|In previous years, our fall foliage trips started in Maine, included
Vermont, and Massachusetts. It has been many years since we visited
the spectacular Adirondacks in upstate New York, so we thought it might
be fun to fly into Albany, drive north to Friends Lake New York, then over
to Burlington Vermont to visit our youngest daughter, then to Boston to
visit our oldest.
After many trips to the northeast in pursuit of "best fall foliage",
I've learned to watch the foliage maps on the internet as our trip draws
near and plan our route according to most color from one point to another.
We knew the Adirondacks and northern Vermont would be the first to change,
so started our trip in that region, ending in Massachusetts which usually
has best color about a week later. As we traveled, we'd choose our
final route based on current foliage reports. Several good foliage
information websites are now on the internet - check the links at the bottom
of the page for more details.
We landed in Albany, New York at 5pm and rented a Hertz "land cruiser" as I called the Mercury Grand Marquis - definitely a great touring car although it's so big, it simply won't fit in some parking spots! This was the only disadvantage that I found, otherwise, the car and seats were like floating in clouds. We drove north on Highway 87 and caught some nice foliage color along the way, arriving at the Friends Lake Inn before sunset around 6:30 pm.
We returned to Friends Lake Inn the following year, click here to read our full and updated review.
The next morning, we drove east on Route 8 past Brant Lake (see the picture at the top of this page) and the northern part of Lake George - a lovely scenic road - and crossed into Vermont over the bridge at Chimney Point. Then linked up with Route 7 on our way to Burlington.
We stayed at the Willard Inn in Burlington - a big beautiful historical mansion centrally located on Willard Street and close to the center of town where shops and restaurants are located. A grand entry leads to a living room to the left, dining room to the right, and up cherry wood stairs to the upper levels where rooms are located.
Across the back of the mansion is a garden room where breakfast is served and guests can lounge and enjoy the sunlight streaming in during afternoons. Steps lead down to lovely gardens and a big back yard. Our second floor bedroom overlooked the garden, distant lake, and upstate New York mountains.
We enjoyed several great restaurants during our visit with Kara and Nick. The first night, we had dinner at Pauline's, located south of Burlington on Shelburne Road and highly recommend it for good steaks, fresh fish, and other delightful entrees.
The second evening we dined downtown with friends Melissa and Tim at Leunig's Bistro, also excellent. It also has live music Jazz in the bar some evenings. Make reservations several days ahead, this restaurant fills up in a hurry!
Burlington is a pretty town with several colleges. We found it a great place to jump off on day trips for leaf peeping. One day Nick suggested that we drive down Route 116, a quiet two lane road with picture perfect countryside views.
We had lunch in Middlebury and then returned to Burlington via Route 17, also very scenic. Several guests had done the "Stowe's" loop earlier in the week when foliage was at full peak in that area.
Wednesday was forecast to be a rainy day, so instead of taking Route
100 down to Weston, we decided to stay on Interstate 89 and cut over to
100 as we neared Weston. Unlike many dull interstates in the US,
89 is one of the most scenic highways we've driven - hills, valleys, and
mountains full of colorful foliage surrounded us and provided some spectacular
Weston is known as home of the Vermont Country Store which has everything imaginable to buy. I've ordered from its famous catalog for years and could hardly wait to visit the big store again and wander around. The Bryant House, right next door, is a popular place for lunch, serving New England style food in a cozy atmosphere. Best to be there by high noon or you might have quite a wait for a table! Not to worry though - get on their waiting list and simply go to the Vermont Country Store and shop - your name will be called when a table is available.
Since we'd been to the store before and Kenny, the non-shopper was completely bored, this time I decided an overnight stay at the Weston Inn might be fun - he could stay at the Inn and relax in the lovely gardens, bar, or living room while I shopped until I dropped.
The inn is owned and run by Bob and Linda - both retired from the medical field - and you won't find a more interesting couple as innkeepers. Bob is big into growing orchids in his hot house as well as taking gorgeous pictures of the North East while Linda is busy making sure the guests have everything they need and are quite comfortable.
We enjoyed a few drinks at the bar in front of a roaring fireplace before having a delicious dinner. Several interesting selections were on the menu - I chose paella while Kenny had a seafood entree.
Our room was one of two in the "coach house" and featured a king bed, sitting area around a cast iron fireplace, Jacuzzi, steam shower, and private porch complete with two rocking chairs overlooking the town. A perfect getaway room with all the Vermont charm we needed. If you are looking for a fun place to stop, shop, stay, and relax in lower Vermont, consider the Weston Inn. Be sure to view Bob's photos on all the walls, and tell them hi for us.
Bob told us how to take a shortcut over to the main highway on a tiny country road (thanks Bob - very scenic!) and we headed south to Massachusetts. The fall foliage was at perfect peak - explosions of all colors from greens to yellows, to oranges and reds. What a great drive!
|After dropping into Massachusetts, we took Route 2 eastward to Boston,
also very colorful and scenic. We really like Route 2 into Boston
since we can usually breeze right into Somerville or Cambridge without
hitting a bunch of snarled Boston freeway traffic. (We've been
known to crawl into Boston from the south side at 10 miles per hour for
miles and miles while the freeway moved about as fast as shell to shell
We turned in our Hertz car in Somerville and caught a taxi to the Harborside
Inn in Boston. We love this little hotel on State Street just
a block from Faniel Hall. The rooms are spacious, rates very reasonable,
and the location is great. The Aquarium T station is right outside
the door too making it easy to reach just about anywhere in Boston quite
As always, we had several meals at Durgin Park Restaurant across from Faniel Hall Market, known as one of the oldest restaurants in Boston specializing in "Yankee cooking". The menu is extensive and everything is prepared to perfection. We love to have lunch in the street-side bar and dinner in the upstairs restaurant.
On Saturday, we took a day trip to Concord, a historic village about 30 minutes northwest of Boston. The downtown area has fun shops, art galleries, and restaurants. We loved browsing the famous Cheese Shop and had lunch at the Walden Grill with excellent cuisine.
We also wandered around some of the surrounding trails and The Minute Man Historical Park. The North Bridge was the setting of "the shot heard round the world" - the opening salvo of the American Revolution.
Our trip ended far too quickly, but we'll return again next year and find new routes and places to see. Stay tuned! (and don't forget to take the links below).