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Feedback needed for our book club trip to New England

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Apr 22nd, 2015, 07:13 PM
  #1
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Feedback needed for our book club trip to New England

Several years ago I planned a trip for my book club to England with some great trips from fellow Fodorites. Summer 2016 I am taking the club to New England. Once again, I ask for any guidance you all can give me. We are not doing all the Boston historical stuff on this tour as everyone has done all of that before.

June 9. Fly into Boston, get to hotel.

June 10. Concord. We want to visit all the houses/ sights for Alcott, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau. ( Can we do all of that in one day?)

June 11. Cambridge. Longfellow house, tour at Boston Public Library, Harvard square

June 12 Salem. House of the Seven Gables, Witch museum. ( public transportation to get there?)

Question. We want to stay those first 4 nights in Lexington, Woburn or Arlington- any thoughts on where might be better? We are going to rent a car but are thinking we would pick it up on June 13 to leave for the Berkshires. That would mean using public transportation for all the above days. Trying to avoid driving in Boston.

June 13. Drive to Lenox but on the way stop at the Clara Barton Birthplace and the Norman Rockwell Museum. Stay the night in Lenox. ( where?)

June 14. Edith Wharton House and gardens and lunch there. Afternoon at Herman Melville House in Pittsfield. Stay in Lenox again

June 15. Day to hike, shop, relax. Drive that evening to Hartford. ( where to stay?) I just saw another Fodors post about a hike that Melville and Hawthorne did together details anyone?

June 16. Visit the mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe houses in the morning. Mid afternoon at the Noah Webster house. Drive on to Tarrytown for the night.

June 17. Washington Irving sights, evening start drive back towards Boston

June 18. Everyone flies home

So, any recommendations on hotels in any of those locales would be great. Any other literary places that we should include? Are distances reasonable as I have them listed?
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Apr 22nd, 2015, 08:34 PM
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I can tell you a bit more about the hike up Monument Mountain, but only if you agree to visit the grave of Jack Kerouac in Lowell, MA.
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Apr 22nd, 2015, 09:22 PM
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I think you're cutting short the time in Concord; one day really isn't enough for everything of interest, especially if you want to visit any of the historic sites.
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Apr 22nd, 2015, 10:21 PM
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cw
 
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If you don't already have a copy of The Literary Trail of Greater Boston by Susan Wilson, I'd recommend it. The book includes Concord and Cambridge.

You can stay outside of Boston but you will really need to rent a car. If you use Boston as a base for your first days, you can go to Concord and Salem by train, and Cambridge by subway. If you rent a car initially Lexington could be a base.

In Boston you may want to tour the Boston Athenaeum in addition to the BPL.

You can tour Concord in a day as long as you start early.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 03:15 AM
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I would try to give Concord more than one day since there are so many important sites. I also like Fruitlands Museum in Harvard MA where the Alcotts lived.

The Literary Trail of Greater Boston mentioned above is a great resource. It includes walking tours of Mt Auburn and Forest Hills Cemeteries.

There are other sites in western Ma like the Emily Dickinson house in Amherst and the William Cullen Bryant homestead in Cummington. You could include them and save some driving time if you cut out Tarrytown.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 03:41 AM
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I agree with VT, Fruitlands is not to be missed. We had lunch there as well.
Trying to remember where we stayed in the Concord area. It was a residence in type of hotel which I think your group would find more comfortable than most Boston hotels. Nice to have a sofa and real chairs for evening chats w/wine. We visited Concord, Lexington and Fruitlands. Nice trolley on/off in Lexington. I think you should re-arrange your schedule to put Concord/Fruitlands on car pickup day but staying in the Concord area might add a hotel change (from Boston to Concord) that just complicates things.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 03:46 AM
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I would save Concord for the last day in the Boston area, rent the car and drive there so you have it to go from site to site then head west. The Cambridge and Salem can be reached on train or T from Boston.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 03:51 AM
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I think this may be the Melville/Hawthorne hike you were asking about
http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=227
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 03:32 PM
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Great suggestions everybody. I will look for the Literary Trail on Amazon. Fruitlands and the Athenaeum sound like great add ons. Keep the feedback coming!
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 03:57 PM
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Your trip sounds like so much fun that I've had to add it to my bucket list!

In Salem- if you haven't been before- definitely go to Peabody Essex museum to see the Chinese house. PE is also an awesome museum aside from that, but that's what makes it one of a kind. I actually enjoyed that much more than the witchcraft museum, which I found a little too cheesy. I took a ferry from Boston to Salem, but I'm fairly certain you have to take a taxi from the dock into Salem. So if you have a rental car already, that might be the better option.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 05:30 PM
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Definitely do not skip the Emily Dickenson sites in Amherst. You can drive to Lenox from the.re on rt 9 and will go right by the Bryant homestead in Cummington, stopping at the olde creamery for lunch.

