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New England itinery advice

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Jan 2nd, 2011, 09:57 PM
  #1
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New England itinery advice

Dear New Englanders, I need your help to decide if I am choosing the correct/best route for my long awaited trip to your beautiful country. I am planning a trip travelling around New England but am not sure about the route. We will arrive in Boston and then wish to visit Cape Cod and MV. If we hire a car from Boston, is it quicker to drive from Cape Cod though Rhode Island and up to Vermont that way or better to drive the 2 hours back to Boston and head up through New Hampshire and across to Vermont? I have been researching towns and have culled my list to stay in Jackson or Meredith, NH and probably Woodstock in Vermont. What we are looking for is beautiful scenery, covered bridges, quaint towns and gorgeous foalage with the ultimate goal of relaxation. My interest is also in antiques, quilt shops and the like. I believe Squam Lake is beautiful but not sure if its on my route without driving out of the way. As we will be new to the roads and driving I would like to not drive more than a few hours in between stops. I would have loved also to get to Niagra Falls however realise this is quite a drive from where we are going. Perhaps I should investigate a tour from New York for this experience? We will be staying in NYC for 7 days after spending about 12 days in New England. Any suggestions or towns along the way which would suit what I am after is well appreciated. I have heard that Stowe is beautiful but again, is it too far to get to? Other reports have read not to bother with Cape Cod...I always thought this was a lovely spot, so now am confused whether to include it in my itinery?
Thank you so much for any help,
Dreams 64
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Jan 3rd, 2011, 02:51 AM
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You need a good road map. It is not necessary to drive thru RI. The quickest route back from Cape Cod will be to head north on Rt 93 thru Boston. I would not take this route during commuting hours. Late morning is fine. We went to MV last Sept. Be sure to check ferry schedule and where to park because the parking lot is not near the ferry. You have to allow extra time plus get to ferry office 1/2 hour ahead to buy tickets. There is a shuttle bus from the parking lots to the ferry. Well organized. You just have to allow extra time. We did not take the car to MV. We hired a one hour private van tour.

If you stay in Meredith, you are within 30 minutes of Squam Lake and some of the most beautiful country in NH. You will probably want to visit the quilt supply shop in Moultonboro. Name escapes me but it is well known and popular. After the quilt supply shop continue to Center Sandwich NH. Both Meredith and Center Sandwich have League of NH Craft Shops which you might like to visit. Or after the quilt shop drive to Squam Lake and then over to Center Sandwich. Then take route to Tamworth. From there you can head to Rt 16 then north to North Conway but you might spend so much time in the shops, do North Conway on a different day. Last Sept we stayed in Thornton. Started in the morning with a drive over the Kancamagus Hwy thru the mountains, short visit in North Conway, then south on Rt 16 and then over to Tamworth and lunch in Moultonboro at the Red Hill Dairy (just a small drive in place for lobster rolls and onion rings). If you don't shop, you can drive a lot of miles.
Meredith is well located to go north on Rt 93 to the White Mountains or east to Rt 16 and that side of the White Mountains.
I would skip Niagra Falls.
Best time for Meredith and the White Mountains would be first week in October. There's a small agricultural country fair in Sandwich on Columbus Day weekend. Traffic can be very heavy that weekend.
If you aren't from the northeast, I think you should visit Cape Cod. You can have a nice visit with a 2 or 3 night stay, planning one full day on MV during that time.

When you leave NH you could continue north to Stowe VT and then south to Woodstock. It would be a lot of driving but do-able in a day but there is so much other beautiful scenery in VT it is ok to miss Stowe. I would do a day trip over to Lake Champlain because there is beautiful farm country on the west side of VT (Woodstock is on the east side, next to NH) that provides different type of scenery. Woodstock is a very popular tourist destination but I think Brandon is more quaint. Middlebury is a college town and also interesting (there's a pedestrian bridge across the river).

