New England Road Trip

Old Mar 3rd, 2018, 09:03 AM
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New England Road Trip

Hi all,

I'm hoping you could provide some suggestion/ guidance for our forthcoming road trip in October. We have a basic itinerary in place, flying into Boston on the 20th October, we plan to spend two days there before picking up our hire car and spending the next 10 days visiting the following:
22nd - Salem (day trip)
22nd - 24th - Maine or New Hampshire (we can't decide but ideally want to find a base approximately two hours from Salem to spend the next two nights)
24th - 27th - Vermont (we've been recommended to stay in Stowe, Burlington or Woodstock so any advice welcome)
27th - 29th - The Berkshires (again, recommendations include Williamstown or Stockbridge)
29th - 31st - Cape Cod

On the 31st we return our hire car to Boston before taking the train to New York for three days (these dates are not changeable due to pre-arranged events).

We're finding it particularly difficult to choose areas to stay (a case of wanting to do everything in a short space of time) and finding a balance between being on the road too much and having time to actually relax and enjoy each location with our 7-year old. Our travel interests are focused on local cuisine (from restaurants to food trucks and local diners), quintessential architecture and art/ history.

Many thanks in advance for your ideas/ suggestions!
Bianca
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Old Mar 3rd, 2018, 09:32 AM
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The weather in the later part of October is not usually very good. Don't expect to see any colorful leaves except maybe around Boston, western MA further south.
Portsmouth NH has a lot of historic areas. You can just drive around (my favorite drive is Rt 1B thru New Castle but to see the mansions you want Rt 1A thru Rye along the coast). Lots of restaurant options in the Portsmouth area or go over the bridge to Kittery (not the outlet area) to a noodle bar. The historic area in Portsmouth is Strawbery Banke where you can take tours. If the weather is good you can take a harbor cruise or inland rivers.

I think an outstanding place for a 7 year old is Squam Lake Science Center in Holderness near Lake Winnipesaukee. The live animal exhibit trail is open thru Nov 1. This is all outdoors unless you opt to go indoors for an animal demo which I recommend. But, if weather is poor, you don't want to be outside all day. Plan B would be to go west from Portsmouth to Manchester NH. Currier Art Museum, SEE Science Center for kids (fantastic Leggo exhibit of the old mill yard). We have not been to the mill yard museum. Manchester has a good reputation for restaurants so choose your cuisine. Some very good restaurants are in the mil area. Unfortunately, downtown Manchester is pretty ugly whereas Concord further north via I93 has a charming, walkable downtown but not as good a selection of restaurants.

You can head to VT via I89 from Concord but if you follow the signs to the hospital on Pleasant Street you can just keep driving west thru the towns of Hopkinton, Contoocook and Warner then get on I89 at exit 9. Warner has several museums: Telephone Museum, Kearsarge Indian Museum, Little Nature Museum. But on the way thru you can stop at Gould Hill Orchard to buy some heirloom apples and have a hard cider tasting. I89 is a pretty drive unless it's really bad weather but the trees are going to be leafless. Woodstock is right on the NH/VT border but you might like Norwich better. One parent could take a baking class at King Arthur Flour while the other accompanies child to Montshire Museum. Food at Norwich Inn and the restaurant across the street is very good. KA has a café. If it's a Saturday, the Norwich Farmers Market is wonderful but check the dates. I'm not sure Stowe is worth the drive at that time of year. You can buy Ben and Jerry's ice cream anyplace but the tour might be fun. There is better ice cream at many of the local ice cream places in New England where they make their own. NH has an ice cream trail map you can get. Burlington is a fun place so perhaps choose between Norwich/Woodstock and Burlington. If you want to do King Arthur Flour shopping you can do that on your way to Burlington. We have not been to the science center there. Also, you'll be driving past Dartmouth College in Hanover NH. Have not been to their art museum but you might consider it.

Rather than Cape Cod, although this depends on weather, you might consider Rhode Island. Providence has a fun food tour. Try some Portuguese food in Fall River. Tour a Newport Mansion (Beneath the Breakers was fascinating and I think all ages would like it). We have not been to the jack-o-lantern display at the zoo in Providence but you might consider that. I have been to Waterfire and don't care for it. Unless you really want to go to Stockbridge area, I would suggest spending more time in the other areas on your list.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2018, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by dfrostnh View Post
The weather in the later part of October is not usually very good. Don't expect to see any colorful leaves except maybe around Boston, western MA further south.
What would be the ideal time for foliage/weather for this area? Early October?
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by mocha_dolce View Post
What would be the ideal time for foliage/weather for this area? Early October?
Yes, foliage color peaks in the middle of VT and NH around Columbus Day weekend. First week of October is very popular. You might get some good color in late September in the mountains although I've been in Stowe 3rd weekend in September and seen none at all. There are events in VT to encourage tourists to come early. Color is going to vary depending on location and elevation and different kinds of trees turn color early while others later. Coastal areas are warmer and turn color later. You should be able to find some foliage maps on the internet.

But it seems that as the colors are fading, we get a period of rain that knocks the rest of the leaves off the trees. A couple of years ago, Halloween was cancelled due to snow in our area near Concord NH. Third weekend of September weather has been gorgeous for a long time (a traditional getaway weekend for me) except we went earlier last year so got some rain and some great weather. Columbus Day weekend has been very nice in recent years but we can sometimes have a light frost during the night. Expect heavy traffic on interstates and people have already started making reservations for this year.
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 03:04 AM
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The Head of the Charles Regatta is 10/21-22 this year. Do you have your Boston hotel rooms yet?
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 05:21 AM
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Thank you, this is incredibly helpful. I think we'll bypass Cape Cod on this occasion and spend our last three nights around Litchfield/ Mystic as there seems to be quite a lot of activity on offer in the run up to Halloween including the Jack-O-Lantern display at the zoo which we'll definitely look into. We're going to spend a night in Kennebunkport after Salem then make our way over to Lake Winnipesaukee area for two nights. We'll forgo a night in Vermont, will look to stay in Norwich as per your suggestion then head to The Berkshires for two nights before finishing up in RI for three nights to explore the area.

Colourful leaves are obviously a bonus but certainly not our only focus as we're dictated to holiday dates because school term times. We just want to soak up as much culture, lobster rolls and good ole fall fun as possible!

Thank you again!
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 04:44 AM
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Litchfield and Mystic are both worth a visit at that time of year, but they are not really very close to one another. The Mystic Aquarium would be fun for the little one and Mystic Seaport is nice for 19th century maritime history. Mystic is mostly in the town of Stonington, CT which borders RI, so could work before visiting there.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by rizzo0904 View Post
The Head of the Charles Regatta is 10/21-22 this year. Do you have your Boston hotel rooms yet?
Hi, yes we do thanks - going Airbnb! Good to know re the Regatta though
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by emalloy View Post
Litchfield and Mystic are both worth a visit at that time of year, but they are not really very close to one another. The Mystic Aquarium would be fun for the little one and Mystic Seaport is nice for 19th century maritime history. Mystic is mostly in the town of Stonington, CT which borders RI, so could work before visiting there.
Thank you. I think we'll definitely look to stay in Litchfield Hills or the surrounding area. We have three days there so not adverse will plan some day trips around there once accommodation is finalised.
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