Help a Canadian with a New England Itinerary

Old Mar 17th, 2024, 01:40 PM
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Help a Canadian with a New England Itinerary

Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some help or advice on planning what will likely be a two-week road trip in New England. I'm driving from Hamilton, Ontario. It will be me and my friend, both around age 40. We are very easy going and don't HAVE to see specific things, and we don't want to lounge around too much. I need help with timing and maybe choosing one place over another (for example, New Haven over Hartford, CT).

We like:
-historic buildings, old buildings, pretty buildings
-nice scenery
-bookstores, coffee shops, unique shopping (don't need chains)
-friend is into dinosaurs, we are both into home decor and pretty sights
-we are not huge foodies, I mean we like nice restaurants and bars but it's not our focus

I assume we would drive through New York state (any suggestions for a pit stop to stretch our legs for a couple hours? The drive from my house to Connecticut is about 7 hours). We would leave on a Saturday morning.
-for Connecticut, I'm thinking New Haven and Mystic. I don't know the timing of things, and I don't want to allocate more than two full days there (unless you think I really should)? We would arrive on a Saturday, so full day Sunday and full day Monday. Do you think I'd have time to stop anywhere else, or are these two days enough for both of those places?
-leave for Newport Rhode Island Tuesday morning. Spend whole day there. Is that enough? Too much? Wednesday morning head up to Providence, spend full day there. Too much? Not enough?
-Thursday morning head from Providence to Cape Cod. Full day in cape cod. Friday, go to Martha's Vineyard. Do I need a full day there?
-Saturday, head up to Boston. Spend Saturday and Sunday there. Too much? Not enough?
-Monday morning of week 2, stop by Salem. I'm assuming we don't need a full day there. This is where I'm a bit stumped on whether or not we need to stop in New Hampshire? If so, where should we go for two days max?
-assuming we skip New Hampshire and go straight to Portland Maine, we'd wind up there sometime on Monday. Spend all day Monday there? Then, head to Bar Harbor and spend all day Tuesday there. Is it worth visiting Bangor if you're a Stephen King fan, or nah?
-Wednesday (or Thursday?) morning drive to Burlington, Vermont. That's a pretty good drive. Any other suggestions for Vermont?
-drive back home on Saturday (a good 8 hour drive, any suggestions for pit stops along the way?)

I appreciate all and any advice or info - I've never been to this area of the States, and again, I'm not looking to lounge around and blob out, but I do want SOME chill time obviously. We like to walk and walk, not on cliffs per say but we can easily walk 20k steps a day to explore a town or city. I'll be using my car, very likely to go on this trip (renting seems too complicated).
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Old Mar 17th, 2024, 04:18 PM
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Cape Cod is a very large peninsula! You need a week at a minimum. Choose a place to visit like Chatham or Orleans. Do you want to be on or near the Bay, Ocean or Long Is Sound? Different experiences.
New Haven, CT. You can visit the Yale campus but as someone who has been there several times, I would not recommend it as one of your stops, as , frankly, it isnít a very nice city. What draws you there?
. Look at Old Saybrook and Stonington, Connecticut on the Long Island shore for charming New England towns. Mystic is interesting but filled with tourists.
Follow the coastline into Rhode Island for beautiful water views and the most delicious seafood. They have their own version of Clam Chowder, my favorite.And lots of Portuguese food too.
Boston- At least four full days are needed.Small, wonderful, filled with history.
NH or Maine? Maine
Vermont? Burlington is its city with around 40,000 population, so fairly small. It is home to UVM, the University of Vermont.It is on beautiful Lake Champlain which also goes north to Canada. Most of the state is rural with dairy farms on the western side and the Green Mountains in the center, S to N. filled with ski areas which also offer summer activities. Make sure you buy some authentic Vermont Maple Syrup, the absolute best there is!


