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New England trip report

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Oct 22nd, 2008, 01:17 PM
  #1
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New England trip report

My husband and I visited the New England area the week before Columbus Day and had a good time admiring the brilliant colors of the fall foliage. We were in northern Vermont and New Hampshire during the peak foliage viewing days and completely lucked out with the weather. It was unseasonable warm with no rain (except for one shower overnight into the early morning). We also visited Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Here are our hotel and restaurant reviews, as well as some of the highlights of our trip:

Day 1 - late night flight into Boston

Day 2 - drove from Boston to New Hampshire (and part of Vermont)
Stopped in Franconia Notch State Park and viewed the Flume. Strolling through the park was beautiful and the sunlight coming through the trees made for some amazing pictures. We then drove on to Burke Mountain in Vermont to catch some wonderful vistas at the top while we still had some daylight left.

Hotel - Best Western White Mountain Resort
I originally tried to book a hotel in Lincoln, but we planned the trip relatively late, so there weren't a lot of choices left. This hotel wasn't my first choice based on some of the reviews I had read, but it's what we ultimately ended up with. Given that we were only there for one night and for the price we paid, it wasn't too bad (although it wasn't the greatest place, either). We reserved a non-smoking room with a king bed, but when we went up to our room and opened the door, the smell of smoke was nauseating. We immediately went back to the reception desk and complained. We were given a different room, but it had two double beds instead of a king. I didn't feel like arguing, so I thought the double bed would be fine since it was only for one night anyway. The new room didn't smell like smoke at all and I noticed the non-smoking symbol on the door, which I didn't remember seeing on the first room we were given. When we went back out before going to dinner, I walked back over to that first room to look at the door, and in fact, it was a smoking room. The nerve of the hotel manager to try and give us that room. If we hadn't complained, we would've been stuck breathing smoky air all night.
The room we ended up having was standard, though. It was small and old/dated, but reasonably clean. However, there were minimal supplies provided in the bathroom -- half a roll of toilet paper, a few tissues left in the Kleenex box. It was enough for our overnight stay, but how ridiculous that housekeeping can't even re-stock the bathroom before a new guest checks in. We saw the housekeeping "staff" the next morning, which turned out to be one lady cleaning the whole place (I'm pretty sure she was the manager's wife).
Overall, we would NOT recommend this hotel, nor would we stay there again.

Food - dinner at the Dutch Treat restaurant in Franconia
This was the closest restaurant to the hotel and practically the only place in town, other than the hotel's restaurant. The food and prices were decent, and the service was fine.


Day 3 - New Hampshire to Maine
Drove through the Kancamagus Highway and stopped at a few overlooks and trails along the way. Even though this was peak time for leaf peepers, there was no traffic in sight along the highway (in fact, there were hardly any cars) since it was early morning on a weekday. The trails were gorgeous and you could smell the trees in the crisp morning air. It was so peaceful, too.
When the highway ended in Conway, we continued to drive east into Maine, passing a few picturesque lakes and small towns, before ending up in Kennebunkport. We walked around a bit for some souvenir shopping (all the shops had end-of-the-season sales) and then drove to the pier at Cape Porpoise for a snack at the lobster shack there. We watched the sun set, checked into our hotel, and then drove back into Kennebunkport for a late dinner.

Hotel - Holiday Inn Express, Saco
Excellent value if you prefer to stay in a chain hotel rather than a bed & breakfast. The hotel was located right off the highway, north of Kennebunk, so it wasn't touristy. The rooms were very clean and the staff was friendly. Breakfast was included in the price. We were very happy with our stay here.

Food -
- Lobster shack at the pier in Cape Porpoise - A 1 lb. lobster with melted butter and fries was $10. Not bad for the view and the experience
- Mabel's Lobster Claw, Kennebunkport - We were lucky to grab the last available table, as we didn't have reservations. I had the clam bake and hubby had fish. The clam chowder was pretty good, but the rest of the meal was just ok. The steamed clams tasted gritty and the lobster wasn't any better than the one we had on the pier.
- The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport - Their lobster rolls are EXCELLENT!! The lobster meat was juicy and even the roll was fresh and buttery -- now that's quality.


Day 4 - Back to Boston
After checking out of the hotel, we stopped for lunch at the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport (see review above). Their lobster rolls were so good, I could've eaten more ...
On the way back to Boston, we made a quick stop at the Kittery Premium Outlet for some shopping. There weren't very many stores at this outlet, but the one important one to me was the Lindt chocolate store I bought a few bags of "imperfect" chocolates -- some of the pieces had some caramel filling that leaked out so they couldn't be packaged, and instead got sold in this factory outlet.
By late afternoon, we checked into our hotel in Boston (where we'd stay for the remainder of our trip), then wandered around the Quincy Market area and saw a few of the sites along the Freedom Trail before heading to dinner. While we were in Faneuil Hall, everyone was suddenly asked to leave because they were closing the building (just the upstairs floors). Apparently they didn't have enough people to staff the building for the rest of the afternoon. Such a shame.

