New Bedford, Fall River, +/- Rhode Island?

Apr 6th, 2010, 07:51 AM
  #1  
yk
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New Bedford, Fall River, +/- Rhode Island?

My parents will be visiting in a couple of weeks. I'm thinking of taking them on a day trip to New Bedford.

We plan to visit the New Bedford NHP (http://www.nps.gov/nebe/index.htm ), as well as the Whaling museum. I suppose this will take up a few hours?

I'm debating if it's worthwhile to stop in Fall River? I have never ever been there, and I can't tell what's there to see except for Battleship Cove. But the Battleship Cove website is quite annoying (seems like it's geared for teenage boys), is it worthwhile to visit?

If we don't visit Battleship Cove, should be bother stopping in Fall River at all? Is it a "cute" town or not? I've heard that there's a large Portugese population there, so perhaps we can stop there for a Portugese lunch? Any suggestions for places to eat (preferably $10-15 a plate).

Where else can we visit that's nearby? We've been to Plymouth, Providence, Newport. We are not into shopping. They like historic sites and gardens.

[ I'm also interested in visiting the Slater Mill in Pawtucket; unfortunately, it's only open on weekends in April, which won't coincide with my parents' visit.]
yk is offline  
Apr 6th, 2010, 08:31 AM
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If your family was in the Navy, then they might like to visit Battleship Cove. There is the battleship Massachusetts, a destroyer (same class that my DH was on way back so we had to visit) and I think a submarine. I can't help with what else is there as it is a town we mostly drive through on the way to the cape, sorry.
emalloy is offline  
Apr 6th, 2010, 08:39 AM
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Fall River is definitely not in my experience a "cute town." In fact, it struck me as being pretty dull, scruffy, and industrial with little to offer. Frommer's doesn't appear to cover the city. Fodor's lists a couple attractions (a local historical society as well as a bed and breakfast) that are heavily tied up in Lizzie Borden lore there.

There are some other attractions in New Bedford besides the Whaling Museum listed at Frommer's. You can likely also get a Portuguese lunch here as easily as in Fall River. Depending on your interests, you might find enough to keep yourself occupied for the day there. New Bedford is also a bit scruffy but should be fine during the day.

Have been to nearby Horseneck Beach, which is pleasant to visit in season.
bachslunch is offline  
Apr 6th, 2010, 09:08 AM
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lvk
 
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I would also not describe Fall River as "cute" - "gritty" would be my description. You will find good Portuguese food there, though. Sagres Restaurant on Columbia Street is always a sure bet. http://sagresrestaurant.com/
You could also take a cruise through Chaves Market for Portuguese specialties. As stated above, Battleship Cove is only interesting if you like military history.

I think that a few hours in New Bedford is plenty.

If you are interested in a scenic drive, Route 77 in Little Compton was featured in one of National Geographic's books about American scenic drives. http://www.travelguideofamerica.com/...s/route77.html
Little Compton Common could also be worth a stop. I always like walking through these old New England cemetaries.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Compton_Common
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Apr 6th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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lvk
 
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I should add, if you have read the book "Mayflower" by Nathaniel Philbrick, you will recognize some of the names buried in the Little Compton cemetary. You will also drive past some of the places where the battles in King Philip's War were fought.
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Apr 6th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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The Whaling Museum in New Bedford is the largest in the country. If you have any interest in the industry you'll spend a good couple of hours there. There is an excellent collection of scrimshaw and whaling related art, a one-half size model of whaling ship, several whale skeletons and one or two changing exhibits. There is a nice view over the Acushnet and the fishing fleet from the roof.

Across the street is the Seamen's Bethel --where Melville had Father Mapple deliver his great sermon in *Moby Dick*. However, I think it may be closed until Memorial Day. Check -- we were there once out-of-season, but as we were standing around a caretaker arrived to open it up for a wedding later that day, so we got to tour the premises.

There's also a restored whaling captain's mansion a short drive away, but I haven't been there yet. Might be boat ride available -- the fast ferry to Martha's Vineyard (one hour) and the smaller boat to Cuttyhunk leave from New Bedford.

The rest of the immediate area has some charm -- cobble-stoned streets with small shops and restaurants. We had a pretty good lunch at Freestone's City Grill. I don't think you'll have too much trouble filling the better part of a day.
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Apr 6th, 2010, 09:49 AM
  #7  
yk
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This is GREAT! Thanks for all the input & ideas so far! I think we'll limit ourselves to New Bedford, +/- Fall River. I'll check with my dad to see if he's interested in going to Battleship Cove. I really like the scenic route info that lvk provided!
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Apr 29th, 2010, 06:37 PM
  #8  
yk
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Follow-up

I figured I'll do a quick report back on our day trip to New Bedford. We ended up spending our time there and no where else. We were there last week during National Park week; NPS @ New Bedford had organized multiple free walking tours. We took one that was on Underground Railway which was very informative, and we visited Seamen's Bethel on the way. While New Bedford is gritty, the central historic core is nicely preserved.