Last edited by HappyTrvlr; Mar 17th, 2024 at 04:32 PM.
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Old Mar 17th, 2024, 05:40 PM
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Not an expert in NE but I recommend Hancock Shaker Museum in Western Massachusetts and Newport RI, in addition to Boston and Maine. Fill in the remainder time as you see fit. A warning that locally beloved places like Cape Cod may disappoint visitors from outside the area who lack the emotional history with that place that a local has.
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Old Mar 18th, 2024, 04:48 AM
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For Connecticut.
in New Haven, there has been a massive expansion of the Yale Peabody Miseum which will satisfy your dinosaur lover as well as many other areas of natural science, anthropology, etc. it is due to open this week and admission is free.

Part of Mystic is in Groton,but Mystic is mostly in the town of Stonington and in Mystic Seaport (not free). could easily take a day to explore completely and Mystic Aquarium is about a mile away. There are small shops in the center of town near the bascule bridge and also in “Ye Olde Mystic Village”, across the parking lot from the Aquarium.

For real old architecture, go to Stonington Bourough, on rt 1A then down Water St.

The drive from New Haven to Mystic takes about an hour. If you plan to stay in NewHaven before heading to Mystic in the morning, choose a place east of I91 to avoid some of the morning rush on I95.
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Old Mar 19th, 2024, 12:54 AM
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Well, you have to drive thru NH to get to Maine. Unless there is something about Salem MA you want to see in particular I would visit Portsmouth NH instead. Nice walking around the Market Square area. You can visit Strawbery Banke for historic houses. Take a boat ride either Portsmouth Harbor or Inland Rivers. I think you would get more history from the harbor tour. Depending on your tastes you could visit one of the League of NH Craftsmen shops for very nice handmade crafts of all types. There are several restaurants in the Market Square area that are on the harbor so nice views and decks. You could walk around Prescott Park to enjoy the flowers. We like to take bag chairs so we can sit someplace to enjoy the scenery. There's some hiking in and around Portsmouth you could do like Odiorne Point or make a little detour to Wagon Hill Farm which might be in Durham.
I think one of the most interesting museums in New England is the native American museum is in CT, Mashantucket Pequot Museum.
We have done two Newport mansion tours in same day but at the time one was Beneath the Breakers and the other was Servants Quarters. I would only do one mansion if it was only about all the gilt and money. Providence has a good foodie tour but you can also have fun exploring the Italian neighborhood on your own. If there is a Waterfire scheduled it can be fun if you don't mind crowds.

I think you might do better to cut mileage in Maine and only go as far north as Camden. The view from Mt. Battie is wonderful. Another place we like to sit and watch the ocean. Bring binnoculars. Youmight see windjammers sailing along the coast and the harbor is beautiful.

The driving time from Camden to Burlington VT is very similar formthree different routes. The mileage is a lot more to take the southerly route back to Portsmouth and west to Concord NH which has a very walkable downtown and an excellent independent bookstore and a League of NH Craftsmen shop. You might hit it right for one ofmtheir frquent visits by an author to give a talk. Independent Red River theater offers films. It's an easy day trip to Canterbury Shaker Village. Canterbury itself is a pretty town to drive thru. A tour of the village is unique.

You can head to VT via I89 but if you drive west on Pleasant St it takes you thru the pretty towns of Hopkinton, Contookcook and Warner where you can get on I89 after visiting another independent bookstore. The bookstore also has a small gallery featuring local artists.

I think Martha,s Vineyard will be an all day trip. Choose the town with the Victorian cottages. Brain is not remembering the famous name. Don't bring your car. You might be able to get a van tour of other places on the island.

I think you will enjoy Portland ME Old Port Area shopping. We did not like the food tour. You can visit some of the places on your own. We like the Mailboat cruise. Not a lot of narration. My friend loves Peak's Island where you could get off to explore but I haven't done so.

Be aware that I95 is a boring drive. I 89 is a tiny bit more interesting.

