My Vegan Road Trip to The Green Mountains of Vermont

The Green Mountains of Vermont are its state prize possession! Although I had visited Vermont several times in the past, this region was new to me. Thus, my road trip adventure was a must for me this summer!

My itinerary was pre-planned, including much research on vegan dining options. You see, this region of the state does not offer much in the vegan dining scene. However, there are just enough veggie-friendly establishments that will satisfy your hunger pangs! When I arrived in the region, I drove to the city of Bennington. Bakkerij Krijnen (Bakkerij Krijnen) is a vegetarian/vegan-friendly bakery. They occasionally provide vegan treats. The day I arrived, the vegan options available were their freshly baked vegan breads. My selection was the kalamata olive sourdough bread. The soup of the day was a vegan spicy Indian curry. I was given a sample to try. Its flavor was superb! The hearty bread was baked to perfection, with the flavorful olives as adding to each tasty morsel!
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After taking a bite out of the bread, I placed the loaf into my tote bag and made my way back on the road to my breakfast destination. The Works Bakery Cafe (Works Bakery Cafe) in Manchester, Vermont includes a vegan cream cheese on its bagel menu. For the lunch time crowd, they offer a veggie wrap with a vegan dressing. I opted for the garlic bagel with the vegan cream cheese! My inexpensive breakfast was really delectable!
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The town of Manchester is in the “heart” of the Green Mountain region. The first stop on my agenda was Hildene. This magnificent mansion was the summer home of President Lincoln’s son Robert. The self-guided tour of the spacious home was a superb experience! Ornate period furniture and belongings were proudly showcased through the interior. Some of Abe Lincoln’s personal belongings are displayed in the home. If time allows, visitors may also take the minibus ride to the century old Pullman car train on the property. Robert Todd Lincoln became president of the Pullman Company in the late 1890s.
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The vibrant green mountains behind the home make for stunning views!
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The palatial home also includes gorgeous gardens on the grounds behind it. Hildene is a must-see on every tourist’s itinerary in Vermont!
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After my visit to the glorious Hildene mansion, I headed to the old historic town center of Manchester Village. The Equinox Resort & Spa is a luxurious accommodation that has historical significance. The Marsh Tavern portion of the inn was the spot where Ethan Allen’s brother held meetings to raise funds to equip The Green Mountain Boys during the American Revolution. President Lincoln and his wife visited the property and their granddaughter actually lived in the 1811 House on site around 1905. The beautiful Equinox Mountain provides the backdrop scenery.
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Heading further on the outskirts of town, my next stop was the Southern Vermont Arts Center. Within the two buildings, one finds works by local artists. Mountainous Vermont landscapes and babbling brooks painted with Fall and Summer color palates are lovely to behold.
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Outside the gallery buildings, one finds many unique and fanciful statues and sculptures on the grounds! Pieces of a game of jax, a silver palm tree, a multi-color horse, and a giant metal person in a dance pose greeted me upon my arrival!
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Onward I went to a town further north, nestled with the Green Mountain region! The quaint village of Weston has gained quite a bit of popularity among tourists! The Weston Village Store was first on my agenda. Nostalgic signs, Vermont souvenirs, local pottery and maple syrup products, and toys are found here. I purchased a couple of yummy maple syrup candies. This historic shop has been serving customers since 1891.
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Across the street, the Vermont Country Store welcomes visitors to peruse its aisles! The massive shop offers difficult to find products of decades gone by. Behind the old fashioned register counter, candy containers are displayed on shelves.
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Even a vegan cookie brand displays on a nearby shelf!
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Jars filled with classic candies greet visitors upon entering the store.
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Various new and classic food items are showcased throughout the shop, offering free samples to visitors. I tried some old fashioned potato chips, pretzels, and some salsa with multigrain crackers.
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Titanic soap, toiletries from the 1970s, and cold and medicinal remedies from the World War II era are just a few of the items I noticed.
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The final shop I visited, was the Weston Village Christmas Shop. What a fabulous gem this is! Unique and beautiful Christmas ornaments, holiday figures of Santa Claus and Snowmen, Nativity scenes, and many other Christmas items can be purchased at this enchanting shop! This is a “have got to see” attraction!
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My visit to lovely Weston had come to an end. Lunch time arrived and I was indeed hungry! I headed to the town of Londonderry, Vermont for my meal. “Garden Market” (Garden Market) is a wonderful market with shelves line with vegan snacks, beverages, deli foods, and produce. The shop includes a vegan-friendly deli counter where one can purchase sandwiches and beverages. I selected the bbq tempeh sandwich with avocado, red onion, peppers, and tomatoes in a grilled flatbread. It was delicious! My beverage was a lavender, freshly squeezed lemonade. I enjoyed it, as well!

