New England Itinerary help in Fall

Old Jan 19th, 2013, 06:41 AM
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New England Itinerary help in Fall

Hi
Am trying to put together an Itinerary and need help!
In NE October 12th for 12 days (to 23rd ) (flying in from UK on 11th at 5.00 PM) hoping to see fall colours whilst taking in scenic drives as well as other attractions that appeal. The basic itinerary so far is as follows.
Start 12th October:
2 days West Mass/ South NH/VT [possibly the Berkshires??? ++)
2 days Woodstock area [King Arthur Flour's/Quechee Gorge/Simon Pearce Glass Blowing/Sugarbush Farm]
3 days Montpellier/Burlington/Stowe area [Burlington/Lake Champlain/Ben & Jerry’s/Von Trappe/Hogback Mt/108 to Jeffersonville/ Mt. Snow Chairlift/Cabot Cheese]
1 day NH / ME [Kancamagus Highway / + + ???]
2 days travelling down coast of ME / possibly to Cape Cod MA
[Including Casco Bay Cruise + + ???]

2 days Boston
As I say fall colour will hopefully be one of the highlights so would it be a better plan to reverse the Itinerary, (excluding Boston)
All comments, suggestions welcome.

Cheers
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 08:57 AM
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Yes, go north as soon as you can. Oct 12 is getting late for good color in the Stowe and NH White Mountains area. You could go north on I93 from Boston to I89 to Woodstock area. After Stowe head over to NH and south to Kancamagus hwy and across to ME for a Casco Bay cruise and overnight in Portland (great restaurants and fun Old Port area).
If the color isn't good for the Kancamagus route, you could drop further south and head over to the Center Sandwich area take the country route thru Tamworth and then connect with Rt 16 which you can take north and then over to Portland. Center Sandwich is considered one of the prettiest old towns in New England. You'll see old houses and former farms against a backdrop of mountains whereas the Kancamagus route is all trees and mountains thru national forest. Near Center Sandwich is the Squam Lakes area where On Golden Pond was filmed. Not much public access though. There's a science center in Holderness and you can take a pontoon boat tour to learn more about the lake and loons.

I would go to western MA before going to Cape Cod. It will me your route will take some extra miles but it's a driving vacation.
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 09:42 AM
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I think you will be disappointed if you head for Vermont or New Hampshire. Everyone will be talking about how beautiful it was a week ago. By that time, one windy rain storm will have removed the last of the leaves or everything will be quite brown and not colorful at all.

You may have better luck with the Berkshires, even better in Connecticut and Rhode Island. If you want to combine coastal New England and foliage, Connecticut and Rhode Island would definitely be the better bet, especially since the Coast of Maine and Cape Cod turn very, very, quiet after the Columbus Day holiday.

Color comes last to destinations near water, so saving Boston for last is a good idea. The colors *should* be beautiful those days.

However, the coast of Maine and Cape Cod are not known for beautiful fall colors - at least not with the density of those types of trees and quantity of them in the mountain areas.

Some of the places you've mentioned (Cabot, Ben & Jerry's, King Arthur, Simon Pearce, Von Trapp...), frankly, are not so worth a visit as you would presume from the tour guides and websites. (We've been to them all, but we live in New England.) You may find them underwhelming, especially if the foliage is gone.

Advance reservations for accommodation are essential. Some may have minimum stay (2-3 nights) requirements.

My recommendation would be to start in Lenox or Williamstown, or Stockbridge, MA for several nights and use that as a base point. All the states have foliage "hotlines", so you could check Vermont and New Hampshire on arrival for an update (included in the recorded information are the most scenic drives). If any areas are still colorful, you can cover a lot of territory in a day, and the best way to enjoy the foliage is by driving all over.

If you're very lucky with the foliage, and are going to the Berkshires from the airport, consider driving the Mohawk trail.

