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JulieR Sep 12th, 2008 06:23 PM

Need help in planning tour of New England states
We would like to take a driving tour of the New England states next September. My goal "bucket list" is to visit every one of the 50 states. I have 16 to go. I need Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, and Delaware in this area but I think that's(Delaware) not doable. We would plan to fly into Manchester or Providence, (we have Northwest F.F. )and go from there. Thinking maybe 10 days or less. What do you think would be the best route and would that be enough time? I would love to stop and sightsee as much as we could and sure am looking forward to the lobster. Maine would be the state that we would love to spend the most time in. Any suggestions would be most helpful.

Shandy1977 Sep 12th, 2008 08:29 PM

I make the drive from Wilmington, DE to Boston all the time, so I say sticking to I-95 and I-93 is a great bet for part of your trip. It gives you a fast, direct route through much of the New England coast with a lot of great stopping points right off the highway... such as Mystic Seaport, Mohegan Sun Casino, Providence, Boston, and depending on which route you take you'll end up on Maine's coast (I-95) or in the middle of New Hampshire's Lakes Region and White Mountains, which are both stunningly beautiful. As far as time goes, you'll have a greater challenge in more northern areas like Vermont, western New Hampshire, and western or northern Maine. It gets much more rural in some of those parts and you do not always have a direct, major highway that cuts through them. I ams ure it can be done. I am sure the route is there. I've just never taken it in my years as a New Englander. I am quite familiar with the 95 and 93 routes, though, and thought I'd chime in that using those as a based might be a good starting point.

sheri_lp Sep 12th, 2008 09:13 PM

Lucky you to have 10 days! I flew into Manchester and in a week saw a good part of NH, Vermont, and a little bit of Maine and Massachusetts. Small states are easy to cover but some of our highlights were Laconia area and Lake Winnipesaukee, up to Franconia Notch State Park - and beautiful covered bridges everywhere. We popped into York, Maine for lobster and I even enjoyed the Yankee Candle Factory in South Deerfield Mass. Get a good map, and don't expect alot of public facilities (not many with toilets for customers).

dfnh Sep 13th, 2008 03:48 AM

If you are just passing thru then 10 days is plenty of time but keep in mind we generally spend a week in just one area but do a lot of leisure things like staring at the ocean. I think it would be good to choose a couple of must sees because otherwise you could see the New England states in one day. I would vary the route depending on your day of arrival. Every Friday has a lot of traffic heading in every direction with a lot of people going someplace for the weekend. Avoid commuting hours in the late afternoon. This weekend, for example, it's a big race weekend in Loudon NH so traffic was even heavier than usual. On Sunday some of the exits will be closed in Concord and Rt 93 will be altered so there will be one lane going north and 3 lanes going south to the Hookset toll booth at which point it will revert to normal. But back to a suggested route.
From MHT head south on Rt 293 to Rt 3/Everett Turnpike. Then 495 to Rt 95 for Rhode Island. Visit some good seafood places and see the ocean. Providence is expensive place to stay so choose a different town but might be fun to have Italian dinner on Federal Hill, Providence's Italian neighborhood. Maybe head for Newport instead of Providence. Drive over to CT. There's a wonderful Native American Museum near one of the casinos. Head for Hartford. A lot of the secondary routes in CT are quite pretty. Good time to pick some apples someplace. From Hartford head north to Rt 91 (I think) which cuts thru western MA and up the eastern border of VT. If you just want to say you've been there, just keep driving and take exit 3 to Brattleboro and Keene NH. From Keene, head to Concord NH aiming to connect with Rt 89. Spend the night in Concord? Head north on Rt 93 to the mountains or Lake Winnipesaukee. You can do both in an afternoon. Maybe get off exit 23 for Meredith and nice view of the lake. If you want grand mountain views continue drive up Rt 93 which cuts thru White Mountains. Take the Kancamangus Hwy east to the Conway area. From there you can take a route over to Portland ME. Conway to Portland might be around an hour. In September a lot of the best lobster shacks are open weekends only but lots of places have lobster all the time. If you want the lobster shack experience it will have to be a weekend. (Only outdoor seating and uninsulated shacks). If you've come this far it would be a shame not to head further north to Camden which has my absolute favorite view of the ocean and prettiest harbor. From Camden go south on RT 1 to Brunswick. Get back on Rt 95. Visit Kennebunkport and other southern Maine seacoast towns. Aim for Portsmouth NH and relax with a cruise. Great restaurants. Great downtown area. From Portsmouth the speediest way to MHT will be Rt 95 to rt 101. Less than an hour. The scenice route would be Rt 16 to Rt 4 and back to Concord then south on Rt 93.
With this basic route in mind, pick some great place to visit but not knowing whether you like museums or what it's hard to recommend. After all, a late Sept visit could also include a stop in Springfield MA (north of Hartford) and a visit to the Eastern States Exposition - the big E Fair where you can wander thru the state buildings for food highlights like maple syrup flavored foods from VT.
From MHT to DE would be about 7 or 8 hours if you wanted to make a quick trip and less than that if you count time from CT. Do-able. Fun?

kennythecook Sep 13th, 2008 05:05 AM

I'm not into url's but if you Google New England Whirlwind Tour you'll find my similar trip from this summer. We added 7 states to our list, I only lack New Jersey, North Dakota and Hawaii. I don't have time or money to spend weeks at each place I visited and after taking the trip I would have done some things different. But all in all it was a wonderful trip and now we have a better idea of where to go and what to do if we get to come to this area again. We spent 12 days but two of them were in New York (Cooperstown). We loved Bar Harbor, Boston and the Green Mountains in Vermont, Mystic and had enjoyable experiences in every state we visited. We didn't waste much time anywhere. Your trip is certainly doable and I think you'll have a great time. We did.

i_am_kane Sep 13th, 2008 05:23 AM

You may find this Connecticut web site useful:

(The magazine/paper version was delivered this morning to my house.)

isabel Sep 13th, 2008 05:34 AM

Definitely skip Delaware unless you only want a nice 8 day vacation plus an awful day driving from Delaware to New England. I've done it lots of times, usually in the middle of the night just cause it's soooo boring, and daytime traffic around the cities is horrible. Don't do it.

