We’ve all heard of the common stomping grounds of an affluent New England traveler. Many New Yorkers head to the Hamptons, but for those who are farther north (or willing to take a longer trek), Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket make up the holy trinity.
But for anyone who’s ready to switch things up, enjoy the opportunity to take a break from driving this summer by stopping in New Bedford, MA on your way to whichever classic summer vacation spot lies ahead. Whether you’ve visited before or it’s your first time stopping through, New Bedford will capture your heart with its rich history, quaint cobblestone streets and incredible art offerings.
New Bedford’s historic downtown boasts a working waterfront brings the nostalgia of old whaling days. Filled with a variety of restaurants, shops, and museums, the downtown district of New Bedford offers something for everyone while bringing the past to life. If you are looking for a lively experience, check out the North End of New Bedford; teeming with an array of cafes and bakeries, the North End illuminates New Bedford’s multicultural heritage.
What to Do in New Bedford and environs:
New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum chronicles the history and impact of the “Old Dartmouth” whaling industry. Whale oil harvested by crews from New Bedford once lit the entire East Coast. The museum houses everything from whale skeletons and a model of the world’s largest whaling ship to work by internationally known maritime artists. The museum also gives you an opportunity to explore the importance of whale science and conservation, as well as informing you about what you can do to advance the cause.
New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks!
The New Bedford Art Museum is a must-see for visitors of all ages. The museum offers a diverse array of engaging artwork, as well as a dynamic and interactive experience for kids and an extensive collection for parents and art lovers. This summer, the New Bedford Art Museum collaborated with browngrotta arts to create Plunge: Explorations from Above and Below, a unique exhibit that combines 16 artists working in numerous media to create a body of work that pays tribute to the nautical and natural processes around us. Artist featured in Plunge used fish scales, Danish sail cloth, and even an old Moby Dick book as material for their work. Plunge can be viewed at the New Bedford Art Museum until October 8th.
The Seamen’s Bethel
Life at sea was exhausting and monotonous, after returning to landwhalers would spend the majority of their time and money at gambling dens, brothels and saloons. However, Quaker whalers in New Bedford saw this as a threat to the dignity and good order of their community. Therefore, the citizens of the town created the New Bedford Port Society for the Moral Improvement of Seamen, which offered church services to whalers before and after their whaling ventures. Due to the varying religions of the whalers, the church was declared non-denominational and is still that way today. Moby Dick’s author Herman Melville was one of the many whalers who found solace in the church before venturing out to sea.
New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center
Where to Stay:
In addition to the larger chains, like the Fairfield Inn, Seaport Inn and Conference Center in Fairhaven, the area is home to charming Bed and Breakfasts like the Cranberry Gardens Inn; in nearby Wareham, Massachusetts (Contact: 508-295-9475 www.bbonline.com) or the Delano Homestead & Gardens in Fairhaven (Contact: 508-992-5552; http://www.delanohomestead.com).
Dedee Shattuck Gallery (Just 25 minutes West of New Bedford)
A contemporary art gallery situated among acres of meadows and forests in neighboring Westport, Massachusetts, the Dedee Shattuck Gallery exhibits an ever-broadening selection of noted international, national, regional and emerging artists, and select artistic gifts — jewelry, scarves, tableware — establishing a cultural destination in the heart of Westport, Massachusetts (Contact: 508-636-4177; Dedeeshattuckgallery@gmail.com).
Partners Village Store and Kitchen (also 25 minutes West of New Bedford)