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New England in the fall road trip

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Jul 31st, 2011, 09:33 AM
  #1
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New England in the fall road trip

My husband & I are planning a trip to New England for 8 days and need some advice. We're flying into Portland, Maine on the October 5th. Plan to head up the coast for just a couple of days then meander through New Hampshire, Vermont and the Adirondacks. We fly out of Portland on the 13th. I've found a few websites with suggested leaf viewing routes. Does anyone else have any "Must see" areas of these states?

Most importantly, do we need hotel reservations mid-week? I know it's a busy time of year but we really enjoy not having a set schedule and to meander until we feel like stopping. We were in this area 30 years ago and that plan worked well except on the weekends.
If it is recommended that we get hotels - any good suggestions?

Thanks much,
Sandy
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Jul 31st, 2011, 10:06 AM
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If you need reservations is a tough question. In a normal year I would say absolutely you do in October - probably the only month that you absolutely must. But the next busiest time of the year is right now (July/early Aug) but I was just up at Acadia and there were plenty of vacancy signs. There were a good number of 'no vacancy' signs as well, and a healthy number of people so it's not like the tourist trade is dead or anything but you could have gone up there without reservations and done fine. On the other hand, the Red Roof Inn a few miles from where I live in Western Mass has always had the 'No vacancy" sign lit up for all of October for as long as I can remember. We'll see what happens this year. So the answer I guess is it depends on how you feel about perhaps spending a lot of time driving around looking for something.

I would probably map out an itinerary and book the first few nights (and the last) and then call the day before to book the next night's stay. Except on the weekend, I would reserve weekends. And this assumes you are OK with Motel 6 type places. If you want charming you should reserve weeks ahead.

With only a week I'm not sure I'd go as far as the Adirondacks. Plus that scenery is not going to be any different than Vermont and NH.

I would start by going up the coast of Maine - north of Portland the best areas are Boothbay Harbor area, Camden and Rockport, and then Acadia/Bar Harbor. I'd probably spend one night in Camden, the next in Bar Harbor, then head inland. The White Mountains of NH (Kangamangus Highway, North Conway) and or the lake Winnipesaukee Region. Then head into Vermont. One way I like to drive around Vermont is to go searching for covered bridges. Pretty much the whole state is scenic so if you do that you kind of have a purpose to your wandering. There are numerous websites that list all the bridges and how to find them.
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Jul 31st, 2011, 10:08 AM
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I wouldn;t do it without reservations - but if you want to risk it there are 2 things you can do.

1)First check on reservations a couple of weeks in advance - if places are already showing almost or fully booked (I wouldn't be surprised) then you'll know you better reserve

2)If some availability still shows- go prepared with a list of places/phone #s you would like to stay in the areas you'll be in.
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Jul 31st, 2011, 10:31 AM
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For fall colors we really loved the White Mountains of NH (Kangamangus Highway) For Vermont we really loved the Stowe Area. (Smugglers Notch State Park, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and views from the Von Trapp Family Lodge, the Maple Sugar Houses. It was also fun finding all the covered bridges and water falls in the area. We enjoyed the little town of Bar Harbor and loved, loved, loved Acadia!

We were in an RV camping and didn't have any problems getting sites, but I have no idea how other lodging was.

Utahtea
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Jul 31st, 2011, 11:16 AM
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Landing Oct 5th and seeing the Maine coast first gets you a late start for the mountains. The lakes region just south of the White Mountains will probably have more color. Peak in the Concord NH area is usually around Columbus Day weekend.

As long as you are fussy about accomodations, no reservations are probably ok mid-week. I wouldn't bother with the mileage to go to the Adirondacks, too. White Mountains = lots of rocks and color. Eastern VT some rocks and color. Western VT = rolling farmland in the Champlain area. Toward the end of your trip you go make a loop thru southern VT, up to I89 east to Concord NH and then to Portland. 8 days is not a lot of time esp if you'd like to do some things besides ride around in a car.

I think the Portland area might be good for color around the 15th but check a foliage map.
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Jul 31st, 2011, 01:59 PM
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I second the suggestion to hit the Stowe area and don't miss Smuggler's Notch for fall foliage. A must!
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Aug 1st, 2011, 02:31 AM
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oops, I meant "as long as you are NOT fussy about accomodations".
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Aug 11th, 2011, 02:09 PM
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dfrostnh's pt about foliage timing in northern NE is right on. In a usual yr, the Stowe/Smugglers notch area would peak before Col Day weekend. But, Mother Nature can always change her mind and colors can be early, late or not much. Instead of the Adirondacks, you might want to consider the Berkshires in western MA, esp if foliage is winding down in northern NH & VT later in your timeframe. You could head west from ME through the Lakes region in NH, keep going west into VT and drive down through southern VT - Mt. Snow, Brattleboro, Bennington area (great Grandma Moses museum in Bennington) and then into MA - Stockbridge (Norman Rockwell museum), Great Barrington area. Catch the Mass Pike east to 95N right back to Portland. One big circle. Rt. 2 in MA - the Mohawk Trail in the western part - is a pretty drive too but takes much longer than the Mass Pike. Just another option. Wherever you decide, I think you need reservations at least for weekends. Col Day is one of the busiest times in foliage country.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 03:34 AM
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I agree with the observation that you should start in VT/NH rather than Maine in order to see the best foliage that first week in October.
I live in north central Vermont, near Montpelier, and our peak foliage is usually the very end of September/beginning of October. I think you will be a little late for good foliage in the Stowe area, but of course this varies from year to year.
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