Five Must-See Lighthouses of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard

Five Must-See Lighthouses of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard

Throughout the 18th and 19th century, a heady mix of unforgiving seas, craggy ocean shallows, and shifting sand banks branded the waters off Cape Cod a shipwreck hotspot. In response, lighthouses were strategically built across the Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to protect both sailors and the isles’ burgeoning seafaring-related industries.  

Today, the well-preserved, high-rising structures collectively shine a light—pun intended—on the history and development of these two islands. While these lighthouses are no longer critical thanks to technological advancements in maritime navigation, many remain automated workhorses.

More importantly for travelers, each makes for incredible photographic opportunities and excites the imagination with stories of yore. Here, we present five iconic, must-see lighthouses blending the past with the present on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Brant Point Light, Nantucket

Photo   : Dou Kerr via Flickr / CC BY

Photo: Dou Kerr via Flickr / CC BY

This 26-foot-tall, circa-1901 lighthouse is officially the shortest lighthouse in all New England. But there’s no Napoleon complex here: Given its proximity to Nantucket Harbor, this all-white wooden beauty is arguably the most photographed site on the island. And thanks to its near three-century past, it’s a big-deal entry on the National Register of Historic Places.

The current structure is the tenth—yes, tenth—rebuild of the second-oldest lighthouse in the country (originally built in 1746, prior to the formation of the United States of America itself). It was automated in 1965, and today, it still beams its bright red light up to ten nautical miles.

Edgartown Harbor Light, Martha’s Vineyard

Photo   : Rfgagel via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY

Photo: Rfgagel via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY

Believe it or not, this Edgartown icon, which today marks the entrance to Edgartown Harbor, was slated for demolition as recently as the mid-1980s. Under operation by the United States Coast Guard, the circa-1939 cast-iron landmark had fallen into disrepair. But now, under the stewardship of Martha's Vineyard Museum and Martha's Vineyard Historical Society, the lighthouse shines in full glory.

Tours allow visitors to enter inside and climb up to the lantern room. Be sure to ask the lighthouse keeper of the building’s odd and dramatic history, which traces back to an original incarnation (built in 1828) over in Ipswich.

Gay Head Light, Martha’s Vineyard

Gay_Head_Light.jpg

Given its prime location in Aquinnah (aka Gay Head) in the southwest reaches of Martha's Vineyard, this lighthouse is best appreciated at sunset. But at any time of day, Gay Head Light offers a glimpse of the old Martha's Vineyard. It was erected as the island’s first lighthouse at the turn of the 18th century, though its current red-brick aesthetic reflects a rebuild in 1844, and its current location is thanks to a meticulously-executed, piece-by-piece move in 2015.

With white and red lights that reach 24 and 20 nautical miles, respectively, the lighthouse still keeps sailors aware of the perilous underwater rocky ledge known as Devil's Bridge, much like it did centuries ago. The lighthouse is open for tours seasonally through the Town of Aquinnah.

Great Point Light, Nantucket

Photo   : Tim Sackton via Flickr / CC BY

Photo: Tim Sackton via Flickr / CC BY

Reaching the so-called “Nantucket Light” is a New Englander’s rite of passage. This fully operational, all-white stone lighthouse, rebuilt in 1986 to reflect its original 1784 appearance, stands at Nantucket’s northernmost point on a small spit of land where the Atlantic Ocean and Nantucket Sound meet.

Tucked deep within the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve and known for its unspoiled dunes and prolific birdlife, the lighthouse is accessible only by sandy roads. Meaning, you’ll need to walk seven miles on foot, rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle (with the proper beach permit), or pre-plan for a guided-tour with The Trustees of Reservations of Massachusetts. Whichever you choose, expect to reap worthwhile rewards by taking this (unpaved) road less traveled.

