You always hear that the best time for road trips in New England is the fall. Yep – you sure can’t argue that it is one of the most spectacular places when it is dressed in its seasonal finery, but that clothing is just that – dressing on what is gorgeous scenery, no matter the season. So don’t think the top eastern corner of the US is just for fall; road trips in New England are perfect anytime.
1. Acadia National Park Loop, Acadia National Park, Maine
This 27-mile loop is one of the most spectacular road trips in New England. Park Loop Road is the primary road through Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. A fee is required. The loop begins near the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center, and most of the road is one-way. All along the route there are special pull-out areas where you can pull over, and take in the scenery. Special parking areas are located near Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, among others. Sand Beach is just 300 yards long, but intimate and inviting. A lifeguard is on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and there are changing rooms and restrooms available. Thunder Hole is spectacular when the right size wave comes in, causing a huge splash and thunderous boom.
2. Lake Winnipesaukee Scenic Drive, New Hampshire
One of the most stunning lakes in the Eastern United States is the beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee. It covers 69 square miles and is dotted with numerous islands. Swimming, biking, boating, kayaking, canoeing, jet skiing and other outdoor activities abound. Around the lake are a number of small towns and villages, like Meredith, Center Harbor, Moultonborough and Wolfeboro. All have wonderful selections of restaurants and lodging.
3. Route 108 between Jeffersonville and Stowe, Vermont
This route, full of twists and turns, is not one to take if you are traveling with a trailer. However, in fall, the views are spectacular, with nature treating you to her rainbow of autumn leaf colors. Both the towns of Jeffersonville and Stowe are worthy destinations in their own right, even if you weren’t treated to a pleasant drive getting there. Jeffersonville is a village in the town of Cambridge. Full of old colonial homes and antique shops and galleries, it could be the ideal New England town. Be sure to visit Hanley’s General Store and Janna’s Cupboard if you’re hungry. Stowe offers great little shops, skiing and great lodging or dining options. While you’re there, visit the Trapp Family Lodge, still managed by the von Trapp family of “The Sound of Music” fame.
4. Ocean Drive, Newport, Rhode Island
While known for its mansions, just around the corner is a short driving loop called Ocean Drive. Also known as Ten Mile Drive, the route encompasses most of the southern coastline of Aquidneck Island. It affords wonderful views of the rocky Atlantic beaches, as well as access to Fort Adams State Park. You’ll pass other points of interest, including Hammersmith Farm, the U.S. Coast Guard Station and Brenton Point State Park.
5. Route 169 from Woodstock to Canterbury, Connecticut
This drive takes you past what many consider the classic New England landscape. Along rolling hills and farms stands nearly 200 homes built before 1855. There are the classic village green centers and historic churches dotting the area. In addition to the scenery, the area is historically rich. There are more nearly 180 sites, landmarks and districts recognized as historically significant. As well as being enjoyable, this is one of the most educational New England road trips.
6. Route 6A Cape Cod, Massachusetts
This route is also known as the Old King’s Highway. The route runs through 34 miles of scenic marshland and harbors and passes through communities like Bourne, Dennis, Orleans, Brewster, Sandwich, Barnstable and Yarmouth, all evoking the feeling of classic old Cape Cod. The route is lined with trees and dotted with regal captain’s homes and charming bed and breakfasts. Enjoy one of many wonderful New England restaurants along the way.
7. Route 2, Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
Travel along the first scenic road in New England, opened in 1914, extending from Lanesborough and going all the way to Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. Route 2, or the Mohawk Trail, is closed in the winter around Mt. Greylock, but open spring through fall. What began as a Native American trade route is now marked with classic Americana in the form of small towns, village greens, state parks, farm stands, apple orchards, maple sugar houses and family hotels.
I’ve brought you just a small selection of the New England road trips you might consider. If you haven’t decided on a summer vacation yet, could these be to your liking?