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New Bedford

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New Bedford is in Massachusetts on the southern coast. New Bedford's excellent harbor made it a natural fishing and whaling center. It was the world's premier whaling port in the 19th Century, and for a time "the city that lit the world", because of whale oil production. It along, with Salem also at one time held the title of wealthiest city in the Americas.

New Bedford's North End neighborhood.
William Street in the historic downtown


New Bedford is a city of around 100,000 people, many of Portuguese (particularly Madeira) or Cape Verdean ancestry, still with a great many off the boat immigrants from both. The city has gone through strongly contrasting cycles of poverty and wealth, from its relatively late (by Southeast Massachusetts standards) settlement and foundation, to the peak of the whaling industry, its growth as a textile city in the 20th Century, and the subsequent crash brought on by rapid mill closure in the latter 20th Century. It's been known as one of the rougher, seedier locales of New England for a number of decades now, but it's strongly on the upswing since the historic center was declared a federally protected historic site in 1996. While you'll still find plenty of slums, projects, and tenements throughout the city, you'll also find the waterfront full of narrow cobblestone streets and alleyways, historic 18th and 19th Century buildings, and upscale restaurants and museums. It's also one of the only fortified cities in the US, featuring an impressive (and walkable) gated harbor wall that runs from the South End cove across the mouth of the Acushnet river to neighboring Fairhaven. Additionally, there are pockets of grandeur in most parts of the city, with a long stretch of Victorian mansions on County Street that features some truly jaw-dropping architecture, akin to Newport's humbler dwellings. The city has a thriving artist community, ranked as the 7th most artistic city in the US by due its many eclectic galleries, and its abundance of artist studios housed in old textile mills and marine warehouses. The second Thursday night of every month is Aha Night (Art, History, and Architecture) with free admission at all of the galleries downtown, accompanied by special events at neighboring bars and restaurants and public musical and theatrical performances.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston.

By car[edit]

  • Interstate 195, Route 140 and Route 6 run through the city.
Fort Phoenix Park in Fairhaven, looking across the harbor to New Bedford athwart the old ramparts.
*From Boston and points north:

Route 93 South (13 miles). The highway forks in Braintree; stay right. Sign reads: "93 South, Dedham-Providence." (3 miles). Take exit 4 onto Route 24 South. This is a left lane exit (24 miles). Take exit 12 off Route 24 onto Route 140 South (19 miles) until Exit 2E: Interstate 195 East (1.3 miles) to Exit 15: Downtown - Route 18 South (1.1 miles). TURN RIGHT at lights onto Elm Street. Public parking garage two blocks on right.

Route 6 West to Route 25 to Interstate 195 West, Exit 15: "Downtown - Route 18 South". TURN RIGHT at lights onto Elm Street. Public parking garage two blocks on right.

Interstate 95 North to Interstate 195 East, Exit 15: "Downtown - Route 18 South". TURN RIGHT at lights onto Elm Street. Public parking garage two blocks on right.

Get around[edit]

Dover Street, Downtown next to ArtWorks gallery.
  • Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA), 134 Elm Street New Bedford Transportation Center, (508) 997-6767 (email: [email protected]), [24].

See[edit][add listing]

