Travel in New England in October

Aug 10th, 2009, 01:29 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Travel in New England in October

My wife and I are taking my mother (87 years old, in good health just limited by how much walking she can do ) to New England this October. We are flying into Boston and have 8 days to spend. We do not want to take a tour as we do not want to be on a bus, therefore we are going to rent a car and drive. I've seen where all the tours stop and the places they mention but are they the best places to go? Our current plan is to spend two nights in Boston then travel to Cape Cod, tour it and head to western Mass. Stay in somewhere like Pittsfield and then head to Stowe, VT. I know we want to go to New Hampshire and Maine after that but everything I have been reading suggests we try to avoid North Conway because of traffic. So one question is what do we do to enjoy the things that New Hampshire has to offer without getting caught in a lot of traffic. Should we try to go all the way from Stowe to Maine in one day or stop somewhere in between? If we only have one day left in Maine where do you suggest we go?

Ideas are welcome! Thanks for your input.
cwa is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 01:40 PM
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Any reason why you have to visit Cape Cod? October is not the best time of year to visit. I'd skip it and use the time for other areas. When in October do you have in mind? If your goal is leaf-peeping, knowing your dates will help determine the sequence of your route.
yk is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 06:06 AM
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Thanks for your response. We plan to arrive in Boston on October 7 and leave on the 14th. You're comments confirmed what I was thinking about Cape Cod. I had included it because my wife was interested in seeing it. Maybe a different time of the year would be better for that.
cwa is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 07:17 AM
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As you know already, you're coming during Columbus Day weekend, which is the busiest time for leaf-peeping. I hope someone else can offer a route itinerary for you (or, do a search here as this Q has been asked a lot in the last few months), and make lodging reservations ASAP once you've figured out where you want to stay overnight.
yk is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 08:16 AM
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If you really want to go to Stowe and NH's White Mountains, you should go there first. Color will be peaking in the north at the beginning of Oct. You don't want to be driving all the time so I would suggest you think about a boat or train ride such as Lake Winnipesaukee (both options there). Try to avoid commuting hours on major highways. i.e. Friday night north bound on Rt 93 (NH), southbound on Sunday afternoons/early evening. I think there may be extra weekend traffic in the NH's lakes/mountains because of the rainy June and July because the past two sundays we have seen traffic backed up to exit 17 and assume that it's backed up all the way from the Hooksett toll booth. Rt 89 from VT feeds into Rt 93 north of the toll booth. We noticed a long line of cars getting off Rt 93 at exit 18 and traveling a secondary road that parallels Rt 93. Prettier drive, too.
If you headed to the White Mountains first you could drive over the Maine. Portland is only about an hour from the Conway area. Enjoy the drive, visit southern Maine coast, from Portsmouth NH head west to Concord NH and then rt 89 to VT. (Portsmouth has some nice boat cruises, too plus beautiful Strawbery Banke historic area.)
I think it would really help to pick a few special places. I don't think you have time to include the Cape and western MA although from VT you could head down Rt 91 visit Pittsfield and then visit Boston but it depends on how often you want to switch hotel rooms.
dfrostnh is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 08:37 AM
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I actually quite like the Cape in early October. There's no traffic so it's easy to get around, and the weather is usually still pleasant as long as you aren't planning on swimming. Actually, two years ago, there was an unusual warm stretch and we saw people swimming there the weekend before Halloween!

If I had limited time, I'd still choose to see the White Mountains during peak foliage over Cape Cod in October, but just thought mention my experience in case going there was a priority for your wife.
MareW is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 02:39 PM
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dfrostnh has given some excellent advice and a nice 8 day trip would focus on the highlights of a specific area. For example, you might spend your two nights in Boston, leave *very* early Friday am to go up the coast to Portsmouth NH, Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park (Bass Harbor) ME or go south to the Cape and Rhode Island/Newport or Western MA and the Berkshires/VT - lots of options. Reservations will be necessary for your Columbus Day week visit and it will all depend on how many hotel changes you want to endure. It sounds like you have a lot of time to have a great trip.
bassharborbaby is offline  
Aug 14th, 2009, 05:08 AM
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I agree with the advice about avoiding Salem in October, especially during the week preceding Halloween. Salem is one big traffic jam then, very unpleasant for driving, and too crowded even for walking around.
JoyceL is offline  
Aug 14th, 2009, 05:14 AM
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MareW is absolutely correct, October is a great time to come the Cape. You'll have a much better time because all of summer crowds will be gone, and restaurants offer pretty good specials.
PamEwing is offline  
Aug 18th, 2009, 04:19 PM
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Depends on what you're looking to do/ see.

In October the Cape will be much less crowded. There will be major leaf-peeping traffic around the white mountains, but mainly on Fridays going North from Massachusetts and Sundays (and Columbus day) going South from Maine/ NH to Mass.

The only other major traffic would be any Friday night on the Southeast expressway (from Boston heading south toward the cape) because of general commuter traffic.
alley is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2009, 05:04 PM
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The cape will be relatively uncrowded and pleasant, but won't have the best fall color. Which is your priority? I would avoid the white mountains. New England is a big place with lots of beautiful areas that won't be as crowded as the white mountains. And won't have a ton of tour buses. Do you want to spend your time driving behind a tour bus?

I would rent a car at the airport and head west. Oct 7 is mid week so unless you are landing at rush hour the traffic shouldn't be too bad. I would go first to western Mass but stay in Stockbridge or Lee rather than Pittsfield. Then head north into Vermont, then cut through New Hampshire to Maine. The coast between Portland and Camden is just as nice and no where near as far as trying to go all the way to Acadia. Then go south to Cape Ann (Boston's north shore). Then end in Boston for the last couple of nights (dropping the car first, parking in Boston is not fun).
isabel is offline  
Aug 31st, 2009, 04:30 PM
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I see you just joined fodors - welcome. Hope you're aware that advertising is not allowed here. You've had 5 posts all recommending Green Mountain Inn. I realize its a great place and we plan to stay there in October as well, but no advertising is no advertising. Thanks!
PamT is offline  
Sep 5th, 2009, 04:31 PM
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Only a quick note. The Mohawk tails route 2 should be a nice drive over to the Berkshires of western MS from there it's easy to slip into VT and catch route 7 or 100 north and then east.
If you decide you want to take a train they are filling up as we speak and you need to plan to make reservations now.
I'm not sure if the Mt Washington steamer on lake Winnipesaukee runs too often as this summer it was running once per week. So put a call in ahead of time, but if running your mother might like that...

Jeff Foliage
Vistaphotography is offline  

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