Nice: France

Between our visits to Paris and London, my family and I came to the conclusion that we wanted to find a place that provided us with the opportunity to sit at a lovely beach by day and enjoy a lively and fun atmosphere in the evening. Nice (, located on the French Riviera, was the logical choice.

The rich blue-green sea, diverse shopping, splendid dining and art deco façades represent the true beauty of this vacation paradise. But there are several spots that a tourist simply must see, such as the Cours Saleya Flower Market, the Matisse Museum, ancient Roman ruins, the Russian Cathedral and more. Nice is second only to Paris in the number of museums and galleries.

Few spots epitomize Nice – or, in fact, the joie de vivre of the French Riviera in general — than the inviting Promenade des Anglais. It is always a beehive of activity. There are tourists relaxing in the royal blue chairs lining the shore, locals roller blading, biking or jogging and vendors selling crepes and drinks.

Nice’s famous Flower Market is one of the best attractions in the whole city. The edges are lined with cafés and souvenir shops, and the stands themselves are packed with amazing produce and myriad flowers. It operates six days a week, replaced on Mondays by a flea and antiques market.

The lovely and innovative art of Henri Matisse was inspired by the fresh colors and lines of Nice. Just take a look at any of his art peering out of balcony windows, and you will surely see the Riviera shoreline. This vast museum shows Matisse’s works from his more traditional early days to the end of his career. There are also some of his personal effects here. The museum gift shop features prints of the artist’s works.


Old or Vieux Nice is downright dripping with atmosphere. Its narrow streets are a one-stop shop for take-home finds, such as Provençal wares, household items, wine, gourmet gifts, hip clothing and more. There are numerous restaurants in the area, as well as several fun bars and nightclubs. Be sure to stop off for a delicious ice cream in this neighborhood. We went there twice and really soaked up the atmosphere.

Check out the chateau, for a spectacular panoramic view of the city and sea. You won’t actually see much of a castle (only a few sections of it remain). You can take the elevator up for a nominal price or hike up the stairs for free to the park atop the hill. Be sure to bring your camera.


The Nice pedestrian zone, or “zone pietonne,” is a hub of activity. This is the place if you need to load up on souvenirs. Street entertainers frequent this area. There are gourmet and clothing shops, newsstands, bookstores and more. Grab a café au lait and watch the world go by, nibble on a crepe, or visit in the evening for a robust meal with an Italian accent. This is just a lively spot!

The Nice Port area is one frequently overlooked by tourists, but it shouldn’t be. Just around the corner from Old Nice and the Quai des Etats Unis, this is a great spot to watch the Corsica ferries lift off. There are also some of the city’s hippest nightclubs here.

: We spent considerable time researching where to stay and the Radisson Blu ( won out for its beautiful seaside location. There are 331 rooms and suites and amenities such free high-speed, wireless internet access and complimentary entrance to the on-site health and fitness club. You can dine at the Bleu Citron or La Terrasse, both well known for delicious international and regional cuisine, or relax on the rooftop terrace with a refreshing cocktail. This Nice hotel, located at 223 Promenade des Anglais, also offers premier services, such as a rooftop pool, sauna and sophisticated meeting facilities. It is only four kilometres from the airport and five kilometres from the train station. We truly appreciated the free seasonal double decker bus shuttle service to Old Town, which operates in July and August.

terrasse radissom1 new

We stayed in a picturesque sea view room and let me tell you there is no better sight than opening your blinds each morning, stepping out on a balcony and looking out at the beautiful water and beach front.

Radisson Nice jPlage (hi-def)

Our rate included a generous breakfast buffet at the “Bleu Citron” Restaurant. In order to store some perishables we asked the hotel to empty the mini bar for us, which they did at no charge. The hotel has its own exclusive private beach, open from April to October. For a fee we secured sun lounges for the days we were there. I appreciated the personalized service. By my second day all of the staff remembered my name. You are really pampered here. Not only do they set you up with towels, chairs and umbrellas, but you can order food and drinks from a menu. This is a rocky beach (no sand), so bring a pair of beach shoes. The water is warm and inviting.

For business and vacationing guests, additional services like a 24-hour concierge, bike rental and business centre make this a great choice for accommodation. The knowledgeable, multilingual staff is always willing to lend a helping hand or give a piece of advice about the area for guests. I was very impressed with the concierge staff. I had started to call and email them often in the months leading up to the trip and they always responded very quickly. Once checked in, they provided a wealth of information.

DINEIG OUT: Where to dine in Nice? There are a lot of choices and we spent a significant amount of time researching the best options. Our search first stopped at Le Grand Balcon ( located at 10 rue St. François de Paule near the opera house. The food is all fresh and homemade. Our meal was absolutely spectacular and I would recommend you place the first on your list of dining choices. It is located on the main drag in Vieux Nice. When we arrived for dinner there were a few tables set up on the outdoor terrace. As we dined, we noticed the staff starting to add more. Within minutes the capacity had more than doubled and in no time at all every spot was filled.

grand balcon

The curtains of the “Grand Balcon” were opened in 2003. Charismatic owner Karine Guffanti and her amazing staff welcomed us warmly, all speaking perfect English. Karine visits with every customer and even takes down orders.

Ideally located between the Place Massena and Cours Saleya, a few steps from the Promenade des Anglais, Le Grand Balcon’s indoors features a library of ancient books inside. Chef Jean-Luc Rossi cooks up gourmet dishes unforgettable moments. At only 13 years of age, Chef Rossi joined the Hotel School Paul Augier in Nice. For three years, he shared his time between the College and the majestic Palace “The Regina” in Cimiez. He has been with Le Grand Balcon since 2010.

The menu is neatly set up like a stage presentation. Act I features appetizers and our server recommended the selection platter: the chef’s combination of four starters. This included: home-made foie gras; marinated Norway salmon with lime, fennel and dill; raw artichoke salad and shaved parmesan cheese and warm truffles sandwiches. We also shared a fabulous king prawn risotto. For our main course, or Act II, we chose three dishes to share: a grilled beef fillet with super home-made mashed potatoes; scallops in “tuber aestivum” truffles, with added black truffles puree; and sea bass fricassee with sautéed purple artichoke. Act III was dessert. We shared a chocolate delight with home-made caramel and passion fruits and a black truffle and salted butter caramel éclair. Once again, beautifully prepared. This was definitely the best restaurant we experienced in France, topping anything we tried in Paris.

We were excited to learn that there was a Hard Rock Café ( in Nice. In fact it only opened up last November. The atmosphere was great from the moment we walked in. Our waiter, Igor from Budapest, was full of personality. He actually sat down at our table, chatted about his background and then took our order.

Located at 5 Promenades des Anglais, the multi-level Hard Rock Cafe Nice is nestled near Vieux Nice, along the Mediterranean Sea on the Promenade des Anglais, and is a must-see for both visitors and locals. It has early 6,000 square-feet of space, including seating for 200 guests with 30 seats on a prominent outdoor dining patio. Additional features of the Nice location include a late night bar and Rock Shop filled with iconic Hard Rock merchandise. Additionally, the Cafe functions as a venue for unique private celebrations and memorable event functions to accommodate Nice’s growing convention market. For the physically handicapped there are elevators which reach reach both the rock shop and the second level.

With great rock videos playing on the big screen, we felt very much home looking at the menu. We were in the mood for some really good hamburgers and there was no disappointment when Igor delivered them to our table. There is also a Hard Rock in Paris in the Montmartre District, so make this one of your stops.

In Nice the Hard Rock Cafe pays homage to the city’s ethnically diverse culture and fascinating waterfront, accented by upscale design features and innovative technology featured throughout the cafe’s indoor and outdoor dining areas. The new location is complete with the Rock Wall Solo, an interactive touch wall with technology that enables fans to explore the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia collection and virtually tour the company’s venues around the world. In addition, memorabilia from Hard Rock’s iconic collection adorns the walls of Hard Rock Cafe Nice, including a vest worn by Justin Timberlake, the red wire headpiece Rihanna wore in her “What’s My Name?” music video, a drum kit Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum played on the “Use Your Illusions” tour, James Brown’s suit worn on tour in the late ‘70s, a left-handed 2006 Epiphone Tony Iommi Signature SG guitar played by Black Sabbath guitarist, and much

It is interesting that we had to go to Nice to discover a host of new offerings and updated fan favorites now on the Hard Rock menus in the US and Europe. More than 27 types of buns were sampled before the final brioche bun was selected. Burgers were evaluated by a number of different factors, including various blend combinations of premium ground beef and brisket, as well as fat to lean ratios, thickness and shape. During the menu revamp, Hard Rock made freshness and quality a top priority. The entire entrée salad selection of the menu was reinvented, with five varieties of lettuce combinations brought in during the testing phase. Seasonal options for vegetable of the day and various burger toppings were added as well.

Hard Rock added items in each menu category to give guests the widest variety of options. Three new salads (Grilled Chicken Chop Salad, Grilled Chicken Arugula Salad, Cobb Salad) and three of the new desserts (House-made Carrot Cake, Molten Lava Cake and Cheesecake with Oreo Cookie Pieces) all received extremely high marks. Research concluded that each of those items received order-again ratings of 90 percent and above – nearly every guest that tested those menu items would order again upon their next visit. Another sure-fire hit being introduced is the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich, which combines freshly grilled vegetables, spicy Monterey Jack cheese, with a dash of Balsamic reduction on toasted sour dough bread.

All the new items kept in line with Hard Rock’s core menu concept of scratch-based, all-American favorites that resonate with diners around the world. Popular new menu items added include entrees like the Cowboy Rib eye, a USDA choice 16-ounce, bone-in steak cooked to perfection, served with a choice of two sides, and Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich, slow-cooked beef brisket, topped with hickory barbecue sauce on grilled sourdough bread. Hard Rock also updated the sides, which allows guests to customize their meals such as Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes and Daily Fresh Vegetables.

Hard Rock also found that some menu items were a guest favorite just the way they were – or with minor modifications to propel them from chart topper to legend. For example, Hard Rock’s Nachos replaced a layer of queso with two layers of mixed cheeses and added options for new toppings such as savory pulled pork and smoked beef brisket to be reborn as their signature “Nachopalooza.” Also, the famous Jumbo Chicken Wings will now debut as “Rockin’ Wings” with a reformulated signature smoked 10-spice rub and a choice of Classic Rock, Tangy or Heavy Metal Sauces.

Additional favorites that were modified for the new menu include the Hickory Smoked BBQ Ribs, Grilled Norwegian Salmon, Hickory Smoked Chicken Wings, and the Legendary® Burger, an eight -ounce grilled-to-perfection proprietary blend patty served with cheddar cheese, smoked bacon slices, iceberg lettuce and special Hard Rock seasoning presented on a fresh Brioche bun.

Hard Rock also spent six months researching what quenches guests’ thirst, by analyzing international beverage trends and current sales and trends to determine the best way to remix its drink lineup. The brand recruited its top 10 beverage partners to assist with menu development and training. Hard Rock developed more than 150 plus drinks in the key areas, including tiki, coffee, dessert, mojitos, margaritas, lemonades, multi liquor teas and more.

With a total of 185 venues in 57 countries, including 142 cafes, 20 hotels and nine casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s greatest collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe. Hard Rock is also known for its collectible fashion and music-related merchandise, Hard Rock Live performance venues and an award-winning website. HRI owns the global trademark for all Hard Rock brands. The company owns, operates and franchises Cafes in iconic cities including London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Dubai. HRI also owns, licenses and/or manages hotel/casino properties worldwide. Destinations include the company’s two most successful Hotel and Casino properties in Tampa and Hollywood, Fl., both owned and operated by HRI parent company The Seminole Tribe of Florida, as well as other exciting locations including Bali, Biloxi, Chicago, Cancun, Ibiza, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, San Diego and Singapore. Upcoming new Hard Rock Cafe locations include Seoul, Vienna and Marseille. New Hard Rock Hotel projects include Daytona Beach, Aruba, Abu Dhabi and Shenzhen and Haikou in China. For more information on Hard Rock International, visit

Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Quebec

The West Island Montreal communities of Vaudreuil -Soulanges continue to gain notice as cost efficient and quality place to live. Located on Montreal’s West Island, extending to the Ontario border, the Municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges has a population of nearly 140,000 people throughout its 23 municipalities.

During frequent trips to and from Ontario over the years, I have always noticed the landmark Chateau Vaudreuil Hotel ( The increase in development here has been obvious, both commercial and residential. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, shopping, car dealerships and the largest family entertainment centre in Canada called Woohoo ( The AMT commuter train has a stop here. A new $25 million sports complex has opened and there is talk of a hospital being constructed by 2018, a Costco and possibly a movie theatre complex.

The Vaudreuil-Dorion Regional Museum, located at 431 St. Charles, features a collection of 7,500 objects representative of the daily life of craftsmen and artists from the 17th to the 20th-century. Among one of the first regional museums opened in the early 1950s, it stages over 50 events annually, including exhibitions, concerts and workshops.

The city of Vaudreuil-Dorion recently broke ground on phase two of a project to expand construction on St. Charles Avenue. Mayor Guy Pilon says the project involves building two new overpasses to replace the current deteriorating. They’ll also be adding two more lanes to the access ramp that leads to the Eastbound 40. Construction is expected to be completed in September 2015, at which point a bike path will be built.
The mayor says that 55 percent of the people who work – the work force of MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges – go to Montreal every morning
I recently chose to spend a little extended time there to explore the area more thoroughly.

WHERE TO STAY: The five star Château Vaudreuil Hotel ( at 21700 Route Transcanadienne is extraordinary. It is not only a wonderful choice for tourists, but Montrealers should consider this place for an easy weekend getaway.

Chateau exterior

Benito Migliorati is the owner. He is presently marking the 25th anniversary since this palace of a facility first opened. This is very much a family affair. His charming wife Carole serves as vice-president while their two daughters, Melanie and Sonia, work at the hotel as well. Benito purchased the land on the scenic shores of the Lac des Deux Montagnes in 1986 and began building the Château Vaudreuil. In March 1989, the hotel opened its doors for business. It boasts the Pavillon sure le Lac (a magnificent standalone banquet and meeting facility), Villa d’être Restaurant and 116 suites on 25 acres of gardens. A large terrace and covered tents allow activities to expend outdoors, weather permitting.

Their executive suites offer a view of the calming waters of the Lac des Due Montages, 800 square feet of living space, a fireplace and Italian marble bathrooms equipped with Jacuzzi and bathrobes. The main bedroom has a double bed with a bench at the end, a comfortable sitting chair with a footrest, another two chairs, a work desk, a large flat screen TV and a clock radio with stereo sound. There is separate living room side, divided by French doors. Here you will also find a work desk, a sitting chair with footrest and a large LCD TV. You also have a comfortable table for four to eat at, a sofa-bed, a convenient in-room safety deposit box, a mini-bar and coffee machine. The room has extensive cupboard and storage space. A bit more on the bathrooms. These deserve the “Wow” factor. Besides being very large, there are two separate sinks, superb counter space, and a shower, the Jacuzzi, a bidet, a small stool to sit on, a telephone and even a television with a remote.

The hotel offers spa service, a fitness room, a beautiful indoor pool and whirlpool, an in-season tennis court and fantastic banquet facilities for weddings and corporate functions. This is indeed a picturesque locale for a couple to say their vows and the hotel can accommodate groups from 20 to 500 guests. Some ceremonies and receptions occur lakeside.


Over the last few years, the Chateau Vaudreuil has become a very popular for Jewish weddings. It has a kosher kitchen, partnerships with two prominent kosher caterers (Tradition/Romano Giorgi and Black Tie/Ernie) and hosts other Jewish functions and business meetings. The Villa d’Este Restaurant even goes the extra mile. Guests requiring kosher meals need only provide 24 hours notice. Breakfast will be brought to your room, with lunch and dinner served in the dining room. This option has greatly increased the number of Jewish guests choosing the hotel, especially those coming by car from Ontario. For more information call (800) 363-7896.

JEWISH HISTORY: People might be surprised to learn about the area’s fascinating Jewish history.

Historian Elaine Steinberg has done extensive research on this subject She recently shared her findings with the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal.

Forty years ago Steinberg moved her family across the Ile aux Torte Bridge and never looked back. There are 24 municipalities in the MRC. Steinberg says she moved her family off-island to accommodate her lifestyle. “The Hudson area was well known for its horsey activities,” she says. “I was a young mom with a stable of horses, a menagerie of dogs, a passion for gardens and was teaching half days at Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools in Montreal.”

Given that Steinberg was the first Jewish member of certain clubs associated with Hudson, people assumed that the Steinbergs were one of the first Jewish families throughout all of Vaudreuil-Soulanges. That was until two years ago when Jean Luc Brazan, archivist at Centre d’ histoire de la Presqu’ile in Vaudreuil, chanced upon an early nineteenth century notarial will of a Jew living in the region. It was the sign she needed to begin doing some research.

Descendants shared photos and family lore while village storekeepers had stories to tell as well. Stephan the butcher turned out to be the guardian of the oral story, maintaining a tradition of handing down stories from one generation to another. “Villagers showed me photos, opened their homes and told stories of a Jewish pedlar,”

For reasons unknown, Vaudreuil -Soulanges Jewish history was left unattended, says Steinberg. “When I returned to reclaim it, our history was in a strange state,” she noted. “Sometimes other cultures had claimed it, or it was edited out; or it became a myth by virtue of unresolved facts.”

