|For our October fall foliage trip this year, we decide to do a "loop
trip" starting and ending in Boston. Our first stop would be in Maine,
followed by New Hampshire, then westward to upstate New York. We'd
then head east again with a two night stop in Vermont before returning
to Boston. Click the map below for a large, detailed image.
Since fall foliage generally changes from north to south, we hit all the colors just right the whole way, although the leaves had not quite turned to full peak around the Boston area during the last few days of our trip. The trip started a few days before Columbus Day Weekend and lasted 12 days.
Weather was mostly good, but cloudy a few days (not great for picture taking), and rainy on a couple. Temperatures ranged from night-time lows in the lower 40s to day time highs of low 70s - warmer than usual. We pack clothes that can be layered, usually lots of long sleeved shirts with a windbreaker, rain jacket, and a sweater. One year it was near freezing a few nights and another had a record heat wave and we spent a day in Boston dashing around trying to buy out-of-season short sleeve shirts!
All the places we stayed in New England are members of the Select Registry of Fine Country Inns, B&Bs, and Unique Small Hotels in North America. I highly recommend this outstanding group of properties for all of your overnight travels.
This trip we stayed at (in order of our travels):
We flew into Boston from South Texas and drove about an hour and half to the coastal village of York in Maine.
|We stayed at Dockside a few years back and loved its lovely harbor
location in York, Maine. It has been owned by the same family for
decades and started as a small marina - then slowly developed into a 25
room inn enjoyed by yachters overnighting on their way up the coast as
well as landlubbers like us. The inn is now managed by one
of the sons of Harriette and David Lusty and the exceptional restaurant
is managed by another son.
Located on Harris Island, the main house sits on a point with lush green
lawns rolling down to the water. The restaurant is located on the
harborside and the cottages are along the bay shoreline.
A few rooms are in the main house, but most are in the one and two story cottages at water's edge as shown above. The rooms have a no frills decor, but provide very comfortable accommodations, some with small kitchenettes, most with a patio or balcony overlooking the water.
Upon arrival, we were quickly checked into our second story "Lookout" suite. It had a bedroom with queen bed, small kitchenette, bathroom, TV, and living room with a spacious deck overlooking the sea.
By the time we unpacked and took a short walk around the property, it was time for dinner. We sat at a table with a lovely view and started with a trip to the unique salad bar displayed in a boat!
Our next course was delicious Maine Crab Cakes for me and some of the
best Lobster Bisque that Kenny has ever had. He feasted on Steamed
Maine Lobster while I had a perfect Dockside Tenderloin with mushrooms
and a shallot demi-glace. It was a notable dinner with which to start
our vacation. The restaurant is also open for lunch during the season
and we could hardly wait to try more of their mouth-watering selections
the next day.
Breakfast, served in the main house, was available for an extra $5 each. It provided a bountiful buffet of breads, cereals, fruits, juices, and two hot egg dishes which could be enjoyed in the living and parlor rooms or outside on the verandah.
The next day, we took a short driving trip up the coast to the Kennebunkport area and found lots of tourists jamming scads of shops. We drove back down the coast and spent a quiet afternoon relaxing by the harbor and enjoying the view from our balcony.
The Harborside is a fun place to "escape" if you are looking for a waterside location, great service, and excellent cuisine at very reasonable rates. Lots of pretty walks can be taken down to York Beach or in and around the harbor.
Our last morning at the Dockside started with a colorful sunrise over the sea.
The next day, we left for New Hampshire via Interstate 95 (have lots of toll road money handy when you pass through this state) and took Route 16 north through some pretty countryside full of forests and changing leaves.
I had read about the Wolfeboro Inn on Lake Winnipesukee and thought
it might be a fun lunch stop before we reached our overnight destination.
The Inn is has 44 guest rooms, a small beach for guests, lovely lounge
areas, and historic tavern pub with rows and rows of 1600 pewter beer mugs
hanging from the ceiling for those who join their "club".
We enjoyed lobster bisque and sandwiches; then headed north on Route 113 to skirt the edge of the White Mountain National Forest to reach the Manor on Golden Pond.
|Holderness is a tiny little village - if you blink you might miss it
- but a huge sign states "Manor on Golden Pond" at the edge of a high hill
making the inn easy to find. We drove up a winding drive and at the
top discovered the main house surrounded in lush and vast green lawns and
with a commanding view of the lake and mountains beyond.
