Traveling with Orvis is not always the easiest, and often, you can be hard-pressed to find "dog friendly" places for any pup that breaks the 30 pound barrier. This however, is a collection of some of Orvis' favorite places (where you won't find any size-ism), and some of the things to do that we consider to be truly dog friendly.
Our Christmas celebrations this year were just as we prefer – low key & delicious. We took the opportunity to enjoy some tasty meals and catch up with some of our favorite people, but the highlight of our week was celebrating Orvis’s 8th birthday the day after Christmas. We began the festivities with a family run that ended at the beach and then hopped in the car to head up to the birthday boy’s favorite spot – our family’s farm in Wiscasset. We spent the rest of the day walking the property with Orvis and playing fetch with him, before taking a stroll around town.
With each year that passes, we realize how absolutely amazing our time has been with Orvis, and become sadly more aware of the finite amount of time that remains. Taking a full day to celebrate him – doing the things he loves most – fills our hearts with happiness, and we have to admit that after watching him gallop around the farm, he seemed more like an 8-month old puppy than the adult dog he is.
With family holidays, weddings, and other work-related projects taking us down south, Michael and I make the drive down to North Carolina and back at least 2-3 times per year, leaving us very well-versed in the distance in between. We now know where the best rest stops are for dogs, which exits have a Panera close by, and which dog-friendly inns to visit along the way. Depending on the route we choose – the latter is typically either the Inn at Perry Cabin if we’re sticking to the coast, or Hotel Fauchere if our plans take us further west.
Lately, the westerly route always seems to win out for us. The driving is less stressful and much more scenic through the countryside of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Plus, if we time it right, we can walk around Milford with Orvis before it gets too late, pop into Upriver Home, and enjoy a bite to eat at Bar Louis, all before partaking in our favorite breakfast the next morning.
Each time we stop in Milford as a family, we make new memories together, and this last time was no different. Here are a few new photos from our stay.
The first thing we heard from most of our friends and family after finding out about our upcoming wedding was either “where are you going to eat after the ceremony?” or “where are you going to honeymoon?”. I suppose that maintaining a travel and food site sets a certain expectation in this regard, so I think most people were surprised when we’d respond that we hadn’t really given the latter too much thought. Given some upcoming house projects, our work schedules, and the relatively short planning time, we knew we wanted to spend a few nights somewhere local shortly after the wedding, followed by a longer honeymoon at some point next year, but as to the actual location for our short getaway, the whole of New England was open to us.
From the moment we drove into Woodstock, Vermont, we knew that we’d made the right choice. If a beautiful and quaint New England town was our goal, we’d hit a bucolic jackpot. Shuttered capes, brick colonials, storefronts lining a main street, and public green spaces – all set against a rolling mountain backdrop. We couldn’t have asked for a better location and over the course of the next few days, we loved finding things to do, places to eat, and shops to explore in and around town.
Beyond all of the red carpet treatment for Orvis, the inn’s very first four-legged guest, Michael and I absolutely adored everything about our stay at the Woodstock Inn. Located right in the heart of Woodstock, the inn was just steps away from the beautiful trails and carriage paths of a national park, and the shops, galleries, and restaurants of Woodstock’s two main streets. Read more about our stay at the Woodstock Inn here.
We arrived just around dusk, and after the drive, wanted something low-key for dinner. The Worthy Kitchen was exactly what we were in search of. Fresh, local ingredients, and an outstanding beer list (we were in Vermont of course) made up the tasty menu for what seemed to be Woodstock’s go-to hangout.
Miles of hiking trails and carriage roads make up this beautiful national park, and fortunately for the three of us, the Faulkner Park access point was just a short walk from the front door of the inn. Using the wonderfully maintained Faulkner Trail switchbacks, we made our way to the top of Mt. Tom for outstanding views of Woodstock and the surrounding area, and followed that with a leisurely stroll to the Pogue, a picturesque pond in the middle of the park. It was here that Orvis met an extremely dog-friendly horse, and to the absolute delight of Meredith, they briefly bumped noses.
