Why New England coast is a good Fourth of July destination…

The best thing about living in New England is having the luxury of being able to go on short road trips to different states in one weekend. As of today, I’ve been to 31 states. And now I can also say I’ve been to ALL New England states after spending Fourth of July in New Hampshire and Maine.

As a Connecticut local and a travel addict who has been in more than twenty countries, it was pretty appalling that I’ve waited this long to visit Maine. Portland was only a three hour drive. No excuse for someone who did road trips to Niagara and yes, to Florida. Nonetheless, I checked it off my list and Fourth of July was the perfect excuse for this.

 New England is famous for foliage road trips, but a summer drive up north especially for a very American weekend is definitely a MUST! For this road trip, my friends and I decided to stop by the very quaint and charming city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire on the way to the beautiful coast of Maine as the final destination. Lucky for me, one of my friends Aaron, who tagged along is a Maine native. Needless to say he was the unofficial guide of this trip.  We left Central Connecticut late in the morning, all caffeinated  up and ready to celebrate America’s freedom with the required red, white and blue outfits.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Found this somewhere on the streets of Portsmouth.

New Hampshire’s official motto: Live free or die.

Downtown Portsmouth

Downtown Portsmouth

I did not spend enough time in Portsmouth to really talk about where and what to do, but even with my quick stopover, I was able to experience the city’s charm and historic appeal. If you are looking for a classic, old-fashioned, good ole American celebration, Portsmouth is the place to be. Strawberry Banke Museum hosts an annual salute to America’s Independence every year. The event is full of activities for everybody. From games, to historical dances, music, parade and fireworks. Visit Strawberry Banke Museum for more information about their annual celebration.

My pitstop, however, included a beer tasting experience at the delightful Earth Eagle Brewings. This microbrewery offers a laid-back atmosphere for both visitors and locals alike. If you are a beer enthusiast, you must try Earth Eagle Brewings and its bold and unique flavors.

Beer tasting fun!

Beer tasting fun!

Portland, Maine

Portland is a popular summer destination and for a seafood lover, it is the place to be! Shall I mention Maine lobster? But before I start talking about seafood, let me talk about the city’s big Fourth of July event first. The Stars and Stripes Spectacular is Maine’s largest annual Fourth of July celebration with an estimated 60,000-70,000 spectators each year. There are vendors and VIP tents in addition to the countless establishments downtown. There are guest performers and a concert at night before the fireworks display.

Now let’s talk about my favorite part of the trip: fresh seafood! The perfect weather called for some outdoor dining, by-the-sea experience. Portland Lobster Company isn’t easy to miss. Just follow the crowd and music and you will see this waterfront view patio filled with seafood lovers. Not to mention PLC is the winner of the Best in Portland 2015: Best Lobster Roll, Best Seafood, and Best Patio.


The infamous lobster roll.

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Walk around Portland and check out a bunch of the cool stores, restaurants and ice cream shops!

Walking around Portland.

Walking around Portland.

11733435_10100723982755039_1503735062_n ice cream

Pictured above: Love Locks in Maine and one of my new favorite discoveries: Vanilla ice cream with biscoff cookies!

  • Portland Head Light – Another MUST when in Portland is to check out the oldest lighthouse in America, Portland Head Light which is located in Fort Williams Park. Historic and scenic, that’s all you need to visit this place.


Ogunquit, Maine

Ogunquit was an unexpected last minute trip on the way home from Maine to Connecticut. This part of the trip was where our nightlife started. This vacation town is also a popular destination especially for events like Fourth of July where people flock to watch the fireworks display. Finding parking was pretty tough and prepare to shed out some cash for parking. My advice is pretty simple: FOLLOW THE CROWD.  Everybody is going to Main Street where all the restaurants and bars are located. Find one with an outdoor patio or balcony to view the fireworks display. It is also important to mention that Ogunquit is a gay-friendly town. It has a big gay community and is a popular destination for that alone. Ogunquit is a great town for a fun night life!

My post shall end here as I reminisce the memories of my strong drinks at Maine Street, and finding unexpected familiar faces of people outside their business suits but in their pink shorts and white loafers instead. But that’s another story to tell.

Happy birthday, America. Let freedom ring!

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Jen is a Chicago-based traveler and a full-time Director of Development for an arts & culture organization. Originally from Connecticut, she created JetsettingJen as a place to share her travel stories and photos with friends and family. Now, it is a place for adventurers, explorers and dreamers. Its purpose is to inspire and encourage people to see the world and achieve a better work-life balance.