New England in October


Sep 3rd, 2011, 03:12 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2011
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New England in October

Hello all

Wonder If anyone can help.

Myself, my partner and our two daughters (aged 5 and 3) are taking a flydrive holiday to New England from 21st -30th October 2011.

So far we have booked:
21/22 - Keene NH (Hotel; for the Pumpkin Festival)
23/24 - Chester VT (B&B; some scenic driving, maybe some apple picking)
25/26 - Salem MA (Central Hotel; Haunted Happenings)

We have an early flight on the Sunday morning so would like to spend Saturday night near Logan airport but that still leave us with another 2-day block to fill. Can anyone recommend a good place to head to for Thu/Fri?

We'll be driving there from Salem and probably wouldn't want to stray more than about 2 hours away given we need to be back in Boston Saturday night.

Some vague ideas we've had are Marblehead, Quincy (as a base for Boston) or heading down to Newport, RI. We're not really considering the Cape Cod area as we plan to make a separate trip there, perhaps next summer.

We're from England and, while i've got some experience of driving in Florida, i've read that driving around Boston is a whole different ballgame, so i'd like to avoid the worst of that if possible!

Thanks in anticipation.
barnes99 is offline  
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Sep 3rd, 2011, 04:09 PM
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I would go north up the Maine coast. Other than Salem, you don't have any coast and many consider that the best part of New England. Also, you are a little late for much fall color inland but on the coast there might still be some. In two hours from Salem/Boston you can get past Portland. But there is plenty to see between Portland and Massachusetts. York, Ongunquit, Kennebunkport and Portland itself are all worthy. Two days to explore that are of the coast is about right.

Here's a link to my photos of New England, a lot of them are in that region of Maine. You don't have time to go as far as Acadia/Bar Harbor but you don't need to. The southern Maine coast is wonderful, especially in late October (usually).

You could also consider Rockport/Gloucester Mass but that's less than an hour from Salem. I would do Maine.
isabel is offline  
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Sep 3rd, 2011, 04:11 PM
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How about staying in Boston and returning your rental car early?
There's plenty to do with your little ones.. They are the perfect ages for the Children's Museum.

There's also the aquarium and the Science museum

Parks to play in . Bring bread to feed the birds (or the squirrels)

Or take a Duck tour

You won't need a car in Boston but driving in and out isn't so bad if you can avoid the rush hours. It isn't that different from many other cities and you'll encounter taxis weaving about, very slow traffic, and tourists both behind the wheel and pedestrians that 'get in the way'!
sassy_cat is offline  
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Sep 3rd, 2011, 04:51 PM
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Agree to spend your lst several days = definitely without a car, where it;s a nonsense - in Boston. There's a ton to see for all ages.
nytraveler is offline  
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Sep 3rd, 2011, 05:37 PM
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If you're coming for foliage, it will be too late north of Boston and maybe even in the Boston area depending. Otherwise agree with above posters. Lots to do in Boston via public transportation. Would recommend Bearskin Neck in Rockport, Marblehead and Gloucester over Salem. The "witch" thing there is way overdone and tacky, IMO, but some nice historic houses. Check rd access in VT due to recent flooding and rd washouts.
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Sep 4th, 2011, 02:43 AM
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I like the suggestions for Boston activities with the children.
Another idea would be to head to the Portsmouth NH area. The children's museum is now in Dover NH. The children might be a little young for the science center at Odiorne Point.

York ME is a popular family beach area so if the weather is warm you could do some tide pool exploring, build sand castles, enjoy the playground. Watch the taffy pulling machine at the Goldenrod.

A mailboat cruise of Portland might be a little boring for the children but would be a nice break from driving.

I think Portsmouth is about an hour from Boston and the southern Maine coast is right after Portsmouth with easy access back to Boston via I95.
dfrostnh is online now  
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Sep 4th, 2011, 02:38 PM
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Thanks everyone.

Seems a bit counter-intuitive to head North at that time of year but we are seriously considering booking somewhere in or around Portland now. I don't like covering the same ground twice but looks like we can snake our way up the coast on US-1 and take the I-95 back on Saturday.

Does anyone have any tips on where would be a good place to stay? Having 2 young children can limit options quite a bit.

Also, are there any especially scenic ways of doing these routes?

Logan Airpoty - Keene NH
Keene - Chester VT
Chester - Salem MA

Or any 'must-sees' in these areas?
barnes99 is offline  
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Sep 5th, 2011, 03:33 AM
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For Chester - Salem MA, do google maps and choose the second option which is I93. You will follow Rt 9 which is also Rt 202 from Hillsboro NH toward Concord NH. I89 is actually a pretty drive but it's a limited access interstate hwy. Instead of that, you can veer off in Henniker onto Rt 127 which takes you over a small dam and into the village of Contoocook. When you get to the village, turn right onto Rt 103. Follow Rt 103 into Concord NH. It will turn into Pleasant St and take you right to downtown. It's a nice downtown with some interesting shops including the League of NH Arts and Crafts. There are some good options for lunch if it's that time of day and an easy access to I93 to continue with the google map directions to Salem MA (Make sure you don't get confused because I93 will go thru Salem NH).

