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New England Roadtrip Summer '11

Galveston, Texas
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New England Roadtrip Summer '11

We're wanting to do a roadtrip around the New England area, it's will be Mum and Dad, and DD20, next summer with a rental car. We'll most likely have 5 weeks for the entire trip, but I'm thinking we could do the New England area in 2 weeks. Mostly likely flying in and out of Boston.

Main areas of interest are; Boston [4 nights], Cape Cod/Martha's Vineyard [? nights], Philly [2/3 nights?], Washington DC [4 nights], Chicago [3 nights], Nigara Falls [1/2 nights?] -- We have already been to NYC, so this isn't of place of interest, this trip.

Then I was thinking we could either head to Canada and go to Toronto, Montreal and Quebec.

Or head south to the Carolinas, and New Orleans.

Which do you think is best? I think heading to Canada we'll be able to make it a round trip, whereas heading south, we'll have longer drives ahead of us, and harder to get back to Boston at the end. I know we could just fly out of somewhere else, but we would then have a one-way fee for the car.

Is 2 weeks a good amount of time for New England, I was thinking of visiting places, such as Boston, Cape Cod, Salem, Concord, Rockport, Portland etc.. Can anyone suggest a good itinerary?

Thanks :D

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1. Re: New England Roadtrip Summer '11

Two weeks is enough time to SEE New England, but is that what all you what to do? For example, Bostonians usually don't go to Cape Cod or Martha's Vineyard to "see" anything, they go to relax and unwind. That's not a one day affair. Many folks go for a week or two or even three just there.

And you're assessment about driving to the South is right on. In addition, summertime can be a miserable time to endure climate-wise there.

Naples, Florida
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2. Re: New England Roadtrip Summer '11

How the heck did CHICAGO get in there? Too far West

Do Niagara Falls as part of your Toronto segment

Fly out of somewhere close to a final destination -- worth the extra car rental fee (otherwise you will have to pay for extra gas, lodging, meals, anyhow -- don't be "pennywise and pound foolish"). Or fly into DC and out of Boston, otherwise you are doubling back over your route.

Other pretty places you could see enroute are Newport Rhode Island and the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Look at maps

Galveston, Texas
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3. Re: New England Roadtrip Summer '11

I was thinking sometihng like this http://tinyurl.com/y2pu2y2, from DC to Chicago, we would probably have to spend 2 nights on route somewhere, I was thinking Pittsburgh and Cleveland --maybe.

Naples, Florida
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4. Re: New England Roadtrip Summer '11

Why would you want to overnight in either Pittsburgh or Cleveland? These are not "tourist" destinations, generally speaking. You are IMHO wasting time to go completely out of your way when there is so much to see and do on the "loop" DC-New England-Canada that you otherwise are considering.

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5. Re: New England Roadtrip Summer '11

Your proposed itinerary follows the main highways from city to city. What it does not do is to get off the highway and take in charming rural areas that make America more than a series of high-rises, office parks, and shopping malls. America is not like Europe, whose cities with their rich cultural heritage are the major attractions. North America does have a few cities with character and cultural richness, and your trip does take in several of those, including Boston, Washington, Chicago, Montreal, and Quebec. I can see an argument for including Toronto and Philadelphia. However, North American cities, and even more so the highways that connect them, start to look the same after a bit. Do you really want such an urban focus? Extending your trip west to Chicago squeezes out time that you could spend exploring some of the more scenic and distinctive parts of the eastern US and Canada. I might save Chicago for another trip.

Here is how I would change your proposed itinerary. Boston to Philadelphia to Washington sounds fine to me. Between Washington and Toronto, I would choose a route through Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, home to the distinctive Amish culture. Continuing north, I'd take a little time to explore the scenic Finger Lakes of New York State. You could check with the TripAdvisor forums for those regions for more specific suggestions.

Finally, heading back south toward Boston from Quebec, I would make a slight detour to the east to see Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine. You could stay in the delightful resort town of Bar Harbor. Portland is a nice small city, but (assuming you are from the UK) not so different from so many small coastal cities in England, such as Hull, Ipswich, Southampton, Plymouth, etc. Acadia National Park offers (in my opinion) the most stunning scenery on the east coast of the United States. So I might skip Portland, Maine.

