New England is the collective historical name of six states in the northeastern part of the USA: from Maine in the north, through Vermont and New Hampshire, to Massachusetts and south to Connecticut and Rhode Island.
It is the birthplace of some famous writers and poets, from Herman Melville and Robert Frost to Stephen King. But most of all, when you think of New England, you think of Fall foliage and the intense red and golden hues that color the entire region in September-October.
Below are some great recs you can use to plan a road trip through four New England states. Why not all six? Because I haven’t had time to visit the remaining two yet.
A road trip on the scenic VT100 road, especially in the Fall, is a definite must-do. Along the way, you can stop at picturesque towns that look like they were taken straight out of a Stephen King novel. Weston, for example, is home to the famous and nostalgic Vermont Country Stor. In Ludlow, make sure to have a meal at Downtown Grocery, a fantastic restaurant offering a menu based on local produce with incredibly fresh meat and seafood.
On the way to Woodstock, one of New England’s most beautiful towns, you’ll pass a series of lakes, including Echo Lake, where you can stop for a picnic or a short kayak ride on the calm waters. In the quaint little town, small shops, cafés, and beautiful houses await, but just before you reach the center of Woodstock, don’t miss out on the excellent Farmers Market. Another must-visit is Quechee State Park, a short walking trail meandering into the deep ravine.
About a two-hour drive north of here is Burlington, the largest city in Vermont, sitting along the lake shore. The Shelburne Open Air Museum is a true delight. You can spend hours exploring ancient buildings, restored and furnished as in days gone by, a nineteenth-century train, a miniature circus, and an antique merry-go-round, plus the vast and historic steamship Ticonderoga.
Elegant Boston is an excellent starting point for a New England tour and certainly merits a few-days visit. You can walk the Freedom Trail, spend some quiet time in the lovely Boston Common and the historic Beacon Hill, visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum or take the kids to the Children’s Museum and the Boston Aquarium, considered one of the best in the world.
Less than an hour’s drive from Boston is Salem, a peaceful town with a turbulent past, infamous for the horrible seventeenth-century witch hunt immortalized in Arthur Miller’s play. There is an excellent Witch Museum that unfolds the whole story with life-size stage sets, figures, lighting and narration, lots of Halloween-themed shops, and several historic houses, such as the House of the Seven Gables, with a sneak peek into a secret and narrow staircase as part of the guided tour.
South of here, Stockbridge in the Berkshire hills is a quaint one-street town with a few restaurants and craft shops and the famous Red Lion Inn, one of New England’s most quintessential country hotels. This historic Inn hosted famous presidents and writers, and today you can sit on the porch or by the blazing fireplace, enjoy a fine dinner at the restaurant and have a good night’s sleep in one of the charming rooms. With a swimming pool at the back and many hidden corners awaiting discovery, this is definitely one of the loveliest hotels in the region.
While in the Berkshire Hills, visit the Norman Rockwell Museum, home to the world’s most extensive collection of original Rockwell art. Then, take a stroll in the surrounding garden, and you can peek into Rockwell’s restored studio.
In Mystic, Connecticut (does the name ring a bell? This is where the movie Mystic Pizza was filmed), make sure to spend a couple of hours at the open-air museum Mystic Seaport, a restored fishing village from the nineteenth century, where you can visit the smithy and grocery store, the old printing house and more., There’s a small harbor with a lighthouse, sailing ships anchored on the river, and guides walking about in period costumes. It’s perfect for a family outing, and children will enjoy running around the village.
If you’re a bibliophile, don’t miss out on a short trip to Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, where you can visit the Mark Twain House & Museum and get two for the price of one. In front of the famous writer’s magnificent wooden house stands the more modest house of his equally renowned neighbor, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Tent. A beautiful garden surrounds both places and a visitor information center, bookstore, and museum.
Last but not least is the smallest state in the USA, where you can visit Newport. This Gilded Age resort town started as a modest fishing village, then became a stronghold of America’s wealthiest families, including the Vanderbilts, Morgans, and Astors. Tourists flock here today to visit an imposing cluster of summer “cottages” built along Bellevue Ave, some of them fit for kings. Marble House and The Breakers are two of the most beautiful houses, but there are many more.
You can buy a combined ticket for significant savings, allowing entry to several of the houses. On the way to Newport, it is well worth stopping at a relatively modest home that overlooks the bay and sits in the Green Animals Topiary Garden. The Victorian house is furnished in a period style and has an exciting display of games, toys, and dollhouses so that children will have lots of fun.