Leaves, Trains, and Charm: New England

Jan 13, 2015  Leslie Jerden 0 comments

New England in the fall is a beautiful choice. Colors are turning on the maple trees, the air is crisp, and it sets the mood for beginning the holidays.

We started our trip in Boston. A city tour can be found easily, evidenced by the many other group tours we saw in Boston. Despite a bit of a wait to enter the prime space in places like the Old State House, Old North Church, and the Boston Commons, they run these tour stops like a well-oiled machine. You are afforded enough time to get in, hear the speaker, and get some photos. I particularly liked the Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall area. It can be crowded, especially at the lunch hour, but offers a tremendous amount of tasty lunch options and shops. I found a booth selling some delicious clam chowder in a bread bowl, which was perfect for the chilly day.

In Maine, a Casco Bay cruise is a great way to see some sights. I saw lobstermen with seagulls flying behind their boats, seals, lighthouses, and gorgeous cottages along the shorelines. You are sure to find great seafood, as well as eclectic stores near the coast in Portland. Make time to stroll the streets and enjoy the shops and boutiques. Some of the very best souvenirs I found were purchased in this area.

In Conway, New Hampshire, enjoy the Conway Scenic Railroad. The railroad depot has some fascinating antique railway items to explore until your train arrives. The restored historic rail cars are comfortable and powered by diesel and electronic locomotives. The train ride lasts about two hours for the valley tour and takes you through the countryside of Mt. Washington Valley.

My very favorite railway was the Mount Washington Cog. This was a three hour rail tour that was breathtaking. This cog travels to the highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington. The views of the valleys are fantastic going up and coming down. At the bottom of the mountain there is a beautiful outdoor display of old locomotive engines. The welcome center has a gift shop that affords an outside wooden deck, perfect for a fantastic view of the cog rails ascending the mountain. At the top of the mountain there is a great museum covering information about the mountain and the rail. A large spectator deck is built outside the museum to take panoramic photos. There is also a great personal photo-op station atop some rocks where an old wooden sign reads, "Mt Washington Summit 6,288 ft." This experience, beginning to end, is one you will remember.

The Kancamagus Highway offers fantastic views of the colorful foliage and is dotted along the way with covered bridges. In Vermont, we enjoyed the quaint town of Woodstock and the Billings Farm & Museum. The farm is a modern, working dairy farm, complete with farm animals, white picket fences, and charm. There is a restored 1890's farm house on-site that you may tour. The farm house restoration is very well done in period furniture and decor. Outside you can sample the farm's homemade ice cream, made with their own farm-produced cream and Vermont maple syrup. It was truly delicious.

The Mohegan Sun Resort is a Native American owned casino in Vermont. The casino/resort is nestled in the hills among beautiful surroundings. Most impressive was the dramatic architecture of the resort itself. Mosaic stones laid in the floors, tiled patterns on the ceiling, textured walls, art, and waterfalls are beautiful throughout. It has a luxurious feel, and is interesting to walk through and explore, even for the non-gambler.

Mystic Seaport is a great stop. This is a replica of a 19th century sea village. There you will find 17 acres of historic houses, shops, and trade buildings to explore. Ship models, figureheads, and other relics trace the history of ships and maritime history.

New England is full of rich history. It would be an ideal trip to take with families and children. I would recommend taking at least two full days to explore Boston alone. This one city has so much history you will need the time to explore it. I loved the opportunity to tour New England! It is a beautiful place, full of learning experiences and rich American history.



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