Despite living in various villages on different dates, the pioneer families shared certain tendencies. They affiliated with a synagogue, stimulated the village economy, were figuratively embraced by their rural community and educated their children to the benefit of Montreal at large and the Jewish community therein.

Steinberg still lives in Vaudreuil West, on the doorstep of Hudson where her children grew up “Although Jewish homes are dotted throughout the region, I think the St. Lazare municipality is the new Jewish frontier,” she says. “It has the highest density and a Chabad rabbi since 2010. Rabbi Nechum Labkowski. It is not far from Dollard des Ormeaux, about 20 minutes, where a lot of Jews live.”
In fact, there are some 200 Jewish families who affiliate with the St. Lazare Chabad

“Strong communities grow on the foundation of stories, of having a sense we stand on the shoulders of ancestors,” Steinberg says. “Heritage gives us pride of place, a right to be and the right to return as we say in Israel. The ‘past’ and ‘future’ make good partners. The younger generation need to hear this. Recently a youngster from the Jewish community indicated to me that she stored greater value in the future than the past.

DEVELOPMENT: Vaudreuil–Dorion continues to gain notice as cost efficient and quality place to live. Developments like Les Perles de la Gare at the corner of Emile Bouchard (formerly André Chartrand) and Les Perles sur le Parc on Toe Blake Street are attracting a lot of attention.

A sophisticated contemporary complex designed by architect Karl Fischer, Les Perles de la Gare includes three, six storey buildings all interconnected underground in one large indoor parking garage. The first phase of the project, a 58 unit mix of one, two and three bedroom units with private balconies, is complete and fully occupied. Developpement Diamant has broken ground on the second phase while work on the third will come soon after. The latter two will have 50 units. A special amenity building is open now and includes a magnificently large indoor pool, a modern gym, a changing room, a party/play room. The roof top will be fully landscaped as an outdoor garden.

The units range from 717 to 1609 square feet, not including the balconies. Each building has two elevators. Prices range between $181,900 and $399,000, including taxes, indoor parking and lockers.

Project manager Ariel Yudelevich says the response from those already residing in the project and others stopping by the sales office has been exceptionally positive. “You really could not ask for a much better location,” he reasons. “We are 200 metres from the AMT commuter train station, so for anyone who works in Montreal it could not be more convenient. Thus far we have seen many seniors who wanted to downsize from a home to newly married couples and singles from the West Island and the city who cannot afford the price of a condo where they live now.”
The complex is also right next to the Trans Canada Highway, a new $25 million sports complex, and ample shopping options. The main CLSC complex of Vaudreuil-Dorion, a mere 100 metres walking distance from the project, is under construction and expected to open in October 2014.
The project encompasses 50,000 square feet of court yard space, including pave-uni walkways, grass, trees, plants and a gazebo. It is all adjacent to the city bike path.

Partnering with Yudelevich, a civil engineer, are experienced property developers Joe Levine and Amos Sochaczevski. They have already worked together on another project close by called Les Perles Sur le Parc, a grouping of eight and 16 plexes built right on Emile Bouchard Street in the new section of Vaudreuil-Dorion. Each of the buildings is immediately across or a few steps away from a local green space outfitted with a new park. A hundred condos in previous phases have all been sold and occupied while in the new phase of 16 plexes on Toe Blake Street, the first building (125-127 Toe Blake) has also been sold and occupied while in the most recent phase at 131-133 Toe Blake, 30 percent is already sold and ready for delivery now. Prices in this project start at $179,900, with taxes and include exterior parking.

It was Sochaczevski who came up with the novel idea of naming many the streets after Montreal Canadiens greats. Besides Blake and Bouchard, there are Sylvio Mantha, Lorne Worsley, Claude Provost, Maurice Richard, Elmer Lach, Aurele Joliat, Howie Morenz, Jacques Plante and Jean Beliveau.

Vaudreuil-Dorion is recognized as Canada’s fastest growing municipalities.

The sales office for Les Perles de la Gare, located at 5 Edouard Lalonde, is open Monday to Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.and the sales office for Les Perles Sur Le Parc, located at 125 Toe Blake Street, is open on Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 5 p.m. and on weekdays by appointment.

At the present time Developpement Diamant is offering an amazing spring promotion at Les Perles sur le Parc on Toe Blake: no condo fees for two years! Meanwhile, at Les Perles de la Gare on Edouard Lalonde, free air conditioning and much more.

For more information call 450-424-3888, email or log on to

Buffalo, New York

My family and I recently spent some time in Buffalo, New York to visit friends. Buffalo ( is the commercial, political and entertainment hub of an eight-county region of western New York State consisting of nearly 1.6 million people. Located at the easternmost end of Lake Erie, overlooking the Niagara River, Buffalo is just across the Peace Bridge from Ontario.

Buffalo is only a 20-minute drive to and from Niagara Falls and its array of world class tourist attractions, including the Maid of the Mist sightseeing boat and the Cave of the Winds, a web of wooden catwalks and staircases accessed through a tunnel in the rock behind the American Falls that provide spectacular up-close views of the cataract.

WHAT TO DO: Retail destinations include malls like the Walden Galleria, Boulevard Mall, Eastern Hills Mall, Fashion Outlets of Niagara and the McKinley Mall, as well as eclectic and charming shopping districts such as Buffalo’s Elmwood Village, Hertel Avenue, Williamsville, Clarence Center and the village of East Aurora. If you want to check out a quaint little town, take a drive to Hamburg with its neat downtown area of shops and one big movie house.

How much time do you have? The Buffalo area has outstanding theatre, a world-class orchestra, architecture tours, nightlife along the resurgent Chippewa Street and one of the world’s top collections of modern art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Sports lovers will find Buffalo Bills football, Buffalo Sabres hockey and Buffalo Bisons baseball, as well as major college football, basketball and hockey. For people with an appetite, there are a wealth of charming bistros and restaurants serving local specialties such as “Buffalo” chicken wings, as well as truly affordable fine cuisine.

Nearby attractions include Darien Lake, New York State’s largest amusement park; the “Grand Canyon of the East” at Letchworth State Park; the internationally-renowned Victorian village at the Chautauqua Institution; the Erie Canal; the oldest buildings on the Great Lakes at Old Fort Niagara; the Seneca Niagara Casino and the Genesee Country Village and Museum, the country’s third-largest living history museum.

Among some of the family attractions to look out for are the Buffalo Zoo, the Buffalo Museum of Science, Explore ‘n’ More Children’s Museum, the Amherst Museum, Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, Martin’s Fantasy Island Amusement Park, the Aquarium of Niagara, Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours, Old Fort Niagara and the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park.

We saw a movie at the Regal Transit Center Stadium 18 & IMAX at 6707 Transit Road in Williamsville, a mere 10 minutes from our hotel. I always enjoy seeing a movie at the Regal chain ( As the name of the complex says, this is stadium seating. There is a large parking lot and very friendly staff.

For special needs patrons, most of the movies shown offer closed captioned equipment upon request. There are listening devices for the hearing impaired and wheelchair access. Go to their website and at the bottom of the homepage under Theatres, click on the Captioning and Descriptive Video link. This page will provide you with a list of theatres, sorted by state. Click on the state in which your theatre is located. This page will provide a list of what movies are being shown that offer the captioning and descriptive audio, as well as their show times. If you go online to and locate the theatre, movie and showtime the website will list if closed captioning is available for that performance. Upon arriving at the theatre location, printed materials are available that explain how to use the closed captioning system. Staff members and managers are knowledgeable on the closed captioning system and can assist with any specific questions you may have.

Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) operates the largest and most geographically diverse theatre circuit in the United States, consisting of 7,342 screens in 576 theatres in 42 states along with Guam, Saipan, American Samoa and the District of Columbia.

WHERE TO STAY: In terms of accommodations, we were very fortunate to come across the brand new Staybridge Suites Buffalo Amherst, at 1290 Sweet Home Road, adjacent to the University at Buffalo –SUNY North Campus. Resting on the eastern shore of Lake Erie, the suburb of Amherst provides great access to entertainment, restaurants and attractions. Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) is eight miles away. It turned out to be an excellent location. Having only opened on November 11, 2013, general manager Shannon Ruth, assistant GM Sarah Esposito and their team really provide a welcoming atmosphere.

This is an extended stay pet friendly hotel, which offers studios, one bedroom and two bedroom/ two bathroom suites, as well as an indoor saltwater pool, a fitness room, an in-season BBQ Pavillion with grills and complimentary guest laundry. You also get a full hot breakfast each morning, along with evening social receptions Tuesday through Thursdays. We chose the two bedroom option and for three of us it offered the kind of personal space one is not normally accustomed to during a family stay in a hotel. With a king size bed (and one amazingly comfortable reading chair) in the master bedroom, two double beds in the other and a pullout couch in the living room two families could happily share the premises. We also appreciated the 24 hour free coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, juices and soft drinks, the “Great Room” where you can hang out with business associates and the “Den,” filled with books, games and lots of comfy little nooks.

Each hotel room is furnished with a 42 inch flat screen HD TV, DVD players, IPod docking stations, alarm clocks and fully equipped kitchens, complete with pots, pans and utensils. There is good workspace and wireless internet. This property even has additional storage units available on each floor.

This is the eighth property opened by the folks at Ellicott Development and over the next couple of years they plan many more. You can see the others at They range from luxury boutique to other extended stay locales. You can call 1 877 660 8550 for reservations or do so online at

The Staybridge Suites is well equipped for guests with special needs. This includes the public entrance, guest rooms, the registration desk, the dining area, the exercise facility, the pool and the business center. In fact, both the pool and whirlpool are furnished with lifts for the handicapped.

The hotel provides accessible self parking, van accessible self parking, communications kits with visual alarms and notification devices, TTY for guest use and closed caption televisions

DINING OUT: There are no shortages of places to dine in the area. Busy Maple Road and Niagara Falls Boulevard are minutes away and features a slew of restaurants, from Denny’s and IHOP to Red Robin to one of the USA’s great seafood chains the Bonefish Grill (, That was on our “to do” list for this trip, but we were not able to squeeze it into the schedule so I will wait until we visit another town where one of their 300 plus locations exists. For kosher restaurants, log on to At the Tops grocery store on Maple there is a full kosher section, including food you can take back to the hotel and enjoy.

SPECIAL NEEDS: Here is something I did not know. Buffalo is home to the only “bricks and mortar” museum in the U.S. dedicated to the history of people with disabilities called The Museum of disABILITY History. It is located at 3826 Main Street. Visitors and those who see its travelling exhibits, enjoy wide-ranging topics like disability and pop culture, the wide world of disability and sports, and the evolution of adaptive equipment, among many others, illustrated by photos, rare books and historic artifacts – truly a unique experience. Group tours are available. To schedule a tour, call 716-629-3626, 716-629-3626 or log on to

Toronto Downtown

There is no question about it. Toronto (, Canada’s largest city, is a great place to spend time at any point during the year. My family and I go there at least once a year, generally staying in the downtown area. Between the multiple attractions, live musical theatre, great shopping and fine dining opportunities there is never a dull moment.

HOCKEY HALL OF FAME: For more than two decades I have been visiting Toronto ( at least once a year. There were times that for work purposes I’d be there as often as once a month, yet for some reason I never made it a priority to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame ( During my most recent stop, I made it a priority to place this on my agenda. It is located downtown in Brookfield Place at the corner of Yonge and Front Streets.

Visitors are told to pretty much allocate several hours to explore Toronto’s premier hockey attraction and I did just that. Montreal fans will enjoy experiencing a replica of the Canadiens dressing room at the old Forum, complete with sweaters of such greats as Ken Dryden and Guy Lafleur. There are small and large TV monitors in various sections and the Habs room you can hear the golden voice of our very own Dick Irvin narrating a film about Stanley Cup dynasties.

Guests can take shots at real-time goalies (I scored on one of five shots), stop the shots of legends Gretzky and Messier, call the play-by-play of some of hockey’s greatest goals (I chose a Guy Lafleur goal to describe), view hockey flicks like Stanley’s Game Seven, (hockey’s first 3D film and 30 minutes of great entertainment) in one of two theatres, get up close and personal with the Stanley Cup and explore the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world. There are separate sections for international hockey, the old World Hockey Association and vintage jerseys from teams which no longer exist. If you are a student of the game, you will spend a lot more time here. There is so much history to read and analyze, such as the space allocated for Hall of Fame inductees. This is a museum and entertainment destination like no other, one suited for the whole family and kids of all ages!

The Hockey Hall of Fame was established in 1943 to honour and memorialize individuals who have brought special distinction to the game of hockey and those who made outstanding contributions to the development and advancement of hockey anywhere in the world, and to collect, research, preserve, exhibit and promote objects, images and other historical materials connected with the game at all levels.

On June 18, 1993, the Hall opened the doors of its current home in Brookfield Place (formerly BCE Place). The new $35 million facility comprised 57,000 square feet, including 10,000 square feet in the magnificently restored Bank of Montreal building, with the balance in the Shopping/Food Court Concourse level at BCE Place. This quickly established a reputation as a world-class sports and entertainment facility and one of Toronto’s prime tourist attractions, with over 500,000 visitors in its first year.

General admission is $17.50. It is $11 for youth (four to 13), $13 for seniors (65 and over) and free for children under three. The entrance is conveniently located right next to a large food court.

CANADA’s WONDERLAND: During the summer make it a point to visit Canada’s Wonderland (, this country’s premier theme park with over 200 attractions, 68 thrilling rides, North America’s greatest variety of roller coasters, and Splash Works, a 20-acre water park featuring over two million gallons of heated water fun.

ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE: Also check out the Ontario Science Centre (, home to interactive experiences with science and technology. This place not only develops and sources the world’s best exhibitions – supplemented with relevant programming to provide engaging experiences – but it aims to make a fundamental difference in the lives of visitors by providing them the skills and attributes to create a better future for the planet.

The Science Centre aims to enrich people’s lives and their understanding by engaging them in science that is important on local, national and global scales. They do this by offering top science experiences, memorable exhibitions, engaging programs and breathtaking films so that visitors can do far more than observe. They can interact and participate.

Built into the slope of the Don Valley, the Science Centre contains an array of inspiring spaces. The Weston Family Innovation Centre puts discovery, literally, in the hands of visitors – and in spring 2012 evolved with all-new, fascinating exhibits. KidSpark is the extremely popular hall designed for children under eight to learn, explore and create.

In Space, find the wonders of the galaxy, the quests of astronauts and a state-of-the-art planetarium. A Question of Truth challenges beliefs and Mindworks delves into the mysteries of the human brain. Living Earth delivers natural wonder, including a simulated tornado and a full rainforest environment. The Science Arcade is a fan favorite with a complete hands-on science experience that includes the famous electricity demo. A rich variety of programming is presented throughout the year. And of course, they have what is still Ontario’s only IMAX® Dome theatre – reason in itself to visit.

NEW SHOPPING EXPERIENCE: Premium Outlets held its grand opening in August 2013 and became the first Premium Outlet mall in Canada. With 79 centres internationally, this upscale outlet mall features over 85 stores including Kate Spade, Coach, and Michael Kors. Simon’s Premium Outlets are centres where shoppers can expect impressive collections of high quality outlet stores from the finest brands in unique outdoor settings and savings of 25 to 65 percent every day.

King Tours operates a daily shuttle service from Toronto’s Union Station to the new Premium Outlet Shopping Centre. The $30 roundtrip ticket includes a VIP Coupon Book and schedule information. Meanwhile, Vaughan Mills outlet mall and shopping centre has an $87- million redevelopment and expansion project. Once completed, Vaughan Mills will
feature 19 major tenants and 250 stores, creating an unprecedented retail mix in Canada within 118,000 square metres (1.27 million square feet) of retail space. The east side of the property will accommodate 50 new retailers and the centre’s interior and exterior architectural appeal will be enhanced. The opening of the expansion in 2014 will mark Vaughan Mills’ 10-year anniversary. Log on to

THE ACQUARIUM: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada opened its doors to the public on October 16th, 2013. I did not see it on my most recent trip, but heard good reports. The 135,000 sq. foot (12,500 sq. metre) interactive attraction showcases more than 16,000 marine animals and over 450 species. Features include a musically accompanied jelly fish exhibit, Planet Jellies; the Dangerous Lagoon’s underwater tunnel showcasing sharks, sea turtles, and stingray; touch pools with horseshoe crabs, stingrays, and bamboo sharks; rare and unique lobsters and daily live dive shows. Log on to

MUSICALS: Thanks to the presence of Mirvish Entertainment (, Toronto is the envy of every city in Canada as it regularly has Broadway calibre productions on tap at its numerous venues in the downtown area.

WHERE TO STAY: I like to stay downtown when visiting Toronto and for my family nothing beats a two bedroom suite at The Grand Hotel and Suites (, located at the corner of Jarvis and Dundas. This is a great area to select as a base for it is in such a dynamic location. First and foremost, the amazing Eaton Centre ( is just a few blocks away. Besides its endless array of stores and kiosks, there is an Indigo bookstore, a number of restaurants and the busy urban eatery food court, which can serve your dinner needs at good prices on a daily basis. Dundas Square, across the street, is Toronto’s answer to Times Square and always full of action. The Theatre District is nearby. We took advantage of the hotel’s daytime shuttle service, which took us door to door wherever we wanted to go.

