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New England Road Trip Itinerary for Nature and History Lovers - Input Requested

New England Road Trip Itinerary for Nature and History Lovers - Input Requested

Old May 30th, 2021, 08:46 AM
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New England Road Trip Itinerary for Nature and History Lovers - Input Requested

Hello, everyone!

My husband I are looking to spend 1-2 weeks road tripping around New England seeing historical points of interest (more my interest than his - there are only so many historic house tours he can handle before he pukes), seaports, nature, and adventure activities (whitewater rafting, kayaking, etc).

For the duration, we are guessing we will need 10-14 days. I am a serial over-planner and need help reigning in my aspirations. For the timing, we were thinking of mid-September. We like to casually hike (not die-hard thru hikers) and have read that the black flies can be pretty heavy thru July in some parts; additionally we prefer cooler weather for hiking, but would prefer to avoid the hordes of leaf peepers.

1. Please provide input on duration/timing based on proposed points of interest..

First off - holy crap! There are so many things to see in New England! I wrote down 5 pages of interesting sites from the Fodors guidebook! So, needless to say, I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the possibilities.

2. Is it better to spend less time in all 6 states over the trip or to focus on a smaller area?

3. While I enjoy road trips, I am not a fan of moving hotels every night. Are there certain towns that can serve as good hubs for certain regions/attractions? I would much rather day trip from a few central locations.

So, here are some of the things we would like to see.

Boston - Husband’s not big on big cities, so don’t plan to spend a lot of time here. May see Beacon Hill neighborhood, Granary Burying Ground, Old North Church, Paul Revere House. If have time, might shoot over to Harvard’s Herbaria. I also liked the idea of possibly driving over to Concord and Lexington on the way out of Boston to see Buckman Tavern, Louisa May Alcott’s home, and Walden, but these are not absolute requirements.
Salem - Husband like history surrounding witch trials. I think the House of the 7 Gables looks interesting,
Plimoth Plantation
Cape Cod - Heritage Museums and Gardens, Woods Hole Science Aquarium, Monomoy NWR, Mass. Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanc.
Nantucket - Whaling Museum
Berkshires/W Mass - Hancock Shaker Village, The Mount Mansion, Deerfield River whitewater rafting
Connecticut - Mark Twain home, White Mem. Conser. Center, Mystic seaport and aquarium
Rhoda Island - Providence Culinary Arts Museum, Slater Mill Museum, Newport mansions and Touro Synagogue, Block Island
Vermont - Morse Maple Sugar Works, Robert Frost Stone House Museum, Shelburne Farms and Museum, Fairbanks Museum
New Hampshire - I wrote down a list of activities here, but most of the ones we liked were not Fodors Choices; however, we often like things that are not Fodors Choices. My husband likes the mountains. I found some really fun-looking things like moose tours, the Mt Washington Cog Railway, the Conway Scenic Railway, Rhododendron SP. Please provide any must sees, especially for nature!
Maine - Gulf Hagas, Baxter SP, Rugosa lobster haul trip, coastal kayaking, Kennebec River white water rafting, Margaret Todd schooner trip

Thank you so much in advance! I know I have more here than I could cover in a month. Just need some help whittling and focusing, timing, hubs to stay in to minimize hotel moves, etc.







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Old May 31st, 2021, 03:11 PM
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Vermont- Shelburne Farms and Shelburne Museum are different places although not far from each other. Both are very worthwhile to visit.
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Old May 31st, 2021, 06:33 PM
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You could stay in Charlestown and visit Warren's Tavern, Bunker hill, and the USS Constitution. You can take a great boat trip to Salem for the day from Boston.
Concord is just my favorite place. Do that for sure. There is even a ferry to Provincetown. Driving on and off the cape is a pita. Be patient.
Mark Twain was very good and love Mystic. If you want to go to Nantucket take the fast ferry from Hyannis.

There are so many things to see in New England. I can't wait for our August trip. We usually go up for a game in Boston but this year we are going to Maine, NH, Vermont, and NY. Happy planning and be prepared for high rates on hotels.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2021, 02:48 PM
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Thank you, HappyTrvlr. I will keep those on the itinerary!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2021, 02:52 PM
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Thank you, Macross! As this is our first trip, some of the advice I am getting is to save the Cape for another trip, as there is a lot to do there, so we may do just that.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2021, 08:57 AM
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Interesting thread, coincidentally I'm thinking of a road trip to New England this summer, also. Just not sure I can handle a flight yet for travel, people seem to be acting looney on some flights from the news.

Anyway, I've spent a bit of time in VT as I go skiing there and have relatives, and I frankly would drop it from your trip. And maybe NH. The Fairbanks Museum in St Johnsbury is not a major highlight and shouldn't be a destination as far as I'm concerned. It's not much. Coincidentally, I was just there last March during a ski trip when the weather turned so I couldn't get much good skiing in, so thought I'd do that. It's not that big and didn't have anything special to me. So if you are in the area and want to drop in, ok, but that's the only destination point you have in that area. I just don't see anything in VT that great on your list to merit that detour and time. YOu said you only have maybe 10 days, so much other things you have on the list would be better than that.

One thing on my list is a whale watching trip out of Rye NH.
https://www.granitestatewhalewatch.com/
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Old Jun 3rd, 2021, 03:11 PM
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Thank you, Christina! I will take dropping VT and NH into consideration.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 10:19 PM
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Hi, so I live in New England. Not to be a Debbie Downer but you have too much on your itinerary for 10-14 days. A major factor to take in to consideration: travel times in New England are NOTHING like travel times in any other part of the country, especially on weekdays or holiday weekends. Just getting from one end of Boston to the other can take two hours depending upon traffic. Locals measure travel in minutes not miles. Mapquest or Google Map all of your planned travel during the day at the times you anticipate making that travel.