Boston's North End food tour was one of our first and a favorite.
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Old Mar 19th, 2024, 12:57 AM
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Ps check local events. Summer means free early evening outdoor concerts and classic car cruise nights. Another reason to carry bag chairs and basic picnic supplies.
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Old Mar 19th, 2024, 10:06 AM
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You didn't indicate what time of year you are planning this trip for and I am assuming summer. If spring or fall, you need to pay attention for example to move-in/out and graduation for Yale, Brown and other places with colleges. Summer in New England is busy and reservations are really needed in most of the places you've indicated you are interested in. Obviously all of New England is steeped in history, architecture and historical sights and people have already given you good suggestions. You might if interested look into summer theatre or sports events for example, tickets for Fenway Park in Boston.
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Old Mar 19th, 2024, 10:17 AM
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Sounds like you would be missing Shelburne near Burlington, which would be right up your alley.
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Old Mar 20th, 2024, 09:07 AM
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Lots of good advice. One off the beaten track idea, given your friend's interest in dinosaurs, is Dinosaur State Park in Connecticut https://www.dinosaurstatepark.org/index.html, where you see actual fossilized footprints of them. I wouldn't go out of my way, but if you're in the area . . .

In New Haven several restaurants are famous for their pizza. Try Pepe or Sally's.
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Old Mar 20th, 2024, 09:46 AM
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the Mashantucket Pequot Museum mentioned in dfrostnh's post is very near to Mystic so it would be easy to combine it with Mystic Seaport.

I'll add another vote for Shelburne Museum just south of Burlington, VT

I would stay on Cape Cod rather than taking a day out of the time there for a trip to Martha's Vineyard.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2024, 06:05 AM
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Yes, if you're going to Martha's Vineyard you should spend a full day there. But there are a lot of moving parts to consider....
You need to take a ferry to get there so what town on the Cape will you be departing from? Ferries leave from Falmouth, Woods Hole and Hyannis but they don't all run year-round. When are you planning on going? Also, some of them only run once or twice a day so that might be what dictates how long you spend on the island. The most frequent service is the Steamship Authority from Woods Hole but if you're visiting in peak season, you'll have to park at a lot far away from the terminal and get a shuttle from there.
Alternatively, if you're coming from Providence and your trip is in the summer months, you can get ferries from Quonset Point in Rhode Island or New Bedford so you could save yourself some driving (and Cape traffic) by leaving from either of those
Once you get to the island, the best way to see a lot in just a day is to take one of the local bus tours. They'll bring you to all the hotspots - especially the hard to reach ones like the Gay Head Cliffs and Lighthouse. Alternatively, use the local bus or rent bikes and just spend your time between the two biggest towns of Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. Both extremely walkable and with lots to see and do in each. Excellent restaurants and shopping in Edgartown, plus in-town beaches if you want to relax on the sand.
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Old Apr 10th, 2024, 07:21 PM
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One day for all of Cape Cod? A week wouldn’t even suffice. You do realize that there’s literally dozens of towns to visit with museums, hikes, lovely bookstores etc. also one day on the Vineysrd is too little. One needs at least two full days and nights. Also it’ll be very expensive to bring your vehicle with you to Martha’s Vineyard and reservations can be difficult to get sometimes. I’m not sure when you’re planning on going but if it’s during the summer you probably won’t be able to get a car reservation. I live on the other island and even though I’m a resident even I can’t get a car reservation until October. No, I haven’t left the island since my vacation last year June to Greece.
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Old Apr 17th, 2024, 05:39 PM
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In Mystic our go to place for family meet ups is Hyatt Place right off the highway. I'd consider staying there for two nights and making the drive to New Haven. The surrounding area is spectacular.
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 09:00 AM
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How many days is this trip total? 10??

I'd put the two "extra" days you were considering for NH to Vermont instead. I've lived in both states and much prefer Vermont.

One day is not enough for Cape Cod. Where exactly on the Cape are you going? It's a large area with loads of different towns. I would skip both the Cape and the Vineyard if you can't carve out a bit more time.

I wouldn't go to Hartford or New Haven either one (I also used to live in CT -haha). Why are these on your list? Something special you want to see or do there? To me, New England is MUCH more beautiful further north... Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine... all!
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