Norris Reservation (Norwell, MA)

 

 

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Date Of Visit: September 15, 2019

Location: Norris Reservation, 10 Dover St, Norwell, MA

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Trail Size/Difficulty: 2.3 miles (129 acres)/easy

Parking: There is room in the parking lot for about a dozen cars and several universally accessible spaces.  Since the parking lot fills up quickly, especially during the warmer seasons, parking is allowed on the side of the road in front of and next to the lot.  You may find parking in the parking lot across the street (although I never told you that)

Universally Accessible: Yes (there are some boardwalks and even trails, although some of the trails may be challenging as they are rocky and there are some gentle inclines)

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: boat house, pond, boardwalks, fishing,scenic views, wildlife

Summary: Once the site of a mill (an unmarked stone along the trail appears to indicate where the mill may have been located), Norris Reservation has pretty views of the North River.  An old boat house, which doesn’t seem to be in use any longer, offers scenic views and a nice place to rest during hot summer days.

Website: Norris Reservation

Trail Map: Norris Reservation Trail Map

Named after Eleanor Norris and her husband Albert (who she gifted the land in honor in the wake of his passing in 1970), Norris Reservation was once part of the thriving shipbuilding industry.  While the ship building companies have long since left, the reservation and some of the buildings still remain.

One of the most prominent reminders of the shipping industry, mills and boating that took place at the reservation are the boathouse (aka “boat hut”) near the end of the trail and the mill stone placed at the beginning of the trail.

 

From the deck of the boathouse, there are some great views.

 

The trails at Norris Reservation are easy.  A boardwalk passes over wetlands that encircle Gordon’s Pond.

 

Since it had rained earlier that morning and, due to the warming temperature, there was a slight mist at the reservation.

 

There was also some very pretty light and shadows visible at the reservation as the sun began to shine through the cloud cover.  While I was driving to the reservation, I had noticed the golden colors, despite the fact it was a bit past the actual “golden hour.”  Luckily, the colors and rays of light were still present when I arrived.

 

Near the mid-point of the trail, where it curves, there is a nice view of the North River.

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While I didn’t observe some of the animals known to inhabit the reservation (such as beavers, water snakes, turtles), I did see a duck, frog and this cute chipmunk who seemed to be looking out for predators.

 

There was also some natural work of art at the reservation.  These spider webs were visible on the boardwalk.

 

Fishing is also allowed at the reservation.  One of the visitors there told me trout is a common type of fish there.

Norris Reservation is a dog friendly park.  Scout, a 2 year old Golden Doodle, was taking in the seasonably crisp pre-autumn weather with his dad.

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Since I don’t usually find light like this during my visits, even during the golden hour, I would mention some basic tips about lighting.  While, I am not expert and there are many videos on YouTube that offer advanced tips on this, I thought I would mention some things I noticed while I took my photos.

The first “duh” thing may be to make sure your not shooting directly at the sun and to hide behind a tree or other obstruction, so the light doesn’t give you any flare or sun spots.  Also, what you photograph isn’t what you saw when you were shooting, even if you do use the best settings.  I kept the ISO at 100 (and I wouldn’t recommend increasing it too much since you want to show the contrast between the ray of light and the darkness and shadows).  I also kept my aperture open (with an f stop between 3.5 and 4.5) and a slower shutter speed (between 1/15 and 1/60 sec).

You can always make adjustments in post production.  But, I only used minimal editing (such as cropping and adding very little exposure and contrast) because I want to “get it right in the camera” and show what I saw as I saw it.  This is particularly true with any photo that includes light, be it sunsets, sunrises or when the light is shining through the clouds or trees.

Attached is a very helpful video about how to shoot natural light in nature

The Nature Trail And Cranberry Bog (Foxboro, MA)

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Date Of Visit: May 18, 2019

Location: Patriot Place, behind Bass Pro Shops, 1 Bass Pro Dr, Foxborough, MA

Parking: there is parking available in front of Bass Pro Shop and additional parking usually reserved for visitors to the New England Patriot games across from the shop

Cost: Free

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Trail size/difficulty: .6 miles, easy

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: scenic views, wildlife, easy trails

When one thinks of Patriot Place a cranberry bog and nature walk are probably not the first things that come to mind.  Yet, nestled right behind Bass Pro Shops at Patriot Place is a hidden trail with an array of wildlife and pretty views.