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Driving further south a bit, I appreciated the spectacular landscape of the mountains and valleys.
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My next destination was the town of Dorset. The important landmark to note in this small village is the Dorset Quarry. It is the oldest marble quarry in the United States, dating back to the year 1785. Locals use its waters as a swimming hole. The surrounding large marble pieces are spectacular to say the least. The marble and surrounding trees provide stunning reflections in the water.
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The pretty mountain vistas met my glance as I headed back to the town of Manchester.
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Back in Manchester, the red Kimball Grist Mill built in 1853 looked very picturesque with the gushing waterfalls before it.
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Adjacent to the main mill building, lies a vibrant green one. In the background, an attractive and historic red church stands.
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Farm stands selling local produce are dotted along the roadways in Vermont. I came across one such stand “Dutton Berry Farms”. It was more of a large wooden building selling local fruits and veggies. I purchased a newly harvested tomato and some local black raspberries to take home with me.
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Another popular attraction on every tourist’s Vermont itinerary is any of the splendid covered bridges, along many local routes. I found this one by sheer coincidence heading southeast from Manchester towards Brattleboro on Route 30.
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My final meal of my Vermont excursion was had at Superfresh Organic Cafe (Superfresh Organic Cafe ) in Brattleboro. This Vermont city is actually outside of the Green Mountain Range. However, I wanted to try this vegan-friendly “new kid on the block” on my way back home to Massachusetts. The restaurant is almost all vegan, except for a couple of items. Rice bowls, vegan pizzas, burritos, baked goods, and wonderful smoothies round out their extensive menu.

The vegan, chocolate chipolte cupcake was my first purchase. After taking a bite of the yummy treat, I saved the remainder for the next day’s snack.
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The restaurant serves up several wonderful rice bowls. I chose a quinoa and lentil bowl with avocados, seasonal veggies and greens, an amazing sunseed scramble, cashew cheeze, chipolte aoili, mild salsa, and sprouts. My food was absolutely delicious! I highly recommend dining here for their nutritious and flavorful bowls.
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Thus ended my visit to the Green Mountains! This jewel of a region in southwestern Vermont is a breath-taking experience that any traveler would enjoy! I drove back to my neighboring state of Massachusetts feeling content and fulfilled by my Vermont sightseeing adventure.

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My Vegan Road Trip To New Hampshire Lakes Region & White Mountains

Summertime escapes to the White Mountains of New Hampshire have been part of every New Englander’s agenda since childhood! I recently decided that it was about time for me to visit a couple of destinations which I had never before experienced in that region.

My first stop was the infamous “Polar Caves” heading towards the White Mountains. Contrary to its entrance signage, there are no polar bears on its premises. Instead, the attraction consists of a myriad of caves formed by glacier ice melt from the White Mountains.
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I was famished after my length drive, so I entered the gift shop on the grounds, to purchase a fresh dill pickle. It satisfied my hunger for the remainder of my visit to the Park.
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As I veered right into the Polar Caves Park, I first came across a Maple Sugaring Shack. Sugaring equipment was exhibited within the structure. An old tub used to collect sap from trees, was displayed outside of the building.
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The cave’s interiors were complex in nature. No two were alike whatsoever, as all shapes and sizes could be found. Multiple steps made of stone pushed our limits of strength and stamina as we marched forward with upward and downward steps.
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Indigenous tools were even excavated within these underground caves. Indian populations called this area home in centuries past.
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Many of the caves had tight and narrow passageways that visitors must squeeze their way through.
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Stone benches can be found within a cave or two. One may assume these were placed for gatherings or group meetings.
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Each of the caves had curious names. King Tut’s Tomb is one name that stands out from the crowd.
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A giant boulder displays a sign claiming that it is the largest granite boulder in the world!
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My enjoyable visit to the Polar Caves had completed. This is most definitely a must-see activity for the itinerary of any tourist in the area!