In search of some lighter lunch fare, Meredith had mentally bookmarked the Mon Vert Cafe for its unique sandwich menu. So after our morning hike, we dropped Orvis at the inn and headed down Central Street to grab a bite. As good looking as they were delicious, the sandwiches at this French-inspired cafe were the perfect midday meal.
The subtle glaze and stonework of Woodstock’s Farmhouse Pottery caught Meredith’s eye at some point in her travel research, and after seeing the distinctly fantastic pieces throughout the inn and a few other places, we knew that stopping by their store and workshop just outside of town was an absolute must. Not only were we drawn to their pottery, but the entire “modern farm aesthetic” of their brand, workshop, and store seemed to perfectly fit our own tastes. It was a pleasure to meet and speak with owners, James & Zoe (who coincidentally met at the Maine College of Art in Portland), along with potters Kate and Michael, who where more than happy to give us a tour of the workshop and show us the process from wheel to kiln. We could’ve easily stayed, explored the shop, and talked for hours, but thought better of overstaying our welcome, and departed with a beautiful Farmer’s Pitcher and wooden bowl for our new kitchen counters back at home.
Kate, one of the potters at Farmhouse, assured us that dining at Simon Pearce in nearby Quechee would make for a splendid post-wedding celebratory dinner, and after our delicious meal there, we couldn’t agree more. Set just past a covered bridge and overlooking the Ottauquechee River, the restaurant served a number of local, seasonal dishes, and afterwards we were able to tour the beautiful blown glass gallery. Rather serendipitously, Michael’s company sent us a Simon Pearce vase as a wedding present the week after we returned from Vermont!
Since this is far from our last trip to Woodstock, we cannot wait to try Osteria Pane e Salute on our next trip – we have it on good authority (James from Farmhouse) that it’s one of the best spots in town.
As always, we’d love to hear your own suggestions for the Woodstock, Vermont area if you have them!
We hit a Map & Menu milestone last week when we checked into the Woodstock Inn & Resort… our very own Orvis was the first – the very first – four-legged guest to ever stay at the inn! This of course, made us the happiest people in all of Vermont. He was treated with such fanfare every time we walked through the doors. The entire staff must have been briefed about this VIP guest, because everyone we met greeted him by name and called to him from afar. He was asked to pose by the fireplace for a photo, given treats, and received lots of love from other guests who somehow also knew that he was the first dog to stay at the inn. It was as though we were with a celebrity, and naturally, we loved every minute of it.
Beyond all of the red carpet treatment for Orvis, Michael and I absolutely adored everything about our stay at the Woodstock Inn. Located right in the heart of one of the more charming towns we’ve ever visited, the inn is a focal point of Woodstock, and just steps away from the beautiful trails and carriage paths of a national park, and the shops, galleries, and restaurants of Woodstock’s two main streets. Waking up with a deliciously hearty breakfast from the inn and falling asleep on the wonderfully comfy bed became book-end highlights to a fantastic Vermont getaway.
The inn’s stunning LEED-designed spa should not be missed. Knowing I wouldn’t have enough time for an entire treatment before we had to checkout on our final day, I opted to purchase a day pass that gave me access to all of the luxurious spa facilities, including the steam room, sauna, and whirlpool. Checking out of a hotel has never been so depressing! Waiting until the final day of our trip to visit the spa was certainly a mistake on my part, but you can bet that the spa will be one of the first activities I enjoy the next time we’re back in Woodstock.
Staying at an inn as well-appointed as the Woodstock Inn & Resort is always a treat, but the fact that Orvis can join along in the fun makes the entire experience even more memorable. We’re already looking forward to our next family trip there!
