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New England in the Fall Travel Guide

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    Experience the vibrant colors of the fall season with a trip through New England. Walk along the Freedom Trail in Boston and drive a Duck in the Charles River. Learn about the witch hunt in Salem and tour the beautiful campus of Cambridge colleges. Find some of the best places to visit in New England in this Fall Travel Guide.

    a windy road curving next to the mountain with trees

    Autumn is an absolutely magical time to visit New England. The fall foliage scenery simply dazzles with its beauty. In 2019, our family spent four wonderful days in the New England area exploring and learning its fascinating history. Our itineraries were:

    1. Day 1 – Fall foliage drive on Mohawk Trail from Boston to western Massachusetts
    2. Day 2 – Freedom Trail and historic Boston tour
    3. Day 3 – Salem Witch Museum and new Boston
    4. Day 4 – Duck Tour, Harvard, and MIT

    We won’t be including the history and background story behind each place in this post, but you’ll find the appropriate links for your own discovery!

    Fall Foliage Drive in New England – Mohawk Trail

    Our original plan for fall foliage was to drive north from Boston into New Hampshire and Maine. The foliage had just peaked and it was the best time to visit. Unfortunately, a storm formed right off the coast which would impact our trip. We headed west on the Mohawk Trail instead and it took us almost across the entire state of Massachusettes.

    family standing on a bridge above a river with trees in the background
    family on French King Bridge

    There are many websites dedicated to providing the latest foliage conditions and recommended routes in New England so check them out and plan ahead before your trip. Here are the highlights from our drive on the Mohawk Trail and the various stops we made along the way. We left Boston around 10 AM in the morning.

    river flowing between two hills filled with trees
    View of Connecticut River from French King Bridge
    Poet's Seat Tower - 4 story tower made from stone
    Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield
    view of the town of Greenfield and hills in the back
    View of vibrant colors from Poet’s Seat Tower

    a small road in the middle surrounded by trees on both sides

    Bridge of Flowers across the Deerfield River with a hill in the background
    Flower Bridge in Shelburne Falls

    Bridge of Flowers - walking path surrounded by flowers in Shelburne Falls

    Shelburne Falls Potholes or Salmon Falls
    Salmon Falls – site of potholes (Indian Fishing Treaty)
    a windy road curving next to the mountain with trees
    Breathtaking scenery near Bissell Covered Bridge
    statues of a metal deer on a rock surrounded by metal gate in front of mountain scenery
    Elk statue near Whitcomb Summit Retreat
    view of mountain scenery and foliage
    View from Whitcomb Summit Retreat

    Williams College

    Our picturesque drive west ended at Williamstown, home of Williams College. It is about 135 miles from Boston and we arrived around 3 pm.

    two children standing in front of sculpture of eyes by Louise Bourgeois
    Eyes by Louise Bourgeois
    exterior of Thompson Memorial Chapel at Williams College
    Thompson Memorial Chapel at Williams College

    The campus was graceful and the atmosphere was very different from the college campuses on the west coast. We took some time to view the art collections at Williams College Museum of Art before heading back to Boston. The art collection was quite impressive and we highly recommend stopping by.

    entrance to Williams College Museum of Art
    Williams College Museum of Art
    Mao by Andy Warhol framed on the wall
    Mao by Andy Warhol
    Aphrodisiacs by John Hatfield with bottles on a glass shelf and casting shadows below
    Aphrodisiacs by John Hatfield
    paintings hanging on a wall in a large gallery
    Gallery at Williams College Museum of Art

    Freedom Trail and Historic Boston

    We spent most of our second day touring landmarks along the Freedom Trail and historic Boston.

    exterior of Paul Revere House in Boston
    The Paul Revere House

    Revere Bell on display in a glass enclosure

    Our children had finished US History in school not too long ago so they were fascinated by all the landmarks that they’ve read in the textbooks.

