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Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome

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Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome

Hi Everyone

Last Year My wife (Lyn) and I took what was to date our holiday of a life time to America. Our fabulous journey took in Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Bryce and Zion National Parks, Death Valley, Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite, San Francisco, Monterey, Cambria and Los Angeles – we loved our trip so much that this year we have already booked our flights to visit New England the first 3 weeks in October.

When planning last year’s trip to the US I spent a lot of time speaking to TAs who provided us with invaluable information that made a real difference to the quality of our holiday experience.

So I am back again to ask again for your time and help.

We have done a little research so far but the only thing that is set in concrete is the flights – we fly into Boston on the 30th September 2009 and fly out of Washington on 22nd October.

Our main objective is to see the beautiful countryside in the fall – so scenic drives are our number 1 priority – we really enjoyed the coastal drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles last year and Lyn would like to include another coastal drive on this trip. We also want to see the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

So as usual we have a very packed schedule to fit in – as with last year we appreciate that we will not be able to do justice to all the lovely places that will be available but as with our trip last year it was better to get a glimpse of some of the most stunning scenery that America has to offer than to miss it all together.

This is a very, very rough first draft of a proposed itinerary:-

Wed 30th September – Boston

Thursday 1st October – Boston

Friday 2nd October – Boston to either Camden or Warren Island or Islesboro Island Maine – 220 miles 4.5 hours

Saturday 3rd October – Camden or Warren Island or Islesboro Island

Sunday 4th October Camden or Warren Island or Islesboro Island to Moosehead Lake – 100 miles 3.5 hours. Taking in the scenic Lakes and Leaves drive on Route 15

Monday 5th October Moosehead Lake

Tuesday 6th October - Moosehead Lake to Lincoln (New Hampshire) –

Moosehead to Bingham 40 miles – 30 mins (or is this the Lakes and Leaves drive)

Bingham to Albany – 163 miles – 3 hours (via Jackson)

Albany to Lincoln - 37 miles – 1 hour - (Kancamagus Scenic Highway – New

Hamp taking in the Sabaday Falls)

Wednesday 7th October – Lincoln to Williamstown

Lincoln to Woodstock – 92 miles – 2.25 hours

Woodstock to Killington - 20 miles – 25 mins (Vermont – Scenic Drive)

Killington to Williamstown - 82.miles – 1.75 hours

Thursday 8th October – Williamstown

Friday 9th October Williamstown to Narragansett

Williamstown to Shirley – 100 miles – 2.25 (Massachusetts – Mohawk Trail)

Shirley to Woodstock – 55 miles (1.25 hours)

Woodstock to Lisbon – 35 miles – 1 hour (Connecticut – Route 160)

Lisbon to Narragansett – 37 miles – 1 hour 10 minutes

Saturday 10th October – Narragansett

Sunday 11th October Narragansett – New York

Narragansett to Westlery – 25 miles – 40 minutes (Rhode Island Coast Scenic Drive)

Westerly to New York – 145 miles – 2.75 hours

Monday 12th October – New York to Baltimore

New York to Philadelphia - 102 miles – 2 hours

Philadelphia to Baltimore – 102 miles – 2 hours

Tuesday 13th October Baltimore to The Rockfish Gap

Baltimore to Front Royal Virginia– 107 miles – 2 hours (start of Skyline Drive)

Front Royal to Rockfish Gap (Skyline Drive)102 miles – 2 hours

Wednesday 14th October - Rockfish Gap

Thursday 15th October – Rockfish Gap to The Rocky Knob Cabins

Rockfish Gap to The Rocky Knob Cabin (Blue Ridge Parkway) - 160 miles 3 hours

Friday 16th October – The Rocky Knob Cabins

Saturday 17th October – The Rocky Knob Cabins to Lauda – 260 miles 4.5 hours

Sunday 18th October – Lauda

Monday 19th October - Lauada to Atlanta – 149 miles 3 hours

Tuesday 20th October - Atlanta – Washington (Flight $160 each 1.5 hrs flight)

Wednesday 21st October - Washington

Thursday 22nd October – Fly home Washington to Heathrow

As I say this is all very provisional at the moment and anything and everything is up for change – but as you know you have to start somewhere.

Be very grateful for your comments – have I missed any ‘must sees’

Thanks in advance


Bar Harbor, Maine
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1. Re: Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome

Wow, you plan to go awfully far south. What/where is Lauda? New England stops with Rhode Island. After that you traveling in the Land of Dixie !

You'll find the East Coast is very, very different than the West Coast. For one thing, there's quite a bit more continual development. It's not at all easy getting through the big cities like Boston, New York, Washington D.C. Nor are there long stretches of highway with continuous views of the ocean, as in California. There are no high bluffs over the ocean as there are on the Pacific.

