I’ve always wanted to explore the New England states, especially after I moved away from the northeast to Seattle. Fall was my favorite season as a kid. I’d crunch through the fallen leaves with my old-school film camera and try to capture the fall colors. I know Pennsylvania isn’t known for its fall foliage like other states, but it was what I knew and looked forward to year-after-year.

Below is a rough New England itinerary to follow if, like me, you want to visit and tick off the states in the upper righthand corner of the United States.

Flying into New York, I arrive late into JFK and pick up my rental car. From there, I drive to Stamford, CT for a quick hotel stay to sleep before the travel begins. I used points for the hotel which was just off the highway.

Driving time: JFK to La Quinta Inn & Suites Stamford – 50 minutes


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Day 1: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts

I was excited to visit a couple of towns with early U.S. history, like Boston. Andy chooses to sample the local coffee shops while working remotely as I go by foot to explore the cities.

Driving time: La Quinta Inn & Suites Stamford to New Haven, CT – 55 minutes

Connecticut: New Haven – a few hours

I’m a huge fan of Gilmore Girls and couldn’t pass through Connecticut without visiting Yale University. After a cup of Koffee, I wander through the campus and even was able to pass through a student only gate into a courtyard.

Yale University

I marvel at the old brick buildings and buy postcards at the college bookstore. It feels like any other college town with students walking the sidewalks around a business district. Unfortunately, the Yale University Art Gallery is closed on Mondays, which was high on my list. After a couple of hours, I return to the car and meet Andy to drive to the next stop.

Driving time: New Haven, CT to Providence, RI – 1 hour and 45 minutes

Rhode Island: Providence – a few hours

As the lunch hour approached, Andy and I stop for a bite to eat. Sampling local Rhode Island beer as we eat brunch and plan where to go in Providence. After some discussion, we decide to see the Rhode Island State House. I take pictures as we walk around the outside. After, we stumble into the Roger Williams National Memorial and learn about the 1636 settlement.

Rhode Island State House

Where to eat: Julian’s

Driving time: Providence, RI to Boston, MA – 1 hour

Boston – half day

After checking into the hotel, I left Andy to finish work before dinner as I planned to walk the 2.5 miles of the Freedom Trail. The one end starts at Boston Common Visitors Center, a perfect place to stop for another postcard collection. As I made my purchase, a tour guide does a last call for the 4:30 pm tour. Perfect timing! I join the 90-minute tour for $14 and learn more history than I could have walking the brick trail myself.

Boston Common

John wears a full costume and takes us through the history up until the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. I plan on the second half for tomorrow with a discount if I join the tour from Faneuil Hall. I decide to walk the trail more myself since rain is on the forecast for tomorrow to see Paul Revere’s house. After, the trail is under construction as dinnertime approached, so I detour back to the hotel.

Where to eat: Tip Tap Room
Where to drink: Beerworks
Where to stay: Courtyard by Marriott Boston Downtown

Day 2: Massachusetts and Maine

Today, Andy works in the morning while I explore Boston before heading to Maine to meet up with some family.

Boston – half day

After an early breakfast at Boston Public Market, I pick up the Freedom Trail on the Charlestown Bridge. My first stop was the USS Constitution. I arrive 15 minutes before opening and go through security to tour the boat. U.S. stationed military personnel staff the boat and are standing up high on the sails. I walk around the boat and overhear some of the history from the staff on the ship before continuing my way before the rain starts.

USS Constitution

I finish the Freedom Trail at Bunker Hill Monument and climb the 294 stairs to the top for views of Boston. After, I walk back towards the hotel and pass Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and Old North Church as the rain starts.

Bunker Hill

I dip into Bova’s to pick up a Boston Cream dessert and meet up with Andy at the hotel for late check out. We eat a late lunch at Regina Pizzeria before continuing the road trip to Maine.

Where to eat: Inna’s Kitchen, Bova’s, Regina Pizzeria

Driving time: Boston, MA to West Bath, ME – 2 hours and 45 minutes

Bath, ME – 1 night

We arrive at my Dad’s cousin’s house outside of Bath, Maine. Andy joins a trip to the store to pick out the fresh lobster for dinner. Jim grew up in Maine and provides tips at dinner for how to find all the meat on the lobster for my parents and me. Barb takes my mom and I to the local yarn shop and drives us through the town of Bath. The rain deters us from getting out and walking inside the shops.

Maine lobster dinner

Where to eat: Anywhere with seafood
Where to stay: Airbnb or hotel

Day 3: To Acadia National Park, Maine

The point of the trip to New England was Acadia National Park. I go out of my way to visit national parks when possible and couldn’t wait to explore a new national park for a couple of days.

Adding to Andy and I, my parents and Barb and Jim head north to Acadia National Park. The rain continues in the morning giving us an excuse to sleep in and cook breakfast.

Lobster Roll

Instead of driving the highway, we navigate U.S. 1 through small coastal towns, stopping for lunch for a lobster roll, and realizing I continued to state each town was “cute” as we pass through.

