Rumblings of Revolution
- Where to Go
- The Best of Vermont
- Rumblings of Revolution
- New, New England Dining
- Boston’s Artistic Expression
- Vermont Leaf Peeping
- Into the Wild
- Vermont Skiing at Its Best
- Visit Vermont’s Maple Sugar Shacks
- Connecticut for Kids
- Vermont’s Covered Bridges
- A Shore Thing
- Vermont with Kids
- Portland Maine Art Galleries
- Small-Town Flavor
- Connecticut’s Wine Trails
- New Hampshire’s Farmers Markets
- A Weekend of Vermont Art
- Family Matters
- Maine Wilderness Camps
- Vermont Cheddar Houses
- Connecticut Spas
From the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock to the Boston Tea Party and the shot heard ’round the world at Concord Bridge, this is where it all began. Don’t be surprised if you feel a stirring of patriotism in your breast as you tour some of the most important sites in the history of the United States.
Less well-known are the sites dedicated to the many literary lights who hail from New England, including the Concord transcendentalists; novelists Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville; and beloved poets Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. This two-week trip takes in many of the highlights in an easygoing circle around the region.
Arrive in historic Boston, and orient yourself with an all-day amble along the Freedom Trail, taking in Old North Church, Paul Revere’s House, the USS Constitution, and other sites that played an important role in the nation’s struggle for freedom. At night, have an Italian dinner in the North End—Boston’s oldest neighborhood.
In the morning, visit the replica of the Tea Party Ship. In the afternoon, cross the river to Cambridge, where you can tour Harvard University and visit Longfellow Historic Site, which was both home to the poet and headquarters for General Washington.
Drive a half hour west along Route 2 to Lexington and visit the site of the opening battle of the American Revolution, the Battle Green. Follow the “battle road” to Concord, where the patriots were victorious at Old North Bridge. Book a room for the night at the historic Longfellow’s Wayside Inn.
Take a literary tour of Concord center, visiting the homes of the transcendentalist writers—The Emerson House, Bronson Alcott’s Orchard House, and the site of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond. If the weather is warm enough, take a dip just like Thoreau.
Head southeast along I-95 and Route 3 to Plymouth (2 hours) and back into an even earlier time with a tour of the painstakingly constructed pre-colonial village at Plimoth Plantation. Don’t miss Hobbamock’s Homesite to see how the other half— the Native Americans—lived. Stay the night in Plymouth.
Drive south along Routes 44 and 140 to New Bedford (one hour), and learn about a time when spermaceti oil and whalebones drove the world’s economy at the impressive Whaling Museum. While there, take a pilgrimage to the Seaman’s Bethel church, featured in the opening chapter of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Continue on down Routes I-195 and 114 and cross over into Rhode Island to spend the night in Newport (45 minutes).
For an upscale diversion, take a tour of Newport’s stunning cliff-side mansions, once the playground for the rich and famous. If you’d like, include a visit to the replica of the USS Providence, the sloop involved in the first naval engagement of the Revolution.
Shoot down I-95 to New Haven (2.5 hours), where you can take an afternoon tour of Yale University, Harvard’s academic and athletic rival. While there, head to the waterfront to see the Amistad Memorial, which commemorates the slave-ship rebellion that inspired the eponymous Spielberg movie. Stay the night in New Haven.
Venture up I-91 to Hartford (45 minutes) and pay homage to two literary giants at the Mark Twain House and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. Or learn about the history of African Americans in New England through the Amistad collection at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Push on up the highway to spend the night in Amherst, Massachusetts (one hour).
Head south on I-91 and west on I-90, then north on Route 7 to Pittsfield (1.5 hours), where you can visit the thoroughly landlocked home at Arrowhead where Herman Melville wrote Moby-Dick. On your way through town, stop at the Berkshire Athenaeum to peruse its stunning collection of Melville memorabilia. Then push up Route 7 to spend the night in Bennington, Vermont (one hour).
Visit the Bennington Battle Monument, where ragtag patriots beat off the British and turned the tide of the northern campaign of the war. Learn more about the conflict at the Bennington Museum. Then take a short drive up Route 7 to the Stone House, where poet Robert Frost penned “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
Off to New Hampshire! Take Routes 9 and 101 to the small town of Derry (2.5 hours). Continue your homage to Frost at the Frost Farm, where you can hike along the trails that inspired some of his poems. Then continue down into Massachusetts and head up Route 128 to spend the night in Salem (one hour), site of the infamous Witch Trials. After dinner, take a late-night visit to the cheesy but spooky Witch Museum, before spending the night in Salem—if you dare.
Spend the day exploring Salem’s fascinating history, with a visit to the Witch House, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the House of Seven Gables, which inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book of the same name.
Be sure to check out the waterfront, where you can learn about Salem’s other historical legacy at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Head back down Route 128 and Route 1 to Boston (one hour). Or, if you have time, take the long way back along Route 114 and Route 1A and stop off to browse historic downtown Marblehead. There, you can view the famous painting The Spirit of ’76, something you are sure to be full of after two weeks drenched in American history.
© Michael Blanding and Alexandra Hall from Moon New England, 2nd Edition