If you get a DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer for each state, VT and NH, they are detailed road maps that also show the location of every covered bridge and waterfall. We use the atlases when we travel back roads. But it's better to use a good road map for general driving directions. Since the Atlas shows every road including seasonal gravel roads, they aren't good for finding your way from one state to the next. But everyone tries to drive the major highways during foliage season while secondary roads are more interesting with lower speed limits.
It is not too early to make hotel reservations for October.
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Jan 3rd, 2011, 07:33 AM
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If you are leaving the Cape at a time that involves either rush hour in Boston, you will be better off taking 495 around it to get north. It is longer, by about a half hour, but rush hour lasts longer than one would think and is like being in a slow parking lot getting through the city on 93.
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Jan 3rd, 2011, 08:50 AM
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You didn't mention what time of year you are planning on - foliage season? If so, plan ahead as some places can get really busy. Cape Cod has some very beautiful areas and some very commercialized areas. The southern coast (which has the warmest water) is quite built up and has it's share of strip malls. The national seashore beaches along the eastern side are quite spectacular, and the towns along rte 6a and further out are very picturesque. You won't have any trouble finding quaint towns in NH and Vt. Although Meredith is close to some pretty countryside, the town itself is fairly commercialized. Jackson is far more 'quaint'. The small towns that line the Connecticut River in both states (Orford, Fairlee, Lyme, Thetford, Cornish, Walpole, Norwich, etc) are quite unspoiled and bucolic and might be worth exploring. If you're into covered bridges, the one connecting Cornish NH & Windsor Vermont is the longest in the USA, and has been on many calendars due to it's picture perfect setting. Woodstock is a very charming & upscale Vermont town with lots of tourists, shops, and good restaurants. It's a great base for exploring central Vermont. Don't miss Billings Farm Museum just outside of town.
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Jan 3rd, 2011, 09:48 AM
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If you're looking for "beautiful scenery, covered bridges, quaint towns and gorgeous foliage," heading up to New Hampshire and Vermont is the best option of the two. Cape Cod is a great place to visit (and does have some attractively quaint towns), but more a destination for beaches and the like.
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Jan 3rd, 2011, 11:55 AM
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You've received very good advice above. It'll be more helpful if you tell us what time of year you're planning to make this trip? Are you coming during foliage season? If so, you may want to skip Cape Cod & MV and concentrate your time in NH & VT.

Since you mentioned you're interested in quilt, you may consider visiting the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, not far from the NH border. http://www.nequiltmuseum.org/ I have never been so I can't tell you what it's like. OTOH, Lowell is far from being a quaint, small town, so if you do go, you can stop there while driving between NH & Boston.
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Jan 3rd, 2011, 01:27 PM
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I've been to the quilt museum in Lowell. It's fairly small (likely no more than an hour's visit), but if you're really into quilts, I'd think it's worth a visit. They apparently have a permanent collection, but when I went they had a themed exhibit using part of their holdings for it.
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Jan 3rd, 2011, 10:59 PM
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Thanks so much everyone, I am actually travelling from Australia which is why I am a bit unnerved about lots of driving. I would rather go on the secondary roads as pointed out by dfrostnh. Can you tell me where to get the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer for each state, VT and NH?

Everyone's tips are most helpful especially on Cape Cod (I am relieved to hear it is what I think it will be) and the quilt shops, quaint towns and covered bridges. Yes I am travelling in October this year and hope to be in Vermont/New Hampshire during the first two weeks as I have read this is most suitable for fall foliage. At the moment I am scouring the net for lovely bed and breakfasts so hopefully I find suitable ones, there are so many to choose from.

Thanks for the link on the quilt museum YK, I'll put that on my agenda. Also now I will look into the little town of Bendon thanks again to dfrostnh and to zootsi for the tip on the biggest covered bridge, I'll certainly look that area up as well. With all this advise I am sure to bring home some beautiful photos to share with my family. Just one last thing is it worth going to Martha's Vineyard?