Here is how this might look in practice:

Boston: 4 days

Drive from Boston to Philadelphia: 1 day (about 7 hours)

Philadelphia: 2 days

(Drive from Philadelphia to Washington: 2-3 hours)

Washington: 5 days

Drive north from Washington through Baltimore, Maryland to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where you might stay in a bed and breakfast: 2 days total (2-3 hours for the drive, the rest of the time to explore the Amish country).

Drive north from Lancaster County to Ithaca, New York, a base for exploring the Finger Lakes: 3 days (4-5 hours for the drive, the rest of the time to explore the Finger Lakes and relax a little).

Drive northwest from Ithaca to Niagara Falls, explore the Falls, then continue to Toronto: 1 day (4-5 hours of driving, the rest of the time to explore the Falls.

Toronto: 2 days

Drive from Toronto to Montreal: 1 day (6 hours)

Montreal: 3 days

(Drive from Montreal to Quebec: 3 hours)

Quebec: 2 days

Drive from Quebec to Acadia National Park, Maine: 1 day (5-6 hours)

Acadia National Park: 2 days

By my calculations, this itinerary leaves you with 6 more days to allocate as you like. I recommend that you don't allocate it on a long day to drive west to Chicago from Ithaca, 3 days in Chicago, a long day to drive back east to Toronto, then an extra day for Niagara Falls. That would be exhausting and just too much city in my opinion. Instead, extend your stay by a day or two in the places you like best, or spend a day in Portland, Maine, or spend a couple of days relaxing on Cape Cod or on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Edited: 25 August 2010, 14:35
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6. Re: New England Roadtrip Summer '11

Having read many of your trip reports on your western trip, my memory is that you didn't like heat, that you perhaps didn't like crowds, and that you didn't visit any of the excellent museums in California, such as the Getty museums in Los Angeles.

Washington, D.C., in July or August doesn't have the certain dry heat of Death Valley, but it can have an equally oppressive humid heat. And it can have crowds that would put San Francisco to shame.

Many of the greatest attractions in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are museums and historical sites. Will these interest you? The first thing you need to do is to consider what you really want to see and what appeals to you. E.g., the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the best in world. If you aren't going to visit it, you IMO don't need three nights in Philadelphia. Honestly, I could make a case for skipping Philadelphia, given everything else on your list, and the fact that you are British. However, here is a Philadelphia trip report posted by someone who shares your excellent skills in sharing her travel experiences and who, like you, is a consummate planner.


Will you visit America's great universities, such as Harvard in Boston, or Princeton in New Jersey?


Historical sites are prominent in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and the surrounding regions. Many of these historical sites actually comprehend important events in British American history, such Fort Ticonderoga (the "Gibraltar of America") and Saratoga in New York and Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor, and Williamsburg and Yorktown in Virginia. Are these of interest to you?

Saratoga Springs also was one of the great American summer resorts.


My hunch is you would like spending at least a couple days in the Hudson River Valley, not only with charming communities, but great estates such as Hyde Park and the Rockefellers' Kykuit. You also could visit West Point, home of the "Long Gray Line," and whose physical beauty somehow complements its Spartan qualities dedicated to the defense of the Constitution of the United States. In my mind, it always is one of the preeminent places of living history where the concept that "Freedom is Not Free" begins, with an ending in places like Arlington National Cemetery and thousands of other cemeteries across the U.S.


Many of the great battlefields in the U.S. have been preserved as historical sites. E.g., many American tourists traveling between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., stop in Gettysburg, site of the greatest battle ever fought in North America. Some even visit the less convenient Antietam battlefied in Sharpsburg, Maryland, site of the deadliest day in American history and of the battle that marked the beginning of the end of American slavery. Nearby Antietam is historic Harper's Ferry, with some of the most historically enchanting vistas in the U.S., but beware of the heat!

In Washington, D.C., military reviews only take place during summer months, so consider attending one of them.

The Marine sunset review takes place on Tuesdays at the Iwo Jima Memorial, which has a great view of the city.


There also are Evening Parades on Fridays at the Marine Barracks, but reservations are required.


The U.S. Army's Twilight Tattoo takes place on Wednesdays in May and June.


