10 days: start NY - end Boston

Sep 23rd, 2008, 10:19 AM
  #1  
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10 days: start NY - end Boston

The "plot": We'll be picking up a rental car in NY on Columbus Day and return it 10 days later in Boston, where we will stay for an additional 2 nights and return to Germany. The question is which route to take?

We are not interested in museums that much, after 10 days in NY and all the old stuff we have over here. (That being said, we have DeCordova sculpture park, down as a must see.) We do not want to prebook, even if that means it'll be chain motels all along. We definitely want to avoid places that are even too crowded for those and with bumper-to-bumper traffic. We generally prefer experiencing a place more "deeply" to seeing more places.

We are looking for scenery, both seaside and forest (plus foliage, but we might actually be rather late), quaint towns, local food, moderate hikes.

I think going north past Portland will be cramming too much into the trip. But then browsing thru posts here Rt 1 from Brunswick to Brewer looks really attractive and the Adirondacks beckon too. Ach...

Seeing that Oct 13 is already deep into the foliage season, it might be best to go inland first and return by the coast. Right?

If so, would yuo rather go up the Hudson on/ near I-87, detour via Lake Placid or thereabouts and cut across into Vermont. Or go straight up I-91 into the White Mountains which will obviously be quicker, saving a day or two?

Just from looking at Google Maps the lake area plus White Mts straddling MA and ME looks very promising. Would you agree or prefer another inland area (especially a not so crowded one)?

If we decide on the coastal approach in , would going up LI and taking the Orient ferry offer anything we would not encounter on Cape Cod (we want to see that) or the southern ME coast?

So many questions ... Looking forward to your valuable input.

Hendrik
Sheygetz is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2008, 11:53 AM
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Okay, lots in your post to respond to - I'll give it a go and there are lots more people here who can comment/fill in your route.

First, I am a little confused - is your total trip 10 days? Not sure how long you are planning on spending in NY (I assume you are arriving in NYC). Based on what you plan to do outside NY, I am assuming that you intend to pick up your car and then leave NY for other places.

On that assumption, most of the foliage will be further south. I live in a town west of Boston and we are already starting to see the hints of color (all the rain this year I understand is leading to an earlier foliage peak). Anyone up north who can comment on color in your area? You may want to focus on more southern points as there may not be too much to see up north.

The Berkshires in MA or Kent, CT may be a good place to check out. My SIL lives in Kent and there is lots to do there along the lines of hiking as it is near the Appalachian Trail. So that may work for you. It's also a very scenic town.

You mention the DeCordova sculpture park - a lovely spot in Lincoln, MA near my home town (Concord). If you are in that area, check out Lexington/Concord, examples of "quaint" towns. Lots of history (American Revolution) plus the American authors (Thoreau, Alcott, Hawthorne, Emerson) in Concord. The downtown of Concord is particularly pretty and very do-able in a day.

You also mention the "white" mountains and I-91. If you are referring to VT, those are actually the "green" mountains - the white ones are in NH. Not a big deal, but I wanted to point that out for you as it can be confusing.

Cape Cod is also lovely in October. You may have time to squeeze in a couple of days there as well for a quick visit should you want to focus on southern New England.

Bottom line, there is so much to see here in New England and you can't do in justice in 10 days. You mention that you like to take in places more "deeply" (as do I) so my advice to you is to re-think your initial agenda (which is very ambitious). As I've said, there is lots to comment on about your trip but I wanted to get a thread started for you and give you some thoughts/suggestions.
MarieF is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2008, 12:03 PM
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By NY, do you mean New York city or where?

I think you may be overdoing it if you hope to see the Adirondacks, White Mountains, Maine Coast, Boston and Cape Cod over a 10 day stretch. I would cut out the Adirondacks and the Cape.

You are going in peak season so pre-booking should be an option. Even chains may prove to be booked.
tchoiniere is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2008, 12:43 PM
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It sounds to me like the OP is leaving NYC on Monday Oct. 13 (Columbus Day) and arriving in Boston on about Oct. 23, turning in the car, and spending two days in Boston. In other words, taking 10 days to travel scenically between the two cities. I suspect that this impromptu travel, mostly on weekdays slightly post-peak foliage, is do-able.
Anonymous is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2008, 12:45 PM
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There are lots of online sites for following the peak foliage dates. Normally, that late in October, you'd expect peak foliage in the Boston area and warmer parts of Connecticut. Since you're going to "play it by ear" anyway, you could plan a circular route and then do either the northern or southern half first, depending on where the foliage is.
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Sep 23rd, 2008, 03:16 PM
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Thanks to everyone butting in. To clarify

>>is your total trip 10 days
No, it's fly into JFK, 10 days in NYC, 10 on the road and another 2 in Boston, leave from there.