The main house has a large living room beautifully decorated which joins a library area, the Three Cocks Pub, and evening dining room. A separate breakfast room is at the other side of the living area.
Some rooms and suites are located in the main house, but we were staying in one of the Annex Chambers scattered along the hillside, each with a panoramic view of the lake and mountains. These are in duplexes, other rooms are located in a nearby Carriage House.
Our room was exquisitely decorated and had every amenity we could possibly want - French doors opening onto a deck, king bed, sitting area, fireplace, large bathroom with shower, and a huge jacuzzi for two. The room also had bedside lighting on both sides and the ceiling, robes as well as house shoes, night lights, and delicious cookies. We settled in and went out on the deck awhile to relax and enjoy the fabulous vistas.
|It was soon time for dinner but we allowed plenty of time to relax in the handsome pub for a few drinks. Our weekend room rate included breakfast and dinner. The evening menu has a large selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts.|
|The next morning, we found early morning coffee available in the main
living room, and enjoyed breakfast which started with a cold buffet of
fruits, cereals, and juices. Hot entrees proved to be a difficult
choice between equally yummy Waffles, special Omelets, eggs, and fruit
stuffed French Toast.
After breakfast, we strolled around the estate which has several gardens, a swimming pool area, and steps leading down the steep hill toward the lake only a short walk across a little country road.
|When we arrived at the Manor's private lakeside beach area, we found
a small boathouse, dock, canoes, and assortment of comfortable lounge chairs
for guests use. We settled in for a few hours to read books, enjoy
the foliage, and watch the boating activities on the lake.
Owners & innkeepers Brian and Mary Ellen Shields seem to attend to every detail and are often seen in and around the manor making sure that all is well. We found their staff quite cordial and accommodating.
The Manor on Golden Pond is one of the most upscale inns we've visited in our travels, yet has a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. It reminded us somewhat of some of the top country inns we've stayed at in the U.K. It is a superb destination for those wanting elegant accommodations in a gorgeous setting.
After two nights at the Manor, we headed west to Upstate New York at the base of the Adirondacks. It was a pretty 3 1/2 hour drive and we saw some brilliant foliage along the way.
|Tucked away along a tiny lane in a gorgeous wooded area of upstate
New York near Chestertown is the Friends Lake Inn, a beautiful getaway
destination with spacious rooms, swimming pool, a pond, miles of walking
trails, and access to the nearby lake. It has everything expected
in a top quality inn and anything a guest might need for a vacation stay.
Friends Lake Inn features a delightful bar and lounge, excellent restaurant
with gourmet menu, common room on the second floor, and downstairs holds
a private dining room (perfect for intimate parties), a wine cellar.
plus a billiards room with deep leather seating.
Guests will find lots of large common area rooms to enjoy their stay
on three levels of the inn. The inn has an elegant, yet very
relaxing atmosphere and lots of space for 34 guests.
The inn has 17 rooms, all with views and some have Jacuzzis and/or private balconies. Most of the rooms on the second and third floors face the lake; second floor rooms have screened porches with chairs - a great place to enjoy the vistas. Three rooms face the pond and gardens behind the inn, also a lovely view. Ours was one of these and we enjoyed a fireplace, private porch with rocking chairs, and spacious room with king bed. The surroundings are just perfect and it was a great place to spend two nights and a day of relaxing among beautiful fall foliage.
|Breakfast and dinner are included in the room rates; the inn will be
glad to arrange a picnic lunch, or guests can enjoy the pub food and atmosphere
starting at 4 pm each day and 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday. The pub
menu includes soup du jour, salads, oysters in season, specialty steak,
burgers, and other delights plus endless array of desserts.
Dinner is a exceptional experience and has an extensive selection of soups, salads, appetizers, entrees, and desserts. (Plus a huge wine list of every sort and kind at all prices). We loved everything on the menu and it was hard to decide what to order. I wish they'd can the lobster bisque and sell it - I would have taken a case or two home! The menu changes by season, and several special courses are offered each night.
