New England, the six states comprising the most North Eastern states of the U.S., has been on my bucket list for a long time. Considered to be the birthplace of America, something I did not truly realize until I had been there myself, it is a beautiful place to travel to, rich with history, culture, delicious food and beautiful landscapes. On my most recent US domestic trip, my mom and I traveled to this part of the country, and made a dent in my 50 BEFORE 30 goal, briefly exploring Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, over a period of seven days, while based out of Massachusetts.
My mom and I’s main purpose of traveling to New England was for me to complete a training course in Dyslexia intervention. In case you didn’t know, my REAL, every day job is working with children with learning difficulties. I run my own private tutoring company, and because of my background in Educational psychology, most of the students I work with have a difficulty in learning in some way, whether that is ADHD, autism or Dyslexia. Three out of the seven days we were in New England were based from a small, dinky town called Auburn, MA, whose total population was 10,000 people. But let’s start from the beginning.
My New England Six States in Seven Days Itinerary
DAY 1 - BOSTON - SALEM - BOSTON
My mom and I caught a flight out of West Palm Beach International on an early Saturday morning. After spilling coffee all over, we flew Jet Blue up to Boston International Airport (with free Wi-Fi!!). We picked up our rental and headed straight onto road tripping and sight seeing and headed up to Salem. We instantly fell in love with the incredible scenery and drive along the coastline to this historic town.
Salem is best known to the rest of the world for the Salem Witch Trials. In January of 1962, a young girl became ill and was not responding to treatment by the village doctor. Soon, theories of bewitchment spread, and ultimately led to the death of 19 men and women by hanging, with many more people accused and imprisoned. Today, the history of Salem and the memorials within the town, stand as a reminder of the dangers of witch hunts, both past and present.
Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to really explore Salem. We arrived late in the afternoon, and by the time we got to Salem, many of the stores and tours had closed for the afternoon. We did the trolley tour, and I would say it was somewhat disappointing. Luckily, I had done some research on the plane on the history of Salem and was able to supplement our tour for my mom (lol). Next time, (and there will hopefully be a next time), we will do a walking tour of this historic and intriguing city.
Day 2 - BOSTON
After an afternoon exploring Salem, we traveled to Boston and to our hotel for the evening. We stayed downtown at the Club Quarters Hotel, which meant that we were within walking distance to all the historic spots of Boston. We went to bed after enjoying some Poutine at Sous.
The following day we got up early to walk the Boston Freedom Trail with my favorite walking tour group, Free Tours by Foot. Now they’re not really FREE, but they are excellent pay-your-own-price tours run by locals to that particular city. I have used them in Washington D.C, Philadelphia and in New York City. This tour did not disappoint either. Boston is steeped in history, something I never truly realized as a South African expat, not versed in American history. The Boston Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walk, demarcated by a red line that shows 16 important, historically significant events in American history including the site of the Boston Massacre. This is something you cannot miss in Boston.
Afterwards, we sought out our tour guides “Best Lobster Roll in Boston” restaurant choice, Pauli's, and I went on search of the Swan Boats in the Boston Public Gardens. After teaching Trumpet of the Swans, this was a must-see for me. We then traveled to Harvard. A note to the wise… Don’t go exploring Ivy League Colleges during commencement and graduation week – you will be sorely disappointed! Thanks to the craziness of commencement week, Harvard ending up looking dirty, disorganized, and just not pretty, and did not live up to our expectations. Maybe we will have to visit another time.
Day 3 - PLYMOUTH, MA - NEWPORT, RI - AUBURN, MA
Day 3 of our New England Road Trip saw us heading to Plymouth, another important historical site in New England. For my non-US readers, Plymouth is considered to be the birthplace of the first Thanksgiving Feast. It is the site of first landing and colony of the Pilgrims, who disembarked the Mayflower from England in 1620. It is one of the United States oldest and first settlements and is clearly another site not to miss when exploring New England.
We decided to head to Plimoth Plantation, an incredible museum that boasts it’s ability to share living history. It houses both indoor and outdoor exhibits that represent both the lives of the English settlers and colonists, and the lives of the Wampanoag tribe in the 17th Century. Actual descendants of the Wampanoag operate the Wampanoag tribe exhibit, and the individuals here demonstrate their lives and cultures. The English village has live actors who present life as it would be in the 17th century. Visitors to the plantation have the opportunity to interact with both English and Native cultures, although the English village actors only present their views and life’s as it would be in 17th century New England, whereas the Wampanoag descendants are able to speak to both the past and their current, present life too. I cannot express enough how much my mom and I enjoyed this stop, it was a fantastic way to learn about the Plymouth Colony and as someone who teaches this part of American history, I would really recommend going if you have children or work with them. For non-US visitors, I would recommend reading up on American history first. Unfortunately, for many tours across the US I have found that tour guides take it for granted that you are relatively well versed in American history.