On the way to my next destination, I paid a visit to the city of Lebanon, New Hampshire. Dazzle Cupcakes (Dazzle Cupcakes) offers a vegan flavor or two on their menu, so I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, they are closed on Monday so I did not get the opportunity to sample their vegan baked goods. It is nice to know that this vegan-friendly bakery does exist heading southbound from the White Mountains to Lakes Region of New Hampshire.
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Lunch time had arrived, so I decided to have my mid-day meal at a vegan-friendly pizza shop called “Cantore’s Pizza” (Cantore’s Pizza) in the town of West Lebanon. My pizza consisted of olives, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes with a vegan mozzarella cheese topping. It was delicious!
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I drove through many small towns towards the Lakes Region for a pleasant afternoon. It was time for dinner, once I arrived in the Lakes Region. “Bistro Nouveau”(Bistro Nouveau) in the town of Grantham offers several options on their vegan menu. I opted for the tofu stir-fry over noodles in a chili sauce. It was fantanstic!
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Onward, I was southwest-bound to Lake Sunapee! The town center was comprised of shops, art galleries, and a lovely, picturesque boat dock area.
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I encountered a covered bridge overlooking spectacular waterfalls, while taking a walk in the nearby woodsy trails.
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Back in the village center, I decided to enjoy some refreshing sorbet. Marzelli’s Sunapee Harbor Sweet Shop and Cafe (72 Main Street in Sunapee Village) offers several vegan-friendly fruit sorbets. I opted for the Blood Orange flavor. It was really tasty!
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After the cool treat, my final destination in the region was the Lake Sunapee Beach nestled in a state forest a few miles down the road. The lake and its views were stunning! This white soft sand beach with its lengthy shoreline is indeed a gem!
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My road trip to the Lakes Region and White Mountains of New Hampshire had come to a close. As I headed back home, my mind was filled of fond memories from this wonderfully scenic and adventurous day!

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Solo Travel Tips For Vegans, Vegetarians, and Everyone!

Solo travel can prove to be both challenging and rewarding. For this solo female traveler, the positive aspects far outweigh the negative! Us females need to be particularly cautious regarding our safety. However, I have never let that prevent me from travel to any destination. With careful planning, any solo traveler can feel at ease venturing out on their own. Vegans, vegetarians, and anyone else can enjoy and benefit from the experience of solo travel!

Regarding safety, there are several points to consider. Some of these concerns can be alleviated with proper research and knowledge of your destination region.

1. Is my destination city safe during the day and at night? How late into the evening can I stroll around town seeing the sights, feeling confident that my safety is not at risk?

Doing a quick google search on the web can alleviate or re-enforce your fears on this topic. Accommodations staff or local police can provide a wealth of knowledge upon your arrival.

While speaking to a local tour guide during one of my previous holidays, it came to my attention that a tall and strong-looking gentleman was mugged and attacked during the early evening hours several years prior. However, he had been walking along a side alley, during the dark winter months.

When I visited that city, it had changed quite a bit for tourists. Police officers wearing bright vests were stationed every few hundred yards along the main road where most hostels were located. That provided a strong sense of safety for travelers. I felt quite at ease going to restaurants along that stretch of town during the evening hours.

The web can provide most of what you need to know for each destination town including recent crime, what areas of town are safe into the evening, where not to tread day or night, and so forth. Guide books are a good resource also, as are local newspapers and tour guides. In general, most tourist towns across the globe are safe enough. I have wandered about town late into the evening, while feeling perfectly safe. Keep in mind, that other tourists are doing likewise. Holiday destinations are packed with tourists, so you never really feel alone. Enjoy the adventure!

2. What modes of transportation are available and how safe are they?

Again, the web and your hotel staff are great resources. In many international cities, both tram and bus are cost effective, clean, and safe options. However, in some destinations, that is not the case. Muggings, pick pocketing, and even physical assault by gangs may occur. When it gets to that level, it typically makes the international tv news. Nonetheless, it is always best to research online and ask the hotel staff for their thoughts on local transportation. I have found that in some regions, a taxi is the best option when a tourist attraction or restaurant is off the beaten path or not located close to bus and train stops. In some cities, there are several types of taxi services. Some are independent cabs. While they may be perfectly safe in some regions, others are known to be either dangerous or to “jack up” prices by taking the tourist on the long route to their destination.