Breakfast is served in a different room which is bright and sunny facing East and a pleasant way to start the day. A cold buffet offers fruits, yogurts, cereals, and breakfast breads. Guests can then order hot items such as pancakes or waffles drizzled with fruit, several types of eggs, or French toast.
The grounds are immaculate and beautifully landscaped in keeping with the forested surroundings. Paths and and walkways meander up to the swimming pool area, across to the pond and sauna house, down the road to a path leading to a lakeside beach. The inn is also linked to acres and miles of hiking trails (or cross country trails in the winter). Many guests simply enjoyed sitting in Adirondack chairs near the inn's pretty pond soaking up the sun, enjoying the foliage color, and relaxing in a country atmosphere.
Friends Lake Inn was built over 140 years ago in 1860 as a boarding house, eventually became a popular Adirondack summer retreat, but was closed in 1969. Sharon Taylor purchased it in 1984 and spent almost 20 years renovating, expanding, and evolving the inn into one of the top countryside destinations in the Adirondacks. She recently sold it to Trudy and John Phillips who are carrying on the same excellent tradition. We were impressed with the inn, the impeccable friendly service, outstanding staff, and our entire getaway experience.
The pub opens at 4 pm and is quickly filled with guests and visitors enjoying drinks and the extensive pub menu. I loved sitting in the bar and gazing at the lake in the distance.
|The next day, rather than order a picnic for lunch, we drove into tiny Chestertown and dined at the General Store - specializing in home made soups, sandwiches, and an old fashioned ice cream parlor. We browsed through some fun shops and stores before heading back to the inn.|
|Friends Lake, just a short walk from the inn, is in a beautiful
setting - that afternoon, we sat and read books while watching fishermen
silently puttered by in their tiny boats with little electric motors.
Several guests spent the afternoon kayaking while others fished (one took
a cooler full of trout home). The lake is about a 5 minute walk from
the inn across a little country road.
So, if you are headed to the North East in search of the perfect country
inn surrounded by gorgeous woods, with vistas and views of a lake and hills
(especially colorful in fall) that offers fine food, excellent wine selections,
and outstanding rooms with Jacuzzis, private porches and feather beds,
then look no further than Friends Lake Inn located in the gorgeous Adirondacks
of upstate New York.
Reluctantly leaving the gorgeous upstate New York area, we drove east toward Boston with a two night stop in Southern Vermont. We took Route 30 which cut through the Green Mountain National Forest and were rewarded with perfect fall color. We stopped in Manchester for lunch at Zoey's Deli - obviously popular with locals as well as visitors since the order line was fairly long and never grew shorter.
All kinds of freshly baked breads were available as well as every type of sandwich "fixings" that one can imagine. We really enjoyed the home-made potato chips that were served too.
The next stop was the tiny town of West Townsend with destination the Windham Inn. The directions said to take the turn across from the post office which we did and found ourselves on a winding country road heading upward. We turned at the inn sign and the road became steeper while passing some pretty little farms. Kenny pulled into a wide driveway and parked. We gazed out at one of the prettiest views we've ever seen in New England at the ....
|The Windham Hill Inn has a lovely whitewashed manor house, shown on
the right above, overlooking rolling perfectly manicured lawns and gardens
rolling down a gentle hillside. Just a few steps away is a huge white
barn, completely renovated into a three story complex of rooms and suites
with outstanding views of the surrounding hillsides, forests, and rolling
If I ever had a vision of the perfect setting for a country inn, this it it! Busy cities and the real world seem to be far, far away from this tranquil scene.
The main house holds 13 guest rooms plus an array of common rooms including a library, living room, bar, lounge, music room, and dining room. The furnishings are very upscale yet comfortable and relaxing. Join me on a tour of the spacious house:
|The inn also has a formal dining room which can seat a private party
of eight and is where guests will find early morning coffee and afternoon
The other part of the inn is a wonderful "white barn" just a few steps away from the main house. It sits majestically at the edge of the hill and holds eight luxury accommodations all with views and most with porches or decks.
