At this time of year, the pressure can be on for big Labor Day weekend getaway plans. Yet, sometimes – especially if you are on a budget – the best vacation can be a “staycation”. How many times has someone you know visited your city or region and told you about something they did that you’ve never done? Do you read reviews of local restaurants and then never get around to making a reservation? When you see announcements of art exhibits, performances, or festivals within driving distance, do you mark your calendar and go? If, like many of us, tasks get in the way of living life, make time to do something fun! Local adventures need not take more than a little planning and an afternoon.
The MyUntangled crew loves to explore new places near home. A few of us had wanted to take a tour of a local winery, the Nashoba Valley Winery. We headed out one sunny afternoon, arriving at the Winery’s gorgeous orchard and farm. Our “field trip” started out at J’s Restaurant for lunch. Even though the menu was small (which should make it easier to decide), everything sounded delicious (which made it hard to decide). We each ordered different dishes so we could share, thereby trying as many of the dishes as possible. Their rotating menu features seasonal ingredients, often grown on premises.
When we visited, my Roasted Carrot Bisque garnished with turnip candy, pear wine, and truffle aioli was the highlight of my meal. Michelle’s Mussels Pomodoro and Jake’s Grilled Vegetable Pizza also combined fresh, seasonal ingredients that were well prepared. The highest praise came from Beth, who ordered the Apple Barbeque Pulled Pork made with Jobarb Farm Pork and accompanied by Virginia Grits. Though Beth has eaten barbeque pulled pork from Alabama to Florida to North Carolina and up into the Northeast, she thought that the portion she had at J’s Restaurant was some of the best she’s had; the meat was tender and the sauce was smoky and sweet. Never a group to skip dessert, we finished our meal with a Chocolate S’more (a chocolate torte with a graham crust, and marshmallow brûlée) and a Poached Pear Crème Brûlée (garnished with a maple cookie no less). Some of us ordered the beer flight to accompany the meal. The flight included 4 four-ounce tastings of beer and cider, all brewed right on site. The favorite of the group was the Special Reserve Chai Brown Ale.
We followed lunch with a tour of the winery itself. Just walking to where the tour began was gorgeous. Our tour was about 45 minutes long. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and was able to answer all the questions the group asked. Along the tour we sampled 4 different types of their fruit wines. When we finished, we got to keep the wine glass we used along the tour and we received two tickets each to sample two more wines at their shop. For a mere $10.00 a person, it was well worth the trip. The winery has outdoor picnic tables so you could sit outside, pack a lunch, and enjoy a bottle of their wine right on site. We learned about wine, had a fantastic meal, and visited a local farm making great products.
So, this weekend why not play tourist and do something you have always meant to do in your area? Visit a museum or go on an historical tour. Dine at a restaurant that you pass by, but haven’t tried. Have a cocktail on an outdoor patio. Drive to a nearby coastal community (if you are lucky enough to live near the coast) and get some fried clams. These examples are all within Massachusetts, but you can find information about your state from its tourism bureau. Happy travels!