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Base in New England for autumn leaves

Old Feb 5th, 2020, 07:53 PM
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Base in New England for autumn leaves

Hi All

Hubby and I are visiting the US for the first time in Sept/Oct (we're from Australia) and plan to spend 5 nights in the New England area from 09 Oct to 14 Oct. We will have a car (driving from Cape Cod and then driving back to Boston).

I've been researching areas to stay and would love your thoughts.

Initially, I thought we would base ourselves in Woodstock VT for all 5 nights. But now I'm wondering if we should spend 3 nights in Woodstock and then 2 nights on the Maine coast somewhere (as it looks like a great place to visit).

There's so much to see and so little time We both enjoying driving around little towns and viewing the scenery, so I'm sure we will love where ever we go.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Thanks.
Rellie
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Old Feb 6th, 2020, 01:58 AM
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I'm the Woodstock disliker. It will be very crowded and, to me, is an artificial VT town. I much prefer Norwich which is further north. If your visit includes a saturday you can visit the Norwich farmers market which I think is one of the best in New England. There's music and a festive feel. Several vendors sell prepared foods and you can enjoy some free samples of cheeses and pickles. Fresh local apples are incredible. I like the Norwich Inn and you can just walk across the street to the restaurant which is very good and easy to do after a long day. I would avoid all popular tourist areas during your visit and be aware that southbound traffic on Sunday and Monday is going to be extremely heavy. Last fall I was surprised that on Sunday, northbound traffic was also stop and go once you got past the Hooksett toll booth on I93. To get to VT you most likely will be traveling that route and then taking I89 just south of Concord NH. Ditto on heavy traffic on I95 to/from Maine.

The interstates are actually kind of pretty when you get north of Manchester NH.

On a weekday I would attempt driving from Woodstock/Norwich area to Portland ME but avoid the popular Kancamagus Hwy thru the mountains on a weekend. I like Meredith NH (beautiful small town on Lake Winnipesaukee) to Center Sandwich (Corner House Inn for lunch?) to Tamworth and then Conway NH then east to Portland ME. BUT there's an agricultural fair in Center Sandwich Oct 10-12 so you would have to avoid that. A very early start on Monday 10/12 might work if you want your last two nights in Maine and then back to Boston.

Portland ME is a beautiful small city where you can take a ferry boat ride on Casco Bay. If the weather is warm and the Bite Into ME food truck is parked in Fort Williams Park, go there for a lobster roll and a splendid view of Casco Bay. You might consider going to Ken's in Scarborough ME for a seafood dinner but keep in mind it's a very popular seasonal place and very casual - order at the window and eat on paper plates. Two Lights lobster shack is similar but on the ocean and also very popular. Columbus Day weekend is usually the last weekend some of the best small lobster shacks are open but they are further north and probably too far to drive. Portland gives you lots of choices for restaurants of every kind. If you stayed someplace with kitchen privileges the least expensive lobster dinner is to get one steamed at the supermarket, buy some rolls, butter and salad and eat back at your lodging. Not sure if Vermont supermarkets do this but some do in NH and Maine.

If you want to be closer to Maine, Warner NH has a fall foliage festival Columbus Day weekend. You can drive up a small mountain, visit a local orchard where they also make hard cider, and see some nice scenery. Stay in Concord NH. To get to Maine, ignore google maps suggestion to take Rt 101 and take Rt 4 to Portsmouth. If you like easy hikes, Wagon Hill Farm in Durham is delightful. A DeLorme atlas for NH will tell you where all the covered bridges are. The ones in the Warner area are a bit out of the way.
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Old Feb 6th, 2020, 06:09 AM
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There is a 3 day weekend in the US October 10 to 12. The 12th is Columbus Day (also called Indigenous People day some places). It is a popular weekend for "leaf peeping" in New England so lodging can be somewhat hard to find.
This map gives you an idea of where foliage is likely to be at its peak in October.
https://newengland.com/seasons/fall/...l-foliage-map/
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Old Feb 6th, 2020, 06:57 AM
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Your dates of Oct 9-14 are excellent and concentrating in the MA/VT/NH/Southern Maine area will be good. Even if the foliage is a little before or after peak, it's unlikely you'll be able to tell the difference as color will vary greatly by type & density of specific trees, elevation, lattitude, and short term weather

With only 5 days I would question the choice of Cape Cod. It's a beach/summer time destination, and a long drive for a whole lotta sand & not much else in October.
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Old Feb 6th, 2020, 11:40 AM
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Woodstock is a picture perfect little town in a very beautiful area, however as the above poster stated, it will be very busy on that weekend. Woodstock is the favorite Vermont town of a lot of NY and Boston urbanites. However, there are scores of beautiful little towns and villages in Vermont - Waitsfield, Warren, Grafton, Weathersfield, Craftsbury, Chester and many more. They will all be somewhat busy, but there are hundreds of miles of quiet back roads that are usually untouristed. As for 5 nights in Vt vs splitting it up with Maine, that's your call. Maine is very scenic, but in a different way with it's rockbound coast and harbors. In mid October you can get some raw, foggy days on the Maine coast, but it is always picturesque. You could also do a few nights in New Hampshire's White Mountains which have a different vibe than Vermont - more craggy and rugged.
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Old Feb 6th, 2020, 12:20 PM
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I am usually not one for hopping around, but to maximize the chance of seeing "colors" you might want to stay a few different places, maybe a couple in VT, then one in NH, one in Maine? Something like that? I think fall colors are best seen on scenic drives not really standing still in one small town.
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Old Feb 7th, 2020, 01:23 AM
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suze, a place like Concord is an hour from the mountains to the north, an hour from the seacoast (although I think splitting between NH/VT and Maine is a good idea) and maybe 1 1/2 hours from VT. I think the biggest difference in scenery would be western VT along Lake Champlain because of all the open farmland and distant hills/mountains. NH has taller, craggier mountains so I recommend going north to enjoy the view even from the interstate. Might be a good idea for OP to visit Yankee magazine's website for some suggested drives. I think the drives are most fun if they include a good place for lunch, local farms like orchards, ice cream, etc. I took a visitor to the Flume visitors center. We didn't want to walk the Flume but the visitors center was very interesting. We also did a nature cruise on Squam Lake but it was early September and website doesn't say if they run the cruises in October. There's a beautiful distillery in Tamworth and downtown Meredith has a wonderful Hermit Woods winery. If you start early enough all could be done as a day trip from Concord. I mention Concord only because of a good variety of lodging and restaurants. OP needs to check availability. Some places will require staying more than one night during foliage season.
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Old Feb 7th, 2020, 02:48 PM
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts and suggestions.

I think splitting the trip is a good idea. And appreciate letting me know of the long weekend - I think we would rather stay in or near the less touristy places if possible.

I'm off to research all your suggestions
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