The trail, which can be easy to miss, is located right behind Bass Pro Shop at the end of the Patriot Place Plaza. But, before you begin the trail, there is a sitting area with a bench to rest on.

The .6 miles is an easy trail that has a pair of boardwalks and  dirt trails.

The boardwalk offers a great place to view birds and turtles.

But turtles aren’t the only aquatic critters at the trail.  I noticed a few snakes (Northern Water snakes) along the trail.  I thought it was funny this snake was on the side of the trail, yet nobody noticed as they walked along the trail.  While Northern Water Snakes are not venomous, they do have quite a nasty bite.  Fortunately, I do not speak from experience.  But I have read they can be dangerous if provoked.  They”re cute as a button though!

I also saw this animal there.  But, he or she didn’t move much, though.

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Leashed dogs are welcome to the trail.  Kobe, a 9 month old King Charles Cavalier, enjoyed the trail while I was visiting.

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Cutler Park Reservation (Needham, MA)

Date Of Visit: June 2, 2019

Location: 84 Kendrick St., Needham, MA

Hours: open daily dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is free parking for about 50 cars in the main lot and parking may be available at nearby lots.

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Park size/trail difficulty: 600 acres, easy to slightly moderate

Highlights: wildlife, hiking, pond, kayaking, cycling and running trails

Summary: This 600-acre park protects the largest freshwater marsh on the middle Charles River. This park is a great spot for birdwatchers, and it also features eskers, or riverbeds formed inside a glacier; drumlins, long hills formed by glaciers; and Kendrick pond.

Website: Cutler Park Reservation

Hiking Trails Map: Cutler Park Reservation Trail Map

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Named for the State legislator, Leslie B. Cutler, who helped the Department of Conservation and Recreation of Massachusetts acquire the land, Cutler Park has some hidden historical significance many visitors may not be aware of.

Soil was removed from what is now known as Kendrick Pond to fill in the area now known as the Back Bay of Boston.  And, if you look closely near the Kendrick St entrance of the park you can still see some of the old tracks of the railroad that was used to transport the soil to Boston.

Although I’m not sure, this tunnel may have been used to transport some of the soil, rocks or logs from the park.  But, now it is used to support the railroad that runs adjacent to the park.

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Mist was settling upon Kenrick Pond as I arrived at the park.  It created the perfect backdrop for photos of the landscape and swans at Kendrick Pond (aka Cutler Pond).

Cutler Park has a diverse assortment of wildlife and birds.  Although I did not see them during my visit, deer and fox are said to be present there. I did see a few other critters, though.

It was spring during my visit so there were a lot of babies at the park.  I got to see some goslings and cygnets with their parents.

You’ll hear a variety of birds tweeting (offline).

 

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or getting a quick bite

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or just chilling in the abundant trees at Cutler Park.

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The trails at Cutler Park are mainly easy with a few slight inclines.  The signature part of the trails is the boardwalk along the marshy area.

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But, there’s something about the tree lined dirt paths that gives the park a “country” feel despite the fact it is located deep within the suburbs.

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Cutler Park is popular with kayakers, runners, cyclists and people in some unusual water vessels.

What truly makes the park a hidden jewel are the beautiful views.

The wide paths and pond make Cutler Park a dog friendly park.

The way Casey, a 10 year old Yellow Lab, fetched could give any of  the Sox outfielders a run for their money.

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Say goodbye to Teddy, a one and a half year old Golden Doodle mix, from Cutler Park!

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Daffodil Festival (Naumkeag, Stockbridge, MA)

Date Of Visit: May 10, 2019

Location: Naumkeag, 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge, MA

Cost: Trustees Nonmembers: $20
Seniors and students 15 and up: $15
Trustees Members: FREE
Children 6 – 14: $5
Children under 6: FREE

Hours (the Daffodil Festival ended May 12,)

April 14 – May 27
Open weekends only, with tours 10AM – 5PM (last tour starts at 3:30PM)

May 28 – October 8
Open daily with tours 10AM – 5PM (last tour starts at 3:30PM) including holidays

Parking: Free parking for about 20 cars is available.  There may be a lot for overflow parking as well.

Trails: Easy

Handicapped Accessible: No.

  • Naumkeag is not ADA-compliant, due to the age of the site. There are many stairs, a steep hillside, uneven footing, etc.

Dog Friendly: Dogs are not allowed in the gardens.