Hotel - Embassy Suites, Logan airport
Very good hotel with a convenient location to public transportation. Although we've been to slightly nicer and bigger Embassy Suites, this one was still pretty good. Our suite was very clean, and breakfast each morning was included, as well as an afternoon reception. Plus every evening they had cookies at the front desk. Breakfast items included fruit, pancakes, waffles, bagels, muffins, hot items (sausages, bacon, eggs, hash browns), and cooked-to-order omelets. We were usually sightseeing in the afternoon, so we only did the afternoon reception once. That time they had two hot items available as well as chips/salsa, and cheese and crackers. I suppose if you wanted a very, very light dinner, you could get by with the snacks offered during the reception.
Another nice hotel service was their luggage hold. We had a late flight the day we checked out and they held our suitcases in a locked storage area. We've been to other hotels that have luggage holds where they turn out to "store" your suitcases behind the front desk, so we were pleased that this one was really stored in a secure room.
As for the hotel's proximity to the T station (subway), it was a 5-minute walk on a path through a well-lit park. Then it was 2 stops on the Blue Line to the Aquarium, where the Long Wharf and Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall were also located.
Even though the hotel was located right outside Logan, we never had any problems inside the room with hearing airport/airplane noise.

Food -
- Legal Seafoods, Long Wharf location - We ate here twice and absolutely loved everything. The clam chowder was wonderful - spiced just right and had plenty of big clams. The lobster rolls weren't as good as the ones we had in Kennebunkport at the Clam Shack, but they were still very tasty. My hubby tried a couple of different fish dishes and both were good. Service was excellent both times, too. We had reservations both times which was good; otherwise the wait was over an hour and a half.
- Boston Chowda in Quincy Market - great clam chowder in a bread bowl (almost as good as Legal Seafood)
- McCormick & Schmick's, Quincy Market - very good food and service. We've eaten at this chain at home, so it wasn't anything new to us, but it's still a high quality place. I ordered lobster and hubby had fish.
- Anthony's Pier 4 - the food was alright, but if we had to do it over, we'd go to Legal Seafoods (again) instead. I had the lobster newburg which unfortunately was drenched in the newburg sauce, and hubby had seared ahi. He said it was really good, but found it funny that the waiter asked how he wanted it prepared ... how else do you prepare seared ahi but searing the outside and leaving the inside raw? The waiter was very proper, but not that friendly. The whole place just seemed a bit stuffy.


Day 5 - Boston and Rhode Island
Late morning into mid-day we spent at the Langham Hotel's chocolate bar. Oh my gosh, was I in heaven! I liked that the desserts were small pieces so that you could try a lot of them; otherwise people tend to take a bite just to sample and then the rest goes to waste. I could've stayed there all afternoon, but we had plans to go to Newport, RI. So we drove over to Newport and walked along the Cliff Walk for a while until we reached The Breakers Mansion. Apparently it was a busy day there because a cruise ship dropped off a few bus loads of passengers. We bought tickets for the tour, but were given a specific timeframe to come back for the tour. It was about an hour wait for our timeframe, so we browsed the gift shop and the exterior/grounds of the mansion. The view of the ocean from the back property was amazing. When we finally got inside for the tour, the mansion did not disappoint. Our jaws dropped when we entered the Great Hall. It's just one of those places that you have to see in person to appreciate.

Day 6 - Cape Cod
We drove the Old King's Highway through Sandwich, Barnstable, and Yarmouth. While in Sandwich, we stopped at the Glass Museum to watch the glass blowing demonstration. I bought a little souvenir from their gift shop and we also toured the museum which was really cute. When we reached the Cape Cod National Seashore, we stopped at the Salt Pond visitor's center, took a short hike around the pond and Nauset Marsh, and continued on to Marconi Beach. The weather was pleasant and a few girls were even in the water swimming. It was a nice, slow-paced day spent exploring the Cape. I should also mention that there were plenty of end-of-the-season sales (60% off merchandise) in the souvenir shops, just like in Kennebunkport.

That evening when we drove back into Boston, we returned the rental car at the airport, took their shuttle to the terminal, and then took the Embassy shuttle back to the hotel. Most of the rental car companies are within walking distance to the Embassy (a couple of them are literally next door), but ours was a bit further so we took the shuttles. We spent the next 2 days in Boston, touring the city by foot and taking the T as much as possible. We wrapped up our Boston sightseeing of the Freedom Trail, and went shopping along Newbury Street and at Copley Place. I bought so many delicious chocolates at the Richart chocolate boutique in Copley Place that they gave me a few extra pieces on the house.

Overall, the New England states were a good mix of nature (fall foliage, seashore), historical sites, and big city (with some good shopping and dining!).
globetrotterxyz is offline  
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Oct 22nd, 2008, 01:31 PM
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yk
 
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globetrotter - Wow, thanks for the report! You certainly had your share of clam chowders and lobsters on this trip.

