Northeastern states in July - August
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Feb 8, 2013 11:39 AM Last Post By: bzookaj
Jan 25, 2013 12:11 PM
Northeastern states in July - AugustHi,
We are a Belgian family of four (2 adults, two girls aged 8 & 10). After visiting relatives in Boston, we'd like to spend some time in the Northeastern states (Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, upstate New York). We're interested in quiet places, nature, scenery, wildlife, small towns and meeting locals.
I know it's high season, so we'd like to know where the best areas are to escape the crowds. Also weather-wise, are there areas better than the others? We don't mind heat, but we were wondering if certain areas are as rainy or changeable as much of Western Europe tends to be in summer.
All your "insider's information" will be very much appreciated!
Bart & Co
Jan 25, 2013 1:42 PM
1Other than Cape Cod and the coast of Maine I wouldn't worry about crowds too much. The lake region and White Mountains of NH can also be crowded but that's mostly just on weekends.
From your description of what you're looking for Vermont is probably a good bet. Other than a few small cities the whole state is nice and not crowded for the most part.
It'll be cooler in the North but as far as rain goes there's no North East version of San Diego. I don't know what the statistics say by there is no part known to be safer than others for avioding rain.
Jan 25, 2013 2:50 PM
As was already mentioned, southern Maine and Cape Cod are the most crowded areas of New England in summer. For small towns you might want to try the north shore of Massachusetts. Rockport, Gloucester, and Marblehead are great seaside spots in the summer months with smaller crowds than the Cape. I really enjoy the Lakes Region and White Mountains of New Hampshire for hiking and camping. The only weather I would watch out for are the sudden, intense thunderstorms that can occur in the mountain areas.
Jan 25, 2013 4:15 PM
3Weather-the further north, the cooler. Check out weather underground for history. Expect thunderstorms, but we don't get that many days when it rains all the time. The crowds in parts of cape cod and bar harbor, Maine can be insufferable, but other than that you won't see crowds unless there is a festival. Any resort town will have heavier traffic, particularly on the weekend. Small towns are what New England is about. Look up 'scenic byways' and just drive along until you find a nice place to stop. If you want to meet locals, stop at village stores and diners - sit at the counter, strike up a conversation. Stay is B&Bs. You're going to have tons of fun!
Jan 25, 2013 4:28 PM
Hiker dad here,
I live outside of New York City.
- While in Boston do not miss the side trips to places like Plymouth, Salem and Lexington-Concord. This film, http://www.amazon.com/Desperate-Crossing-Untold-Story-Mayflower/dp/B000JU7JE6 give a pretty good background of Plymouth.
- Boston and most of New England are known for seafood.
- Vermont, New Hamphire (White Mountains) and Maine are said to have the best hiking, but it may be a little rigorous for an 8-year-old.
- The Adirondacks (upstate new York) are a little easier and there are lots of swimming and canoeing opportunities. Accommodations there range from primitive camping to ridiculously first-class lodges for NYC’s rich and famous.
- A lot of the beaches north of Cape Cod are rocky (rather than sandy.) There are probably some good ones, but if you are heading north of Boston and looking for a beach, ask questions ahead of time.
- I don’t know what the right seasons are but a lot of people who visit Boston and points north go on whale-watching or dolphin-watching cruises.
- In late July the flounder are running off Long Island, in late August the bluefish (which are caught at night) are. Both species are coming down from the north, so ask around about fishing opportunities. I’m guessing the seasons in New England are about 4 weeks earlier, your visit might match the good fishing seasons.
- You can catch crabs (“go crabbing”) there any time of year. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s usually mid-to-late August before they are big enough to keep.
- If you can find a good clamming bed, you won!
- If you make it as far north as Canada there’s a place called The Bay of Fundy where tides rise and fall even more dramatically than they do in Holland.
Jan 26, 2013 5:32 AM
5Here's a couple of options:
1) The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. Some nice small New England towns to visit ... I enjoyed the Norman Rockwell Museum in West Stockbridge. Also, having a picnic on the lawn at Tanglewood and listening to a concert is a nice way to spend an evening. Then, there's hiking opportunities and rural areas throughout the area.
2) In Maine, been a while, but my family really enjoyed trips up to Moosehead Lake in north central Maine. We rented a cabin (rustic but with amenitites) at a place called The Birches right on the lake. The lake is beautiful and not highly developed ... it's also not far from Baxter State Park where you could hike a small piece of the Appalachian Trail (the terminus is Mt. Katahdin - haven't hiked that but probably too strenuous for younger children). Also, there's some great white water rafting. There's a Kennebec River option where the adults can raft the upper Class IV portion of the river and meet their kids (under 12 years old) at the half-way point for a calm float down the lower portion of the river - can even hop off the raft and float on your own - great fun for kids (and adults!). Last time I did that we saw several bald eagles.
