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Old 12-07-2012, 04:58 PM
241 posts, read 198,241 times
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I'm planning several trips. Next October I'd like to see:

- Connecticut
- Massachusetts
- New Hampshire
- Vermont
- Maine

1) Should I go to Canada since i'm so close?
2) Can everyone help me pick the specific cities to see and things to do?

I'm in my early 30's --- and like fishing, outdoors, hiking, sports, eating healthy food, drinking unique beer, drinking wine, bars/music/jazz all great.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:34 PM
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HIKING: the Appalachian trail passes thru all the states mentioned. Mount Monadnock in southern NH is very popular to hike, and easy to get to. Mount Washington NH has the harshest weather in the USA, and a steep train ride going up it. The Long Trail stretches the length of VT. The Marginal Way is a famous shoreline path in Ogunquit, southern Maine. "Vermont Bicycle Tours" is one of the largest companies of its kind anywhere.

Visit Sturbridge Village, MA; Plimouth Plantation, MA; the Shaker Villages near Concord NH and in Pittsfield MA; also Mystic Seaport CT, and Newport RI.

You can also get PLENTY of information on this site: Reviews of Hotels, Flights and Vacation Rentals - TripAdvisor
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:23 PM
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Block Island, RI:

It's very tiny and there isn't much to do this time of year, but it's still beautiful if you have the time. The bluffs are stunning, and the water is crystal clear.

Mount Washington, NH:

The weather can be so unbelievably awful, but if you get a clear day it is honestly breathtaking.

Boston is also really lovely!
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:38 PM
Location: New Hampshire
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OK, I can't possibly recommend an itinerary until I know how much time you'll have in the region.

Certainly Boston and the White Mountains of NH are the first two places that spring to mind which would cover all of your criteria, but if you really want to spend time in the other New England states, then I'll need to know how much time you're planning to spend overall. It's true that Montreal isn't too far away (although Quebec City - which I prefer - is a bit of a haul), but unless you have a lot of time to spare, I think it's probably too ambitious to include Canada, which warrants a trip of its own.
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:41 AM
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First two weeks of October should put you in the fall foliage season, Hotels and motels can be all booked up at that time of the year so you may want to reserve ahead of time in those places that cater to all the foliage tours ..

I'd forget Canada this time as you'd be spreading yourself kinda thin..
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:13 AM
Location: Bangor Maine
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If you get to Maine you will LOVE the coast here. Also it might interest you to visit Baxter State Park and Mt. Katahdin. I agree with those that say to skip Canada this trip.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:34 AM
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Verseau: Budget is unlimited and so is time. I wouldn't mind spending a full month out there, but 2 weeks might make more sense?
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:58 PM
Location: New Hampshire
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Unlimited time and budget? Nice!

I would probably suggest a minimum of two weeks to see the six New England states, but if you're going to be spending a lot of time doing outdoor activities, then you'd definitely appreciate having more time than that.

October is foliage season, and I don't think you'll regret going this time of year. It really is beautiful. The past couple of years have had disappointing foliage due to warmer fall temperatures, but hopefully this year breaks the pattern.

The higher mountain elevations in northern New England typically reach peak foliage right around the start of October, with the colors progressing gradually southward and eastward towards the coast. Boston is one of the last places to hit peak, usually around Halloween. With three or four weeks in your itinerary, you could take advantage of this natural progression by starting your journey in the northern mountains and winding up in the southern coastal areas.

Where will you be starting your journey? Will you be flying into Boston/Providence/Manchester/etc. or will you be driving into the region?

Typically, when people do tours of New England they begin and end in Boston and drive in a big circle. The "circle method" is certainly an option for you. Assuming a start in Boston, you would head north along the coast, from the North Shore of MA through NH's Seacoast up into coastal Maine. There would be very little foliage along the coast at this point, but this area is known more for its charming historic towns and coastal scenery, anyway.

Heading inland, you would traverse the interior of central and western Maine towards the White Mountains of NH, then onto northern Vermont. Here's where the risk of the "circle method" comes into play: depending on the year, you could be a little late for the best colors in the mountains. It's very difficult to predict, and depends largely on how much wind and rain we receive during those crucial first two weeks of October. Generally, I would probably try to see the White Mountains for example by the end of the first week in October (or perhaps no later than October 10).

Heading south across Vermont and into western MA, you could visit the Berkshires and the Pioneer Valley before continuing on to eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island. From RI, you would head back to Boston.

