Planning A Trip - Would Love Input
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I was raised on the Connecticut shoreline, and lived in the state for 22 years, before relocating to the Carolinas.
In all that time, I never went to Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine...go figure.
This year for our anniversary vacation in mid-September, my dh and I are thinking of driving through New England, taking about three days to see some of the areas.
I'd love input on sights to see, not touristy things, but real heritage (like covered bridges) and nature.
At this time we're planning on driving from Connecticut (where my in-laws still live) through eastern Massachusetts, to Portsmouth NH, up to Rockport (I have an old friend there), and then across NH and VT, driving down through Bennington, to western CT and then back to central CT.
Any suggestions would be very welcome...and appreciated. :)
Otherwise, you're north of the places I usually go. Franconia Notch and Mount Washington are the usual destinations on that route. Haven't been in decades. They were pretty touristy when I did go.
I've been checking out motel prices and was surprised to find them so high...and then I realized that the prices are due to the "foliage" season...oh well.
In Portsmouth, NH, you probably want to see the old houses in the Strawberry Banke Museum property. There's a boardwalk and so forth at Hampton, NH -- too commercialized for me, but the beach is nice. I also liked the older part of the town. The old settler cemetery where many settlers were buried was interesting as well.
I enjoyed the Portland Head Light. Most tourists also want to hit the L. L. Bean store in Freeport. It's too bad you aren't going as far north as the Bar Harbor area. Everyone I know loves Acadia National Park and the Bar Harbor area. My mom enjoyed Camden, Maine which is in the Rockport area when they went up there.
I love LL Bean, just bought a hat to keep the sun off my head while gardening.
And the Vermont Country Store (now, that's a fun place to browse!) could also be a planned stop on the way through Vermont.
Thank you for your suggestions. :)
If you are going up as far as Rockport, it's nice to go out to some of the islands, but three days to cover three states doesn't allow for much (unless you mean three days each state...)
Heading up to Rockport, you could stop at any number of lighthouses (Nubble at York Beach, Cape Elizabeth, or Portland Head Light). In Bath and take in the maritime museum and perhaps do a tour of the Bath Iron Works and then follow 209 down to see Fort Popham (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Popham).
If you are heading back from Rockport along the coastal route to the turnpike, you could catch Route 302 in Westbrook and follow it north and by Sebago Lake (Naples would be a nice spot, there's a state park there. And maybe ride the Songo River Queen http://www.songoriverqueen.net/lakes_region.htm ). Sebago Lake (the big lake) has the softest, cleanest water on the planet, imo. You can continue on 302 west to Fryeburg and enter New Hampshire in the White Mountains near Conway.
Lots of shopping and stuff in the Conway area. From there you can take the Kangamangus Highway through the White Mountains until it connects to Route 3 in Lincoln where you should stop and see the flume at least (http://www.nhstateparks.org/explore/state-parks/flume-gorge.aspx). There's some other lovely spots in the same area.
From there as you travel down Route 3, it should not be too far off the beaten track to visit Canterbury Shaker village. Once you get to Concord, hop on Route 89 which will take you straight out to Lebanon. I would highly recommend that from Lebanon (NH) you go south to Cornish to see the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish%E2%80%93Windsor_Covered_Bridge) and visit St. Gaudens National Park (http://www.nps.gov/saga/index.htm great grounds and gardens, historic house, AND lots of his sculpture.)
From there I would suggest connecting up with Route 4 (either from the Vermont side of the covered bridge or back up to Lebanon and over) to see Quechee Gorge before heading down Route 4 to Rutland where you can connect up with Route 7 to Bennington. You will probably go through Manchester, VT where there is a fab bookstore.
If you had more time, I will tell you to go from Quechee Gorge to Route 89 north again and take it to Burlington. Maybe take the ferry out and back over some part of Lake Champlain, find the Ben & Jerry's headquarters and pig out, and or visit the Shelburne Museum (http://shelburnemuseum.org/) before heading down Route 7 from there.