Travel to Nantucket will be by ferry out of Hyannis. If you want to take your car you need to make a reservation and car reservations should be made well in advance - like now. It’s an hour and a half from Boston to Hyannis to get the Ferry, about 45 minutes from Woods Hole, again that’s if there’s no traffic. Truthfully, if you want to see a whale museum and don’t care about seeing the island I would go to New Bedford. Beautiful whaling museum/National Historical Site.

For all things Cape related if you plan to go near Labor Day or if the weather is hot it can take two hours to get over the Bourne or Sagamore Bridges. Some schools go back in session right before Labor Day, but have the Friday before off. Others won’t start back until the Wednesday or Thursday after Labor Day. Trips to the beach that weekend are a big thing around here.

Allow a full day if going to Salem. There is a TON to do there not just house of Seven Gables, there is the Peabody Essex Museum, even just walking the waterfront is cool. The same for Plymouth. Plymouth Plantation takes 3-4 hours if you rush it. More if you take the time to experience all they offer. There is a lot there. Plymouth Rock is neat, but it is just that, a rock. Good news is it’s free, just have to pay the meter to park. If going later in September be prepared for craziness in Salem as the Halloween activities start ramping up the last couple days of September.

The white mountains are well worth the trip but be prepared for cold weather if going, especially if you go up the Cog to the top of Mt Washington. My husband and son hiked up Mt Washington two years ago, it was 100 at the base and 55 at the peak. This was in July. North Conway Scenic Railway is a fun adventure. Amazing views can be had all along the Kancamagus and up through Crawford Notch. On September 11 they will be holding Flags on the 48. This is a 9/11 Memorial hike. Hikers carry flags to the peaks of all 48 4000 foot plus mountains. They raise the flags at noon. This includes the three mountains with mechanical means of reaching the top; Cannon, Wildcat and Mt Washington. If weather conditions permit the military does a flyby of the mountains at noon. It’s a very moving experience.

If doing white water rafting in Maine you will need to allow the better part of three days for this activity. From Massachusetts it takes 7 hours without traffic to get to The Forks. Rafting the Kennebec is only in the morning so you need to drive up the day before. The rafting trips usually finish with a meal provided by the guide. It’s usually after 2 by the time you’re done and you will get wet and will definitely need to change. So 2 nights in the Forks or Greenville. Greenville is home to Moosehead Lake, incredibly scenic. They have an Airplane Fly-in in September which is supposed to be cool (seaplanes), hotels book up well in advance. The next day to drive to your next destination, 3-4 hours if going to or from the White Mountains, 7 hours if headed back to Massachusetts. The area around where they do white water rafting is gorgeous, very rural, you might see moose. Totally worth it. But still three days. If starting from Southern Maine, allow 4 hours or so to get to/from The Forks.

Last edited by christinerankin1378; Jun 7th, 2021 at 10:38 PM.
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Old Jun 11th, 2021, 03:29 PM
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Thank you, christinerankin1378! I know I covered many points in my post. I was just having difficulty narrowing down what items I could scrap, and where to focus more, for a first time trip. Your advice about drive times and traffic is very helpful. As some of the others suggested, I will need to cut out large areas to have an enjoyable trip. I have also had people suggest doing southern NE, northern NE, coast, or inland.
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Old Jul 14th, 2021, 06:27 AM
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If you want beautiful, uncommercialized countryside, I wouldn't drop Vermont or NH. Some of the back roads in these states are amazingly scenic. However the trade off is there are not many historic attractions other than some very old homes in some very old villages. This was wilderness in the 1700's.
You were looking for some things to see in NH -
Of course the White Mountains are the big attraction. The Kancamagus drive is a must, with several spectacular overlooks. There are great hikes and walks everywhere.
St Gaudens National Historic site - this is an estate with art, and gardens in a beautiful setting. Close by is the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, the longest in the USA, and a great photo op from the NH side.
Canterbury Shaker Village - interesting historic village, just north of Concord, the state capital. I believe the small and very old capital building is now open for tours.
Musterfield Farm - A historic working farm in a quiet corner of the state.
Hanover NH - Home of Dartmouth College, a picture perfect old New England campus, lots of good dining, nice art museum. The surrounding countryside north of the town is quite beautiful and unspoiled.
If you are looking for an interesting historic site in Vermont, the Calvin Coolidge historic home and village is a must, in some picture perfect Vermont countryside.
In general if you are looking for lots of history, southern New England may be better, if you want beautiful uncrowded countryside northern New England.

Last edited by zootsi; Jul 14th, 2021 at 06:30 AM.
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Old Jul 15th, 2021, 11:47 AM
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Helene in Manchester, VT the home of Abe Lincoln’s Robert Todd Lincoln is an historic property with e tensile grounds, open to the public.
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Old Jul 15th, 2021, 01:32 PM
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You seem to have left out Mystic, CT.


As for road trips, VT30 from Brattleboro joining with VT 100 going north on the spine of Vermont will lead you through picturesque towns and if the colors comes early, with nice Fall colors.

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Old Jul 16th, 2021, 06:40 PM
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Hi, Michael!

Mystic is on my list, but some people suggested dropping CT and RI entirely, for a first NE trip. But I have to admit, Newport and Mystic are two of the most appealing items on my list.
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