The alternative to this "circle method" is the "figure 8 method." In this case, you would try to hit the best colors first by heading northwest from Boston towards the spine of the Green Mountains of VT. Head north into northern VT and then cut over to the White Mountains. Continue across Maine towards the Downeast region and hopefully catch the coast here as the colors are nearing peak. Then head south along the coast of Maine, cutting across southern NH towards western MA and the Berkshires, hopefully close to peak there as well. Then follow the same general route as before through CT and RI back to the Boston area. Mileage-wise, this "figure 8 method" makes a bit less sense, but it could yield better colors - especially if you want to see the colors in, say, Acadia National Park.

Another option would be to use the "circle method" but to start during the last week in September, heading up the coast and then arriving in the White Mountains during the first week in October when colors are typically peaking. In any scenario, you are bound to see beautiful colors somewhere in the region. However, I would argue that NH and Vermont are probably the two most spectacular states for leaf-peeping.

Or maybe you don't even really care about seeing the fall colors. In any case, I will make a second post detailing the specific places I would recommend for a trip.
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:37 PM
Location: New Hampshire
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Alright, here are my recommendations:

  • Boston: as I mentioned before, I would probably save this for the end of your October journey. I'd suggest a bare minimum of three days, but you won't regret having more days to explore this great city.
    • Freedom Trail
    • Other neighborhoods not on the trail: Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Harvard Square/University (Cambridge)
    • Sam Adams & Harpoon breweries
    • Good nightlife/music spots: downtown, Fenway, Central Square (Cambridge), Davis Square (Somerville), among others
    • Castle Island, South Boston
    • For autumn foliage in late October: Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Arnold Arboretum
  • North Shore of Massachusetts
    • Salem
    • Newburyport (+ Plum Island)
    • Other options (less crucial, IMO): Gloucester, Rockport, Ipswich
  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • Portland, Maine
  • Mid-coast of Maine
    • Pemaquid Point
    • Monhegan Island (time permitting)
    • Camden / Camden Hills State Park
  • Acadia National Park
  • Baxter State Park, Maine
  • White Mountains, NH
    • Crawford Notch State Park (Arethusa Falls, Mt. Willard, etc.)
    • Mt. Washington (Auto Road / Cog Railway / hike? - all weather permitting!)
    • Franconia Notch State Park (Mt. Lincoln-Lafayette loop; Lonesome Lake loop; Flume Gorge)
    • Kancamagus Highway + Bear Notch Road (great fall colors year after year)
    • Cathedral Ledge & Echo Lake State Park
    • Sugar Hill
  • Northern VT
    • Peacham/Cabot (Groton State Forest, Foster Bridge, etc.)
    • Burke Mountain, Lake Willoughby
    • Stowe (Stowe Hollow Road, Smuggler's Notch)
  • Burlington, VT (and environs)
  • Southern VT
    • Woodstock
    • Cornish-Windsor covered bridge
    • Grafton (and other picturesque villages)
    • Mt. Equinox Skyline Drive
  • Berkshires, Massachusetts
    • Mohawk Trail
    • Mt. Greylock
    • Hancock Shaker Village
  • Pioneer Valley
    • Deerfield
    • Northampton
  • Sturbridge Village (if living history museums actually interest you - same applies for Plimouth Plantation)
  • Eastern CT
    • Route 169
    • Mystic
  • Newport, Rhode Island and environs
    • Jamestown, Beavertail State Park, Tiverton
  • Providence, RI
  • Concord/Lexington, MA if you're interested in the history
With enough time, you might consider adding the Cape and Islands (Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket - same holds for Block Island). This would definitely be off-season so it really depends on what your "style" is. It sounds like you'd probably enjoy the cities and the mountainous areas more than anything else, of course. The Cape Cod National Seashore is pretty cool.

This list is certainly not exhaustive, and is biased towards places that I know particularly well (White Mountains, Boston), but I have been to all of these places. I would welcome others to add ideas to my list.

The other areas I'd like to add - but which might be tricky to fit in unless opting for the "figure 8" approach - would be the Lakes Region and Monadnock Region of NH. The former has Wolfeboro, the Castle in the Clouds, and fun hiking near Squam Lake (Mt. Morgan-Percival loop), and timeless villages like Tamworth and Sandwich. The latter has Keene, Mt. Monadnock, stone arch bridges, and timeless villages like Hancock and Harrisville.
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Old 12-17-2012, 05:58 AM
Location: Bangor Maine
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I agree mostly with the above poster with the exception of Salem MA. It's somewhat of a tourist trap. Not so much with Plimouth Plantation. If you do stop in Plymouth be sure to take in the Museum in downtown Plymouth and the replica of the Mayflower there in the harbor.
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