Feedback on our New England itinerary?

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May 20th, 2016, 11:25 AM
  #1
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Feedback on our New England itinerary?

My husband and I are going to New England for the first time in 5 weeks! We have a pretty full road trip planned, with 3 days in Boston at the end. We like hiking and being outdoors, but we want to see as much as possible so are looking for shorter hikes and scenic bypasses and that sort of thing. We like quirkier sites more than traditional museums/tours. We are pretty casual and like to eat at diner-type places. We feel pretty good about our itinerary, but would appreciate any suggestions or feedback!

F 6/24 - MA to ME - arrive in Boston, get rental car, head north on US 1, stop in Portsmouth and Portland, arrive in Rockland Maine (2 nights)

Sa 6/25 - ME coast - Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor

Su 6/26 - ME to NH - Franconia Notch State Park, spend the night in North Conway, NH

M 6/27 - NH to VT - Ben & Jerry's tour, Burlington, spend the night near Manchester, VT

Tu 6/28 - VT to MA and CT (with a little detour into Hoosick Falls, NY) - Stockbridge, MA; Washington, CT; spend the night in Woodbury, CT

W 6/29 - MA to RI - New Haven, East Haddam, Essex, spend the night in Newport, RI

Th 6/30 - beach day in Newport, drive to our hotel in South Boston

F 7/1 - Su 7/3 - Explore Boston (we will leave the car parked at our hotel and use public transportation in the city), experience Harborfest
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May 20th, 2016, 11:45 AM
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I think you underestimating travel times.

One example that I am familiar with:
You are planning a day-trip to Acadia from Rockland. On paper, that's a 2 hr. drive one way. The reality of a Saturday in summer--much longer.
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May 20th, 2016, 11:47 AM
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Why have the car? It costs money to garage it with the hotel (unless your hotel is out in the boonies) and you incur the daily rental charge. Ditch the car.

Or you can send me the money. I'm happy to put it to better use than having a rental car sitting in a hotel garage for three days.
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May 20th, 2016, 12:25 PM
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We know we will be driving a LOT. We are ok with that, but will check traffic maps. Good to know that summer traffic has such a large impact on travel times.

We may drop off our rental car sooner, but our hotel in Dorchester has free parking so we aren't too worried about it. We are thinking we may visit Salem and some other places while we are in Boston so we may want access to a car. We haven't decided, but it's not very important.
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May 20th, 2016, 12:47 PM
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Ben and Jerry's and then Burlington but sleeping in Manchester? That is a lot and you would be short changing lakefront, mountain view Burlington. Stay in Burlington on the lakefront, have dinner on Church St. and then head south on Rt. 7 toward Manchester. Stop at Shelburne Museum and Shelburne Farms enroute. Allow time in Manchester to visit Hildene, Robert Todd Lincoln's home.
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May 20th, 2016, 01:54 PM
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It's a very Chevy Chase Vacation whirlwind trip. I hope you have a comfortable rental vehicle. And don't blink at each destination as you will miss it on that schedule. Not much time left for short hikes.

That said, if this is what you want to do, go for it. I recall a few years ago a poster came up with an insane NE plan and we all boohooed it. What came to pass was a fantastic trip report that sometimes a drive by vacation can be quite fulfilling.
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May 20th, 2016, 01:59 PM
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Strongly agree with HappyTravlr's route. Burlington is a great little city. I might skip Hildene, but I certainly wouldn't stay in Manchester.

Manchester is most notable for its "factory" outlets, but you are already going to North Conway, which has them in spades. Nobody needs that many outlets.

Look at taking US Route 2 across inland Maine, and really all the way into Vermont. It takes you across the northern edge of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, which are pretty wonderful.

You wouldn't loop back to North Conway then but stop for the night somewhere along or near the Connecticut River north of Franconia.

It's a lot of driving, but you sound young!
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May 20th, 2016, 02:47 PM
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Given all the driving you're planning, your overnights are in the costlier towns.

In the overall, the routing makes no sense to me. There's no time for stopping along the way. I cannot imagine, for example, heading for Franconia then spending a night in North Conway before heading to Vermont the next day. Personally, I'd stay three nights in Rockland and drive to Acadia and back one of your days there, rather than drive to Acadia on your way to Franconia. There are far better places for a "beach day" than Newport, RI.