Summary: The Daffodils Festival is an annual event that has daffodils and other flowers, trees and plants planted along their trails.

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Each year, the Trustees at Naumkeag in Stockbridge, MA bring some color and beauty to the drab rainy early spring season.  Their daffodil celebration begins in April and last until the second week of May.  Just in time for Mother’s Day!

As you begin your visit at the Naumkeag Estate, you will first enter a greenhouse with a diverse collection of flowers and plants.

While daffodils are the main attraction, they aren’t the only flowers showcased at the festival. An assortment of other flowers, such as tulips, complement the daffodils.

The trees at Naumkeag are just as impressive as the flowers even if they didn’t have many buds or leaves on them at that time.

Naumkeag has many events and programs for children.  We saw these butterflies which were part of a children’s scavenger hunt.

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The stairs and trails are well kept.

There are many statues and other decorative items along the trails.

The estate at Naumkeag is much more extensive.  But, unfortunately, the rain prevented us from exploring it more.  I am sure I will make another trip to see more of this beautiful hidden gem!

If you missed the Daffodil Festival, fear not!  The festival is help every year in Mid April to early May.

Bare Cove Park (Hingham, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 30, 2019

Location: Bare Cove Drive, Hingham, MA

Cost: Free

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are 2 parking lots.  The larger parking lot located at Bare Cove Drive has room for about 100 cars.  There is also a smaller parking lot off Beal St

Trail Size/Difficulty: 484 acres, easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, there are paved trails but the side trails may not be accessible to all

Dog Friendly: Yes (see website for rules for taking dogs to the park)

Highlights: wildlife, birds, nature, lake, easy trails, cycling, running, scenic, museum

Website: Bare Cove Park

Map of Park: Bare Cove Park Map

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Once the site of a ammunition depot, Bare Cove Park is now a 484 acre park full of wildlife, scenic views and trails for running, cycling or just walking.

There is a variety of birds and other wildlife at the park.  Foxes, coyotes and even deer have been reportedly seen at the park.  So, do keep this in mind if you do bring your dog.  I didn’t see any aforementioned animals at the park.  But, I did see a diverse group of birds there.

Granted, I did have to go off the beaten paths to view some of these birds, particularly the hawks and kestrel.  But, you should see lots of cardinals, blue jays, sparrows and other smaller birds in your travels, even on the main trails.

The main trails are paved and wise in most parts.  So there is lots of room for cyclists, runners and people walking with their dogs.

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One of the many great things about Bare Cove is that it is beautiful all year.  You might think that it wouldn’t be very pretty during the early spring time.  You’d be wrong!  But, seriously, the natural colors and the trees are majestic.  Even the multi colored ones. Alt If you are looking to see plants and flowers and other colorful views I do recommend visiting in the mid to late spring, summer or, of course, fall.

One of the hidden historical aspects of the park is its military past.  The area was used to produce and distribute munitions and other military devices. Until 1971, military goods were produced here.

In an effort to commemorate the service of the people who worked at these depots, there is a small museum with exhibits, photos, military tools and other gadgets that were made at the depot.

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There is also a viewing area to watch videos and DVDs about the history of the depot and how Weymouth and Hingham, MA contributed to the war effort.

There are two monuments outside of the museum.

One of the monuments is dedicated to all of the workers who helped the war efforts.

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The next memorial is dedicated to the workers who lost their lives when a ship they were unloading, the USS FY 415, exploded and sank on May 11, 1944, when signal rockets caught fire.

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Another interesting part of the area near the museum is that the posts which the bots tied onto when they originally unloaded their munitions at the depot are located in front of the museum.

There is also a fire museum nearby.  During my visit, a fire truck from the museum was on display at the park.

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But, the hidden history doesn’t end there.  A sign posted on Bare Cove Path indicates that an Almshouse (called “Town Farm”) used to be there.

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In short, almshouses were a place for the indigent or those who could not care for themselves.  To find out more about Almshouse, you can refer to my previous blog post about Almshouses.

With its winding trails and access to water, Bare Cove Park is a great place to take your dog.

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Kevin, a 2 year old Boston Terrier, posed for me during his walk around the park.

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Cooper, a 9 year old Golden Retriever, played fetch in the water during his visit.

