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Fall trip northeastern US

Groningen, The...
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Fall trip northeastern US

Next fall (I know it’s still far away) my wife and I will be travelling through the northeastern US. One of the reasons for choosing this time of year is that we want to do some leafpeeping as well (we don’t have fall colors like you have back home in the Netherlands). I’ve read a lot about which places to visit and when to go, but especially about the last part I’m a bit unsure (and the more I read about the subject, the more unsure I get, it seems). Does the itinerary below have a good timing or is it better to push things forward a week later? I know it’s difficult to time around peak foliage, but I was wondering what’s better if you miss it: to be a little to early or a little to late. Hope anyone can be of help.

1. Vr. 21/09 fly to New York

2. Za. 22/09 New York

3. Zo. 23/09 New York

4. Ma. 24/09 New York

5. Di. 25/09 New York

6. Wo. 26/09 Newport

7. Do. 27/09 Cape Cod

8. Vr. 28/09 Boston

9. Za. 29/09 Boston

10. Zo. 30/09 Boston

11. Ma. 01/10 Portsmouth

12. Di. 02/10 Bar Harbor

13. Wo. 03/10 White Mountains

14. Do. 04/10 White Mountains

15. Vr. 05/10 Woodstock

16. Za. 06/10 Stowe

17. Zo. 07/10 Lake Placid

18. Ma. 08/10 Skaneateles

19. Di. 09/10 Niagara Falls

20. Wo. 10/10 Watkins Glen SP

21. Do. 11/10 Lancaster County

22. Vr. 12/10 Lancaster County

23. Za. 13/10 Washington DC

24. Zo. 14/10 Washington DC

25. Ma. 15/10 Washington DC

26. Di. 16/10 Shenandoah NP

27. Wo. 17/10 Colonial Williamsburg

28. Do. 18/10 Atlantic City

29. Vr. 19/10 Philadelphia

30. Za. 20/10 New York (JFK)

31. Zo. 21/10 Amsterdam

Richmond, Virginia
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1. Re: Fall trip northeastern US

Overall, you will be busy, with what appears to be a lot of one-night hotel stays. If you are good at traveling lightly, packing up and driving somewhere new everyday, you will be okay. Otherwise, you may want to consider combining a few overnights - for example, stopping in Stowe along your drive from Woodstock rather than actually spending the night. If you left Woodstock early in the morning, you'd easily have about 5 hours in Stowe while still allowing daylight to get to Lake Placid (which could then be a 2-night stay). Skaneatles & Watkins Glen could be done from the same base, with one of them as a day trip, etc.

You seem to have allowed only a minimum amount of time in each area, which is okay as long as you realize you are only getting a "taste" of each location and will constantly be busy. I think your time is tightest in Maine - the area between Portsmouth & Bar Harbor is beautiful with wild coastline and dozens of quaint towns to explore. You have set aside no time for exploring along this drive and additionally, by the time you drive from Portsmouth to Bar Harbor (4+ hours), you'll only have half a day for Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park. An additional day would help greatly.

I think your timing of visiting for leaf-peeping is generally okay. It does vary every year but you have a good shot of seeing some wonderful color.

I hope you also realize that a car is not necessary for Boston or Washington DC. I'm not sure if Provincetown can be easily reached by public transportation, but if it can, you might be able to get away with picking up your car after your visit in Boston. Cape Cod can be done via day trip from Boston, by either bus or ferry.

You could, theoretically, visit Shenandoah & Williamsburg BEFORE Washington DC (the drive from Lancaster to Shenandoah is easy), which would allow you to turn in your rental car in Washington DC and then rely on public transportation between there, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, and returning to JFK airport. Although public transportation is not widely used in the USA, this is one area where locations are actually well-connected. It is just an option, as driving along the northeast corridor DC -> Philadelphia -> NYC can at times be a nightmare. Also, have you considered flying home directly from Philadelphia rather than returning to JFK? It may save you some hassle, if the price is right.