Sankaty Head Light, Nantucket

Photo   : Matt P. via Flickr / CC BY

Photo: Matt P. via Flickr / CC BY

Near the easternmost tip of Nantucket in the village of Siasconset, this 70-foot-tall, brick-and-granite lighthouse dates back to 1850, when it was built on a bluff straddling one of Nantucket’s most raw and wild coastlines. Though it was moved 400 feet inland in 1987 as a protection against bluff erosion, the historic lighthouse still operates as a navigational tool today, beaming a white light out 24 nautical miles every 7.5 seconds.

The lighthouse itself is closed to visitors, but the grounds are not. Given its remote location and few visitors, anticipate having this man-made marvel mostly to yourself—and your deep thoughts.

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Tradewind offers regularly scheduled shuttle flights to Martha’s Vineyard (May through November) and Nantucket (late April through early December). Tradewind also offers private charters to both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket year-round.

Featured Photo: Doug Butchy via Flickr / CC BY

Goodspeed Card Charter Program: A New Way to Fly Private

Goodspeed Card Charter Program: A New Way to Fly Private

Whether frequent fliers use private aviation for business meetings, leisure trips, or the occasional adventure, booking a private charter shouldn’t be complicated. That’s the idea behind Tradewind Aviation’s recently unveiled Goodspeed card charter program — which stands out from conventional private charter services with a simplified pricing solution and significant cost savings.

Free of initiation fees, membership fees, peak day surcharges, and blackout dates, Tradewind’s new pre-purchase flight card offers discounts between 20 and 30 percent over comparable programs, in large part due to the company’s ability to leverage its internal fleet of Pilatus PC-12s. As a direct operator of its flights, Tradewind Aviation has operational efficiencies that it passes along to its customers in the form of cost savings.

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“The Pilatus PC-12 is a very efficient aircraft, offering similar performance to a King Air 350 at significantly less operational cost,” says David Zipkin, Vice President of Tradewind Aviation. He adds, “Our mission is to provide the safety and quality of service that is normally found only on larger jets for a fraction of the cost. The Pilatus PC-12 is a proven performer on short and medium range flights and we’re thrilled to offer the largest fleet of on-demand PC-12s in North America.”

While charter pricing is usually calculated based on the total flight time required to accomplish a trip (including plane repositioning and empty legs), Tradewind’s occupied rate program bases the cost solely on the flight time of a client’s trip. According to Zipkin, the response since the flight card’s launch has been exceedingly positive.

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“We have always offered a very attractive charter product, but traditional pricing can be difficult to understand and the effective hourly rate can vary from route to route,” he explains. “With the new program, empty legs are included, which offers predictability of pricing and flexibility to fly anywhere in the region for a flat hourly rate.”

As with Tradewind’s other programs, the Goodspeed card conveniently services sought-after regions in the Northeast and the Caribbean, including smaller airports that are only accessible by the versatility of the Pilatus PC-12s, such as the landing strips on Fishers Island, Montauk, and Provincetown.

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Available in three tiers to accommodate different flyer needs, the program’s savings begin at only 10 hours of private charter flight time. And with airport and landing fees also included, clients will never be surprised with hidden costs.

The benefits of the Goodspeed card don’t end with Pilatus PC-12 charter flights. Members can also take advantage of 30 percent discounts on day trips, 10 percent discounts on shuttle routes throughout the Northeast and the Caribbean, and 5 percent discounts on charter transfer throughout North America via the company’s fleet of Citation CJ3 jets. Add to that the luxury perks that all Tradewind clients enjoy — such as streamlined security, private gate entrance, exclusive FBO lounges, and complimentary on-board snacks and drinks — and Goodspeed card holders can expect a smooth transfer each and every time they fly.

To learn more about the Goodspeed Card Charter Program, please visit: https://www.flytradewind.com/goodspeed-card-charter-program/

72 Hours In: The Hamptons

72 Hours In: The Hamptons

Between its white sand beaches, vibrant Atlantic sunsets, and buzzing social scene, there’s no place quite like the Hamptons for a long-weekend getaway. Here, New England beach town charm meets urban sophistication, long-time locals mingle among celebrity homeowners, and city dwellers are in good company as they escape the metropolitan bustle for a few days to savor the stylish serenity of this Long Island haven.

