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After the Fall: The Best of New England

by Travelbag on 08 November 2019, 13:11PM

New England fall foliage

Every autumn, New England’s forests are a magnet for leaf-peepers, eager to view their transformation into a flaring canopy of red and gold. You may have already missed the fall foliage this year but, as Vicki Power explains, there’s much more to the six states that make up the region. New England is worth a visit at any time of year. Here’s how to tailor your trip to take advantage of its history and culture, soaring views and quaint villages.

 

Best for Cosmopolitan Bustle

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is the gateway to New England and America itself. It’s a bustling city whose role in the War of Independence is celebrated with the Freedom Trail – a two-and-a-half-mile red-brick path through the downtown area, passing 16 pivotal locations. Among them is Faneuil Hall, an imposing building now home to a gigantic food court, and nearby Quincy Hall, offering food as well as shops. You can shop ‘til you drop on Newbury St – eight blocks packed with retail; tour the John F Kennedy Presidential Museum & Library – a modern building full of JFK-related artefacts and photos; or sample the craft beer scene on a Boston Brew Tour.

 

Northampton, Massachusetts

Northampton is a bohemian enclave that attracts writers and artists. At one time this included the poet Sylvia Plath. The biggest town in a valley of five famous universities, Northampton has a lively student scene, arts festivals and live-music concerts galore. Shop for a bargain at one of its sidewalk sales and at Faces – an eclectic gift shop where anarchic inflatable flamingos sit alongside high-end finds. Keen gardeners should stroll to Smith College’s 19th-century Lyman Plant House & Conservatory, which comprises a large selection of orchids and one of America’s best collections of tropical, subtropical, and desert plants.

 

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport’s a bustling seaside town where guests can meander alongside yacht-filled harbours, search for shells on the rugged coastline and explore the opulent mansions of the Gilded Age, many of which are open for tours. Start your tour at The Breakers – the grandest of Newport’s glorious chateaux, built in 1895 by the influential Vanderbilt family, who made their fortune from steamships and railways. Next, move on to Marble House (another Vanderbilt gaff), followed by The Elms and Rosecliff. Guided tours detailing servant life are also available.

Boston  

Best for Arts and Culture

The Berkshire Mountains

Part of the Appalachian range that extends all the way to Georgia, the Berkshire Mountains are a cultural hub of western Massachusetts. Tanglewood Music Center is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which runs a summer programme of classical music not unlike the BBC Proms. Make the pretty town of Lenox your base, where literary types can explore The Mount – the home of turn-of-the-century writer Edith Wharton, where tours, lectures and workshops keep her legacy alive. For dinner, try Nudel, a favourite serving food from local farms and producers.

 

Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Make a day of it at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which boasts one of North America’s most impressive art collections. It’s home to more than 450,000 works, including some by the Dutch Masters Vermeer and Rembrandt, as well as a collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings by Gauguin, Monet, Van Gogh and Renoir. The Art of the Americas wing is an astonishing showcase of home-grown talent, especially the 18th- and 19th-century, including many pieces by Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent. If your tired feet can stand it, make time to view the imperial Chinese art and calligraphy and ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, as well as the largest collection of Japanese art and artefacts outside of Japan.

 

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Down on the Connecticut coast, the whole family will enjoy a detour to this museum at Yale University. Its 200-year-old collection, shown over three floors, is an assortment of natural curiosities including a Great Hall of Dinosaurs – featuring a mounted Brontosaurus – and a giant mural called The Age of Reptiles. Permanent exhibits provide the lowdown on local Native American culture and the birds of Connecticut, and there’s also a renowned collection of minerals.

Boston Museum of Fine Arts  

Best for One-of-a-Kind Views

New Hampshire

New Hampshire offers some of the best views in New England, including those of Mount Washington. At 6,288 feet, it’s the northeast’s highest peak. Its steep Cog Railway, which starts in the town of Bretton Woods, inches guests up the precipitous slope on either a diesel or steam train, while staff provide an amusing commentary. At the top are wondrous 360 degree views over the Presidential Range of the White Mountains and a landscape shaped by glaciers. There’s also a famous observatory measuring extreme weather conditions. After your journey down, check into – or at least make a coffee stop at – the Omni Mount Washington Hotel. This grand 100-year-old establishment, beautifully restored, soars above the Bretton Woods skyline and offers a taste of old-world luxury.

New England is also a mecca for covered bridges, 54 of which still stand in New Hampshire as scenic relics of a bygone era. Their original purpose was to protect the wooden components from the weather with a bigger structure. Check out America’s longest – the 150-year old Cornish-Windsor Bridge that stretches for 137 metres across the Connecticut River, connecting New Hampshire with Vermont. The oldest is the Haverhill-Bath Bridge over the Ammonoosuc River between Woodsville and Bath, now open to pedestrians only.

 

Acadia National Park

This National Park in Maine provides breathtaking views of the rocky Atlantic headland, through which run 158 miles of hiking trails. The park is home to 26 significant peaks, the highest being Cadillac Mountain. For an easy hike, wander from South Bubble to Bubble Rock. See a boulder that looks as if it’s just about to tip over the edge of the cliff and admire the view across Jordan Pond.

 Covered bridge in New Hampshire 

Best for Dining

Vermont

Vermont is world renowned for producing delectable maple syrup, and Baird Farm in North Chittenden is one of many offering tours to show exactly how this sweet nectar is made. For another local speciality, apple cider, try the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury. Luckily for the designated driver, it’s a non-alcoholic variety, more like apple juice. Visitors can watch apples being pressed and processed in the old-fashioned method and sample it on the spot.

 

Maine

For seafood, there’s more fresh fare to be savoured on Maine’s coast than anywhere else in the US. You’ll struggle to eat badly when served the daily catch pulled from the cold Atlantic. Tour the region’s lobster shacks and fancy seafood restaurants. At Salt & Honey in Kennebunkport you can feast on a fluffy lobster omelette with caramelized onion and melting Monterey Jack cheese, or try out new twists on traditional seafood at East Ender in Portsmouth, where specialities include smoked hake chowder and Maine Mussels in Thai broth. Barnacle Billy’s, overlooking scenic Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, is a local institution. Two restaurants sit side by side – one with counter service, the other with table service. Whichever you choose, you’ll be bowled over by the plentiful lobster offerings, Maine crab rolls and clam chowder.

Perkins Cove

 

Fancy a trip to the States? Check out our great holiday deals. Or if you want to go somewhere warmer, these are the 10 best islands in Asia.

For more travel inspiration, check out our Escape magazine.


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