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A New Take On Old Favorites In The Northeast

Recession or recovery, winter or summer, year in and year out, the busy Northeast Corridor is bustling with tourists from both near and far, so there’s always something new going on.

But after years of economy-fueled staycations and vacationers choosing local adventures over long-distance travel, many attractions in the Northeast have given their product an extra polish to make sure not only that new guests have something to rave about, but that repeat visitors from the region are happy to return time and time again.

Whether it’s the local inn reopening after a four-year closure with a new look and a rocking roster of guest lectures, as is the case with the White Hart inn and taproom in Salisbury, Connecticut, or a favorite ski resort putting in a one-of-a-kind adventure ride, like the new mountain coaster at Berkshire East in Charlemont, Massachusetts, all over the region, attractions are shaking off decades of dust to try on a fresh new vibe.


The White Hart

Salisbury, Connecticut

In the heart of Connecticut’s Litchfield County, an area at once laid-back, picture-perfect and celebrity-filled, the White Hart, which originally opened on Salisbury’s town green in 1806, held the social fabric of the town together for more than two centuries.

When it closed suddenly in late 2010, locals and frequent visitors were adamant about filling both the literal and figurative hole left behind.

“There was a group of investors, some local and some part-time residents, who really wanted the inn to open after four years of being closed,” said general manager Chris Brooks about the impetus for the new White Hart, which opened on August 27, 2014.

The new owners, who include Redbook editor-in-chief Meredith Rollins, author Malcolm Gladwell, Penguin Random House art director of Vintage and Anchor books Megan Wilson and celebrity chef Annie Wayte, have backgrounds nearly as storied as the inn itself and will be bringing their particular areas of expertise to bear in the new inn.

In the now-open historic taproom and in the restaurant and country store scheduled to open this year, menus from Wayte, who is known for minimalist meals that draw heavily on the season and local specialties, show a strong sense of place right down to the curated collection of Connecticut craft beers.

A weekly lecture and event series to begin in the spring will showcase the literary connections and background of the White Hart investors.

Given the well connected owners, it’s little surprise that the periods around holiday weekends and school closures are filling up fast, so Brooks recommends booking well in advance to get a group in during summer or major ski weeks.


Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Hyde Park, New York

Unlike many memorial museums, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum was the brainchild of the president himself, as part of his open government campaign to give the American public access to his books, letters and personal effects.

When an institution’s namesake president personally oversees its founding, an overhaul and reorganization can be a hard sell, but after nearly 70 years, the 1941 library building got a complete renovation, from offices to exhibits.

“There are brand-new exhibits, and we also improved the visitor experience in terms of creating a more logical flow through the exhibits and organizing them with a lot more context, especially for younger visitors who may not know so much about the 1930s and 1940s, the Great Depression and World War II,” said supervisory curator Herman Eberhardt.

New exhibits include a “behind the scenes” area that showcases items from the collection not usually on display, such as Roosevelt’s model ships, and bring visitors closer to history through interactive elements. In a re-creation of a 1940s living room, guests can sit around the radio to listen to FDR’s speeches, then touch another button to hear actors read letters written by contemporary listeners in response to Roosevelt’s fireside chats.

Archival documents come to the forefront in the map room, a re-creation of Roosevelt’s World War II command center, where top government officials could stop in day or night and see the current status of the war. Touch screens allow visitors to scroll through Roosevelt’s correspondence on these issues and see videos of him announcing important war decisions and strategies.

“The interactive elements allow us to give not only a glimpse of the artifacts, but also of documents in our archive, which World War II researchers come from all over the world to see,” said Eberhardt.