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Need help with New England Trip

Old Jan 18th, 2008, 08:06 AM
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Need help with New England Trip

We will be taking our first trip to New England this October from Northern California.

We would like to fly into New Hampshire and out of Maine to reduce drive times.

Any suggestions on airlines? I have done several searches on airline routes but I have to admit I can't quite figure it out.

Any suggestions on drive routes and places not to be missed? We love mountains and wildlife. Not interested in metropolitan areas.

We hope to leave on Thurs Oct 9 and return Sat Oct 18. From SFO.

We will be renting a car and have a slightly more generous than average budget for hotels and such.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 08:36 AM
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Try to look for flights into Manchester. Would recommend going to Ogunquit / Perkins's Cove area.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 09:43 AM
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If your dates are flexible, and you want to enjoy the foliage at it's most beautiful, plan on the first/second week of October. But, if those are your dates, you will see some foliage. Could be past "peak", but you never know when that will be a little later than usual.

Southwest Airlines, usually the most economical if convenient from where you live, flies into Manchester, NH. You may find better bargains flying in and out of Boston that would offset the extra hour or two drive.

The coast of Maine is beautiful, but October is not the best time to visit. Many "seasonal" places close after Columbus Day. During October, you will find shoulder/off season rates in the seaside towns. Not much foliage along the ocean.

Best place for foliage, of course, is the mountains. Best are White Mountains in NH and Green Mountains in VT. Pleny of scenery and seeing/doing in White Mountain area. Recommend booking accomodations in foliage areas ASAP, as the best places fill quickly way ahead. Rates are highest that time of year, so your generous budget may not be so more than average as you believe.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 11:00 AM
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Good advice from djkbooks -- the most beautiful part of New England at that time of year is the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire. Unfortunately, Columbus Day weekend falls during your stay, and it is imperative that you have reservations, as it is peak time for "leaf peepers".

Burlington VT has an airport with good connections to the west coast -- United, Delta, US Air,Continental, and Orbitz shows some very good fares for those dates right now.

Another option, as pointed out previuosly, is flying into Boston, particularly if you want to see some of the Maine coast. You could travel up the coast, then through the White Mountains, into Vermont and loop back to Boston. Would be happy to suggest routes, sights, lodging, etc.

Maine will not have the foliage and will be quiet, but seaside towns like Camden are lovely at any time of year. Would not go any farther north, though.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 11:23 AM
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Manchester NH is a much small airport than Boston and fares are usually cheaper than Portland. Since Portland is only about 2 hours from MHT, you aren't reducing drive time too much esp if you did a loop thru southern Maine in the middle of your visit. MHT to Portsmouth NH is less than an hour and Maine is just across the bridge from Portsmouth. Try to visit NH's White Mountains early in your trip because as pointed out, foliage might be past peak and try to avoid the weekend. Visit Yankee Magazine's website for some route tips. The Lake Winnipesaukee area is usually nice esp with a backdrop of mountains but our most favorite drive in that area is around Center Sandwich NH and Squam Lakes. Roads tend to be less congested but there's an agricultural fair over Columbus Day weekend in Ctr Sandwich which will make it very busy. We have seen black bears twice while driving around Ctr Sandwich. You probably should visit the White Mountain attractions like the Flume if the weather is good. There are smaller mountains in the Concord NH area such as Mt Keararge which is an easy hike up the Warner side but there's a lovely scenic little state park on the Wilmot side (and a steep trail to the top). You might get a NH State Atlas and Gazetteer published by Delorme which contains details maps of every road, brook, river, waterfall, etc. There are plenty of country roads the average tourist overlooks. Canterbury Shaker Village is in a beautiful area just north of Concord and features educational tours. If the weather is good I would not miss a foliage boat cruise out of Portsmouth NH. Take the inland rivers one. You could also take a boat cruise on Lake W or a train ride.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 01:23 PM
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I have a place in Maine and always fly from Orlando to Boston. I have checked and checked costs for Manchester and Portland but never good prices and/or schedules for me. I recommend flying to Boston and going up to southern Maine...beautiful that time of year and quiet. Most places are open until the near end of October and the weather can be quite nice. From there take the roads into NH, up to the White Mountains and even into Vermont if you want to keep driving. Yes, Columbus Day is huge up there so you do need reservations then.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 02:44 PM
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I agree that in and out of Manchester NH is the best route. Don't bother trying to fly out of Portland. The distance to Manchester is not huge. I also agree that it is best to compare Logan to Manchester. I rarely find a flight cheap enough to justify NOT flying into and out of Logan. Have a great trip. NH is one of my favorite places on earth.
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 07:29 PM
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Thanks to all who responded. This is why I love this site. So much great info.

Our dates are not set. We will move up to the last week of September to maximize our'leaf peeping'. It sounds like perhaps we should consider going to Vermont and New Hampshire and saving Maine for another trip.
So is 10 days enough for a circuit thru both states? Suggested routes and places to stay?
We rarely travel with reservations, most of our travel is outside of the U.S., will we need them on this trip if we avoid Columbus weekend?
I'll check on Boston airfares.
Thanks again.
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 07:39 PM
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Ten days is plenty to see the foliage in NH and VT.