    exterior of Quincy Market front entrance with four large columns
    Quincy Market
    the rotunda inside historic Faneuil Hall
    The rotunda inside historic Faneuil Hall
    the skinny house in Boston
    The Skinny House / Spite House
    exterior of Old North Church in Boston
    Old North Church
    the hall at Old South Meeting House with seating area and a raise platform in the center
    The hall at Old South Meeting House
    exterior of Old State House a three story brick building
    Old State House – where the Boston Massacre happened
    exhibition inside Old State House
    Exhibitions inside Old State House
    exterior of Massachusetts State House
    Massachusetts State House
    two children standing in front of USS Constitution
    USS Constitution – world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat
    canon lined up on the right inside USS Constitution
    Under the deck of the USS Constitution
    former shipbuilding dry dock
    Dry dock and museum next to USS Constitution
    boy standing in front of a fully-rigged model of USS Constitution
    Model of the USS Constitution inside the museum

    Salem Witch Museum

    On our third day, we visited Salem about 25 miles from Boston (40 min drive). What better time to visit the Salem Witch Museum than right before Halloween!

    Our recommendation is to get to Salem early because parking is difficult to find. The line for the Salem Witch Museum does get really long. Once you get to the front of the line, you’re giving a time slot to come back at a later time to actually enter the museum.

    exterior of Salem Witch Museum
    Salem Witch Museum

    While waiting for our turn to enter the museum, it was fun walking around Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and browsing through shops and stalls.

    Essex Street Pedestrian Mall with people walking around

    exterior of Crow Haven Corner Incorporated gift shop
    Crow Haven Corner – oldest witch shop in Salem
    skeletons on scaffolding outside a building
    Skeletons at work!

    two children in front of Roger Conant statue

    The Salem Witch Museum experience was fun and educational. In case you’re wondering, it isn’t scary at all as many young children in the audience seemed to enjoy the show.

    Peabody Essex Museum

    Our next stop was the modern and elegant Peabody Essex Museum. It is the oldest operating museum in the US and we highly recommend visiting!

    two children standing in front of Peabody Essex Museum

    The museum houses a large collection of American and Asian arts including an entire 19th-century Chinese house. We spent a couple of hours in the museum but could have easily spent the entire day there.

    emerging American style exhibition at Peabody Essex Museum

    the rattlesnake bronze sculpture by Frederic Remington
    The Rattlesnake by Frederic Remington
    glass Chandelier by Dale Chihuly
    Chandelier by Dale Chihuly

    New Boston

    After visiting Salem in the morning, we headed back to Boston to admire the view from Skywalk on top of Prudential Center Boston.

    view of downtown Boston from Skywalk looking east
    Downtown Boston from Skywalk looking east
    view of downtown Boston from Skywalk looking west
    Looking west at Charles River and MIT
    view of downtown Boston from Skywalk looking south
    Fenway Park to the south

    Boston is a walking-friendly city without too many steep slopes. We continued our walking tour from the Prudential Center towards Boston Common. The first stop, Boston Central Library McKim Building.

    exterior of Boston Public Library
    McKim Building

    The McKim Building looks grand on the outside but the interior is even more gorgeous. Marble tiles, giant murals, and grand study halls. It resembles more of a museum than a city library.

    marble walls and paintings inside Boston Public Library
    Murals by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
    large hall with desks inside Boston Public Library
    Bates Hall

    Right across from the library is the historic Trinity Church. It is the only church in the United States recognized as one of the “Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States” (by the American Institute of Architects).

    exterior of Trinity Church in Boston
    Trinity Church

    Walk along Newbury Street towards Boston Common and check out the latest fashions and trends in the stores.

    storefront on Newbury St.

    view of stores on Newbury Street

    We ended our third day by relaxing at Boston Public Garden and strolling around Boston Common.

    two children standing in a Greetings from Boston frame

    Boston Public Garden Bridge
    Boston Public Garden Bridge
    Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Boston Common
    Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Boston Common

    reflection of downtown building in the pond

    view of buildings in downtown Boston from Fan Pier Park at night
    View of downtown Boston from Fan Pier Park