Again, so helpful, I really appreciate it!!
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Jan 4th, 2011, 04:27 AM
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Dreams, that was Brandon VT, not Bendon. You can buy the atlases at bookstores and some large supermarkets. Here is a link to the list of atlases - click on the state to see an example of detail. You can order or wait til you get here.

http://shop.delorme.com/OA_HTML/DELi...minisite=10020

The Lowell quilt museum is a great suggestion. I also have never been but have a friend who loves it. BTW the shop in near Meredith is Keepsake Quilting. There are other, smaller shops throughout New England. You can sign up for their email list and watch their website for quilting events.
http://www.keepsakequilting.com/

I have only been to Martha's Vineyard once for a day trip. We chose Oak Bluffs because of the interesting old Victorian cottages within easy walking distance of downtown and the ferry. The trouble with New England is that there are many beautiful places to see so it's hard to choose. There may be a special quilt show during your visit so check a calendar of events for each New England state.
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Jan 4th, 2011, 07:54 AM
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I've stayed in Martha's Vineyard several times - yes, it's quite charming with great beaches and picturesque scenery. However, it's really not THAT much different than parts of Cape Cod. In October the Cape will be relatively uncrowded, and a trip over to the Vineyard might not be justified. Realize that taking a car over is very expensive. We always choose the backpack and bicycle option.
I agree that taking back roads (many are gravel) in rural New England is the way to see beautiful countryside. I've lived here for over 30 years and am still sometimes amazed at the scenery. However, realize that taking back roads to get from point A to point B can be very slow going, particularly east west across the mountains.
ps: If you do visit the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, it's only a short drive to the Mt. Ascutney auto road, a spectacular drive to the summit of Mt. Ascutney in Vermont.
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Jan 4th, 2011, 08:16 AM
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zootsi is right that it's very expensive to bring a car on the ferry between Nantucket/Martha's Vineyard and the mainland part of Massachusetts.

Furthermore, it's wise to make a reservation as soon as possible once you know when you want to do this, as space is usually very limited on the ferries for cars, especially in high season. Several months ahead of time is definitely not too soon.
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Jan 4th, 2011, 10:03 AM
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During foliage season, the very best way to enjoy that is by driving all over. But, it's not necessary to travel back (or gravel) roads, especially for a first visit. The scenery is specacular from the main roads, even the interstate highways.

Whether to visit or skip Cape Cod really depends on what you have in mind. If you want to visit beautiful harbors with ocean vistas, that can be accomplished along the northern coast of Massachusetts, the coast of New Hampshire, and the southern coast of Maine, whereupon you can continue on through the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Personally, I'd recommend Niagara Falls, rather than Cape Cod, after a visit through the mountains. Yes, it's out of the way, and not on the way to NYC, but I think you'd find it worth the trip. Know, however, that the scenery on the Canadian side is far superior (along with lodging and dining).
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Jan 4th, 2011, 10:48 AM
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Just wanted to comment on the Martha's Vineyard/Cape question. I think both are beautiful and grew up going to the Cape - all parts - and have been going for decades. That said - I am now in love with MV and think it would give you a feel in general of all the beach areas. You do not need to go over to Cape Cod to get a ferry. There are ferries out of New Bedford, MA as well as in RI. I would park the car in the lot, take the earliest ferry over and hop on the buses that will be parked right at the ferry. NOT the tour bus, but the MV Transit Authority bus. They are very inexpensive vs doing a "tour" and basically run a big loop around the island. I would grab a map and ask a driver if in doubt. Hop on in Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven depending on where you dock and take it straight down to Edgartown enjoying the view as you go. From there get off and give yourself a few hours to roam the streets - the residential streets are filled with centuries old captains homes. Wander to the water and shopping. Walk out to the lighthouse for the view. Grab a cone and hope back on. Take it to Aquinnah and see a completely different view along the way. Get off - walk the beach, go up to the lighthouse, see the cliffs and get back on and head to Oak Bluffs for a 3rd completely different feel - laid back, funky, touristy area. See the campground - which isn't a campground at all but a hundred or so adorable gingerbread style cottages that have been there and lived in for 100+ years (and was once a campground). Sit up near the driver on the bus and if he/she is not busy you may get a bit of a tour from him/her. Give yourself the day and early evening to do this in a leisurely fashion and by day's end you will have a wonderful feel of New England Beaches and small towns. You can get the schedule for the bus on line before you leave, probably get an all day pass, pay attention to times because off season there might be large gaps so you don't want to miss a bus...Grab a book on the island (Fodor's perhaps?? and read up on the areas. Watch Jaws for fun before going since it was filmed there. Enjoy!