Buttonwood Park Zoo's elephants.
  • Buttonwood Park Zoo, 425 Hawthorne St., Phone: +1 508-991-6178, [25]. Daily 10AM-4:30PM (Summer F,Sa until 6:30PM. Adult: $6; Senior or Student: $4.50; Child 3-12 $3; under 3: Free; Family: $16.
  • Schooner Ernestina, New Bedford State Pier, Phone: +1 508-992-4900, fax 508-984-7719, [26].
  • New Bedford Art Museum, 608 Pleasant Street, Phone: +1 508-961-3072, [email protected], [27]. Daily 10AM-5PM, Thursdays until 7PM. Second Thursday of each month is "Aha! Night" -- free from 5PM-9PM. $3/$2, under 17 free.
  • Your Theatre, 136 Rivet St. at St. Martin's Church Hall, +1 508-993-0772, [28]. Community theatre group.
New Bedford Museum of Glass.
  • New Bedford Museum of Glass, 61 Wamsutta St (Beneath the New Bedford antiques market in the Wamsutta Mills complex, beneath tthe flagpole opposite the south entrance of the converted apartments), (508) 984-1666, [1]. 10AM-5PM, 12-5 on Sundays. A huge collection of antique and art glass from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, to the golden age of Victorian New England glass making (with particular emphasis on New Bedford's world famous glass studios of Pairpoint and Mount Washington), to 21st Century glass artists from around the world. The gift and consignment shop has an ever changing selection of antiques and unique glass in every price range, plus books (great gift shopping for the not easily impressed). Library and resource room with more than 8,000 volumes available for research. Free expert glass identification done every Monday, a great way to find out more about heirloom and hand me down glass pieces.  edit
  • Fort Taber & Fort Rodman Site and Millitary Museum, 1000 Rodney French Blvd (At the southernmost tip of New Bedord), 508-994-3938. Park and forts free to visit dawn til dusk, Museum open 1-4PM. Beautiful complete historic stone fort dating back to the 1850's, set amidst an immaculately landscaped 47 acre park at the southern tip of the New Bedford peninsula. Beautiful ocean views all around, plus one of the few Coney Island style boardwalk jetties in New England. Definitely the best place in the city for a picnic. The park admission is free, small fee for the museum.  edit
  • Custom House Square (54th Regiment Plaza), William Street, between 1st and North 2nd Avenues. (between 1st and North 2nd Avenues, on your right), [2]. Always open, brightly lit at night. Expected to be completed by July, Custom House Square will be a beautiful urban park occupying a single city block in the heart of Downtown, where previously sat an eyesore of a parking lot. Designed by internationally acclaimed New Bedford native landscape architect Chris Reed and his landscape design firm Stoss Landscape Urbanism, the park will feature ornate raised beds of grass, ornamental and shade trees, and plenty of seating and footpaths. The Square will provide a much needed nucleus for the Downtown community, centering city life as the similar Post Office Square does in Boston. Free.  edit
  • Whalers of New Bedford, 11 William Street (opposite The New Bedford Whaling Museum.), 5089977000. 11-5 Monday to Friday and 12-5 Saturday and Sunday. Whalers Of New Bedford is an experience you will not want to miss. An Antiques and Fine Art showroom, very eclectic and varied. There is not much you cannot find there. Prices vary too, as there is high end as well as more affordable pieces so as to satisfy anyone who is antiquing or looking for a special piece. Consignments keep coming in, so stop by often so you do not miss the item which will make a new home with you.  edit

New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park[edit]

New Bedford whaling NHP area
  • Park Visitor Center, 33 William Street, [29]. Every day 9AM-5PM. Free national park volunteer and ranger-led tours last approximately one hour and step off from here at 10:30AM, 12:30PM and 2:30PM every day in July and August.
  • Waterfront Visitor Center, Wharfinger Building at Pier 3 take pedestrian overpass on Rodman St. An exhibit interprets present-day commercial fishing and the building's past as the city's seafood auction. Start your waterfront adventure here by taking a self-guided tour of the working waterfront, a harbor tour at 12PM, 2PM, or 4PM (fee) or a ferry ride to Martha's Vineyard or Cuttyhunk island (fee).
  • Annual Summerfest,[30], Early July 11AM-8PM.
  • New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, +1 508-997-0046, Fax: +1 508-997-0018, [31]. Every day 9AM-5PM, Th until 9PM in summer. Adults $10, senior citizens and students $9, children (6–14) $6.
  • The Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum, 396 County St., +1 508-997-1401, [32]. M-Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 12PM-4PM. Home of whaling merchant William Rotch, Jr. built in 1834. Designed by Richard Upjohn, the House is one of the finest surviving examples of residential Greek Revival architecture.
Memorial park overlooking Seamen's Bethel
The famous Seamen's Bethel and Mariners' Home, made famous by Moby Dick
  • The Seaman's Bethel, 15 Johnny Cake Hill Rd., +1 508-992-3295, [33]. Late May-early Oct. M-F 10AM-5PM. A chapel immortalized in Herman Mellville's Moby Dick as the "Whaleman's Chapel" in a scene where a fire-and-brimstone sermon is given from a bow-shaped pulpit. Such a pulpit only existed in Melville's imagination and finally a mock-up had to be built in 1961 just to satisfy disappointed tourists. The pew where Melville sat when he visited in 1840 is marked. The walls of the chapel list the names of area fishermen who have died.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Balloon Adventures of New Bedford, see Dartmouth.
  • Stephen Hetland Memorial Skating Rink, 310 Hathaway Blvd., +1 508-999-9051. Call for public skating hours.
  • Whaling City Expeditions, +1 508-984-4979, [34]. Harbor tours, sunset cruises, private charters.
  • Carabiner's Indoor Climbing, 328 Parker Street, +1 508-984-0808, [35].