The Grand Hotel and Suites is only 14 years old and still looks spanking new. It features 177 extraordinary guest suites. For families, the junior two bedroom suites feature spacious living room/work areas separated from the two bedroom areas by sets of double French glass doors with vertical blinds. The bedrooms areas contain king and queen size beds, LCD TVs and dual-line telephones with data port. A separate living area contains a double sofabed, TV, DVD Player, CD Player and a work desk with a dual-line telephone. There is a fully equipped kitchenette with a microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and cutlery. We got one of the recently refurbished second floor rooms.

You can slip into a plush bathrobe, use the iron and ironing board and enjoy the convenience of the laptop size in-room safe.

There is complimentary wireless internet access in each room. Indeed this place has all of the comforts of home and more, which is why many guests capitalize on the options of extended stay packages for 21 consecutive days or more. The kitchenette is a definite bonus and something kosher guests in particular will find useful as they can prepare some of their own meals. A very large Metro supermarket is just a block and and a half away. The suite has ample cupboard space to pack away the groceries.

All guests get to enjoy a splendid breakfast buffet, free of charge, with an extensive array of items to choose from. There is also a fitness centre, the two-storey neo-classical pool indoor pool (surrounded by exquisite hand painted murals) and two whirlpools on the rooftop garden, which provides a panoramic view of Toronto. The latter is a real plus and an area guests take advantage of year-round, even with below zero temperatures. When darkness falls, movies and television shows are piped on to a large white screen.

There is 24 hour room service, twice-daily maid service, valet and underground parking , a friendly concierge, a restaurant, 10,000 square feet of meeting space and a fully equipped business centre. Shuttle services are available to anywhere in the financial core. Make sure to bring your Aeroplan card in order to earn 500 miles per night.

Having the two distinct bedrooms and the middle area was a bonus I would recommend for a family spending multiple days together in a hotel room, providing just the necessary privacy.

DINNER: The Shore Club ( on Wellington Street turned out to be a real treat. It is owned by noted restaurateur David Aisenstat, who was born and bred into the industry. He first learned his chops from his father Hy Aisenstat, founder of the famous Hy’s Steakhouse chain. His ability to recognize and retain talented people, and his passion for art and design, combine for what have been consecutively successful ventures in the industry. He has since continued on to become a legendary restaurateur in his own right, as the owner of The Keg Steakhouse & Bar, Hy’s Steakhouse Cocktail Bar , Gotham Steakhouse and Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House ( in downtown Vancouver

A vibrant restaurant and cocktail bar offering up lively ambiance, The Shore Club (which also has an Ottawa locale) is memorable for its atmosphere, professional service and outstanding cuisine. Located in the new RBC Dexia Centre, the restaurant is situated in Toronto’s bustling Entertainment District and is just steps away from prominent cultural venues such as Roy Thomson Hall, David Pecaut Square and TIFF Bell Lightbox, making it an ideal pre-performance dinner destination. It’s also within walking distance of the financial district, Rogers Centre and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.Valet parking is available next door at the Ritz Carlton.

My family and I had dined at Joe Fortes last summer, so we knew we were in for an outstanding culinary experience. We started off by sharing an amazing Single Tier Seafood Tower featuring a king crab dip, won ton, oysters, clams, mussels and jumbo shrimp while also opting for the grilled marinated wild mushrooms. The menu includes numerous other sumptuous choices such as fried calamari, steamed clams, dungeness crab cake, apple cider smoked salmon and vanilla-battered prawns. There are a number of soups and salads. As for the main courses, you have a choice between seafood specialties such as salmon wellington, maple-glazed king salmon, smoked Alaskan black cod, herb-dusted sea bass and stuffed rainbow trout and steakhouse favorites like the New York strip, filet mignon, braised short ribs and double-cut lamb chops. As for sides and add-ons, there are no less than 21 selections from mashed potatoes and steakhouse fries to tempura-battered onion rings, fresh asparagus and braised fennel. We all went the steak and lobster route, enjoying every morsel of each. Yes, we saved just enough room for some of the home made desserts : a spectacular Black Forest cake and some keylime pie.

With its luxurious, contemporary décor, The Shore Club elevates dining to a true feast for the senses. The interior, curated by renowned designer Elaine Thorsell, pays homage to art deco ocean liners, boasting soaring ceilings, a palette of cool blue and green hues and stunning original artwork.

An interesting collection of artwork adorns the wood panel and suede walls. Whether guests are in the cocktail bar, main restaurant or dining room, beautiful works of art complement the ambiance, impeccable service and classic surf and turf fare.
The lounge features a spectacular work by celebrated Canadian artist David Bierk, whose paintings incorporate both eclectic and well-known works by masters such as Vermeer, Ingres and Manet. In this case, he draws inspiration from ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Vermeer, altering the scale of the original and juxtaposing it with his own moody, turbulent landscape that evokes similar scenes by connoisseurs of the genre such as Turner.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a really fun place to spend the evening, then head to Dave & Busters ( at 120 Interchange Way in Vaughn. This gigantic restaurant/arcade/bar had a $3 million renovation last summer and added several hundred new seats for dining, meaning it can accommodate close to 3,000 people at a time. Enjoy the fun menu and then head out to test out the endless array of games. At one time there was reportedly talk that a D&B would surface at the downtown Pepsi Forum in Montreal. We are still waiting.

Burlington, Ontario

During the course of my life I have visited Burlington, Vermont many times, while never setting foot in Burlington, Ontario ( That all changed recently when en route to Buffalo, New York, we decided it would be nice to stop over somewhere on the way.

Burlington is conveniently located between Toronto and Niagara Falls, at the centre of southern Ontario’s “Golden Horseshoe” and has a population of 175,000.

There are some people I know who base themselves in the Burlington area when visiting Toronto. The Royal Botanical Gardens are a draw, so is hiking on the nature trails, bird watching, museums, and the galleries at the Burlington Art Centre and presentations at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Spencer Smith Park is the large waterfront park where the pier, discovery landing (pond, rink, and restaurant) and major festivals are held.

Looking ahead, the sweetness of Mother Nature launches spring in Burlington with the Maple Syrup Festival at Bronte Creek Provincial Park and Mountsberg Conservation Area. It’s the season to engage your sense of smell and sight with the effervescent lilacs, daffodils and more than 100,000 tulip blooms, all bursting into colour at the Royal Botanical Gardens.

In the summer the waterfront and downtown come to life with the annual Sound of Music Festival. Canada’s largest free music festival kicks off summer festivities the week leading up to Father’s Day. Stroll the downtown streets, lakeside boardwalk or Waterfront Trail; enjoy an invigorating mix of acclaimed Canadian and international performers, and emerging performers on bistro patios and the waterfront stages. There is also rock, jazz, folk, roots, pop, blues, Celtic, country and children’s entertainment – musically something for everyone. And there are many other festivals: watersports, boating, golf and outdoor activities to enjoy at local parks and beaches. Burlington also has a swimmable and sandy beach, something which really intrigues me for a future summer visit. The Beachway Park Pavilion provides change rooms, outdoor showers, seasonal concession facilities featuring the snack shack and year round washrooms. Amenities at the beach include the pavilion, parking, a pay phone, a playground, and lots of sun, sand and water. Yes, I will have to make a return trip.

Go to for more details.

WHERE TO STAY: I am a huge fan of the Homewood Suites brand of hotels, having stayed there on trips to Washington, Chicago and Dover (New Hampshire). Well we were fortunate to find one in Burlington at 975 Syscon Road, right next to a Hilton Garden Inn owned managed by the same Westmont Hospitality Group. There is free outdoor parking.

The spacious suites come complete with fully equipped kitchens, including a two-burner stove and full-size refrigerator. Guests can choose between studios or one or two-bedroom suites featuring separate living and sleeping areas. You can relax with a coffee in front of the fire in the hotel lodge area and grab any last-minute items at their 24-hour convenience store. Pets up to 25 pounds are welcome here. There is complimentary high-speed wireless internet access and a heated indoor pool.

Mornings start out with a hot full breakfast while complimentary evening dinner and drinks are offered as well Monday through Thursdays between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. which proved to be very convenient when we checked in. They even offer a complimentary grocery shopping service.

Easily accessible from the Q.E.W (at Burloak Drive) and near Highways 403 and 407, the hotel is located in downtown Burlington right on Lake Ontario, minutes away from an extensive selection of restaurants, boutique shopping and popular attractions such as the Lion Safari Ontario.

The hotel has a mobility and hearing accessible non-smoking one bedroom suite featuring one King bed and a roll-in-shower. This suite also has a visual alarm and notification devices for the doorbell or door knock and incoming telephone calls. The kitchen, built to lower scale, is fully equipped down to utensils, and includes a full-size refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher and twin burner stove. The dining area can easily double as workspace. This suite provides a private bedroom with a HDTV and a separate living area features a full-size sleeper sofa, chair and HDTV.

DINING OUT: When looking for a good restaurant look no further than next door and the Hilton Garden Inn where the Great North American Grill has much to offer. It serves authentic American cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Located in the main floor pavilion, the restaurant offers an array of cuisine that changes with the seasons. The chef offers a “daily special” which includes a unique three-course dinner. You can choose from the extensive wine menu or enjoy a cocktail in the lounge area, complete with plasma television, or during warm periods relax outdoors on one of the patios, just off the restaurant. Not far from the hotel, on Burloak Drive, I discovered Pizza Nova ( This is part of an Ontario chain. The thin crust large pizza we ordered was out of this world.

Boca Raton Shopping and Dining

While staying in the Miami area recently, I convinced the family to maken a day trip to Boca Raton. It had been more than a decade since I visited the area, but let me confess that I needed an excuse to dine at the fabulous Legal Sea Foods  restaurant, which I had experienced last fall in Boston

Located in Palm Beach County, “Boca,” is known for its affluent social community and high income demographic.  Before embarking upon our amazing dinner at Legal Sea Foods, we explored the different shopping options.

The Town Center ( on Glades Road is considered to  one of South Florida’s top luxury shopping destinations. It features an outstanding mix of upscale and elite specialty shops and a  lineup of six department stores – Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Sears. Among the 220 stores at Town Center, you will find The Apple Store, Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch, Lilly Pulitzer and many more. Parking options are more than ample, including three parking decks and valet stations. Conveniently located off I-95 and Glades Road, you’ll find just what you need and more.

Mizner Park ( is an upscale lifestyle center in downtown Boca. Besides upscale shops, Mizner is also composed of rental apartments and offices. The Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park is a cultural center on the north end of the development, which is embodied by an amphitheater and the Boca Raton Museum of Art. The art museum, Victor’s Antiques & Fine Arts, Addison Gallery and the luxurious iPic movie theater are the center’s anchor stores, along with highly rated restaurants Max’s Grille, Villagio, and Truluck’s. Cooper Carry designed the architecture of Mizner as a Mediterranean revival town center. Previously, the site of Mizner Park was a conventional enclosed shopping center called Boca Mall, which opened in 1974 and was redeveloped 18 years later.

The Sample Road Festival Flea Market ( is actually located nearby in Pompano Beach. It is actually the country’s largest indoor flea market, featuring over 500 unique stores under one roof! Aisle by aisle you’ll find everything you ever wanted and specialty items you only dreamed of finding. You can enjoy casual dining in the international food court and a retail shopping experience like no other.  The complex is a quarter-mile long.

DINING OUT:  Legal Sea Foods ( is located in the  Town Center on Glades Road. At one time there were also Legal locations at the Sawgrass Mills mega-mall and in West Palm Beach. The Boca franchise is strong, popular and extremely well run.

The chain was born in 1950 when George Berkowitz opened a fish market in the Inman Square neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts. He opened it adjacent to his father Harry’s grocery store Legal Cash Market where customers were given “Legal Stamps” (forerunners of S&H green stamps) with their purchases. It’s here that the “Legal” name became synonymous with quality and freshness.

In 1968, the Berkowitz family opened its first seafood restaurant, right next to the fish market. The fish was simply prepared, either broiled or fried, and served on paper plates at communal picnic tables. Despite the low-key trappings, the food was second to none and word quickly spread. This early success led to further expansion and now, six decades later with restaurants along the Eastern Seaboard, the family philosophy endures: Legal Sea Foods is a fish company in the restaurant business.

George’s son, Roger, has been at the helm since 1992 and has expanded the business into new markets while maintaining the company’s focus on its proud tradition and core values.   Besides, of course, Massachusetts, there are Legal  locales in Washington Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.

The Boca restaurant has a really pretty look, complete with a large fish tank.  Make sure to ask for manager Laura Nardi, a veteran of the Legal family who makes it her business to visit every table and even assist in the service. Their selection of fresh seafood  is quite plentiful: swordfish, tuna, salmon, rainbow trout, mahi mahi, snapper, grouper, shrimp and sea scallops. Those members of our family who love lobster truly appreciate the serving method here. They take the lobster meat completely  out of the shell, saving you all of the messy cracking and separation. The choice of sides include mashed potatoes, cole slaw, rice pilaf, jasmine rice, French fries, onion strings, spinach.  Legal’s New England  clam chowder is a wise starter. The same goes for the wedge and classic Caesar salads. There are some great desserts here as well, including the three bon bons – bite size scoops of ice cream dipped in chocolate,

Opening hours here are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.,  Monday to Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and Noon to 9 p.m. Sundays. You can call 561-447-2112 for reservations.

New Hampshire: Dover

Well this was a new stop for our family. While we originally looked at staying in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, getting a booking there was no easy task. Most of the rooms were already spoken for by government personnel attached to the Naval Shipyard and these individuals tend to stay there for extended periods of time. Always a fan of the Homewood Suites chain, I found one in the suburb of Dover ( This is part of the Lafrance Hospitality Group (, which also owns a Comfort Inn and Suites and a Hampton Inn nearby.

Dover is about 15 minutes from Portsmouth and 25 from beautiful Rye Beach. You are also only a 30 minute drive from the Maine beaches.

As Michael Bolduc, head of the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce notes, the city has a well earned reputation for thriving businesses, an expanding arts and cultural scene, a wide selection of dining establishments, a notable history, a strong sense of community and beautiful scenery. The city’s waterfront district is currently undergoing an intense beautification and revitalization effort that will only add to the quality of life. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the city’s parks, trails, and outdoor activities. For example, the self-guided historic walking tours lead to the renowned Woodman Institute Museum and other historically relevant locations that underscore the significance of New Hampshire’s first permanent settlement.

This New Hampshire Main Street community offers exceptional shopping and dining opportunities—and with no sales tax in this state, shopping dollars go so much farther. Dover’s tree-lined downtown is brimming with quaint shops, boutiques, and restaurants of all types. Dover’s cultural scene is strengthened by fine art and craft galleries, arts collective at One Washington Center, a variety of music venues (including the Rotary Arts Pavilion in Henry Law Park) and the Garrison Players theater group. Dover is also home to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire and the Woodman Institute Museum.

The Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce presents a number of community events throughout the year, including the award- winning Cochecho Arts Festival. This free, outdoor, summer-long family concert series features an array of acclaimed entertainers and comprises the Tuesday Liberty Mutual Children’s Series, the Thursday Luncheon Concert Series, and the Friday Evening Concert Series. Apple Harvest Day, held on the first Saturday in October, draws more than 35,000 people to downtown Dover to enjoy more than 120 hand crafters, children’s activities and games, food, and more.
Dover is easily accessible from all directions. Take the I- 95 to Route 16 and use Exits 6 through 9 (8E is recommended for access to downtown). For more information visit

WHERE TO STAY: I have always enjoyed my stays at The Homewood Suites. In Dover this was no different. Located in the heart of the business district, at 21 Members Way, this hotel is just minutes from downtown Dover and many fine restaurants and shops. It is the perfect place for short and extended stay accommodations. We were there for five days and it proved to be a great base for our activities. Their sister properties, the Comfort Inn and Suites and the Hampton Inn, also have solid reputations. General Manager Scott Goldberg has a decade of experience in the industry and he is only 29.

This Homewood Suites Dover only opened in 2008 and still looks spanking new. It offers all of this on a complimentary basis: a daily Suite Star hot breakfast buffet; dinner and beverages Monday through Thursday evenings at a Welcome Home Reception; parking; high-speed internet access; shuttle service providing transportation to the surrounding area, including downtown Portsmouth; a business center, with print, photocopy, and fax capabilities; Neutrogena bath products; a fitness center, indoor heated pool, whirlpool and outdoor patio. There is also a 24-hour Suite Shop convenience store.

With its spacious suites, fully equipped kitchens, and separate living and sleeping areas, this hotel is perfect for families who need some space and naturally a good choice for the corporate field and travellers looking to remain productive while on the road.

We really appreciated the fully equipped kitchen in our one bedroom suite, complete with full-size refrigerator, microwave oven, two-burner stove top, and coffee maker. There were two televisions with a video player, two telephones with data ports, an iron, ironing board and hair dryer. Pets are allowed here (maximum 50 pounds) for a fee of $50 a night. The third floor of the hotel is reserved for this. Just up the street are a number of restaurants, grocery stores, a Target, Walmart, TJ Maxx and more.

WHERE TO DINE: The Orchard Street Chop Shop ( gets my vote for the top dining option in Dover. The magnificent dining room is one of the most elegant on the seacoast. It seats 78 people at the main level, 100 upstairs and 32 on the seasonal patio. The restaurant features floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, oversized booths, Brazilian Cherry wood floors, bronze chandeliers, and wines scattered around the open-grill dining room. This room can be separated for private dining rooms or the entire room can be booked for any special occasion.

