New England and More
by Terri Kunselman
I just returned from a road trip to the New England region. It's been on my bucket list for a while. I love touring the beautiful places we have right here in the USA.
One stop in Connecticut was Mystic. Mystic Pizza is a favorite movie of mine, so I’ve always wanted to stop in for “A Slice of Heaven”. It actually was really good pizza. The town straddles the Mystic River, and as we were enjoying our slice of heaven, we watched the historic Drawbridge rise to allow river traffic through. Not something you see every day. We walked across the bridge and admired the view of the river. Several kayakers were out enjoying the beautiful day. The town is full of coffee shops, unique boutiques, fun bars and great little seafood cafes.
We stopped to enjoy an incredible hike along the coast in Rhode Island…The Cliff Walk. On one side you get these amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean breaking against the shore. On the other side you see beautiful mansions from the late 1800s that served as the playground for the rich and famous (think “The Great Gatsby” and “The Age of Innocence”). The trail is a mix of paved and natural rocks and sand. Lots of wildflowers, birds and geological features make the hike so exhilarating.
As we made our way up the coast, we took a detour from the mainland, left our car behind and took the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. The minute I stepped off the ferry, I felt my body sigh and totally kick into relax mode. Between the bus system and your own two feet, you can explore the entire island. Each area has its own unique personality. Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven have tons of restaurants and shopping, great little seaside bars to enjoy great seafood, a cold beer and the ocean air. Aquinnah is on the West end of the island. We hike up to the lighthouse and were rewarded with a spectacular view of the multi-colored clay cliffs and a climb to the top of the Gay Head lighthouse.
Our next stop was in Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, considered the landing site of the pilgrims in 1620 and a symbol of American history. It sits on the shore of Plymouth Harbor in Pilgrim Memorial State Park. There’s even a replica of the Mayflower anchored there. There’s even a living history museum where you can explore a 17th century village with costumed role players and experience how the pilgrims and Native Americans lived.
We started our tour in Boston with a Duck Tour in the Charles River. Our tour guide had a great sense of humor and was full of fun facts and interesting tidbits about Boston history and landmarks. And with the Duck Tour you get a different perspective of Boston. I definitely recommend this tour. We spent a morning walking The Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile walking trail through downtown Boston that takes you by 16 locations significant to American History, like The Old State House (the first place the Declaration of Independence was read aloud), Paul Revere’s route along Battle Road Trail and the Old North Church, We toured Fenway and stopped for refreshments at Cheers.
The first thing that came to mind as I looked out at the crashing waves of the Atlantic off the Coast of Maine in Ogunquit was “Wicked Gorgeous”. As we walked along the Marginal Way, I had to keep stopping to just look at the amazing views. It’s almost a sensory overload, but so peaceful ….listening to the crashing waves and the cawing seagulls, feeling the wind and mist coming ashore, you can smell the briny ocean and then you settle in for a meal of fresh caught lobster….oh my!!
We left the coast and headed inland to the beautiful White Mountains in New Hampshire. The highway winds gracefully through these beautiful mountains offering us a different view at every turn. There are hiking trails for every level that will show you spectacular views of lakes, lookouts and waterfalls. We hiked to the top of Rattlesnake mountain for a beautiful view of Squam Lake where On Golden Pond was filmed.
Took the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway in Franconia Notch State Park in the White Mountains to the top (4,100 ft) for views that seem to go on forever, hiked the trail to the watchtower then toasted at the highest tap in New Hampshire. First aerial tram in North America built in 1938.
And hiked through the Flume Gorge, a natural chasm with beautiful waterfalls and amazing mountain views.
Then it was time to visit the Green Mountains of Vermont. I didn’t know this until I started doing research for my trip, but the Green Mountains run 250 miles north and south down the center of Vermont and are part of the Appalachian Trail. This is another beautiful area for hiking…all levels. One of the hikes we took was into the Quechee Gorge (considered Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon). The view from the top was amazing and then we hiked down into the Gorge and along the bank of the Ottaquechee River. It’s not surprising that this has become Vermont’s most spectacular natural wonder. The hike back to the top was just as enjoyable enjoying the beautiful trail and sounds of the mountains.
Leaving Vermont, we dropped south through the edge of New York and took a detour for a drive through the beautiful Catskills. The road meanders through forests, crossing streams and passing through cute little towns. We stopped for the afternoon in the groovy town of Woodstock. Lots of unique boutiques, art galleries and great places for a meal or refreshment. And if you’re so inclined, there are several yoga studios and hiking trails nearby.
Our last stop was Philadelphia. When we crossed the Delaware River and drove into Philly, we managed to hit it right in the middle of rush hour. So my first impression was not positive. We settled into our hotel and asked the concierge for a recommendation for dinner. She gave us several options within walking distance. The downtown area is pulsating, lots of restaurants, bars and shopping to keep the area vibrant. The city has really done an amazing job of reviving itself from a near bankrupt state in the late 1980s. They have capitalized on the rich history of the City. There are over 60 National Historic Landmarks. We walked all over the city to take in many of these sights. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and Betsy Ross’ home were just a few of what we saw. And they might not be considered Historic Landmarks, but as long as we were there, we had to have our picture taken at the Rocky Statue and enjoy a Philly Steak and Cheese!
I honestly feel like I was continually learning something new on this trip.10 Days, 9 States 1,170 miles driven, unknown miles walked/hiked, unknown number of calories consumed, unknown number of beers drank, made new friends, visited new places and created the most amazing memories together.
If this type of tour is also on your bucket list, call me and I can put together a custom tour designed just for you!