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Six Off-The-Beaten-Track Summer Vacations: Part 2

Last week, we explored two summer vacations that would rock your world: #1, a magical fishing-camping-eating-bonding-boat trip down the Buffalo River in Arkansas and #2, a blow-your-mind (and taste buds) weekend at the olympics of barbecue, the American Royal World Series Contest.

Now let's take a look at our final four fun getaways in two of our country’s finest states, Massachusetts and California.

#3: The Great Battle of Fried Clams in Massachusetts

Land of the Best Fried Clams

To the people of the Bay State https://www.massvacation.com fried clams are more religion than food. So when summer sinks in around some of the best clam flats in the world, it’s game on.

Nothing beats the glory of the season in these parts than a heaping basket of whole-bellied clams, fried up to golden perfection, dunked in chunky tartar sauce.

Yes indeed, tribal tensions run mighty high among the hundreds of fried clam establishments in the area. So fried-seafood lovers? You’re up: Is it Kelly’s in Revere Beach, the hallowed home of fried clams and scallops that's been holy to scores of townies for more than 60 years?

Is it Legal’s Seafood, the seafood empire favored among the city set, tried and true since 1950? Is it Dairy Joy, (winner in my book), the iconic drive-in destination off the beaten track in Weston, run by the same family and serving legendary fried clams and soft serve ice cream to fanatic devotees since 1961?

Or is it Woodman’s in Essex, where, according to legend, Lawrence "Chubby" Woodman, at the joking suggestion of a friend, fried up a few clams at his roadside stand in 1916 and accidentally gave birth to the original New England fried clam?

Rest assured, seafood lovers, this is a battle you’re going to want to fight.

#4: Boston: Fourth of July Like Nowhere Else

Fourth of July Like No other in Boston's Harbor

Fourth of July is coming fast, so if you're in New England, it’s high time to get back to our roots of America’ promise in Boston, the birthplace of the American Revolution.

At 9 a.m. sharp, your day will start with a ceremonial flag raising on City Hall Plaza, after which you’ll join the parade to the Granary Burial Ground. There, you’ll lay wreaths on the graves of men like Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, the visionaries and soldiers whose dreams and lives gave us our country.

You’ll then walk in procession, elbow to elbow with your fellow countrymen, to the Old State House, where, standing on the same hallowed ground as our forefathers, you'll take in the words of the Declaration of Independence, read from the very balcony from which it was delivered on that watershed day in 1776.

That evening, let it all sink in as you throw down your blanket on the banks of the Charles River, along with thousands of visitors and Greater Bostonians. Then lie back and ahhh...you'll be treated to an all-American summer evening of music and celebration with the Boston POPS.

The night will culminate in the legendary 23-minute fireworks spectacular that shoots light and fire in the air over the shining river –– right where British Warships once sailed, a timely and inspiring reminder of what it took to make freedom ring.

#5: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

An Ode to Family Vacation

Magic at Grand Illumination Night in Martha's Vineyard

Notes from a family pilgrimage to Martha’s Vineyard.

Silvery, proud grandparents. Adult children with spouses and kids from both coasts. Crunching schedules. Omg, this is going to be the best! Except: long ferry lines. Cursing traffic. Get there. Just get there.

And then, ahhhhhh. You’re there. Island life. Sun that bathes. Family lunch on the backyard picnic bench. Corn and tomatoes sun-warm from the farm. Miles of navy blue ocean and golden sand, the surf pounding its summer soundtrack.

You cram into the car and rush to Oak Bluffs for to witness the 120-year-old Grand Illumination night. First you join the sing-along at the Tabernacle, the sounds of voices joined together, rising in the darkening sky. Then walk to gather with the happy crowds at the foot of candy-colored gingerbread cottages ringing the village green, all woven together with fields of colored paper lanterns. Hundreds of lanterns—pink, turquoise, yellow, purple…Finally, one-two-three—all illuminated at once, a wonder!

Summer nights ambling down the cobblestone streets of Edgartown, lined with storied cottages dressed in purple hydrangeas, white picket fences.

Fried clams at the The Bite. Larsen’s lobster on everyone’s laps, watching the Menemsha sunset. Toes in the sand. Only sometimes 97% humidity. Mosquitoes. Is there Lyme’s disease out here? Soft serve vanilla dripping down chins.

Kids lacing arms around each other at the pier. Pictures and more pictures. C’mon now: just smile for Grammy!

On a frigid night in January, when the air stings our lungs and we can’t feel the fingers in our gloves, you dream of those days.

#6: The Bay Area: Summer Romance With the American Normandy of Cheese

Eating your way through the California Cheese Trail!

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco,” Mark Twain said.

And that is why, if you’re a cheese lover, after you’ve bought untold layers of fleece at a Fisherman’s Wharf gift shop to ward off the freezing fog, rent yourself a car and get to Marin County, where summer is summer and one of the finest stretches of the California Cheese Trail awaits you.

The rolling emerald hills are dotted with black and white cows having their way with the land. Betwixt and between, dozens of artisan cheese makers stir their giant pots, churning out all manners of cow and goat cheeses with names like Humbolt Fog, Red Hawk and Halleck Creek.

And then there is the fabled Cowgirl Creamery, whose summer seasonal cheese—Pierce Point, is described by its makers like a poem: “Pierce Point starts with organic Holstein milk from John and Karen Taylor's Bivalve Dairy. These rich, bloomy rind wheels are dusted with a beautiful mixture of field flowers, chamomile, calendula and Thai Basil. Flavor notes: Herbal and savory, with a tangy brightness from the interior paste.”

Guaranteed: this summer foray into the American Normandy will warm you from the inside out.

Next Up: Is Netflix Killing Us Softly?

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