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • The Bay Clothing (Bay & Cottage), 89 North Water Street (Downtown, next to Candleworks), 508.992.5700, [3]. Mon - Fri: 10:00 - 17:30 Sat: 09:30 - 17:00. High end men's and women's clothing shop, featuring designer labels including renowned local Joseph Abboud.  edit
  • Cove Antiques, 127 Rodney French Boulevard, (508) 993-7600, [4]. Monday 10:00 am – 5:00 am Tuesday 10:00 am – 5:00 am Wednesday 10:00 am – 5:00 am Thursday 10:00 am – 5:00 am Friday 10:00 am – 5:00 am Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 am Sunday 12:00 pm – 5:00 am. Big, some might say sprawling antiques market in the South End. A little bit of everything, lots of furniture and used books.  edit
Crush Fine Wines.
  • Crush Fine Wines, 801 Purchase Street (On your left, between No Problemo and the museum's research library), (774)206-1855, [5]. 10am to 8pm, six days a week. Newly opened upscale wine boutique. Started by veteran sommelier Kristian Vasilev (formerly of Cork, and wine director for Cardoza's chain), Crush offers a large yet carefully selected assortment of wines, including sparkling and dessert wines, as well as craft beer and cider. Though focussed on higher end wines previously hard to come by in the area, Crush offers a solid selection at every budget, featuring a number of two bottles for $20 and two for $30 deals, including reds and whites that can be mixed and matched. Its across the street neighbor the Urban Grille is BYOB, and getting wine at Crush and dinner at Urban gets you 10% off of both. Housed in a beautifully restored shopfront with century-old polished wood floor, 22' ceilings, warm yet minimalist decor and library-style ladder-accessible massive wooden shelves of wine, Crush is worth the visit just to see it.  edit
  • Down to Earth Natural Foods, 751 Kempton Street (A block down from Rockdale Ave on your left, with a small parking lot for customers right across the street.), (508) 996-1995, [6]. Mon - Fri: 09:00 - 7:00 Sat: 09:00 - 6:00. Amazingly vast selection of natural ingredients, herbal supplements and vitamins, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and other niche dietary foods (frozen and fresh), all-natural bath and body products as well as household cleaning supplies, incense, esoteric gourmet ingredients like wild mushrooms, saffron, Japanese nori, organic spices, Bob's Red Mill grains, and a small selection of fresh produce, dairy, and meats when in season and local. Goat's milk mozzarella and feta are seriously worth trying if they're in stock. The staff is very knowledgeable and approachable, and the person in line behind you is also likely able to answer your questions. The shopfront space itself seems tiny, but the amount of inventory they fit in their wall to wall shelving is always impressive. New Bedford doesn't have a Whole Foods, but between Down to Earth and Sid Wainer it's not exactly missed.  edit
  • New Bedford Antiques at Wamsutta Mills Place, 61 Wamsutta Street (In the same complex as Wamsutta Lofts, take Exit 17 from the east onto Washburn Street, turn left onto North Front Street, and then right onto Wamsutta Street and you're there. ,), 508-991-8700 (Upstairs) 508-991-8701 (Downstairs), [7]. 10am-5pm M through Sat, Noon to 5 Sunday.. One of New Bedford's famous markets for antique dealers. Upstairs you'll find everything from vintage clothes and records, to collectible in-box toys and games, to antique books and Soviet military uniforms. Usually a good selection of sought after local items like scrimshaw, glass, and whaling artifacts. Downstairs there's antique furniture and bicycles, and it also houses New Bedford's Museum of Glass and its consignment and gift shops (see under  edit
  • Sid Wainer Specialty Food (Sid Wainer & Son), 2301 Purchase Street, (508) 999-6408, [8]. 9am-5pm Mon-Sat. Commercial food distributor whose vans and trucks can be seen delivering to some of the finest restaurants in the area, with a retail outlet open to the public. The place to go for exotic produce, artisanal cheeses, cured meats, and other specialties.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