Open Monday through Saturdays at 5 p.m. for dinner, The Orchard Street Chop Shop is housed in the original Dover Firehouse. Built in 1865 for the horse-drawn fire trucks, it is one of the oldest historic landmarks in the city. It was used as the firehouse up until the 1970’s when it was converted to the Firehouse I restaurant. It has been a dining establishment ever since.

On Easter Sunday 2003, a fire gutted the kitchen and did extensive smoke damage to both the first and second floor. The Firehouse I closed its doors for good. In January 2004, Chris Kozlowski, better known as “Koz” and owner of the famous Crescent City Bistro and Rum Bar, had the opportunity to purchase the building and began rebuilding the interior. After four short months and close to $1 million later, Koz opened up the new Orchard Street Chop Shop, a prime steakhouse. The Chop Shop is touted among the top steakhouses in northern New England, specializing in dry-aged USDA Prime steaks and an extensive all-American wine list with many older vintages.

“We get people from all over New Hampshire, Maine and northern New England,” says Koz. “The furthest reservation we have ever gotten was from Iraq. They were coming back from being stationed there and decided to call for a reservation because she wanted a big steak. That was pretty neat.”

Koz got his start as a prep cook at a small camp in Wolfeboro, NH in 1989. A few years later he then went to work in the kitchen for Hart’s Turkey Farm in Meredith, NH, a local favorite. Working there for a few summers while attending college, Koz moved up the ranks and became a kitchen supervisor by the early 1990’s. While attending college at Colby-Sawyer College, Koz studied business management with a concentration in hospitality. He soon became class president both his junior and senior years. During the summer of 1994, Koz moved down to St. Croix, U.S.V.I. and completed his internship for the Chart House restaurant corporation as one of the managers there.

During his senior year at college, Koz was accepted at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY where he started in 1996. At the CIA, Koz developed a liking for home brewing and founded the CIA Home brewers Club. Soon after, Koz got heavily involved in extracurricular activities and was elected president of the Ale & Lager Educational Society, one of the most popular clubs at the CIA. Finally, he joined the Student Council during the final year there and was voted President, the most celebrated position a student could have at the school. Koz graduated in early 1998 with the Student Council’s “Distinguished Service” award.

After graduating, Koz was offered a position brewing beer at Federal Jack’s in Kennebunkport, ME, Shipyard Brewing Company’s pilot brewery. After working there for a few months, Koz moved up the ranks and became head brewer before leaving there in the winter of 1998. He then went back to work as sous chef for the William Tell Restaurant in Campton, NH under the highly acclaimed Swiss-chef, Franz Dubach. This is where Koz completed his CIA externship as well. Chef Dubach is one of Koz’s greatest culinary influences to this day.

During the summer of 1999, Koz packed his bags and moved out to Calistoga, CA to learn how to make wine at Vigil Vineyards, a small boutique zinfandel producer in northern Napa Valley. This is where Koz picked up many contacts in the wine world and rounded out his education on the beverage side of the hospitality industry.

In the winter of ’99, Koz moved back to New Hampshire and took over at the helm of the kitchen at the Governor’s Inn in Rochester. He became the youngest executive chef in the State and brought the restaurant up to a four-star establishment. After garnering many accolades at the Inn, it was time for Koz to move on and open up his own place. In September 2001, Crescent City Bistro and Rum Bar opened its doors to a very enthusiastic following. After being open for only nine short months, the restaurant had to expand to more than double its size to accommodate the following he had built.
After a few successful years, the opportunity arose to buy the Firehouse I restaurant in January 2004 after being gutted by a fire the previous year. After a number of months completely refurnishing the inside with a brand new state-of-the-art kitchen, cigar lounge, glassed-in wine room, and two new dining rooms, the Orchard Street Chop Shop opened its doors in April, 2004.
Koz has been credited with starting the new culinary renaissance in Dover and restaurateurs from all over the country are now following in his footsteps.

The Chop Shop Orchard offers the finest selections of meats and seafood, skillfully prepared with a stunning assortment of traditional steakhouse sides and sumptuous desserts – all house made. We started off our dinner with some salads (wild field green and Tuscan caprese). Two members of our party chose the eight ounce petit filet mignon while I opted for the 14 ounce Delmonico steak. Each main item comes with your choice of two sides. The smashed potatoes won us over.

WHAT TO DO: The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (,The Woodman Institute Museum (, the Jenny Thompson Swimming Pool ( represent popular stops for visitors. There are also walking tours and jaunts on trails and at parks to consider. Check out for more details.

SHOPPING: Fox Run Mall is a one level enclosed regional shopping center located in Newington, 15 minutes from Dover. It is the only regional shopping center within a 40-mile radius and features national tenants including Macys, JC Penny, LOFT, Abercrombie & Fitch, PacSun, Express, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Gap, Men’s Wearhouse, American Eagle Outfitters, Pandora and Hollister Co. New Hampshire does not have a sales tax which draws shoppers from neighboring states of Maine and Massachusetts.

Maine: Portland

Three years after our first family vacation to Maine, we returned recently and once again chose Portland ( as our base. We really enjoyed the accommodations at the Embassy Suites last time, so that certainly helped with our decision when they had availability and the spacious two bedroom suite we had our eyes on. This was a significant upgrade for my family. The large living room in the middle was perfect for me to work late into the evening or early in the morning without disturbing anyone.

Portland is Maine’s business, financial and retail capital and the largest city in the state. Seascapes and cityscapes blend harmoniously in Portland, perched on a peninsula, jutting out into island-studded Casco Bay. The metropolitan hub of Maine’s south coast region, Portland is a progressive, lively city incorporating the character of yesteryear into a modern urban environment. Historic architecture blends gracefully with the new as you stroll along her working waterfront or the cobblestone streets of the restored Old Port section of the city.
With a metro population of 230,000, the Greater Portland area is home to almost one quarter of Maine’s total population. The city itself has 64,000 residents. Their economy is strong and bumper-to-bumper traffic and gridlock are unheard of. Portland is an easygoing city, with friendly, hardworking people. Ranked nationally as one of the ten safest, culturally most fascinating US Cities and one of the top cities for doing business, it is no wonder 3.6 million tourists a year visit, including 41,000 cruise ship passengers.

In the Old Port, great brick buildings, once warehouses for local merchants, now hold a myriad of original shops, galleries and restaurants. Its history intricately bound to the sea, Portland remains proud of its working waterfront and the celebrated beauty of its rock-bound coast. The waterfront provides access to the sea for commercial shipping and a host of pleasure activities.
Portland boasts a thriving arts scene and an exclusive Downtown Arts District. As one of the premier cultural centers in northern New England, Portland’s visual and performing arts rival those of regions much larger in size. Stroll through the world-class Portland Museum of Art, or wander the cobblestone streets in search of local galleries. Shop for gourmet foods in the bustling Public Market and in the evening dive into a nightlife that features award-winning local brews and a flourishing live-music scene. From classical to cutting-edge, performing and visual arts are vibrantly alive in Portland and infuse the region with a surprising sophistication.

WHERE TO STAY: The Embassy Suites Portland, Maine hotel ( is centrally located and right next to the Portland Jetport. It is just four miles from the famed Old Port. Moreover, the hotel is just a few miles from Maine’s beaches and scenic walking, hiking, and biking destinations. What I like best is the easy five minute drive to the beautiful Maine Mall and known chain restaurants such as Ruby Tuesday’s, IHOP, Pizza Uno Chicago Grill, Friendly’s and even a Tim Horton.

All accommodations feature two flat screen televisions, a refrigerator, microwave oven and coffee maker, complimentary wireless high-speed internet access, two telephones and a comfortable work area with desk. There are 119 suites in the hotel. Only five are of the two bedroom variety so book those early. KTB Hospitality owns this hotel and five others in the state.

You can start your day here with a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, including omelettes and pancakes. Grab a bagel and coffee on your way to a business event or to Portland’s attractions. In the evening, the atrium lobby is the site for the complimentary Manager’s Reception. Here you can sip a cocktail or refreshing beverage and enjoy a variety of snacks. You also have the option of savouring fresh local seafood and American cuisine at Café Stroudwater, their casual restaurant.

Looking to stay in shape? Work out in the state of the art fitness center or swim laps in the indoor pool, which as of this writing is about to get a facelift. The BusinessLink Business Center enables you to remain productive and manage work-related tasks. This is a popular spot to host a business conference or special event for up to 100 guests in one of their flexible meeting spaces. There is complimentary outdoor parking, always a bonus.

The hotel is located at 1050 Westbrook Street. For more information call 207-775-2200 or 1-800-Embassy.

DINING: Greater Portland offers a robust selection of restaurants, specialty foods and brewpubs, totalling over 200 dining choices. The amount of money spent in restaurants per capita ranks third in the country, behind San Francisco and New York. Local foods are featured at century-old outdoor farmers’ markets, a new year-round public market, and at a variety of smaller specialty stores that offer a blend of prepared, imported and local foods. The microbrew industry is well represented in Greater Portland with nearly 20 breweries, some recognized nationally.
We were directed towards David’s Restaurant (, located at 22Monument Square in the Arts District. Owner David Turin is an award winning chef and artist in residence.
David’s has a pretty extensive menu, from an array of soups, salads and appetizers to meat, seafood and pasta dishes. There are also daily specials. One member of our party chose the open faced lobster “ravioli” which included Maine lobster, day boat scallops, Gulf shrimp, herbed ricotta and sherried lobster cream. Given the fact that the other two individuals at the table were having a very difficult time making any selections, we were offered a tasting menu. This was indeed a treat. It started off with some greens (arugula, spiced pecans, blue cheese, shaved red onion and black currant vinaigrette). I actually substituted that portion for a delicious blend of David’s clam chowder, containing thyme, brown sugar and bacon. A sampling of lobster was next, butter poached, with chanterelle risotto cake, citrus truffle and micro salad. This was followed by tuna (pepper crusted sushi rare, sesame peanut soba noodles, Szechuan citrus sauce and asparagus), sorbet (honeydew with cucumber vodaka), ravioli (forest mushrooms, leeks, shallots, oven dried tomatoes, goat cheese, arugula and Madeira truffle sauce), duck (crispy skin, garlic, ginger and soy with sesame spinach and mushroom risotto) and finally some ice cream (sea salt and caramel, chocolate sauce and crumbled chocolate cookies).

BEACHES: As far as beaches go, our original plan was to commute to Old Orchard Beach. But then our hotel recommended Scarborough and Crescent Beaches. Both are popular family swimming beaches with fine sand, picnic tables, snack bars and washrooms. There is parking, albeit of a nominal fee, but it is fine spot to relax and take in the sun.

Maine:Cape Elizabeth

Extending 12 miles into open ocean, rimmed by craggy shores and sandy beaches, the Maine town of Cape Elizabeth ( marks the entrance to spectacular Casco Bay.

We were lured to Cape Elizabeth by a beautiful resort called The Inn by the Sea ( Voted a World’s Best Hotel by Travel + Leisure Magazine, 2011, this very pet friendly venue is located on a mile of sandy beach and just 15 minutes from Portland. There are 61 guest rooms, suites and cottages making the property the perfect luxury Maine beach hotel for couples or family travel. Rauni Kew, the head of public relations and green programs, gave me a tour of the property. Rauni gave me a peek at some of the extraordinary and spacious rooms, including one of 10 new ocean view, luxury one and two bedroom suites. Meanwhile, she also showed me a stylish loft one bedroom suite. They both had nice outdoor balconies, full kitchens, lavish bathrooms, gas fireplaces, flat screen TVs and ipod docking stations.

The Sea Glass restaurant offers panoramic views of Crescent Beach from its intimate dining room or al fresco deck. Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich features the best of Maine’s oceans and farms in his seasonally appropriate menus. Here you can enjoy signature cocktails or selections from an award-winning wine list. Both the hotel and the restaurant are involved with an underutilized seafood program orchestrated by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, (GMRI)- which includes local fishermen, regional talented chefs and GMRI’s research to interest restaurant diners to enjoy lesser known, but delectable seafood fresh from the Gulf of Maine.

“By eating underappreciated fish, that are both delicious and abundant, we help the sustainability of Maine’s fishing industry, the fishermen, and the health of the Gulf of Maine,” explains Rauni.

Chef Kaldrovich marries the freshest regional ingredients with his Argentine roots to create a unique and memorable culinary experience. Sea Glass serves breakfast, lunch and dinner year-round and an all-day light fare menu in the lounge. Hours vary by season and reservations are recommended by calling 207.799.3134 or booking online. It is open to the public. We enjoyed a delicious lunch by the lovely salt water heated pool, sharing some pita and hummus, a grilled chicken Caesar salad and a Maine lobster roll.

This venue has been nationally recognized for its green and pet-friendly hotel practices. It is a particularly popular spot for weekend getaways, wedding celebrations at the beach or group meetings.

Spa at Inn by the Sea offers a full complement of beach inspired body treatments, massages and aesthetics. Here you can unwind and be soothed by luxurious facials, massages and treatments. There are six elegantly appointed treatment rooms and private spaces for men and women, featuring relaxing steam and experience showers. The Spa offers a full array of natural and maritime-inspired massages, facials and body treatments. A room-for-two can be reserved for treatments with that special someone and men’s and women’s sanctuaries allow for quiet repose before and after spa services. The spa was designed and built with eco-friendly materials and offers treatment products that specifically complement our reputation for environmental responsibility while offering natural chemical-free ingredients to promote wellness. One member of our party enjoyed an extraordinary relaxing massage while raving about the therapist. The Spa is open to the public, but try to make a reservation as far in advance as possible.

The hotel is just around the corner from the Portland headlight, commissioned by George Washington. This is one of the oldest and most famous lighthouses in the country and its small museum represents a fun stop. The lighthouse has been painted by numerous artists. There is also a wonderful nature walk around the 125 acre Great Pond behind the Inn.

The boardwalk that leads to the beach is 150 yards long. Pool attendants walk umbrellas and chairs to and from the beach and set them up for guests. They will also help carry beach toys and other items.

RECREATION: Inn by the Sea and the surrounding area is rich in scenic and recreational opportunities. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a hundred outdoor activities like fishing, boating, sports of many kinds, and exploring nature. Culture vultures will find music, theatre, museums and more just a few minutes away in Portland.

Crescent Beach State Park opened in 1966. Sandy oceanfront beaches, saltwater coves, wooded areas, and rock ledges provide seashore recreation for beachgoers, fishing and water sports enthusiasts, and nature observers. Crescent Beach State Park is a classic saltwater beach park with beach grass-studded sand dunes, ocean breezes, herring gulls, picnic areas and views of fishing boats and an offshore island.
The park’s signature feature and namesake is a mile-long, crescent-shaped beach ideal for strolling and sunbathing, where relatively warm waters and light surf make swimming and boating a pleasure. A few feet from the crowded summer sands are trails for walking and nature watching. In the off-season when the park is closed to vehicles, walkers are welcome to enjoy the tranquility of the beaches and trails. In the winter, visitors can hike or cross-country ski on paths under a canopy of snow-covered evergreen boughs.

Maine: York and Perkins Cove

YORK MAINE AND PERKINS COVE: From our base in Dover, New Hampshire recently, we spent a day in York Harbour, Maine ( – a mere 30 minute drive and moved over to Perkins Cove in the Ogunquit area for the evening.

York is considered the Gateway to the Maine Beaches. We were there a few years ago to visit their wonderful zoo –York’s Wild Kingdom. This time we decided to spend the day at the Stage Neck Inn (, a complete boutique resort in the New England tradition. The Inn is situated at the mouth of the York River, with breathtaking ocean and harbor views at every turn. Resort facilities include a fitness room with sauna, indoor atrium pool with Jacuzzi, sandy beach, oceanside fresh-water pool with snack bar, seasonal clay tennis courts, spa treatments at The Spa at Stage Neck and 18-hole golf privileges at two of the area’s finest courses: the Ledges and the Links at Outlook. Other renowned courses are nearby.

Stage Neck Inn is on the ocean’s edge, adjacent to York Harbor Beach. This is a beautiful sandy beach with a gradual incline, making it ideal for wading. The tides vary throughout the day. You’ll enjoy the sound of the waves on the sand, as well as on the rocky peninsula upon which the Inn is situated. The crannies and nooks of the cliffs are an excellent spot for beach combing for shells and for other treasures. Beyond the beach is a scenic cliffwalk which takes you past the “summer cottages” of York Harbor. About a mile from the Inn is Long Sands Beach which offers a long expanse of sandy beach with views of the Nubble Lighthouse. York is also home to Short Sands beach, which offers a beach-resort atmosphere with an arcade, band stand, playground as well as restaurants and shops.

The Stage Neck Pool and Tennis Club features a gorgeous, oceanside fresh water swimming pool. It is open in the summer months only. The area includes lounge chairs and tables with umbrellas for those who don’t want to get too much sun. The pool offers harbor views, ocean views, and views of the Inn and stately seaside “cottages.” They also have a nice lunch menu, with a unique ordering formula. All you need to do is take a red flag and stick it in the ground near your poolside spot. A server then comes over and takes your order. This is one place my family and I hope to explore more of at a future date.

PERKINS COVE: Perkins Cove ( is a small but popular artist colony and tourist area in Ogunquit, with shops, restaurants, lodging facilities and breathtaking views of the ocean. It is also known for its historical trail known as the Marginal Way. Once recognized as a fishing village, Perkins Cove is now an outdoor mall of shops and boutiques. It has been a favorite place for artists, painters and tourists for generations and represents a great place to spend a day and or evening strolling the shops, the Marginal Way and having fresh seafood at area restaurants. It’s even better to spend a few days or a week exploring the entire area, including Ogunquit and nearby towns like Wells and other nearby coastal towns. Somehow I never even stepped foot in the area during my last visit.

