2021 Classic Fall Foliage
New England is steeped in history and known for its amazing fall foliage, and on this vacation you'll have a chance to experience the spectacular beauty and historic places. A couple of living history museums will show you what life was like in New England's past, including a living museum simulating life in a 1800s New England coastal village, a living history museum of Vermont's rural past, and a living history museum showcasing 19th-century New England, and a visit to Cornelius Vanderbilt's mansion gives you a taste for life in a bygone era.
History is not all you experience on this tour. See spectacular beauty and amazing fall foliage. In Maine, visit Acadia National Park, one of America's most visited national parks, and take a carriage ride. In New Hampshire, travel to the scenic White Mountains, New England's greatest range and premier outdoor playground, and enjoy the Raven Interpretive Program. Throughout your tour, marvel at the scenic drives and stunning fall colors full of blazing red, orange, and yellow leaves (if Mother Nature permits).
This trip is repeat of a 2013 trip and is a prime candidate for being replaced with something more interesting since I’ve been up here so many times. Many of the comments are from the 2013 trip.
Day 1, Monday Arrive in Boston
D) With a mid-day flight, I scheduled the StuporShuttle pickup at a reasonable 8: Thanks to clearer than expected weather, the flight went smoothly and was on time. Welcome to “Bean Town!” On arrival, Glowbutt provides a shuttle voucher to the hotel ($16). I made it to the hotel about 4:45. At 6 pm, meet our traveling companions for a welcome drunk but no dinner. Our Tour Director prepares us for our upcoming mis-adventure.
Day 2, Tuesday Boston - Portland - Bar Harbor
LD) We do not have any local (Boston) tour. It's just "get out of town" time. After a very nice breakfast, we start at 7:30. We head north from Massachusetts via New Hampshire’s short shoreline and along Maine’s rocky coast taking many of the local roads rather than the main highways. Thus we get to see lots more of the interesting small towns. We eventually get to Portland, (ho hum) one of New England’s most famous cities. Stroll down the cobblestone streets of Portland’s famous Old Port Exchange. This is also our lunch stop. There is a short stop in Camden then we also make a stop at Mt. Battie which will give us some nice views of the coast – which we won’t see tomorrow. The next two nights are in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine’s oldest summer resort. Our dinner is (not for me) a typical (HORRORS!!) LOBSTER BAKE featuring Maine lobster and steamed mussels. One bit of good news – there is a grilled steak option which turned out to be better than a hamburger patty but was very dry and tough = very poor dinner. Only the “corn on the cob” was good.
Day 3, Wednesday Bar Harbor - Excursion to Acadia National Park
LD) Nowhere along the Atlantic Seaboard is the rock-bound coast as picturesque as in ACADIA NATIONAL PARK one of America’s most visited national parks. Our visit includes a carriage ride through much of the park. We didn’t get this in 2013 since the fat-cats had shut down the government due to lack of a budget.
Take the scenic park road and enjoy the spectacular panorama from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the first place in the continental United States to see the sunrise. Afternoon is at leisure. Maybe join an optional whale-watching expedition or stroll around the charming Bar Harbor waterfront. This evening, enjoy a short CARRIAGE RIDE along the world-famous carriage roads in Acadia National Park, as designed and built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. We are then treated to dinner at the historic Jordan Pond House, located inside the park.
NATURE CRUISE: Board the Acadian for a cruise in the protected waters of Frenchman Bay, off Bar Harbor, Maine. This leisurely nature cruise follows the unspoiled shores of the rocky Maine coastline and navigates through the many tiny islands dotting the bay. Trip is fully narrated by naturalists onboard and lasts approximately 2 hours. $29 (yes)
Day 4, Thursday Bar Harbor - North Conway
LD) We leave at 8 for what is basically a driving day. We head back to the mainland and through Maine for minimal vistas of sparkling lakes and normal forests. Then, on to New Hampshire and the scenic White Mountains, New England’s greatest range with quite a bit more color. We make two photo stops: a) a very nice lake view with the mountains behind it, and also at one of the nice old covered bridges. Later enjoy an absolutely excellent RAVEN INTERPRETIVE PROGRAM focusing on the unique environs of northern New England and local wildlife.