In my experience, the tram(train) is usually the fastest, most cost effective, and easiest form of transportation! I love it!

3. Can I carry any valuables on my person, such as a camera or necklace?

The general “rule of thumb” is no..it is best to abstain from wearing nice jewelry or displaying your camera in the open. Camera bags tucked into a tote or on a string like a necklace are the safest options.

Fanny packs that can be tucked into a pair of pants is a great idea. Another option are undergarments that have been designed with special pockets that can be used to store your cash and credit cards for safety.

4. Is it ok if I chat with the locals, as I usually converse back home or do I need to be aware of certain cultural taboos or expectations?

In most destinations, it is safe to chat with locals or ask for directions. Most people are kind and hospitable to visitors in their country. Unfortunately, as is the case everywhere, those traveling on their own do need to exercise some caution, especially females. Make sure you are never completely alone and that there are others within your range of sight.

Be careful when you bargain in markets or bazaars. At times, savvy shop keepers can fool tourists into thinking that their items are authentic and worth the asking price. This holds even more true for the solo traveler.

Another note of caution.. Certain gestures or signs possess different meanings in different cultures. While making an “A OK” sign in the West, it is seen as a very negative connotation in the Eastern cultures. A simple nodding of our heads to signify a “yes” or an agreement is interpreted as just the opposite in another culture. Guide books explaining local culture are available at travel-related bookstores. We, as tourists, definitely do not wish to offend anyone or any culture during our global travels!

Female solo travelers need to be very aware of their surroundings. While walking from my bed and breakfast inn to the downtown area of a particular tourist town for lunch, I was stopped and ogled at by many young men along my route. Fortunately, they were just being friendly. I just smiled and returned their “hellos”, and went along my way.

Researching this topic on the web, is very beneficial. For example, in some countries, solo female travelers are thought to be lacking in morals, just from the fact that they are traveling alone. In these countries, it is advised that solo female travelers should ask for help or directions from local women, instead of local men. Guide books on certain destinations insist that solo travelers should not say a word to locals who approach them, otherwise the locals may get the impression that they want to purchase some souvenirs from them or that they are willing to pay to get directions.

The “Pros” of Solo Travel:
There are many “Pros” to solo travel. I enjoy all of the cultural experiences during my travels. I would never want to miss out on travel to an exciting destination just because there is no one in my life that is available to travel with me at that time! Many people feel that solo travel is lonely. Indeed it can be. However, you can make the most of it and end up having some great conversations with locals and with other tourists as well!

1. Staying at a hostel or a couchsurfing home are the best options for solo travelers. They provide inexpensive accommodations. Solo travelers have the opportunity to meet many other solo travelers. These conversations can lead to having others to join you for sightseeing trips or simply to experience and learn from other cultures. I truly enjoy speaking with other solo travelers from across the globe by staying at hostels. This is my preferred accommodations choice! It is always wonderful to have these travel-loving room mates to share your day to day sightseeing stories!

Although I have yet to experience couchsurfing, this phenomenon has gained wide popularity across the globe. Local residents provide free accommodations to weary travelers for short stays. Sometimes the tourist gets their own room. While at other times, they may need to share a room with other travelers or stay on a spare couch. The locals and the tourists both benefit from cultural exchange through conversation. In addition, some couchsurfing hosts have been known to prepare a few meals for their guests or to accompany them to favorite restaurants in town. This could prove especially beneficial for vegans! A vegan traveler can request a vegan host on the couchsurfing website. Couchsurfing can be a safe option, as many hosts have been given a rating and positive reviews that a potential traveler can read online.

2. Solo travel means that you can dine wherever you wish. Traveling with others, some of whom may be carnivores could prove difficult when selecting a restaurant for meal time.
Photo: Moroccan pizza in Erfoud, Morocco
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3. Joining a local tour group proves much more cost effective! For solo travelers that book a sightseeing tour from home, it typically includes a hefty ‘singles supplement’ fee. Staying at hostels and arranging day trips with local tour operators at your travel destination, can surely alleviate some of that cost. This leaves more in your budget for souvenirs that will always remind you of your wonderful travels! You will not feel lonely on these tours, since the solo traveler can always strike up a conversation with others on the tour.

