15 Jul Our New England Road Trip Itinerary
To me, the start of a new year always begins with autumn, my favourite season. I suppose that’s because for most of my life, September has brought with it change, a new academic year and the chance to start afresh with a batch of brand new notebooks and pens. I love the feel of autumn’s approach as the long summer evenings start to draw in and an Arctic nip taints the morning air, bringing with it the promise of orange-tinted leaves, silver frosts and bonfire night.
*Update: you can read our complete 2016 New England Fall Foliage Guide here. This includes tips on where and when to see the best foliage, what to eat, which festivals to visit, how much our fall trip to New England cost and our favourite destinations in New England.*
For the last two years I have missed autumn; the routine cycling of the seasons has been erased by Asia’s sunshine and humidity. Even living in Hanoi, where it got cold enough to wear a coat, the air was still strangely humid and lacking that cold crispness we’re so used to in the UK. While I love warm weather, after two years of sweltering heat in Asia and smothering myself in sun cream, the Brit inside of me longs for frost and snow, for days cool enough to zip up a coat and wrap myself in a blanket. Luckily, this year we’ve chosen the perfect place to experience a spectacular autumn and kick-off a brand new phase of our adventure: New England.
I have long since dreamed of experiencing a New England fall, so much so that I’m a bit scared the reality won’t match up to my expectations. I have this picture in my head of sprawling farms, quaint little towns full of wood-clad houses with huge porches, vast forests and lakes, jagged coastlines and white lighthouses. When I think of our eight-week road trip I imagine driving through an autumn of orange pumpkin patches, famer’s markets, red-brown leaves and alongside windswept beaches. Have you ever visited New England; are my imaginings anywhere close to the truth?
New England Road Trip Itinerary
The New England fall foliage is supposed to be pretty spectacular, which means that we’re visiting at an expensive time. After several years in super-cheap Asia, the cost of travelling in the U.S is no doubt going to hit us hard. To try and lower costs we’ve already reserved our hire car and booked all of our accommodation in advance through Airbnb, which turned out to be cheaper than hotels, guesthouses or even hostels. We’re paying on average around £30 ($45) per night for our accommodation and we’re hoping that we’ll get to meet some lovely hosts who can give us some local insights in the process. Booking ahead also means we now have a definitive itinerary for our trip, here it is:
Boston, Massachusetts, 8 days – we fly into New York on the 2nd September. From there we’ll take a bus to Boston where we’ll spend a week getting to know the city before we pick up our rental car.
Effingham, New Hampshire, 5 days – since we’re staying close to the White Mountains we have plenty of walking planned for our stay in New Hampshire.
Hamden, Connecticut, 4 days – next we’re heading towards the Connecticut coast where we also plan to explore New Haven, home of Yale University.
Pawtucket, Rhode Island, 7 days – from here we want to check out Providence and take the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket; these islands were too expensive for us to stay on.
Buffalo, New York, 3 days – a day’s drive will take us over to visit Niagara Falls.
Rockingham, Vermont, 7 days – we’re heading back east to southern Vermont, where we’ll be staying near the Green Mountain National Forest.
Bristol, Vermont, 7 days – now it should be time to drive north and catch the fall foliage in action. As well as checking out the countryside, farms and towns we’re excited to visit Burlington, which sounds like a vibrant city.
Swanville, Maine, 7 days – time to chase the foliage across to a converted barn in Swanville, which we’ll use as a base to explore the northern coast and Bangor.
Bar Harbour, Maine, 4 days – we’re making a stop here solely to visit Acadia National Park, which we’ve heard great things about.
Portland, Maine, 7 days – autumn should be in full swing as we drive down the famous coast towards Portland, where we’re excited to experience an American Halloween for the first time!
Fall River, Massachusetts, 3 days – we’re ending our trip back in Massachusetts, from there we’ll drive over to visit Cape Cod.
Boston, Massachusetts, 5 days – after returning our rental car we’ll spend a final few days in Boston, a city which I fully expect us to fall for.
The fun doesn’t stop once our road trip is over; next we’ll catch the bus down to visit Philadelphia and Washington DC. Our trip ends in New York visiting Andrew’s relatives; we have a week of intense sightseeing and our first Thanksgiving to experience before we fly back to England on the 28th November.
Slow Travel Promise
Most people spend just two or three weeks visiting New England in the fall, so I know that our eight-week road trip sounds pretty lavish. What we have learnt from travelling over the last couple of years though, is that slower travel works better for us. Although we had a great time at the beginning of our trip in New Zealand and Australia, for example, we also totally burnt ourselves out zipping backwards and forwards at a frantic pace. For this trip we plan to take things slow and steady so we can explore more in-depth and enjoy some rest days.
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What do you think of our New England itinerary, can you recommend any places for us to visit?
StevePosted at 10:07h, 16 July
That’s an amazing trip you’ve got lined up! Would love to do something similar at some point in the future.