The best way to enjoy the foliage is by driving all over. Colors start in the far northeast and move west and south, so you should plan your itinerary accordingly.

It's better to have reservations for accomodations. You probably won't have to sleep in your car, but you may have to drive for hours (in the dark, the sun sets early) at the end of the day looking for a vacancy sign, and paying more for less.

There are lots of excellent "base points" in NH and VT. Itinerary would be best planned once you've booked your flight.

Be advised that accomodations fill quickly far in advance the entire fall season, not just Columbus Day weekend - especially those you can book online. There are lots of places without websites or with websites but without online booking. Generally, these are not the better places to stay.
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Old Jan 20th, 2008, 04:56 AM
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If you include the last weekend Sept that might be good timing for far northern VT and NH White Mountains. We've been to Stowe in northern VT the 3rd weekend in Sept and not seen any color at all. I would stick with first week in October for the majority of your time. When peak occurs depends on weather as well as location and elevation. In the Concord NH area we seem to have a long, slow progression of color whereas a friend who has a vacation home north of the mountains swears it will happen overnight given a good cold spell.
Pick some good bases as recommended and get reservations ASAP. Concord NH is only a bit over an hour from the mountains but there can be a huge difference in color during that one hour drive. Same goes from Concord south. If your base choice doesn't have peak color, you'll be able to easily drive to it. If you don't spend much time on the coast I would highly recommend a short visit to the Portsmouth/southern Maine area. You can find seafood throughout New England but it seems to taste better within view of the ocean.
In the past we have split a week between northern and southern VT. This kind of split gives you a great range from daily drives. Get a place in/near the mountains. Include an easy mountain hike or a ride up a mountain such as Cannon Mountain tramway. You'll find much more rolling farmland in VT colorful hills which is a good reason to include VT. Some towns have scarecrow festivals. A fun, challenging walk in northern VT is the Great Vermont Corn Maze. Nice view from the top and they have an "emergency exit" if you can't figure you're way out of the maze. See their website.
It might be easier to plan some driving routes if you choose a couple of places you'd like to visit. Although crowded with leaf peepers, even interstate 93 is a very pretty drive esp as you near Concord and keep heading north. The mountains get closer and closer and then you are in the middle of craggy peaks. To give you an idea of timing: MHT to Concord is only about 20 minutes. Heading to VT via Rt 89, Concord to Burlington VT on Lake Champlain in northern VT is 3 hours. Concord to Portsmouth/seacoast is less than an hour.
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Old Jan 20th, 2008, 03:31 PM
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Ok, reservations are made. Leave Wed 9/24, spend 1st nite near Logan since we get in late. So, Vermont first or NH?
I have spent hours today looking at the Fodor's book and searching the web. How to decide. Looks like there is most to do in the White Mountains. Milage between places looks small but how are actual driving times? Are the mountain road very windy, lots of traffic?

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Old Jan 20th, 2008, 04:10 PM
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On a road trip, I like to start as far away as I plan to go. And, since your dates are now a bit early, that's what I'd recommend you do.

The Northeast Kingdom in Vermont is almost always just beautiful the last week of September, so I'd start there.

Then, you could head for the White Mountains or the Green Mountains. There will be more color in the northern half of each state, and scenic drives in every direction no matter where you stay over.

Or, you could start on the coast of Maine, then head for the mountains.
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Old Jan 20th, 2008, 04:20 PM
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Foliage will not be good until 1 st - 2nd week in Oct for mid New England. Northern NE may be a bit earlier. Every yr is different. Boston area foiage is mid - late Oct. Northern VT/NH is an easy drive 3-3 1/2 hrs from Boston, White Mts 2-2 1/2hrs. No mt rds at all like you have in CA, mostly highways. Even "small" rds aren't windy like CA.
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 09:03 AM
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djkbooks is right -- the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is always beautiful at the end of September, beginning of October. That area peaks first and there are lots of sugar maples for the blazing color. Of course, the intensity of the color varies from year to year, as others have indicated, depending on the weather. The village of Craftsbury Common is quintessential Vermont, and the Inn on the Commons is a lovely base for touring the Kingdom.

From there wind your way over to Rt. 100 and head south through Stowe, which is a well known ski area with a nice village, shops, restaurants and lots of activities. Stowe offer a wide variety of lodging choices, from the Trapp Family Lodge resort, to the Green Mountain Inn in the village and many cozy b&b's.

Farther south on 100 is the Mad River Valley -- again a ski area, but with lovely the small villages of Warren and Waitsfield. Every Saturday, from 9:00 to 1:00 through foliage season, Waitsfield hosts a wonderful Farmers Market on their green. It includes not only local produce, but quality crafts, Vermont cheeses and products and great food! Places to stay -- the Inn at Round Barn Farm in Waitsfield, the Pitcher Inn in Warren. A beautful fall drive in that area is over Lincoln Gap, a winding road over the mountains that leads to the Lake Champlain Valley. The Champlain Valley is the last area of VT to turn color, but it is lovely nonetheless. The college of town of Middlebury makes a great day stop.