We meet at the campsite and have some wine before going out to dinner. After, we go on our separate ways and go to bed early.

Seawall Campground

Where to eat: Hill’s Seafood Co., Rockland, ME and Cafe Dry Dock & Inn

Driving time: West Bath, ME to Seawall Campground, Acadia National Park via U.S. 1 North – 3 hours

Day 4: Acadia National Park, Maine

The second day, we cook breakfast on a campfire and then leave to Hulls Cove Visitor Center. From there, Dad, Andy, and I decide to hike up Beehive while the other explore less elevated trails.

Beehive

Hiking map: Beehive to Bowl Trail

Acadia National Park

After the hike, we rejoin the others at Thunder Hole before stopping at Otter Cliffs lookout. The last stop requires a drive to the highest point of the park: Cadillac Mountain. We explore the slab rock on the summit after battling the other cars for park spots. I’d hate to see it on a weekend!

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

We make plans to meet at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse around 5 pm. The lighthouse is beautiful and the sun dips behind a layer of clouds before sunset. We all return to the campground for pork chops cooked on the fire.

Seawall Campground

Where to eat: Campground
Where to stay: Seawall Campground or Harbor View Motel & Cottages

Day 5: To Baxter State Park, Maine

We say goodbye to the family and continue to the next destination. Before leaving Southwest Harbor, we stop at a coffee shop to connect to Wi-Fi and download directions to Baxter State Park. On the way to inner Maine, we stop at Bangor for more hiking supplies and brunch.

We check into the park and pay the entrance fee. Abol Campground is where we’ll be camping for the night. Down by the river, I set up camp in my very first lean-to. I buy a bundle of wood from the ranger and talk to her about our hiking plans.

Abol Campground

We cook dinner next to the fire and enjoy the crackling and warmth before heading to bed early to wake up early.

Where to eat: At campsite
Where to stay: Abol Campground, Katahdin Stream, or Roaring Brook

Driving time: Seawall Campground, Acadia National Park to Abol Campground, Baxter State Park, ME – 3 hours and 20 minutes

Day 6: Baxter State Park, Maine to White Mountains, New Hampshire

After a decent chunk visiting Maine, today is the last day before heading to New Hampshire. A part of me wants to stay in Maine because I know the leaves aren’t at their peak levels but am eager to visit a new state and high point. Though, first, I have to hike to the top of Maine.

Driving time: Abol Campground to Roaring Brook Campground, Baxter State Park, ME – 45 minutes

Baxter State Park – early morning and afternoon

The second day we climb to the top of Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine. The moody weather kept us hiking fast as we questioned the decision for hiking the 1-mile Knife Edge ridge section with 35+ mile wind gusts moving misty clouds over the mountain’s crest. Read more about summiting Maine’s Mount Katahdin via the Knife Edge route.

Summit of Mount Katahdin

Hiking map: Helon-Taylor to Knife Edge to Chimney Pond

Where to eat: On the trail
Where to drink: Baxter Brewing, stop along the drive

Driving time: Roaring Brook Campground, Baxter State Park, ME to Crawford Notch State Park, NH – 5 hours and 50 minutes

White Mountains – late evening

After the 7.25 hour hike, we change and begin to drive making a pit stop at Baxter Brewing Company outside of Augustus. Before checking into the campground, we stop in North Conway for a bite to eat. Exhausted, we arrive at camp, set up, and go to bed eagerly.

Where to eat: Muddy Moose Restaurant & Pub
Where to stay: Dry River Campground – Crawford Notch State Park

Day 7: White Mountains, New Hampshire

Mount Washington has been on my list for years. Andy did a winter ascent several years ago, and I’m elated to visit New Hampshire for the first time.

Known for record-breaking winds, I anticipated a similar hike to Katahdin the day before. Andy works from a local coffee shop in Conway, and I spend the day hiking to the summit via the Huntington Ravine Trail to Tuckerman Ravine Trail loop.

Mount Washington summit

Hiking Map: Huntington Ravine to Tuckerman’s Ravine Loop

Where to eat: Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Company
Where to stay: Dry River Campground – Crawford Notch State Park

Driving time: Crawford Notch State Park, NH to AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, NH – 1 hour and 4 minutes round trip

Day 8: Burlington, Vermont to Adirondacks, New York

Being so close to Vermont, we needed to do something notable to count it as a state visited.

Driving time: Crawford Notch State Park, NH to Burlington, VT – 2 hours and 20 minutes

Burlington, Vermont – few hours

Deciding to break up the drive, we stop in Burlington for a few hours to work remotely and grab lunch. The drive was beautiful with farms scattered along the rolling mountains. The leaves just starting to turn to their festive colors. Before leaving town, I stop at a small shop to pick up maple candies.

Next, we drive to a small town of Charlotte to board the ferry across Lake Champlain to Essex, New York.