Day 5, Friday North Conway - Dartmouth - Woodstock - Ludlow
LD) Depart at 7:45 for a drive through Franconia Notch with nice colors (improving since we are in the White Mountains) and along the renowned Kancamagus Highway. We make a couple of scenic photo stops along the way. Lunch is in an interesting little town: Bath. But after that, it’s all repeat. Hugging the Connecticut River, we head south to Hanover to see the Dartmouth College campus (been there twice before), one of the nation’s eight prestigious Ivy League institutions. Cross the river into Vermont and visit Woodstock (my 5th or 6th visit there), its village green reminiscent of 19th-century England. Next, visit BILLINGS FARM & MUSEUM, a staged, living (??) museum of Vermont’s rural past as well as a working dairy farm. We have a boo-fet (VERY Boo!) dinner at the hotel in Ludlow. I settled for a soda from the slot machines and some crackers.
Day 6, Saturday Ludlow - Stockbridge - Sturbridge
LD) We journey south to Stockbridge in the Berkshire Mountains for a visit to the NORMAN ROCKWELL STUDIO & MUSEUM, which houses a large collection of works by one of America’s favorite artists. After the museum, we stop for a few minutes in the town before heading further south. Continue on to Sturbridge, one of New England’s most charming towns. We (?) enjoy dinner at the Colonial Salem Cross Inn, which if they charged Globus a nickel each, then they overcharged by at least a quarter. HOTEL: Sturbridge Host Hotel (F) 2 nights
Day 7, Sunday Sturbridge - Mystic Seaport - Newport
LD) We have two very nice but very short-changed visits today. This morning we visit STURBRIDGE VILLAGE (we are there for only 2 hours) to explore early New England in the company of farmers, craftsmen, and fascinating characters at this 19th-century living history museum. Head south to explore MYSTIC SEAPORT. It is a living museum showcasing the many activities that might have been found in a New England coastal village in the 1800s. We’re very short changed here: less than 1 ½ hours. Next, travel to Rhode Island, the “Ocean State,” for a couple of boring nights in a hotel in Newport. No dinner is included tonight and, this being Newport, all the local eateries are very $$$. HOTEL: Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina (F) 2 nights
Day 8, Monday Never-again-Port
LD) Today, I won’t enjoy a boring Newport orientation tour and see the first state house, the nation’s oldest synagogue, and the city’s oldest meeting house and library. (Don’t) explore the extravagant lifestyle of a bygone era when visiting THE BREAKERS, shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt’s turn-of-the-century mansion. Boring!!
In fact, I may skip it all and just take the local on-and-off (or 90 minutes non-stop) sLight-seeing shuttle. This looked good, but then I see the very small busses (coaches) they use which are VERY cramped. Also since they are enclosed, any pictures taken would have to be taken through all the glare and reflections in the window glass and that’s a hopeless cause. So I will skip even the $hort tour and just walk around the area to see the $hops with the overpriced tourist junk.
After another $$$ snack for lunch ($18 for soup, sandwich and soda), our afternoon is free for exploring and/or more boredom. Essentially, for me at least, this is a totally wasted day. This evening, we have a “special” (???) farewell dinner at a local “greasy spoon,” the “Moorings.” I had hoped that it is better than the usual “Farewell” dinner – but it wasn’t: not awful but very poor.
Day 9, Tuesday Newport - Boston - Mendon
(B) Depart this morning for Boston. Our very super-brief tour (less than the usual quickie) of two of the city’s landmarks with a Local Guide focuses on the city’s most prominent landmarks: 1) the statue of Paul Revere and the Old North Church (7 minute lecture inside) and 2) a lunch break at the Quincy Market. About 1:15, we head to the airport arriving in time for a late flight home, or to catch the Logan Express at 2PM out to Framingham. My friend would meet me there and I’ll spend the next couple of nights with them before heading back to home. A round-trip ticket is cheap.
Day 10-11, Wednesday-Thursday Visit Friends
This is a couple of very nice days for a great visit with friends.
Day 12, Friday Depart
I’ll take the 1:30 “Logan Express” from Framingham to the airport at 1:30 and a fairly late flight home to make it easier to get to the airport.
DINNERS (2013 notes):
Day 2 Bar Harbor - Lobster / or fossilized shoe leather - awful
Day 3 North Conway - Hotel - very good
Day 5 Ludlow - Hotel - skipped
Day 6 Sturbridge - Salem Cross Inn (prime rib) - inedible
Day 8 Never-Again-Port - The Moorings - not awful but very poor
So out of 5 included dinners, only one was good.