Heading southeast, again over the mountains, by way of Rt. 125, find your way to Rt. 89 and exit for the Woodstock/Quechee area. Lots to see and do here --- check out the Simon Pearce glass blowing studio and gallery, sited in an old mill building in Quechee Village. They have a fabulous restaurant for lunch or dinner. Woodstock itself is a lovely old Vermont village with nice shops and galleries. There are many charming inns and B&B's.

From there it's an easy drive over to Rt. 91 and up the Connecticut River to the access the White Mountain area of New Hampshire. There are several beautiful drives, including the Kancamagus Highway, Rt. #2 from Gorham to Lancaster, and Crawford Notch.

New Hampshire has two of the few remaining grand old hotels. One is the Mt. Washington Hotel. The other is The Balsams, one of my favorite places, farther north in Dixville Notch.

Lots to see and do! Have fun!
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 02:14 PM
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I would recommend a few days in Jackson, NH which is a little less than 2 hours from the Manchester airport.

It's a quaint New England town in the heart of the White Mountains. A perfect place for leaf peeping, moose sightings and away from the crowds of North Conway. Great Hiking, food & hotels/B&B's.

If you decide to go and want some specific recommendations feel free to e-mail me. We have a home there and are up most weekends but I have stayed in many of the other places before we were owners. I can also give you some food recommendations.
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 02:49 PM
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The Balsams is amazing and a good destination for your dates since it is so far north, but it's a bit of a drive. A bit closer, and also very nice, is the Mountain View Grand. Even closer and also very nice is the Mount Washington in Bretton Woods. All of these are vintage hotels in spectacular settings, with scenic drives in every direction. And, of course the drive to/from is just beautiful. You would definitely need reservations for these places.
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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 12:18 PM
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OK, I'm back for more help.....

We do have a flight, arrive Boston Wed Sept 24 10pm. Leave 6:40pm
Sat Oct 4, that's about 9 1/2 days.
The plan now is to rent a car and drive to Old Shurbridge Village when we arrive Wed nite. Spend the night there, next day tourist around and start drive into Vermont.
Thinking of spending Thurs nite around Woodstock. Fri drive to Stowe along scenic byways and spend Fri-Sat-Sun nite in Stowe.
Monday take a northerly route into NH spending Mon nite in Northern NH
somewhere. That leaves Tues-Fri nites in White Mtn area.

That's the rough plan. It is so hard to tell how much time you need to drive from place to place
and see things. There are several train rides that look like fun and some boat rides. We wants to see the granite quarries in Vermont and Ben & Jerry's.

I have read 3 books and looked at countless internet sites. Too much info. I still don't know where I want to go and where we should stay.

Then there's
Portsmouth that sounds interesting, how do I get that in..........
How many days does it take to see it all and do the train? then there is the lake Winnie....


I'm rambling. Like I said, I'm full of info that my processor isn't handling at all well. The books and sites make it sound as if we need much more time than we have. Also sounds like if we do not
make reservations soon we'll be sleeping in the car.

Some sites say we're coming almost to late to see good color, some make it sound like we'll be too early. We figure we'll come and see what we can and have a great time doing it. Doesn't have to be perfect to be a great vacation.

I put the books away about over a month ago and have just started looking again trying to figure it all out. I'm not used to doing this much planning on a trip.
I like to just go and get a room when I'm tired. If I like an area I stay longer, if not I move on.
Having to make a reservation for each nite seems so confining.

Please feel free to pick apart my sketchy plans and give advice.
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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 01:47 PM
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Be sure and visit Bath, New Hampshire and Mercy Harriman's garden. Bath has a wonderful covered bridge, a general store that is very old country. We bought fresh made sausage and cheese and had a picnic on the far side of the covered bridge. Mercy Harriman had a garden on top of a giant boulder back in the 1700's. Very interesting and quaint.
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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 04:38 PM
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Hi beazor-

Your times are perfect. When you are here you can certainly get a good map and drive around. I think that those dates should allow to get rooms without too much trouble. New England is perfect for driving until you find what is interesting to you. Distances are comparatively small. Back roads and secondary highways are often as easily travelled as main highways. I hope you have a wonderful time. If you have some general ideas in mind, you should be able to play it by ear.
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Old Mar 15th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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I think two nights would be sufficient in Stowe. Lake W is just below the White Mountains of NH. No matter where you stay in the White Mountains you'll probably be within an hour of Lake W. Portsmouth is maybe another hour and half southeast of Lake W depending on what area you are in. If you stayed along the route 93 corridor it would be maybe 45 minutes from Meredith to Concord NH and then another 45 minutes to Portsmouth. This is my stomping grounds but I'm never accurate on times. Do NOT use mapquests directions to take Rt 101 to Portsmouth unless you want a boring route. It will take a little longer to go Rt 4 but it's a much prettier drive and take you over the Great Bay bridges.
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