There’s something for everyone among the 20 or so distinct villages in the Hamptons, each with its own personality. Visitors will find both laid-back, countryside-inspired hideaways on the beach and lively destinations filled with five-star restaurants, shopping, and nightlife.

With so much to discover, bypass much of the oft-maligned city traffic and fly directly into the Hamptons to spend more time enjoying what makes the East End such a beloved retreat. Tradewind offers charter flights to East Hampton Airport, Montauk Airport, and Westhampton Beach Airport, all providing convenient access to the Hamptons’ top towns.

After your flight touches down, experience the best of the area with this 72-hour Hamptons itinerary.

Day One

Begin your getaway in East Hampton, one of the area’s most popular hamlets and a hub for some of the East End’s best dining, shopping, and nightlife. After renting a car (or hiring a car service), check into The Baker House 1650, a luxury inn within walking distance of the main town and beach. While the Hamptons is known for summer-long rentals and vacation homes, upscale bed and breakfast-inspired accommodations like these offer an alternative for weekend visitors, providing a taste of a historic Hamptons home stay with the amenities of a high-end hotel.

Photo: The Baker House 1650

Photo: The Baker House 1650

Spend some time settling into The Baker House 1650 to enjoy the property’s 17th-century architecture, lush grounds, and three pools, then wander down Main Street to explore East Hampton’s shops. You’ll find both classic outposts and high-end boutiques, from chic swimwear at Vilebrequin to your next beach read at the ever-charming BookHampton

Photo: BookHampton

Photo: BookHampton

After a bit of retail therapy, head toward Bridgehampton for an early afternoon reservation at the tasting room at Wölffer Estate. Perhaps best known for their aptly named Summer in a Bottle rosé, guests can sample a variety of wines alongside gourmet small plates and charcuterie boards, all set to sweeping vineyard views.

After your afternoon of wine tasting, make your way to Bridgehampton’s lively Main Street to wander among shingled buildings and boutiques. While you’re there, those interested in dessert before dinner should stop by the iconic Candy Kitchen, lauded throughout the Hamptons for their decadent homemade ice cream selection.

Make a reservation ahead of time for dinner at Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House, crafting contemporary farm-to-table cuisine in one of the Hamptons’ most elegant hotels. The famed chef’s menu sources local ingredients from the area’s farmers and fishermen, as well as produce grown on the property’s one-acre farm.

Day Two

Begin your day with a workout at one of the Hamptons’ many trendy fitness studios — SoulCycle, Flywheel, AKT, Erika Bloom Pilates, and Tracy Anderson all have outposts in East Hampton, or you can take a class at Barry’s Bootcamp in nearby Amagansett. For a lighter activity, head over to the East Hampton Main Beach on one of The Baker House 1650’s bikes for rent, then kick your shoes off for a morning walk on the sand.

Photo: Dr Smood

Photo: Dr Smood

Refuel with a green juice at health-conscious café Dr Smood in East Hampton, then take a short drive north to the town of Sag Harbor. As an old whaling town, quaint colonial-era architecture lines the main street and smaller, family-run shops triumph over big-name brands.

For lunch (or brunch) after a stroll through the town, enjoy panoramic harbor views paired with locally sourced dishes at The Restaurant at Baron’s Cove. Beautifully renovated in 2015, Baron’s Cove is known by many as Sag Harbor’s most stylish hotel, offering sleek beach house-inspired design, a saltwater pool, and a happening lounge and dining scene. If you find yourself in Sag Harbor later in the evening, you can also sit down for dinner on the water at local favorite Beacon, open only during the summer.

