In the Fall of 2014 my boyfriend and I joined thousands of other “leaf peepers” in New England to experience the excitement that is the fall colors (also known as autumn colors, foliage, autumn foliage… you get the picture). In September we left the temperate San Francisco weather and headed to the crisp air of Boston. We rented a car and spent just over a week gallivanting around. We stayed in four different states and six different cities, and yet somehow the trip never felt rushed. We relaxed in national parks, drank local beer, watched sunsets and sunrises, and explored farms, lighthouses, gorges, and trails. If you’re contemplating a road trip in the northeast, DO IT! I promise it’s a trip you won’t regret.
Tony and I spent a lot of time planning this vacation. We considered where we wanted to stay, for how long, and how much we wanted to drive each day. To help you plan your trip, here’s a summary of the best things from ours:
We started our New England adventure in Boston and spent our first day exploring the Freedom Trail. Any local will tell you it’s a ridiculous, kitschy thing, and it is, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great way to experience historic Boston, especially if you haven’t grown up living in all of the American history.
In Boston I recommend checking out Harvard and MIT’s campuses, running or walking along the Charles River, and heading to Harpoon and Sam Adam’s breweries. If you’re there in the fall (which you should be to experience those autumn colors), Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin beer is delicious, as are their pretzels doused in your choice of salty, sweet, or savory toppings.
From Boston we drove just over three hours to our next stop: Woodstock, Vermont. Woodstock is a quiet little town, but they had by far our favorite accommodations at 506 On the River Inn. Make sure to save time for a cocktail in their old-timey lounge.
Woodstock is a great hub to access surrounding areas (including spots in New Hampshire!). We loved hiking around the nearby Quechee Gorge, which is basically just a huge valley with a river running through it. It was a great place to be active and also just sit and watch the water stream by in a relatively secluded area; even with a road close by it felt like it was just us and nature.
Also nearby is Sugarbush farm and Poverty Lane Orchards (in New Hampshire!). At Sugarbush you can learn all about the process of making maple syrup and you can taste 12+ types of cheddar cheese that they make right on the farm. They’re pretty much all delicious, so make sure you save room in your luggage to take some back with you! At Poverty Lane Orchards you can pick your own apples, browse their selection of baked goods, and taste (and purchase) their adults-only apple cider.
From Woodstock we continued our New England tour by heading a couple of hours north to Burlington. The actual city of Burlington felt much less historic and quaint compared to our other stops, but it did the trick in terms of proximity. Inside the city of Burlington we very much enjoyed Zero Gravity’s Brew Pub inside of the American Flat Bread pizza joint as well as Switchback Brewing Company. To be totally frank, we preferred Zero Gravity’s beers, but Switchback’s logo was awesome and we appreciated that they catered to the cyclist crowd.
Also in Burlington is Magic Hat. When you visit they invite you on a self-guided tour through their factory and to explore their eclectic merchandise as you sip a few tasters. Whether or not you’re a fan of their famous #9, it’s definitely worth a visit by their storehouse.
Importantly, just a quick drive away in Waterbury, VT, you’ll find the Original Ben & Jerry’s store. Visitors are able to tour the factory, explore the ice cream graveyard, and indulge in heaps of ice cream served as smoothies, milkshakes, sundaes, or scoops (or a combination, I don’t judge, it’s vacation!).
Once we’d had our fill of ice cream, pizza, and beer, we headed East to Mount Washington and then farther east to Acadia National Park to get in more time with nature and work off the loads of excess calories we’d been consuming. Up next you’ll get to read all about Mount Washington, Acadia National Park, and, of course, a bit more about the New England beer scene.
P.S. Ready for part two? Continue reading here!