Thanks for the detail info about the Embassy Suite at Logan. I'd never thought of recommending it for sightseeing, but I guess it's not bad, esp it's w/i walking distance to the T stop.

How did you like the Richart chocolates? Was the sales person nice? I passed by it several times but never bought any chocolates there. I had been to their shop in Paris, and almost got my hand slapped by the sales lady when I wanted to take a look at the box.
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Oct 22nd, 2008, 02:02 PM
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chocolates and lobster what a fun trip!

We have had really nice weather and nice foliage this year. Columbus Day week in particular was so sunny and gorgeous. You definitely lucked out!
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Oct 22nd, 2008, 04:16 PM
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yk -

The Richart chocolates are really good, but pricey. The sales lady was nice and patient. I was buying a few boxes for me, plus a few more as gifts for different people, so I was in there for quite a while. She explained what the fillings were in certain boxes and helped me customize for each person's preferences.
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Oct 22nd, 2008, 07:06 PM
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Thanks for a great trip report!
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Oct 22nd, 2008, 07:27 PM
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Nice to meet a seafood lover. I love legal's my favorite ones are the Chestnut hill mall and the Harvard sqwuare one at the charles Hote sq.l in Cambridge. Some of the others aren't as good.
I'm happy you had a great time in my city.
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Nov 23rd, 2008, 07:02 PM
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Hi, we are planning a trip next summer to new England. Could you give me an idea as to times involved from Lincoln to Kennebunkport.We will be doing a leisurely drive taking in some sights along the way.

I have been on mapquest, but I would like some info from someone who has actually done this.

We also plan on driving from
Kennebunkport to Boston for 3 days and then onto Cape Cod. Thanks.
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Nov 24th, 2008, 12:21 PM
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Dock - We left Franconia probably around 9 am and got to the Kennebunkport area around 2 pm. We took plenty of time along the way to stop at view points along the Kancamagus Highway, plus we took some leisurely strolls along a few of the trails there. We also stopped for lunch in Conway.

The drive from Kennebunkport to Boston was probably about 2.5 hours, including a short shopping stop at the Kittery Outlets.

Cape Cod was a (very long) day trip from Boston. That will easily take the entire day for the roundtrip drive and to take in a lot of the sights. If you're booking a hotel in Cape Cod rather than doing it as a day trip from Boston, then you'll have plenty of time to explore the area.
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Nov 25th, 2008, 04:43 AM
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globetrotterxyz:

We will have a week in Eastham next summer and want to plan time in Boston. Haven't decided if the Boston bit should be before our week or after.

I was very interested in your idea of staying at The Embassy Suites by Logan. Like yk that would have not occurred to me. Was there a particular reason why you choose this hotel over others? I agree that their breakfast is a great start to the day.

Liked all your details about food etc. Thanks very much.

Sandy

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Nov 25th, 2008, 09:56 AM
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Sandy - since we weren't going to have a rental car while in Boston, we chose Embassy because of its proximity to the T station, to the airport, and to the car rentals. When we returned our rental, it was easy to get back to the hotel, and on the day of our return flight, we took the Embassy shuttle to the terminal. Their rate for a suite was also reasonable, especially compared to a room at a downtown hotel.
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Mar 14th, 2009, 04:14 PM
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What a great report. Hopefully globetrotter is still checking back in

I love the way you explained where you ate, what you had etc. Thats really helpful info.

we are planning to catch a train from NYC to Boston, maybe two nights there then hire a car and just 'go for a drive'. You've given me a real start on where to go. We will have a full week for our drive and we pretty much want to do what you did last year. We will arrive in Boston Oct 6. I see Columbus day is Oct 12, do you think this may impact on our very 'no plan' trip? Should we try and make sure we have accommodation sorted for that period?

We do love to just 'wing it'. Hoping to 'fluke' some nice inns or smaller hotels.

Again a great report. My mouth is watering for the Lobster.
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Mar 16th, 2009, 08:06 AM
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Wow, you packed in quite a bit in a short time. I have never thought of a trip form Boston to Cape Cod as a day trip and I a surprised that you have pleasant memories. It usually takes us a couple of days to wind down and relax enough to really enjoy the natural beauty of the National Seashore. If you visit again, I highly recommend that you spend a bit more time on the outer cape to explore the variety of activities and many fine restaurants in the area.

Aussiedreamer, if you will be traveling north of Boston in early October you should rethink your just "go for a drive" plan as the foliage season is very popular and you may find yourselves spending most of your time looking for an available room rather than exploring. If you are going south of Boston to Cape Cod you will probably be able to find something last minute if you are not too fussy about your accommodations but you would be wise to do some research ahead of time to identify a few possibilities before you go.
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Mar 17th, 2009, 06:00 PM
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Hi Aussiedreamer - if you plan to do some leaf peeping during that week, I'd recommend having some accommodations reserved rather than trying to wing it. The smaller inns & hotels are popular and many visitors book their rooms well in advance (months ahead) since that's the peak foliage season.
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