    Boston Duck Tour

    On our last day, we started with the fun and loud Boston Duck Tour. These amphibious vehicles take visitors through the streets of Boston and also swim through the Charles River. The funny tour guide on the cars tells the story for each landmark throughout the tour. Get ready to be entertained!

    two children standing in front of a Ducky tank

    We recommend taking the Boston Duck Tour early in the morning to avoid traffic while on the tour. Boston is quite congested and many parts of the tour go through touristy areas.

    exterior staircase at Boston Government Service Center
    Boston Government Service Center (featured in the movie Departed)
    exterior of Museum of Science from Charles River
    Museum of Science from Charles River
    view of Boston from Charles River
    Boston skyline from the Charles River

    The best part of the tour is when the tour guide asks who would like to drive the duck while in the Charles River. Almost anyone is allowed to drive even little children.

    view of Longfellow Bridge from Charles River
    Longfellow Bridge

    The duck drives by many landmarks in Boston and it’s a great way to give your legs a rest while seeing the city.

    Granary Burying Ground
    Granary Burying Ground (resting place for Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock)
    exterior of Cheers bar in Boston
    Cheers Bar

    Harvard University

    After the Duck Tour, head on over to Cambridge and stop by Harvard University. Visitors are allowed on campus to walk around or alternatively join a guided tour. We joined the very funny Hahvahd Tours which are lead by actual Harvard Students.

    cement and brick gate at Harvard University

    two children touching the toe of John Harvard statue
    John Harvard (the Statue of Three Lies)

    It’s worth taking the 1.5-hour guided tour to learn about the rich history of the school!

    men singing at the steps of Memorial Church
    The Harvard Krokodiloes performing on the steps of Memorial Church
    exterior of Widener Library at Harvard
    Widener Library

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

    After visiting Harvard, head southeast on Massachusetts Ave, and you’ll quickly arrive at MIT.

    view of the Great Dome at MIT

    We didn’t join a tour at MIT but took time to wander around the campus.

    Alchemist sculpture by Jaume Plensa
    Alchemist sculpture by Jaume Plensa

    two children jumping in the air

    MIT Museum

    Our last stop before returning home was the MIT Museum. Our son loves science and was intrigued by the many exhibits on display.

    exterior of MIT Museun

    exhibition at MIT Museum with a wishbone pulling a metal structure

    boy standing in front of exhibition at MIT Museum

    Fantastic Food in New England

    During our visit to New England, besides taking in the scenery and visiting landmarks, we also had fantastic food throughout the trip. We tried way too many New England lobster rolls and our favorite one was Luke’s Lobster (you can order Luke’s Lobster online and enjoy their delicious lobster rolls at home).

    lobster roll at Luke's Lobster next to chowder on a red tray

    With all the walking, we refueled ourselves to sweets and baked goods along the way. Our stops included the popular Flour Bakery & Cafe and the timeless Modern Pastry.

    inside of Flour Bakery & Cafe
    Flour Bakery & Cafe

    Our daughter loved Joanne Chang’s sweets so much we ended up buying several of her cookbooks so she can make them at home.

    sweets and cakes at Flour Bakery & Cafe

    treats inside display case at Modern Pastry
    Modern Pastry

    For dinners, we dined at The Table at Season to Taste, Boston institution Legal Sea Foods, and Bar Boulud. Unfortunately, Bar Boulud has permanently closed as of March 2020.

    fork holding a piece of scallop

    seafood stew in a cast iron pan

    Go Card Boston

    Thank you for traveling throughout New England with us. We hope you find the information hopeful if you are planning to visit New England in the fall. Here is our last travel tip for visiting Boston:

    When our family plan travels to a new city, we always look for a city pass and evaluate whether it would make sense depending on the savings and the included attractions. We’ve bought city passes in London, Los Angeles, Seattle, and also Boston during our family’s travel.

    The Boston City Pass is a particularly good value for the many attractions included. The Go Card, in general, is a great bargain. However, you can find additional savings through Costco.com when they have the Go Cards in stock.

    Now that’s a wicked deal!

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