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Fall trip/East Coast/Things to See

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We're considering a first trip to the East Coast; we would fly in & rent a car for 7-10 days. Although we are capable of driving it, we hate heavy traffic, as I'm sure everyone else does. We would enjoy seeing scenic ocean areas, old fishing towns, shop for small antiques, visit historical areas, indulge in good seafood (WE LOVE SEAFOOD!) What route or areas would you recommend to fly into/drive to/fly out? We may consider Salem,MA/Mystic,CN/Cape Cod - would we be able to see these in the time frame allotted? Any suggestions or sites would be most appreciated.

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    You should get gobs of great responses on this. So many options.

    One of the best trips I ever took was (roughly) a B&B trip up the coast of Maine. We flew into Boston, rented a car and made stops along the coast in Salem, Kennebunkport, Camden and Southwest/Bar Harbor. Stayed a few extra days in Acadia National Forest, which was magnificent.

    Two thoughts on the negative side: We may have seen the wrong part of Salem (it was just an afternoon stop), but it wasn't what I expected. Also, whale watching is popular in Bar Harbor -- and I was eager to do it -- but ultimately felt bad for the whales in the end. Not at all a "communing with nature" experience. (Your huge, high-speed boat looks for whales and then charges directly at them at breakneck speed before they dive back down, all for the benefit of the passengers and their cameras. I thought it must be horrifying for the whales.)

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    I know I will get attacked for this - but - Salem, MA is a nothing destination. After you hve seen a witch museum and a couple of old sailor relics, received an expensive parking ticket, become hopelessly lost in a maze of streets and eaten over-priced previously-frozen seafood, you may agree. If authentic and less traffic are priorities, stay Boston north. Perhaps fly into Boston, spend a day doing historic stuff, then pick up a car and drive along coast to Maine. Eat lobster on a pier. Spend a day in Bar Harbor. The problem is trying to make a circle for round-trip airfare and car rental return. It is about 6 hours back to Boston from Bar Harbor if you chose faster Interstates not along the coast. The other possibility is Boston south through Connecticut, possibly including Cape Cod. This seems less in line with your preferences and it would be difficult to do both north and south in 10 days.

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    Lots of cruises are going the northeast coast trip from NYC to Quebec City. You may want to consider this option if you like cruising.
    If you are driving, I suggest flying in/out of Portland, MA and/or Providence, RI.
    Salem, MA isn't bad, but I'd definitely combine it with a more thorough tour of the Northshore and Cape Ann. Gloucester for the Hammond Castle Museum, Rockport for the shops and scenery, and Essex for the seafood and antiquing.
    I also think you'd like: Newport, RI; Newburyport, MA; Portsmouth, NH; and York and Kennebunkport, ME.
    A moving-along route of the above (inc. Cape Ann) would take a good solid week. I'd allow the 10 days.
    Have a blast!

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    I love New England -- used to live in Boston. It is very rough to drive in Boston and public transportation is great. Beacon Hill and the North End are very historic and Boston does have the Freedom Trail including places like Old North Church and Paul Revere's house.

    We liked Salem -- of course the Witch Museum is what it is most known for, but we also liked the House of the Seven Gables-- even if you have not read the Hawthorne book. We did get very lost trying to get back to Boston and several locals gave us very confusing directions. The rotaries in New England can be rough especially for those from parts of the country where they don't exist.

    I would choose Maine over Cape Cod -- Boothbay Harbor and Kennebunkport were very nice. Bar Harbor is way up there but if you want to see Acadia National Park and have the time it's nice. We flew into Manchester, New Hampshire, since Southwest had much lower fares to there than to Boston. Although we stopped along the way for a night it was a long, long drive up to Bar Harbor.
    Instead of going so far up I wish we had spent more time exploring some of the towns along the coast.

    Mystic, Connecticut, would not be on my list if I only had 7-10 days. Interstate 95 through Connecticut is very, very busy traffic wise.

    If you decide South of Boston -- Cape Cod -- is best Southwest also had low fares into Providence, Rhode Island. Newport, Rhode Island, with the summer "cottages" is worth at least 2 days.

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    I'll do a pitch for my state - Pennsylvania and others around it. Fly into Philly and rent a car. I'd suggest seeing the historical sites before you travel anywhere. Then go to Lancaster, PA and see the Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish). Check out the Red Caboose Motel area in Strasburg. This place has a petting zoo, train shop (very big and extensive) and a Caboose cafe. The road trip will take you about 2 hours. Leaves turn in PA around 9-15 October in Pittsburgh at least, maybe a little later in Philly. After going to central PA you may want to go north of Philadelphia to the Poconos. You may also want to stop at Atlantic City and go into the casinos just for the fun of it. After this you may want to just drive Southeast to Cape May and check out the atmosphere of Victorian houses, shopping and the boardwalk and do some bird watching or tour the famous lighthouse. You can then take a Cape May/Lewis Ferry over to Delaware (you can take your car on board this ferry) and go over to the Delaware coast. You can then go to Cape Henlopen State Park and take in the beauty of this little park. There are the Rehoboth Beach Outlets on Route 1 if you want to do additional shopping.

    The sky is more the limit when you go to a central location, like Philadelphia and then you can travel all over the place and see many sites because the Northeast is filled with a lot of history and smaller cities that would surprise you with their history.

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    Fly into Providence RI and one hotel as a base or at most 2 hotels. Explore Newport, small towns in RI and the Mystic area. You could also include a trip to Sturbridge Village.
    Or, fly into Manchester NH and choose a coastal town for a base. Portsmouth NH is less than an hour from the airport. If you take a slight detour north up Rt 93 and then over to the coast via Rt 4, you will go thru Northwood NH which has quite a few antique shops (referred to as Antique Alley). Make sure to get out on the water. There are trips out of Portsmouth. A short harbor/river cruise is nice. Portsmouth has a great reputation for restaurants with a lot within walking distance of Strawbery Banke Museum. If you stayed in this general area, a visit to Salem and Cape Ann would be an easy day trip. Pick mid-week to visit Maine coastal towns. The traffic will be heavy every weekend unless you get above Portland. Check out Yankee Magazine's website www.newengland.com for suggestions and a b&b locator. Avoid flying into Boston. Manchester is less than an hour away via Rt 93. If you go as far north as Boothbay or Camden, Maine, you will find those towns are crowded but worth a visit but there won't be traffic congestion outside of town. The traffic to and from Cape Cod will be a nightmare on Fridays afternoons and Sundays.

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    Check out prices and if comparable, fly into Portland, Maine. I would take the 10 days and drive the Maine coastline and enjoy Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. If you want to do a day trip to Boston, Amtrak's new DownEaster is a two hour train ride from Portland, ME to Boston's North Station and reasonably priced. Also, check prices, as someone mentioned to Manchester, NH, a short 45 min drive the NH seacoast and then up the Maine Coastline!

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