New England Fall Foliage via Train/Boat/Bus

Old Aug 21st, 2010, 09:18 PM
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New England Fall Foliage via Train/Boat/Bus

I want to see New England fall foliage but don't want to drive. Any suggestions on using trains/boats/buses to experience fall in New England?
I can fly into Portland, Maine or Boston. Don't want big tour or trip just an affordable trip.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2010, 12:46 AM
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Depends on what part of New England you go to. Although the best fall scenery is arguably in northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont), any kind of public transportation options in this area are extremely limited. There are fall foliage cruises but that doesn't sound like what you're looking for.

If you fly into Boston, you could theoretically take Concord Coach from the airport to the Lakes Region (Meredith) or White Mountains (Lincoln, North Conway) in NH. These buses run twice a day: ;

Once you get there, however, you will find it very difficult to get around. You will miss out on a lot of the best scenery if you don't have a car. But there are some options. In Meredith, you could ride the Winnipesaukee Railroad ( ) and possibly get off at Weirs Beach to take the Mt. Washington boat cruise ( ). The best foliage in this area is typically around the second week of October.

As for the White Mountains, foliage there usually peaks during the first week of October. North Conway has the Conway Scenic Railroad ( ), and Lincoln has the less impressive Hobo Railroad ( ). If you're really adventurous, you could walk or hike the 3 miles or so from the northern terminus of the Conway Railroad to the Cog Railway that goes up Mt. Washington ( ).

If you're seriously considering any of these train rides, I would strongly recommend you book ASAP; same goes for lodging.

Concord Coach also has buses that go to Midcoast Maine from Boston and Portland ( ), but generally speaking coastal Maine isn't quite as popular for fall foliage because it's less mountainous. I would make an exception for charming Camden if you'd like to hike in beautiful Camden Hills State Park, but then you'd still pretty much be stuck in this area without a car... You *could* use the bus to hop to other nice little towns like Damariscotta, Wiscasset, and Bath, but again, this area doesn't quite compare to NH and VT for leaf-peeping. The foliage here peaks a little bit later, probably in the second or third week of October.

Vermont would be the most complicated and most expensive to get to, but you might get a very scenic train ride out of it. From Boston, you'd have to take Dartmouth Coach to Lebanon, NH ( ), and then use the local bus service in Lebanon to get over to White River Junction, VT ( ), then take the Amtrak Vermonter line to wherever you'd like to go (there might be a simpler way to get to WRJ with Greyhound, but I'm not sure). Burlington would be a good destination on the Vermonter because it's very walkable, although most of the best scenery will be on the train journey rather than at your destination.

Again, I would highly recommend renting a car over any of these options as it's infinitely more convenient, especially for exploring the scenic back roads of New England.

If you're willing to sacrifice some of the best New England scenery and you can do the trip a bit later in October (third or fourth week), then it would be much easier to stay in Boston and use public transportation to get to some of the nice historic towns in the area, like Concord, Lexington, Salem, or Rockport.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2010, 12:54 AM
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One other option: you could take the Downeaster Amtrak or Concord Coach from either Boston or Portland to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which is a walkable and very charming historic seaport town that also offers harbor cruises and the like. Maybe not enough for an entire vacation, though. Foliage here usually peaks during the third week of October or so.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2010, 01:26 AM
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Three years ago we took the Greyhound bus from Boston to Montreal as we always use public transport in the USA & never hire a car.We travelled on 16th October 2007 and the journey was beautiful.We went by Manchester,Dartmouth, Hanover and White River Junction. I think the best colours were between White River Junction and Montpelier,where we arrived at 2pm and stayed the night.A good choice for a stop over and an excellent journey.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2010, 04:34 AM
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This is absolutely wonderful advice, and your respondents have gone to a lot of trouble to give it to you. The wonderful thing is that last I knew, all these buses stop at Logan airport.

If you can get the lodging and have the time, here is a suggestion for a route that links some of what you have been offered:

Boston to Littleton; spend the night.
Littleton to Concord to Hanover, NH. Spend the night.
Hanover to Burlington, VT. Spend the night.
Burlington to Montreal. Spend two nights.
AMTRAK to Burlington or all the way to NYC via the Adirondack and Albany. The Hudson River line is a glorious scenic trip like the Rhine.

Fly home from NYC.

Hey, I am ready to leave myself!

All your overnight stops have great interest and charm and are very walkable.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2010, 05:13 AM
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There are several good limo/car hire with driver companies here in NH too if your budget isn't too tight and you want to get around to surrounding areas.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2010, 05:18 AM
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Last October I stayed in N. Conway, NH for a few nights on my fall color drive/vacation. I must have seen at least 3 busloads come and go. People were on an organized tour of New England, by coach. Would that be of interest? You'd meet lots of like-minded people and be on a schedule. All the people with whom I had a conversation said they were having a good time. I believe it was a 10-day trip, from central Illinois. Maybe you have charter coaches to New England from your area?
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Old Aug 22nd, 2010, 05:46 AM
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Contact a company like AAA or Elder Hostel (don't know your age) for tours. I see many bus tours in NE during leaf peeping season that look pretty low key.
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