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AnnRiley Oct 2nd, 2007 02:28 AM

Itinery change to fall visit??
We are visiting New England this October'07, arriving at JFK from the UK. We originally planned to go as far up as vermont via CT,MA, and onto RI back to CT.

After more searching and looking at predictions for leaf colour (which seems to have started already and looks like it could be a good season) we feel that we might be too late to see much colour in Vernont on our Chosen dates (Oct 24/25th).

We have decided to change our plans and they are now:
Arrive JFK go on to Hawthorne NY for 1st night.
2nd day - drive up through Litchfield hills into Massachusetts via stockbridge etc stopping in Pittsfield for 1 night.

3rd4th days -(these were originally in Vermont) go upto Williamstown, MA and follow the Mohawk trail to Greenfield and then on to Hadley for 2 nights. (i picked this town because it is near nice towns according to info and has some lovely back roads nearby for 'leaf peeping'.

5/6th days drive down to RI newport for 2 days.

7th day drive back through CT coast to Norwalk staying 1 night before flight home on 29th October.

My question is this:

I know that this might not match Vermont but is it still a pretty itinery for nice towns and lovely lanes, we feel we might stand more chance of some colour further south.

Any advice, especially regards our 2 night stay in Hadley,MA (are there nicer places nearby that we should of picked etc)

All advice much appreciated.

isabel Oct 2nd, 2007 05:33 AM

Hi. I live in Western Mass so I have several suggestions. First, you are right that by Oct 24 most of color in Vermont will be past, so I would stick to southern New England. Second, most of the towns you have mentioned to overnight in are not especially interesting, I'm wondering how you came to choose them. I'll suggest the following itinerary for a week in late October.

I don't know anything about Hawthorn NY or why you choose that for your first night. Litchfield County CT is less than 2 hours from JFK so you might be able to make it there for the first night. It's a pretty area and should still have some color. Then up through the Berkshires. Definitely stop in Stockbrige but Pittsfield is just a small local city, not much for a tourist. I'd keep going to Willamstown which is prettier. The next day take the Mohawk Trail as you planned but before you get to Greenfield leave the trail and go into Shelburn Falls/Buckland. Two villages on either side of the river, connected by a Bridge of Flowers (old rail bridge, now pedestrian garden). Quaint New England Towns.

From Shelburn go south to Conway (15 minute drive). One of the few remaining covered bridges in southern New England is here, recently restored. Nothing else to do in Conway though (I should know, I live there). Then take Rt 116 south to Deerfield (15 minute drive). In Old Deerfield (5 minutes north) is "the street" - a mile long street of beautiful houses (used in the film "Little Women"). Some are still lived in but many are museum houses, there are about a dozen that you can tour. In South Deerfield is Yankee Candle (the original store, the factory).

You are now only about 15 minutes from Hadley but I don't know how you came to choose it. It was once a nice old town, but today is mostly malls/Walmart/etc. It lies between Amherst and Northampton which have much more to offer, although I still wouldn't spend two whole days here if you only have a week. The area is known as the Five College Area. Northampton has Smith College and an interesting downtown. Amherst has UMASS, Hampshire and Amherst Colleges and an interesting downtown. If you go south from Amherst on Rt 116 towards South Hadley (home to Mt. Holyoke College) you'll pass Atkins Farms - an apple orchard stand that's grown to a huge gourmet food store/cafe - try the cider doughnuts. It should be full of New England atmosphere at that time of year.

From here I would make my way down to Sturbridge (about an hour from Amherst). Sturbridge Village is a living history museum - a completely restored village from the early 1800s with houses, church, shops, farm, crafts, etc. Also will be oozing with atmosphere at this time of year.

While seeing coast of RI and CT may make sense geographically since you have to get back to JFK, it's not nearly as nice as the Mass coast. I would head to the area known as the North Shore - north of Boston. Cape Ann has Gloucester, Rockport, Salem, etc. There should still be some color along the coast. Depending on how many days it takes you to do the western/central areas, you might still have time to even go up the coast a ways into Maine. From Boston to Portland Maine is only 2 hours (on the highway). Lots of interesting towns/coastline in southern Maine. The entire NH coast line is only 17 miles long. (I'd skip it in favor of the Maine coast - Kennebunkport, Oqunquit, etc). In fact, from Sturbridge to Portland is less than 3 hours. You could do highway one way, coastal roads the other.

If you have any specific questions I'd be happy to try to answer them.

Ackislander Oct 2nd, 2007 07:58 AM

Isabel makes a really good set of suggestions. I would make only one change: if you visit historic Deerfield, I would recommend more time in the southern part of the Berkshires (Stockbridge but also Lenox and Great Barrington) rather than another historic reconstruction like Sturbridge Village, thought they are very different.

travelbuff Oct 2nd, 2007 08:23 AM

I would also recommend a day at Sturbridge Village. It is a lovely restoration with locals in period costume, so you can get the flavor of the village. There are several restaurants, a working farm, tannery, mill and many homes to tour. The gift shop is also quite nice.

Sturbridge Village also has a website you might take a look at.

Have a wonderful time, the colours are supposed to be spectacular this year.