I must confess that during my previous trip to Ogunquit I never even knew Perkins Cove existed. It was Israeli-born neighbor Chaim who sang the area’s praises, insisting that we visit the next time we traveled to Maine.

We had an amazing dinner at MC Perkins Cove (, which I must recommend as “the spot” to dine there. It offers spectacular ocean views with contemporary American food created by James Beard Award winning chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier of Arrows Restaurant. The upscale casual setting offers a raw bar, lounge, two bars, two beautiful dining rooms, and a private dining room all overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. MC offers lunch and dinner as well as a bar menu throughout the evening, a full bar and extensive wine list.

Hats off to their manager, Norman Dufour. On the night we visited the lineup to get in was out the door. Despite the hectic pace, Norman handled the anxious diners with style and made sure everyone got seated and served. Members of our party started off with the Caesar Jai Lai Palace Salad and an amazing clam and haddock chowder, with potatoes, yams, saffron and tomato cream. For the main course there was so much to choose from: shrimp, lobster, fish (rainbow trout, plank roasted Atlantic salmon, swordfish brochette), chicken, steak and hamburgers. Well two of us had the steamed whole Maine lobster, served completely out of the shell in garlic butter with delicious jasmine rice on the side. The other order was an MC lobster “mac and cheese” elbow macaroni with cheddar, lobster and herb bread crumbs. We had just enough room to share an amazing homemade dessert, warm Maine blueberry and peach crisp with vanilla ice cream. Be sure to make reservations in advance at 207-646-6263. Arrive early, park and explore the area.

New Hampshire: Manchester

Recognized as New Hampshire’s commercial and industrial leader, as well as its largest city and the home of nearly 10 percent of its population, Manchester ( is only 58 miles from Boston.

My family and I often make a point of stopping in Manchester, either on the way to or back home from a destination either elsewhere in New Hampshire or somewhere in Maine or Massachusetts. We usually head right to the Mall of New Hampshire

SHOPPING: The Mall of New Hampshire, which has 125 specialty stores, four full-service restaurants and a 550-seat Food Court. Macy’s, JC Penney, Sears, and Best Buy serve as the anchors and a Ruby Tuesday Restaurant pleases our taste buds. There is now a new attraction in the suburb of Merrimack as Premier Factory Outlets has set up shop there. There are 100 amazing outlets here and let me tell you, this is enough of an attraction to add at least another full day for your stay.

HISTORY: Manchester first gained national fame in the 1800s as the home of the massive textile mill of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company. Nearly five million yards of cloth were shipped weekly from the mill, which employed thousands of workers and covered more than eight million square feet. The mill thrived until the 1920s, when competition from southern mills and obsolete technology took their toll. In 1935, Amoskeag went bankrupt. Despite losing its major employer, Manchester rebuilt itself as a commercial and industrial center by diversifying industries.

Today Manchester is home to a melting pot of high tech companies, banks, business services enterprises, retailers, manufacturers and health care professionals. Commerce is just one part of Manchester’s appeal. The city is also the focal point of the state’s cultural community and home to many of the region’s eight colleges and universities. Cultural institutions such as the Currier Gallery of Art and Palace Theatre join with the new Verizon Wireless Arena and outdoor concert venues to attract world-class performers and exhibits to the city. Performances, exhibits, classes, workshops and lectures are offered to the general public at many of the area’s institutions of higher education. Other city attractions include the Manchester Historic Association, Franco-American Centre and the SEE Science Center.

The region is made up of Manchester, the state’s largest city, and nine surrounding communities, each with a unique personality. The delight of living in the Manchester region is that you don’t have to sacrifice country living to work in the city, or vice-versa. From city apartments and historic row houses, to farms and country homesteads, the Manchester area has something to offer everyone.

ACCOMODATIONS: On our previous trips to Manchester we always stayed at a place called the Highlander Inn. Well, when I called recently to book a room the line kept ringing. When I could not find the website I knew something was wrong, so I googled the hotel name and sure enough it had closed – not due to bad business. The nearby airport needed the land.

While the Highlander may have closed, a brand new La Quinta Inn and Suites recently opened at 21 Front Street in the former Clarion Hotel. Ironically, sales manager Steve Morabito previously held the same post at the Highlander. Located in the historic Millyard district, this hotel and conference center (that part known as the Falls Center) overlooks the beautiful Amoskeag Falls. There is a convenience store in the lobby, free high-speed wireless Internet access throughout the hotel, a fitness center, business center, seasonal outdoor pool, meeting facilities, an airport shuttle and pets are welcome. Guest rooms are furnished with La Quinta’s signature pillow top mattresses, microwave, refrigerator and coffee maker, iron, ironing board, hair dryer, as well a 32 inch flat panel HDTV with over 35 HD channels from which to choose. Breakfast here is free, including waffles, hot and cold cereals, bread and muffins, fresh fruit, coffee, juice, pastries, bagels and milk.

This four floor facility has 109 rooms, including three suites. It is located off of Exit #6 of the I-293. You can call 603-669-5400 or go to Rooms can start as low as $79 a night. Following a multi-million dollar year and a half renovation, Alta Properties in partnership with Roedel Companies ( officially opened the hotel in April 2012, complete with a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring the mayor, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and La Quinta executives.

Morabito shared with me the fact that this is actually the only hotel in Manchester with an outdoor pool and a beautiful one it is, complete with comfortable lounge chairs and tables with umbrellas. We happened to be there on a very hot day and ended up extending our stay just to enjoy the pool. As of this writing work was underway to add a conference centre and restaurant to the facility.

As for guests with special needs, the hotel is fully compliant. A ramp to the pool can be accessed via the fitness room. There are five ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible rooms, two with roll-in showers. All rooms/areas have smoke detectors for the hearing impaired.
David Roedel, a partner of Roedel Cos., explained that the improvements for The Falls Center and La Quinta Inn and Suites met the organization’s original objective of improving the building’s overall functionality. The site also offers the Greater Manchester community and those visiting the Queen City a completely revitalized option.
“Designed as a sister property for our award winning Hilton Garden Inn Manchester, The Falls is virtually a brand new hotel with contemporary architecture and interior design,” said Roedel. “It provides exceptional price value and excellent service that our guests will really enjoy.”

AIRPORT : Centrally located in the heart of the region’s primary business and financial district, Manchester Airport is less than an hour’s drive from the region’s most popular ski areas, scenic seacoast beaches and peaceful lakefront resorts. Easy access, ample, inexpensive parking, competitive airfares and a growing schedule of non-stop and direct jet service to leading U.S. cities make Manchester Airport a grand first impression of our city and state.

Manchester Airport is served by Air Canada, American Eagle, Continental Airlines, Continental Express, Continental Connection, Delta Air Lines, Delta Connection-COMAIR, MetroJet, Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, U.S. Airways and U.S. Airways Express.

ACCESSIBILITY: The State of New Hampshire and businesses and organizations throughout the state have made an effort to make New Hampshire accessible to all. If you are using the website to locate lodging properties or attractions that are accessible for people with disabilities, go to the Advanced Search option from any of the search pages. You can then select « Accessible » as an option to narrow your search.
The New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Disability is an excellent resource for information on the many services, laws, and regulations that affect citizens or visitors with disabilities. They also keep a list of recreation resources in New Hampshire that people with disabilities may be able to enjoy alone or with their families and friends. For winter sports, the Commission on Disability also maintains a list of New Hampshire ski resorts offering adaptive ski programs.

Mike Cohen’s e-mail address is Log on to his travel files at

New Hampshire:Portsmouth

For years I have heard people speak glowingly about Portsmouth, New Hampshire (, a city of roughly 21,000 people that sits near the mouth of the Piscataqua River, which divides New Hampshire and Maine. Settled in 1623, Portsmouth claims to be the nation’s third-oldest city. It served as a focal point on the Eastern seaboard until the late 1800s when rail travel did in the shipping industry. John Paul Jones’ ship The Ranger was built in Portsmouth, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (which lies across the river in Maine) was established in 1800 as the country’s first of its kind.

The geographic location, historic past and cultural strength of Portsmouth regularly lands it on various “best places to live” lists. Prevention Magazine named Portsmouth one of the top 100 walking cities in the America for 2008. The region as whole is noted for its many restaurants, attractions and shopping opportunities, which include downtown Portsmouth, outlet malls in nearby Kittery, Maine, as well as the large Fox Run Mall in Newington.

Funky shops, elegant inns, varied restaurants and fun clubs make Portsmouth’s historic brick and cobblestone downtown one of Northern New England’s most popular tourist destinations. Anywhere you land in downtown Portsmouth, you’re never more than a 10-minute walk from your diversion of choice. From early summer right through the dead of winter, people stroll the narrow, colorful streets, watch the tugboats guide huge freighters out of the harbor, take in free outdoor by-the-sea performances at scenic Prescott Park, or just people watch in Market Square over a cup of high-octane coffee. Twice a year – Market Square Day in June and First Night Portsmouth on New Year’s Eve – the quaint downtown becomes a giant pedestrian mall dotted with street performers, vendors, musicians, and parades, and always, lots and lots of food.

There’s a lot to do in Portsmouth besides eating and shopping. Music fans can hear live bands in downtown clubs. Local theaters and the non-profit Prescott Park Arts Festival produce plays throughout the year. The historic Music Hall attracts nationally prominent performers. Local cinemas feature hard-to-find independent flicks.
The beaches of Rye, North Hampton and Hampton in New Hampshire and York/Ogunquit in Maine are a short drive out of Portsmouth. Boat cruises, deep-sea fishing trips and whale watches run daily from Portsmouth and Rye harbors during the warm weather.

Portsmouth is steeped in history. The Strawberry Banke Museum and historic mansion tours replicate life in Portsmouth throughout its 300-plus-year history. There are many different tours in Portsmouth including: the Black Heritage Trail; Ghostly Lighthouse Walk; Historic Portsmouth Legends and Ghost Walk; and the Portsmouth Harbour Trail featuring 10 National Historic Landmark buildings.

Portsmouth is intricately tied to its maritime history and working seaport. Summer visitors are missing out if they do not take a cruise out to the Isles of Shoals, nine miles off the coast, or experience a kayak tour. The white sandy beaches from New Castle to Hampton are a traditional summer destination for many Canadians and those from around New England and farther.
Visit and click on the downloadable Seacoast Guide for pictures, lists of hotels, restaurants, shops, historic homes, calendar of events, attractions, activities and a map of the downtown that might help you get the lay of the land.

WHERE TO STAY: Take my advice and stay in nearby Dover, a mere 20 minute drive from Portsmouth via Highway 16. We loved the accommodations at the Homewood Suites ( The Lafrance Hospitality Group operates this property, as well as the nearby Hampton and Comfort Inns. The Homewood Suites is just off Highway 16, near plenty of shopping and restaurants and really has all of the comforts of “home.” With 88 suites, there is plenty of space for a few family members. We loved the full kitchen, terrific drawer space, the morning breakfast and weekday manager’s reception. You can cool off in the indoor pool (leading to an outdoor patio) and relax in the jacuzzi. Parking is free. Just so you know, most hotels in Portsmouth tend to be costly and during peak season rooms are not easy to find.

WATER COUNTRY: A trip to Portsmouth during the summer months is certainly not complete without visiting Water Country ( This is New England’s largest water park, featuring signature thrill rides for a full day of fun for the entire family. Situated at 2300 Lafayette Road, daily admission is $37 for those 48 inches or taller and $24.99 for those under that height and seniors. Children two years old and under enter free.

Water Country is one of the few amusement parks in the US to allow and encourages its guests to bring picnic lunches into the park. A number of large picnic areas are available for free at various points throughout the park so guests can eat without having to leave. Owned by Palace Entertainment, Water Country tests the limits on Double Geronimo or Thunder Falls and allows one to take a break in the relaxing Adventure River. The slide we liked the best is called the Screamer. It is lightning fast, but too quick for one to be scared by the steep drop.

There are over 26 acres of fun here. We went on a busy Sunday, opting for the preferred parking option ($15). This represented a very short walk to the front entrance. We rented a locker, which had plenty of room for the three of us to store all of our gear. The wait in line for different slides was not exceptionally long. Staff here are on the ball and take all safety precautions necessary.

The newest attraction this year is Dr. Von Dark’s “Tunnel of Terror,” the first water ride of its kind in New England. Two people at a time descend in a two-person tube into a twisting 40-foot plunge through a totally enclosed, totally dark tunnel. Along the way, a wicked tornado funnel leaves your head spinning and your fears in your throat! It’s a 300 foot trip into the dark side of thrills, their website reads.

The park does pay close attention to guests with special needs. I saw many people in wheelchairs the day of our visit. Pathways leading to every part of the venue are very much wheelchair accessible.

Says Marketing Manager Danielle Barry: “We’ve had guests with physical limitations who were unable to enjoy certain attractions in the park with our standard ride tubes, so for these guests we allow them to use a ‘double tube’ to comfortably accommodate their needs where safely permissible to do so such as the Wavepool, Adventure River and the Whirlpool. We have some pools with a sloped entrance that will allow a guest in a wheelchair to enter the water axel deep – at that point they are submerged enough that they can easily transition from their chair to a tube.”
You can rent cabanas here, available for up to eight people. Guests with special needs may contact Guest Relations at (603) 427-1112 for information regarding admission, locker accessibility, and wheelchair usage.

SEACOAST REPERTORY: We were fortunate to be in town recently when the musical Chicago was playing at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre (, located 125 Bow Street and better known as the Rep.
The Rep is a not-for-profit arts and educational institution and has been in business since 1988. Until the 1970s the facility actually served as the warehouse for the Portsmouth Brewing Company. This is the Seacoast’s only professional, year-round live theater. It is dedicated to enlightening and entertaining the broadest possible audience through professional Main Stage productions and programs that expose all ages to the experience of live theatre. The Rep’s Main Stage season selections blend musical and drama, the familiar and the classic-to-be, the thought provoking and the just plain fun. In addition to this, The Rep supports engagement at all age levels through hands-on programming and performances designed to entertain the very young.

Locally and regionally, I am told, people plan their summers around their productions and travel to the Seacoast to experience live theatre. In the winter its year-round subscribers engage in a dialogue around compelling and high quality work including packed pre-show symposiums and post-show discussions. The local community has ownership of the theatre as a vital component of its social fabric and the transient community supports the theatre for the dynamic, provocative and yet entertaining element to their summers and weekends.

The presentation of Chicago was first class, featuring an excellent cast, great sound and terrific use of a small stage space. I loved the cozy layout of this oval theatre. There is truly not a bad seat in the house. Artistic Director Craig Faulkner opened the show with some words of welcome. He even sold snacks at intermission, interacting with the audience. There are clearly many regulars here, but this is also a popular spot for tourists.
Over the past two and a half decades, more than 300 Main Stage and youth productions have been presented. Chicago had been preceded this season by Ain’t Misbehavin’, Things We Do For Love and the Full Monty.

THE OAR HOUSE: With more than 40 restaurants in downtown alone, Portsmouth is one of the eating capitals of New England.
The perfect spot for a pre-show dinner turned out to be the Portsmouth Oar House (, located at 55 Ceres Street in the historic Merchant’s Row building at the edge of Portsmouth’s old harbor. This spot serves fine food in a setting filled with mementos of the city’s long and proud maritime heritage and features live music inside on Thursdays through Saturdays. The waterfront deck is open in summer and there is on-site valet parking. This turned out to be a real bonus for us. We were able to leave our car here for the evening and walk a few minutes down the street to the Rep.

We were thrilled to see one of our favorite New England dishes, the Lazy Man’s Lobster Pie, on the menu. The seven ounce Maine lobster, completely cut up, featured sherry butter and seasoned crumbs. Owner Raymond Guerin takes pride in the many appetizing choices available. The Lobster Bisque turned out to be a delicious appetizer as did the Caesar and Caprese salads. As for the homemade desserts, do not leave without trying the key lime pie. You can also sample shrimp, grilled pizza, a variety of seafood options (pan seared salmon, broiled Atlantic Haddock, scallops) as well as meat and poultry dishes.

The Oar House is located in Portsmouth’s Old Harbour area, which in the late 1700s and early 1800s was a thriving seaport. In December, 1802, 120 buildings burned in Portsmouth’s most disastrous fire, including the wooden mercantile structures that occupied the restaurant site. The citizens of Portsmouth rebuilt almost immediately, in the early months of 1803, using brick to eliminate future fire hazards. The buildings on Ceres Street, including the one now occupied by the Oar House, were constructed at this time. Owner Raymond Guerin has many historical photos on the wall of historical ships in Portsmouth’s history.

Maine: Old Orchard Beach

Old Orchard Beach is a great place to spend the day or evening, but I would strongly suggest for accommodations purposes you stay 25 minutes away in Portland, as we did at the Embassy Suites (

It’s almost impossible not to have fun at Old Orchard Beach. The low surf makes this a favorite spot for swimming, sunbathing, and making new friends. When the kids get hungry they can explore the boardwalk for pizza, french fries, hot dogs, cheeseburgers and even poutine, or you can choose from the many family style restaurants around town. Try your luck on the video games, jump on a ride, treat yourself to an ice cream or a cold soda. Thrills, chills and frills-take your pick or do it all.