Do not assume that you'll need to drive the "back roads". There's beautiful foliage all along the interstates.
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 02:17 PM
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I live fairly close by Woodstock, and trust me, even it is a bit past peak foliage, you will still be awed by the beauty of the area. I think the above poster is being a little negative. Your itinerary looks fine. In Woodstock, you might also want to visit the Billings Farm Museum/Rockefeller Estate. King Arthur is a nice enough place, but it wouldn't be one of my must see places. However you could scoot across the river from King Arthur to visit the very picturesque college town of Hanover NH. Sugarbush Farm is the real deal, a small farm up a remote gravel road, with great views. When in the Woodstock area, ask someone how to get to the Jenne Farm (one of the most photographed farmhouses in the USA) - this is one of the most scenic drives anywhere. Montpelier and Burlington are great little cities with some nice places to eat. The Main Street Grill and Sarducci's are both good choices in Montpelier.
If you are going to explore southern New Hampshire, the Peterborough area is quite scenic and unspoiled, as opposed to the Manchster (NH) area which is fairly urbanized.
As for the coast, with only 2 days, you might just stick to Maine and possibly Portsmouth NH. Yes the Cape is beautiful, but it's a long often congested ride from the Maine coast. You could easily spend weeks exploring the small towns and rugged coast of Maine.
Yes, you can see some spectacular foliage from the interstates, but exploring the small back roads of Vermont will allow you to see some unforgettably beautiful countryside.
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 06:59 PM
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I would actually flip your itinerary and head NORTH to the Stowe area first and then work your way south.
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 07:00 PM
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Hit enter too soon. Foliage generally works its way north to south though elevation does have some play too.
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 07:27 PM
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We always plan to be in the Rutland area on Oct. 12-Columbus Day. The color is great then-there.
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 08:05 PM
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It is true that the colors start in the northeast and move south and west.

>

No, I'm being realistic. While Columbus Day may be peak color in many places, it diminishes quickly, and OP is not getting started until October 12th.

If the goal is to see beautiful colors, far better to go where they might be than head for "a bit past peak". As noted, one good rain storm will remove all that at that point.

OP could start out at the northern most point on their itinerary and plan to work their way south.

Problem is: if the colors are disappointing, it will be very difficult to change the itinerary because it will be impossible to secure lodging points south where there's more color.

If you're going all that way to see colorful fall leaves, you may as well do your best to determine where that may be, or whether you'd prefer to visit touristy sights regardless of the state of the foliage.

Yes, it's beautiful in those areas and the scenic drives are dramatic even in the dead of winter. But, OP is hoping for color.
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 02:27 AM
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Thanks guys. I REALLY appreciate your comments. You know, I’ve read so many different opinions regarding fall colour and therefore the itinerary (on various postings not just this one) that the itinerary for this holiday has become the most difficult I’ve ever planned. At this early stage ‘Mother Nature’ is already playing her part !

If I were to believe some things I’ve read over the past month I could have a vision of Northern and Mid NE closing to visitors from October 12th ! Perhaps I’ve read too much.

On reflection I think perhaps I’ve made the mistake of putting leaf peeping as the top priority, rather than an extra. Though we really do want to see the beautiful colours that ‘Mother Nature’ supplies in NE we don’t want to spoil a hard-earned holiday before we get there. Perhaps the emphasis should have been on ‘Scenic Drives’ in NE.

So with scenic drives as the priority, and colour secondary, how does the itinerary look?
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 04:43 AM
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When I recommend King Arthur Flour it is prefaced by "If you are a baker". It would be a boring stop for someone who doesn't like to bake but fabulous for someone looking for high quality ingredients, many not available in regular markets.

I would still recommend switching your itinerary around as I previously posted. People like the blaze of sugar maples but there are other trees that don't color so brightly or so early. Should you drive thru Concord NH, there are some young maples on the west side of I93 just north of exit 14 in an office park that hold their color very late. I think they are a newer variety of maples. There are going to be pockets of color here an there. New England is "humpty dumpty" as one Kansas visitor described. Just drive a few miles and the scene changes. You also would be here for the Keene NH pumpkin festival or other harvest festivals. It doesn't matter what time of year, there's some nice views someplace. For example, if you travel to VT from I93 to I89 there's a curve in the road not long after leaving Concord where the view opens up and you can see a local mountain.