>> most of the foliage will be further south
Ooo, maybe we should just see it in Central Park, NYC, then? ;-) I was under the impression, foliage "moved" eastward. But I haven't managed to find a single "all New England" overview map, every state is bent on having their own website on foliage.

re I-91 and White Mountains: I shouldn't have said "Or go straight up I-91", because obviously you have to turn East somewhere beyond Bradford.

>>so much to see here in New England and you can't do in justice in 10 days
Well MarieF, I see your point, especially as you live there and obviously love it. But, hey, we get so many Americans "doing" Europe in a fortnight - I thought 10 days for most of New England was actually quite generous.

>>I think you may be overdoing it if you ...
Sure, as I said, we have to make choices and I'm hoping for you to help me make them.

Hendrik
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Sep 23rd, 2008, 05:50 PM
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foliagenetwork.com has historical foliage maps, and current reports for the entire northeast. Color generally moves southward through October. while "peak" may only officially last about a week, there is excellent color on either side of it, for as much as a week.

It can be tough to find accomodations, although mid week it won't be too bad. But you must have Friday-Saturday nights in that 10 day period. You MUST book something in advance for those days. You will quite possibly find places with weekend minimums, and may have to plan around that.

I think I would drive up through the Berkshires, take the Taconic out of NYC,and spend a couple night or two in Western Mass. It's very pretty around there, and a bit less out of the way than the Adirondacks. You said you aren't that interested in museums, but you still might find time to stop at the Clark Institute in Williamston MA. Plus, the scenery up in that corner of the state is lovely. If you like to hike, you could climb Mt Greylock.

you could drive from there up into Vermont, possibly driving up route 100, through the Green Mountain National Forest. I probably wouldn't go much farther than Burlington, since the foliage is apt to be gone that far north. there is lots to see and do in the area around Burlington and Lake Champlain. There are foliage trains, historic sites, hiking areas, even a few museums.

Heading east from there will be slow as there are no major roads that go east-west. But you might want to make your way across to the White Mountains and the Kancamangus highway.

Somewhere after that you'll head to the coast. Maybe, if you have time, you could head for the southern coast of Maine...Ogunquit, or Kennebunkport. I probably wouldn't go too far north, just to save time.

It might be hard to get all the way to Cape Cod on this trip. You could consider southern Maine, and Northern MA a decent alternative. Cape Ann, with Rockport, Gloucester, and Peabody might give you some of the same scenery...fishing towns, lighthouses, rocky coast,and beaches.

If it were me, I'd probably spend 2 nights in most places, so as to get a chance to see a bit, and not be driving every day. If you spent 2 nights in Williamston or maybe Lenox MA, 2 or 3 nights somewhere around Burlington Vt, 2 nights in New Hampshire, 2 nights in Maine, and maybe 1 night in Rockport, you've used up 9 of your 10 days. It's still a ton of driving, but you'd see a lot.

You can visit the Decordova, and maybe Minuteman Park in Lexington at the same time, on your way into Boston. (By staying that last night in Rockport, you are relatively close by)

so that's a potential itinerary. its still pretty rushed, and you said you prefer to see places more deeply. this really doesn't give you a lot of time to "experience" New England.

china_cat is offline  
Sep 26th, 2008, 04:07 PM
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The website mentioned is excellent, thanks. I do agree that we won't be able to see EVERYthing. But as I said in starting that implies we have to make a choice, and I'd rather it was an informed one. I had never heard of the Berkshires e.g. - well outside the UK that is.