Catering to tourists and families is a way of life in Old Orchard Beach. The beach, the arcades and amusement rides, nightly entertainment, auto races and harness racing are favorite activities in the Old Orchard Beach area. Old Orchard’s Pier is the center of the recreational activities. Extending nearly 500 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, it features shops, fast food, and games of skill. During the summer many special events are planned to entertain and mesmerize everyone in the family festivals, fairs, free concerts, street dances, and fireworks most Thursday nights. Besides the Pier, the beachfront businesses offer gift and souvenir shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and arcades.

Old Orchard Beach is easy to reach by the major highways in Maine. Exits 36 and 42 off the Maine Turnpike (I-95) take you quickly into our popular seaside resort, as does the access from U.S. Route 1.
South along Route 9 lies the quiet seaside area of Ocean Park, a historic cottage community noted for its religious, educational, and cultural programs. The Ocean Park Association sponsors numerous lectures, concerts and other events. At the southern end of Saco Bay lies Camp Ellis. Here the mouth of the Saco River meets the sea, and memorable sailboat, whale watching expeditions, or deep-sea fishing trips await. You will also find several interesting shops, a couple of restaurants, and a long breakwater to walk.

The cities of Biddeford, Saco and Scarborough are immediate neighbors, offering a variety of services and shopping. The Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford provides quality medical care for the region. In nearby Prout’s Neck is the Winslow Homer studio where the artist worked at the turn of the century. New England’s largest salt marsh is off Route 9 in neighbouring Scarborough with guided walks and canoe tours.

WHAT TO DO: While Old Orchard’s seven-mile long stretch of wide sandy beach is understandably the major attraction, there is a full range of other things available to see and do in and around the area. Palace Playland ( is New England’s only beachfront amusement park. It features a giant arcade, beautiful carousel, a kiddieland, a new ferris wheel and the galaxi coaster. It is open Memorial Day to Labor Day and features fireworks every Thursday night by the Pier. What’s great about this place is that you do not have to pay for admission, just for the rides. This can be done by buying tickets or a wrist band for unlimited access. There is no particular entrance or exit, so you can take a break anytime you want and explore the Old Orchard beach strip of shops and restaurants or take a walk on the Pier.
The park is owned by businessman Joel Golder. His son Paul serves as executive vice-president and his brother Fred handles business affairs.
Paul’s wife Silvia works with him at the park. So do his mom Harriet, sister Stacey and Fred’s wife Caron. His Aunt Carole operates two food stands as a tenant in the park. Her son, Adam, works with her, with his wife Thea.

Every effort is made to accommodate special needs patrons. The park itself is easy to navigate in a wheelchair. Individuals with a physical handicap will be given special access to rides when possible.

In 2012 the park added two brand new rides, Riptide and an upgraded kiddie Frog Hopper. Another new addition for the kids is called Dizzy Dragon. It was previously operated at an indoor entertainment center. The new ferris wheel offers a spectacula light show. I was happy to reconnect with Paul, who is very hands on where this park is concerned. We met during my last trip in 2009 and have since corresponded via Facebook. Let me tell you that Palace Playland is a real “upper” on a nice evening and fun for all ages. My favourite experience of the night was Cascade Falls, in which you are pulled up to two steep hills and then dropped down through a stream of water. Be prepared to get soaked. On a warm night, it is an amazing way to get cooled off. There is plenty of parking on adjacent streets for about $5. Take some time to walk the touristy streets where you can buy souvenirs ,beach girl and sample a lot of fun food.
Palace Playland is the perfect place to spend the evening with family and friends. In the summer you are sure to hear a lot of French being spoken as Quebecers travel to this particular part of Maine in drov es.

HISTORY: The earliest records of the Old Orchard Beach area date back to 1653. The first settler, Thomas Rogers, established “Garden by the Sea “in 1657. A few years later ten militiamen repelled 150 attacking Indians near the beach, but a relief party of townspeople coming to support the malitiamen were killed in an ambush, and Roger’s home was burned. The “old” apple orchard, from which the town took its name, a landmark to sailors for many years, was on high land above the long sand beach. In 1820 Maine, formally part of Massachusetts, became a State by act of Congress. In that same year the first Publick House (inn) was opened serving coach travelers and other transients year round. In 1837, E.C. Staples was coaxed into taking summer boarders at his farm for $1.50 per week. Convinced of Old Orchard Beach’s potential as a summer resort, Staples built the first Old Orchard Boarding House near the top of today’s Old Orchard Street. 1842 brought the first steam railroad from Boston to Portland with a station just 2 miles west of town. The first restaurant to sell seafood treats and “shore dinners” opened in 1851 near Staples Street. The Grand Trunk Railroad opened in 1853 connecting Montreal to Old Orchard Beach, enabling Canadian visitors to flock to this closest beach to Montreal and avoid the long carriage trip.The Civil War began in 1861 followed by years of growth and building of homes, streets, stores, livery stables, and beachfront hotels. 1873 brought the Boston & Maine Railroad passing right through Old Orchard Beach and stopping on the site of today’s Chamber of Commerce. In that same year a group of Methodists formed the Old Orchard Campground Association. The Ocean Park Association built “The Temple” in 1881, and nationally known speakers were heard every Sunday all summer.
In 1892 electric trolley cars replaced horse cars to Biddeford and Saco. 1898 proved to be an unfortuitous year to complete the first Pier. Built of steel and measuring 1,770 feet long and 20 feet above the tides, their Pier was severely damaged in November of that same year. 1900 brought the first town hall and 1902 the first amusement area complete with roller skating, merry-go-round, rides, games, and refreshment stands. The Portland to Old Orchard Beach Electric Railway opened in 1903 where 14 miles of track were traveled in under one hour for $20.00. The great fire of 1907 destroyed the entire beachfront as firemen from Portland, Biddeford, and Saco rushed to the beach but struggled to contain the blaze, hampered by low water pressure. Rebuilding began at once, and one project “the standpipe” assured adequate water for all. March 1909 brought another damaging storm destroying “White City” at the end of the Pier and reducing the Pier to 700 feet. An international auto race was held on the beach in 1910 with Dave Lewis winning the 100 mile race. The 1920′s and 30′s were the Big Band era. All the famous dance bands, Guy Lombardo, Rudy Valle, Duke Ellington, and more visited the Pier Casino each summer, and thousands danced over the waves under the revolving crystal ball.

Sparked by Lindbergh’s daring flight, many Trans-Atlantic flights took advantage of Old Orchard Beach’s long stretch of wide hard packed sand to attempt their own crossings. The storm of February 1978 almost demolished the Pier, and a new pier was immediately planned. Today’s Pier opened in June 1980.

New Hampshire: North Conway

With a backdrop of over 700,000 acres of protected White Mountain National Forest and boasting the tallest peak in the East (Mt. Washington 6,288 feet.), visitors to the North Conway area have many activities to choose from which span all four seasons. This includes some of the finest skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, golfing, fishing, canoeing, camping, family attractions, scenic tours, shopping and leaf peeping in the entire country! These activities are complemented by a wide array of lodging choices. While in the area visitors can shop at the outlet malls, and other local hand-craft, antique and gift shops, see a play at one of the area playhouses, ride one of the area’s scenic train rides, visit one of the many area family attractions and enjoy the local cuisine in one of the nearly 100 area restaurants and cafes. And remember, it is all tax free!
For shopping, the Settlers Green Outlet Village on Route 16 and the White Mountain Outlet Stores on White Mountain Highway attract most of the traffic. Log on to’s Village and Storyland are nearby and big favorites with the kids, who also have outdoor waterslides, mini-golf, go-karts, museums and trains to select from. This was our third visit to the area. We discovered, for the first time, North Conway Village. This amounts to a few blocks of neat shops and restaurants.

WHERE TO STAY: One of North Conway New Hampshire’s newest hotels, the Hampton Inn and Suites (, boasts a four-storey, attached, indoor water park as well as an on-site fitness center! The hotel only opened in 2006, yet it still looks spanking new. When you check in, there is a large plate of soft chocolate chip cookies to welcome you.

There are 97 rooms and suites here. Our family decided to get connecting rooms, which translated into a very nice suite-like atmosphere. One room had a king size bed and a large walk-in shower; the other two queen beds. We requested a small fridge for the room. A few doors down was a large on-site laundry room. People tend to come here for extended stays to enjoy all of the attractions in the area, so having such an option can be a real bonus.
The hotel has complimentary wireless high-speed internet access, a hot breakfast buffet served until 10 a.m. each day, “on the run” breakfast bags for folks on the go, an on-site fitness center, a business center with computers and a printer, an on-site suite shop convenience store and even a babysitting service.

Hampton’s new Cloud Nine bedding boasts pillow top mattresses and all white duvets. I really appreciated the small portable cushioned laptop tables, which makes typing while sitting in bed or in a chair a great deal more comfortable. There is no extra charge here to bring your pet. Ditto for cribs or rollaways.

The hotel plans different activities, such as movie nights and BINGO games.

Rates here include unlimited use of the indoor water park, home to Fernando the Frog, a six-foot amphibian with a mini water slide connected to a heated pool. The water park features dozens of interactive water activities and slides, twisting flumes, a raining umbrella, and more! I must have gone down the open yellow slide more than a dozen times, lying flat on my back and plunging at a rapid speed. It was a blast. Afterwards I decompressed in the nice warm jacuzzi. There is nothing quite like having access to such a facility and being able to go back and forth to your room in the same building. If you are in the area and staying elsewhere, you can pay a fee to gain entry to the water park.

Water parks have been known to be popular activities for children with autism.

“For the water park, I would suggest this only for a child who would not be over stimulated by the environment,” says Tania Piperni, an Autism Spectrum Disorder consultant at the English Montreal School Board. “If planning to go to an indoor water park, I would suggest parents try going to a local water park first, in order to see what reactions are elicited and it would help them prepare for a future visit.
There are 10 handicapped accessible rooms. Three are specifically for the hearing impaired; five others are accessible for hearing impaired, with bath tubs that have grab bars. One other, also equipped for the hearing impaired, has a roll in shower. The hotel is owned and managed by Olympia Hotels (, headquartered in Portland Maine.

The Hampton Inn and Suites is located at 1788 White Mountain Hwy. For more information call toll Free: (888) H20-PARK or (603) 356-7736.

MINI GOLF: Whenever our family goes on summer vacation, we always seek out a good spot for miniature golf. The much respected Pirates Cove Adventure Golf ( chain is present here in North Conway at 2001 White Mountain Highway with not one, but two 18 hole courses. Some people do both of them back to back. Our plan was to do so over two evenings. We started off on what was considered the more challenging course, featuring a neat mountain cave, cascading waterfalls and some tricky holes. It was a great deal of fun. The course itself was nicely arranged and the pirate theme was present throughout. If you are headed to North Conway with a group and wish to arrange a mini-golf tournament, call ahead to Josh Power at 603-356-8807. Oh yes, regrettably it rained the second evening we were there so we will just have to head back to this impressive course on our next trip. This was the first time I played mini golf in two years and I was excited to sink two holes-in-one. There are nine holes on the front course that are accessible and can be played twice., notes manager Josh Power.

DINING: Close to the Hampton Inn and Suites is Merlino’s Steakhouse (, independently owned and operated by the Luciano family since 1967. Merlino’s features only Certified Angus Beef, which assures customers the finest quality beef available. They also serve some of the finest Italian food, using time tested family recipes, chops and ribs, fish and poultry, Merlinos has a great children’s menu, featuring ziti with jumbo meatball, kids smoothies, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, chicken fingers and pizza. You can even get a kids smoothie. There is a generous assortment of appetizers, soups and salads. I strongly recommend the Prime Rib, which comes in six, 12 and 18 ounce portions. The garlic mashed potatoes on the size are delicious. If Caesar salad is to your liking, a large bowl will be brought to the table for everyone to share. They even serve lobster, in the shell or a lazy man style (all cut up). The lobster macaroni and cheese is a new creation. I had the 14 ounce Delmonico steak and it was tender and juicy. Our server Dan, recognizing that we were from Quebec, brushed up on some of the French he learned in high school and gave us a nice “Bonjour” upon taking our orders and even a “Merci.” The two floor facility was busy on the evening we came, including a spirited engagement party just across the room from us.

Lake Placid, New York

Over the course of many years my family and I passed the exit for Lake Placid, New York on Highway 87 and wondered when we would actually visit the former Olympic Village. Well, over the recent holidays that day finally arrived – several days in fact.

On our way back from New York City, Lake Placid was added to our itinerary and I can now strongly recommend others do the same. This is a four season destination. We got a taste of the winter experience and now we are tempted to go back in the heat of the summer. I cannot say enough about the personnel at the Lake Placid Convention and Visitor’s Bureau/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (, who really helped point me in the right direction.

In Lake Placid, winter brings the sparkle of snowflakes, the twinkle of lights reflecting on Mirror Lake and the soothing glow of crackling fireplaces in Lake Placid. The area boasts a world-class array of trails for skiing and riding Of course things were a bit different this year. Not much snow had fallen up until early January, when we departed. Therefore the lake was not frozen and automatic snowmaking machines had to work overtime.

For those readers already looking for good March Break options, pencil in Lake Placid. By then you should be able to slide down the toboggan chute on frozen Mirror Lake, go ice skating, take an invigorating dog sled ride, and revel in the beauty of the Adirondack wilderness by snowmobiling, cross-country skiing or ice climbing. There is also the option of exploring the endless Adirondack snowshoeing trails to see the forest from a whole new perspective.

Whether you’re an expert, or it’s your first time trying a new winter sport, Lake Placid is the perfect place to enjoy a winter getaway.

ACCOMMODATIONS: We stayed at the 92 room Northwoods Inn (, situated right on Main Street, a short walk to the Olympic Arena and Oval, a public beach, numerous restaurants, a movie theatre and quaint shops of Lake Placid. The hotel offers a sidewalk café, two restaurants and “The Cabin,” a warm and cozy fireplace bar overlooking Main Street. Their rooftop bar presents a majestic view of the entire town plus the High Peaks and Whiteface Mountain. The breakfasts and gourmet burgers here have been voted “The best in Lake Placid.”

This is an all suite hotel and includes extended stay spots with kitchenettes and affordable rates. The lakeside rooms offer great views of Mirror Lake and the Adirondack mountains while others include balconies where guests can sit outside and enjoy the fresh mountain air. All of the rooms feature air conditioning, cable TV and separate sitting areas. There is complimentary onsite parking for overnight hotel guests only. Parking is limited, and in high demand periods, overflow spots are available, for a nominal fee, in the Lake Placid Municipal Parking Lot, one block from the hotel.

The Inn features the Tempur-Pedic “Weightless Sleep” mattresses, coddling you as no other mattress can. The revolutionary pressure-relieving material conforms to every point on your body, with relaxing molecular memory that gives you the best night of sleep you’ll ever have.
The Northwoods Inn is a hotel with lots of character and an interesting history. Since the 1800s, Lake Placid has been a destination to tourists and outdoor enthusiasts. By 1900 the village was recognized as a resort destination with seven major hotels and several smaller inns and cottages. A hotelier named Frank Swift had the dream to build a modern, fireproof hotel, where he could host high profile guests with all of the luxuries and comforts of a city hotel. In 1926 he achieved this goal with the construction of the Hotel Marcy. It was named for Mount Marcy, the grandest mountain in New York. In addition to the new building, the Hotel Marcy included several former summer homes to be rented as cottages and the old Northwoods Inn, which was used for housing staff, storage and kitchen facilities. In total, the hotel included 160 guest rooms, 125 bathrooms, a dining room and meeting space.

The Marcy was unlike anything else in Lake Placid and it immediately became popular with both local residents and visitors. It was a choice location for weddings, parties and community events. The hotel also attracted many tourists, including celebrities George Burns and Gracie Allen, Kate Smith, and others from that bygone era.

The Northwoods Inn was purchased by the Smith family five years ago. Gary Smith has handed the day-to-day operations to his son Garrett, who has innkeeper spends a lot of time mixing with guests and getting their feedback. He is working hard at building the property Free WiFi was recently added to all guestrooms and public areas. The renovation of guest rooms is next. For more information you can call 518-523-1818 for special packages, group rates or to make a reservation.

The hotel is well suited for guests in wheelchairs. The parking lot leads to the back entrance of the hotel, where there is a ramp bringing you to either the lobby or the elevator to your room. Door entrances are large and the suites themselves have a nice passageway when you first enter. The elevator will also take you to the street level, where both sides of the street offer some lovely shops and restaurants to explore.

MEALS: From traditional American cuisine in a family-friendly atmosphere to a delicious buffet dinner, such as we were treated to on New Year’s Eve at the Northwoods Inn, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your craving. We discovered Milano North ( Modeled on its Albany cousin, this 110 seat, Northern Italian bistro features a dynamic open kitchen design, wood-fired oven pizzas, freshly-prepared homemade pastas and entrees using only the finest of ingredients. Located one block from the Northwoods Inn, Milano North offers a warm and contemporary Adirondack ambience. We absolutely loved our meals: a piping hot and delicious tomato soup, delicious salads and beautifully prepared entrees of grilled scallops, the best veal parmesan I can remember having (with some linguini on the side) and a grilled shrimp dish with fettuccini.

The restaurant offers a nice second floor view of the charming downtown. You can also catch your favorite game at the bar in its relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Head Chef Ryan Preston oversees a very impressive menu and general manager David McKenty greets everyone with a smile and some Lake Placid trivia.

