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Planning a trip to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts

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I am planning a trip to the New England states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Masschusetts. What ate the best points of interest in each of these states to visit. I have three weeks to travel the area, we like to see historic sites, nature, gardens, unique places, good lobster, water and fall foliage.

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    You mentioned fall foliage - when are your travel dates as fall foliage reaches peak colors at different times throughout New England.

    With 3 weeks, I'd spend at least 4 days in Boston if you haven't been there, and 2-3 days in the Berkshires. Then I'd spend 1 week in coastal Maine (half in souther Maine, half in mid-coast Maine), and then 1 final week split between NH & VT?

    Regarding historic sites, there are plenty of those in Boston, but you should head out to Lexington & Concord for the Battle Road.

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    Maine: Maine Coastal Gardens near Boothbay, Maritime Museum in Bath, Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owls Head Light, Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, exploring Harpswell area east of Brunswick, Pemaquid Pt Lighthouse, (inland) Cole Transporation Museum in Bangor (more work vehicles rather than fancy cars and planes like Owl's Head). Best lobster shacks are usually weekends only after Labor Day and close after Columbus Day but you'll find lobster at regular restaurants. If you get to Cole Transportation Museum, look for photos of the Lombard Log Hauler. If you're really lucky you'll find one restored someplace and run into someone who actually worked on one when they were young. We saw a restored one at a special weekend event at Owl's Head. Check events when you are here for any logging competitions (there are college teams) and perhaps demonstrations at Leonard's Mills (easy drive from Bangor). http://www.leonardsmills.com/events.html

    MA: I'm sure someone else will cover this

    VT: Great Vermont Corn Maze in Danville VT, Billlings Farm Museum in Woodstock, Shelburne Musuem, Gardener's Supply store and display gardens near Burlington, beautiful nursery in Charlotte, Brandon VT in general.

    NH: Fuller Gardens in Hampton, coastal road thru Rye (beautiful mansions), Portsmouth and Strawbery Banke Historic Area, inland rivers or harbor cruise boat trip, drive Rt 1B thru New Castle, (if you like wine) Flag Hill Winery in Lee (read the history), Canterbury Shaker Village, downtown Concord and history museum, anyplace in the White Mountains, Center Sandwich NH and Sandwich Creamery (settled very early, also note sled dogs for polar expeditions were trained in this area), SS Mount Washington cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee, Warner Fall Foliage Festival (Columbus Day Weekend). Get Hippo Press free newspaper for event listings. If you're lucky you might catch some NH Humor by Rebecca Rule or visiting famous author at an independent book store, or special event by a local historical society.

    Also check events and suggested drives (under foliage) on Yankee Magazine's website.

    Unique places are kind of hard. There's Winslow State Park on the Wilton NH side of Mt Kearsarge. Just a small mountain with nice views and fun auto road but it's not as spectacular as the top of Mt Washington. You might try finding Pizza on Earth in Charlotte VT (only serve on certain days) - a pizza kitchen on a farm. Or you might get lucky and see someone walking a team of oxen along a road but you're pretty guaranteed to see local oxen at Warner's Fall Foliage Festival parade. (There's a telephone museum in Warner, too.) If you get copies of DeLorme's Atlas and Gazetteer for each state, you'll have very detailed roads maps plus the locations of covered bridges and waterfalls. Hillsboro NH isn't a pretty town but there are stone arch bridges in the area if you like that sort of thing. Or you can see what artists from the NH League of Arts and Crafts might have an open studio (open studio days state-wide aren't until November). Unfortunately the good garden tours are during the summer when you can visit people's backyards.

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    I second Great Vermont Corn Maze in Danville. Set aside 2-3 hours for the Maze. They have a website. If you hit that area of VT, you might want to take a drive though the scenic village of Peacham Vermont. I believe Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford or The Old Homestead B&B in Barnet are both nice. Stowe Vermont has a nice bike/recreational trail and a number of interesting and short day-hikes (Sterling Falls is one). Burlington Vermont is lovely with long bike path along Lake Champlain and elsewhere into the city. The waterfront is nicely developed with a bike shop, kayak rental stand, a little park and boardwalk with swinging benches, some restaurants. In the center of Burlington is Church St, a pedestrian walk-way with many restaurants and shops. Also second Shelburne Museum for New England history, art etc. Shelburne Farms has many lovely walking trails and a fantastic seasonal restaurant and inn. Driving further south on Rt 7 will bring you to a gorgeous must-see short hike up MT Philo (a state park in Charlott). You can either hike up trails or walk up the road. The views across rural farmlands to the lake and across to the NY Adirondacks is spectacular! I've also heard Pizza on Earth is terrific and this would be a fun off-beat thing to do.

    Rockport MA is quite picturesque and lovely. We recently visited Marblehead MA and we loved walking through the old section of town. All the buildings are marked with the year they were built. Very historical setting. Make sure you note where you park your car. The streets are a maze! There is a nice park overlooking the harbor.

    Portsmouth NH Strawberry Banks is very interesting if you like history. Prescott Park is across the street from Strawberry Banks Museum. Portsmouth has a nice downtown for shopping, walking and eating. We enjoyed the Black Trumpet for dinner.
    From Portsmouth you can drive south, right along the ocean to checkout the shore along 1A to Hampton. In the fall, you should be able to easily park and explore the beaches or walkways along the route.

    I love Ogunquit but all of those towns north of Portsmouth (York, Wells Beach...) are all nice and it depends on what you like. I highly recommend the Beachmere Inn in Ogunquit. The rooms are lovely. We stayed in a room with a sweeping view of the ocean and a fireplace. Very romantic! The inn is situated right on Marginal Way, a path along the ocean. We did a ton of walking in Ogunquit, including a visit to a couple of nature preserves (I'll have to dig up the names) with paths leading to the ocean. Ogunquit beach is amazing - wide and long.

    Portland is also a terrific place to visit. A nice thing to do in Portland is to take the ferry to Peak's Island, leaving enough time in between ferries to eat and walk or bike around the island. We walked all the way around the island with no problem.

    When we travel, we always like to take in a bit of history and a bit of recreation/nature. You can find both in all of these places for sure and all are worthy of researching. We also visited Salem recently. Salem was more infused with a city feel and less quaint than I expected, but we found it's history interesting. We drove to area oceanside parks and a fort and found excellent vantage points from which to take in the scenery. If you go to Salem, dig deeper to find the gem scenery spots. Have fun planning your trip!

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