If it were me, I would spend a few more days in Maine. There is no particularly good reason to choose Isleboro as a destination. It is an island of summer homes and has few if any restaurants or motels. I've never even heard of Warren Island. Camden is nice. But the Acadia National Park region is awesome. I'd stay there, simply spending an afternoon in Camden.

It will take you longer than 4.5 hours to get out of Boston and be headed up north. You'll want to make some stops along the way. I'd count on most of the day to get from Boston to Camden or Acadia.

Your route through New Hampshire and Vermont looks good. The drive to Moosehead will be scenic as will that area. Maybe you could spend a day there and book a moose safari.

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2. Re: Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome

Hi Bonniemay

Thanks for your comments - the "Land of Dixie" comment made me smile. This is just the sort of information I needed - Islesboro was really just a pin in the map - Acadia National Park sounds ideal - that's my job for the weekend then.

Yes the driving time are very approximate - taken from Google - it always takes us at twice as long as these route planners suggest - we are forever stopping the car to take photographs or for a little walk - that of course is the idea of visiting such beautiful locations.

Thanks again Bonnie

Take care


New Haven...
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3. Re: Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome


Wow, I agree with Bonnie. Quite a lot here, but I can certainly relate. Any time I'm visiting a place I'm new to I want to see it all! Bonnie is correct, Acadia is one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Go there for sure.

The best fall-foliage you'll see is in your drive through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Excellent choice with the Kancamaugus Highway. If you're into hiking at all, this is a great area to take a day hike, though it could get somewhat chilly so bring some warm clothes.

Do you have any particular reason to go to Albany? I would personally leave it out. Nothing really there. If you're looking for a destination in New York State, head further north or just stay in Vermont. Albany is a small, sleepy city with not a lot to do. The hills of Northern New York are fine, but just a less beautiful version of Vermont. Personally, I wouldn't bother given everything else you want to do.

For your Rhode Island choice, the drive isn't all that interesting. It's fine, but not like anything you'll see on Rt. 1 in Maine. I'd skip Narragansett and drive straight past Westerly and spend time in Mystic, Connecticut. Much better New England experience. More shops, more restaurants and much more quaint. Westerly is nice, but it's much harder to explore than Mystic. Mystic also has a wonderful aquarium.

Another recommendation for when you're in Western Massachusetts. You seem to be hitting Williamstown a lot which is nice, but consider checking out a town called Northampton. Very cozy New England town with a really fun town center. It's kind of a hub for the whole area so lots of good tourism help there too.

General advice on the driving in the Northeast. Try and avoid driving into or out of cities (Boston, New York, Hartford, Baltimore, Philly, etc.) during the week, especially during peak times (8-9 am and 4-6 pm). Your travel times will increase greatly. Travelling I-95 is especially a big headache from Boston all the way to DC.

Enjoy the trip, you'll have a great time.

Melbourne, Florida
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4. Re: Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome

Hi there,

Just a few questions...

Do you plan on staying in a new place each night... or will you stopover for 2-3 nights and do day trips, then move on...

Second, do you like to just drive and look or are you outdoors people, photographers, hikers, shoppers, adventurists etc.?

I guess if it were me, I would do something more like this for the "Maine" portion of the trip...

Wed 9/31 Boston

TH 10/1 Boston

Fri 10/2 spend day driving to Acadia via Rt 95 until you hit Maine and then jog onto Rt.1 at Kittery. This is a wonderful drive with lots of quaint spots and pretty scenery. You could try to arrange the timing so as to stop at the Portland Head Light and have a picinic (lots of little places to pick up some food) or just stop because it is so beautiful.

Arrive in Bar Harbor for the evening after sauntering up the coast.

Sat. 10/3 Drive into Acadia and do the Loop Road. There is a LOT to see in Acadia and a day or two is really just a glimpse, but I think that is what you are going for. Be sure to go up Cadillac mountain (hope for a good day) You can spend the better part of the day driving and stopping, driving and stopping. There are also neat little trails to take out to vantage points, as well as some other longer day hikes.

Sun 10/4 Spend some time walking about the town of Bar Harbor. It is a great little place. You are going at a pretty good time.. it is the end of the summer rush. Lots of good restaurants and shops and boats and such. You could even do a boat tour from there. Perhaps drive back out around the Loop road of Acadia to see what you didn't get to the day before.