Photo: Baron’s Cove

Photo: Baron’s Cove

Otherwise, make your way back to East Hampton for an afternoon of R&R. Unwind by the pool or at the spa at The Baker House 1650, or take your bike back to the beach, reveling in the relaxed pace of Hamptons living. For dinner, make a reservation at Hamptons mainstay Nick & Toni’s, offering rustic Northern Italian cuisine in a farmhouse setting (that’s also likely playing host to at least a celebrity or two on any given night).

Day Three

Though spending free time at one of the Hamptons’ many beaches is highly encouraged throughout your entire stay, dedicating a few uninterrupted hours to lounging out on the sands is a must. The Baker House 1650 offers East Hampton Main Beach parking passes to guests (which are required), as well as umbrellas and chairs to unwind on. But first, stop by Cavaniola's Gourmet in Amagansett for all the fixings of a perfect beach picnic, from cheeses to paninis (it’s one of chef Ina Garten’s favorite local stops).

Photo : Section215 via Flickr / CC BY

Photo: Section215 via Flickr / CC BY

In the afternoon, take a drive up to Montauk. This fishing village has become a Hamptons hotspot in recent years, seeing an influx of dining, nightlife, and hospitality offerings. Fondly referred to as “the End of the World,” Montauk is perched on the easternmost tip of Long Island, and its expansive Atlantic views are best seen from the historic Montauk Lighthouse. Climb 137 iron steps for a high-up vantage, or find a perfect spot on the grounds to frame a picturesque lighthouse photograph.

Because no trip to the Hamptons is complete without a decadent lobster roll, stop at the eponymous Lobster Roll in Amagansett on your way back, commonly referred to as Lunch thanks to its iconic glowing sign. There’s little argument over its status as the best lobster roll in Long Island (if not one of the best in the world). As the sun dips into the Atlantic, it’s the perfect way to cap off an idyllic weekend in the Hamptons.

Photo: The Lobster Roll

Photo: The Lobster Roll

Featured photo: Sue via Flickr / CC BY

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Tradewind offers private charter flights to East Hampton (HTO), Montauk (MTP), and West Hampton Beach (FOK) year-round. To reserve a charter, call us at 1-800-376-7922 or click here.

A Weekend Ramble Through The Berkshires’ North County

A Weekend Ramble Through The Berkshires’ North County

On the western edge of Massachusetts, Berkshire County stretches north-south for 60 miles, from the Vermont border to the Connecticut state line. Its vast beauty is too much territory to cover in a long weekend—but thankfully, visitors don’t have to.

The excitement has been traditionally clustered at the southern end, framed by the four towns of Lenox, Becket, Great Barrington, and West Stockbridge. But now, so-called “North County” is equally as compelling.

Pointing the compass northward affords visitors a unique look at the natural splendor and history of the Berkshires. The geographical center of this up-county area is the sigh-inducing college hamlet of Williamstown, which is flanked by a pair of little cities, Pittsfield and North Adams, each artfully reborn out of a faded industrial past.

Photo: Hotel on North

Photo: Hotel on North

Begin your loop at the compact Pittsfield Municipal Airport—transfer there from your Tradewind flight to a well-appointed rental SUV, and in just minutes, you will have pulled up at Hotel on North, a 45-room boutique hotel that became the beating heart of Pittsfield’s downtown from the day it opened in 2015. A former menswear and sporting goods emporium, the building today is a tour de force of preservation-based remodeling, its good bones exposed and its interiors jazzed up with repurposed trim elements from the distant past. The hotel’s highly popular restaurant, Eat on North, is run by former White House chef Ron Reda.

Take the evening and part of the next day to ramble Pittsfield’s downtown and decide whether all those “Brooklyn of the Berkshires” claims are well-deserved. From District Kitchen and Bar on West Street up to Methuselah at the corner of North and Bradford to the tapas and wine bar Mission a block away, the town’s dining and drinking options invoke rustic-chic sophistication among old-city walkability. Boutiques and retro shops are in abundance, including such favorites as the décor-centric Dory and Ginger, Steven Valenti’s Clothing, and the Berkshire General Store. Morning coffee and first-rate baked goods are steps away at Dottie’s coffee shop, which also boasts the kind of meeting-place vibe that convinces people to move to resurgent communities like this.

