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stephn Jul 21st, 2004 07:23 AM

Help me plan a trip New England or Southwest?
Ok Fodorites, here is a challenge for you - I usually enjoy planning & researching this type of stuff but I have a 5 month old & find my "free" time is limited. My DH & I are planning a trip to make use of airline miles October 8th to October 17th as we will also have my parents in town to babysit our DS! so yes, this will be our first trip away from the baby & also probably our last "splurge" trip for just the two of us for quite some time. Two ideas we had were:

New England for fall foilage/coastal towns. Outside of short business trips to Boston & NYC neither one of us has spent any time in New England. I thought we could fly into Providence Friday morning (heard it was much less of a pain then Boston) + I'd like to see Newport. This Friday is also the beginning of Columbus Day weekend so hope to beat some of the traffic.

Drive to Vermont - Woodstock???
Drive to White Mtn. Region in NH
Drive to Kennebankport/Ogunuit ME (I'd also like to make a stop in the Kittery outlets for the Hanna Anderson outlet)
drive down back to Providence/Newport to stay the last part in Newport

My DH wants to go to Nantucket as well but I know we can't squeeze that in as well. Personally I'd rather see mansions in Newport but that doesn't interest him (ultimately I get to decide - ha!) We'd like to see some fall color but that wouldn't be our primary focus as we live in N.C. & frequent the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall. We both are interested in seeing coastal towns or anything quentessential New England.

With that said we don't mind driving or a faster pace then other travelers would like. I like to poke around in shops, we both like wine & good meals, seafood especially & enjoy staying in B&B. As far as budget we could splurge in 1 or 2 places for lodging.

As I said our second area of interest would be the Grand Canyon area. We thought about white water rafting + exploring Sedona or somehow combining some adventure with relaxation at the end of the trip (ie spa) I haven't even started looking at ideas here for an itinerary so I'm clueless & like I said limited time to research.

I know this a tall order but I would greatly appreciate any suggestions for itineraries in either New England or Southwest.

Thanks in advance!

tracys2cents Jul 21st, 2004 08:01 AM

What city are you flying out of, and what airline?

stephn Jul 21st, 2004 08:28 AM

Charlotte on good ole' USAir since we basically have no other options here as a USAir hub - our air miles are on USAir anyway.

lvk Jul 21st, 2004 08:43 AM


1st, congrats on your new baby!

If foliage isn't your main reason for visiting NE in October, then your time & money (and free tickets) would probably be better spent in the Southwest. NE in October will be very crowded wherever you go. It is peak foliage season in many places. There will be buses full of "leaf-peepers" at most of the charming antique stores, fruit stands and factory outlet malls along the way. Also, since this is prime season, all the B&B's and other lodgings will be charging premium prices. You might want to consider scheduling a trip to NE at another time. September is a great month - between the summer tourist time and foliage tourist time. (You should take advantage of taking trips during the school year before your little one starts school, and you can only travel during school vacation time.)

I would highly recommend Sedona. For a romantic splurge, try L'Auberge de Sedona. Get one of their cabins right on Oak Creek. There is also a spa there (try the hot stone massage!) It should be much less busy there in October than NE. There is also plenty to do in the Sedona area. (hiking, golf, horseback riding, hot air ballooning) Some people use it as a base for exploring Grand Canyon. I'm not an expert on GC or surrounding areas, but I'm sure that many people in Fodorland can help you!

Whatever you choose, I hope you have a great, relaxing trip! :)

stephn Jul 21st, 2004 08:44 AM

Forgot to add in New Englad other activites we are interested in doing are a hot air balloon ride & gondola ride.

Anonymous Jul 21st, 2004 08:51 AM

Your New England itinerary includes a LOT of driving, on a weekend during which many roads are completely gridlocked. Providence to Woodstock, VT is about 200 miles -- on that particular weekend, picture doint it at about 25 - 30 MPH.

But if you skipped VT and stuck to the coastline, then Newport/Nantucket/Boston/Kittery would be do-able, picturesque, and fun.

lvk Jul 21st, 2004 08:58 AM

Just an update - link for L'Auberge is They also list Sedona activities there, so less research. Two-hour drive to GC. They now have in-room massages also.

stephn Jul 21st, 2004 09:08 AM

Anonymous - does the gridlock start early Friday morning of this weekend? if we were to drive to Vermont from Providence? or we could even fly in Thursday evening & drive to Vermont. I do understand it is a busy weekend.

And LVK I am going to check out L'auberge right now - sounds wonderful! Would Phoenix be the best airport to fly into?

gc Jul 21st, 2004 11:15 AM


As you are using FF miles, I would suggest you try flying in to Burlington, VT or Manchester, NH. That will limit your driving, it will also allow you to follow the foliage as it turns from North to South.