 

North River Wildlife Sanctuary (Marshfield, MA)

Dates Of Visits: March 16 & 17, 2019

Location: 200 Main St., Marshfield, MA

Hours: Open daily dawn til dusk (office is open Mon-Fri, 9:00-4:00)

Cost: Free for members, Nonmembers: $4 Adults, $3 Seniors (65+), $3 Children (2-12)

Parking: There is free parking for about 30 to 40 cars

Trail Size/Difficulty: 225 acres, 5 miles of trails (universally accessible: 0.5-mile loop)/ Easy.  See website for additional information.

Handicapped Accessible: The Fern Sensory Trail is universally accessible.  But the other trails are not handicapped accessible.

Dog Friendly: No, MASS Audubon trails are not dog friendly

Website: North River Wildlife Sanctuary

Map: North River Wildlife Sanctuary Trail Map

Highlights: wildlife, wide variety of birds, observation deck, sensory trail

Summary: Easy trails, a variety of wildlife and birds (with one special bird), boardwalks and an observation deck are just some of the features of this park

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It’s not everyday that you see an eagle.  At least not in the suburbs of Massachusetts.  But, that’s exactly what happened during a visit to one of the hidden New England treasures in Marshfield, MA.

In trurgh, Marshfield is home to a lot of different wildlife.  You may find beavers in some of the rivers and ponds.  There are coyotes, wolves and deer in the area.  But, eagles are a different matter.

While I was walking along the River Loop Trail, a .5 miles trail that loops around the field across Summer St, I noticed a very large bird soaring above the treetops.  I froze at first, not believing what I had seen.  A Bald Eagle, not a common bird in these parts, was indeed flying above me. It’s unusual to see birds like this in Marshfield.  Later during my visit, one of the workers at the Audubon informed me that an eagle had a nest in that area.

There are a variety of other birds at the sanctuary such as cardinals, blue jays, red winged blackbirds and chickadees.

I have to make a confession though.  I sort of cheated.  There are bird feeders located in front of the office which made it easier to photograph some of these birds.  But, I was able to photograph a lot of the birds on the trails.

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The trails are fairly easy to negotiate.  In fact, the only issue I had walking on them had more to do with the time of the year I visited.  The temperatures had risen melting much of the snow which created mud puddles, then froze over making it it a little icy.  But, this should not be an issue now.

The first trail at the sanctuary is the Sensory Trail.  There are educational exhibits along the trail such as a display that shows examples of needles and bark.  Visitors can touch the display and see the difference between the two materials.  There is an exhibit that shows the lifecycle of a butterfly along the trail.  The sanctuary also has solar panels which they use for energy.  There are boardwalks along the trail as the area is rather marshy.  Unfortunately, I could not access all of the trails on the Sensory Trail due to the flooded and muddy nature of the trail.

There is one tricky part to accessing the other trails at North River Wildlife Sanctuary.  To access the observation deck and the other trails that lead up to it, you must first cross Summer St (see attached link to the ap of the sanctuary for more details).  It can be a busy road depending on when you visit.  Do use caution while crossing the street.

Once you cross Summer Street, you will see a field with a nesting area, which I don’t usually see birds using, and a trail that loops around the area.  You can also view the aptly named North River from the top of the area.

If you’re lucky, you may see a few chipmunks and red squirrels along the Red Maple Loop which is accessible off the main trail (the River Loop trail).

The most popular attraction (besides the eagles) is the observation deck off the again aptly named North River View trail.  The observation deck offers pretty views of the North River and the surrounding Marshfield neighborhood.

As I was leaving the sanctuary I did see one hopeful sign.  Spring is indeed springing!

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Similar Places I Have Visited:

Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary (Marshfield, MA)

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield, MA)

The Point (Salem, MA)

Date Of Visit: February 2, 2019

Location: The Point, Salem, MA

Cost: Free

Parking: Street parking is available in the area and the closest parking garage is at 10 Congress St

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Summary: Rich in history and art, The Point neighborhood is one of the less noticed areas of Salem, MA.

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Salem isn’t just about witches and ghost tours.

Cackling witches, costumed partiers and other tourists flock to the downtown historical Salem area every Halloween.  But, they often drive or walk past one of the more interesting parts of Salem.

The interesting thing about The Point, besides its history and the street art that is scattered throughout the neighborhood, is that is a mere half a mile (give or take) south of the bustling Essex Street and other commercial areas of Salem.

