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New Bedford

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The old fishing schooner ERNESTINA at New Bedford Harbor.

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 nineteenth and for a time "the richest city in the world" and "the city that lit the world" because of whale oil production.

Understand[edit]

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. Though the downtown is perfectly safe at night these days, many neighborhoods are still dangerous and walking through them is not advised.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Logan International Airport (BOS IATA) in Boston.

By car[edit]

  • Interstate 195, Route 140 and Route 6 run through the city.
  • 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.

By bus[edit]

Peter Pan Bus Lines has up to ten daily departures from Providence. Buses arrive at the SRTA Terminal in downtown.

Get around[edit]

  • Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA), 134 Elm Street New Bedford Transportation Center, (508) 997-6767 (email: srtaservice@aol.com), [1].

See[edit]

  • Buttonwood Park Zoo, 425 Hawthorne St, +1 508 991-6178. 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.
  • Your Theatre, 136 Rivet St. at St. Martin's Church Hall, +1 508-993-0772. Community theatre group.
  • 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), +1 508 984-1666. 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.
  • Fort Taber & Fort Rodman Site and Military Museum, 1000 Rodney French Blvd (At the southernmost tip of New Bedord), +1 508-994-3938. 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.

New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park[edit]

New Bedford whaling NHP area
  • Park Visitor Center, 33 William Street. 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).
  • New Bedford Whaling Museum, +1 508 997-0046, fax: +1 508 997-0018. 18 Johnny Cake Hill. 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. 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.
  • The Seaman's Bethel, 15 Johnny Cake Hill Rd, +1 508 992-3295. 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]

Buy[edit]

Eat[edit]

North Water Street
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • Candleworks Restaurant, 72 North Water Street, +1 508 997-1294. Lunch M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner Su-Th 5PM-9PM; F,Sa 5PM-10PM. Fine dining.
  • Waterfront Grille, 36 Homers Wharf, +1 508 997-7010. Lunch-9, 10, or11PM. Big, spacious family seafood restaurant with sushi bar, amid historic stone counting houses and customs buildings on the harbor with a nice view of New Bedford's fishing fleet docked. Excellent food, which you don't always find in a restaurant of its size. Arguably the best fried calamari in Massachusetts. $$.
  • Cork (Wine & Tapas), 90 Front Street (It's next to Rose Alley on a narrow cobblestone path at bottom of the Union Street hill.), +1 508 994-9463. 11:30AM-2AM. Chic tapas place and wine bar in one of the most stunning historic buildings in the city (which is really saying something in New Bedford). Dark, urban decor upstairs, exposed 18th Century stone walls in the basement, massive wooden support beams and other unique period details visible throughout. Excellent Spanish influenced food in surprisingly large portions, good wine list that offers "flights". The place to go if you're looking to impress your out of town guests, or be impressed yourself. $$$.
  • Celtic Coffee House, 42 North Water Street. 7AM-6PM, 8-4 weekdays. Three rooms of cozy seating in endearingly mismatched furniture, in the heart of the cobblestone paved historic city center. Great selection of breads, pastries, sandwiches and even soups. The coffee selection's basic but quite good. Lots of antique nicknacks on display from Ireland as well as New Bedford's past. Perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  • New Bedford Fairfield Marriott, 185 Macarthur Dr (Across from Waterfront Grill), +1 774 634-2000. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 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.

Try nearby towns for other hotels and motels.

Bed and Breakfast[edit]

Cope[edit]

Consular services[edit]

Go next[edit]

Fairhaven and Westport are neighboring towns. Boston, Cape Cod and Newport are popular tourist destinations.

Routes through New Bedford
ProvidenceDartmouth  W I-195.svg E  FairhavenWareham
ProvidenceDartmouth  W US 6.svg E  FairhavenProvincetown
TauntonFreetown  N MA Route 140.svg S  END
WeymouthFreetown  N MA Route 18.svg S  END



This city travel guide to New Bedford is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.