Also, as lvk mentions, a lot of people visit NE at this time, so you need to check on FF seat availability and lodging options ASAP.

Going from Burlington and making your way south will work. You've got Gondola or chairlift rides available at all the VT resorts, as well as Mt. Wachusett in central MA.

If you opt for a flight into Manchester, NH, you can go into the White Mountains (90 minutes north) where you can take the tram to the top of Canon Mtn. and Franconia Notch, or the gondola at Loon Mt. You could also take the train or drive to the top of Mt. Washington and/or ride to the top of Wildcat for awesome views of Pinkham Notch and Mt. Washington.

Yes, there will be traffic, notably on the Kancamagus highway in the white mountains...just don't plan on being there on a Sunday afternoon...

Ask away! But check on those FF seats ASAP!

Larry1 Jul 21st, 2004 11:35 AM

Just a note on Newport during Columbus Day weekend. If the weather is nice it will be crowded, but not insanely so like it would be on a summer holiday. Actually I would look at it as "interestingly busy". I wouldn't see any traffic problems driving from PVD down to Newport on the Friday you arrive. There is a nice Ocktoberfest that goes on at the Harbourfront over that weekend, which would be a nice way to spend an afternoon. Most of the leaf peepers will be inland, so I wouldn't be too concerned about traffic if you are going to stick to coastal New England. And unless you like to beach it, I think early october is the perfect time to visit New England (after all, that is why so many people like to visit at that time). But you will need to make a decison and start looking for lodging NOW, even now most of the best values will probably be booked.

Frankly, I think this is one of those decisions where you can't go wrong- New England in the Fall or the Great Southwest!

k_999_9 Jul 21st, 2004 11:50 AM

To answer one question: Yes, Phoenix is the most convenient airport to Sedona. Figure on a 2-3 hour drive from the aiport. If you can (and if you decide on the SW), try to make the drive in the daytime so you catch the red rock scenery going into Sedona.

mcfarms Jul 30th, 2004 05:59 PM

We took a trip to New England 2 year ago the first week of October. we stayed at Smugglers Notch in Stowe Vermont. It was very nice. but it was much more rural than I expected. Lots of windy 2 lane highway. We also buzzed out to Kennebunkport for a day. It was a weekend that George W. was comming in so there was extra activity but it was a neat little town. We had lobster at Noonan's Lobster Hut. Great place!

Vera Jul 30th, 2004 06:11 PM

I've lived in Arizona for many years, and October is absolutely my favorite month. You might not be able to get a river trip in the Grand Canyon without more advance notice. Try combining Sedona, Grand Canyon and a couple days in Phoenix to see the Heard Museum and Scottsdale for great shopping and to try some of the fabulous resort restaurants . Think about a lesser know resort, Hermosa Inn on the edge of Paradise Valley that has a wonderful restaurant called Lon's named for the artist who originally built the place.

Vera (ARizonan)

dfrostnh Jul 31st, 2004 05:47 AM

I live in New Hampshire and heavy traffic is going to start around Oct 1. Friday traffic is always heavy. I think there is plenty to do around Rhode Island. Have you checked out the outlet mall near Providence (sorry, can't remember the name but it's off Rt 495). You could make a day trip to the Kittery Malls from Providence.
Personally, though, I would vote for Phoenix/Sedona and GC. You could take a small child on a New England trip in the future but it won't be so easy later on to take an active SW trip. Go for a Pink Jeep tour, raft trip etc.

myst Jul 31st, 2004 10:41 PM

I did a trip to Newport and a drive around Mass. on what I think was called the Mohawk Trail. It was a lovely trip and I got lucky with the traffic and the foliage!

Tried to repeat the trip the next year at what was supposed to be "peak" leaf season and I drove all the way to Montreal without seeing more than 10 red or gold trees! Luck of the draw when you head out that way......

stephn Aug 2nd, 2004 12:07 PM

Thanks to all who replied! We ended up planning a trip to Las Vegas for a couple of nights, pick up a rental car drive to the Grand Canyon for a couple of nights, then onto Sedona to stay at L'Auberge for a few nights & finally drive to Scottsdale for a couple of nights before flying out of Phoenix. We are looking forward to it!

seniormsuedu Aug 2nd, 2004 06:26 PM

perfect! time enough to see it all without being on the road all the time. make sure you take 89A, oak creek canyon, from g.c. to sedona. spectacular.

seniormsuedu Aug 2nd, 2004 06:30 PM

p.s. actually, most scenic route from g.c. is 64 to cameron, 89 to flagstaff, 89a to sedona.

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