“But what is there to do in November?” ask guests considering a visit to one of the Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE). The ideal activity to add to a romantic getaway filled with plenty of time with hot toddies in front of the fire is to enjoy some shopping. We all know what happens the day after Halloween. November has become the new December with the focus on holiday shopping starting November 1 or even earlier. And to the delight of retailers, this earlier focus on the holidays has turned November into one of the biggest shopping months of the year. Combine an intimate escape to any of the 12 inns with some wonderful shopping opportunities and you have the ideal trip filled with R&R – retail and relaxation!
Starting in Vermont, no trip to the Grafton Inn is complete without spending a little time at the Grafton Village Cheese Company. Stop in and sample any and all of their cheeses. The retail store also offers a large variety of cheese from Vermont and around the world. You can also find wine, gourmet products and gifts to take home too. At Rabbit Hill Inn, you will not find strip malls, Dollar Stores or malls within walking distance, but follow the shopping itinerary for specialty foods or specialty stores and it may just bring you to Chutters in Littleton, NH, home to the world’s longest candy counter. Venture a little farther into New Hampshire, home to tax-free shopping, and you will find outlets, malls and just about anything you might want in nearby North Conway, NH.
Moving over to New Hampshire, the Manor on Golden Pond in beautiful Holderness is also more rural than retail-filled, but if shopping is what you want there are beautiful independently owned shops nearby in Meredith or once again travel over to North Conway to find tax-free 200 outlets, boutiques and antique stores. The Chesterfield Inn is surrounded by beautiful fields, but just five miles away is Brattleboro, VT filled with eclectic shops, restaurants and microbreweries. Beer shopping counts, and you’ll find plenty of great options in Brattleboro.
Marblehead is home to the Harbor Light Inn and here you’ll find many beautiful gift, apparel and specialty food shops both in Marblehead and surrounding towns like Salem. Right now, as we approach Halloween, this is hallowed ground for ghost tours and plenty of wonderful Halloween events and gifts. Not a lot unlike Marblehead, in Lenox, MA you’ll find not only upscale shops with everything from kitchen and cooking themes to gorgeous baby clothes. And there are beautiful farm stands in the region too. Walk from the Gateway Inn & Restaurant into Lenox for a day of shopping you’ll remember for a long time.
Also located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, the Deerfield Inn is located in Historic Deerfield, surrounded by and part of a beautifully restored living museum. You only need to walk steps out the door to get to the Museum Store filled with fabulous items you won’t find any where else. From antique toys and miniature hand-cranked music boxes and candy to gorgeous artworks, linens and china replicas, this store is worth saving a whole afternoon for.
Continue to Cape Cod, and one of the best shopping locations on the Cape is in Chatham, home to the Captain’s House Inn. Stroll Maine Street and you’ll want to stop into each and every one of the unique shops. From wine and cheese to art, to books, you’ll find a wide range of holiday gifts here for that person on your list with the most unique taste.
In Maine, Captain Jefferds Inn is within a beautiful stroll from renowned Dock Square, a seaside retail and restaurant hub. Look for everything from holiday to garden ornaments, plus one-of-a-kind galleries and clothing boutiques here. Then, take the drive up the Maine Coast shopping in Portland then Freeport and the required visit to L.L. Bean on your way to Camden. Once again, the seaside town of Camden offers amazing shopping opportunities filled with Maine art, woodworkings, and Maine souvenirs, all within an easy stroll of the Camden Maine Stay Inn.
Head to Newport, RI and combine your stay at the Cliffside Inn with shopping in harborside Newport. It’ll take more than a day to visit the blocks of shops here – many filled with nautical-themed gifts and apparel. Yet, you can find everything here in Newport – even a shop dedicated to teas and serving tea.
Our last stop on the retail tour of New England is the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina, on the Connecticut Shore, ideally suited to stroll to the shops on Main Street in Niantic, CT. Each night that you visit restaurants dotting the street you’ll be drawn into stores offering everything from specialty foods to games and toys.
There you have it. The ideal way to shop New England includes an itinerary staying at all of the Distinctive Inns of New England. Follow the map of DINEcountry and you’ll find fabulous shopping along the way. Next time you’re planning a shopping vacation or simply need some “we time” together complete with a little retail therapy, consider a getaway at any of the 12 Distinctive Inns of New England.
In Rhode Island: Cliffside Inn in Newport
In Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic