A Drive through New England
We had to be in Springfield, MA for a family funeral, so we decided that after the funeral that we would take a driving trip to visit various places that we have some history with, or places that we had visited previously and we wanted to explore further.
As can be seen by the route map below, our idea was to visit places that we had either never to, or wanted to visit again in order to spend more time there. The end goal was to return to the Plymouth, MA area so that we could visit family there, and also to allow us to visit my sister's family on Cape Cod.
Fun and/or Interesting facts about New England
- It's only slightly bigger than the State of Washington: though New England is home to a half-dozen states and about 14.8 million people, its total area of 71,991.8 square miles means it is only slightly larger than the state of Washington.
- Boston's Subway was the First in the Western Hemisphere.
- Maine has more Coastline than California: though it may seem hard to believe, the New England state of Maine actually has more coastline than California. Maine boasts 3,478 miles of coastline. When you include all of Maine's islands it has more than 5,000 miles of coast. The Golden State on the other hand has 3,427 miles of coastline.
- Maine is nearly as big as the other five New England States Combined: Maine's size can be deceptive. In addition to all of that coastline, the New England state has a total area of 33,215 square miles. That means it's almost as big as all of the other five New England states put together, which cover 36,293 square miles.
- Connecticut is home to the Oldest Continuously Published Newspaper.
- Boston Common is the Country's Oldest Public Park.
- Harvard served as a Military Barracks during the Revolutionary War.
- Connecticut is home to the Country's Oldest Public Library: The Scoville Memorial Library in Salisbury, Connecticut.
- Rhode Island's first name was Providence Plantation.
- In 1939, Maine passed legislation to make it illegal to put tomatoes in clam chowder.
- Vermont has the most breweries (per capita) in the United States: With 19 breweries and a 2008 population of 621,270, that makes one brewery for every 32,698 people, the most per capita in the country. Maine is fourth on the list.
- The New England Colonies got their names for a variety of reasons. Massachusetts was named after a tribe, with the name meaning 'large hill place'. Connecticut was named for an Algonquin word meaning 'beside the long tidal river.' Rhode Island was named for a Dutch word meaning 'red island.' New Hampshire was named for a county in England.
Our Trip Route
- We flew into Hartford, CT and picked up our rental car and then drove to Springfield, MA for the funeral services.
- Brunch at Hanover, NH
- Cannon Mountain, NH
- Stayed in Conway, NH
- Bar Harbor, ME was our next stay, in order to visit Acadia National Park and Schoodic Peninsula.
- Wells, ME where we stopped for some mid-morning snacks at Congdon's Doughnuts.
- Plymouth, MA where we spent some quality time with Celeste's brother & partner.
- On to West Harwich, MA on Cape Cod to visit my sister's family.
On the way to Cannon Mountain we stopped in Hanover for our second breakfast. Having woken up at 5 AM to drop the kids at the airport it was only about 9 and we were starved. We found several restaurants, a bakery and Starbucks. We decided to eat at Lou’s bakery where everything was homemade. Check out our scone...yummy.
Image is the property of the Hanover, NH Website
Main Street Hanover: Frequently listed as one of the most charming small towns in New Hampshire (population of just 8,508 in 2019). Hanover was chartered by Governor Benning Wentworth on July 4, 1761, and in 1765–1766 its first European inhabitants arrived, the majority from Connecticut. Although the surface is uneven, the town developed into an agricultural community. Dartmouth College was established in 1769 beside the town common at a village called "the Plain" — an extensive and level tract of land a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the Connecticut River, and about 150 feet (46 m) above it.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that Dartmouth College is located in Hanover. We only discovered it because there was a t-shirt shop on main street full of Dartmouth College gear. We took a walk down Main Street and found the college immediately at the north end. Dartmouth is an Ivy League school and the 9th oldest college in the United States. It was established in 1769 by Eleazer Wheelock and is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. By coincidence, my first wife was related to Eleazer Wheelock. Dartmouth college also has a deep rowing history with a rowing program that started in 1833. Our son had the privilege of racing against them several times during his tenure rowing for Syracuse University.
Cannon Mountain is a 4,080 foot peak located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In the winter it is a popular ski resort and in the summer you can ride the Aerial Tram to the summit and walk to the observation tower to take in the views. On a clear day you can see for a considerable distance, including Mt. Washington, the Green Mountains of Vermont and Kinsmans to the south.