Also consider visiting the Pentagon and the National Cathedral.

If you decide to visit Chicago, both Pittsburgh and Cleveland, contrary to what some others have posted, offer some attractions, including likely much lower prices. Both are great cities to catch a major league baseball game.

Cleveland is a foodie center, with several significant dining/entertainment districts.


Half an hour south of downtown Cleveland, in the midst of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, is Blossom Music Center, one of the best summer music venues in the U.S. It hosts not only the Blossom Music Festival, featuring the Cleveland Orchestra, one of the world's best, but also other major music events (check livenation.com). Half an hour east of the city is Holden Arboretum, one of the nation's largest and best, and the Kirtland Temple, the world's first Mormon temple and the only one open to the public. And one hour west of downtown is Cedar Point, the world's roller coaster capital, and the very enjoyable Lake Erie islands.

Also, Dayton, Ohio, is the aviation history mecca of the world, with the Dayton National Aviation Historical Park chronicling the genius of the Wright brothers and the U.S. Air Force National Museum, gigantic and superb with free admission. You likely also would enjoy Columbus, with one of the nation's best zoos, the Easton Town Center shopping mecca, and German Village.

Personally, I would rather visit the Lake Michigan east coast and/or Michigan's northern peninsula rather than spend much time in Toronto, especially if you go to Chicago. If you're not going to visit museums in Chicago, two nights there probably would suffice; do visit the John Hancock Center Observatory, and perhaps the Signature Room or Lounge.

One night would be sufficient for Niagara Falls, as you could catch the jet boats on your way to Toronto. Also, consider skipping Montreal and/or Quebec City, as you live across the channel from France!

I would agree you should plan to spend at least two nights at Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, but don't expect Yosemite or the Grand Canyon!

Just wanted to offer you some options for your consideration.

Boston, MA
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7. Re: New England Roadtrip Summer '11

I'm not sure why this thread was resurrected, but since I was relaxing on the Cape I missed it first time around.

You say you want to "see New England" but with the exception of a mention of Portland (Maine) at the very end, you've only got one state on there: Massachusetts. What about the rest of them --- Philly, DC, Cleveland are NOT part of New England and a long drive too boot.

How about Boston, Cape Cod, Arcadia (Maine), the White Mountains (NH) and perhaps a stop in Vermont ... the Newport, Rhode Island Mansions,Mystic Seaport in Connecticut?

You can get a decent feel for New England in two weeks but not if you add all those other non-New England places into the mix.

Edited: 13 October 2010, 09:11
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8. Re: New England Roadtrip Summer '11

I like your proposed loop, although I'm sure some others have good ideas for you. But if you are allowing only 2 weeks for this loop, it is too tight. Perhaps the loop (I clicked on your map) is meant for the whole 5 week trip? Chicago is a fantastic place, just beautiful and energetic -- I'm very glad you are adding this to your list. Usually the East coast cities get all the attention, along with the West Coast cities. Don't worry about a few of your stopping points being boring. That is part of your trip, if you really want to get a feel for the United States. To spice things up, maybe you can do research on the best local places to eat in otherwise less touristy places such as Cleveland. You could also try to find diners or places that serve the local specialities -- this would interest me, even where a town isn't that exciting. Jane and Michael Stern have made a career out of this, and have published quite a few books on this topic, so check them out if you're interested.

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9. Re: New England Roadtrip Summer '11

Hi - two weeks in New England gives a good time to explore the region. The Discover New England web site has a page on Massachusetts with many helpful links for the top things to see and do in Boston and on Cape Cod/The Islands: discovernewengland.org/about-new-england-usa…

I agree with others that you want to leave 2/3 days for either a Cape trip or an island trip to have time to enjoy yourself.

Here are recommended road trips, depending on your interests: www.discovernewengland.org/driving-tours/

Here are the top historic sites in the New England region:


Hope this helps!

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10. Re: New England Roadtrip Summer '11

You do not want to go to New Orleans in the summer unless you enjoy high heat and hunidity.

As far as Chicago, it would be less expesnive to fly it.

Gas costs and tolls would be more even though there are three of you.

I would skip the Cape and Vinyard unless you want a few days to vegetate.

Don't skip aracdia in ME and Vermont