Photo: Mission Berkshires

Photo: Mission Berkshires

Route 8 out of Pittsfield takes you along the eastern edge of the 12,000-acre Mount Greylock State Reservation. It’s named for the state’s highest peak and laced with upland trails that will carry a hiker deep into the heart of a New England summer. On this trip, you may want to stop by the visitor center and pick up a trail map, in case you’re inspired to plan an outdoorsy return to the area amid October’s cooler air and bonfire-hued foliage. If you opt to skip the park and cruise directly from Pittsfield to North Adams, you’ll be there in less than 30 minutes most days.

What you’ll find on arrival is a pocket-sized city, still somewhat in recovery from a mid-1980s economic blow — but blooming back to life with plenty of charm. Today, the largest museum of contemporary art in the U.S., the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (or Mass MoCA), occupies a 24-acre campus originally built by Sprague Electric, the space-mission contractor that supplied NASA and other federal agencies with advanced circuitry and components till its closure (leading to the town’s aforementioned economic downturn).

Photo: Mass MoCA via Grace Clark

Photo: Mass MoCA via Grace Clark

To display the works produced by contemporary art superstars like Sol LeWitt, Laurie Anderson, and Robert Rauschenberg takes vast amounts of inexpensive space — much more than the name-brand museums in big cities have available, but perfectly suited for this unlikely space in The Berkshires. Combine the need for acreage with creative vision, and you’ve got a gritty town fast on the rise whose principal industry is modern art. Odd as that may sound, Mass MoCA reportedly boosted local economic activity by $51 million in 2017 alone.

You soak up the “anything’s possible” zen of North Adams by staying at The Porches, a chic hotel on the Mass MoCA property, or perhaps at the brand-new Tourists, a self-styled “riverside retreat inspired by the classic American roadside motor lodge.” Investors from the California foodie scene designed and built Tourists and its food-and-beverage amenities, featuring a new lounge, The Airport Rooms, serving classic cocktails and a “creative roadhouse” menu. Its executive chef, Corey Wentworth, was recruited from Boston’s Flour Bakery.

Photo:  Tourists via Peter Crosby

Photo: Tourists via Peter Crosby

The artwork at Mass MoCA is vast in scale, which means you go through it more than past it, which makes the appreciation experience looser and more fun. Performing arts further increase the hip factor here — there are film screenings, rock concerts, comedy festivals, and other on-stage exuberance. The beloved and versatile band Wilco has a particular footprint at Mass MoCA, most notably thanks to its biennial Solid Sound Festival — this year, the Wilco event happens June 28th through 30th.

Also on campus is Bright Ideas Brewing, a craft brewery and taproom. Meanwhile, any left or right you take in the general vicinity of the campus will reveal some semi-pro mural or sculpture to echo the crown jewels of the museum. Admittedly, most of us lack the endurance to study art for entire mornings or afternoons — but that’s not the point here. A day in North Adams is actually akin to life inside a “60 Minutes” segment, with socioeconomic and cultural history being made in real time. (If you’re quiet, you can hear the property values rising.)

Fifteen minutes east is prim, prosperous Williamstown, where the top-ranked liberal arts college in the country (per U.S. News) seamlessly merges its verdant campus with the commercial layout of the town. In the summer, the cultural scene around Williams College is ever vibrant. This season, the Broadway-quality dramatic offerings at the Williamstown Theater Festival include one play that’s particularly easy to recommend. It’s a revival of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts starring Golden Globe and Academy Award nominee Uma Thurman, on stage through most of August. Meanwhile, the Clark Art Institute has a high-powered French Impressionist exhibit, titled “Renoir: The Body, the Senses,” devoted to Renoir’s unsurpassed achievement in the depiction of body figures.