Mon 10/5 Head to Mooshead Lake and stay in a cabin on the lake. There are lots of tours and ifo you can find on things up there. I know that there is a guidebook you can order called the Moosehead Lakes region vacation guide (or just google it)

Tues. 10/6 I personally would drive to Conway NH via Bridgeton/Freyburg. and then stay in Conway for two night... you can drive the Kangamangus and see other things while there. (again, not sure if you want a new place every night or not...)

Wed 10/7 Kancamagus highway/ Mt Washington (cog railway or your own vehicle) Could be COLD but could be worth it.

TH 10/8 If it is about seeing more leaves and such, I suggest you drive through Montpelier to Burlington and down to Rutland VT and on to Williamstown MA. It takes you up to arounbd the Lake Champlain area which is beautiful, and it would be a full day of driving. I am only suggesting this route because it is one I know, and I am unfamiliar with your suggested route.

This is the best I can do from my perspective... hope it helps... feel free to keep asking questions...

Fri. 10/9

Wolcott, Connecticut
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5. Re: Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome

Wow, to have that much time off to explore! I agree with the previous posts that you should explore Acadia National Park. It's amazing. Unless you're set on going to the coast of RI you may want to consider: Acadia over to Moosehead down to New Hampshire and Vermont (I suggest Stowe and Burlington). From Burlington you can take a ferry over to New York State and spend some time in the Adirondacks (Ausable Chasm, Lake Placid). From there you can go down to Saratoga Springs and then down Rt 88 and zip over to Ithaca and the Finger Lakes. Beautiful scenery, wineries and gorges. Go south into PA and visit Amish Country (Lancaster area). From there you can continue south towards Gettysburg and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Harpers Ferry, WV, is a really cool place to visit on your way. As a previous poster mentioned there is a lot of congestion on the east coast and it can take a while (and some degree of stress) to get around.

Central Maine
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6. Re: Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome

A few thoughts on your Maine-New Hampshire sections...

As already noted, travel from Boston to the Maine coast, Maine coast to Moosehead and Moosehead to New Hampshire all will take longer than currently indicated....first, because of commercial development, and second, because the September-October time period has become a primary tourism season in Maine -- you're not the only ones who find the fall foliage attractive.

That said, I'd allow most of a day to get from Boston to Camden/Bar Harbor, wherever on the coast comfortably. I would politely disagree with those who suggest that US Route 1 in southern Maine offers many "scenic ocean views." For most of the section from Kittery to Portland, with the exception of a brief glimpse of the ocean here and there, Rt 1 is just enough inland that you don't really see the water -- unless you take a side trip to get closer to the water. York, Ogunquit and Kennebunkport all have the coastal feel, but you have to get off Route 1 to see them.

Would also agree with those who recommend against Islesboro as a destination. Unless you already know someone there so you have a built-in place to stay, it's not really set up for tourists...

Along the coast, my recommendations for possible destinations would include Boothbay Harbor, Camden, Rockland and, probably most strongly, the Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park area. Of those, Bar Harbor/Acadia is probably the most well known and, therefore, most crowded. The other destinations would be less crowded, but have fewer things to do and see. That said, the other three all offer a small-town coastal atmosphere, offer great opportunities to get to the ocean, and are great destinations. Might want to check one or more of them on the web, along with Bar Harbor.

Wherever you're headed, if you come north and find coastal Rt 1 in southern Maine not to your liking in terms of traffic, I'd recommend getting back onto I-95 and taking it and I-295 north to either Brunswick, picking up Route 1 again there, or even Augusta and taking Rt 17 across to Rockland, or Rt 3 across to Belfast. Rts 17 or 3 both offer good foliage opportunities and are far less congested than Rt 1.

However you get there, built time into your trip to stop at the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory, immediately south of the town of Bucksport (which is on US 1). It's a uniquely designed suspension bridge which carries US 1 over the Penobscot River between Prospect and Verona....and has an observation deck built into the top of one of the bridge towers! You'll get a 360-degree view of the surrounding coast and countryside -- with views east to the mountains of Acadia National Park, inland for forty miles or so, and a view of the mid-coast almost immediately beneath your feet. Access to the Observatory is via the entrance to Fort Knox State Park -- another interesting destination all by itself. I'd allow a minimum of half an hour for a stop at the Observatory and about double that if you also want to see the Fort while you're there. There is a small entrance fee for either or both, but it's well worth the price!

For the Greenville section of your trip, check out www.katahdincruises.com They offer cruises on Moosehead Lake (Maine's largest lake) on a preserved steamship once used to guide logs cut in the Maine woods to the headwaters of the river which carried them to the sawmills and paper mills downstream. Last I knew, they offered a variety of cruises -- all of which can be fantastic if the foliage is out.