Here it is mid January and yesterday we drove along the seacoast Rt 1A just south of Portsmouth. There's some beautiful homes and it was fun to pick out which were the oldest and possibly original farmhouses. The tide was almost high so the waves were crashing and it was sunset. People were out enjoying the end of the day.

There are places where you can take small detours i.e. just north of Concord NH you can drive past Shaker Village in Canterbury NH and then get back on I93. The buildings are beautiful. I've walked the grounds late on a drizzly day and still enjoyed it.

Although I live in NH I have yet to go to a nearby hill to watch the hawk migration in October. It's something we need to take our young GC to see.

I'd agree the Peterborough NH area as beautiful any time of the year.

But you do have to do something other than leaf peeping and it looks like you do want to do other things. Ben and Jerry's is kind of fun the first time but you might also get a map from the state dept of agriculture for an ice cream trail and a wine trail and a cheese trail. Visit a spot that's not quite as popular. Usually these farms are on back roads which are usually scenic.

I do agree that there is beautiful foliage along the interstate hwys but on the back roads you can see more homes and activity.
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 07:57 AM
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I completely agree with dfrost. The interstates are pretty but new England life is observed on the back roads, and the scenery almost everyhwere is lovely.
It is impossible to predict peak foliage in any given place, no matter what anyone says, but the Berkshires have many many gorgeous views and your timing is probably good for there.
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 08:31 AM
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I don't have anything to add to what I wrote on your other post. dfrostnh and jubilada say what I would say as you drill down to reality.
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Old Jan 21st, 2013, 09:08 PM
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>

Seriously? They sell a 5 lb. bag of flour there for $4.95 that sells for $2.00 at my local supermarket! All of the products can be found elsewhere for far less.

Unfortunately, places like King Arthur Flour, Cabot, Ben & Jerry's, may be a HUGE disappointment.

At Ben & Jerry's, there's almost always a very long wait for a tour. Right next to where you wait is (no surprise) a window for purchasing ice cream, sundaes, milkshakes, etc., at positively outrageous prices. If you think you'll wait for the free sample at the end of the tour, be advised that it's hardly a teaspoon of ice cream served in those little fluted cups usually used for pills in hospitals.

There are incredible scenic drives all over. Personally, I would choose those where there may be color during your visit. Why would you make color secondary.

>

It's very true that much closes (restaurants, shops, some lodging) right after Columbus Day in the seasonal towns. Those are primarily along the coastlines and on Cape Cod (which are summer destinations) and in the far northern ski resorts (which reopen for ski season). If the foliage routinely lasted past Columbus Day (which it does not) with visitors to support their businesses, they'd remain open.

This map may help

http://www.yankeefoliage.com/peak-foliage-forecast-map/

Click on your dates.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2013, 08:46 AM
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I live in MA but take a trip to NH and sometimes VT every fall. Even though it will probably be past peak, I'd still recommend a quick trip to Stowe/Waterbury. You might enjoy Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, which is touristy but still nice, and seeing the setting of the Von Trapp Lodge is impressive. I'd also take a quick trip to the White Mountains, drive the Kanc, see the Pumpkin People in Jackson, take a few short hikes. Even if you only devote three nights or so, these are such pretty areas that I think you would still enjoy them. I've been to the White Mountains many times, at all times of year including the winter, and I don't ski. It's just plain pretty there.

Maybe you can experience color in southern NH or Vermont first, then head north just to see the scenery.(?)

Also, I live in a coastal town near Boston, and our color is here is unpredictable, and usually spotty. We had trees that hadn't turned yet in mid-November, while others lost their leaves early on. It's still pretty in the fall, but you just don't get that blanket of color look. Just a heads up that it will probably be the same way in Boston.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 01:25 AM
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I live in New Hampshire. For more than 30 years, we've "done" fall foliage in ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, RI.

