Rockport Massachusetts – A Sparkling Coastal Gem

Rockport, Massachusetts, known as the “Crown Jewel of the Massachusetts Coastline,” reflects the sparkle and charm of its generous, well-lit carets in the mirror-clear waters of its shoreline and beaches. Facing east is Front Beach, an active, popular spot on Sandy Bay. Off Thatcher Road you’ll find Long Beach-a well protected and lengthy stretch of inviting ocean-teased sand. Located on Beach Street between Main and Granite, Back Beach provides a breathtaking ocean view as you bask in the radiance of its near-white sunlight. Known for its quiet solitude, Cape Hedge Beach at South Street invites you to leave all else behind. A convenient walk from town, yet private and somewhat secluded, is Old Garden Beach-a rather small, intimate and welcoming retreat. For all those who cherish the benefits of reflexology, Pebble Beach (at the end of South Street) is completely covered with smooth, round pebbles and stones. Here, you can walk safely and healthfully, rejuvenated and renewed from the seaside stroll.

Thatcher Island’s Twin Lighthouses, built and first lit in 1789, stand tall as the longest surviving multiple lighthouses on the entire U.S. coastline. Built in 1835, the Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse announces the entrance to Rockport Harbor. Its stalwart beam can be sighted easily from the end of downtown Rockport’s Bearskin Neck. As in many historical seaside communities, lighthouses play major parts in both factual and legendary reports and accounts.

Rockport is home to many charming Bed & Breakfast / Inns. For example, as a guest at the Seven South Street Inn B&B, you’ll enjoy friendly, warm hospitality in a calm, relaxed atmosphere. At the Old Farm Inn located on Granite Street on Cape Ann’s rugged coastline, you’ll find yourself surrounded by five acres of lush green landscape enhanced by plentiful birch trees and flowers. Nearby is the breathtaking coastal terrain of Halibut Point State Park. Or, you may prefer The Inn on Cove Hill in the center of town. This historical site was built in the late 1700s and provides its guests with vivid memories of its colorful past.

Nestled on Pigeon Hill Street is one of Rockport’s major attractions-the Paper House, built in 1922 by Elis F. Stenman. A mechanical engineer and designer, Mr. Stenman’s paper house project began as a hobby. Although the paper was intended for insulation, the entire structure and its furniture were constructed of paper.

Located on Bearskin Neck, the well-known fishing shack has become one of the world’s most famous and easily recognizable structures, especially to artists and arts enthusiasts.

Artists and photographers are plentiful among Rockport residents, and many more visit frequently to capture the brilliant coastal color scheme enhanced by the crisp, pristine New England seaside sunlight. A stroll through town will delight art lovers, as galleries abound displaying works from a multitude of artistic schools and styles-all depicting the awesome splendor of this jewel-lined, charismatic coastline and community. Main Street is home to numerous galleries, including An Artful Touch, Anderson Gallery of Fine Art, Ken Knowles, Mercury, and Mosher. On Bearskin Neck, you’ll find the Kanegis, R. Lerch, and Muse galleries. Also located on Main Street is the Rockport Art Association, devoted to the preservation and development of the visual arts.

The new Shalin Liu Performance Center, named for its generous donor, will be the creative home to many excellent, exciting and innovative performances, including those of the highly acclaimed Rockport Chamber Music Festival, led by Artistic Director David Deveau since 1995. This new venue will facilitate new additions to the festival, such as a jazz series, world music performances, children’s concerts, and extended educational partnerships with local schools.

The story of the Windhover Center for the Performing Arts on Granite Street is truly one of artistic innovation. In 1967, Herbert and Ina Hahn bought the last remaining farm in Pigeon Cove, two miles north of Rockport. In less than a year, they transformed the land and buildings into a beautiful miniature New England village-a performing arts camp for teenage girls. The camp was named “Windhover,” the title of a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins about a falcon airborne and hovering against the wind, symbolizing man’s soaring imagination and art’s spiritual quest. Windhover became a non-profit foundation in 1983, and in 1986 completed the transition from arts camp to performing arts center. Along with focusing on creating dance and dance/drama reflecting the community, Windhover Dance Company is devoted to re-constructing and performing the works of two pioneer choreographers in the field of modern dance-Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman.

Rockport restaurants, famous for their splendid waterfront views-especially at sunset-serve fabulous fresh seafood, as well as a varied menu to please many palates. The Greenery at Dock Square offers a gorgeous harbor view along with a versatile menu, excellent grilled fish and lobster, and delicious homemade desserts. At Brackett’s Oceanview Restaurant on Main Street you’ll choose from a large menu while enjoying the refreshing ocean breeze. Ellen’s Harborside, located on Historic T Wharf with its panoramic view of Rockport Harbor, serves highly acclaimed chowders and seafood, as well as Tender Pit BBQ Ribs. Also, along with your meal, Ellen’s is currently offering your favorite wines and spirits. (As history tells it, back in 1856, the “Hatchet Gang” organized by Hannah Jumper, a spinster and seamstress, ran the “demon rum” out of town. This event left Rockport a dry town until April, 2005, when a vote by Rockport residents overturned this 149-year-old “tradition.” At present, several Rockport restaurants are licensed to offer alcoholic beverages along with meals.)

