2 weeks in New England

Old Mar 1st, 2017, 07:46 PM
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2 weeks in New England

Hello! My parents and I (I'm 31, they're late 50s), have decided to spend our summer vacation in New York City and the New England-area. We're looking to be gone around three weeks, depending on sites and attractions. One of those weeks will be NYC. We've been to NYC twice, so no worries with planning there.

We're planning to go in May, before "high" season (I know, soon!). We definitely want to see Boston. Is four days good for its highlights? We'll want to see the historic sights and museums, do some antiquing, and indulge in regional cuisine. We plan on taking the train from NYC to Boston (flying back to OK from Boston). We've traveled on cross-country and inner-city trains extensively in Europe. I'm assuming Amtrak is roughly the same.

It's our first time in New England. We'll definitely rent a car once we leave Boston. What are some must-see towns/sights?

I know we want to see Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, probably staying in/around Cape Cod. Where would be the best home base? It would be nice to stay in one hotel or AirBnb for a week or so, with only short drives to scenic towns.

We're looking to shop, relax, enjoy the scenery, scope out some lighthouses and coastline. We're not hikers or campers. Newport also looks beautiful, with all the historic mansions. Salem might be fun, as would Plymouth. Seeing some bridges in New Hampshire might be nice, too (or are those all peppered throughout the area?). I was also debating Maine, but it seems like the most beautiful parts are up by Acadia National Park. Would we be venturing too far northeast? I don't want to spend all of our time in the car when there are perfectly adorable towns nearby. We could take the train from NYC, all the way up to Maine, then work our way down, ending in Cape Cod, and then Boston (flying out of Boston).

Thanks so much, in advance. Any suggestions would help!
okeurotripper is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2017, 02:34 AM
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Good thing you aren't planning on hiking because May is usually black fly season in the woods. May can be very beautiful IMHO but spring is my most favorite season.

A friend prefers train from Boston to NYC but I think she takes the bus from NH to Boston. I think 4 days is a good number for Boston.

Keep in mind that visiting both Nantucket and MV is going to take a chunk of time including lengthy boat rides. I've only been once to MV. It was nice. We did a van tour once we got there and then wandered around on foot to see the little cottages.

I would drop Plymouth. We were lukewarm about our visit a couple of years ago. The highlight was a tour of the cranberry bogs but it was September. If you visit Newport and Salem that's at least another two days. I don't think you would have time for NH and Maine. One day trip to MV would probably require two nights. Get there the night before. Take last boat back. Have dinner and spend the night before hitting the roads again.

You could do a quick stop in Salem MA on your way to Maine. Portsmouth NH is a wonderful small city with fun shopping, boat trips and historic areas. You can drive along the coast to see private mansions. By mid-May or earlier crab apples etc should be in full bloom.

Kittery ME outlet shopping is just across the bridge if you want that kind of shopping. May in southern ME is ok since the traffic isn't as heavy as summer. I spent mothers day weekend in Wells last year. Don't forget is can be a bit chilly if there's a wind. Plenty of shops in Wells, Kport, etc. Nubble Light in York is popular sight.

If you want to visit Maine there are so many great places without going as far as Acadia that I suggest you explore air b&b to find a place that suits you and then explore from there, wherever that is. We love the mid-coast area. Stayed in Rockland last summer for a few days after a night in East Boothbay but it was mid-June. This summer we plan to stay near Damariscotta. You might be too early in the season for the lighthouse cruises at the Bath Maritime Museum but check their schedule. You might enjoy just going as far as Portland (more fund shopping in the Old Port Area) and a mailboat cruise of Casco Bay. The lighthouse in Fort Williams Park is popular and there is a splendid view of Casco Bay from the park.

I think there are more covered bridges in VT and the longest is over the CT river between VT and NH. You would need a DeLorme atlas for NH to find some of the covered bridges since they are on roads that are no longer main thoroughfares. From Portland ME you can head west to Conway NH and go from there. That puts you in the White Mountains area. Portland to Conway is about an hour. If you just do a day trip thru you can connect with I93 which is a direct route back to Boston. Our favorite prettiest small town is Sandwich NH and then it's a short drive to Meredith on Lake Winnipesaukee which has some shopping and is very pretty. then you can get on I93 at exit 23. If you aim for Center Sandwich by lunch time (make sure it is open for lunch that time of year) we like the Corner House Inn.

