JUL 11,2011 - JUL 26,2011 (16 DAYS)
This is the general route we did on our trip. This was a family trip with our three druthers. At the time of the trip our youngest was five years old, and our oldest twelve years old.
We arrived at Niagara Falls on Monday morning, and checked in to our hotel. After a quick rest we headed out to the falls, and took the Maid of the Mist adventure guide. It cost us 16.5$ for and adult and 10.1$ for each kid.
On Tuesday we left early in order to reach Buffalo, New York, and change vehicles at the airport. We drove south on highway 90 and then turned south to route 14. The road runs by Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes (the lakes are long and narrow, and resemble fingers). It was a 3 hours drive, and we absorbed the amazing scenes around. Watkins Glen state park is at the south end of the lake. If you get there by car, there is a parking lot for 8$ per car near the entrance, or you can go back (about 100 m) and leave your car in the Pizza Hut parking lot.
The Park is a real must-see, especially the amazing Glen creek. The stream cut through, and you’ll find 19 waterfalls descending from a max height of 120 meters, small polls and other wonders. The canyon was discovered was discovered in 1863, and in 1906 became the property of the state of New York. It was formed about 10,000 years ago by a glacier that defrosted deepened the Seneca valley.
There are 3 trails running through the park - the gorge, the Southern Rim and Indian Trail. We took the gorge, which starts about a 100 meters from the entrance to the park. The trail is an uphill walk, but it’s a pretty easy walk, some stairs along the way. On the sides you can see the water flowing, the arch falls and more. The path is narrow, and we had to walk one after the other.
At the end of the climb there are some more stairs, but the sights are worthwhile. You can go all the way back on the same trail, or take the Indian trail, that leads you into the forest. The walk up took about an hour, and the walk down on the Indian trail took us 40 minutes. If you are tired, you can always take the shuttle down.
We stayed at the Best Western University Inn which was rather nice.
1020 Ellis Hollow Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850
The tour in Cornell University campus was interesting. Cornell is one of the Ivy League universities, and was founded way back in 1865. The campus stretches on 2,300 acres, and there is also a nearby lake, natural waterfalls and beautiful gardens.
Old Forge is a small community on Route 28. It has a some local attractions, like the enchanted Forest Water Safari (a water theme park) and the Calypso's Cove Family entertainment center. We decided to pass, ate lunch at a local restaurant and continued to Tupper Lake.
From Ithaca to Old Forge its about three hours driving.
High Gorge falls and White Face Mountain:
On the way to White Face mountain we stopped on High Gorge falls, about 15 minutes from Lake Placid on route 86. We left the car and took the walking trail, crossing a spectacular hanging bridges and cool paths, near beautiful water fall and dark polls.
From there we drove up Whiteface Mountain, turning near Willimington to route 431 and then up to the parking lot. We took an elevator up the mountain for a spectacular view of the area. It was a bit chilly, so make sure you bring something warm to wear. From there we headed on to Ausable Chasm.
Ausable Chasm is a sandstone gorge near the village of Keeseville, with nature trails passing through the Adirondack Forest. It costs 16$ for an adult and 9$ for kids, but the sight of the beautiful rainbow falls was worth it. From the trail you can see the creek and the river flowing, and it is a pretty easy walk. It didn’t take that long, and looking we could have passed. You can see the waterfalls from the bridge by entrance, and that’s the feature of the gorge. You can also take a river raft for an extra 10$-12$, but we decided to pass.
In order to get to Burlington there are two options -
(1) Take the direct ferry from Port Kent (one hour on the ferry)
(2) Drive to Plattasburgh, and a ferry via Grand Isle
We chose the second option. There’s a ferry every 15 minutes, and it takes about 12 minutes to reach the island. We visited the Grand Isle Art Works – an artisan gallery in an old farmhouse built in 1797 – and took a horseback riding.
We stayed at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel & Conference Center
870 Williston Road, Burlington
In Vermont you’ll find a wide variety of factories to visit, the most famous of them is the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory (Vermont finest). It’s near the town of Waterbury, close to route 100. There’s a half an hour tour of the factory, where you can see how the ice cream is being made step by step. At the end of the tour we got to the taste samples of almost every ice cream flavor. The price for adults is 2$, and kids get in for free.