North Water Street, across from the Whaling Museum.
  • Antonio's, 267 Coggeshall Street (Right off of Exit 17, intersection of Coggeshall and North Front Street), (508) 990-3636, [9]. Sun-Th 11:30-9:30; F&Sat 11:30-10. A local legend. Practically synonymous with authentic Madeiran and Luso-American cuisine. Friendly service, very generous portions, relaxed and family friendly atmosphere. Guaranteed to please everyone from your Avó from Funchal, to your UMass roommate from California who still doesn't get that you're Portuguese, not Puerto Rican.  edit
  • Cafe Balena, 24 North Water Street, (508) 990-0061, [10]. Tue - Sat: 04:30 - 09:30. Upscale, seafood-centered Italian restaurant in a tastefully snug, urban Downtown space. Frequently changing seasonal menu focused on Sicily and Southern Italy, modern yet comforting cuisine. Good for dates or small groups. Reservations recommended. $$$.  edit
  • Cork (Wine & Tapas), 90 Front Street (It's next to Rose Alley on a narrow cobblestone path at bottom of the Union Street hill.), 508) 994-9463, [11]. 11:30AM-2AM. Chic tapas place and wine bar in one of the most stunning historic buildings in the city (which is really saying something in New Bedford). Dark, urban decor upstairs, exposed 18th Century stone walls in the basement, massive wooden support beams and other unique period details visible throughout. Excellent Spanish influenced food in surprisingly large portions, good wine list that offers "flights". The place to go if you're looking to impress your out of town guests, or be impressed yourself. $$$.  edit
  • Davy's Locker, 1480 E. Rodney French Blvd., +1 508-992-7359. Su-Th 11:30AM-9PM, F,Sa until 10PM. The place for seafood. Water view. $9-$20.
  • Freestones City Grill, 41 William Street, +1 508-993-7477, [36]. Nice facility set in a classic old brick firehouse, with a large copper top bar and displayed artwork. Cozy atmosphere in the heart of historic downtown, good for families, couples, or friends. Award winning fish chowder. $12-$22.
  • Isaiah's Restaurant, Union and Pleasant Streets, +1 508-999-6037. Su 8AM-1PM; M-W 7AM-3PM; Th 7AM-7PM, F 7AM-8PM, Sa 7AM-1PM. Great cheap eats. Breakfast, sandwiches, variety of entrees under $8. $5-$15 for dinner.
  • Lebanese Kitchen, 1487 Purchase Street (Close to Exit 15, on the corner of Popes Street at the bottom of the hill), (508) 992-8217, [12]. Monday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm Tuesday 11:00 am – 8:30 pm Wednesday 11:00 am – 8:30 pm Thursday 11:00 am – 8:30 pm Friday 5:00–9:00 pm Saturday Closed Sunday Closed. Authentic, incredibly fresh Levantine food, true to Lebanese gastronomy, will appeal to lovers of any Eastern Mediterranean fare (Greek, Armenian, Turkish, Egyptian, etc). Falafel, shawarma (like Greek gyros), hummus, baba ghanouj, kebabs, pickles and salads, freshly baked pita. The French fries from scratch are a very nice touch as well. Beautiful old world atmosphere with original ornate tin tile ceiling, but also great for takeout. As is common with New Bedford ethnic restaurants, the portions are more than plentiful.  edit
  • No Problemo, 813 Purchase Street, (508) 984-1081, [13]. Vary - Usually 11AM to 9 or 10PM. Mexican food. Reasonable prices, very funky, punk rock atmosphere, located in the heart of the whaling district. Good beer and wine selection, carry out, a few vegetarian and vegan options. Cash only.  edit
  • Orchid Diner (Angelo's), 805 Rockdale Avenue (Intersection of Rockdale and Kempton), (508) 993-3172, [14]. Mon - Thu: 6:00am - 7:00pm Fri: 6:00am - 8:00pm Sat: 6:00am - 7:00pm Sun: 6:00 - 1:00pm. Classic retro train car diner that's been open in the same spot for close to 70 years. Awesome standard diner fare like buttermilk pancakes, omelettes and home fries, but with a great local twist including dishes like shrimp Mozambique. Good for brunch, breakfast, lunch or dinner. $.  edit
  • Urban Grille, 774 Purchase Street (On your right, after Travesia), (508) 990-9900, [15]. Monday Closed Tuesday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm Wednesday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm Thursday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm Friday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm Saturday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm Sunday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm. A hip new BYOB spot with simple yet elegant and beautifully executed dishes, including some imaginative desserts. Lovely romantic, dimply lit intimate atmosphere. Don't be put off by the lack of in house drink service, across the street is an excellent wine boutique, and you get 10% off at both. Menu prices are very reasonable, and you save quite a bit more by not having to pay restaurant wine and beer markup. Great for dates. $$.  edit
  • Brick Pizzeria, 163 Union Street, 508-999-4943, [16]. Monday-Friday 11-9 Saturday 11-9 Sunday - 12-8. Seriously good, authentic Neapolitan style pizza, baked in an 800°F wood-fired brick oven, as well as calzoni, grilled sandwiches, salads, and Italian breads, pastries, and sweets. They offer takeout and eat in, fairly roomy dining room with a casual, hip atmosphere. Beer, wine, microbrews, glass bottle Coke and root beer. Courtyard seating in warmer months in a very nice iron gated European-feeling patio in the adjacent alleyway. Very good prices for such high quality pizza. $.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • The Pour Farm, 780 Purchase St, (508) 990-1123, [17]. 11:00 am–1:00 am. Classic neighborhood bar, terrific craft beer selection. $.  edit
  • Rose Alley, 94 Front Street (Next to Cork on the pedestrian cobblestone street at the bottom of the Union Street hill), (508) 858-5123, [18]. 11:30am-2am. $.  edit
  • Hibernia, 109 William Street, (508) 984-4423, [19]. Monday CLOSED Thursday, Friday & Saturday Bar: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am Kitchen: 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm Tuesday, Wednesday & Sunday Bar: 12:00 pm – 1:00 am Kitchen: 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Recreation of classic Irish pub, Boston-style, an hour's drive south. Good selection of imports and microbrews, old world yet unpretentious decor. While hardly a haunt for yuppies or foppish dandies, its atmosphere is perhaps a bit classier feeling than other comparable watering holes.  edit
Some of the collegiate Gothic architecture that fills Fairhaven's picturesque village center.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Best Western Dartmouth Inn, 737 State Road, 508-717-0424, [20]. checkin: 4PM; checkout: 11AM. $99 - $149.  edit
  • New Bedford Days Inn, 500 Hathaway Rd. (Rt. 140 exit 3), Phone: +1 508-997-1231, Fax: +1 508-984-7977, [37]. 153 rooms.