Our mid-week getaway to North Haven couldn’t have been more enjoyable. We just missed the peak season, so we felt as though we had the quiet island all to ourselves. With an adorable village, a handful of trails, and more island to bike than one could possibly fit into a short trip, we had plenty to do on our own and with Orvis and Mason. Unlike many remote Maine island experiences (North Haven is an hour ferry ride from Rockland), the restaurants and the food on the island left little to be desired, and over the course of four days, Meredith, her mother, and I ate our fill, laughed a lot, and relaxed even more. Here are some of the highlights from our trip:
In their off-season, the restaurant at Nebo closes on Thursday nights, which gave us the perfect opportunity to enjoy a meal around the corner at Calderwood Hall, the local pizza shop and market. The weather turned out to be beautiful on that last night, so we decided to switch up the plans a bit, ordered our dinner to go, and returned to the inn for a picnic with the pups on the porch. Our fall pie, with butternut squash, sage, caramelized onions, and ricotta was simply amazing, and the pork tacos we started with were easily some of the best we’ve tried. As we polished off the last of our dinners on the island, we couldn’t help but reminisce about our meals on North Haven and note the fact that the food was a major selling point of our trip.
Hopkins Wharf Gallery
One of the more beautiful pieces of art at Nebo was the dining room wall mural, painted by David Wilson, one of the owners of the Hopkins Wharf Gallery just down the hill from the inn. We highly recommend stopping into the gallery to see their collection of locally-inspired, coastal Maine paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and furniture.
Upon our arrival, the innkeeper at Nebo, Liz, immediately pointed out this short hike to the highest point on the island, just outside of the village. We enjoyed the view and the fern-lined hike so much, that we ended up taking the dogs up Ames Knob three separate times during our stay on North Haven.
A gorgeous sister property to Nebo Lodge and Calderwood Hall, Turner Farm is an organic vegetable, flower, poultry, herb, and egg farm that overlooks the water from a beautiful hilltop barn. They also produce a variety of livestock and operate a dairy and creamery, and all together, supply a good portion of the food for Nebo and Calderwood. Sadly, we missed their seasonal barn dinners farm stand (next time, this will be a must), but just enjoyed adding the farm and the view to our bike ride.
Mullen Head Park
When our waitress at the inn found out that we were planning on borrowing a few bikes to explore the island, her eyes lit up and she insisted that we visit Mullen Head Park. Michael and I made the trek out to this beautiful, expansive park, and although it was incredibly windy on the particular day we chose, we took a moment to enjoy the views of nearby Deer Isle and one of the three beaches that make up the park. Our trip to Mullen Head was the one time we realized that we missed not having a car on the island, as the dogs would have had the entire park to themselves to run and play. Maybe next time!
FOX i Printworks
As our mid-week October visit coincided with what is considered to be a quieter time on the island, not all of the shops were keeping summer hours, but we were hoping that at some point we’d be able to pop into FOX i Printworks, a print shop located right downtown, after seeing a few of their stylish signs posted on the various island message boards scattered about. Fortune would have it that the doors were wide open on our last full day, so we took the opportunity to duck inside, eager to browse their colorful collection of cards, tea towels, pillows, t-shirts, and other gifts in person. A few of our favorite items were their waves tea towel, triangle-patterned pillow, and silkscreen printed leather key chain (which now holds onto the studio keys for me!).
We enjoyed two relaxed and delicious lunches (thick BLTs + tasty wraps) with the dogs right on the porch of Cooper’s Landing in the center of town. Even in October, Cooper’s was bustling – I can only imagine how busy it must be in the height of the summer.
There are no shortage of coastal Maine islands from which to choose for your next getaway. Close, remote, big, or small, there’s probably one to fit your needs, but until our most recent trip to Nebo Lodge on North Haven, we weren’t quite sure that we’d found that one to fit our own “quiet island, comfortable and stylish accommodations, delicious food, and dog-friendly” requirements.
The island of North Haven is 13 miles off the mainland, and an hour’s ferry ride from Rockland, making it one of the more remote islands we’ve visited in Maine. We’ve been wanting to visit Nebo Lodge ever since reading about it in Bon Appétit when it was listed as one of “The Best Food Lover’s Hotels in America,” and this month, we finally had the opportunity to plan a mid-week visit with Meredith’s mother and her dog, Mason.
