Two weeks in New England

Old Jul 28th, 2005, 04:21 AM
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Two weeks in New England

Hi there! My wife and I will be spending two weeks in New England in the second half of September. We're newbies to NE and while we have already found loads of helpful information on this magnificent site it would be great to hear if seasoned travellers and/or locals consider our basic itinerary realistic or have suggestions.
We're spending three nights/two days in Boston. Then two days for Concord & Lowell, followed by a trip up the Maine coast - four days, with two for Acadia National Park. Then east towards Montpelier Vt. for villages and foliage peeping and eating ourselves through the Culinary Institute's restaurants. Then South, some hiking in the Green mountains or the Berkshires. If time allows a whiff of Provincetown. That's the rough plan. Is it too much? Are there absolute musts on the way? Are there better routes? I should mention perhaps, that we're generally not into the heavily touristy stuff. Good food, nature, "authentic" towns and local tradition is what we're looking for. But there seems so much of it, it's hard to make a choice. Thanks for your help! Tom
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 04:46 AM
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If you want a "whiff" of P'own, the best way to do it is to take the Fast Ferry out of Boston for a day trip. Perhaps this would be a good final day, if you are flying out of Boston the next day; you could do your road trip, return the car, and spend a final night in Boston.

The itinerary looks good, with the possible exception of the Maine-to-VT trek -- there is no easy east/west route (all those mountains, you know) so plan on allowing plenty of time, especially since this will be the height of foliage season and therefore traffic will be extra-heavy.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 05:06 AM
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Second half of September *might* be early for foliage except in the northern parts of NH and VT -- it's impossible to be sure in advance. So the traffic might not be at its worst, yet. But it's always worse on the weekends, so it would help if the trek to (and in) VT is on weekdays.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 05:16 AM
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It sounds like you might be in the Camden area for the weekend of the organic farmer's Common Ground Fair. Check their website. The fair is in Unity. Great organic food vendors and a wonderful craft fair. No midway and no soda cans. I've never been a fan of the Cape so I would vote to eliminate Provincetown and give yourself some time to do some hiking in the White Mountains. Although the Flume is a commercial walk thru a gorge, there are hundreds of other hikes you can take. If you are also into cooking as well as eating, you might want to stop at King Arthur Flour near Norwich VT not too far from Rt 89. On your drive up to Maine, I would stop at Stonewall Kitchens. They make wonderful jellies, sauces and mustards. I think there is a store in Camden. There is also a winery north of Camden in Lincolnville. You will have to check their hours for tastings.
I loved the Culinary Institue in Montpelier. We made reservations for lunch at the Main Street Grill. We usually have lunch at the one in Burlington VT if we are in town.
Your best bet for Maine to VT would be to aim for North Conway and take one of the routes thru the mountains like the Kancmangus. Corn mazes are popular in New England and there is a really great one in Danville VT but it's up north across from Littleton NH. Check the website for Great Vermont Corn Maze. Since it's on a sidehill, the walk thru the maze gives you a good workout and do NOT start it on an empty stomach. We spent about two hours and finally took the "emergency exit". Oh well. You will probably find other mazes closer to your planned route.
You'll be just ahead of the heavy foliage traffic. The last week of September you might see a little color in the north but nothing like the first week of October.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 05:26 AM
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I'm curious about the two days for Concord and Lowell, especially considering your wonderful agenda following that. I could probably meander just the Maine coastline for two weeks. Concord is pretty...a half day or less for the battlefield, then wander around town. I'm not aware of Lowell's attractions, however, but maybe things have changed. When I was growing up in MA, Lowell was a mill town....??
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 05:40 AM
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I would suggest a night in New Hampshire's White Mountains en route from Maine to Montpelier. The White Moutains are quite spectacular, and there are lots of hikes and attractions in the area. As others have mentioned, I don't see any reason to visit Lowell Ma., which is a heavily industrialized mill town. Perhaps a day in Concord, and a day on the Cape might be better.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 06:07 AM
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Lowell has revitalized itself very nicely and is a great example of a small industrial city making a successful effort to move forward while preserving its history. Since it's along the way to Maine anyway, why not stop by and visit the American Textile History Museum, the Boot Cotton Mills museum operated by the National Park Service, National Streetcar Museum, New England Quilt Museum, (James McNeill) Whistler House Museum of Art, the Revolving Museum, and Lowell National Historic Park.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 06:07 AM
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Lowell has a fairly interesting museum about its days as a mill town. It is a National Historic Park. It doesn't need too much time though. I had female relatives who immigrated here to work at those mills, so it was intersting to me anyway...

http://www.nps.gov/lowe/
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 06:11 AM
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I agree with the last two posters on Concord and Lowell.
Why not skip Lowell and head to the ocean to Salem (Peabody Essex Museum) or Gloucester (great fish restaurants on the wharf) before heading north?
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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Did you mean Concord and Lexington instead of Lowell? Those 2 towns are well worth the time. I grew up in Lowell and go back once in a while. It is an old mill city that has had some rehab and you can visit some of the rehabbed mills but it has all the problems associated with an old city that's seen better days. If the Industrial Revolution stuff interests you, fine. Otherwise, I'd skip it.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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I also think two whole days for Concord and Lowell is way too much. Concord is a nice suburb with an interesting historical park, but a half-day would be find. Then you could stop in Lowell for a meal, maybe, but then move on to better stuff.

