New England, Roadtrip, Familytravel

Leaf Peeping | New England Family Roadtrip

09 Feb 2020

We left for our autumnal road trip in mid-October. I was a bit concerned that this might be too late to catch the best of the New England Fall annual spectacular but my concerns were not warranted. In fact, if anything, we had hugely underestimated just how beautiful and captivating this particular road trip would be.

We managed to get very cheap flights, again with Norwegian Air, from Edinburgh Scotland to T.F Green Rhode Island. A direct 8 hour flight advertised as Boston - however it worked fine for us. I understand this to be a cheaper alternative for Norwegian, allowing them to keep their costs down by using a smaller airport and to be honest it was a delight. The airport was small but totally equipped to deal with our flight, meaning that we were through the airport and into our hire car in a jiffy. From here we drove to our Air BB accommodation in Dennis Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In hindsight this was not our finest idea as all three children were far too tired for this last leg of the journey - lesson learnt.

Cape Cod in the autumn was lovely, warm days with a slight chill, long vast empty beaches with the ease of parking. We spent many a happy hour wondering up and down the beach, people watching, sand castle building and finding washed up remains of horseshoe crabs - an unusual beach activity but we found them interesting as they are far bigger than any crab we have seen on any beach in the UK.

Horseshoe Crap

Our main motivation for visiting Cape Cod was to go Whale Watching. We chose Provincetown; traffic was not an issue, we booked our tickets and were in line to board the boat when the captain advised that if you think you may suffer from sea sickness then now is the time to take the anti-sea sick medication he was offering. Pah we thought, sea sickness?! Please! The sailor has clearly not sailed the English channel on an English summer day.


Just 20 minutes later we were bringing back up our humble pie - all but our 4 year old daughter who instead of suffering from nausea was suffering from acute embarrassment by her family. Even though we all had our heads into buckets, we did manage to glimpse at the magnificent humpback and fin whales - a sight that I can only appreciate in hindsight. The descendants of the May Flower, whom we had been learning about, would be utterly ashamed of us.

Provincetown Beach, MA

Provincetown - wonderful Provincetown. I suspect our feelings of this town are strengthened with the relief that we were back on terra firma. Provincetown was quiet, possibly due to shoulder season, and offered lots of places to eat, drink, shop and get sugary treats for the children.

We were so looking forward to the Whale Watching and I suppose in some way we should feel disappointed that it didn’t quite work out in the way that we had hoped. However, strangely enough, we all found it hysterical. I suspect the relief of being off the boat contributed to this feeling - however it still amuses us to this day and remains a cherished memory - for the wrong reasons but a cherished memory none the less.

Provincetown center, MA

The following day we drove up to Lincoln New Hampshire - as we did so we grew even more amazed by the autumnal "fall" colours. As we made our way into New Hampshire we made numerous unplanned stops to photograph and enjoy. Our final stop before arriving at our cabin in the woods was a short walk around The Basin - which can easily be found by looking out for brown signs just off the I93 north of Lincoln. We spent the next three days exploring this area - basing ourselves in a beautiful woodland cabin via Air B&B. We visited Franconia Notch State Park; getting up early partly due to jet lag and our excitement and enthusiasm for the adventure, we had this place to ourselves for the first hour at least. The immense natural beauty of this place kept even the tiniest legs going. Water carving its way through rock making spectacular scenery, covered bridges and chipmunk spotting all in amongst the bright autumnal leaves made for a lovely memorable day. We walked the loop trail and hadn’t even realized the distance as it was so entertaining and splendid.

Franconia Notch, NH

The visitor entrance had a display of local wildlife - it was there that we understood the size and magnitude of the moose. No wonder all the signs say “break for moose” - I was thinking more the size of a little English deer, I was so wrong. All the car journeys that followed had us all searching for moose but sadly we didn’t spot one.

We took a longer drive the following day to Burlington Vermont to visit the factory of our favorite dessert - Ben and Jerry. This perhaps would only fill half aday, at a stretch, but we had fun. The factory tour was interesting and the ice cream graveyard lent many photograph opportunitiesm but perhaps what we enjoyed the most was eating our ice cream (so many more flavours in the USA than the UK) whilst sitting in the sun and the kids playing in the park.

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Grave Yard Mourning

Onto next destination, Ogunquit Maine, via the Kancamagus highway - on my goodness me! Never has a journey felt more like a destination than this one. We just had to keep stopping to soak it all in.

Kangamangus Highway, NH

Thankfully it offered many place to stop to walk or just to take in the views. We then came across a corn festival at Sherman Farm East Conway New Hampshire.

Sherman Farm, Conway NH

This was a lovely surprise, it was warm and welcoming and offered a corn Maize maze, a corn pit (nice change to sand), huge big bouncy pillows and pumpkin picking. This day, primarily of travel, was such a joy.

Sherman Farm Conway NH Pumpkin patch

It was shoulder season in Ogunquit, although the town still had plenty going on, beautiful restaurants, cafes and boutique shops. It had Halloween displays to amuse us and so so many pumpkins and pumpkin carvings. It’s everything I imagined Maine to be: white clapboard homes, light houses, long endless beaches and lobster dining opportunities on every turn. We stayed in Searose Suites Ogunquit which was an affordable yet perfect option at this time of year.

Ogunquit Maine pumpkins

A short drive back over the New Hampshire state border we found Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth - an outdoor history museum dedicated to bringing 300 years of American history of this same patch of waterfront to life. It was amazing - the children were completely engaged by it. We loved having a look around the heritage homes and buildings and meeting the characters who lived in them. It was eye opening for our eldest son (who was once horrified that his parents didn’t have the option of “pausing TV” when growing up).

Strawberry Banke Museum

From our base in Ogunquit we visited Salem MA and learnt about the Witch Trails and moral panic, as well as the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray a few days later, where we saw wildlife local to the area - notably the black bear and finally the eagerly awaited moose.

After 11 days of exploration we flew home. As a crowning glory to this most wonderful adventure, we saw the Aurora, the northern lights from the plane window - which we later learnt are not uncommon that time of year when flying transatlantic.

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