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July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

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July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

We're planning on spending a week in July in New England. Our base will be in Hartford, CT with friends who have the first and last portions of our stay planned (CT and RI-centric, with a train ride to New York thrown in). We also plan on taking a two- or three-day trip through Vermont, New Hampshire, and southern Maine during the week (likely a Monday or Tuesday departure from Hartford) and would like to get as rich of an experience for us and our children as possible. They are 8, 5, and 1 1/2 years old. We enjoy hiking, but don't plan on camping. So far, possible stops include:


Quechee Gorge

Ben -n- Jerrys

Magic Hat Brewery

VINS Nature Center


Mt. Washington

Franconia Notch SP

Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves

Arethusa Falls

Mt. Monadnock


Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve


Mount Agamenticus Trail/Marginal Way Cliff Walk

East Point Sanctuary Trail

There are other possibles on our list, but that should provide a flavor of what we're considering. We're not married to any of the above options, either. Driving is not an issue, but we must return to CT before Friday. Any suggestions on where else to go or where to avoid would be greatly appreciated. Also, please keep in mind that, for any nature walks, the littlest one will be riding on my back in a pack, so gentler trails would be greatly appreciated by us both.

Also, any other age-appropriate attractions or destinations that you may recommend would be greatly appreciated. None of us has been North of NYC, and few of our friends have spent much time up there, so we've been guessing based upon guide books and state tourism websites up until now.


East Haddam...
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1. Re: July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

I think your loop leads you to a lot of driving and not much seeing, especially with 3 kids.

I would leave off 1 state completely either VT or Maine. The roads between all 3 states are not 65mph highways and will take a long time. If it were me I would just actually do 1 state and get a feel for it instead of just breezing through

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2. Re: July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

I agree with theWinterMe, too much driving in such a short amount of time with young kids. Reminds me of Chevy Chase stopping for 5 minutes at the Grand Canyon in Vacation. Pick one spot you would most like to visit and see the sights around there. Even though you wouldn't see as much, it's seems more enjoyable than having cranky kids from being trapped in a car for hours each day.

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3. Re: July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

I do agree as well, that is unfortunately much too ambitious of a plan for only 2-3 days. I understand, you want to see as much as you possibly can! But I agree with above, the activities you have listed for just one state are more than enough to fill your 2-3 days. Since it is July, I would pick Maine and focus on the coastal Kennebunkport area. With a 1 1/2 year old in a pack on a hot summer day and two other small kids in tow, I would recommend against, for example, climbing Mt. Monadnock (although, once they are all about 8 and up, it is a great small mountain climb with kids). You might look at Portland as well, you can take a ferry ride into the harbor, which the kids might like, and there is a lighthouse with a lobster shack next to it, Two Lights, which is just south of Portland.

Or, if you prefer VT, do either Quechee Gorge and VINS for the trip (since they are in the same area) or Magic Hat and Ben and Jerry's tour, since they are both in the general Burlington area. If you go to Burlington, there is the ECHO Aquarium and Science Center in Burlington which focuses a bit on the aquatic culture of Lake Champlain, which is right there. Great exhibits for kids.

Edited: 12 June 2014, 16:07
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4. Re: July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

I appreciate your concern about our trip and about whether or not my children will enjoy their long car ride through New England. Your advice is noted. Oh, and the comparison to Clark Griswold? Priceless.


This is part of a larger goal to get the kids stepping foot in all 48 states before they graduate high school. The older two set this goal while discussing what we wanted to do with our CT trip. After hearing tales of my childhood car vacations and how many states I'd been to whilst growing up, this was what they wanted to do. I'd like them to complete it. With so many other states to visit, and other destinations that we plan to travel to along the way, we may not make it back to New England before our oldest graduates (she's 8. Already. So. Fast.) We're grabbing opportunities as they come, and I would hate to come up one or two states short simply because we thought it was "too ambitious". This loop offers us the best way to be able to mark down these three states. I was hoping a few travelers who've experienced what makes the area unique might name a few places to stop at along the way. Thank you, BookKat, for sharing some suggestions instead of merely critiquing my loop.

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5. Re: July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

Ok so unless you are spending the day climbing Mt monadnock it might not be a big deal. Head thru Mass up 91 to VT, stop at Quechee, neat place, look from the bridge and then walk down, 30 minutes or so to get down and back. Ben and Jerry's is about 45 minutes from there up 89. There is a cider mill near by as well. Back down 89!to 91 to get up to Franconia/Mt Washington area. There is enough hear to last a week. The flume, Clark's, the Kancamangus, Mt Washington etc. from there cut across the state and take route 16 south to 95 north to Maine. Kennybunk and Kennybunkport are nice, George Bush summer home. The Marginal Way is a nice walk, the ride on route 1 is nice, we love York and the Nubile lighthouse. Have fun. Be sure to plan where you will stay as many places will be full in July.

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6. Re: July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

If the kids have a mission to complete, then here would be my Maine recommendations.

Assuming you'll be coming from the Mt. Washington/North Conway area. Take route 302 south which is a nice drive through the lakes region of western Maine. Should take about 1.5 hours to get to Portland. In Portland take a Casco Bay ferry ride, either to one of the islands (Peaks Island is closest and most popular) or a trip on the mail boat run which goes to most of the islands in the bay dropping off and picking up deliveries.

Then take a 15 minute drive to Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth. Probably the most photographed iconic lighthouse in Maine. Has a nice walk along ocean and lots of open space for the kids to burn off energy. Also good lobster rolls at the Bite into Maine food truck.

When heading back south you could make side stops in Kennebunkport to drive by the Bush estate, Ogunquit to walk the Marginal Way, and York to see Nubble Light.

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7. Re: July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

Excellent recommendations. Thank you!

Stillwater, Oklahoma
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8. Re: July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

I loved your post - we have that same goal with our children, although ours are 14, 14, and 12 so our allowable time is quickly vanishing! We did the Northwest last summer and are doing the Northeast this summer so these suggestions were very helpful to us as well! Good luck on your adventure!

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9. Re: July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

Why not just hit Bennington Vt, Manchester (Mt Equinox, Hildene) head across to So NH come across to Keene and Peterborough NH, keep heading east to Portsmouth, North a little to Ogunquit, s to Salem or Rockport, MA and back to ct. You have maximized your states and minimized your driving. There are no easy east west routes unfortunately. You aren't hitting the very best of the states but still better than just driving past Mount Washington so you can say you saw it.

10. Re: July week in CT, wanting a 2-3 day VT, NH, ME loop.

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