We drove about a mile north to a Portugese restaurant called Antonio's for lunch, which has good reviews on Chowhound. We LOVE the food there. We shared 2 apps 2 entrees: boiled bacalhau, fried sardines, and Porguese kale soup and 2 pieces of cod fritters. There was so much that we were totally stuffed.

After lunch, we visited the New Bedford Whaling Museum. It was nicely done, however, the half-scale whaling boat that Fra_Diavolo mentioned is currently undergoing restoration and the gallery is not open. BUT, because of that, the museum gave us free admission passes for future return visit (restoration to be done by August 2010).

We were fairly tired by the time we left the Whaling museum, so we decided to skip the Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum and go home instead. All together, we spent about 5 hours in New Bedford, and could easily have spent more time there.
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Apr 30th, 2010, 01:57 AM
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Your trip reports are always fascinating. You do a great job finding interesting places that most people overlook. Good timing to be there for National Park week. Antonio's sounds like the perfect choice.
dfrostnh is offline  
Apr 30th, 2010, 06:28 AM
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Too bad the Lagoda was closed since that's a major part of the collection. Glad you enjoyed it otherwise.
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
May 8th, 2010, 01:43 PM
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After reading yk's excellent report, decided to do a revisit to New Bedford after not having been for a long time, and thought I'd offer up a trip report of my own.

Started off with the Whaling Museum, which is large and very good. There's a wide variety of things to see, even with the model of the "Lagoda" being refurbished (in fact, you can see the model through the glass door being worked on). There's a description of how whaling is done, info about whales in general, exhibits of products made from the animals (mostly oil or baleen based), some info about people who backed voyages, whaling voyage artifacts, and several whale skeletons. The artistic offerings were my favorite. Liked the many examples of scrimshaw art and older paintings, and found a collection of engravings emphasizing similarities between them very enjoyable. Best of all was a good-sized collection of artisan glass (New Bedford became a glass-making center after whaling fizzled out). Spent over 3 hours here.

Visited the Seaman's Bethel across the street from the Whaling Museum next, a plain church that gets prominent mention in "Moby Dick." What gives poignancy to an otherwise rather basic house of worship are the numerous wall tablets put up in memory of sailors lost at sea. Spent about 20-30 minutes here.

Walked next to the nearby headquarters for the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. There's a small exhibit space describing the efforts of the Waterfront Historic Area League, which has done a lot towards preserving the city's old buildings, as well as a walking map that takes you past several historic buildings in and near downtown. About 20-30 minutes were spent here.

A few blocks away is the tiny New Bedford Art Museum. If they have a permanent collection, it wasn't on display. Instead, they had an invitational exhibit of local artists that had minimal hits and maximal misses. Spent about 15-20 minutes here.

The Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum is found at the far end of the walking map, about a half mile southwest of downtown. Going to and away from here, there are several interesting old buildings downtown and a bunch of attractive old homes near the R-J-D House. The house itself is seen via self-guided tour after a brief video. It's an enjoyable Greek Revival mansion with several original furnishings and effects, with attractively tasteful ornament inside. The garden outside will likely be more impressive when more plants (especially the rosebushes) come into bloom. Spent about 90 minutes here.

Walked back to downtown and followed the walking map to the waterfront area -- which is still a working waterfront with several fishing boats to be seen, not so touristy, actually.

Like yk, I too went to Antonio's, a Portuguese restaurant located about a mile north of downtown. Walked there and back after sightseeing. A good bit of the city is scruffy outside of downtown, and the walk over and back showed some of this, though I didn't feel any sense of danger as it was still light out and nothing seemed overtly scary. Antonio's has the look and feel of a neighborhood place. Ordered the ribatejana, which is a Portuguese stew-like concoction of marinated boneless pork cubes, clams, and shrimp in sauce, covered with chunks of fried potato. The food was sensational, savory and solid with plenty of flavor and personality, though one serving would easily have served three people. Surprisingly reasonably priced, too. It's easy to see why this place is a Chowhound favorite.

In short, a full and satisfying day's worth of sightseeing, with a fine meal at the end of things.
bachslunch is offline  
May 8th, 2010, 06:18 PM
  #12  
yk
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bachslunch, thank you for YOUR report! You certainly got a lot more done than we did... You're absolutely right about the serving size at Antonio's.

Now I feel better about skipping Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum. If there isn't much in bloom now, there probably was even less when we were in New Bedford several weeks ago. A good excuse to return at a later time.
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