A lot depends on what you like to see and do though. I think you are probably okay going through most of the college towns if you are on a highway.
Btw, on your way through Massachusetts, if you are going up Route 495 to Maine, it's just a short hop west at Route 2 to Fruitlands, the site of Bronson Alcott's failed utopian community. The original farmhouse is there, as is a smallish art galley (nice collection of Hudson River painters), a Shaker building, and a Native American museum building. There's also a decent restaurant with a fab view and a lovey little gift shop. http://www.fruitlands.org/
If you are looking for places to stay, I'd recommend searching on TripAdvisor.com - I've found the recommendations there to be very reliable.
btw, you should be able to find things to do via TripAdvisor, where they are rated, so you could see what the 'top ten' things to do in Maine (for example). I use this site when I travel anywhere, although I don't use it as much locally because I live here:-)
An alternate to stopping at Fruitlands on your way through MA to Maine would be stopping at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth ( http://www.strawberybanke.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&... Or stopping in Salem, MA if you haven't been. If you are familiar with the witch trials, avoid the witch museum (I thought it goofy) but see the House of the Seven Gables and other historic buildings, and the memorial. http://www.salemweb.com/
Or stop in Lowell, MA (again, if you are traveling Rte 495) and visit the National Park. http://www.nps.gov/lowe/index.htm I'd recommend visiting the Boott Mill, maybe a canal boat ride (if they are still running in September), visit the American Textile Museum...it's just a lovely little city center with the vestiges of the Industrial Revolution all around.
I love Fruitlands and highly recommend it, but it is in Massachusetts, and, therefore, not in your target area. I haven't been the Canterbury site in NH. There are real living Shakers in Sabbathday Lake, ME www.maineshakers.com/ and it looks like they run a museum, but I'm not sure how far off the regular routes between Maine and New Hampshire they are.
If you end up in Burlington (which is a great little city and you could easily spend your three days there), check out Crow Books.
I do agree about Lowell, especially if it's outside the National Park system. I live in the area and haven't bothered to chase down Kerouac's grave (not a terribly big fan)
My uncle lives in Concord, North Carolina. When I mentioned I was going to "Concord", I was told by a native North Carolinian that it wasn't pronounced 'Con curd', but 'Kahn coard'. I think the pronunciation I used was based upon what I had heard in the past, from my childhood in New England. Or maybe not?
However, the same town name in SC is pronounced "Beuw fort" (rhymes with stew).
(I've never been there, but it seemed so fitting for this site that I had to mention it.)
(22) I've been spoiled living here in NC, where it gets SO hot and humid that every retail place has to have AC or die...
Hubby and I love to day trip around New England and visit places we've never been before...sometimes we'll plan an over night trip or two. We love to find the out of the way places and just explore.
Although a life long New Englander, I've never been to Maine until this past summer. We found a nice B&B in Scarsborough and explored nearby Portland. Lots of great art galleries, museums, restaurants, and bookstores in the city! And of course, some great cemeteries. My favorite place? The Green Hand Bookstore on Congress St., near the Cryptozoology Museum. Came out of the shop with a mile-high pile of books. Michelle, the owner, is super cool, too! Highly recommended!!
We'll be coming to New England by way of Lancaster, PA, then the Delaware Water Gap, and Port Jervis, and up to Manchester, VT, where we'll stay with friends.
On the way to Maine, we're planning to stop in Rockingham to visit the Vermont Country Store.
We are planning to spend a day in Acadia National Park, then drive down to Brunswick, ME where I have reservations at a motel. My friend in Rockport has had something come up, and will not be at home when we pass through. :(
Salem, MA is scheduled for the next day, and then on to the family who live in Manchester, CT.
Bookstore suggestions that will be close to our route would be GREATLY appreciated!
EDIT: after rereading this thread, I might make a small/medium change in route...for the Quechee Gorge, or the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge or the Lincoln flume...
Good thing I'd brought my 35mm SLR as a backup...I used it in Acadia National Park. It did not fail. :)