After that we went to the nearby Cold Hollow Cider factory, where you can see how natural cider is made out of fresh apples. There is no entry fee at all. There is an excellent cheese shop close to the factories called Cabot Annex that is worth a visit. Vermont is also famous for its maple, so we headed on to the Morse Farm Sugar Works, located near Vermont Capital, Montpelier.
The next day we left Burlington early, and visited the local farmers market in Montpelier. The market is located at 60 State Street in downtown Montpelier, across the Washington County Court House Building. There’s a parking lot next to Julio’s Restaurant and Christ’s Church Parish House. The local farmers sell their dairy products, vegetables and fruit, honey, flowers, meats and more. After stocking up we continued the journey, and headed on the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
Flume Gorge & Visitor Center
Flume gorge is a natural gorge at the base of Mount Liberty. It has granite walls that rise to almost 30 meters, creating a narrow path 4-6 meters wide. The trail is almost 3 km, with an uphill walking and lots of stairs. There are a lot of flowers, ferns and mosses in the area, and spectacular views of Mount Liberty and Mount Flume. The trail ends in the Flume gorge, where you can watch a short movie about Franconia Notch State Park.
We did a full day tour in Lost River Reservation, Clark Trading Post and North Conway. If you have time and weather permits, you can also visit Mt. Washington. We didn't have time.
We continued along route 112 to Sabbaday Falls, near Kancamagus Highway in Waterville. The waterfalls are almost 15 meter high, and there’s a short walk to get to them. Along the way there are benches where you can sit and enjoy the views, and an observation deck from which you can take some amazing pictures.
In north Conway we stopped at the Green Outlet Village (no sales taxes), where we did a little shopping. There are stores like American Eagle, Banana Republic, Adidas and more, and we bought some very nice T-shirts and 2 pairs of shoes. You can also eat in one of the local
restaurants or food kiosks.
We spend the day driving to Tilton. We spent the night in a town called Tilton, in a Holiday Inn Express on 75 Tilton Road.
The next day we drove from Tilton to Boston on route 93, to visit the New England Aquarium. We sew sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, eels, barracuda and much more. We took the whale watch cruise, and sailed east of Boston to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, home of humpback whales, finback whales, minke whales and others species. The cruise is 4 hours long, and I recommend it enthusiastically. The entry fee for the aquarium is 19.95$ for adults and 11.95$ for kids (3-11).
The next day we took the long tour of the Boston Duck Tour. The departure is from 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110 (near the Aquarium) or if you choose to take the long tour, it also departs from Prudential Center on 53 Huntington Avenue.
In Prudential Center you go up to the 52nd floor. We took a walk on the Freedom Trail (red bricks), that passes through downtown Boston, and leads you to some of the significant historic sites of the city. We wondered around Quincy market near Faneuil hall, which was extremely nice. From there we headed to Cambridge, and visited Harvard University and MIT. In Harvard square there are a lot shops where you can do some shopping, nice cafes and restaurants and local street performers.
The market area
The next day we left Boston to Newport Rhode Island (approx. hour and a half driving), to visit the Touro synagogue that was built in 1763. It’s the oldest synagogue in North America, and it’s open daily from 10:00 till 17:00. There’s an old Jewish cemetery down the street, and a nice walk on the shore line which begins in Easton’s beach, and you can also take a drive down Ocean Ave and take a peek at the Kennedy estate.
After spending several hours in Newport, we continued to Mystic (approx. an hour driving) and there we spent the night.
Of course, we had to pay a visit to Mystic Pizza in the downtown, the location of the Hollywood film with Julia Roberts. The place was founded in 1973 and is still run by the Zelepos family, with their "secret recipe". Bear in mind you might have to wait in line to get a slice…
It took us 3 hours to get from Mystic to New York, and bear in mind you better get to the city before 13:00 if you don’t want to get stuck in traffic. We brought the car back to the rental agency, and took the subway to the hotel.
We ate at an excellent pizza place called Lombardi’s Pizza, in little Italy (32 Spring street). The line was long but it was worth it. Another great place in Rice to Riches, which is a restaurant with a menu based around rice pudding in different flavors. It’s very close to the pizza place (37 Spring stree).
Another great Italian place is Carmine’s. They offer family dishes, and the smallest plate is for 2 people. You might want to skip the openings, because the main dishes are very large and very good, and surprisingly not expensive. The restaurant has 2 branches – one on 44 Street (near Times Square) and one on 2450 Brodway (Upper East Side).