After our trip to Plimoth Plantation, we carried onwards to Newport, Rhode Island. We ate lunch in Newport, another lobster roll, cold this time, and tried to track down the Cliff Walk. Newport’s Cliff walk is an incredible 3.5 mile walk that showcases the town’s beautiful, extravagant mansions.
DAY 4 - AUBURN, MA
This was the first day of my Dyslexia intervention-training course, and as such all we did was wonder around Auburn… and me work. We didn’t do a single road trip after work and I went to bed pretty early.
Day 5 - AUBURN, MA - MYSTIC, CT
After the second day of my training, my mom picked me up in our rental, and we headed to our third state of the week, Connecticut. We road tripped down to the small town of Mystic, home to Mystic Pizza and explored a lot of the town. Many of the shops had unfortunately closed by the time we had eaten, but I really enjoyed the road trip. I stopped to take some pictures of all the windy roads and little farms along our way back into MA.
Day 6 - AUBURN, MA - QUECHEE GORGE, VT
Exhausted after my final day of workshop and training, we set off to check off our fourth state, Vermont. This was not originally on the list. Our original plan was to explore the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, but as you can tell, all the New England States are within convenient driving distance of each other. If we had not needed to come back into MA for my training, we would have been able to do a lot in a short period of time.
Driving towards Vermont from our training location in MA was filled with beautiful scenery, much like the rest of New England. We drove 2.5 hours up to Quechee Gorge. We spent a brief night here, but it was one of my favorites. I miss tall trees and rolling hills while living in flat, sunny, palm tree filled South Florida. We ate The Public House, within walking distance of the gorge and bridge. The following morning we went for a walk around the bottom of the gorge, and back up, and headed onto our next destination.
Day 7 - QUECHEE GORGE, VT - NEW HAMPSHIRE SCENIC ROUTE - PORTLAND, MAINE
Our final full day of exploring, had us drive the scenic route from Quechee gorge, through New Hampshire, to Maine. I think New Hampshire got a little bit of a raw deal on our trip. The scenic route was somewhat boring, it wasn’t THAT scenic, and at least not comparison to our road trips so far, and we weren’t really able to find anything we enjoyed en route to Maine. We couldn’t head too far North of NH, and I think that was part of the problem. It seems there any many more scenic sports in Northern New Hampshire, but our trip just didn't allow time for that. However, we did stop for lunch in New Hampshire, and ate at a Mac and Cheese place, and my mom LOVED IT! That was her favorite meal so far. So that’s good!
From there we continued onto Maine. We spent our afternoon in Maine exploring the Coast Line. We stopped at our first lighthouse of the day, Cape Neddick Lighthouse, also known as "Nubble", in York, Maine. Man, this coastline is BEAUTIFUL! We then followed the scenic route, coastal side going north towards Portland, stopping along the way. My mom had picked out the Portland Head Lighthouse, but unfortunately when we got there, it was under renovation – don’t you hate that? Traveling so far only for scaffolding to ruin your sunset-picture perfect traveling snaps aspirations? Despite that, we wandered along the cliffs, and I found a cove that had several really impressive rock stacks. I climbed down to the rocky beach and added my own little pebble rock stack to the collection. The following morning we headed to Petey's Summertime Seafood and Bar for our final lunch stop before heading back south to Florida. Another lobster roll, obviously!
Overall, my mom and I had an amazing time traveling across New England. I can't believe we managed to fit in six states, and eat as many lobster rolls as we (ok, I) did. If I had to pick my favorite state it would be a toss up between Maine and Vermont. Vermont's beautiful tall trees and rolling hills speak to my soul. But there is also something beautiful about Maine's rocky coastline and picture perfect lighthouses. Either way, it was a splendid mother-daughter trip indeed!
PIN FOR LATER
For more information on our various adventures in New England check out the posts below:
Have you been to any of the New England states and cities? What was your favorite? Where do you recommend people go?