Milano North is fully handicapped accessible from the upper tier of the municipal parking lot. There are a number of handicapped parking spaces located just outside the front entrance to the restaurant and everything inside is all on one level.

WHAT TO DO: Visit Lake Placid and invent your own perfect day. Sheltered among the Adirondack Park’s six million acres, the alpine village offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, unique attractions, shopping, dining and a variety of fun. There are mountains to climb, rivers to fish, serene lakes to kayak and vast evergreen forests to explore. Bring your bike and cruise through the region’s dramatic landscape, from quiet country roads to scenic mountain passes. Or pack your clubs and play a round on some of the beautiful Lake Placid golf courses—the region boasts 13 including five signature championship layouts. You can also attend one of the many enriching events at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts or catch a movie at the old-fashioned theater on Main Street.

OLYMPIC PASSPORT: Lake Placid was the proud host of the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympic Games. In all of the four seasons, this celebrated history can be experienced with a full range of activities from ORDA – the Olympic Regional Development Authority ( Make sure to purchase the Olympic Sites Passport, which gives you access to every one of the Olympic venues—from Whiteface to the Olympic Sports Complex and everything in between. Sold for $29 at the ORDA Store and all of their ticket offices, the passport saves you time, money, and gets you into the venues at a good value.

ORDA was originally created by the State of New York to manage the facilities used during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games at Lake Placid. ORDA operates the Whiteface Mountain ski area located in the Town of Wilmington, just 15 minutes outside the Village of Lake Placid; the Olympic Center; the Olympic Jumping Complex and Olympic Sports Complex; and Gore Mountain ski area located in North Creek, New York — 80 miles south of Lake Placid.

Whiteface’s Adaptive Snowsports Program is for adults and children with disabilities who want to learn how to ski and snowboard. First-timers needn’t worry; lessons range from “Never-Ever” to the advanced skier/snowboarder. Lift ticket, lesson and rental adaptive equipment are included. The duration of the lesson is usually two hours, depending on the student. Payment is required at the time of reservation.

ACTIVITIES: Fun in the Adirondacks takes on a whole new meaning when shared with the family. With Lake Placid’s storybook setting, it’s no surprise that this quaint alpine village offers unrivaled thrills, unforgettable adventures and historical exploration for all who visit. From museums and theater performances to classic family amusements such as bowling and miniature golf, the Adirondacks have an array of activities and attractions for moms, dads and kids of any age.

For sports fans, be sure to check out the Olympic facilities including the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and the various sports venues such as the hockey arena, home to the 1980 “Miracle on Ice.” If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, take a ride on the bobsled run or ski or ride down the highest vertical drop in the East at Whiteface Mountain. For some history and culture, visit the nearby Wild Center Museum or plan on catching one of the family friendly shows at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

SKIING: As America’s very first winter resort, Lake Placid has skiing and riding covered. Whiteface, the only ski area in the East to have hosted the Olympic Games, boasts the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies with terrain for any skill level. The mountain’s 86 trails are serviced by high speed lifts and the Cloudsplitter Gondola—and with terrain parks, slides, glades and miles of groomed runs, you’re sure to find something that suits you. Whiteface is open generally from the very end of November until the middle of April

TOBOGGAN CHUTE: The Lake Placid Toboggan Chute (, located on Parkside Drive, adjacent to the Post Office, has been in operation since the 1960’s. The North Elba Park District currently operates the slide. A 30 foot high converted ski jump trestle sends toboggans down ice covered chutes onto frozen Mirror Lake. Depending on weather conditions, toboggans can travel over 1,000 feet once they reach the frozen lake surface. To insure the safety of riders, only one sled is sent down at a time. Families have always said that their visit to the Toboggan Chute was a highlight of their winter vacation.

Since the actual outrun of the slide is the frozen lake surface, the official opening day for operation varies from year to year. They have been open as early as December 26 and one year it wasn’t until February before they were in operation. A good 10 to 12 inches of good solid ice is necessary to insure the safety of the guests.

Admission prices allow guests to slide as much as they can during the scheduled time. Toboggans are rented and can hold two to four people. During Christmas and President’s week lines are often long and the wait can be 15 to 20 minutes between rides. Info 518-523-2591

OLYMPIC JUMPING: See firsthand the ramp that ski jumpers launch from before flying over the length of a football field. Take the chairlift alongside the jumping hills to the glass enclosed elevator to the observation deck of the 120K jump. At the top you will find a panoramic view of the Adirondack High Peaks as you stroll through the ski jumpers preparation room. Then get a bird’s eye view of what the jumpers see as they start to accelerate towards the end of the ramp. Nearby, aerialists will spring off steep kickers on the freestyle hill in a flurry of twists & turns.
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You can also ride the 26-storey elevator to the top of the tower and view the world from a ski jumper’s perspective while you take in the panoramic view of the beautiful Adirondack High Peaks and other Olympic Venues.

TUBING: The newest attraction at the Olympic Jumping Complex goes downhill fast. Ride a tube down their newly constructed chute for over 700 feet of fun under the lights. With every tubing ticket purchased, funds go to support USA Ski Jumping. This is opened December 26 through March 20 (or as weather permits). The rate is $9 per hour. Log on to

OLYMPIC SPORTS COMPLEX: Home to the combined bobsled, luge and skeleton track – the only one east of the Rockies – as well as 50 km of groomed cross country ski trails and a biathlon shooting range, the Olympic Sports Complex is a study in extremes. If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to be a comet, this is the place to start. Bobsled rides, with a professional driver and brakeman, begin at the half-mile point on the track (the same one used by Olympic racers) and wind through Shady, Labyrinth and The Heart–turns known by racers the world over.
You’ll feel the rumble of the sled’s blades passing over the track’s iced surface, slide through one turn, bank high on the next one and pick up speed on the straightaway. You’ll go faster than you’re allowed to drive a car through town. Then you’ll get to the bottom and want to do it again. That is the way the one daring member of our family described the experience. For your bravery, they give you a bobsled lapel pin, a four by six commemorative team photo, t-shirt, a Lake Placid Bobsled Experience sticker and membership in the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton

SKELETON: At the Olympic Sports Complex, you’ll have the chance to try the sport of Skeleton. This is your childhood sled on overdrive. Thirty miles per hour never seemed as fast as when you are lying on your stomach rocketing down an icy chute. Your experience includes: sliding from Start five, a four by six photo of you and your sled, a team t-shirt, a one year membership to the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.

The site of the historic 1932 and 1980 Olympic Games, including the legendary “Miracle on Ice” hockey game in 1980, the Centre houses three ice surfaces, the Convention Center at Lake Placid and the Lake Placid Olympic Museum. This unique venue is active year round. The Olympic Center hosts numerous international and national events, youth and adult hockey tournaments, and Figure Skating Championships throughout the year. Log on to
ARTS: It’s no surprise that the Adirondacks have such a thriving arts community—the region’s vast forests, peaceful waterways and scenic mountains have long served as a muse for the creative. The region’s striking landscape offers an inspirational backdrop more beautiful and more vivid than one can imagine—and it changes with each new season. Today, artists and musicians of all genres are inspired by the natural setting and sheltered solitude of the mountains. Lake Placid boasts several venues for the arts and hosts a variety of performances — from classical music, to family-friendly shows, to rock concerts and community plays and musicals.

The Adirondacks are home to professional and community theaters, studios and renowned music schools. Likewise, museums and historical societies dot the region, preserving Lake Placid history and displaying artifacts of the Adirondacks’ storied past.

The Lake Placid Center for the Arts offers programs in the areas of music, theater, dance, art and film in addition to galleries, exhibitions and workshops. Similarly, the Lake Placid Institute works to enhance and celebrate cultural life throughout the Adirondacks. Working with other regional art organizations, the Institute develops and presents programs including chamber music seminars, roundtable discussions, and poetry and photo contests, among others.

SHOP: Saunter down Lake Placid’s Main Street and prepare yourself for a singular shopping experience. At first glance, it may seem like Main Street, USA– from the local bakery to the old fashioned movie theatre to the public library. But if you look closer there is a discernible cosmopolitan flair as Lake Placid’s Main Street fuses the special character of the region with the goods, sundries and cuisines of the rest of the world.As you wander in and out of this retail menagerie you may notice that many of the shops’ owners can be found behind the counters. Strike up a conversation—and be sure to take a piece of the Adirondacks and your perfect day in Lake Placid home with you. Whether you’re looking for a fun souvenir, rustic Adirondack furniture, handmade keepsakes, high-tech gear or designer clothes, shopping in Lake Placid offers the full spectrum of unique gifts, necessities and must-have mementos. There are a number of excellent outlet stores , Gap and Van Heusen to name a couple.

Plattsburgh: New York

Q: Can you tell me about Plattsburgh, New York?

A : Plattsburgh is a small Amercian city located on the western shore of Lake Champlain in the northeastern part of the state of New York. It is only 60 miles from Montreal.

Plattsburgh was founded by Zephaniah Platt in 1785 after he was granted the land for it by George Clinton. The city government was established in the former Village of Plattsburgh in 1902. With its significant location on a major water thoroughfare and close to the US-Canadian border, Plattsburgh has been the site of a number of historic events including the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Valcour and the War of 1812’s Battle of Plattsburgh. In more recent times, the city has been distinguished primarily by its United States Air Force base and the State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh, although it is also a node for tourists headed to the Adirondack Mountains. The city beaches and camp grounds are packed all summer long. It is also a spectacular place for boating, wind surfing, or fishing. There are some fun dining spots as well.

Plattsburgh has great shopping, including the large Champlain Centre North with anchor store JC Penny. There are a lot of Montreal Jews who have country homes here. Many Jewish students attend SUNY. I know many Torontonians visiting Montreal who wakeup with a desire for a change of pace from trips to Niagara Falls and Buffalo and check out this type of New York experience. The Olympic village of Lake Placid is less than an hour’s drive offering you world-class recreation and relaxation year round.

On June 19, 2007 the Plattsburgh International Airport (PBG) opened its doors for passenger service. The tiny facility remains very much a work in progress. But it is easy to get to and offers free parking for however long you are away. It is already touting itself as “Montreal’s U.S. Airport.” Delta and Allegiant Airlines presently fly out of there. Allegiant, a Las Vegas based carrier, is presently offering well priced direct flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

ACCOMODATIONS: Given the backups at customs these days due to the strong Canadian dollar, I would strongly recommend you head to Plattsburgh the day before your flight. We did just that, staying at the Comfort Inn and Suites ( at 411 Route 3. It worked out exceptionally well. There was no need to wake up especially early. Waiting for us was a generous hot and cold breakfast absolutely free. If you sleep in, a new Perkin’s Restaurant is attached and it serves breakfast 24 hours a day. There is also a Boulangerie Café, a lobby coffee shop featuring Starbucks™ Coffee and fresh baked pastries. And Legends Sports Bar is the place to catch the latest game on the tube.

You might want to find time to check out the hotel’s health club and fitness center, entertainment room, indoor heated pool complete with a waterslide. It was so nice, we wanted to stay longer. Of their 114 rooms, 28 are suites. They come complete with fridges, microwaves and a kitchenette sink. A gigantic Wal-Mart Super Store is literally in the parking lot while the Champlain Mall and Price Chopper supermarket are a short walk away.

Owner Jim Murray and his partner Terry Meron opened the locale in 1988. Murray was a teacher by profession. Meron owned an Italian restaurant. He wanted to get into the hotel business and asked Murray to come aboard. Before you could say “reservation” they had a Comfort Inn franchise, which they have expanded substantially over the years. It has a games room, party room and banquet facilities. They secured the Perkin’s franchise in 2006 to give customers another reason not to have to leave the facility. Canadian clients come to Plattsburgh for the great merchandising deals. One guest bought four winter tires for his car. “They cost him $240,” said Murray, “compared to $700 in Canada.”

Rooms range in price from $69 to $99 per night. And if you forgot to bring along any necessities, the front desk has a magic drawer complete with toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving cream and razors.

For more information you can log on to their website at, e-mail or call (518) 562-2730.

Mike Cohen travels to Oakville: Ontario

The Staybridge Suites Oakville Burlington offers one and two-bedroom suites, with all the conveniences of home to suit your extended stay or short-term needs. The hotel offers apartment-like suites featuring fully-equipped kitchens, cable TV, free wired and wireless internet and direct dial phone number with personalized voicemail. There is a 24-hour business center with free internet, print/fax/copy capabilities, free laundry facilities, a fitness center, an indoor pool, a home theatre room with a 50-inch plasma TV, gas BBQ grills, a putting green, the Bridgemart “Suite” Shop, a free deluxe breakfast buffet, evening sundowner receptions (Monday through Thursdays) and signing privileges next door at the Marquis Bistro Restaurant and Grill, which is also under the WHG umbrella. You can help yourself to free soft drinks and juices in the lobby 24/7. This hotel is pet friendly so that of course includes service animals. It is fully wheelchair accessible and has one room with accessibility standards and handicapped parking at the front entrance.

A vibrant and impressive community within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Oakville is a beautiful lakeside town with a strong heritage, preserved and celebrated by residents and visitors alike. Founded in 1857, this thriving municipality of about 165,000 residents provides all the advantages of a well-serviced urban center, while also maintaining its small-town ambiance. Along historical downtown streets, Oakville offers a mix of converted 19th-century buildings which accommodate over 400 fine shops, services, and restaurants.

A 30-minute drive from downtown Toronto, and an hour’s drive from the U.S. border, Oakville boasts an $88 million tourism industry, with over 1.4 million visitors annually. On our recent trip to the Niagara Falls area, we decided to stop over in Oakville for a day. We checked into the beautiful Staybridge Suites Extended Stay Hotel Oakville Burlington (, located at the QEW and Bronte Road at 2511 Wyecroft. This three-year-old property still looks spanking new. It is managed by the Westmont Hospitality Group (WHG), which I hold in high regard, having stayed at their locales in Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor.

Our one night there went too quickly and we will definitely be back. For reservations call 1 877 660 8550, 905-847 2600, or email The hotel lobby is fully wheelchair accessible.

DINING: When in Oakville I would recommend you make it a point to dine at the Marquis Bistro (, a 60-second walk from the Staybridge Suites lobby. It is open for breakfast, lunch and supper. We chose to have dinner there and were very pleased with the quality of the selections. The menus are all online. We shared the lemon calamari and the pan-seared scallops to start and give high marks for the spaghetti bolognese, the chicken parmesan and the delicious chocolate bundt cake for dessert. There are also a number of soups and salads to choose from, such as other pasta dishes, steaks, racks of lamb, and seafood. For reservations call 905-465-4480.This is a very pretty restaurant, with booths and tables. There is a large flat-screen television and an attractive wine cabinet when you walk in.

WHAT TO DO: Residents and visitors enjoy theatre, dance, music and comedy performances at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts. They can visit the museum at Erchless Estate, located in the home of the Chisolms, Oakville’s founding family. Other points of interest include galleries, historical societies and local architecture, especially in heritage neighbourhoods.

Among the many special attractions and activities for the whole family, Oakville’s annual WaterfrontFestival and Jazz Festival draw crowds from around the GTA. The community also provides plenty of recreational opportunities. Golfers can play at one of seven golf courses, including PGA-recognized Glen Abbey Golf Course, which has hosted the Canadian Open for many years.

Enjoy over 2,400 acres of park space, many with groomed hiking trails, or join a recreation center that provides programs for all ages. For boaters, Oakville features two picturesque harbors with docks and slips for sail and powerboats. The Oakville Public Library’s Events Calendar is the ultimate resource for everything happening in the Town of Oakville, including the acclaimed Jazz Festival.

The Town of Oakville hosts the Community Spirit Awards, and the ever-popular Santa Claus Parade, and is often the host venue for the Black History Month Kickoff Celebration at the beginning of February. The Oakville Museum at Erchless Estate also celebrates Oakville’s Black History with a travelling exhibit as well as a permanent bilingual exhibit called, The Underground Railroad – Next Stop, Freedom!

Every November, in honour of Remembrance Day, Town Hall hosts the Shadows of War exhibit, which is generously provided by the Oakville Museum of Erchless Estate. The Oakville and Bronte legions also organize their own public Remembrance Day ceremonies in early November.

A vibrant community filled with culture and natural heritage, Oakville is renowned for its beautiful shopping districts which include the historic, yet sophisticated Downtown – one of the foremost shopping and dining destinations in Ontario – with architecturally preserved storefronts, the quaint waterfront Village of Bronte and the eclectic multicultural Kerr Village. Each shopping district offers an assortment of cafes, restaurants, spas, galleries, and nearby parks and trails to unwind and enjoy the change in seasons.

Photos courtesy of the Town of Oakville.

Mike Cohen travels to Cape Cod: Yarmouth

My family and I recently returned from our first trip to Cape Cod in six years. Based on previous experience I started the process of booking accommodations in January. We began our summer vacation with a four-night stay at the Red Jacket Beach Resort ( in beautiful South Yarmouth and what an excellent choice this was. We actually squeezed an additional full day at the beach by packing our car up before checkout time, keeping our safety deposit box and requesting the front desk to place our cooler of perishables in their fridge. That turned out to be an excellent decision.

Nothing can quite compare to this locale. Situated directly on the beach, we secured a spacious family room with a balcony overlooking the ocean and only seconds from the heated outdoor and indoor pool, the latter of which also has a whirlpool. You can practice your swing on the private tennis court or enjoy a quiet afternoon game of shuffleboard. There is also a spa on the premises. Wireless internet is available throughout the complex and in each room. The resort has 150 guest rooms and 14 cottages totaling 164 total guest units.

