This is a customer review from the Steffens party who went on a New York & New England fly drive at the end of September 2014.
New York (4 nights)
New York is loud, crazy and magnificent. Our highlights were: the Empire State Building and the (free) Staten Island Ferry, which provides great views of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. We bought a 72 hour ticket for a hop-on, hop-off bus and we used that as our mode of transport. There are 4 different ‘loops’, two are exclusively in Manhattan while the other two include The Bronx and Brooklyn in their schedules. The hotel – The Marcel at Gramercy was adequate, and very well situated. As would be expected in a hotel in a major city, the room was quite small. The weather was excellent most of the time, although I did rain all day on our final day, which meant the top decks of the hop-on hop off buses were nearly empty! We had intended to go to a museum that day but the queue to get in was very long so instead we walked in Central Park and practically had the place to ourselves.
Boston (2 nights)
Boston was more sophisticated and quieter than New York. The Langham Hotel was very well appointed and only a short walk from the centre. The area around Faneuil Hall reminded us of Covent Garden, with lots of varied eating places and street entertainment. A very vibrant place. We had our first clam chowder here – loved it! We spent a whole day walking The Freedom Trail. Although it is only 2.5 miles long there are plenty of historic places and other places of interest to see just off the Trail. The weather was super. On our last morning in Boston we collected our hire car and meandered to:
Kennebunkport (1 night)
This is a splendid little coastal town. Very chic, with good shops and restaurants. The Old Fort Inn was very welcoming and homely. We had a four poster bed, and the mattress was a metre high, so getting in and out of bed was a laugh. This was our only one-night stop and, in hindsight, we should have arrived mid-afternoon rather than late afternoon, which would have given us more time to explore. (We had stopped off at Salem on the way. Salem was a little disappointing and very busy.) The following morning we had a splendid breakfast overlooking the ocean (and President Bush Senior. house) before setting off for:
Bar Harbour (2 nights)
Bar Harbour has a frontier feel about it – fresh and wild. It rained on and off for much of the day we were there but we drove through Acadia National Park and the majority of Mt. Desert Island. The Bluenose Inn was very good – our room was huge and included a separate lounge as well as a balcony, overlooking the town and sea. Although we had seen some good Fall colours since leaving New York, they really started coming into their own on the way to:
Jackson (2 nights)
We arrived in Jackson following a nice scenic drive. We happened to arrive there on 1st October, the beginning of the Pumpkin People festival, where many homes, businesses and public buildings display pumpkin people scenes. It continues for the whole of October and a winner is declared at Hallowe’en. Christmas Farm Inn had a good pumpkin people display and was very welcoming. It was a little way out of town but had a good restaurant and small pub. We ate in the pub both nights. Breakfast was very good too. We had a very nice circular walk from Christmas Farm Inn, enjoying the splendid Fall colours in beautiful sunshine. One of our favourite photos was taken on the walk. In the afternoon we drove up Mt. Washington, with great scenes of the Fall colours. Mt. Washington is renowned for bad weather and is the place where the strongest winds ever were recorded (in the 1930’s). But we had cloudless skies and wonderful 360 degree views. The brilliant sunshine really brought out the best of the autumn leaves. The following day we moved on to:
Stowe (2 nights)
Stowe Mountain Lodge was a very well appointed hotel and in a different league to the inns of the previous few nights. The bedroom was sizeable, and facilities provided were second to none. It rained quite heavily on the day we were there so were drove up to Lake Champlain and went along the islands going up the centre of the Lake. Luckily, the rain was intermittent and we had a good day. (Apparently It had rained all day in Stowe, so we made the right choice to go further afield.)
Manchester (2 nights)
Another great scenic drive between Stowe and Manchester. This certainly wasn’t a holiday for getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’ as quickly as possible – it was one for savouring each day and making each the drive part of the experience. The Inn at Manchester was a splendid, family run affair and, by the look of things, very successful. Our bedroom was a good size, with a separate lounge area. The breakfasts were excellent. Manchester is a good place for shopping and eating, with a lot of space between the shops and houses. Again, wonderful Fall colours, set off well by brilliant sunshine.
Newport (2 nights)
It was quite a drive from Manchester back to the sea at Newport. Hotel Viking was a large hotel in contrast to the inns we had stayed in. It was well situated, with an easy walk to the centre of Newport. Again, the weather was great. The highlights of our stop in Newport were the Cliff Top Walk and a drive along Ocean Avenue, with its sea views and mansions.
Yarmouth Port (4 nights)
It was only a short drive from Newport to Yarmouth Port. The Liberty Hill Inn was very good. It was probably the smallest bedroom since New York and certainly the smallest en suite. But that didn’t detract from the great welcome we got, and the best breakfasts ever. On our first full day there we headed for Provincetown and timed our arrival there just in time to jump on a whale sight-seeing cruise. We got some good views of some whales and, again, the weather was splendid although, for the first time during the day, a little cool. But we were ready for that and were dressed appropriately. After the cruise we had time to explore Provincetown, including the remarkable library! It was wet the following day so we spent some time shopping and looking for bargains to bring home. Time well spent on a wet day. The weather the following day was again splendid and we have a lovely walk along an old railway line from Nickerson State Park to Orleans. It’s a very popular cycle route too and everyone was having a great time. We then drove to Nauset beach – a fantastic expanse of lovely, fine white sand. A great way to end our holiday.
The following day we headed for Boston Logan Airport via Wrentham Shopping Outlet Village. As we had a late flight we were able to spend four or five hours there and we picked up some really good bargains for us, our daughters and their husbands and for their children.
And then to Logan Airport for the plane home…………………….
Flights, the train, car hire and hotel check in were all very smooth.
The flight from Heathrow to JFK and from Boston to Heathrow were on time and were faultless.
The train from Penn Station to Boston was about 45 minutes late and was crowded. So much so that we were unable to sit next to each until people started getting off, two thirds of the way through the journey. The journey itself though was interesting. There was a long queue for taxis at Boston so we decided to walk to the hotel – about 15 minutes.
Hire car pickup at Hertz in Boston, and drop–off at the airport were both fine. The saloon car had done only 4,500 miles, so was pretty new. We covered just over 2,000 miles in just over a fortnight, some along the prettiest country roads you could hope to see. Driving in the US is a lot calmer than driving in the UK – an absolute pleasure.
Overall, the accommodation was very good. Our bedroom in New York was a little small, which is not unusual in a major city.
The other hotels were better but we particularly loved the inns: they were welcoming, homely and relaxed. Breakfast was included at the inns and, without exception, was very good indeed.
We were blessed with very good weather – only two days of rain and one day of occasional showers. Other than that, we had perfect blue skies, with mild (tee shirt) temperatures, which dropped a little in the evening.