Now, for a nice 10 days in New England - that will cover all the six states. Start at BDL (Bradley, in western CT, NW flies there). It's just north of Hartford. Head down I-91 and get to Mystic Ct. While some of western and northern CT are pleasant, Mystic Seaport is the best CT has to in my opinion. Then continue on to Newport, RI.

Massachusetts wasn't on your list, and you're obviously going to be driving through it to get to northern New England so at most I'd do one day - I'd do the northern shore (Gloucester, etc). Boston is a must see city, but takes time and you don't need a car for Boston, but you do for everything else, so I'd skip Boston this trip.

Then continue up the coast to Portsmouth NH, then up to the Maine coast. Depending on time I'd probably go as far as Camden (but not all the way to Bar Harbor unless you like driving a lot and don't need to spend much time in each location, but really, the coast up to Camden is very pretty, just not quite as dramatic as the Bar Harbor region).

Then cut inland to the white mountains of NH. Keep going and loop into Vermont and back to Manchester to fly out.

In September there won't be much fall foliage color except possibly the white mountains and Vermont.

I would google map the itinerary once you decide on it so you'll know how much time from place to place and then you can decide how many nights in each location, but that is the general route I'd take.

JulieR Sep 13th, 2008 07:29 AM

Thanks for all the replies:
I didn't mention Massachusetts because we have visited Boston before and would just like to bypass the city this time.
I too was thinking about flying into Hartford CT but then going north into Vermont,through NH, Portland, Cape Eliz, Camden, and maybe going to Bar Harbor. Then back track down to Kennebunkport, bypass Boston on to Providence RI, Newport and Mystic. Then flying back out of Hartford. Is this too much?? Would most of the lobster shacks be closed?
I was kind of following dfnh's suggestions, and I did google map the itinerary which is helping alot. But don't know if this is too much to drive and not stop and sightsee.

JulieR Sep 13th, 2008 07:42 AM

Or does Isabel's suggestions sound better? thanks Isabel

wanderluster Sep 13th, 2008 07:51 AM

Where are Gail and Seetheworld?

I *think* they live *right there* and will likely have
lots of information for you!

isabel Sep 13th, 2008 02:17 PM

Julie - what you outlined is essentially the same thing I said only in reverse. And no, it doesn't matter which order you do it in. You can certainly do it in 10 days, you just won't have lots of time to just veg out. The distances are not that far (until you get into Northern Maine, then things take longer than you might expect). Do mostly back roads, but there are highways to jump on if you need to. As long as you don't mind different hotels each night it should be fine.

Have you thought about hotels - do you just want a comfort inn, etc, or are you looking for upscale, B&Bs, etc.? Some places, especially beach areas, go into "shoulder season" after Labor Day, but most places it's still high season and you'd need reservations. This kind of trip would be best done if you could do it without reservations so you could linger where you wanted, but you might have to settle for chain motels to do it that way.

JulieR Sep 16th, 2008 03:23 AM

Haven't really thought of accomodations yet but would like to try a B&B. Truth be known we never have been to one.
If we would fly into Hartford CT, first going into Vermont a little than making our way to North Conway NH, would this be good for our first stop overnight? or is it too long or too short of travel time. I googled the directions, it doesn't seem too far. Second night I was thinking of staying in Camden ME and making it a base for a few nights and traveling around this area. Would like to go to Bar Harbor and Acadia.
Any suggestions of good places to stay medium priced in these two places. Would like a B&B in Camden.
After a few nights than we would make our way down the coast, Cape Eliz and Kennebunkport then back down to Rhode Island, Newport and then Mystic CT.

isabel Sep 16th, 2008 10:27 AM

Driving straight from Bradley airport to North Conway NH is about 4 1/2 -5 hours but much of it is on highway, all of the Mass and Vermont parts are. So technically you'd be in Vermont but you wouldn't actually see any of it. If your plane got in early in the morning (say before 10)you could go as far as Brattleboro on the highway (about 1 1/2 hours) and get off there for lunch, spend a few hours on a little detour through some of the towns in the area, then later in the day continue on the three more hours to N. Conway. Especially is you didn't mind getting there after dinner.

But if your plane doesn't get in till later than that you might want to reconsider. The closest "nice" place to stop heading north from Bradley would be Northampton Mass which would be good for lunch. But if it's a late lunch, then I'd probably pick some place to stay in Vermont for the first night and go on to N. Conway for the second. Even with that you'd only be giving two days to Vermont and NH and have all the rest for the coast. I do prefer coastal New England (I live in Western Mass so I find the coast more interesting)but the interiors of Vermont and New Hampshire are certainly worth two days on a ten day trip.

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