As you can see from the images below, the views from the Aerial Tram and from the short walk to the observation tower are beautiful, on a clear day you can see for a considerable distance - Mt. Washington included.
This image can be clicked to view one of our YouTube Videos we created for our ride up to the top - or - you can click here to go directly to YouTube and watch this video there.
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Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway: It is the first aerial tram in North America and the only one in New Hampshire. At the summit, you'll find several scenic walking paths, a 360 degree observation deck, a cafe and restrooms. Cafe hours are currently 9am-4pm and you are able to purchase drinks & snacks there.
NOTE: Specific date & time advance reservations are required to ride the tram. Click here to go to the Tram Website reservation page.
Cannon Mountain Rim Trail: Trail Head is just outside the Tram summit station, and the trail brings you to the observation tower at the top of the mountain. Not steep, and there are frequent scenic view points.
Cannon Mountain Observation Tower: On a clear day the views from the tower are 360°, however even though we were there on a summer day, the breeze was strong and chilly!
North Conway was on our list of places to visit because we honeymooned there in 1989. We were so broke then that we couldn’t afford to go on a traditionally expensive vacation. We rented a condo for a weekend and skied Black Mountain after being married by a justice of the peace in Groton, Massachusetts. We had a great honeymoon there and hadn’t been back since. North Conway has not changed much since then.
North Conway is truly a family destination with lots to do. Within driving distance you can visit the white mountains including Mount Washington and the Mount Washington cog train, numerous hiking trails in the White Mountains National Forest, Storyland, the North Conway Scenic railroad, and several mini-golf places.
Kancamagus Highway & Swift River: After our Cannon Mountain exploration, we took a leisurely drive south on the Kancamagus Highway to reach North Conway, NH. The highway parallels the Swift River and we wound up stopping several times to get some pictures.
Hampton Inn & Suites North Conway: We do not normally talk about accommodations, but this hotel was not only comfortable, it had a really nice pool & play area that we thought anyone reading this page might be inclined to give this hotel a try. The large pool & water slide area is a great way to keep the kids entertained after a busy day exploring.
Yes we do advertise for Hilton Hotels, but this is not about "advertising", it is all about this hotel being a nice play to stay.
NOTE: The 3 hotel images are the property of Hilton Hotels.
We weren’t sure what we would do when we got to North Conway so we picked up a local tourist magazine and noticed several hikes in the White Mountain National Forest. The hike to Arethusa Falls caught our attention. We tend to like hikes with a payoff at the end. We weren’t sure that Terry would be able to complete the hike since he just had his hip replaced in April but we decided to give it a try.
We saw a sign that displayed several ways to get to the falls, we used the Arethusa Trail. The trail to the falls is continuously steep and rugged and is rated as "difficult" by the All Trails website and you will find other sites claiming that it is "moderate". Bring your own water and good shoes, as the trail is covered with ruts, roots, rocks and requires you to be cautious.
You can see that Google Maps is not very accurate at rough terrain hikes, as the trail distance from the parking lot to the falls is 1.4 miles with a nearly 784 foot increase in elevation. Surprisingly, the trail was moderately busy with many family groups including children and dogs.
There is some debate, however, over the height of the waterfall, believed to be the tallest in New Hampshire. AMC’s White Mountain Guide lists the falls as “nearly 200 feet,” while New England Waterfalls estimates 160 feet.
We had previously visited Bar Harbor in 2018 (click here to view that trip page), and felt as though we did not get enough of a visit on that first trip, and so we determined that one more visit would allow us to explore more of that area.
Bar Harbor is situated on Mount Desert Island overlooking Frenchman’s Bay. The streets are lined with shops and restaurants overlooking the harbor. There is no shortage of seafood and all things blueberry. New Englanders love their ice cream and there are numerous ice cream shops. You can even find lobster ice cream which didn’t sound good to us at all but seems to be a popular choice.
Bar Harbor is essentially the gateway to Acadia National Park where you will find some key sites including Cadillac Mountain (the highest point on the eastern seaboard), Thunder Hole and Jordan Pond, complete with a restaurant serving, among other things, New England style popovers. In addition to these key tourist attractions the park contains numerous hiking trails, vistas of Maine’s famous rocky coastline and quaint scenic harbors.
NOTE: Image is the property of the Bar Harbor, ME Wiki page via Creative Commons.
Click here to visit our Acadia National Park page which includes Schoodic Peninsula and Sand Beach.
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