4. Take buses to travel to long distance destinations. For budgeting reasons, I took a bus(as opposed to a plane or train) from The Netherlands to Belgium and from Wellington, New Zealand to Auckland, New Zealand. This choice suited me for a couple of reasons. I could view the breath-taking landscape along the route and I could converse with other travelers.

5. You can go sightseeing at your own pace. Maybe there are certain sections of a museum that you wish to visit for a lengthier time span than other areas. Possibly there are certain sights in town that do not interest you at all. As a solo traveler, you create and maintain your schedule and interests.
Photo: The Belgium ComicStrip Center in Brussels – home of Smurf and Tin Tin characters
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6. Finally, I would like to make mention of one other positive. However, I must stress that you need to proceed with caution. Everyone always states that the best part of travel is meeting the local people. What better way to experience local culture and people than by spending an afternoon or evening with a local resident! As a solo traveler, I am frequently being approached by locals for conversation. In a few cases, the locals did indeed invite me to stroll about town with them, converse in a tea shop, and even to meet their relatives in their home. For a female, solo traveler, it is important to determine the safety factor. Fortunately, in one particular town, my tour guide knew the person that extended an invitation to join me for tea. The guide(from a very reputable tour agency) told me it was perfectly safe. So in broad daylight, I got to meet a local family and experience how they live, dine, and to share community. It was a wonderful experience! It is best to accept invitations during daylight hours and in the open, such as a tea shop.

All in all, traveling on your own will provide for satisfying encounters with local sights and peoples! With just a bit of exercised caution, solo travelers can experience just as many rewarding journeys, as those who travel with others!

Photo: Me with other solo travelers at Pamukkale small thermal pools. I met these travelers individually on the overnight bus from Cappadocia to Pamukkale in Turkey.
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My Vegan Road Trip to Coastal Southern Maine

A road trip to the state of Maine was my plan for this past Saturday. Maine is nicknamed “Vacationland”. The state offers unspoiled pine tree forests, majestic mountain ranges, and miles of crystal clear beaches and coastlines! Its southern coast is exceptionally beautiful to behold! Thus determining my visit for the day!

