New England walking tours off the beaten path

June 22, 2015

Boston Chocolate Tours offers The Great Boston Cupcake Crawl on Saturday mornings.

As far as Iím concerned, tourist destinations can keep their typical canned talks and tours. Iím a fan of the unexpected and quirky when I travel. I want to hear tales of odd characters, visit kitschy places and get all the best gossip. Show me the places where rock and roll took root, take me on a cupcake crawl, let me drink spirits with spirits and Iím a happy camper.

Walking tours are some of the best ways to really connect with a locale ó and if you do some research ahead of time, you can cover ground with guides who will give you the juiciest details and off-the-record facts about a place and its history. As a plus, most are affordable and many have discounts for seniors, children and military.

The Northeast has plenty of walking tours that will take you, well, off the beaten path. Right here in Hartford, the Shoeleather History Project conducts "Radical Walking Tours" of the capital area. The first route starts and ends at the Old State House and covers Emma Goldman, James Connolly, Big Bill Haywood, John Brown, suffragist Josephine Bennett, artist Alton Toby and others.

The second tour, which starts on Charter Oak Avenue and ends on Hyssop Avenue, introduces the solidarity priest and the radical rabbi, a doctor who was a Puerto Rican revolutionary, struggles of women factory workers, along with Mark Twain, baseball and more. There is a suggested donation of $10 for each tour. Check shoeleatherhistoryproject.com for dates and times.

New England Curiositiesí haunted history walking tours, including Haunted Pubs of Portsmouth and the Wicked Haunted Waterfront Tour in Portsmouth, N.H., have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and on the History Channel and Travel Channel.

"These arenít your typical walking tours," says Roxie Zwicker, the companyís owner. "Participants are going to hear the legends, the ghost stories and the history thatís not in the history books about Portsmouth."

The Haunted Pubs tour serves up a glass of Portsmouthís tavern and brewery history and ghostly tales, while the Wicked Haunted Waterfront Tour re-creates the cityís rough and gritty seaport of Colonial times. Tour prices range from $15 to $20 and must be booked in advance. For more information, visit newenglandcuriosities.com.

Boston Chocolate Tours offers the Great Boston Cupcake Crawl Saturday mornings at 11. The two-and-a-half hour walking tour highlights some of Bostonís most famous neighborhoods and landmarks, along with the history of cupcakes, how theyíre created, and what the specialties are of each tour destination (youíll get samples as you go). The tour is $55 and advance tickets are required. For more information, visit BostonChocolateTours.com.

Rock Junket in New York City offers "Rock Ní Roll Walking Tours." Guided by a music industry vet, the rock-themed treks through the East and West Village including tales about The Ramones, New York Dolls, Velvet Underground, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and others. You will visit such legendary landmark locales as the Fillmore East, CBGB, Maxís Kansas City, Strawberry Fields, Andy Warholís Factory and Electric Lady Studios. Tours are $29. For information, schedules and tickets, visit rockjunket.com.

The Wicked Walking Tours in Portland, Maine, feature guides/performance artists who turn factual dark history dating from the 1600s into theater and stand-up comedy. Tours are $18 and tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, visit wickedwalkingtours.com.

Not too many cemeteries end up featured on RoadsideAmerica.com, an online guide to offbeat tourist attractions. Hope Cemetery, in Barre, Vt., is an exception. Along with being the final resting place of some 10,000 souls, itís also a quirky sculpture garden of unusual memorials ó including a half-sized replica of a race car, a giant soccer ball, a couple in pajamas sitting up in bed, a man in the arms of a woman who might not be his wife and a bi-plane. All are carved from Barre gray granite. (Barre calls itself the "Granite Capital of the World.") Take a tour of the nearby Rock of Ages quarry, where much of the granite is mined from, and pick up a map for a self-guided walking cemetery cellphone tour. You can also call Hope to arrange a group cemetery walking tour. For Hope Cemetery, call 802-476-6245. For Rock of Ages Granite Quarry, visit rockofages.com.

 

 





 


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