Cleveland
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2. Re: Fall trip northeastern US

One change to consider is visting Ohio Amish Country after Niagara Falls rather than Lancaster County. Focus on Holmes County, southwest of Canton, Ohio, around Walnut Creek. It's the largest Amish community in the world and preferred by many to other Amish communities in the U.S.

http://www.experience-ohio-amish-country.com/

http://ohiodnr.com/tabid/9584/Default.aspx

Possible attractions on your way to Ohio Amish country would include Lake Erie wine country, Presque Isle/Waldameer, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. If you're classical music fans, you also might be able to attend a concert of the Cleveland Orchestra in Severance Hall -- one of the world's best orchestras in what often is considered the most beautiful concert hall in the U.S.

Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, the resting place of John D. Rockefeller and Pres. James A. Garfield, is the home of one of the most beautiful chapels in the U.S. and is in full glory during Leaf Turn.

http://lakeviewcemetery.com/web/index.html

Just east of Cleveland is Holden Arboretum, one of the largest and best in the U.S. and another great place to enjoy Leaf Turn.

www.holdenarb.org/photogallery/fall_pg1.asp

If you like pre-1950 movies, you also might enjoy a visit to Malabar Farm just west of Ohio Amish country. It's a Hollywood getaway along the NYC-LA train route (before the jet age) frozen in its mid-20th century splendor, and the creation of arguably America's greatest 20th century Renaissance man.

http://www.bookthink.com/0078/78brom1.htm

http://www.bookthink.com/0078/78lb1.htm

If you headed back east on I-76, you might stop to see Fallingwater and Antietam and Harper's Ferry.

http://www.fallingwater.org/2

The Antietam battlefield is compact and actually very pretty, even though it was the site of the bloodiest day in American history. The sesquicentennial of the battle takes place in 2012.

http://www.nps.gov/ancm/index.htm

If you're physically active, Harper's Ferry offers some great vistas, including from the famous Jefferson Rock.

nps.gov/hafe/…Harpers-Ferry-Virtual-Tour.htm

Shenendoah NP might be redundant after the rest of your trip, but visits to Charlottesville for Monticello and to Appomattox Court House would be on my short list.

Unless you're gamblers, you could skip Atlantic City. If you enjoy sculpture, here's an alternative:

http://www.groundsforsculpture.org/

You also could tour the Princeton University campus, considered one of the world's most beautiful. Nassau Hall there actually is one of the oldest and most historic buildings in the U.S. For a short time, it was the capital of the U.S.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nassau_Hall

Just wanted to provide you with some options.

Weather can be hit and miss in the northeast U.S. during the time of your travel, so it's good to maintain some flexibility and alternative plans. Sitting under a stationary front and possibly even facing flood threats is not advisable.

Vr., Za., Zo., are these Dutch abbreviations?

Good planning!

Richmond, Virginia
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3. Re: Fall trip northeastern US

<<One change to consider is visting Ohio Amish Country after Niagara Falls rather than Lancaster County.>>

I agree, this is an excellent option.

<<Shenendoah NP might be redundant after the rest of your trip, but visits to Charlottesville for Monticello and to Appomattox Court House would be on my short list.>>

As someone who loves outdoor scenery and hiking, I think Shenandoah has a very distinct natural beauty and is well worth the time. However, I understand that for someone with less significant interest in the outdoors, this may not prove to be the case. I'm not sure what the OP's interests are, but certainly Monticello and/or Antietam would be worthwhile for someone interested in American history. If the OP has unlimited time available, I would include them all :)

<<Unless you're gamblers, you could skip Atlantic City.>>

I also don't see the draw to Atlantic City, though I haven't personally been so I guess I shouldn't talk! However, if it is for gambling, then casinos in Niagara Falls and/or Turning Stone are alternatives that are also along the drive outlined above. If it is for a boardwalk, then Virginia Beach would offer an alternative (with warmer weather for strolling) not far from Williamsburg. However, if it is for the travel route via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and then Lewes -> Cape May ferry, I can't think of another reasonable substitution. That route is a huge point of interest for some people, but simply an alternative driving route in my opinion. Maybe I take it for granted!