I’m about to head off to Indonesia for a month – your posts on that country have been useful, so thanks for that! 🙂
AmyPosted at 11:00h, 16 July
Yep, we’re so excited! I hope you have a great trip to Indonesia, be careful if you visit the Monkey Forest 🙂
Rosie ThomasPosted at 13:11h, 16 July
As you’ve already booked everything it’s probably a bit late to say so, but if you get the chance to go over the bridge to Canada when you’re at Niagara, the view of the falls from that side is magnificent! As you’re British, should be no problem at the border.
AmyPosted at 15:03h, 16 July
Hi Rosie, thanks for the suggestion, we have three days booked in Buffalo so that sounds like a great idea!
JeniaPosted at 14:27h, 16 July
Nice! Sergey’s family called Hamden home for about 15 years — we have some good recommendations there — of course the pizza (try Dayton’s street — off the beaten track but oh so good), Sleeping Giant park, andEast Rock park with the hill that you can climb from where you can see the city.
AmyPosted at 15:04h, 16 July
Sounds great, thanks for the recommendations Jenia; what a nice place to have relatives 🙂
KatePosted at 16:28h, 16 July
I’ve had two work trips this year to Burlington, Vermont (Univ of Vermont) and it was really lovely. Hope to get back there in the fall as I experienced winter (not again please) and then summer. People are lovely and scenery great but the prices of food — wow. It was like eating in Dubai!! I hope the rest of the region is not the same. Food was well done though. But if you are nearby Burlington, the outdoor area in the middle of the city is fun for strolling around — very cafe/pub scene.
AmyPosted at 18:11h, 16 July
Burlington sounds awesome (apart from the food prices!), we’re really excited about visiting. We’re planning lots of picnics and home-cooked meals when we have access to kitchens so hopefully that will lower the overall cost of food; I’m sure we will still end up splurging though!
Gilda BaxterPosted at 22:04h, 16 July
Fantastic itinerary! I am sure it will be amazing, I loved that photo of the Autumn scenery and it will be so nice to immerse yourselves into it by travelling slowly and experiencing things like Halloween and Thanks Giving. I can’ t wait to follow your journey. I expect your pictures will be fabulous.
AmyPosted at 15:14h, 17 July
Thanks Gilda, I am so looking forward to the autumn scenery and of course sharing our journey – thanks so much for following 🙂
JonnoPosted at 11:09h, 19 July
Looks like you’re going to have an amazing adventure in New England. The itinerary looks perfect, not too long in each place but not too much hectic travelling. It will be great especially in the Autumn, obviously the best time to go to that part of the US. I’d love to do a similar trip in the next year or so, it’s so difficult to choose which part of the States to visit though as it’s just so big.
Have an amazing time and I look forward to following you throughout your trip.
AndrewPosted at 11:32h, 20 July
Thanks Jonno, we’re really excited about our trip and have been planning it for some time now. We will have to see the USA in installments it seems, too big to do in one trip! I hope you get there yourself soon! 🙂
Jasmin CharlottePosted at 22:02h, 19 July
Ah sounds amazing! I lived in RI for awhile and the whole area is gorgeous in the Autumn. Definitely recommend Cape Cod and Newport while you’re round there 🙂 x
AndrewPosted at 11:34h, 20 July
Hi Jasmin Charlotte, thanks for your comment. It’s getting closer and closer and we’re very excited! 🙂
PattiPosted at 03:30h, 20 July
I think 8 weeks in New England sounds fantastic! Abi and I have traveled to 35 states (I think) but we have yet to visit Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island so we’d love to make a similar road trip. Our first glimpse at the fall foliage here on the east coast was way beyond anything we experienced in OR and we’re definitely looking forward to our first full fall season, especially since fall is my favorite season. You won’t be disappointed. You’re coming to D.C.?! We’d love to get together! 🙂 In the meantime, while you’re planning, let me know if I can help with D.C. info.
AndrewPosted at 11:40h, 20 July
Hi Patti, I think 35 states is pretty good, I’m sure that’s a higher proportion of the USA than we’ve seen of the UK! We’ve heard nothing but great things about the New England fall foliage so we’re understandably excited! We’d love to meet up in D.C., that would be awesome, Amy will message you on FB about it. 😉
[email protected] The British BerlinerPosted at 12:06h, 23 July
This trip sounds amazing. I’ll be reading with interest as I’ll be taking my husband to New York for his birthday in 2016 and we’re planning another America family roadtrip in 2017! ‘Looks fab!
AmyPosted at 22:35h, 23 July
We’re so excited about our trip and sharing it here on the blog, I hope we can give you some tips for your trip 🙂
TerriPosted at 22:40h, 06 September
Not sure you can visit the Boston area without at least heading 18 miles north for a day trip to Salem…..my home town and the Witch City. All of the North Shore is SO historic and beautiful…..Beverly Farms, Marblehead, Gloucester and definitely Rockport. Happy travels!
AmyPosted at 15:15h, 07 September
Thanks for the recommendation Terri, we’re picking up a car this,weekend and Salem is on our list. We’re also going whale watching in Gloucester.?