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Maine to Midwest ~ Need Advice on Route please

Springfield...
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Maine to Midwest ~ Need Advice on Route please

We’ve decided to add a New England fall foliage tour to our Niagara Falls trip. I have never driven in east coast traffic. I have questions and concerns....

We’ll end our tour in Vermont but we are going to sneak just over the border into Maine just to say we’ve been there ~ probably near Porter, Maine. Next step? Get home the most efficient way possible.

Google Maps shows two routes...

1) I-90 through Albany, NY...then Syracuse, NY...and back to Buffalo, NY...head home from there.

2) I-495S to I-84W...down to Portsmouth,ME...through Worcester,MA...down to Hartford,CT...west to Scranton,PA...head to Ohio and on home

Route 1 looks easier, safer, less traffic... but we are already taking Hwy 5 in Ohio to Buffalo,NY the week prior (we are staying just east of Toldeo on Lake Erie prior to Niagara) ...so I kind of wanted to do a different route home since we plan to stop at lots of silly roadside attractions along the way ~ get out, take a picture, stretch our legs. I don’t necessarily want the same attractions on the way home.

Route 2 is loved by the husband because he’s not driving and we get to say we drove through MA and CT. My concern with Route 2 is the traffic and how busy are the highways, how many lanes, etc. I’m not a slow driver but I stay within 5 miles of the posted speed limit and I won’t change that because people are flying 90 around me. I’ve driven in St Louis hundreds of times and I tend to up the speed a bit there but I’m also familiar with which exits to absolutely avoid. The second route seems more interesting but a bit scary especially being so close to NYC when there is no way I want in that type of traffic and we are so unfamiliar with these areas. All of our previous travels in this area have been in and out of airports and taxi rides to hotels and back.

We are in our mid-40s. This is our first road trip. He won’t be driving. I’m an okay driver but St Louis can stress me out on a bad day. We live in an area of two-lane divided highways and small populations.

Comments? Suggestions? Better route idea?

7 replies to this topic
Vestal, New York
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1. Re: Maine to Midwest ~ Need Advice on Route please

The first route would allow you to make stops in the lovely Finger Lakes region if you so choose; I-90 passes along the northern fringe. Seneca Falls/Cayuga Lake, Geneva/Seneca Lake and Canandaigua/Canandaigua Lake could all be stops. There is a nice wildlife refuge (Montezuma) not far off the Seneca Falls exit; I-90 actually passes through a portion of it.

PA
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2. Re: Maine to Midwest ~ Need Advice on Route please

We lived in both VT & MA & just took your Route #2 last June returning home from visiting friends and, yes, that route definitely involves a lot of traffic. Congestion around Boston & Hartford, CT is constant, it seems!

And (no offense to residents) but drivers in those states can be quite aggressive... we lived 4 years in MA.

Where at you going in VT? Maine can be quite a drive from there ... are you just crossing border & that's it?

I'd concentrate on NY & VT as major destinations. As previous poster says, lots of beauty/parks/etc. in upstate NY. And driving in VT (even with tourist traffic in the fall) won't be intimidating for you.

Indianapolis...
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3. Re: Maine to Midwest ~ Need Advice on Route please

I’m also curious as to where your trip starts and stops for the fall foliage. Are you not going into NH around the white mountain area? You’d have to go thru NH anyway to get to Maine, so it seems like a shame to miss out on that beautiful area.

I mean, it’s a toss up on the routes. You know yourself better than we do. We drove from Acadia to Pittsburgh on your Route 2 and it doesn’t go in to downtown Boston but around, so unless you go thru at rush hour you may miss the worst of the traffic. Hartford IMO is nothing to worry about, you may have traffic, but it’s not a massive city like Boston. Again for NYC you are going pretty north or the city. The drive through PA is pretty and I’ve done it a lot growing up in PA, no troubles there.

We had the GPS on the whole time so we didn’t have to get stressed about missing an exit or what lane to be in. Will you have GPS? It definitely makes driving in unfamiliar populated areas less stressful. But if you struggle with St. Louis and you are the only one driving then you could go with what will cause you the least stress.... or have a little more stress and new sights. Hope your husband is a good passenger. We have a deal that the passenger always worries about the directions, points out correct lanes, and upcoming turns so all the driver has to do is focus on the road.

Springfield...
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4. Re: Maine to Midwest ~ Need Advice on Route please

Greatly appreciate all the responses!! I’ve been posting on several boards to get specific answers so I wasn’t too specific on this board but the plan so far for the New England portion of our trip is...

*Niagara Falls to Burlington, Vermont (taking a ferry from NY just because we like the nostalgia)

*Spending an afternoon and evening in Burlington, Vermont

*Visiting Cold Hollow Cider Mill

*Visiting Ben & Jerry’s Factory (I’ve previously been told not to expect much but we can’t be there and not go!)

*Taking The Cog Railway up to Mount Washington

*Spending an afternoon & evening in North Conway

Finally, we plan to just cross the border into Maine and then head west as quick as possible. I really like Route 1 (tweaked a bit for sure) based on all the helpful responses. We are definitely going to look into the the Finger Lakes area and some of the recommendations on this post for the trip home! I have ruled-out RI, CT, and Boston areas for sure now. I want a stress-free vacation too!

BTW, I am the only driver but I’ve limited the driving each day ~ we will be at our place of lodging each day between 2pm-5pm with stays in some cities for 2 nights.

Our rules so far... hubby is the roadside photographer, GPS handler, and he must tell me when I’m speeding (he’s REALLY good at that one 😉)!

Greatly appreciate the ideas and the responses!!

Indianapolis...
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5. Re: Maine to Midwest ~ Need Advice on Route please

We had dinner out on the veranda (whatever it’s called) of the Omni Mount Washington Hotel the night before we did the Cog Railway. Peaceful and beautiful setting with a view of the mountain you will go up. Be sure to pack some warm items. It is pretty darn cold at the top!! Hang out for awhile, there was no view for most of our time up there and we just drank hot chocolate and waited and then dashed outside when the clouds lifted and got the most amazing views! Although I do love the picture of us in the clouds at the summit trying not to get blown over. :)

We did the Ben and Jerry’s tour for the exact same reason... can’t go by it and not stop. Nothing mind blowing, but when you’re on a long road trip the random pit stops and memories are fun!

Not sure exactly where in fingers lakes area you will end up. But we really enjoyed a day visiting Boldt Castle.

Edited: 10 June 2018, 11:19
Vestal, New York
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6. Re: Maine to Midwest ~ Need Advice on Route please

Boldt Castle is not in the Finger Lakes - it is on the St. Lawrence River in the 1000 Islands (well north of the Finger Lakes on the Canadian border and well to the east of Niagara Falls).

Indianapolis...
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7. Re: Maine to Midwest ~ Need Advice on Route please

Ohhh, yes, you’re right! I read finger lakes, but heard 1000 islands in my head. Ignore the Boldt castle idea.

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