What type of lodging are you looking for in Lenox?
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 07:31 PM
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I would love to get Emily Dickinson in! Bryant homestead sounds interesting too. I need to add more days! I can do that yet so I need to rework the itinerary a bit. Then there is a Kerouac's grave. I didn't like On the Road but many of my group did. Oh decisions.

For lodging options, we are open to hotels or BnBs. There will probably be 7 or 8 of us and that often rules out BnBs because of the number of rooms we need. Price point is $200 a night or less. except for Boston area, we will have to go higher.

Marvelousmouse- these literary trips we take are a great time. I have 3 more planned after this one. California Dreamin - all things Steinbeck, London etc.. Prairie home companion for Cather, Twain et all and my favorite, Southern Comfort for Faulkner,, Weldy, Mitchell, and a bunch of others. The fun never ends.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 07:41 PM
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So very fun! That had never occurred to me, and now I have new trip ideas. Well, not never--the Mississippi River is on my bucket list because of Mark Twain...Of course, first I need to find other bookworms to travel with- my friends and family do not understand the presence of bookshops on my itineraries!
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 07:54 PM
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In Lenox, I highly recommend the Brook Farm Inn. You can walk into town from there. Of course there is the Red Lion Inn, a large historic Inn right in Stockbridge nearby Lenox and the Norman Rockwell Museum. It's a very special area. In Stockbridge,there is a short hike called Ice glen, very cool.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 07:58 PM
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Marvelousmouse- you need to join us as we can't pass up a bookstore,library, author house, museum, statue or grave. Several of us are staying in an author themed BnB in Oregon this summer. Checkout Sylvia Beach House in Newport. You can pick out the author room you want. Taylor made for book nuts!

Has anyone been to Washington Irving's Sunnyside in Tarrytown? If I dropped it from this trip, would we kick ourselves?
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 09:44 PM
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Stoweflake- thanks for the suggestions, I will check them out.

Anybody been to the Eric Carle picture book art museum in Amherst?
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Apr 24th, 2015, 12:20 AM
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I've heard of Sylvia's I have family who lives in Newport, tried to convince them that I really did want to stay there for Christmas...but alas, the minute I said "author themed rooms", I was shoved into the car and hustled off to the very pleasant beachfront Elizabeth Inn. Ah well, maybe next year I'll manage to sneak away from my keepers lol.

(And I'm sure you've heard of/been to Portland's Powells, but, well, if not, JUST GO. I rarely need to stop overnight in Portland but I always find excuses to do so!)
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Apr 24th, 2015, 04:21 AM
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The Eric Carle museum is fun but really oriented around kids imo.

If you want an off the beaten path dinner rec in the Berkshires try Elizabeth's in Pittsfield, delicious, carefully prepared food, great for a group.
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Apr 24th, 2015, 05:21 AM
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I am unfamiliar with sites outside of Boston. You indicate you want to stay first 4 nights outside Boston. A minor flip of days.

6/9 stay in Boston; on 6/10 see Cambridge by MBTA. Rent a car and drive to Lexington hotel

6/10 -6/12 In rental car see Concord, Salem. While it is possible to get to either by commuter rail, it is time consuming. Stay night of 6/12 in Lexington, since it is west of Boston on a good starting point for your trip west and north.

While this adds a couple of days of car rental, I think you will be happier in a rental car for the first destination. I suggest Lexington rather than Somerville or Woburn because it is a nicer town with a bunch of decent restaurants. While mileage is longer to Salem, it is close to Rte 128 which makes Salem an easier shot than from Somerville. And very close to Concord - a nice short drive out Rte 2.

(No literary reference - but while in Lexington, swing by Wilson Farm on Pleasant Street. A farm stand/gourmet market. Pick up some fruits and veggies and pastries to sustain you on your car adventures. Actually an interesting New England farm story if you read their website - and it is now a very suburban farm with beautiful fields. Thriving local agriculture.)
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Apr 24th, 2015, 08:07 AM
  #20
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gail- great suggestions, thanks!

Vttraveler- thanks for the link, that is the hike I was thinking.

Jubilada-I wondered if the Carle museum would be more for kids too. Most of my book club works with young children so they might be interested anyway but it might not be worth the time either. I love his books though.

Cw- I ordered the Literarybtrail book this morning. Thanks for the tip!
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