Try nearby towns for other hotels and motels.

  • New Bedford Fairfield Marriott, 185 Macarthur Dr (Across from Waterfront Grill), 1-774-634-2000, [21]. checkin: 4PM; checkout: Noon. Recently built modern hotel with five floors of rooms and suites. About a one minute drive to the heart of downtown, right on Rodney French Boulevard, which is the scenic road that hugs the ocean looping around New Bedford's South End peninsula. Some spectacular ocean views from the upper floors, including the harbor wall.  edit

Bed and Breakfast[edit]

  • Davenport House Bed & Breakfast, 124 Cottage St, Phone: +1 508-999-1177, [39].
  • Orchard Street Manor, 139 Orchard St, +1 508-984-3475, [40]. 3 rooms in 1850s three story whaling captain's home. Continental breakfast.


Consular services[edit]

Hurricane barrier joining New Bedford and Fairhaven.

Get out[edit]

Fairhaven and Westport are neighboring towns. Fairhaven's primary connection is via the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge, a hopscotch bridge that crosses the Acushnet River/New Bedford Harbor at one of its widest points. It flips up once per hour to allow boat traffic through, but it's worth the risk for the breathtaking 360° view of the town and the city. Boston, Cape Cod and Newport are popular tourist destinations.

Routes through New Bedford
ProvidenceWestport  W noframe E  FairhavenProvincetown

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