Although the inn is plenty old (the building was the original inn on the island – a print in our room showed it in the later part of the 19th century), it’s styled in a clean, modern cottage aesthetic, with Angela Adams accents (a North Haven native, herself) and carefully selected art throughout to balance with its age. It sits just up the hill from ‘downtown’ North Haven (more about that in a future post!), and from the moment we walked through the door, we felt right at home. There are bicycles to borrow to explore the island, plenty of options for walking, and large front and back porches (and a second floor deck) to enjoy a morning coffee, a midday book, or an afternoon drink. Each room presents an opportunity to notice new details, and art like the full-wall mural in the dining room (painted by David Wilson) are impressive touches that make for a beautiful stay.
The food is something at the inn that just can’t be overlooked. We ate at the inn’s restaurant both nights it was open during our stay, and enjoyed wonderfully prepared meals across the board. With locally-sourced ingredients and a variety of different choices, we ate to our hearts’ content on the first evening, and then scaled way back the second – but both nights couldn’t be happier with the quality, flavor, and atmosphere of our meals. The food alone is a reason to visit the inn, but I don’t know how you could make the trip and not want to stay a while.
All in all, we’d highly recommend the Nebo Lodge for anyone looking for a Maine island vacation. For us, it was the perfect mix of comfort and style, peace and relaxation, and some very very tasty eats.
We’ve heard so many great things about Popham Beach over the years, but we’d never really made the time to visit this lovely stretch of sandy beach in Phippsburg. Crowded shores in the summertime really aren’t our thing, and it’s hard to pass up the smaller beaches within walking distance to our home, but last Sunday when we noticed how nice the fall weather was going to be, we decided that there would be no better way to spend an early fall evening than picnicking on a beach! We packed up our picnic basket with a few favorite items from Scratch, prepped Orvis for the adventure, and headed up the road to Popham Beach State Park.
The expansive beach was surprisingly empty when we first arrived and by the time the sun set and the park closed, we were essentially the only people in the park. From the time we stepped onto the beach, we were completely captivated by Popham’s naturally beautiful setting, stretching as far as we could see on either side. The sun was making its way down over the wooded hills to the west and because the tide was just right, we could see a handful of people walking around Fox Island (a mere 45 minutes later, the tide had shifted and the island was no longer accessible – thank goodness we didn’t choose the island for our picnic spot!). Orvis was mesmerized by the six or so galloping horses who came down to Popham to stretch their legs, and watching them run on the beach in the golden light of the setting sun only added to the dreamlike setting.
The sun continued to drop while we enjoyed a lovely dinner, stretched out on our favorite blanket, watching Orvis dig a gigantic hole in the sand to protect his pint-sized bone. We hadn’t anticipated such a memorable and beautiful evening when we set out earlier in the day, but we found it almost impossible to leave as the sun finally disappeared. Hopefully we can return to Popham often in the coming years.
Before we officially welcome fall, we just couldn’t let summer go by without one last nod to our love for rosé season with our second Drinks with Orvis post.
During one of the warmest weeks this summer, we cut out of work a little early to go enjoy a drink on one of our favorite outdoor patios in Portland – Petite Jacqueline. We love taking Orvis along to meals in Longfellow Square – he’s happy as can be people watching in the square… that is until our food comes and he starts begging.
As it turns out, hot temperatures don’t stand a chance against a carafe of rosé and a tasty cheese plate on a shaded patio in the summer, and the fact that Orvis was there alongside us made the afternoon even better!
Tell us, where do you like to drink/eat with your pup? We’d love suggestions for any city!
Recently, after a particularly busy few weeks, Michael and I were looking for a short getaway to help disconnect, relax, and recharge. In keeping with our August tradition of a night or two in Vermont, we decided to take Orvis along with us to Stowe. One of our favorite parts about living in New England is how accessible the region is by car – we left Maine just after breakfast and got to Montpelier just in time for lunch!