Lake Champlain ferry

Where to eat/drink: Zero Gravity Brewpub at American Flatbread
Where to work: Fletcher Free Library

Driving time: Burlington, VT to Adirondak Loj & Heart Lake Wilderness Campground – 2 hours depending on ferry schedule

Adirondacks, New York – evening

The overcast skies make the fall foliage look dull even though they were the best I’ve seen on the trip so far. Crossing the lake, we enter New York and drive to the campground to check-in. After setting up camp and upgrading to the lean-to, we make a supply run in town to pick up food to cook and beverages.

Wilderness Campground at Heart Lake

Where to stay: Adirondak Loj at Heart Lake or Wilderness Campground at Heart Lake
Where to buy local alcohol: Terry Robards Wines & Spirits

Day 9: Adirondacks, New York

With plans to rock climb and hike to see the fall foliage, I am excited to see the many lakes and rolling mountains. Now, I just need sunshine in the forecast, which did not look promising.

Unfortunately, rain decides to change the plans. I spend the day working from the public library in Lake Placid with a whopping half inch forecasted throughout the day.

Where to eat: Big Slide Brewery & Public House – probably the best food of the trip with decent beer.
Where to stay: Adirondak Loj at Heart Lake or Wilderness Campground at Heart Lake
Where to work: Lake Placid Public Library

Driving time: Adirondak Loj & Heart Lake Wilderness Campground to Lake Placid, NY – 32 minutes round trip

Day 10: Adirondacks, New York

Mount Marcy is the highest peak in New York state with the trailhead leaving from Heart Lake. All I had to do was roll out of my sleeping bag, put on my hiking clothes, eat a little breakfast, and start hiking. The fog lingers in the valleys and the rain from the prior day make the hike a little more adventurous. We hop from stone to stone to keep our feet dry from the water streaming down the trail. One river crossing didn’t have a high water bridge, so we remove our socks and boots to ford the high water.

Mount Marcy

Hiking map: Mount Marcy via Van Hoevenberg Trail

Driving time: Adirondak Loj & Heart Lake Wilderness Campground to Beacon, NY – 3 hours and 50 minutes

*Days 11-17 were spent visiting friends and family in various parts of Pennsylvania.

Day 11: Beacon, New York

Similar to the Adirondacks, the first planned day of climbing is canceled with flash flood warnings and up to an inch of rainfall. Time to slow down and let the weather prompt a work day, at least for Andy. I take a few hours to casually stroll through the Dia:Beacon art museum. Filled with sculptures and abstract installations, I’m happy to go solo. Museums, for me, are best experienced alone.

Dia:Beacon

Where to stay: Airbnb or with friends
Where to eat: Draught Industries

Day 12: Shawangunks, New York (The Gunks)

Rock climbing at the Gunks in the fall is something that has always been in the back of my mind. Even with the heavy rainfall the prior day, my local friend assured the rock dries fast. We pay the $20 per person climbing fee for a day of adventure.

Driving time: Beacon, NY to Gunks parking area – 40 minutes

Traveling to climb always has me testing out the local ratings by not pushing grades, so my first choice was a 3-pitch climb called Gelsa. The higher pitches are covered by a trickling waterfall, so we opt not to attempt it. Instead, we walk further down the wall and begin to climb the 4-pitch Yum, Yum, Yab Yum. Both climbs on the less-crowded Near Trapps area.

Yum Yum Yab Yum

After climbing the route, we walk over the bridge to scope out the Trapps walls and look to climb Three Pines, also wet. It is late in the day and we decide to head to New Paltz for some after climbing brews before visiting friends and eating dinner.

Where to drink: Arrowood Outpost

Driving time: Gunks to New Paltz to Milton to Beacon – 1 hour and 10 minutes

Day 13: Beacon, New York

Fingers crossed with 40% of rain forecasted and the rain volume amount to be low, we pack the climbing gear. Do we drive 40 minutes and pay another $20 per person to maybe climb one route? The sole-crushing answer is no.

Instead, Greg, the friend we’re staying with in Beacon, introduces us to the most popular hiking trail, Breakneck Ridge, in the United States. I am skeptical as I never heard of the trail before, so how is it popular? Maybe it should be called the most populated trail. Why? Because the trailhead starts close to a major train stop from New York City in the Hudson River Valley.

AdobeLightroom

The short trail navigates over rocky terrain to the point where using hands to scramble is required. Really, new hikers are swarming here? The trail consists of many benches. We make a loop out of the hike to avoid going down the wet rocks and have the trail to ourselves as the rain soaks our non-Gore-Tex layers. As we finish the hike, the rain ends and the rest of the hikers emerge.

Hiking map: Breakneck Ridge to Breakneck Bypass Trail loop

After, the three of us head to Cold Springs to warm up over a second cup of coffee and empanadas to snack. Walking through the tourist town, I can see why it is a popular weekend getaway from The City.

Unfortunately, the road trip has come to an end, and we drive to the airport to close the loop.

Where to eat: Rincón Argentino

Driving time: Beacon, NY to JFK airport – 2 hours

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