The first stop on my itinerary was the city of Ogunquit. This popular beach town is known for its scenic vistas and charming accommodations. Walking through the quaint downtown, you find gift shops, boutiques, art galleries, and cafes. I paid a visit there specifically for breakfast.
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The vegetarian “Bread and Roses Bakery” (Bread and Roses Bakery) offers a few vegan pastries each day. For the start of my breakfast, I ordered an oatmeal date bar and a raspberry twist pastry. I took a few bites of each but saved the remainder for the next day, so I would have room in my stomach for a savory breakfast item I wanted to try soon in another southern Maine city. The sweet breakfast treats were delicious! The flaky pastry was baked just right and the fruity fillings were divine! The staff have a printed list of each day’s vegan offerings.
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After my sweet pastry stop, I headed to the city of Brunswick for a more savory option for breakfast. “Wild Oats Bakery”(Wild Oats Bakery) offers several savory vegan breakfast/lunch options in their deli display case. Homemade, “eggless” egg salad, tempeh curry, or mock chicken salad are on the menu and are clearly marked as “vegan” in their glass, deli display case. I opted for the eggless, egg salad sandwich with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and veganaise in an abenaki seeded bread with a side of sliced green peppers. This savory breakfast was really delectable! It was tasty and filling and freshly made!
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The remainder of my morning agenda was comprised of driving through picturesque towns and shorelines.
A mid-morning break for a snack landed me at “Gelato Fiasco”(Gelato Fiasco). This not your ordinary gelato shop! They offer a huge variety of specialty gelatos and gourmet sorbets. I opted for a four flavor sorbetto bowl. My chosen flavors included dark chocolate noir, mango chipolte, navel orange stracciatella, and raspberry truffle! These fancy flavors were absolutely scrumptious! Each unique note of spices and fruit created such a wonderful sensation for my taste buds! I highly recommend these gourmet-flavored sorbettos on every vegan’s holiday in Maine! You just have got to try them!
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After strolling through Brunswick’s downtown for a while, I headed back on the road for a drive through more picturesque towns and oceanside views. Finally, lunch time had arrived. The absolute best option in the region is “Bueno Loco Restaurant”(Bueno Loco Restaurant) in the town of Falmouth. This Mexican restaurant is extremely vegan-friendly! Their menu items clearly have marked which selections can be made vegan. They use vegan cheese, vegan sour cream and dip, and fresh vegetables. I chose the burrito bowl with seitan, rice, black beans, vegan cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa. A side of guacamole and tortilla chips(cooked in separate fryer with vegetable oil) completed my meal. Everything was delectable! The food was flavorful and the veggies were fresh.
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For dessert, I selected the Mexican-themed, chocolate avocado ganache cake. The plate was garnished with slices of green limes. My cake was absolutely delicious! This is gourmet vegan dining at it’s finest! The very clean and spacious restaurant has a pleasant atmosphere and happy music that immerses you to a relaxed state of mind.
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It was time to “hit the road” again! The next stop on my itinerary was the town of Saco for its beaches. Ferry State Park is a vast forest where guests may hike or walk or enjoy its beach. I walked briskly through part of the trails, graced by the dense forest of monumental trees.
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Further down the road upon exiting the woods, I found a local town beach. Bayview Beach does not charge an admission fee. The soft white sand beach was gorgeous! It was time to unwind and recline on my beach blanket for a while!
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The waters were calm and not too cold, nor overly warm. People played atop the rock formation that met the shore.
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Of course, I kept applying vegan sunscreen for my face and body for protection against the sun’s rays.
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Another public beach was only a short drive away, so I decided to check this out also. Ocean Park Beach is a stunning, lengthy, white soft sand beach! Tall, vibrant grasses border along the beach perimeter, making for a lovely landscape.
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After a refreshing afternoon at the beach, it was time for my next adventure. I drove further south towards Kennebunkport. The coastal views were amazing to say the least! The picturesque town offers everything a tourist would desire: boutiques, gift shops, restaurants and cafes, and magnificent harbor views.
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My first foray into the touristy downtown was a visit to a gift shop for some blueberry product sampling. Maine is known for its wild blueberries. The showcase storefront window proudly displays a plethora of blueberry products, such as jams, pancake syrups, and dressings. I really enjoyed tasting the flavorful blueberry jam. It was pure fruit and no sugar.
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Dinner time had arrived. While I had visited and enjoyed Kennebunkport many times over the years, this day’s visit was due to the fact that a very vegan-friendly dining establishment was opened!
Bandaloop (Bandaloop Restaurant) offers several vegan items on their menu. I selected the cornmeal-crusted tempeh with fresh avocado and tomato salsa, vegetable medley, and saffron basmati rice. My meal was very appetizing! This eclectic, fancy restaurant is a must-have on every vegan’s visit to beautiful Kennebunkport!
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As I strolled further along the main square, I encountered more colorful shops.
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I paused for a moment to take in a glorious view of the harbor with its boats.
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Of course, no visit to Maine is complete without a purchase of some wild Maine blueberries! Fruit stands along many roads sell fresh blueberries during the daylight hours. In the evening, some local shops such as “HB Provisions”(HB Provisions) in Kennebunkport main square, sells some locally grown blueberries. This is where I purchased mine.
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As I made my way further south in Maine on my way home, I made one additional stop. Kittery is renowned for its outlet shops. I stopped at one of the largest ones in the area to take in some window shopping and stepping inside my favorite shop “Ann Taylor” to check out the outlet prices.
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On the opposite side of the road lies a couple of newer, vegan-friendly places in Kittery. Misto Cafe (Misto Cafe) offers smoothies, as well as wraps and sandwiches which are perfect for a vegan-friendly, takeaway lunch for the beach. “MrsandMe” (Mrs And Me Ice Cream) has a few flavors of vegan sorbet on their menu, including blueberry.

Heading in the opposite direction on coastal route 1 just a few minutes away in York, is a new market called “Lifestyle Emporium” (Lifestyle Emporium). Vegans will enjoy a stop here for sandwiches and smoothies to take to the beach or to do some shopping for preparing camping meals.

For additional tourist attractions in southern Maine, I recommend the “Desert of Maine”(Desert Of Maine), near the town of Freeport. A desert in Maine, you say?! Yes..Its true! 11,000 years ago, a glacier left Maine with sand and mineral deposits which formed this “desert”. For an evening excursion, the Ogunquit Playhouse entertains visitors with theater performances.

