Thinking of traveling to New England next May

We live near San Jose, California, and are thinking of taking a first-ever trip to New England in May of 2018. More specifically, I’m looking to stay in the countryside of Vermont, maybe near Rupert or Manchester.

I’m just starting to do research about this. We’ve never gone anywhere in the eastern United States and have no experience with the airports there. I think I remember reading here that the airport and traffic in Boston is pretty miserable, and this makes me lean toward a flight with a midwest stopover so that we end up at Albany International in New York state. Does anyone have travel experience in the area and can give me advice on this?

We always rent a car and drive all over the place on our vacations. I love pretty agricultural areas and small towns and want to plan a tour accordingly.

With all this in mind, who has some good tips about traveling in New England?

Honestly? Literally anywhere. I lived in Vermont for seven years, and it all looks pretty much the same. There were several times we went on road trips to see areas of beauty, and when we got there, my wife and I would look at each other and ask why we bothered, because it looked exactly like our backyard.

Some years Northern New England doesn’t have much of a spring, so beware of cold, rainy weather in May.

Well, definitely fly to Albany instead of Boston, unless there is something between Boston and Vermont that you want to see.

Albany is much closer to where you’re looking to stay, and you are correct about traffic in Boston.

Since you ask about driving: I live near San Jose now, but grew up in New England. Be aware that New England drivers are not so forgiving about slowpokes in the left lane on the highways/interstates (people don’t usually use the term “freeway” there like they do in CA) like they are in CA. I know Californians think they have a God given right to drive in any lane they wish at any speed, even under the limit, but this is not the thinking in New England. Of course, you’re going to be in Vermont, so you won’t be near any major metropolitan areas (like Boston or Hartford) and it may not be so much of an issue.

Don’t expect special left turn lanes at every intersection, and sometimes you might have to get aggressive if you want to turn left. As already noted, the weather could still be on the cool side, especially in Norther New England where you’ll be.

Is there some reason you don’t want to check out the coast? It seems like a shame to travel that far and just stay inland. You could bop over to Maine without too much trouble, assuming you have enough time.

I live in New England but I am originally from Louisiana. It is a small region so you can do a whole lot of things in a short amount of time if you wanted to. I can be in any of the six New England states from my house in Massachusetts in less than two hours but Vermont and New Hampshire are extremely different from Rhode Island for example.

It depends on what you want to do. I am a huge fan of Vermont and New Hampshire. I have lived in both. They are gorgeous and among the most underrated states IMO. Like has been mentioned, most of it looks the same but in a very good way. It is hard to pick one place in Vermont but Brattleboro, Vermont is great and has some attractions. Woodstock, VT is one of the prettiest towns in the U.S. with lots of things to do.

I am not a huge Boston fan and I hate Logan airport but I wouldn’t shy away from it if the tickets are cheaper and easier. You go from very urban to seriously rural and pretty in about an hour once you cross into New Hampshire. Vermont is a little farther but still easy to get to.

A driving tour of all of New England is feasible too even in a week. Newport, RI is awesome, Kennebunkport, ME is gorgeous. Boston and Providence have a great food scene plus lots of history. New Hampshire and Vermont look and act exactly like the Newhart show. It is up to what you want to do.

I would personally fly into Boston Logan rather than Albany unless you can get really good tickets but either would work. I agree that the chances are good that northern New England is still going to be fairly cold in May but it is a crapshoot. Don’t plan to bring any swim suits though.

Steven King advices that the best time to go to NE is during the fall. The weather and the changing seasons are beautiful.

Here’s one piece of advice: before you settle on an itinerary, you might want to check out graduation dates for colleges near where you plan to stay. Trying to book hotels in say, Middlebury, around graduation for Middlebury College is not something that I’d recommend.

News England is pretty small, by your standards. New England will pretty much fit between Salinas and Santa Rosa, and it won’t take long to drive the length of the region.

My thoughts are just go there and let New England wash over you. Just be there, so New England can happen to you. Instead of bypassing cities on loops, just drive through. Stop at tag sales (Yard sales) and let New Engenders tell you about fabrics and figurines. If you see an old country house with a For Sale sign, stop and let them show it to you. Everyone has their own story to tell – listen.