Ben & Jerry's may be "quirky", but most are very disappointed, especially after the long wait.
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May 20th, 2016, 05:20 PM
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I agree you are underestimating travel times esp in the summer, although my experience in mid June is that its still early in NE with fewer tourists.

If you like hikes and being outdoors you are seriously shortchanigng Acadia. Its beautiful and many, many hikes of all lengths. There is also biking and kayaking and most outdoor activities you could think of.

What do you expect to see in Portsmouth and Portland on the way to Rockland? Boston to Rockland is close to 200 miles apart and that's on the freeway which is horribly boring. Midcoast ME is charming with lots to see and its a shame to skip it or do a drive by. You can also do boat trips to various islands, Mohegan with no cars is fun to explore and hike on.

The ice cream at the B&J's tour is to die for! I agree to stay in Burlington which is a cute little college town and far more interesting than Manchester.
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May 21st, 2016, 03:48 AM
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You only get a tiny sample at Ben and Jerry's and you can buy their ice cream at any supermarket in New England. I wouldn't waste time on the tour. I think there are better things to do. You can get an ice cream trail map in some of the states. NH has one. There are places making their own ice cream.
I'm not sure I've done all of Rt 1 but for limited time I would take I95 which would be faster. You don't really have enough time to do both Portsmouth and Portland on the way to Rockland. Rt 1 will take you thru Kittery ME outlet mall congestion and you won't see much of the coast. Save Rt 1 travel for further north in Maine. Be aware that starting mid-afternoon Friday traffic is going to be heavy heading north on any highway but if you do Rt 1 south of Portland, you'll understand why we don't care for the southern Maine coast. You will just see lots and lots of motels and hotels but no ocean.

I would not miss a boat trip in either Portland or Portsmouth for time spent at Ben and Jerry's. At least Rockland is close to some of the best lobster shacks. Do the easy hike to Owl's Head Light.

We did Ackislander's suggested Rt 2 last summer when we went from Concord NH area north on I93 then Rt 2 eventually landing in the Blue Hill ME area. Have your lunch plans made ahead of time. It's a pretty drive and mostly rural where you're likely to see a used skidder for sale in someone's yard. We live in NH. We avoid North Conway but the view of the mountain from Main Street is wonderful. Shouldn't be too crowded in June. I would consider staying in Littleton and eating at the Littleton Diner.

Too bad you won't be in Burlington area for pizza in Charlotte at Pizza on Earth. Looks like they are only open on Fridays which is probably the most casual dining we've ever done. Brandon VT is a beautiful little town with a great little restaurant on the outskirts. Cattails. I think we also got a maple crèmee there, too.

Church St in Burlington is a great place.

I'm curious why you chose the places in CT that you did.
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May 21st, 2016, 04:00 AM
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Thanks, dh, for coming up with Littleton and the Littleton Diner. I missed my nap yesterday and was having a Senior Moment.

The Littleton Dine us and looks like a diner and has food at diner prices, but everything I have eaten there -- including the corned beef hash -- is home made. I don't eat pancakes, waffles, or pastry, but they looked fantastic. Worth a detour, as they used to say.

The beach at Newport is a nice crescent of sand, but it is indeed not a great beach, and the water won't be warm yet unless you are used to swimming in the Pacific.
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May 21st, 2016, 06:10 AM
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dfroshnh always provides great info on NE. This is the first time I have to disagree with her - on ice cream no less. Obviously Ben & Jerry's tour can't be compared to going on a boat trip, but if you love ice cream as I do, I think you will enjoy the tour. The small sample of ice cream on the tour is as said, tiny, but delicious. When I was there it came directly up from the floor. I was thinking of the ice cream you can buy on the grounds -- very fresh and excellent, far better than B&J's or any store bought ice cream. I have had some wonderful ice cream throughout NE, but having been a B&J fan for years, the tour was fun. If you are into ice cream, definitely get the various Ice Cream trail maps that is mentioned above. I never go to NE without one or 2 along with my lobster shack lists.

Have fun!
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May 21st, 2016, 06:15 AM
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Don't waste your time on the Ben and Jerrys tour, but do explore Burlington.
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May 21st, 2016, 09:57 AM
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yestravel, LOL, we're spoiled since a place that makes their own ice cream is only a few miles away from us. If they aren't too busy and I can't decide on a flavor, they give me spoonfuls to try. And one time we went to a party in NH where one of the other guests worked at Ben & Jerry's and brought a cooler full of ice cream. Employees got a good deal on ice cream. But for this trip, on their route I would recommend MDI ice cream in Portland and Bar Harbor. I've only been to the one in Portland. Go when it's not busy, ask for tastes and then decide which flavors you wants for their sampler. If you walk uphill, there's a small park where you can sit and enjoy the ice cream.

