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New England Road Trip Help

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We plan on a driving tour of New England the first week in September. We will have about a week there, since it will take us two days to get there and two days to get back to Indiana.

We have already been to Maine, so we do not plan to go there. Ditto Boston.

We are interested in nice drives, nice towns, nice views, the usual.

The question is: how much can we, and should we, see in one week?

One road trip goes from Burlington on Route 7 through Vermont to Massachusetts and the Berkshires. But that leaves us some distance from other places people have strongly recommended, such as Newport and Providence, Mystic and Stonington.

Any idea of an area to concentrate on for one week? And is it wise to create a central location for one or two nights at a time and travel around, or go from town to town, spending a different night in a different town? We are having a difficult time figuring out distances and how long can be spent in each area.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

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    This is a tough question to answer; there are lots of lovely towns, scenic drives, etc. Do you like art museums, history, gardens? Do you want to hike? The first week of september is a good one, since you'll probably be there before the leaf-peepers, but you'll probably see some early foliage, particularly with the drought we've had this summer (it may be duller than usual, though, with more brown).

    You'd be surprised how far north Burlington is; while it is a nice city, and Lake Champlain is pretty, it might not be worth driving that far north.

    If you like classic New England, the area around Sugar Hill, Franconia Notch, in New Hampshire, is a great base. You can stay at the Sugar Hill Inn, have breakfast at Polly's Pancake Parlor (don't miss it! Really!), walk the back roads, visit old churches, drive to the Notch for some hiking, or if you're not up for hiking, you can take the cable car at Cannon up and walk down. Then you could drive on down to the Berkshires; Rt 10, which goes along the Connecticut River, is gorgeous and there are many old houses along it, village greens, etc. You could stop in Hanover (where Dartmouth College is) for lunch and a little shopping, if you like.

    Newport is beautiful mansions, and lovely ocean scenery, but it's a good 4-5 hours, more with traffic, from the Berkshires (it takes a surprisingly long time to get to the Berkshires; they're spread out, anyway, and all back roads from the turnpike); you might skip the Berkshires and go straight to Newport, although there are mansions to see in the Berkshires as well. On your way to Newport you could take in Sturbridge Village, if you're historically-minded; it's a little like Williamsburg, but on a smaller scale, and much less overwhelming.

    Since you're driving there, I would totally try to stay at least a couple of nights in one place; otherwise, you'll feel like you never got out of the car.

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    We split some of our driving vacations into two areas. When we stayed in the Burlington VT area we explored northern VT then drove to the Brandon area. On the day we changed, we made a visit to Shelburne Museum. You could stay in the Burlington area, drive to the Berkshires and then over to RI. Newport is great. Providence has some great restaurants but I'd choose Newport. It may be a very long day drive from Burlington VT to Newport but it doesn't matter. Find a good place for lunch and some sightseeing on the way to stretch your legs.

    But for woods and mountains, I'd choose NH over the Berkshires. With a week, perhaps three different lodgings for a base wouldn't be too much changing.

    I would suggest you take a look at some of the suggested drives on Yankee Magazines website to pick what base areas appeal to you.

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    What kind of scenery do you like? Do you want to stay on the coast or in the mountains? Marysidney has good questions about what do you like to do, and I like her ideas.

    Here are a few other suggestions - you could concentrate on the coast for this trip. You could start in Newport & spend at least 2 nights there. Definitely visit some of the mansions, such as Breakers, Rosecliff & Marble House. The Cliff Walk is beautiful,& you can go to Ft. Adams. You can have a wine tasting at the Newport Winery. Great restaurants in Newport & the harbor is very pretty & scenic.

    From Newport, you could drive to Cape Cod & stay near the National Seashore, which is not to be missed. This is the outer/lower Cape (the prettiest area IMO). The Cape is large with lots to do & beautiful scenery. The water will still be warm, so you can swim, bike, hike, shop, eat, etc. There is a glass museum in Sandwich, antiques in Brewster, art galleries in Wellfleet. You could go on a whale watch.

    If you prefer the mountains, I recommend the Berkshires & Vermont, perhaps as far north as Dorset/Manchester. Dorset is a pretty village, quiet & great to stay in (I recommend the Barrows House). The surrounding countryside is very pretty with farmland & mountains. You can go to Manchester for dining & shopping. Great area for hiking & biking.

    After Vermont, head south to the Berkshires. There are several art museums in Williams/North Adams; the Shaker Village in Hancock; live theater in Pittsfield. The Lee/Lenox/Great Barrington/Stockbridge area is very pretty. I love the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. There are easy hikes & strenuous hikes, canoeing, etc.

    I agree with marysidney that Burlington is much further north & probably not worth the trip. I wouldn't spend a different night in each town, much too stressful & not fun. Find 2 central locations to stay in.

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    Wow, thanks so so much! We really didn't have anything in mind and just wanted to see the area, and you have given me some excellent ideas. And Kwoo, you went into exactly the direction I was already starting to head: pick either the mountains or the coast. Thanks again to everyone!

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