also indoors, which is the kind of self-awareness I like to see in a city.

1:30 pm – Milwaukee Brewing Co.
They don’t call it the Beer Capital of the World for no reason! We stopped at Milwaukee Brewing Co.‘s newer location on 9th St and it did not disappoint. Bright windows, greenery walls and beer flights make for a very happy Bianca. This location and the other offer brewery tours for $12, which gets you beer samples and a pint glass as well. We love Wisconsin.

4:30 pm – Lakefront Brewery
Time for beer stop #2, and this one’s practically a Milwaukee must-do. We decided to go for a brewery tour at Lakefront Brewery (book ahead) that has the exact same perks as the previous brewery. They make it informational in a funny and entertaining way, which is important because I’ve been on 294 brewery tours and still don’t understand how beer is made. Tip: try their Hazy Rabbit if you like IPAs and do not leave until you’ve overdosed on their cheese curds– I cannot recommend them enough.

Bianca Bialk

6:00 pm – Dinnnnna
After stuffing yourself with beer and fried cheese, it’s time to put on your big girl pants and go grab some dinner. Balzac was the perfect choice for us, as it’s a cozy restaurant with small plates and an extensive wine list. The food was delicious and the portions were JUST RIGHT. Small plates or die. If you speak in Yelp language, I’d say this is a two dollar-sign ($$) restaurant.
Other options:
$ – Ian’s Pizza, late night
$$ – Birch and Butcher, small plates | La Merenda, tapas | Point’s East Pub, dive bar with great wings | BelAir Cantina, Mexican | Fixture, pizza | Sobelman’s, American/burgers | Rice N Roll, sushi/Thai | St. Paul’s Fish Company (get a lobster or bring home some fresh fish)
$$$ – Zarletti, Italian | Harbor House, seafood | Third Coast Provisions, seafood
$$$$ – Carnevor, steakhouse 

Bianca Bialk

7:30 pm – The Night Begins…
After dinner, head back home/to the hotel/to the Airbnb to freshen up and maybe pregame if the previous four beers and two glasses of wine just wasn’t enough. We went out on Brady St. and had a blast. Bars/areas recommended below:
Brady St (The Garage, Jo Cats, Nomad) | Old World Third, good for game day | Third WardWalkers Point/Fifth Ward, up and coming | Bayview | Riverwest | Shorewood

Sunday

If you don’t have to waste your whole day recovering, here’s a list of Milwaukee’s top attractions. Enjoy, and let me know what I missed:
Drinks – The Outsider, rooftop bar | View MKE, rooftop bar | Lost Valley Cider Co. | Milwaukee Pedal & Paddle Tavern | Lakefront Brewery | MKE Brewing Co.
Sports – Milwaukee Brewers | Milwaukee Bucks 
Activities – Check out Visit Milwaukee for an up-to-date listing of seasonal activities! 

P.S. – If you’re new to Airbnb, use this link to get $40 off your first stay!

Thanks for reading,