Other fine stops on the way north would be Portsmouth NH and Portland Maine.

Trees will likely still be green in Mass. during September -- any foliage will be to the north.

If you choose the Berkshires area, be sure to visit Mass MoCa (a very cool art museum in a former factory), and some of the other art museums in the North Adams/Williamstown area. You can find nice hiking and views from Mt. Greylock state park.

The Green mountains are bigger and craggier, and probably wilder than the gentle hills of the Berekshires.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 06:30 AM
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I would strongly suggest that you secure hotel reservations as soon as possible.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 07:45 AM
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Vermont is a great state and quite beautiful but since you sound like lovers of the outdoors the White Mountains in NH are far superior for beauty, ruggedness, trails, roads, etc. As noted the drive from Maine to Vermont is not a straight shot on a highway but rather a winding trip on (mainly) two lane secondary roads.

I'm in Nashua, NH which is close to Lowell. Unless you have an interest in the history of the textile industry in NE or have a French-Canadian background you might not find it all that great. Lowell has come a long way but still...

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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 08:03 AM
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Skip Provincetown and go to Nantucket Island for a couple of days as well as the historic seaport town of Newport, RI. If you do this early in the trip, you'll be in northern New England later when the foliage is closer to peak. You'll get a broader look at NE that way.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 08:43 AM
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Please don't skip Concord/Lexington and Lowell. Both are worth a day of your time. Go to Concord from Boston for a day and stop in Lowell the next day on your way to Maine. You will get a different perspective on New England by including historical places from various time frames. I also agree that a stop in the White Mountains while traveling from ME to VT is essential. Once again very different from the coast and the Green Mtns. This trip sounds like a great overview of NE. I'm sure you will find some things that you prefer over others and you can return to those in the future. Have a great trip.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 09:41 AM
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I also think Lowell is worth the time. Add canal boat tours, art galleries and shops to "anonymous'" list of museums, and there is plenty to do. A stop at the Visitor's Center first is helpful.

There is an insurgence of people buying condos downtown in renovated buildings. Many of whom have decided to do so because of a recent visit to Lowell.

By the way, the Lowell Folk Festival is this weekend (July 29-30). It's the largest free music festival in the country.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 10:03 AM
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you will be driving north to bar harbor on rte. 1. this is a beautiful drive - sometimes. many places great views, some places just traffic. for your first night in maine i would suggest boothbay harbor,popham beach, port clyde, actually anyplace on the ocean bewteen brunswick and rockland. beautiful coastal towns. very new england. about 5 -6 hrs plus time to drive down the finger you stay on. the next day i would drive up to bar harbor/mt desert island and settle in. you can drive back down the coast a ways if you wish or find plenty to do in the acadia area.
now when leaving for vt. i strongly advise you head west. east will be wet and much longer. seriously though head to bangor. get on I95 south to newport and get on rte. 2 all the way to montpelier. not sure what the editor means but this very definetly "is an easy east/west route" this road can be a bit busy in maine, but once you hit bethel and head into nh it will change. road improves and the countryside is magnificant. anyplace you decide to venture off rte 2 for lunch or scenic adventure will be wonderful. this is a full days drive. to break this up nicely. you could take rte16 south at gorham,nh to glen and then head back north to littleton,nh and tke rte302 to montpelier. if you did this you might want to spend a night at the mt washington inn at bretton woods. a spectacular hotel with a spectacular view.
i envy you your meals at the culinary institute. i have always wanted to do that....
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 11:16 AM
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Concord/Lexington and Lowell are both nice enough, but both really more half-days than full days. I don't think you need two days for that area, unless you are really into seeing every Revolutionary War/Industrial Revolution site you can find.

The White Mountains are definitely nicer hiking than the Green Mountains or the Berkshires, and heading from ME to VT you'll almost have to drive through them anyway. I'd spend a two days there and skip the Green Mountains.

As others have said, Provincetown is easiest done via the ferry from Boston. It's a nice day trip that way, and you can get a taste of the Cape.

Trying to see Newport and Nantucket I think would be too much to add to this trip. Ptown you can do in a day from Boston. Nantucket isn't a day trip (at least, not from Boston).

In Concord, go to the Colonial Inn for High Tea and/or dinner (you can stay there to, although I never have), and try to stop by Walden Pond, even if only for an hour (in which time, you can probably walk around it and at least see the remains of Thoreau's cabin). In Lexington the main attraction is the Battle Green and the historic taverns nearby. Get takeout from Via Lago and have a picnic on the Green.

I'll let others who know more about Maine make suggestions there...

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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 02:55 PM
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I love Concord and especially the museum there. A whole day would be very nice for seeing all the sights, including the Sleepy Hollow cemetery, Louisa May Alcott's house, and other things of interest.

Rather than staying in Concord, try for reservations at Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury. Comfortable, quiet rooms (no television!), excellent old-fashioned restaurant. Nearby is the schoolhouse where Mary and her little lamb went, and there's an operating grist mill to visit. Driving around and seeing some beautiful houses is also fun.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 02:58 PM
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Old Sturbridge Village is worth easily a half-day visit. The buildings are the real things from colonial days, bought elsewhere and reassembled at the Village. There are many activities: colonial games, colonial cooking, blacksmithing...enough to keep you well occupied.
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