Nine must-see stops on a New England road trip
Courtesy of Miles Howard, author of the new guide, Journey to the Moon in New England.
One of the many pleasures of living in New England is the sheer amount of things to do in the area, whether you’re interested in the Vermont foliage or heading to Vacationland every summer. And luckily, all of this is only a short drive away. Road trips to the area provide plenty of opportunities for food, culture, and scenery – all you have to do is figure out what you want to see on your trip. It’s there that Boston the new guide from contributor Miles Howard, Journey to the Moon in New England Between.
The book, which came out in November, recommends all the classic places newcomers would want to see, but also has plenty of hidden gems for the seasoned New Englander. It’s broken down into recommendations for length of trip and area of interest, whether it’s Boston, southern Vermont or Acadia, and has the kind of practical advice that any business-minded local would appreciate, such as a first recommendation from bring more layers than you might think. I will need it, because, well, New England.
This buffet of climates and entertainment options is integral to what Howard says that makes New England such a fun travel destination: “There’s just an incredible diversity of environments and cultures. In just a few hours, you can go from a city steeped in 17th-century history and beyond like Boston to coastal woods in a place like Arcadia or Midcoast Maine, or artist enclaves in the Berkshires or the mountains of southern Vermont. “
Since he has now covered pretty much the entire region (he estimates he traveled “well over 700 miles” in the research), Boston checked with him for expert advice on where we should be traveling next year. Here is what he recommends.
Massachusetts’ best off-the-beaten-path destination
I’ve really fallen for the Pioneer Valley since writing this book, defining it as the Connecticut River Valley from Springfield, Massachusetts, south to Greenville in the north, and all the towns in between like Northampton and Amherst. . Amazing scenery, amazing hikes with rocky trap cliffs that are really severe and scary in there. There are also incredible waterfalls and bird sanctuaries there. And the best bread I have ever eaten in Massachusetts, straight from Hungry Ghost Bread in Northampton, that alone draws me in for repeat visits.
New England’s “unsung hero” destination
One of my absolute favorites, where I spent a lot of time as a child due to having family friends there, is the Northeast Kingdom. It’s a part of Vermont that very few people visit, comparatively. The way I would describe it is almost like an agrarian, Nordic-looking utopia in a way. It is this strange marriage of green hills, where cows and sheep graze, these boreal forests crossed by streams and waterfalls, tons of dirt roads. Up there in the realm, they say you’re not really in the realm until you leave the sidewalk behind. Just driving, biking or taking a walk is worth the trip. But on top of that, some of the world’s most renowned craft beers, sourced from places like the Hill Farmstead Brewery, are located up there, nestled in the hills. There are amazing swimming ponds which are also very easy to access.
And one of my favorite things to do in the North East Kingdom is the Bread and Puppet Theater, which is a troupe of giant puppeteers who perform these amazing circuses in this leafy outdoor amphitheater. Not only are these performances a delight, but they usually also contain a socio-political subtest. Bread and Puppet has appeared at events such as the Vietnam War protests. It is therefore a very militant art, and you see it in this incredible bucolic place that feels millions of kilometers from the city.
What you should do with a single day in Boston
I would tell you to start at the Boston Common and then take the Emerald Necklace south, the original linear park system that Frederick Law Olmsted designed right here in Boston. Use the Emerald Collar as a walking or cycling highway to explore some of Boston’s most remarkable destinations. You can pass right by Fenway Park, the Museum of Fine Arts, you will pass right by the Comm. Ave. Mall and explore historic lodgings and Back Bay. You can rush into a store here and there, maybe grab a bite to eat, and eventually you’ll end up on the Jamaican Plain. And that’s where the necklace’s questionable gems are found: Jamaica Pond, Arnold’s Arboretum, and Franklin Park. And the reason I really like to put the emphasis on this is that not only does the Emerald Necklace go through many of Boston’s most renowned historic sites, but it’s a truly rare example of it. exterior and urban intertwining almost seamlessly. This quality, along with its immense walkability, is one of Boston’s most unique advantages, compared to other American cities.
The most spectacular view of New England
I have to say that the construction of the hiking trails in Acadia National Park is at a level that I don’t think anything else in New England can quite come close to, when it comes to the placement of these trails through incredible colonies of moss and flowers, the building adorned with all those beautiful stone stairs that take you into the mountains. Even the way some trails use iron bars to help you get to high vantage points. It’s just an incredible feat of engineering that seems to fit perfectly into the natural landscape. This incredible meeting of the mountain and the ocean. I have lived there for almost 30 years and every time I go I am in awe.
The best beach in New England
In Maine, there is an island called Vinalhaven, which is home to Maine’s largest lobster fishing fleet. It is an unusual destination, where as a traveler you don’t feel like you are part of a wave invading the city, you feel like you are joining the city, more. On Vinalhaven, there is an island called Lanes Island which is connected there by a small land bridge, and the trail around Lanes Island visits a secluded cove, which is one of the most serene places I have ever seen in New England. Reminds me of something from Wes Anderson Moonrise kingdom. And there is a super big grassy quad for a picnic right there. It’s flanked by all those great spruces. And the pooling of the tides is also quite remarkable.
The museum to visit
One of my favorite finds on the front of the museum is at a mall in Portland, Maine, and that’s the International Museum of Cryptozoology. If you grew up watching the X files, if your imagination has been sparked by the stories of the Loch Ness Monster or the Bigfoot, you must go there, as it is essentially a sanctuary for all these legends and includes everything from supposed archival footage to sightings of creatures around the world to replicas of legendary monsters. Like, there’s a monkey with fish scales in there. It’s the kind of place where, on the one hand, you’re going to meet some really interesting people, and on the other, you’ll come out with that weird valley feeling, that you just saw something that you didn’t. aren’t quite supposed to see. I was really amused to learn all of this and I was just thrilled to walk through the doors. And as a bonus, one of the best craft breweries around, Bissell Brothers, is right next door. So you’ve got a really solid afternoon there.
Best non-Boston, non-Portland food town
Providence, hands down. When it comes to the quality of the food there, the inventiveness, what the chefs do there, and the price, it really is something. I have had amazing dinners in Providence for under $ 20 on a number of occasions, and the international diversity of what is served there is really something, too. A lot of people know that Providence is famous for its Italian cuisine, but I have eaten some amazing East Asian inspired tapas here. One of my favorite Latin American restaurants is a Peruvian joint called Los Andes. I ate amazing baklava at a little bakery called Aleppo Sweets. Providence is the kind of town where you can walk into pretty much any restaurant and there’s a good chance you’ll walk away with a mental post-it to recommend it to everyone you know.
The festival not to be missed
I would be remiss if I did not mention the WaterFire festival in Providence, as I know of no other event in the United States where you can stroll along a torch-lit city river, sipping a glass of pinot noir with new age music speakers. To give geographic diversity here, I would highlight the Garlic Festival in the Bennington, Vt area. Lots of people in Southern Vermont grow their own garlic, and Garlic Fest is first and foremost a showcase for their work, but it has many other elements, like great home cooking.
And the best lobster in all of New England?
There is a place in Acadia called The Travelin ‘Lobster. It’s owned by the lobster boats and it’s right there. This is a really stripped down cabin, on the edge of one of the roads in the central area of Mount Desert Island. The quality of the lobster I’ve had there, and the steamboats, the price, and the simple friendliness of the people who run the place and the fact that it’s rarely overwhelmed by travelers, too, means that it really is classic salt from the Maine land to me. But if you are in Acadia and want to source lobster as directly as possible from sources, Travelin ‘Lobster is your best choice.
Moon New England Road Trip is now available at local bookstores.