Road tripping through New England has long been a dream of mine, and I was so excited to finally make it happen this year. I’ve never been further north of Boston in the states and couldn’t wait to explore this beautiful and historic part of our country. As usual, we did things our own way. We missed a lot of the more popular spots, but that’s okay. I put a lot less planning into this trip than I usually do, which turned out to be for the best. On the road, spontaneity is everything.
So it was that with a car overloaded with bags, a silly and sprawling road trip playlist and an adorable little dog, we hit the road.
We left the Thursday before the Fourth of July to avoid traffic, and had a pretty smooth trip to our first stop.
I’m a little bit fascinated with the Ivies, so a stop at Princeton was perfect for lunch. We grabbed sandwiches at The Red Onion and walked over to the campus to eat them.
It was a beautiful day, and a great way to stretch our legs in the middle of all the driving.
We spent a little over an hour exploring the campus and eating, before loading back into the car. Other than a quick bathroom and coffee stop at a rest station somewhere in Vermont, the drive was uneventful. We spent our time singing along to our playlist and discussing future trips to beautiful places we passed along the way. The state of New York surprised me, and we dreamed of a getaway to the Catskills.
I was also intrigued by the city of Troy, a place that had never before crossed my radar. The Victorian architecture, riverfront location and industrial buildings created a beautiful backdrop for that portion of our drive. I would love to go back someday and check it out. Underrated and under-the-radar cities are sometimes the most interesting.
A little before sundown, we arrived at our final destination for the night – Manchester, Vermont. This is obviously not even close to the most popular Manchester in New England, but having found a killer Jetsetter deal at a gorgeous hotel it quickly jumped to first place on our list of first-day layovers. We could probably have driven further that day, but we wanted to take our time and have a few hours to explore the area.
Our first stop was for a drink and a snack at Seasons Restaurant, a cute and casual eatery with a gorgeous dog-friendly patio. Seasons is nestled amid a beautiful outlet shopping center that I had no idea existed, and which proved to be a very strong temptation. Shopping used to be a huge part of my traveling persona, but I’ve nixed that habit in favor of more travel.
We stayed at the Taconic Hotel, a beautiful, new Kimpton property with all the frills at a nice price.
I loved the lodge-style decor and all of the bright, crisp white in the room, which was very comfortable and clean.
Although not necessary in July, the fireplace was a nice touch. I’d love to return to this hotel during the Fall foliage craze, though I’m sure prices soar around that time.
Kimpton is far and away my favorite hotel brand, every hotel I’ve ever stayed at has been top-notch with the best customer service. I also love that they don’t charge a fee for pets and will provide dog bowls and beds at most properties if you ask.
We had dinner at the on site restaurant, The Copper Grouse, which seems to be a hot dining spot in town. (Kimpton Hotels are known for their excellent restaurants.) It was incredibly convenient, and Ashton was again allowed on the gorgeous patio complete with fire pits and couches. I believe I will do a separate restaurant review of our lovely meal, as this post is already getting to be quite lengthy.
We were pretty much exhausted after dinner, but accidentally started listening to Broncho back in the hotel room and had an impromptu dance party that kept us up too late. These things tend to happen on a proper road trip.
The next morning came too soon, as we had to hurry and get on the road in order to arrive in Maine around the same time as my family. We had one stop to make first.
When we learned that our hotel was right by Mount Equinox, the highest peak in the Taconic mountain range, we had to take a gander.
Although I would have loved to have hiked it, there wasn’t enough time. The next best thing is Skyline Drive, a private toll road to the top of the peak.
The drive is absolutely stunning, with several overlooks to stop at along the way offering views of the Green, White, Adirondack, Berkshire and Taconic mountain ranges. They don’t call it the Green Mountain State for nothing!
Behold Ashton, true King of the North.
About halfway up the mountain, you can get a distant view of the Charterhouse of Transfiguration, the only Carthusian monastery in the U.S. It’s incredible to imagine such a remote life of solitude.
Beyond the monastery lies New York State and the Adirondacks – views for days and days.
The drive to the top should take no more than fifteen minutes, depending on your stops. There is ample parking at the top, as well as a viewing center with restrooms and information about the mountain and monastery. But the main event is the panoramic view.
Pull up a giant slab of granite and take it all in…
We were so glad we made this detour. I can only imagine how gorgeous the drive is in the Fall. Although going on an early July morning in the summer did allow for a mostly secluded visit and no traffic on the roads.
We made one last stop for some grocery items at a charming country store before heading onward and upward to Maine.
Thanks for the quickie, Vermont – we’ll be back!
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