To RoelgoesUSA, I hope we haven't overwhelmed you with too much new information!

Boston...
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4. Re: Fall trip northeastern US

You don't need a car in NYC or Boston, and there are several cheap buses (Bolt, Megabus, etc.) that travel from NYC to Boston daily.

There is also a ferry from Boston to Provincetown on Cape Cod that is scenic (daily from Boston Harbor in the summer, but check the fall schedule). You could extend your time in Boston by a day and fold the Cape Cod day into your time allotted to Boston.

I would rent a car when I'm ready to head north, and head directly to the White Mountains. If leaf peeping is your main goal, you can't do better than North Conway, the Kancamagus Highway (a gorgeous scenic byway) and the Franconia Notch area. If you like to hike, there's plenty of opportunity for that too. Portsmouth, NH is a nice old seaside town but it is a bit of a detour; Bar Harbor, Maine, is a HUGE detour and I would say you don't have time for it. Early October is peak there, so perfect timing, but things will be crowded. Book early!

Stowe, VT, is also a major detour. I'd skip it and stay longer in a given area rather than trying to cram too much in.

I would only stay one night in DC, two at the most. The main sights are close together and can be seen in a day on a bus tour.

Edited: 06 December 2011, 22:35
Groningen, The...
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5. Re: Fall trip northeastern US

Thank you all for responding. You gave me some things to think about and - also based on reactions on other forums - after some research I already have decided to go by bus or train from NYC to Boston, renting a car starting day 9, cutting Cape Cod and the Atlantic City/Philadelphia portion out of the trip and adding an extra day for the Maine coast and one for Vermont/NH, and ending in Washington turning the car in two days before flying back to Amsterdam from Washington instead of NYC. So minimum hassle of driving and parking in big cities, saving money as a bonus.

Other itinerary tips were also much appreciated, especially about the Ohio Amish, although it adds some extra miles to the trip. But can anyone tell me why this would be a better option than the Pennsylvania Dutch country?

Groningen, The...
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6. Re: Fall trip northeastern US

@bqkali: we're backpackers by nature, so even when travelling by car we have a backpack with us. We're also used to move around a lot, being on the road. For us the journey is half the fun, sometimes even more important than the destination. Within the time constraints presented (read vacation days) we want to see as much of the world as possible. If this sometimes means that we only get a taste of the places we visit, so be it. Regretfully one lifetime is to short...:)

Uden, The...
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7. Re: Fall trip northeastern US

Hi. Glad to see you here on the RT forum.

I see you are planning NY in the weekend. We found out hotelprices are at it highest in the weekend. NY always is busy but less during the week esp for its touristattractions. DC is less price in the weekend, so is Boston. So if you fly NY on a sunday, stay for 4 days and make your way to Boston you'll arrive friday if you skip Newport and Cape Cod.

For the car. We just picked up our car in Newark and drove to Newport, Cape Cod and Boston. In Boston we stayed at one of the suburbs (Waltham) with free parking and you easily can take public transport into the city but we even didnot do that but drove via the Turnpike into Boston and parked our car at the Boston Common. parking garage Perfectly located for Freedom Trail and the HOHO busses. We are used to pay parkingfees in NL don't we?

I just wanted to say, you also can do it by car. We always go everywhere by car (except for NY)

Newport is lovely. I95 is busy allright but we are used to that in NL also with the motorways. You can visit Mystic on your way and take the scenic drive from I95 on us1 to Newport and some spectacular bridges just before Newport. RI too often is overlooked on trips to the NE imo.

If you want to skip Cape Cod you can drive from Newport via Providence and Plymouth to Boston. Plymouth will be a detour then.

For Cape Cod. We spent 4 days there and its lovely but not the main hw 6. You''ll have to drive the byways to see how beautiful Cape Cod is but just one day won't do it justice and it's a long wat to P-Town and back. I also would not recommend this as a daydrive from Boston. There's a passengers ferry between Boston and P-Town but we did not do.

