New England In The Fall
Here are five simple words to stir your wanderlust: New England in the Fall. There’s arguably nowhere in the world so synonymous with a specific season as this northeastern region of the US, famed for its glorious autumn foliage. September and October see “The Birthplace of America” at its most beautiful. But this seven-hour, 417-mile US road trip is more than just a drive through a kaleidoscope of colours – it’s also a chance to encounter a slice of the country still tightly bound up in history and cultural heritage. What’s more, you’ll be passing through no less than five different states.
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It may be the largest city in Vermont, but Burlington is no metropolis – it’s a likeable, laid-back town strung along the banks of Lake Champlain, granting soaring views of the Adirondack Mountains. Start off the day with brunch at Penny Cluse Café then call in at the superb Shelburne Museum (where the star exhibit is an old 900-ton paddle-steamer), before taking a tour of the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in nearby Waterbury. Active types can hire bikes and enjoy a lakeside cycle trail. And movie buffs, take note – Burlington featured in the Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer thriller What Lies Beneath. Moving on, Portsmouth is just over two hours’ away.
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An attractive coastal city, Portsmouth sits on the New Hampshire shoreline and has long been a key maritime centre. Until 1808 it was actually the state capital, and it’s still well stocked with prim colonial buildings. Pay a visit to the flower-filled waterfront gardens at Prescott Park before stepping back into military history at the USS Albacore Museum, an attraction set in a retired research submarine. And don’t leave town without a meal at Jumpin Jay’s Fish Café – the crab cakes are phenomenal. Driving south into Massachusetts, Boston can be reached in 90 minutes.
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Where to begin with Greater Boston? Home to the Red Sox, Harvard University and JFK’s birthplace, the city is one of the oldest and most historic in the USA. Get a proper overview by walking the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, which connects sixteen heritage sites, then linger at North End, a busy quarter with a thick Italian feel – it’s also where you’ll find the family home of Paul Revere. And for something completely different? Join one of the three-hour whale watching tours offered by New England Aquarium. The city of Providence sits an hour’s drive to the southwest.
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It might be the capital of tiny Rhode Island, the smallest state in the US, but Providence is also the third largest city in the whole of New England. Legendary horror writer HP Lovecraft was born and bred here, although it’s anything but creepy – perhaps more indicative of its character is the fact that it has more doughnut houses per capita than anywhere else in the country. Soak up the local arts scene with a trip to the gorgeous Providence Performing Arts Center, then head to Rhode Island School of Design Museum, which has just won a national award for its tours. New Haven is 100 miles further down the coast.
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For a car-hire trip centred on New England’s natural and cultural attractions, New Haven provides a suitably fine end-point. As one of Connecticut’s founding colonies, it’s brimming with heritage, the most obvious focal point being the manicured campus of Yale University. You’ll also find a superb collection of British art at the Yale Center – including Constable, Turner and Hogarth – while elsewhere a great way to delve into local flavours is by taking a culinary walking tour with Taste of New Haven. The city’s own-style pizza, a thin, chewy version known as “apizza”, has become an institution.
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