If you haven't picked apples yet, you can stop at Gould Hill Orchard, a short detour off Rt 103. Nice view from their parking lot. They grow a large variety of apples and have a small nature museum which might interest the children. (website says nature museum it's only open weekend and holidays except by appt)

You are also pretty close to Beech Hill Farm ice cream but you'll need to google some directions. It's out in the country, a dairy farm that's been turned into an ice cream place. If the weather is good, there's a huge sand pile and toy trucks for the children to play with and some farm animals to see. Their maze is pretty basic but all kids love sand piles. The website says they are open 11-7 in Oct but I would double check because they close down after that.
dfrostnh is online now  
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Sep 14th, 2011, 08:46 AM
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You could also go through Boston (after morning rush hour) and visit Plimoth Plantation, which the children would really enjoy. This is a living history museum which tells the story of the Pilgrims and the Native Wampanoag people ( It's about a 1 hr, 15 minute drive from Salem. Then head to Providence, Rhode Island, to see the Pumpkin Spectacular at the Roger Williams Park Zoo ( There are two ways to see it. You can buy tickets for dinner and walk the jack-o-lantern trail after that, or just buy tickets for the walk. If you buy for the dinner you are inside ahead of the crowds at the VIP entrance, so access to the trail is easier. My colleague did it last year with her grandson and they really loved it, but she said the VIP is worth it to avoid long waits. Tickets are cheaper during the week.

There's also a Botanical garden in Providence, the RISD art musuem,and a children's museum.

There are wonderful restaurants in the Federal Hill area. Find more information here:
NewEnglandTravel is offline  
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Sep 20th, 2011, 12:28 PM
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I wouldn't stay as far north as Portland, especially since there's a high possibility that the colors will be past peak by then. Portsmouth, NH is a safer alternative; a town that I highly recommend. If you want, you can still use it as a base for hopping over into Maine, e.g. Ogunquit and Kennebunkport. IMO it's not worth going all the way up to Portland.

The only other place that I would recommend spending your last couple of days if you don't feel like staying in Boston is Newport, RI. It's a longer drive than Portsmouth, although the colors *might* be a bit better at that time. There's certainly enough to do in Newport to occupy you for a couple of days (I also strongly recommend nearby Jamestown and Beavertail State Park), and if you *do* happen to get bored, you're just a short drive from the suggested attractions in Providence.

There are several different scenic route possibilities between Boston and Keene, although I would probably suggest Route 3 -> 40 -> 119 -> 124, passing through Groton MA, New Ipswich NH, and Jaffrey NH. A more convoluted route would take you through Hancock and Harrisville, which, at any rate, you must visit when you're in the Keene area. These are very tranquil and well-preserved villages.

The drive from Keene to Chester is relatively short but make sure you stop in Walpole, NH and Grafton, VT.

In the Chester area, head up to Windsor and then cross the river back into NH via the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, the longest covered bridge in America. There are several other covered bridges in Cornish that you can look up online. If you have more time, head up to the very attractive town of Woodstock, VT and see the nearby Quechee Gorge before returning to Chester.

I'll echo dfrostnh's recommended route from Chester to Salem, which begins with Route 103 -> 123 -> 9. This will take you through Alstead, Marlow, Hillsborough, and Henniker before arriving in Concord.

If you head north from Salem, try to avoid Route 1 as it tends to be extremely commercialized and very boring. Route 1A and the other routes that directly hug the coastline are much more scenic. Even if you don't decide to go as far north as Portsmouth or Maine, make sure you visit Rockport and Newburyport. Salem is going to be just a wee bit crazy this time of year and you'll probably want to get away from it at a certain point. Adjacent Marblehead is also a nice place to visit. I recommend the Jack Tar restaurant for good food and reasonable prices.
TerrMys is offline  
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Sep 23rd, 2011, 08:56 AM
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Sorry I'm late to this, but I'd recommend skipping Salem entirely the last week in October. I went to college in Salem for 4 years and used to work there for a time too. It is more than just a wee bit crazy, it's madly insane. Traffic is impossible, parking even more so. Unless you are going specifically for Halloween, I'd go somewhere else. Bear in mind you'd have to go through Salem to get to Marblehead in most instances, so that could effectively rule that out too.

Leaving the North Shore on a Sunday morning you should have no traffic at all getting to Logan, so maybe stay in Rockport/Gloucester at the end of that week?
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