Photo: Mezze Bistro & Bar via FED Guides

Photo: Mezze Bistro & Bar via FED Guides

Dining in Williamstown won’t disappoint—perennial favorites include Mezze Bistro & Bar as well as The ‘6 House and Pub, a few minutes outside of town in a rural setting. The Water Street Grill is just right for high-quality tavern fare and live music. Tucked around the corner from Spring Street's shops, pubs, and restaurants is one of the half-dozen best public golf courses in all of New England, Taconic Golf Club. An early-20th-century classic by Stiles and Van Kleek, Taconic is owned by the college, meticulously maintained at all times and recently renovated by Gil Hanse, the most renowned course architect working today.

When your three-stop tour is over, it’s time to head south down historic Route 7 toward Pittsfield, enjoying sublime Berkshires scenery plus endless roadside attractions, from antiques to ice cream to riverfront picnic grounds. An easy hour’s ride on an old country highway, it’s ideal for reflecting on the artsy, urban fascination you’ve encountered while letting the innocence of rural New England summertime float by.

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Tradewind offers private charter flights to the Berkshires year-round on a fleet of Pilatus PC-12s. To reserve a charter, call us at 1-800-376-7922 or click here.

Featured Photo: Tourists via Nick Simonite

5 Iconic Fourth of July Celebrations in New England

5 Iconic Fourth of July Celebrations in New England

As the country’s bona fide birthplace, it’s only fitting that New England would be in a league of its own on Independence Day. Fourth of July is arguably the region’s most exciting holiday, marked by festive parades, all-American cookouts, and dazzling fireworks displays that light up the skies and reflect on the waters of the Atlantic.

From charming coastal celebrations to large-scale bashes, here’s where you can take in the best Fourth of July celebrations this summer, each accessible by Tradewind Aviation’s shuttle or charter flights.  

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Photo: Jamie Holmes

Photo: Jamie Holmes

Each year, Nantucket hosts a unique July 4th celebration among its Colonial-style buildings and picturesque beachfront. The hallmark of Nantucket’s Independence Day festivities is the annual water fight between Town of Nantucket’s Fire Department and the Boynton Lane Reserves, a tradition that began back in 1981 when local real estate broker H. Flint Ranney (who had acquired a 1927 LaFrance ladder truck) challenged Nantucket’s then-fire chief Bruce Watts to a friendly battle. The event has endured, and for its 38th year, visitors can make their way to Main Street at “high noon” to cool off (the festivities officially commence two hours early at 10am).

Following the water fight, children’s games begin at 5pm, including potato-sack races, three-legged races, wheelbarrow races, and tug-of-war, followed by live music on the bandstand at 6pm. Those arriving for the weekend are in luck — this year’s fireworks show will be held on Jetties Beach on Friday, July 5th.

Recommended Airport: Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK) via Tradewind Shuttle or Tradewind Private Charter

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

While there are six main towns on the island of Martha’s Vineyard (each with their own distinct Fourth of July events), the community of Edgartown in particular stands out for its time-honored traditions. The day centers around a late-afternoon parade at 5pm, where onlookers watch as elaborate floats, antique cars, marching bands, and more travel down Main Street and its surroundings. For prime viewing opportunities, arrive early to claim a spot in the historic town center, known for its white Greek Revival-style architecture (which, ironically, feels quintessentially New England).

The festivities continue on the harbor with a fireworks show at dusk, best viewed from Memorial Wharf. Past years have also included the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust’s annual barbecue on the lawn of the Dr. Daniel Fisher house on Main Street, featuring cookout classics from burgers to hot dogs. St. Elizabeth’s Church has been known for their lobster rolls during the afternoon, and live music has been held at Old Whaling Church.