Hendrik
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Sep 27th, 2008, 03:06 AM
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Columbus Day weekend is late this year. I usually use it as a marker for peak color in the Concord NH area which is south of the lakes and White Mountains region. In the Concord NH area color is really starting to speed up. Swampy areas are already very colorful. Some say it is early this year. For color you may wish to stay in southern New England i.e. the Berkshires, CT and RI.
Rt 91 is our favorite way home and it's a hwy thru western MA and then into VT. We get off at exit 3 heading east to NH. There will be heavy traffic on the interstates i.e. Rt 93, Rt 95, Rt 89 so get a good map to take alternate routes. The speed limit might be 50 instead of 65. I've never seen a lot of traffic on Rt 91 but we usually travel that early in the day beginning a trip or late in the evening returning.
Mid-week might be ok for visiting the White Mountains. As locals we try to avoid the whole area during peak tourist times. The tour buses will probably still be in that area even that late. If you want to visit Conway/North Conway and take the Kancamangus, try to do it early in the morning before everyone else gets out of bed. We enjoy the way the sunset turns the trees even more golden but we aren't in the shadow of the mountains. The coast is warmer, foliage would be slightly behind on the coast. Portsmouth NH has a great reputation for wonderful restaurants and I always recommend a boat cruise around the harbor or inland rivers. It would be a good base for the southern ME coast since Maine is just across the bridge.
Concord NH would make a decent base for day trips. You can be in Burlington VT in 3 hours, White Mountains in 1 hour. There's probably at least 6 orchards in the vicinity, bike trails, and quaint towns next door. Check out Canterbury Shaker Village - I know you said you've seen enough museums but this one is different and beautiful. I haven't eaten at the restaurant but have heard good reports - they use local food and Shaker recipes. Concord has a lovely downtown and growing theater/arts calendar. Don't miss Gould Hill Orchard in Contoocook for the view and heirloom apple varieties. There is hiking in the area. Two different routes up Mt Kearsarge in Warner, one easy the other steep but you can drive to the base of the steep trail by taking the auto road in Wilmot to Winslow State Park. Wonderful view but I think many people bypass this area for the bigger mountains further north.
If you buy a state atlas and gazetteer published by DeLorme you will have maps to every road in the state, including dirt and seasonal ones, hiking trails, covered bridges, good fishing spots. We have one for VT, ME and NH. You can easily avoid the congested highways. I live between two major highways but we don't see much traffic through our town.
dfnh is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2008, 01:38 PM
  #10  
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Thanks once more. I haven't really found time to digest it all, and obviously do not have the required atlas at hand - will have to get one in NYC. The idea of choosing two or three bases is appealing, it is however a case of weighing reduced packing and more of a "homey" feeling over increases driving to more distant places and back. The problem really is I do not quite know what to expect re foliage and "tourists".

The way to go will have to be
- check the sites for current foliage
- choose first base
- stay as long as we like
- choose another base
And when the 10 days are over, they are over. And if its nice, we'll just have to return.

Anyway, thanks and I'm off to the big apple now. Will report back.

Hendrik
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Oct 2nd, 2008, 02:13 PM
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I am in central Vermont, north of Montpelier. Foliage is already at or near peak here. You will probably not see good foliage in the Adirondacks, (northern) Vermont or the White Mts after Columbus Day.

Last year when we were in and west of Boston around October 18-20 foliage was good. We spent a really nice day in Concord, MarieF. Another stop not too far from the DeCordava museum is Fruitlands in Harvard, Mass. It is very pretty in the fall and has lots of interesting history--was the site of a utopian community in the 1840's and also has some Native American and Shaker exhibits.

I would not go as far north as Portland. Cape Cod and/or Cape Ann (north of Boston) would give you plenty of beautiful sea coast.

Vttraveler is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2008, 03:02 PM
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Hendrik: Hope it all works out for you. Right now, we are seeing a lot of color west of Boston. By next week (Columbus Day) it should be pretty in southern New England. Please post back and let us know what you did and your impressions of your travels. The weather does look nice for the next 10 days or so here. Hopefully, the torrential rain of the past week is over!
MarieF is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2008, 06:09 PM
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I live in Western Mass (Amherst Northampton area) and it's not peak here yet, should be by next weekend. Since Vermont and NH will be mostly past peak by then I would stick to Mass, RI and southern Maine. And with 10 days you should be able to see a lot. I go to coastal Maine the weekend after Columbus Day most years and its usually very pleasant and uncrowded. Most places are still open but prices are down and very few crowds.

If I were you I'd spend a couple days in western Mass (should be good color and a taste of interior New England) and then head to the coast. I'd go north first (as color will deteriorate the later in the month you go) so I'd go about as far as Camden/Rockport. You could get their quickly on the interstates, or take a whole day and cut through southern Vermont and NH. The just work your way south. If you have time you could go south of Boston to RI or Cape Cod but if you're having a good time in Maine, coastal NH, and the area north of Boston in Mass then you wouldn't be missing much skipping the south of Boson coast.
isabel is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 12:29 AM
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What we ended up doing:

We drove up the Taconic Pwy - which in itsself was a beautiful drive, although I sweated quite a bit getting out of NYC w/ nothing more than a Hertz "map" to go by - to the Southern Berkshires. Stayed in Lee, drove around Lennox the next day, then up to Pittsfield, where we visited Crane's papermaking museum (in neighbouring Dalton) and went on via North Adams to Williamstown. Stayed there for two nights, took a hike (Mt. Greystoke access roads are closed and will be next year), visited the College's museum. Found out the hard way, that 9pm is not a good time to want dinner in rural New England - by the time we had settled on the local pizza place, as everyone else was already vacuuming their restaurants, it was quarter past 9 and the pizza guy was counting his money, too.