Depending on how long you are there, you can buy a WaMart tent and a box of tag-sale pots and dishes for a hundred bucks, and camp out. Save a thousand on hotels and meals, cook your own clams and lobsters.

Pick up a field guide to the wildflowers or native trees of New England, and explore the flora of your pee stop pulloffs.

Some good points made here, and I agree with all. We’ve lived in the Capital Region (Albany Int’l is about 20 minutes from my house) for the last 18 years. I’ve travelled extensively for business over the last 32 years, so I’ve flown out of ALB numerous times…

A couple of my thoughts…

Spring in NE (as pointed out before) can be unpredictable…I and a group of dedicated dads spend four hours shoveling snow off a baseball diamond early one May Saturday morning so that the 13 year old travel baseball season could start on time…and it was in the '70’s the week before…late May/early June is pretty safe, but then you run into college graduation season…

Albany is a great place to land if you want to stay on the west side of NE as well as upstate NY - very accessible to all of VT, western MA (the Berkshires, Sturbridge Village), north to Lake George, NY, into the Adirondacks, to Lake Champlain, west to the Finger Lake region of NY, south down the Hudson Valley (Hyde Park, West Point)…

If you want to travel the east side of NE, consider flying into Manchester, NH as Southwest flies into Manchester, it’s a little off the beaten path as far as traffic (most of the time), and NH, MA, VT, southern ME and a lot of beautiful places on the Atlantic coast are all accessible within 3 - 4 hour drives…yes, there is traffic in some places, but just plan ahead…

As pointed out previously, NE is a relatively small area and, depending upon how much time you have, a good representative portion could be seen in a relatively small period of time…you just have to decide what you want to see…

Enjoy your visit!

(Technically, while NY is not considered New England, upstate NY, the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes region are beautiful and worth the visit if you’re in the area…IMHO…)

I wasn’t going to mention Newport, RI since you were focused on Vermont, but someone else brought it up, and if you ever do get the chance, be sure to go there. And do one of the “touristy” tours of “The Breakers”. It’s one of the best “touristy” things you’ll ever do. Lots of history in a small city, and some really good restaurants. And the ocean!!

One really cool thing about New England is (are) the town commons, something you don’t see in a place like, say, suburban Washington, DC (I don’t know what California is like). Once you’re outside of Boston proper, you can drive leisurely through one small town after the next without seeing any strip malls, rather, little town centers that look pretty much like they did 200 years ago.

New England is the ocean, and inland lakes, and green pastures, and mountain ranges. Something for everyone, and all within fairly short drives of one another. If I sound like an unabashed supporter, I moved here in 1969 and haven’t lived anywhere else since!

What this guy said…totally forgot about Newport as I was focused on the areas I described…Newport is steeped in NE history, but it’s best known as the playground of the megarich of the Gilded Era…and the Breakers is its crowning jewel…the first time my wife and I visited, we walked the perimeter of the ‘backyard’ and were just amazed at the beauty of the surroundings…

Ah, to look upon New England for the first time! Silent upon a peak in Darien!

No, seriously, skip Connecticut, we we New Yorkers call “the thing you have to drive through to get to New England.”

I agree that you should not skip the coast, both for the beautiful views and the seafood. Ipswich clams, oh my.

And be sure to sing this song throughout your car trip, just to irritate the living fuck out of your family.

I was born there, so I’m partial. :slight_smile:

My family is actually from a couple towns north, and we weren’t actually living in Newport at the time, but the hospital that brought me into this world was there, so that counts for something.

I’d temper this advice with cautioning you that the things you want to do might be pretty far apart despite the states being small. If I wanted to, I could be in Boston or Portland, Maine in two hours, and give me another 90 minutes and I could get to Mystic, Connecticut. But I wouldn’t dream of trying to go to both Maine and Boston or CT in one day. I’ve met people visiting here who had no idea that driving from one state to another might take them half a day because the states, except Maine, seem so tiny on a map. Hell, I’m in the central part of New Hampshire, and if I drive to the northern most part of the state it takes me more than five hours.

Yes, Manchester is very manageable. Also, Burlington has an airport if you are looking at northern VT.

John Mace, is there a Newport Creamery in Newport, and do they still serve the Awful Awful?