The convenience of being able to go back and forth to your room cannot be understated. Upon entering the private beach you are provided with towels, beach chairs and umbrellas. Because this is the South Side of the Cape the water is exceptionally warm. The hotel is humming with different family activities. You can also choose from a variety of water sports offered by Gold Coast Parasail ( We opted in favor of the jet ski ($115 plus $15 per passenger) and banana boat ($25 per person for 20 minutes) options. Just a mile down the road from the Red Jacket are sister properties the Blue Water and Riviera Beach Resorts. The former is where we went for the banana boat ride, which I strongly recommend. You need to actually swim over to the boat, which found kind of cool.


Gold Coast Parasail is operated by Kurt Kossman and his wife Sarah. Kurt, 39, is also a race car driver. One of the most amazing aspects of his successful career is the fact that he lost his left leg to cancer in 1988. Kurt was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and had to have an above-the-knee amputation. Even with the amputation, Kurt was given only a 30 percent chance of survival. He underwent 13 months of chemotherapy and through strength and perseverance, he survived. While in the hospital Kurt designed a unique prosthetic so that he could shift the race car flawlessly and continue his racing career. He parasails, jet skis and in the winter skis down the steepest hills of snow. His message to others in his predicament? “You have to learn to adapt. It definitely changes the way you do things. “
The staff here aim to please. Ken Smith, director of operations for the Red Jacket group, has been with the company for 25 years while Red Jacket Beach general manager Thomas Moore has been on board for a decade. As explained, every effort is made to organize different activities for the kids such as hermit crab races. There are evening buffets, with live music.

You can call 1-800-CAPECOD or email

The area: Three villages make up the 17 square mile town of Yarmouth: West Yarmouth, Yarmouthport, and South Yarmouth. Each village has a distinctive character formed by over 350 years of history. A community shaped by its seaside heritage, Yarmouth has retained much historic charm while integrating the present into its surroundings. To gain a true perspective of this town you must stray from the major roadways of Route 6 and 28 that traverse from Hyannis to the West and Dennis to the East. Yarmouth is the second oldest town on Cape Cod, and it is filled with historic charm.

Yarmouth’s rich history has grown a Cape Cod seaside community that offers a potpourri of activities for area vacationers. For the outdoor-minded, Yarmouth boasts 15 of Cape Cod’s finest fresh and saltwater beaches to laze away the days, four golf courses challenging all levels, 14 tennis courts for the more active, and many hiking, and conservation trails. Yarmouth truly has something for everyone. On the Northside in Yarmouth Port, tree-lined historic Route 6A hosts an array of country inns and quaint bed and breakfasts, complemented by antique and craft shops. The Southside along Route 28 offers the hustle and bustle of a summertime resort town, from factory outlet shopping to sea lion shows to the most adventurous mini-golf.

West Yarmouth offers the visitor a variety of family attractions, various lodging establishments, beaches and fine restaurants. West Yarmouth houses the historic Baxter Grist Mill, a 27-hole public golf course, miniature golf, trampolines, a small children’s petting zoo, fishing piers, and close proximity to island ferries. In the summer months, ride Yarmouth’s Easy Shuttle along Route 28 to public beaches, downtown Hyannis, local shops and dining establishments. West Yarmouth offers any family or individual traveler a number of exciting things to see and do. The South Yarmouth/Bass River village blends the past and present. You will find oceanfront resorts, cottages for rent, bed and breakfasts, a driving range, two 18-hole golf courses, boat tours, a windmill dating back to the 1800’s historic homes, and churches. The large Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis is an easy 15-minute drive from the hotel. That could be a little longer during the very busy traffic season.

Dining Out: When seeking out a dining spot in Yarmouth, someone pointed me to the website of the Skipper Restaurant and Chowder House ( As an old fan of the TV show Gilligan’s Island, I was immediately intrigued by Skipper’s take on the show’s theme song. The Skipper was established in 1936, and it is one of Cape Cod’s oldest waterfront restaurants with pristine views of the Nantucket sound. The Skipper Crew has made this restaurant the huge success that it is, by hard work and taking care of customers.

Owner Alan Delaney and his chefs work hard to present the finest and freshest fish you can find, Angus cuts of beef and not to mention their award-winning clam chowder. All entrees are cooked to order and they have a great kids’ menu. Located at 152 South Shore Drive, the Skipper is open from mid-April until October 31 and only minutes from the Red Jacket. Delaney bought the restaurant in 1998 and has expanded the building’s size in recent years and just added an ice cream bar. The night we went folks were lined up outside the door for tables. It is no wonder why. The chowder was superb. Ditto for the crispy calamari and my family’s selections of the skipper scampi, the seafood trio (shrimp, scallops and lobster sautéed in a saffron tomato cream sauce with rice or pasta) and a pound-a-half lobster which our waitress Miriam cut up nicely for us.

Since there are no kosher restaurants in the area, Skipper’s swordfish, haddock, salmon and yellow fin tuna are all good options. You can also choose from among the different salads or opt for a dish of angel hair pasta.

Open for lunch and dinner, you can call 508-394-7406 for reservations. The Skipper is wheelchair accessible, with a ramp at the entrance. Make sure to book a table on the first floor.

There is a marvelous restaurant chain in Massachusetts called the 99. I had never heard of it before. We went to the South Yarmouth location, got a beeper and waited 30 minutes. It has an extensive menu.

Mike Cohen travels to Cape Cod: Chatham

In the affluent Cape Cod town of Chatham, visitors are drawn to the expansive and magnificent beaches, the lighthouse, wildlife, nature trails, bike path, and stunning views of the ocean. Chatham ( has a special blend of the past and present with quaint streets lined with historic sea captains’ homes, a fine selection of historic museums, and a walking downtown area with unique shops, galleries, and restaurants.

Lodging options range from a spectacular oceanfront resort like the Chatham Bars Inn, to lovely bed and breakfast inns tucked in throughout this picturesque seaside village.

Chatham is located on the elbow of Cape Cod surrounded on three sides by water. Located halfway between Falmouth and Provincetown, it extends out to sea as the most easterly point in Massachusetts. Once a quiet farming and fishing community, Chatham has become a vibrant tourist destination. Rich in its maritime heritage, as well as a spirited New England town with a variety of small businesses, Chatham is a special place for year-round residents and visitors alike.

Chatham Bars Inn ( is a gorgeous property catering to a very affluent clientele. I had the opportunity to tour the facility and then spend the day at their private beach and enjoy lunch at their Beach House Grill.

The Chatham Bars Inn has been an idyllic Cape Cod family vacation retreat noted for its excellent service, fine cuisine and beautiful surroundings since 1914. The Inn is nestled near the heart of Chatham on 25 beautifully landscaped acres overlooking Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

This world-famous turn-of-the-century landmark has a remarkable ambiance. The expansive lounge, front veranda and main dining room have been returned to their original grandeur, affording panoramic ocean views and gentle sea breezes. If you’re looking for boat charters on Cape Cod, you’ll love the top-notch fleet operated by Chatham Bars Inn. A variety of luxury boats offer unforgettable Cape Cod experiences. Memorable and unique boating excursions offered by Chatham Bars Inn include Cape Cod sunset cruises on Pleasant Bay, big game sport fishing, sailing tours, family activities, and private charters to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. You’ll also love their Cape Cod sailing packages, including the popular Cape Cod Sunset Cruises Package.

In addition to popular Cape activities such as golf, tennis, fishing, water sports, and bird watching, guests also enjoy summer beachfront theme dinners, spa treatments, and an array of children’s programs and family activities: everything you need for a summer vacation in Cape Cod. Most important, the grand tradition of relaxing in casual, unhurried comfort continues year-round at this historic Cape Cod vacation resort.

In 2007, Chatham Bars Inn completed a $14 million upgrade to the resort, including guestrooms, landscaping, dining and public facilities. They also added the Japanese gardens and a year-round relaxation pool at The Spa at Chatham Bars Inn.

In 2006 Capital Properties, the New York-based residential and commercial real estate development and management firm purchased the property for $166 million. The transaction marked the first venture into hospitality real estate for Capital Properties. “This year-round landmark resort holds a lot of personal significance for me,” said Richard Cohen, founder and president of Capital Properties. “I grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts and continue to maintain offices in Boston, so my ties to the East Coast remain strong, as does my commitment to maintaining the charm and integrity of this historic gem.”

A noted Historic Hotel of America and a member property of Leading Hotels of the World, Chatham Bars Inn is New England’s celebrated oceanfront resort and a classic Cape Cod landmark. Consistently maintained and updated since its initial construction in 1914, the historic Main Inn sits gracefully atop a seaside bluff, offering spectacular views of Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic. Two hundred and seventeen distinctively appointed guestrooms occupy this main building, including 68 sumptuous suites, each designed to preserve an elegant turn-of-the-century ambiance. There are 34 quaint Cape-style cottages offering guests an exceptional level of privacy and housing luxurious guestrooms and master suites.

Renowned as an ultimate, year-round getaway, the Inn offers a variety of meeting and banquet facilities ideal for lavish destination weddings or other special events, as well as extensive conference space equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology. Celebrated local caterers and professional event planners wrap up every necessary detail.

A Visitor Information Center is located in the town-owned David T. Bassett House, 2377 Main Street, at the intersection of Routes 28 and 137 in South Chatham. The Information Booth is located at 533 Main Street, next to Town Hall. It is under the supervision of the Chatham Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the Town of Chatham.

The sport of kings is the sport for everyone. For the boys and girls, there are flounder, and the experts match their skill against the striped bass, bluefish, and tuna. The waters of Cape Cod off Chatham offer some of the best-striped bass fishing in the world. No permit is required for saltwater fishing. There is excellent fishing in many of the freshwater ponds near Chatham. You may purchase a freshwater fishing license from the Goose Hummock Shop in Orleans at 508-255-0455. Non-resident shell fishing may be done in any area that is not marked “Closed to Shell Fishing,” but only by special fee permit available from the Permit Department on George Ryder Road. Harbor and gray seals are the most common species in Chatham, and can often be seen resting or hauled out on rock piles, ledges, sand bars, and jetties exposed during low tide around the Chatham shoals from the North Beach break-through to South Beach and Monomoy. They’re also found resting on isolated beaches, in marshes, and on floating docks at all tide stages.

The best time to see seals is within two hours of low tide on a sunny midday afternoon. Because seals cannot move well on land, during high tide they position themselves over submerged jetties. When the tide goes out they are left exposed, sitting on the jetty basking in the sun. If left undisturbed, they will stay on the rocks until the tide comes in again. If conditions are right, approximately 1,500 to 2,000 seals can be seen in the afternoons at Monomoy Island. There are several local companies offering exciting seal tours along the beautiful Chatham Harbor waterways between North Beach, Chatham Light, and the Break

Every Friday evening at 8pm from July 2 to September 3 all roads on the Cape lead to the band concert at Whit Tileston Band Stand—Kate Gould Park on Main Street in Chatham. As many as six thousand people attend these concerts, and it will be one of the highlights of your Chatham summer. There will be dance numbers for grownups, folk dances for the children, and community singing for everyone. Members of the colourfully uniformed 40-piece band live in Chatham and the surrounding towns. Each Monday evening during the winter the band meets for rehearsal. Funds for the maintenance of the band are voted on at town meetings. The band members are not paid and the concerts are their contribution to the summer life of Chatham. Don’t miss these concerts. They’re great fun!

Mike Cohen travels to Cape Cod: Eastham

With miles of sandy coastline, the Cape Cod towns of Eastham, Orleans and Wellfleet represent a haven for beachcombers and pail-toting youngsters. Only 25 miles up Route 6 from the bustle of shopping in Hyannis, this Gateway to the National Seashore is often referred to as the Cape’s little secret. If you are planning a holiday here, consider this area for your base.

The western border of Eastham is lined with six miles of beautiful beaches overlooking Cape Cod Bay. Just as magical as the National Seashore, Cape Cod Bay offers calmer and warmer waters, amazing flats at low tide and breathtaking sunsets. We enjoyed Coast Guard Beach, only a few blocks from our hotel. It is $15 to park your car and take a shuttle. Limited handicapped parking is available directly on the beach, where they also have beach wheelchairs. There is a free beach pass for those who are permanently disabled or legally blind.

The most notable and largest Eastham bay beach is First Encounter, the location where the native Indians first encountered the pilgrims in 1620. It’s great for kids, with its extraordinarily low tides. Buy them a net and watch as they scoop up crabs of all shapes and sizes in water up to your ankles.


Where to Stay: When we last visited this area six years ago we discovered the Four Points by Sheraton Eastham Cape Cod (, a modern full-service hotel which just kind of appears before your very eyes as you travel on busy Route 6, which consists mainly of small motels. For summer trips, an early winter booking is highly recommended. Hyannis is only 45 minutes away. The hotel has beautiful indoor and outdoor swimming pools and is close to the beaches. Some rooms have balconies overlooking the indoor pool, which is beautifully heated and a fabulous place to go after returning from the beach. There is also a jacuzzi. This hotel has one of the most magnificent suites I have seen in a long time. The Nauset Suite has two separate bedrooms – one with a king bed and another with two twins. There is ample cupboard space. Each has a flat-screen television The very large living room also has a flat-screen, a couch, four comfortable cheers, two end tables, a large working desk, a dining room table for four, another clothing closet and a small kitchen with full-sized fridge, a microwave, dishes and silverware. In the bathroom, you will find a large shower with glass doors. Oh yes, let me tell you about the balcony. It is gigantic, with two lounge chairs, two picnic tables and 10 plastic chairs – ideal for entertaining friends or family. This is traditionally used for businessmen, as the hotel hosts a lot of conferences. But for a family seeking good space for everyone, this is a luxury.

The free wireless high-speed internet is indeed “high speed” and faster than what most other hotels offer.

There is also great service from the front desk, starting with the printout of descriptions and directions to the local beaches.

This hotel also has a fitness facility, a game room, refrigerators and coffee makers in each standard room, an on-site restaurant (Bellamy’s) and five meeting rooms in case you want to hold a company conference here. The front desk will get you anything you need, be it a dining reservation, tickets to a show, or a car rental. Check out the Cape Cod Rail Trail Bicycle Trail, only 100 feet away.

The hotel has two rooms with a roll-in shower and five handicapped-accessible rooms in all, located on the first floor. They have wider doorways, raised commodes, hearing-impaired smoke detectors and lowered thermostats, etc. The hotel also has TTY equipment and closed captions on all televisions. General Manager Jacqui Frost says all staff is required to watch a video on disabilities to have a better understanding of guests with disabilities and how best to accommodate them.

Mike Cohen travels to Cape Cod: Hyannis

Hyannis is a town made famous by the Kennedy family. The Kennedy Compound can be seen from afar and is always under tight security.

There are 100 miles of splendid public beaches in Barnstable County. On the quiet north side is Sandy Neck, an eight-mile-long barrier beach with dunes, beach grasses and marshlands alongside Cape Cod Bay; to the south are the warm waters of Nantucket Sound and popular Craigville Beach; Kalmus Beach, where windsurfing is available; Orrin Keyes or Sea Street Beach and sheltered Veterans Beach, which I personally would not recommend. A major summer highlight is the Barnstable County Fair (, which takes place annually at the end of July. This is an extraordinary experience, featuring a variety of shows, exhibits, concerts, food, animals and carnival rides. The petting zoo and livestock displays are an experience, especially for the younger ones. They’ll also enjoy the 40-minute circus show. The large fairgrounds where this event takes place are in East Falmouth, a mere 11 miles from Hyannis. However, given the fact you must take one-lane Routes 28 and 151 to get there, the drive there will be very long unless you depart early.

Cape Cod ( is located in the midst of a major migration pattern for saltwater fish, which provides for a plenitude of fishing from early spring until late fall. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce really does a marvelous job promoting this area. Get a copy of their official guide before you start planning your trip. They also produce an excellent restaurant book ( and offer gift certificates for travel, dining and shopping.

In addition to the beaches, fishing, golf and kite flying, the Hyannis area has playgrounds, miniature golf courses, bike paths, tennis and racquetball clubs, windsurfing beaches and a bowling facility. There are amusement centers located on Main Street and Route 132. Be sure to allow some time to sample some of the area’s fine retail shops and art galleries and the very large Cape Cod Mall. In addition to the historic Hyannis Main Street Waterfront District, investigate the 100-plus stores in the climate-controlled Cape Cod Mall on Route 132. There is also Cape Town Plaza, Southwind Plaza, and Festival at Hyannis along the same route as well as the wonderfully imaginative Christmas Tree Promenade. The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is a multimedia exhibit designed to open a window into the days JFK spent on Cape Cod. The exhibit features over 80 photographs spanning the years 1934 to 1963 and is arranged in thematic groupings to reflect John F. Kennedy, his family, his friends and the Cape Cod he so dearly loved. In addition to photography, a video narrated by Walter Cronkite depicts the president’s experiences on the Cape. Several themed areas include charged oral histories of JFK’s friends.

Before you go, log on to and check out the best guide for parents and grandparents available in the region. You can order a hard copy by mail, which I strongly recommend, allowing you to plan your trip accordingly. Copies are free once you arrive. Inside you will find a wide array of activities and attractions, such as the Cape Cod Children’s Museum (