Of course, after lingering over food and drink at seaside, you’ll want to stroll through town and browse in its many unique and enchanting shops. At Bearskin Neck Leathers you’ll be delighted with the large selection of fine leather goods, including jackets, handbags and footwear. Nearby is Earth’s Treasures, with an appealing display of international products such as handcrafted jewelry, Himalayan salt lamps, incense, candles, gemstones, books and CDs. Then, visit the Blue Gate Gardens on Main Street where the florist and greenhouse provide the very finest choice of plants and flowers.

The two main early industries of Rockport on Cape Ann were fishing and the stone quarry business. This rock-bound cape, once host to countless ship wrecks, now warmly welcomes visitors as its treasured guests-whether they arrive by land, by sea or hydroplane. You really must visit soon! Until then, this sparkling jewel glistens from the golden crown of its sunlit beaches, teasing you toward a taste of its rocky, rugged legends; smooth sifting sand; cool, soothing sea tides; and its own very special brand of New England coastal charm. General source: Rockport Chamber of Commerce (a division of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce): Travel Guide for Gloucester & Cape Ann, MA, 2006-2008.

Copyright 2008 – Ellen Gilmer

Sparkling Wine Tours in California

If you are interested in taking a wine tour, but are just not in the position to leave the United States for weeks at a time, consider one of many sparkling wine tours in California. These tours offer you the chance to experience wine tasting, wonderful food, and a relaxing atmosphere, while still keeping you close to home. We can help you select a wine tour you’ll cherish your entire life.

The first thing to consider when planning a sparkling wine tour in California is what type of tour you are interested in. Some wine tours are full service. The tour guides will book your hotel, plan out your meals and transport you to and from wine tasting outings and other activities. These are a great option for anyone who is unfamiliar with the area or does not want to do a lot of work to plan their vacation.

On the other hand, many sparkling wine tours in California are a little less involved. Some of these tours will offer you the chance to find your own hotel and dining experiences, but still plan out and provide transportation to each wine tasting. This is a great option because you get the best of both worlds. You can spend time on your own, but still have an experienced professional show you all California wineries have to offer.

Finally, you may choose to experience the wines of California all on your own. You can easily set up your own sparkling wine tour in California. Find a book on the local wine tasting options and book them in advance so you know you aren’t missing anything. You can find a great hotel online or ask friends for recommendations. And don’t forget to make a list of great restaurants to experience while you are there.

Travel Holidays to Exotic Tropical Islands and Beaches

Anyone who claims to be a beach lover should get hold of a catalog that lists all the beautiful beaches, where one head to, for a glorious vacation. Given below is a list of some of the major tropical beaches that tourists visit, when they wish to get away from it all and relax on the golden sands.

The Caribbean Beaches have been touted as the best in the world. It is renowned for its temperature as well as the beautiful sparkling crystal waters that make up the oceans. Here you can see plenty of marine life and enjoy a wonderful vacation on these spectacular beaches, where many movies have been shot, because of the excellent location.

If you are romantically involved, there is no better way that to set off to the beach destination that you normally see in movies, where you can spend some quality time, with your loved one. Make this tropical beach your next holiday destination and enjoy the moderate climate, clear blue waters and the various species of marine life that abound there.

You can head to the tropical beaches of Cuba, Bahamas and Gaudeloupe to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily city life. You will enjoy the serenity of the environment and look forward to spending precious moments with your family, which is quite impossible when you are caught up with the daily activities at home. There is no better way to spend quality time with the members of your family or a few close friends.

For those who are not interested in travelling long hours, you can visit Hawaii and have the time of your life on the beaches. The sparkling white sands and the blue clear waters will revitalize your being as you take in the pristine beauty all around you. Enjoy days of water surfing and laze around on the beaches soaking up the wonderful sun. It is not difficult to reach this travel destination as many airlines land at Hawaii which is considered to be one of the most popular travel destinations.

Travel to Asia if you are looking for exotic adventure on your vacation. There are many places that you can visit and several beaches to relax on when you are in Asia. Try heading to a new place instead of visiting the same beaches over and over again. Perhaps you need to experience new sights to be rejuvenated and enjoy a memorable vacation.

One of the famous beaches that you can head to is Ko Phi Phi in Thailand. You can combine adventure and fun with relaxation on the beaches in this part of Asia. Enjoy the sandy beaches and tropical islands, in and around Thailand, where you can enjoy some spectacular natural scenic views and eat the delicacies that are special to Thailand.

If you wish to visit Philippines, you can enjoy a wonderful holiday at Boracay, which is renowned for its fantastic beaches. You can relax on the sands as they do not heat up even at noontime. The other activities that you can indulge in here are kite boarding and windsurfing. You can enjoy the colorful nightlife that is special to this place and take your entire family along for the vacation.

If you are looking for tropical excitement, you can visit the 3 Gili Islands of Indonesia which is well worth the experience. There are many reefs that you can explore when you are there and be amazed at the tranquility and peace that awaits you. If you are adventurous, you can try your hand at diving. The Gili islands offer you total privacy where you can have uninterrupted rest and enjoy relaxing in seclusion on the deserted beaches.