New England, the far northeastern part of the United States, is a place of contrasts — big cities and small towns, seashores and lake shores, ponds, rivers, forests, cutting edge centers of new technology and iconic and lesser known sites that played their parts in American history. At this writing, it’s turning toward autumn, when changing leaves, football games, and holiday celebrations are natural draws to travel New England — though it’s an engaging place to visit in any season. Here are four quite varied resources to help you in dreaming and planning your New England trip.
New England’s Best Trips might seem a bit of an ambitious title, but then the people at Lonely Planet have been publishing travel books for more than forty years now, so they know a bit about the lay of the land and how to explain it to travelers. Road trips are the subject here, thirty two of them, ranging from the Pilgrim Trail in Massachusetts to a Vermont Cider Sampler, a Wine Trail in Connecticut, an exploration along the coast of Rhode Island, a loop through New Hampshire White Mountains, and an art focused route in Maine. Each trip has a clear map and then short — very short — descriptions of towns and attractions along the way, augmented now and again by photographs which help show the atmosphere of a region.
Though the narratives are quite short, they are filled with information and engaging detail, just enough to let you know whether or not you’d like to make a stop or learn more. As this is a book of road trips, there are driving directions, too. Other features include notes about best times to visit, occasional walking tours of towns and cities, an introductory section filled with photographs of New England highlights, and for each region a short page with suggestions for lodging and eating — many of these smaller places you might not come across on your own. It’s a taster of New England travel, really, and for that it covers a lot of ground in an engaging way. Though it is meant for drivers, speaking as someone who has spent quite a bit of time traveling New England by bus, train, and foot, it has its uses for those of us who choose that sort of travel, as well.
Todd Felton travels the region with an eye to history and to literature in A Journey into the Transcendentalists’ New England.Through eight chapters in this well illustrated and well written narrative, he first reminds who the Transcendentalists were (think Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, among others) and what they thought about man, nature, and community. Then he explores six places, from Boston to Salem, to Walden to Concord, and a selection of New England Utopian communizes, with a focus on their connections to the lives and work of these writers and thinkers. Whether you use it for a travel guide on the ground or for armchair travel, you’ll come away knowing more about this history of New England.
Alexandra Grabbe is a New England insider — for some years she has been the innkeeper of Chez Sven bed and breakfast at Wellfleet on Cape Cod. At her web site Wellfleet Today, she writes of farmers’ markets and new restaurants, takes photographs of the changing seasons in the town and on the seashore, and shares her passion for keeping Cape Cod and the rest of the world ecologically sound and healthy. It makes for interesting reading whatever your destination may be. Grabbe has also put together an e book guide to Wellfleet (there’s information about that on her site) which might encourage you to make a stop at this Cape Cod town whether it was in your plans or not.
Patty Larkin lives on Cape Cod as well. She is a musician, songwriter, guitarist and player of many other instruments. While her new release, Still Green doesn’t talk specifically of New England landscapes, its stories of journey and change, loss and discovery and renewal, could be just the soundtrack you want for your New England trip. Larkin wrote most of the songs in a shack on the dunes of Cape Cod while coming to terms with changes and loss and rediscovering joy in her own life.
Whether your New England journey is by road or by imagination — or both — you’ll find good companions in all of these resources.
photograph of New England leaves in autumn is by Kerry Dexter, and is copyrighted. thank you for respecting this.
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