Recommended Airports: Martha's Vineyard Airport (MVY) via Tradewind Shuttle or Private Charter; Katama Airpark (1B2) via Tradewind Private Charter 

Bar Harbor, Maine

Photo: BHCOC

Photo: BHCOC

An old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration can be found on Mount Desert Island in the town of Bar Harbor. Just off of Maine’s Down East shoreline, their festivities are regularly voted among the top Independence Day events in the country, and it’s not hard to see why, given the town’s seemingly endless things to do on the holiday.

The day commences with a blueberry pancake breakfast from 6am to 10am. Or, for a more athletic kick-off, runners can sign up for a 100-kilometer relay in teams of two to nine participants, with start times beginning at 6am. The race route offers a scenic overview of the rocky Maine seaside against the lush backdrop of Acadia National Park, along with every town and village on the island.  

Make sure to be back in time for the community parade through downtown Bar Harbor at 10am and the seafood festival at 11am, where fresh lobster, mussels, corn, and more are paired with an outdoor concert and followed by the annual lobster races (betting on your favorite crustacean is encouraged, as proceeds go toward the MDI YMCA Scholarship Program). The day also includes a nonprofit showcase, a craft fair and marketplace, and plenty of live music throughout the town, from Agamont Park to Bar Harbor Village Green. The festivities conclude with breathtaking fireworks over Frenchman Bay at 9:15pm.

Recommended Airport: Hancock County Bar Harbor Aiport (BHB) via Tradewind Private Charter

Bristol, Rhode Island

Known as “America’s most patriotic town,” Bristol, Rhode Island boasts the world’s first Fourth of July celebration, and its revelry has only grown in the 234 years that have passed. In true over-the-top fashion, the town doesn’t wait for July 4th to begin celebrating —  activities and events officially commence on June 14th with a Flag Day Ceremony. In the weeks that follow, local organizations hold events including a free concert series at Independence Park, the Bristol Stomp Block Dance on June 15th, the annual Fourth of July Ball on June 21st, the Bristol Independence Rhode Race Half Marathon on June 29th, and even a Patriotic Pet Photo Contest from June 17th -30th.

Rather than mark the end of the holiday, the town’s fireworks show is held on June 3rd at 9:30pm on Bristol Harbor, building excitement for Independence Day itself. The next morning, the town wakes to the churches’ Ringing of the Bells at 6am, followed by the Military, Civic, and Firemen’s parade at 10:30am, viewed by more than 200,000 onlookers. Blending small-town charm with grand spectacle, it’s an unforgettable gathering for both locals and visitors.

Recommended Airport: Newport State Airport (UUU) via Tradewind Private Charter 

Boston, Massachusetts

Photo: Michael Blanchard

Photo: Michael Blanchard

Boston is steeped in colonial history year-round, but its revolutionary beginnings are fully celebrated on the Fourth of July. The mayor starts with a speech at City Hall Plaza at 9am, and from there, a festive parade makes its way toward the Old State House, where a stirring reading of the Declaration of Independence takes place on the balcony. Recited by the Captain Commanding of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts, it’s a meaningful annual tradition for the city of Boston as a reminder of the nation’s roots.

Before this tradition takes place, the parade stops at the Granary Burying Ground on Tremont Street for a fitting tribute to the founding fathers. Here, officials lay wreaths on the patriots’ graves, including John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat Paine.

The day’s entertainment culminates with the renowned Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. This free (and televised) orchestra concert at the Hatch Memorial Shell on the Charles River Esplanade begins at 8pm (though gates open at 9am for those dedicated to getting a seat). Led by famed Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, this year’s event will also feature Queen Latifah, Arlo Guthrie, and more. The fireworks lend a dramatic, awe-inspiring touch at 10:30pm, closing out the evening with a bang.