A guaranteed route to the top of Map & Menu’s favorite hotel list is one that includes the following: a well-executed sense of design and comfort, a friendly and helpful staff, delicious food, and the willingness to embrace our furry buddy, Orvis. Stowe’s Topnotch Resort checked off every one of those items, with extra emphasis on the dog-friendly point, and after three wonderfully relaxing days spent there, I find myself anxiously anticipating a return trip in the future. Click here to read more about our stay at Topnotch.
I traveled to Stowe a couple of years ago for work and took Orvis along with me since Michael was in California for the week. During that short trip of ours, Orvis and I walked along the Stowe Recreation Path twice, and I remember coming home raving to Michael about the 5.3 mile long greenway that runs along the West Branch River. There are several access points throughout the town, including one right across the street from Topnotch. Orvis was all too excited to stretch his legs, look at the horses, and go for a quick dip in the river after we’d checked in. Michael even brought him back the next morning for the length of their run together, making a stop in the river afterwards for another swim, of course!
When we asked the concierge at the resort where we should go for a dog-friendly hike, she smiled and said, “Oh, Vermonters love dogs, so he’s welcome anywhere!” Naturally, we were thrilled to hear this, and ended up taking her recommendation to hike the Pinnacle Trail, a two or so hour long hike with stunning views of Mt. Mansfield and plenty of off-leash time for Orvis.
Some of our favorite memories in the state of Vermont came to being while watching Orvis swim at Buttermilk Falls in Ludlow, so visiting Bingham Falls, just down the road from our resort, was a must for us this time around. After our hike up the Pinnacle Trail and a quick picnic lunch, we ventured over to the falls, and even though the water was colder than anything I’ve experienced in Maine this summer, I couldn’t resist joining Orvis swimming for a bit and even (uncharacteristically) found myself jumping off of a boulder into the falls!
Last summer, a highlight of our trip to Vermont was the meal we shared at SoLo Farm & Table, and this summer, we enjoyed another exquisite Vermont culinary experience at Hen of the Wood in Waterbury. Set in a rustic mill quite literally on top of the river, everything about Hen of the Wood seems classically authentic to the locally-sourced and chef-owned mission it’s based around. Each part of our meal, from the heirloom tomatoes, to the bluefish toast, roasted eggplant, or slow-cooked rabbit was deliciously prepared and carefully presented.
A guaranteed route to the top of Map & Menu’s favorite hotel list is one that includes the following: a well-executed sense of design and comfort, a friendly and helpful staff, delicious food, and the willingness to embrace our furry buddy, Orvis. Stowe’s Topnotch Resort checked off every one of those items, with extra emphasis on the dog-friendly point, and after three wonderfully relaxing days spent there, I find myself anxiously anticipating a return trip in the future.
If you’ve heard us mention it once, you’ve heard us mention it one thousand times – traveling with Orvis can present its fair share of difficulties. Finding hotels that we’re drawn to aesthetically, that simply accommodate dogs of any size is difficult enough, but finding one that goes out of their way to be overly dog-friendly to our large-ish travel companion, and does so without ushering us around to the back door of a forgotten side of the hotel, is almost an impossibility. It’s the reason that places like Hotel Fauchere, the Porches Inn, the Inn at Perry Cabin, and Palmetto Bluff hold such special places in our traveling hearts. Topnotch easily deserves its own spot on that list. When we arrived, Orvis was greeted with open arms and more than his fair share of treats. Each of the resort’s restaurants had outdoor seating where dogs were welcome, and with the exception of the pool area, the entire property seemed to be open to its guests and their pets. Not that Orvis needs any more of an ego boost, but at one point, a young guest walked by with her mother and proclaimed “That dog is horrendously cute!”
I don’t know that in all of our travels, Meredith and I have ever been quite as comfortable with Orvis as we were at Topnotch. That, combined with the comfort and style of the resort made for a pretty unforgettable stay that could easily become a recurring part of our annual Vermont getaway.