If you decide to take up the suggestion of going from Maine to North Conway, NH, definitely allow some time for stops along Rt 16 in NH between Gorham and North Conway. You'll be traveling through part of the White Mountains National Forest and the views are awesome and there are opportunities to get out of the car and take short easy hikes to waterfalls etc. If you get to North Conway, be sure to ask the locals for directions to Cathedral Ledge, it's only about three miles from downtown North Conway and once you drive to the top, offers more great scenery. And if you have the time/desire for a short hike through the fall woods, ask for directions to Diana's Baths -- it's in the National Forest less than 10 miles from downtown -- about three miles round trip and a pleasant, easy walk into an old mill site (now long gone) where about all that's left is the bubbliny stream and some tranquil pools (great foliage reflections in the water if you're into photography!).

Sounds like you've got a lot to think about -- good thing you're starting your planning early!

Lewiston, Maine
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7. Re: Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome

I agree with the previous post - bypass southern Maine and head up I-95 to Brunswick, then follow Route 1 all the way to Bar Harbor.

The northern mountains of NH are worth the trip, too. You could follow Rt. 26 from Maine through northern NH. There is a great resort in Dixville Notch called The Balsams. It's a glimpse of the way folks from NYC & Boston used to vacation 100 years ago. Further north than Lincoln, NH but to me worth the trip if even just to visit for an hour if not an over night. If you took that route you could keep traveling across NH to VT and visit northern Vermont where Ben & Jerry's was originally made as well as Cabot Cheese.

Have fun planning!

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8. Re: Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome


Can I just say a huge thank you for your time providing your feedback and comments - I am overwhelmed with the fabulous responses I have already received.

My route in the main was chosen from research the most scenic drives in New England and so I have relied heavily on a couple of reports which provide me with place names which to be honest at this point in the planning don't mean an aweful lot.

Its only when we receive tis type of feedback from TAs who actually live in the area or know the area well that you begin to get a better understanding of what is possible and the best places to visit.

There are a number of places/areas that are being mentioned on a regular bases from different TAs - these will almost cetainly find there way into the itinerary - thank you so much.

Having read all of your replies I am even more excited about the visit.

New York was never really part of the original plan and to be honest we are still not convinced - I think we could leave New York for another time and make that a separate City Break trip.

The only major cities we would really like to visit are Boston and Washington - Lyn likes the cities more than I do. I like to see nature at it most diverse and extravagant - the bigger, the grander , the better - I just love to step out of the car walk over to whatever and say wow would you just look at that - but then don't we all.

As for 1, 2 or 3 days - we'd like to stay for as long as we could in each location but we only have 3 weeks - Lyn would tend towards longer stops - I'm more of the opinion that there is so much to see in this world and so little time to see it that we may not pass this way agian so let's see as much as we can now - Lyn of course will win.

Thanks again - really appreciated

Take care


Central Maine
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9. Re: Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome

Picking up on JenGen's post -- if you do decide to go up to The Balsams, after you've gone inside to look at the hotel itself -- truly a flashback to the times when "city" folks came to the woods to refresh their souls (and sometimes for their health) -- be sure to follow the roadway/driveway behind the Inn up to the Panorama Golf Course, which also belongs to the Inn. The pro shop and dining room sit atop either a very large hill or small mountain (depending on your definitions) and offers a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside for about 180 degrees. One of our favorite things to do, which the Inn gladly welcomed the last time we were there, is to go to the Dining Room and tell them you just want a drink (lemonade, beer, wine, whatever) and that you'd like to take it out on the terrace (which is on the opposite side of the building from the parking lot).... Great stone patio with a low stone wall the only separation between you and one of the best views in New England.

Melbourne, Florida
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10. Re: Any help with Itinerary Most Welcome

Somersetboy... you are welcome. It is a pleasure to be able to help out. I have read the comments about you not driving all the way up Rt. 1 due to the lack of scenic vistas, this is a fair statement and I agree. I would, however, suggest that you get off 95 at Portland and head out to the Portland Headlight, an historic and famous lighthouse. You could then proceed up RT295 and get off at Brunswick for Rt. 1. If you leave Boston RT95N at 7:30/8 and head to Maine, you would be at the lighthouse by 10/10:30 comfortably. Spend a half hour there and stretch your legs and soak in the beauty. Head up 295 to Brunswick and jump onto Rt 1. Head into Wiscasset and go to Sarahs cafe for lunch, you should be there by 12/12:30 comfortably too. It is a favorite of ours... great view, atmosphere and food. After a relaxing lunch it is only about 3-5 hours up Rt 1 to Acadia. (the large time frame is for traffic and leasurely driving) You will easily reach Bar Harbor for dinner.

Have FUN with your planning...