For the fall colors. Yes, you are coming in a good time of year for that (october) but it also will be very busy and you definitely need a reservation. There also is Columbus Day weekend (Colunbus Day is 2nd monday in october) with lots of people around.

Between Lake Placid I'd drive through the Adirondacs to the south coast of Lake Ontario and drive more or less along the shores to Niagara Falls. After all the trees on your way before it makes a nice change. We took 2 days between Lake Placid and Niagara Falls.

Driving via Ohio's Amish Country is a detour indeed but we also much more prefered Amish Country in Ohio rather than around Lancaster. You'll miss Fingers Lakes then but imo you already have seen enough forests, trees and lakes before. If you decide to go to Watkins Glen anyway don't miss the fantastic Glass museum in Corning south of Watkins Glen.

On a trip like yours I also would not want to miss Gettysburg/Antietam and if you add Ohio to the mix don't miss R&R Hall of fame in Cleveland.

Shenandoah is lovely but same comment here. You already have seen more or less similar locations before. 3 days for DC is good but you can do with 2 as well imo.

We also loved the visits to Williamsburg and after that Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel and Chincoteague and Assateague but you'll need extra time then. You can take the ferry between Lewes and Cape May if you want to visit Atlantic City but Atlantic City is not one of our favorite destinations to say it friendly. We didnot spent much time in Philadelphia and I still regret we rushed by. There's a lot to see and visit.

In the Boston area we also visited Salem and Cape Ann. Cape Ann is great but driving there very slow. Bar Harbor is a major detour and you'll need at least 2 nights there to visit Acadia NP.

O yes, Bqkali takes Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel and Assateague for granted -lol- I can assure you will love it and some days at a beach won't harm....

Tet

Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: Fall trip northeastern US

Agree with others about White Mts, etc. Prime leaf peeping season is early October and for sure book your stay. We loved our trip to the White Mts. in Oct. 2009. Driving the Kanc is one of the most scenic for fall leaf changes and colors. Go up to Mt. Washington, Franconia Notch and be sure to see the covered bridges in Jackson. After the White Mts. I would head to Bar Harbor and then down the coast of Maine to include Penabscot Bridge, Mt. Battie SP, Camden, Rockland, Portland Headlights, Kennebunkport and Ogunguit. Great views, great towns and good food.

Hope this info helps with your planning!!

Atlanta, Georgia
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9. Re: Fall trip northeastern US

Oh and to add-

Fryeburgh State Fair is in early October in Maine near North Conway NH. Lots of people there and in Bar Harbor beware of the large cruise ships and when they are scheduled to dock there. One of the days we were there the town was really crowded because several large cruise ships were in port for the day. The locals can tell you when they are scheduled to be there.

Cleveland
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10. Re: Fall trip northeastern US

I'll take a stab at the difference between Holmes County in Ohio Amish country versus Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.

As Holmes County remains more remote and distant from major population centers, it remains less visited by tourists (although still a major tourist attraction, especially during Leaf Turn; make reservations very early), much less populated and less commercialized. Holmes County is more rural with less sprawl, even though with each passing decade, the infrastructure to support the growing tourism industry in Holmes County has increased. The population density of Lancaster County is well over five times greater than in Holmes County.

The Amish culture also is much more predominate in Holmes County than in Lancaster County.

<<Holmes County has a relatively high number of residents who do not speak English at home. According to the 2000 census, almost 36% of the population speak either Pennsylvania German or German at home, and a further 7% speak Dutch. 42.92% of the total population and 50.28% of the children in 5-17 age range uses German/Pennsylvania German or Dutch at home.>>

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_County,_Ohio

<<[In Lancaster County,] 5.58% of the population reported speaking Pennsylvania German, German, or Dutch at home, while a further 4.97% spoke Spanish.>>

…wikipedia.org/wiki/…_Pennsylvania

The backroads in Holmes and surrounding counties still transport you back in time to a different era.

My perception, dimmed by years since my last visit to the Lancaster area, also is that Ohio Amish contry, located in the Allegheny foothills, is more hilly, adding to its charm.