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Driving New England in Summer

Indianapolis...
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Driving New England in Summer

I'm thinking of driving through all six New England states next June. I will allow about 3-4 weeks, so I have lots of questions: I'd like to go at my own pace and NOT have reservations for hotels so I can stay longer in towns that I like and move on when I'm ready. Is that possible in MN, NH, VT, CT, RI, MA? Should I make reservations in Mass at least? How crowded will the roads be? I'm especially concerned about Cape Cod area and Boston. I'm not terribly interested in downtown Boston. Are there outlying areas I should be sure to see? What should my budget be for hotels? I typically stay in the less expensive places like Holiday Inn, La Quinta, and would not need expensive places. Thanks for any advice you have on related topics too!

Kent, Connecticut
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1. Re: Driving New England in Summer

What sort of things are you interested in seeing? Small towns? Museums? General New England ambiance?

Getting onto the Cape should not be much of a problem in June unless you try it on a Saturday. Even then it varies. Might just take a little white to get over the bridge, but the towns should not be too crowded.

I would recommend visiting some of the Lower Cape towns such as Wellfleet and Provincetown. Newport is worth a visit. In Connecticut you might want to see Stonington and Mystic and perhaps head up Route 7 thru the Berkshires to Vermont. There are plenty of places to stay along the way. Even on Cape Cod you can find places to stay without reservations in June. Get a good guide book such as the AAA ones.

Winchester...
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2. Re: Driving New England in Summer

You can drive to all 6 New England states in a day if you want, so 3-4 weeks is more than enough time. Have you been to Boston so don't feel the need to see it again or are you thinking that downtown Boston is just like Indianapolis?

Indianapolis...
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3. Re: Driving New England in Summer

Thanks! This is reassuring. Right now I'm planning on taking a pre-planned route: discovernewengland.org/driving-tours/… . I'm still in the early stages of planning so would alternate from this if other suggestions sound better. I want to do some hiking, kayaking, shopping (arts, crafts, antiques), boat tours, see some wildlife (whales and moose!), tour some small town, visit some wineries and museums, and enjoy the architecture, especially the classic New England sites such as the lighthouses and bridges. I'm not much for beaches except for short stretches. I like a much more active vacation.

Indianapolis...
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4. Re: Driving New England in Summer

Hmm, I did sound dismissive of Boston, didn't I? :-) I'm just not typically much of a city person. The traffic and people make me a little claustrophobic. If there are areas I shouldn't miss, I can certainly make exceptions for short stretches! Your suggestions would be appreciated!

Boston...
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5. Re: Driving New England in Summer

By not booking lodging ahead, you are taking chances. Many people come to New England in the summer and lots of people who live in Boston vacation on the Cape and up in NH, VT and Maine. The Berkshires are also a popular spot. I've tried to book last minute in Maine and been disappointed. (I look for deals on hotels too.) If it doesn't matter to you where you stay (proximity to attractions, amenities, etc) , then you might find vacancies, but expect the best locations and best properties to be hit or miss.

If you don't like cities, then skip Boston. It's your vacation. Boston is a famous, historic city that lots of people visit for its sights, history, sports, restaurants, shopping, etc., but if you'd rather be in the woods, there are woods to be found. No need to "make exceptions." Boston is Boston. If you don't like cities, that's your prerogative. You should decide that for yourself.

A lot of the activities you mention suggest Maine, NH, VT. You might ask on those forums. Lighthouses are all along the coast. Maine is known for them but you can see them in Boston Harbor, Scituate, the Cape. The preplanned route looks fine, though it's more CT than I would think. There's tons of kayaking and hiking and the like in Maine-NH-VT For shopping, Freeport Maine is nice. It gets crowded in summer. Boothbay Harbor Maine is gorgeous and quaint. I like Burlington VT a lot.

The images on the tour show a lot of fall color. At the time you'll be traveling, they'll look different. You know that, though, right? :) If you don't like crowds be aware that vacation areas can get crowded. Be aware of traffic patterns in and out of the city. Don't head out on a Friday afternoon.

Happy travels.

Edited: 19 October 2013, 16:56
Boston...
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6. Re: Driving New England in Summer

You can get whale watches out of Gloucester if you want to avoid Boston. Nearby Rockport is small and quaint. I've seen a moose only once. Saw it at dawn hiking near North Conway NH. There are also black bears up in the Maine woods. Vermont is gorgeous.

Personally, I think you're better off doing more research on your own on specific places and then booking those places ahead of time. Everything's so close geographically, you can spend a day more or less in one place or another Not like you have to spend a whole day driving to get from point A to B. If you leave it all to what's open, you risk having noplace to stay or staying in some crummy place on the highway between towns. Much nicer to get a spot close to attractions, especially if you're spending multiple days in one area.

If you are stuck last minute, Hotwire and Priceline can help.

Edited: 19 October 2013, 17:03
Massachusetts
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7. Re: Driving New England in Summer

Well, I'm going to be the one to say you should challenge yourself and visit Boston. Boston has tons of nature and a good amount of open space for a city. It was designed with a connecting set of green spaces (look up the Emerald Necklace). You can walk along the Charles River, and you can walk everywhere, so you don't have to get in a cab or train if you don't want. You can rent a bike, go sailing and kayaking on the Charles, take a cruise on the harbor. You can have a very outdoorsy vacation in Boston.

I would say definitely don't miss Beacon Hill! Boston is a unique American city, worth stretching your boundaries for. It's not just a bunch of generic tall buildings like some other cities, and it's generally not that crowded with people. You say you like architecture, and if so you would really, really be missing out by skipping a whole bunch of the oldest, most beautiful architecture in the country.

Winchester...
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8. Re: Driving New England in Summer

I suspect that Boston will challenge your notion of what a city can be - it would be shame to skip it, especially given three weeks.

Indianapolis...
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9. Re: Driving New England in Summer

Thanks for the advice! I thought it might be hard to find a hotel. I want to spend a week or 10 days in one place, preferably a walking community, with lots to do. Any suggestions?

Boston...
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10. Re: Driving New England in Summer

Boston is a walking community with lots to do.....