All in all, I was quite pleased to see that southern Maine is becoming more vegan-friendly! I truly enjoyed my day trip to the Vacationland state! The glorious green forests, the attractive beaches, the gorgeous coast, the delightful village main squares, and the tasty vegan meals made my day’s excursion a wonderful and worthwhile experience!

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Vegan Day Trippin’ Across Connecticut Coast by Essex Steam Train

A popular summertime destination in the state of Connecticut is the town of Essex..along the Connecticut River Valley. The area is renowned for its authentic 19th century steam trains. Since 1871, these trains have operated throughout the region. Only one hundred currently exist in the United States. One can even catch a decent glimpse of nearby Gillette Castle through the train’s window. I chose the combo package of the narrated steam train and riverboat excursion, when I arrived in the region for a splendid day trip!

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Vintage cars are pulled by a bona fide steam locomotive. The steam train and riverboat connection is the only one that currently exists in the United States.
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The nostalgic train ride takes guests on a two and a half hour ride through the woods, passing by small towns, marshes, coves and boat piers. East Haddam, Lyme, Deep River are a few of the towns we encountered along the route.
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The narrated tour informed us of various locations coming into our view along the way. Spots where birds and small mammals nestle or swim, town centers, boating docks, and so forth.
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Deep River is the first small town that comes into our view. The docks to our left provide boarding and disembarking points for cruises along this stretch of the Connecticut Valley.
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Our tour group disembarked from the train and boarded the riverboat. The glorious riverboat exuded a sense of adventure for me!
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We cruised past several grassy marshes. An occasional flock of ducks or geese would greet us.
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A couple of small islands may be found along the cruising route.
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Gillette Castle came into our view eventually. This magnificent castle was the home of “Sherlock Holmes” stage actor William Gillette.
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Next, we gazed upon the swing bridge standing proudly before us. It is a movable, swing truss bridge that opens up to allow the flow of river traffic or rail and auto traffic, based on the rotation at its motorized pivot points. The reputable East Haddam Opera House stands to its side.
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Homes along the river stand on stilts for protection against flood waters.
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After the lovely cruise had completed, our train awaited us for the journey back to Essex Train Station. I hopped into my car and headed to Gillette Castle for an up close encounter with its interior!
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The stately castle is found perched on one of the Seven Sisters hill. It lies within the Gillette State Park.
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The sprawling Connecticut River lies adjacent to the property and provides amazing views from the residence’s balcony or dining room windows. With construction completed in the year 1919, the residence includes a spacious living room, a library, a study, kitchen and pantry, nine bedrooms, and seven baths. President Calvin Coolidge, actress Helen Hayes, Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplin were among those celebrities whom were entertained as guests of Gillette at his castle during its heyday!

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My lovely visit to the castle had concluded. My next destination brought me to Chester, another town along the Connecticut River. Art galleries, boutiques and restaurants are the offerings for the traveler in this quaint downtown. My main reason for a stop here, was to pay a visit to the vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurant “Six Main” (Six Main). Several of their vegetarian dishes can be made vegan. The knowledgeable waitstaff can assist with selections.
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The waitress brought some crusty vegan whole wheat bread with a tasty bean dip.
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For my dinner entree, I selected the General Tsao’s Cauliflower consisting of cauliflower, vegetable fried rice, cashew, broccolini, and chili paste. This meal was flavorful and really delicious! I recommend that vegan tourists in the area make this restaurant their dinner stop!
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I chose the sweet cornbread with berry topping and vegan whipped cream for dessert. It was very good, not overly sweet but fruity, and a great complement to my savory meal.
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When I arrived in Essex earlier in the day to board the stream train, I had not spent ample time in the town itself. Therefore, I headed back there to see the town during the evening. Many boutiques, shops, and dining establishments are located within the downtown.
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I also paid a visit to the boat docks by the waterfront to admire the views of the local lighthouse and small boats under the light of the moon.
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As I headed back home, my final stop for the evening was NORA Cupcake (Nora Cupcake) bakery in the town of Middletown, known to offer a few vegan flavors. There was one flavor remaining during the late evening hours, so that was to be my selection! Fortunately, it was a flavor that I absolutely love..chocolate! The chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting was scrumptious!

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My visit to southeastern coastal Connecticut had come to an end. I really enjoyed my adventure on the historic steam train from Essex, the relaxing cruise along the Connecticut River, the gorgeous rooms within the magnificent Gillette Castle, and the superb vegan dining I encountered!

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