You might explore Yankee Magazine's website for ideas. Photos might help you decide where to go.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2017, 05:15 PM
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May can be an expensive month for Boston hotel rooms because of all of the college graduations. The dates are listed on this site: http://www.bostonzest.com/2016/09/bo...vations-a.html

Try to work around these dates for the Boston part of your stay.

You could look for a Cape Cod rental for a week or because it is low season you might be able to have a rental for fewer days. Besides the islands, the Cape Cod National Seashore has beautiful beaches, nice walks, and lighthouses. Spend at least a day driving and exploring the area.

You can combine the Cape with Newport for a couple of nights or head north to Maine for a few days. Portland is worth a stop and an overnight. Depending on the number of days, Acadia might be a long haul.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 04:50 AM
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May is not the greatest month to come to New England. September is the greatest month, unless you are always peeper, when October is the greatest month.

Why? college graduations and the cost and availability of lodging in Boston, as cw points out, though Boston may seem like a bargain after NYC.

A lot of stuff is still closed or in weekend-only mode because it isn't really warm in May. Near the water, it will be foggy and cool into June. Later May is better than early May. My friends who are charter boat captains, fishing and sailing, don't even put their boats into the water until May 15 with the aim of being in action by Memorial Day.

In the north, it can be buggy, and you may hit the end of mud season. Farm stands and even locavore restaurants won't have much local produce except fiddle heads and mushrooms. . Local peaches, tomatoes, and berries appear later, and The Best Corn on the Cob in the Whole Wide World, locally grown butter and sugar, is a late August-early September thing.

It's only an hour to either Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard by ferry, 20 minutes by plane from Hyannis. Allow an hour for parking and getting to the dock, plus whatever it takes for you to drive from wherever you are to Hyannis or Falmouth. Take a tour when you get to the island. Stay overnight if you can because the early hours of the AM are magical. It will be too cold to go in the water in May, but you can "lay out" on the beach.

If all this sounds too negative, don't let it. New England, urban and rural, is home to fantastic scenery, museums, birding, scenic coast lines and great food. Whenever you go.

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Old Apr 7th, 2017, 06:43 PM
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the southern coast of Maine- seems they still had snow in parts of New ENgland last week-
Kennebunkport is nice, Camden, Rockland- lots of places-
In New Hampshire the lakes area is nice but before Memorial Weekend it may still be too early- some don't open until Memorial Day Weekend.
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Old Apr 8th, 2017, 09:29 AM
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People are correct about black flies in Maine/NH and hotel prices in Boston, but besides that May is a GREAT month. Things are just starting to flower, grass is green, fewer tourists than in summer or leaf-peeping fall. Chance of rain in New England is fairly evenly spaced out all year - we don't have dry or rainy 'seasons'. Average high temps will be in the low 70s. It has occasionally snowed in May, and for example, this coming week (still early April) it is forecast to be around 80. The saying in New England is if you don't like the weather, wait an hour.

Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket - if you want all of them, you'll need about a week. And while you could visit the islands from a base on the cape, that's probably not ideal. If you want to take a car either of them you may already be too late for a car reservation. You don't really need a car on Nantucket but Martha's vineyard is larger and to see much you'd need a car. So do some research and see if you really want to see both of them, and how much of the cape you want. And do you really want to spend a whole week just in that area.

North of Boston I'd do a loop - start on Cape Ann which could include Salem, then go north to Portsmouth NH. From there do the Maine coast up to Portland (York, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, etc. - need to get off of RT 1 in order to see these places). Portland itself has lots to do. If you continue up as far as the Boothbay harbor area you'll see more 'authentic' (I hate that word) Maine. NH and Vermont are the areas that are most likely to be 'late mud season' but you could just drive through NH to Vermont to see some covered bridges. Then down through the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts (along the Connecticut River). If you like history there is Historic Deerfield. Then turning back east you'd pass by Sturbridge (an even better living history museum/town). You could also detour down to RI. This loop can be done in a week, although personally I'd chop a few days off the cape and add it to the rest of the region. Obviously a good guide book will tell you what there is to see in each place.

I like these sites for things to see in New England
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Old Apr 8th, 2017, 11:02 AM
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I just wanted to explain that "mud season" in VT/NH won't be a problem unless you are driving on dirt roads. It should also be over by May. It usually peaks in warm spring weather when it is nice everywhere except on the back roads.
Hikers are also advised to stay off hiking trails until Memorial Day but you say you are not hikers so that shouldn't be a problem.

I wouldn't spend time going to both Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
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