AnnRiley Oct 2nd, 2007 12:08 PM

Thanks to everyone who replied. Have decided to forgo Hadley and head to Sturbridge for 2 nights.

Chose Hawthorne for 1st night as it seemed easier to get to from JFK airport for weary travellers, and it was a good price. We can just get on motorway to Danbury on our way to Litchfield. Will look at other suggestions and alter accordingly, again, thanks for advice.

tchoiniere Oct 2nd, 2007 12:42 PM

Would definitely recommend at least driving through Gt Barrington, Stockbridge and Lenox. I would take your time going through these areas. Main St Stockbridge and the Norman Rockwell Museums are musts

CarlosSandoval Oct 3rd, 2007 01:06 PM


Any reason why you picked Hawthorne, NY? In any case, there is not much in that area. Other suggestions will be Sleepy Hollow, NY.

Litchfield County in CT is also great to see the little villages, and there are even some good wineries such as Hopkins Vineyard, etc.

AnnRiley Oct 3rd, 2007 04:08 PM

Hello all,
My logic for picking Hawthorne, was not too far from JFK for our 1st night, the Cost and avoiding the I95 in peak.
But i have now changed that and we will stay in Norwalk for our 1st night and just grit our teeth to get through the I 95, this will then be easier to get to Litchfield.

We plan to go up to Williamstown, drive the Mohawk trail, stop at little towns like Deerffield,Williamsburg etc, carry on to Sturbridge and then onto Rhode Island but via the 'quiet part'as its known route 169 woodstock to lisbon. This is a recommended drive for foilage etc.

After RI back along coast via Mystic, possibly Essex/Chester/ Old Saybrook etc.
I have made copious notes of nice towns/things to see and even though we won't get to see all of them we will try to see what we can.

Lets hope weathers kind and leaves are in full colour...

Thanks for all advice, I have made many changes to my original plans but hope our present itinery is the 'one'

Vttraveler Oct 3rd, 2007 04:14 PM

I agree you'll be likely to see more foliage color in southern New england than Vt in late october.

Some comments on places to see along the general route you have chosen
Although Pittsfield itself isn't a great town to visit, there are some interesting places to see there:
Hancock Shaker village just west of it is beautiful and historically interesting.
Melville's home, Arrowhead is also worth a visit IMO
Mt. Greylock is an interesting drive with a good view

In Williamstown, the Clark art institute has an outstanding collection especially of French impressionist paintings

On the Mohawk trail you might want to visit the Hoosic Tunnel state park if you are interested in railroad

If you go to Conway and the Field Memorial Library is open it is worth a quick stop inside (built by Marshall Field of chicago store fame who grew up in Conway)

Yankee Candle Co is a big tourist destination but I have never understood why
Old Deerfield is definitely worth at least a drive through for the beautiful main street as isobel suggests. Deerfield was an early frontier community in western MA and there were some (in)famous Indian raids there. You seem to be inclined to visit Sturbridge but you could also stay in Deerfield and tour the museum there. The inn is nice. (Sturbridge is a very good living history museum but the area around is not as scenic as western MA)

Hadley still has some nice old houses but I agree I would not necessarily plan to base there.

In Amherst you can visit the Emily Dickinson homestead

CarlosSandoval Oct 3rd, 2007 05:33 PM


Great choice....Norwalk is actually hometown and you will not be dissapointed. As a matter of fact another town that you could stay could be Stamford. There are actually better hotels in Stamford/Greenwich area such as the Hyatt in Greenwich although this hotel is not walking distance to any restaurants or center of town, another hotel recommendations in Stamford will be the Sheraton Stamford or the Stamford Marriott. In Norwalk, there are smaller limited service size hotels, and they are not close to any restaurants and you will need a car which I'm assume you will rent. If you do stay in Norwalk, then try to venture out to SONO (South Norwalk) and they are some great restaurants on Washington Street.

If you do need some recommendations on restaurants in Norwalk or South Norwalk, please ask away....and I'll be glad to help...

AnnRiley Oct 4th, 2007 03:13 AM

Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply, we have booked a room at the Norwalk hotel & Conference center, it has very good reports on things like trip advisor, and the cost was very good, it also has an onsite Restaurant/Bar so after being up since 5.30am (UK time) by about 9pm (US) time we will be ready for bed (our body will be on 2am time, so not far off 24 hours no sleep......

Vttraveler Oct 6th, 2007 05:08 AM

I don't know how detailed your maps/information about Ct. are. As you head toward the Berkshires from Norwalk, you will go through the NW part of Ct which is still very rural and scenic. Although I grew up in SW suburban CT I have not spent much time there so don't have a lot of detail on routes. My maps show that Rte 44 is a scenic drive from the highway up toward Rte 7 in Massachusetts

When you referred to driving along Rte 169 the "quiet route" in RI I was confused. I believe you mean Rte 169 in eastern CT (south of Sturbridge). This is west of Rhode Island. If you then want to see Newport you would have to go east. I assume you want to see the mansions there, but I am not sure you have time to do that plus the Berkshires/Mohawk trail and Sturbridge comfortably.

I think you will see better foliage in late October in CT and RI than in western MA.

On your way back along the CT coast after RI, the Mystic Seaport museum is a very interesting living history museum

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