I think I've been on the Ben and Jerry's tour twice but both times years ago.

If the OP gets to Littleton, they can have ice cream at Bishops.
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May 21st, 2016, 09:19 PM
  #15
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I agree with many comments here and don't know enough to agree or disagree with many re: Vermont, ice cream, etc.

What strikes me is that you've left very little time in Massachusetts other than the 3 days in the city of Boston, and there's a lot you might enjoy within the 495 arc around the metro area (deCordova/Walden Pond, etc.). Also, you're staying in So. Boston? Really? Where? - I can't think of a hotel that's very accessible to the MBTA, no matter what their website might say. If you're out by Morrissy Blvd., you'll need the car to get there, and it's going to be a pain (connecting buses, etc.) to get to the subway.
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May 23rd, 2016, 06:52 AM
  #16
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We chose stay in the places we did mostly because we found a place to stay that was interesting (not a chain, besides our hotel in Boston) and less than $130/night with a private bathroom. If they are costlier towns, I guess we got lucky. We are not too tied to any of them, though, and will definitely consider staying in Burlington based on all your suggestions! We will look into Littleton too.

We know this trip is not for everybody, but our goal is an "overview." We love whirlwind road trips. That being said, our plans are loose and we are very open to changing our minds and going with the flow. All of the hotels we booked are able to be cancelled up till a day in advance with no fees. We are very accustomed to 17-18 hour days on vacation. We are living as much as we possibly can while we are young!

dfrostnh - I am a big Gilmore Girls fan and Wikipedia listed some towns that Stars Hollow was based on so we added them to our itinerary. Visiting them is not really a huge priority - we are open to suggestions for other towns worth visiting.

Good to know that there is no shortage of ice cream in New England! We won't limit ourselves to Ben & Jerry's and will skip it if there are crowds.

We probably won't be doing any boat trips - I am very prone to getting sea sick and while I know I could get anti-nausea medicines/patches/bracelets, but I am really ok with just staying on land.

cfc - we plan to take a dedicated trip to explore Boston in depth in the future. We are just looking for an overview this time. We are staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Dorchester (69 Boston St, Boston, MA 02125). All the reviews and information we have read claim it is a short walk from the train station (there is also a free shuttle) and it's very easy to get to downtown Boston. I think I was wrong in saying "South Boston" - I really meant south of Boston.

djkbooks - we will spend an entire day at Acadia. We will head to Franconia the following day, not on the way from Acadia. We know our trip is not for everybody and that is very much ok. There are many things others love that we have no interest in. Out hotel in Rhode Island is in Newport, but that doesn't mean we will spend the day on that beach. We'd like to see a few beaches. Also, by "beach day," I simply mean we will hang out close to the beach. Lying on a beach all day would not be fun for us - we much prefer to go go go!! We'd love to know what beaches you recommend!
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May 23rd, 2016, 07:25 AM
  #17
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bc7 For cute CT. towns anywhere along Rte 1 west of New Haven to about (and including) Old Lyme.

Otherwise, just to elaborate on what I was trying to say about the area OUTSIDE and around Boston - file for the next trip or keep it in mind as alternative now:

Some places great to visit but you need a car for are:

Marblehead/Rockport/Gloucester/Salem - a.k.a. the North Shore (fishing-village, early history, etc.) Skip the Salem Witch House tour and just putter. Rockport is touristy but so what- it's pretty. Marblehead is pretty. Gloucester is still a working fishing community.

Lexington/Concord/Wayland-Wayside Inn: picturesque plus history. Concord is a pretty town, and includes Walden Pond and deCordova (it's a museum BUT the grounds are the best part). And can't get more New Englandy than the Wayside Inn with Grist Mill and Mary-Martha Chapel - and the food's pretty traditional. Good for a midday stopover.

And if you time it to avoid heavy weekend highway traffic, Cape Cod -- and the islands, although that takes willingness to put in a day including ferry to/from. If short of time, choose ONE of the 2 islands. I consider ferries to islands like a poor-one's cruise, but best to leave car on mainland and cross as pedestrian - cheaper and no reservation needed.
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