Located off Congress St, The Point encompasses mostly Peabody and Ward Streets.  It is a short walk or drive from the intersection of Congress and Hawthorne streets.  One landmark to look for is Shetland Industrial Park.  You can easily spot the area of Congress St by the murals that are visible from the street.

But, The Point area wasn’t always known for street art.  Once the main area for fish drying along the peninsula, The Point was the center for Salem’s early maritime business and played a critical role in the economic development of the area.  These wooden fish drying “stages” gave the area its original name of Stage Point. Once the peninsula was filled in, the mostly French-Canadian mill workers adopted the name “La Pointe” for the area.

The Point would later become a hub for leather and shoe workshops in the early 19th century, The Point utilized its proximity to the harbor to take in imports such as coal and cotton.  One of the chief companies in this trade was a company founded by several Salem merchants called the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company (there’s that name again – see previous Facebook post if you’re scratching your head right now).

As the area attracted more and more immigrant workers to the growing industries, boarding houses and company owned tenements (with modest rents I’m sure) were built to accommodate the growing population.

Sadly, the area would be destroyed by the “Great Fire of 1914” which destroyed 1,376 buildings and made over 18,000 people homeless or jobless.  Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company remained there, though.  At least until a wildcat strike in 1933 which highlighted the tensions between management and the workers.

Eventually, the Naumkeag business began to move their production to South Carolina in the 1940s and the company closed in 1953.  I’ve always found it interesting how the demographics of the various areas in New England (and the country) shift with the changing business landscapes.  As the Naumkeag company began to close mills, the French-Canadian people began to migrate.  In their place, new immigrants, chiefly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.  This diverse community exists largely in the area.  The name of the area changed yet again to “El Punto.”

Murals and street art are spread throughout the “El Punto” area.  One of the first works of art you may notice is this mural on the side of a business.

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From the Congress St entrance to The Point, there are two streets.  Most of the art is on these two streets.  On Peabody Street there is a series of works of art along a fence created by artists in the area.  Unfortunately, the shadows were a little tough to work around and I was working on a tight schedule so I wouldn’t wait for better light.  This is a prime example of why mid day light is one of the worst times to photograph, although it is a common time for people to go out and photograph because you can’t always shoot during the blue or golden hours.  So, you work around the elements.  Luckily, I did have some cloud cover for some of the shoot which helped.  Also, the streets are very busy with traffic, so do take care if you go and parking is tight on this street.  I love how many of the murals look like art you might see in a museum or in a book.

I had to take some of the photos from unusual angles due to the parked cars on the streets and because of the areas where some of the murals were located.  For instance, this work of art of a woman with a chicken was located at the corner of a building which didn’t have a wide enough walkway to photograph from.  There were actually many murals on the buildings on Peabody and Ward streets.

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There were several spots on the buildings like this.

These murals on the apartment buildings in the aea and businesses were easier to photograph from the street.  I especially like the art that has a three dimensional feel to them.

The murals are not just on Peabody and Ward streets though.  In fact, you have to hunt for a few of the street art (some of which may technically not be in The Point area).

These works of art were located in an alleyway off Lafayette St.  There were lights strung up between the buildings in this alley.  I can only imagine they look even prettier, and are more fun to photograph, during the evening hours.  Mental note, come back for some evening photography another time.

And this lone mural was located on an unnamed (or at least there wasn’t a sign for the street) adjacent to Ward St.  Sometimes I wonder how annoying it must be for people who live in these buildings or in the area to have people stop by to take photographs.  But, I will also mention how on my many excursions to this area I have never been bothered.  People are both friendly and, I assume, used to seeing people in their neighborhood taking photos.  Naturally, I do try to be respectful and not spend too much time taking shots.  Despite the good nature of the people there I can’t help but feel like an intruder of sorts.

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The Point is not just a place for art, though.  There is also a park at The Point, logically called Peabody Street Park (15 Peabody Street).  The park has trees, benches, a jungle gym and some pretty views from the Salem Harbor Walk.

There are also ceramic works of art from that appear to have been made by children that line the walls in the park.

Birdhouses are placed in some of the trees at the park.

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There is also a mural from the downtown Salem area across the river which is visible from the Salem Harbor Walk.

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This mural is on a business located on Derby St not far from the Point.  It shows just how close the busy tourist area is to the largely unnoticed Point area.

With its beautiful works of art, pretty views and charm, The Point is definitely one of New England’s hidden gems.

Similar Places I Have Visited:

Cat Alley (Manchester, NH)

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