In RI I would go to Newport and tour at least one home and do the cliff walks.

In Vt I WOULD take bake roads from town to town if time allows.

Have a wonderful time and take lots of pictures!!
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Jan 4th, 2011, 12:43 PM
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Some other very pretty towns that I'd put high on my list to visit are Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Hanover, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont. Portsmouth is cuter than Hanover, if you have to choose. Portland, Maine is also very cute and GQ Magazine just had an article calling it one of America's "Coolest Small Cities" and listed good restaurants and shops to visit: http://www.gq.com/food-travel/travel...merica#slide=7
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Jan 4th, 2011, 11:49 PM
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I will certainly have a great time, this trip is 20 years in the making and I am glad I asked the questions. I have had 'a thing' about visiting Cape Cod ever since I was a teen so I think if I dont do that bit I will always wonder. ... However, I know I am in for a treat travelling through the mountains during your fall season and will experience many delights along the way. Thankyou for sharing your experiences, ideas and thoughts, you have contributed to my dream. Now I will go and further research all those other spots you all mentioned, and yes I have had a look at Brandon VT and it is spot on for a place I would love to visit.
Regards from Australia x
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Jan 5th, 2011, 05:58 AM
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Dreams, Sounds like you're ready for a great trip. If you are interested in whales, there are trips out of Provincetown on Cape Cod that you can sign up for last minute that take you out for fabulous viewing. I have a few photos of a trip we took last year in the fall at www.flickr.com/photos/emalloy2009/sets in the Cape cod set if you care to look.

There are quilt shops all over New England and if you do a little google for the areas you will be in you will find ones that might be interesting.

Have a wonderful time.
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Jan 5th, 2011, 05:52 PM
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Thanks emalloy, yes that is something I had thought of and didn't know about the tours out of Provincetown. It will depend on wether we go down that far, but will definately keep it in mind and look into prices and times of the year they are available - your photos look lovely, thankyou for sharing, I like the national seashore one, very typically Cape Cod
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Jan 6th, 2011, 12:56 PM
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Since you are a quilt fan, you may well enjoy a visit to the Shelburne Museum (www.shelburnemuseum.org) which is located just south of Burlington, Vermont. It is a fascinating collection or early American art, architecture, and folk art with special exhibits. Their collection of 18th and 19th Century quilts is reported to be the largest and finest museum collection in the country.

Burlington is well worh a visit, and from the museum you can travel down Rt. 7 to Middlebury, Brandon and southern Vermont.

As others have said, the first two weeks of October are considered peak season for visiting New England, and reservations are essential, especially in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Once you have settled on an itinerary, let us know and we can make suggestions for lodging and restaurants.

Happy travels!
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Jan 6th, 2011, 05:42 PM
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Thanks colbeck, the Shelburne museum does look great, I shall put it on my list of things to see...at this rate I will need more than 6 days in the areas mentioned. Regarding accomodation I am searching for lovely inns or bed and breakfast type. This trip is on my 'bucket list' so I dont intend to scrimp with accomodation, I want to stay at some of the lovely places I see on the interbet...trouble is deciding which ones. Any recomendations are greatly appreciated. In particular I am still looking at Jacson or Merdith or now Brandon and probably Woodstock for Vermont Lodging. I think I have culled my choices for the Cape to down to Annabelles in Sandwich or Inn on the Sound as it is near Woods Hole and I wont have to get transport to get to the ferry. I will look on other forum discussions to check out Boston and NYC. At the moment we are leaning towards hotels for the cities after learning that most apartments are sublet out and illegal. I certainly have a great start with all of these helpful suggestions. Many thanks x
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Jan 6th, 2011, 05:57 PM
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When I lived in Boston back in the 1970'-1980s, there used to be a large boat that went from Boston into Provincetown. It took around 3 hrs to make the crossing, but it was whale watching almost all the way. During the summer, it ran daily, leaving Boston early in the morning and returning late afternoon.

Another nice place to visit is Cape Ann. Take 128 (from 93) into Gloucester and then on to Rockport (just lovely!). Beautiful folliage during the fall on the way up. Ipswich is also not too far and quite beautiful as well.
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