You can trust my recommendations, or not, but your priority should be the foliage. And, the very best way to enjoy all that is to get in the car in the morning and drive all over. Do NOT concern yourselves with "seeing and doing" or "dining" or "shopping", as you'll find that all over. There are few "tourist" destinations that live up to their descriptions, and not the ones on your list.

Some far more worthwhile would include the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, The Mount (Edith Wharton home Lenox), and many others.

One of the most spectacular "scenic drives" is Route 2 toward Boston past mid-October, whereupon the skyline arises in front of you with trees resplendant with color fall leaves all along the way.

Strongly recommend that you figure out reliable resources!
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 03:45 AM
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I happen to like the strategy of having a few destinations whether it be a restaurant recommended on Chowhound or winery or special shop. When we've gone to some off the beaten track kind of places, we've found some wonderful scenery. There is wonderful scenery all over New England but sometimes you find something special like the stone arch bridges in Hillsboro NH, Dan and Witt's store in VT (had to go there because my FIL used to deliver apples there back in the day), the amazing swimming hole just outside of Bristol VT, love Brattleboro's farmers market (check season closing date). Since DH loves antique tractors we've been to a few odd places to see a tractor show or "steam up". I want to get back to the bookstore in Brattleboro because they carried a lot of books on gardening, permaculture, etc.

I'm not saying how long I've lived in NH because then everyone would know almost how old I am. We actually don't travel much during foliage season because we have special events during Sept and October. DH would plot a route to Bennington VT where we'd have to stop at Hemmings Magazine old car museum and gift shop.

And I want djbooks to cough up the name of her market where I can buy King Arthur Flour for $2 because the best price I can get around here is $2.50 at Market Basket when it's on sale and sometimes it's only the all purpose that's on sale. King Arthur carries the really tiny peanut butter chocolate cups I like for baking treats although I have found them during the holidays at a local supermarket.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 10:41 AM
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dfrostnh, I always bookmark your posts and find you to be an invaluable resource, especially for NH. I grew up in the Berkshires of CT, but have lived in MA for 30 years. NH is lovely state and you know it very well.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 03:33 PM
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I am going to disagree with djkbooks. We were in Vermont Oct 6-13. Yes the color faded some after the first few days and a night of rain but it was still beautiful. In addition to the leaves there are many other interesting things to see. I realize that you will be arriving about the time we left but I cannot imagine that the scenery would change that much. We enjoyed Ben & Jerry's, Cabot, Sugarbush Farm and Lake Champlain. We did not make it to King Arthur so I cannot comment on the store but I can only imaging how exciting it would be to be in a store full of the things in their catalog.

I guess you have to decide what would make your trip enjoyable. If you do decide to go to Vermont, do not miss a trip up through Smugglers Notch on 108 between Stowe and Jeffersonville.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 03:33 PM
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>

The first time my husband and I hit the road together for fall foliage, we drove to the Berkshires (Lenox) via the Mohawk Trail. Friday afternoon, Columbus Day weekend, the foliage was just beautiful! I kept asking to stop for photos and he said, "It will be better on the way back."

Well, it was rainy and windy Saturday night and on the way back the leaves were GONE.

Just saying.
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 03:37 AM
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MareW, thanks for the compliment. I enjoy contributing to Fodors.

Worse than that djbooks - I have had a commitment for the past decade or so that precludes any sightseeing on Columbus Day weekend except for coming and going and Monday. I declared a holiday in 2005 so I could attend the Warner NH Fall Foliage Festival ... and that was the year of record rains and flooding in the area. No parade. *sob*

If the weather turns bad, it's a good idea to have other activities to do although one rainy day when DH thought we should cancel our visit to the state fair (it's not his favorite activity so he was hoping to get out of it) I told him that at least it wasn't going to be "too hot", or "too dusty" or "too crowded" (his usual reasons for not wanting to go).
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