Enjoy your trip!
Jan 26, 2013 6:48 AM
6A little idea of the Berkshires (where I have a house) -
The Norman Rockwell museum is very interesting to those who have a deep interest in mid-century American magazine illustration of sentimental subjects. If your taste in art is to more classic forms, look into the Clarke Museum a little further north. If you like contemporary art, you will adore Mass MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art).
If you like classical music in a huge outdoor venue, you will like Tanglewood, which also has more intimate concerts and some jazz. Better check the website for that. It's quite nice at night to sit on the lawn, but if the idea of seeing the concert on enormous TV screens doesn't appeal (it IS live though), that might not be your thing. Once the music starts, it's expected that your kids should be quiet. Bring a couple of blankets and they can doze.
There is excellent hiking all through the Berkshires, and several places where you can ride bikes on converted railroad beds - this is great for kids. A few places to canoe, and even whitewater rafting (that's a little further south, near Kent, Connecticut).
There is the Shaker Hancock Village in the Berkshires, which shows how the famous cult lived - very interesting architecture, cute farm animals, and quite a few programs for children. Check the website.
I also like Moosehead Lake.in Maine, and there's tons of hiking there, as well as water sports. And if you were to take an early morning or dusk ride on the 'Golden Road', then you may easily see moose, which would be a thrill to anyone.
Jan 26, 2013 7:52 AM
Jan 26, 2013 9:39 AM
8Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a lovely town about an hour and a half north of Boston on the border with Maine. You'd probably have to pass by it if you head up the coast anyway. There are some good restaurants there and across the harbor in Kittery, Maine. Also very quiant, charming place, small town feel, very New England.
Also recommend Cape Ann (Salem, Gloucester, Rockport) in Massachusetts. Less crowded than Cape Cod during the summer (the highway 6 gets completely bumper to bumper traffic). Though if you take the ferry from Boston to Provincetown, that would work.
Don't know how far north you're planning on going, but Portland in Maine is great, lots of good beer! Just north of that along the coast is some of the most spectacular scenery you'll find in the US. It's similar in a way to the Pacific Northwest coast, cliffs and trees and gorgeous ocean. There's good hiking on Mt Desert Island and Acadia National Park.
If you head to western Maine, you'll find the Lakes district. I've stayed at Lake Mooselookmeguntic before and it's very charming in an American, "going camping" kind of way. Rustic, for sure, there's very few towns and limited cell reception. Lots of hiking and water sports, canoeing, etc. Might be fun with the kids!
As far as weather, it'll be hot (75-85 degrees) in July and August, and if you're out in the woods, there will definitely be bugs. As far as weather change-ability...we typically get thunderstorms during the summer months, especially on hot nights, and the coast can be very windy! The ocean is not exactly warm, though swimmable by August. I'd say the coast is most changeable in terms of temperature drops. The interior can be more humid. Otherwise the summer in New England is incredibly pleasant.
Jan 26, 2013 11:39 AM
Vermont Route 100 through the Mad River Valley is lovely with lots of swimming holes and small country stores. It's best to check if any festivals are going on. They would be fun to attend, but can also back up traffic. Also on Route 100:
Ben and Jerry's Flagship Store - tours and lots of ice cream. This is a bit touristy, but worth a visit.
Trapp Family Lodge- very scenic and with nice hikes. They could also advise you on other local, kid-friendly hikes. If your girls have seen Sound of Music, they might enjoy this spot.
Burlington VT is a great small city on the shores of Lake Champlain. It has a central pedestrian walkway with some chain, some local stores. Burlington also has many delicious, independent restaurants and is tourist-friendly.
http://vermontvacation.com/ can give you a good start.
The weather is summer variable. I'd bring a raincoat, fleece sweater, wool socks, bathing suit, shorts and sandals. Have a great trip!
Feb 8, 2013 8:32 AM
10Thank you all for your very useful information! Now we're looking forward to it even more! One more question: is there any place where it is easy to spot black bears? We have seen them on previous trips in the Western states, but for the kids it would be their first time. That will impress them. No bears here in Belgium ...
Feb 8, 2013 11:30 AM
11I've been hiking my entire 40-plus years and have seen wild black bears only a handful of times. things like deer and turkey are easier as long as you re up early in the morning before they've gone into "hiding mode."
Finding deer is all about finding the places they eat. They eat lots of different stuff, but probably the easiest way is to ask the locals where the blueberries are.
If you head far enough north you can sometimes see wild moose, but keep a safe distance. Unlike bear, deer and turkey they don't always run away and can be quite protective of their territory.
I don't know if your girls are up to it, but a number of ski resorts offer something we call "zip lining" during the summer. This place is a little far from where you're going http://www.huntermtn.com/huntermtn/events-activities/zipline.aspx but you should be able to find a closer one.
Feb 8, 2013 11:39 AM
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