On what turned out the wettest of four rainy days we drove up into VT to Arlington to see one of the Norman Rockwell places. This only has old magazine covers and frankly I think 5$ is something of a rip-off for that. After that the outlets in Manchester, then across the Green mountain "waistline" on VT 11. Up north then eastward, through wonderfully laidback countryside, albeit very rainy towards Claremont NH. Ended up a little further east on Lake Sunapee. Next day, back on #103 to see some covered bridges. Only found 2 out of 3, and they were pretty plain. They seemed a little lacklustre compared to what I seem to remember from the "Bridges in Madison County" Around Sunapee's Southern tip to Andover, took a walk on a converted railroad track there (another bridge), past Laconia, round Lake Winnipesaukie, stayed in Wolfboro.It was foliage peak time during those Lake days. Went a little further north to cut across in a large downward arc on #25 to Portland - a very nice and very easy route.

Portland was the one bis disappointment. A derelict, decrepit downtown, the high street with no chars whatsoever to it. The wharf/ gaslight quarter didn't have to many classy places either, but local tourists galore. On Sunday morning on our way to the local museum (on Congress St, I believe) we came across more homeless people pushing carts than anything else. The museum had decided to put on a free jazz concert - I for one find it impossible to concentrate and relish pictures - in this case "Kertesz on Reading" photographs - with any loud music, let alone one I loathe, going on in the background. Sorry, I'm sure Portlanders know where to go for the nicer nooks of the city, but as a tourist I'd avoid it.

Stayed for three nights near Yarmouth. Freeport was very nice as outlet places come. Made a wonderful tour through Brunswick, the Harpswells, Bath and the Phippsburg peninsula - the latter being the hightlight with marvellous views of the Kennebec River meandering towards the Atlantic on Parker Head road. Southward to Portsmouth via Ogunquit on another rather grey and rainy day. Still, we enjoyed that city so much more than its half-namesake. Went further down the seaside, weather still awful which is why the Hamptons and Salisbury beach didn't come to much, towards Concord MA. We had actually set aside this day to see DeCordova and were very disappointed to see it wash down the gutter literally. No good seeing a sculpture garden in the rain, is it. Stayed just outside of Boston and drove in for a first foray into town, moved into the Westin for the two last nights of our trip. Boston sure is a nice city and quite European in its proportions and layout. We found the Public Library much to our surprise a most wonderful place. It really is a sight worth exploring with beautiful murals. Also, they are currently showing an excellent photography exhibition (pictures of writers by Yousuf Karsh). Other than that, you probably have to be American to devour every detail of the Freedom Trail (plus the Minuteman site, plus the Mayflower in the vicinity)etc. with glee. I don't have to see Paul Revere's House to be honest. If Europeans went into as much detail on their history you'd have to spend months in each country. So, we thought two days were quite sufficient there.

Generally we found it very hard to find hiking on the go. There isn't a lot of easily accesible information or signposting, like West Europeans are used to, where many parking places have maps with routes. You really have to be around and inquire to locate some trails. This takes time and what with opening hours etc. you'll have to stay for at least two nights. Also, we weren't aware much of rural New England had shut down after Colombus day. National Park offices often were not manned, so no inquiries, lobster-pounds closed for the season etc. On the upside it was never a problem to find a place to stay, but prepared for things like parents' day at some college (Wolfboro in our case), when you may have to search a little. We did not try B&B or inns at all. With this kind of trip, where we often only stayed the night I have no need for quaint places, with flights of creaky stairs to schlepp up two large trolleys, loads of antiques to knock over and bedside lamps which may be Louis Quinze but actually make the room darker when lit. Large, clean and well-equipped will do just fine, i.e. motels. I would recommend the Lodge in Burkhaven on Lake Sunapee, the Lakeside Inn in Wolfboro, the Casco Bay Inn in #1 just south of Freeport.

If we were to go again, the areas to revisit would be North Adams, Lake Winnipesauke (with the White Mts not far off, but past peak now) and Phippsburg (more of a summer destination I think, maybe one could canoe on Kennebec River). And we would skirt Boston to take in Cape Cod and Rhode Island.

Hendrik
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