Recommended Airport: Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) via Tradewind Private Charter

Up Close and Personal with Cape Cod’s Great White Sharks

Up Close and Personal with Cape Cod’s Great White Sharks

The ocean’s most feared apex predators, great white sharks, have triumphantly returned to Cape Cod and its surrounding islands. But there’s no need to cue the Jaws theme: While their return may not sound like good news to beachgoers in the Northeast, the sharks’ reestablished presence provides visitors a unique opportunity to experience these misunderstood, majestic creatures in an authentic and safe way.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) offers a number of ecotours designed to give the public a better understanding of the great white comeback (spurred by a rebound in the grey seal population), allowing them to see firsthand what scientists are doing to help man and shark peacefully coexist. AWSC’s most thrilling adventure? Its “Great White Shark Expedition,” a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get up close and personal with the Cape’s most notorious resident (and live to tell the tale).

Photo: Paul Rubio

Photo: Paul Rubio

No, this isn’t a controversial cage-diving experience like those common in South Africa, where waters are chummed and seal dummies are thrashed around to attract and excite the sharks. This is a research-based wildlife interaction in which participants shadow shark researchers as they tag, identify, and study great whites off the coast of Cape Cod.

In partnership with Chatham Bars Inn, AWSC runs the expeditions twice daily on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from July 3rd to October 27th (weather permitting). Departing from the pier at Chatham Bars Inn and accompanied by a member of AWSC's team, a maximum of five guests head out into prime great white real estate. Sharks are detected using aerial surveys from the research team’s Cessna plane overhead, through shark receivers, and with AWSC’s Sharktivity app, which monitors the whereabouts and activity of previously tagged great white sharks in the area.

Once spotted, sharks are slowly approached, and a hydrophone is placed into the water to determine if the shark has already been tagged. If so, the shark’s coordinates are matched to the app. If not, scientists may attempt to tag the great white. In all cases, the sharks are identified — the team is on a first-name basis with most sharks, seeing them daily and already knowing each one’s personality traits. Observations are then logged by the team.

Photo: Paul Rubio

Photo: Paul Rubio

There are many purposes for this trip: First, you’ll witness conservation in action as scientists collect data used in behavioral and ecological studies of great whites. Next, you’ll get to participate first-hand in mitigating human-wildlife conflicts (the Sharktivity app uses the information gathered to send alerts to researchers and the public when tagged sharks get a little too close to the shoreline for comfort). Moreover, you’ll become an ambassador for helping debunk the myth of great whites as man-hungry villains. In fact, you’ll be stunned at how shy many of the great whites appear upon approach and how they go about their daily business along the Cape, rarely bothering beachgoers. (In fact, the latest shark attack stats from 2018 indicate a slim 1 in 3.75 million chance of being attacked.)

Of course, as this is nature, shark sightings are never guaranteed. That said, on Goodspeed’s particular Great White Shark Expedition, five were spotted at close range. If this experience sounds a little too intense, AWSC also offers one-hour “Receiver Excursions” on Mondays and Wednesdays from July 1st through September 2nd, 2019. On this trip, you’ll cruise around the seal-rich Chatham Harbor with AWSC staff, looking for signs of predation and analyzing data from a shark receiver and Sharktivity.

Photo: Paul Rubio

Photo: Paul Rubio

Another AWSC adventure to consider is the all-day “White Sharks and Whales” group expedition, where guests will seek out great whites plus humpback whales and seabirds. Taking place only twice per year, the trip leaves from Plymouth, Massachusetts and includes breakfast, lunch, and a souvenir T-Shirt. Dates this year are September 7th and Sept 14th, 2019. 

Whichever excursion sounds most exciting, visitors to Cape Cod shouldn’t miss out on their chance to play a role in the area’s great white shark comeback story.

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Tradewind Aviation offers charter flights to Cape Cod year-round. Great White Shark Expeditions are $2,500 per boat for up to five passengers (most of this fee goes directly to research and is tax deductible). Receiver Excursions are $55 per person; White Sharks and Whales trips are $160 per person. To learn more and book your shark expedition, call AWSC at 1-800-527-4884. 

Featured Photo: AWSC