We loved the entry to the barn which had rough plank walls and country decor. This room lead to a "grand hall" which followed the same theme. It was hard to imagine that doors and stairs provided entries to modern, luxury rooms and suites!
The Grand Hall lead to several rooms on the second floor and a cozy little "coffee room" which had a single cup brewing machine and small refrigerator for guests' use. Stairs led to rooms and suites on the top floor.
We stayed in one of the third floor loft rooms which had a king bed, living area with gas fireplace, and balcony with 180 views of the valley and nearby hills. The bathroom had a large jacuzzi and separate shower. It was like having a crow's nest view of the property and surroundings.
|Everything one might need or want was available - bedside lamps, two
night lights in the bathroom, extra pillows, CD player, telephone with
data line, bath robes, excellent bed with a firm and comfortable mattress,
two bottles of water, and of course, chocolates on evening turn-down service.
The lowest level of the barn held a large "conference area" which is
a misnomer since it resembles a handsome lounge area complete with tables,
comfortable chairs and sofas, TV, games to play, and guest computer area.
The room above opens onto a handsome patio with perfect views. Kenny and I loved sitting outside and savoring the autumn weather. An apple tree was not far away and we watched a family of cute tiny chipmunks running up the tree, knocking apples down, and then rolling them along the grass. Kenny managed to sneak up on one with our camera and snapped a picture.
Breakfast and dinner is served in the main house and has superb cuisine. Dinner is at two seatings starting at 6:00 and 8:30 pm. The lovely dining room holds candlelit tables along large picture windows and three tables near the fireplace.
Dinner was excellent and had succulent selections of soup, salads, appetizers, entries, and dessert. A price fix menu offered four courses, or one could order a la carte. I started with a special of the day - Pan Seared Maine Crab Cakes with Julienne Potato Salad and Lemon Aioli followed by another special featuring a Grilled Double Cut Pork Chop with Chanterelle-Oyster Mushroom Cream Sauce. Kenny started with a fresh salad followed by Pecan-Encrusted Salmon with Forbidden Rice.
Windham Hill's Breakfast deserves 5 stars! A pastry of the day
is served with a first course of fresh fruit artistically displayed on
the serving plate.
Guests can choose from a quiche, scrambled eggs, oat pancakes, and other delights. A side table holds croissants, cereals, jams and jellies. The first day, the pastry du jour were two hot from the oven cinnamon rolls which I think the inn should make their daily trademark. They were better than the famous Cinnabons!
We worked off all this bountiful food by exploring the inn's 160 acre estate that is full of gorgeous walking and hiking trails through pastures, forests, ravines, and hillsides. The inn has a map of four different routes of varying distance and terrain.
Owners Joe and Marina are very visible innkeepers and were often seen at breakfast as well as dinner. They continuously give personal attention to detail at their gorgeous country retreat.
If you love nature, endless hiking trails through gorgeous surroundings, upscale accommodations, great service, and succulent cuisine, then escape from the world at the Windham Hill Inn.
|The inn does not serve lunch, however, picnic baskets can be arranged
the night before, or the staff will happily suggest lunch spots in the
nearby area, or perhaps along a recommended day driving route. We
choose to eat at a place just down the road called the "Dam Diner" which
is located near a dam, however, the board menu full of wonderful ice creams
and desserts had fun playing with the nomer such as "the best dam banana
We had open face turkey sandwiches with a side of mashed 'tators' drenched in gravy. We were so full, that we returned mid-afternoon for hot fudge and butterscotch sundaes. Home baked pies, and even tapioca pudding was available (when's the last time you saw that on a menu?).
Harborside continues to be one of our favorite places to stay in downtown Boston because of location and good value. Only a block from Faniel Hall, it is in a quiet area and also has the Aquarium T-stop (blue line) right out the front door. A restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch, a 24 hour convenience store is in the same building.
Two types of rooms are available - city view and interior view which face toward an 8 story atrium and are the most quiet. All rooms have a queen bed; some also have a small love seat which can be converted into an extra bed.
The sister hotel is Newbury Guest House however, it has always been completely booked when we visit Boston. Located on trendy Newbury street famous for shopping and restaurants, it is centrally located to the Back Bay area, whereas the Harborside is central to the financial district and downtown Boston.
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).