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Take me far away from home! Well actually, not too far.
May 24, 2012 9:10 AM   Subscribe

Where should my boyfriend and I go that's 2-3 days away from Boston, is a good ways away from civilization, and has stuff we can see/do on the drive there and back?

I have procrastinated far too long, and now am scrambling to plan a vacation for this summer. I have some things working for me and some against, and I'm hoping the collective brainpower of askmefi will be able to help me plot a course for new frontiers.

The details:
- 2 adults (myself and my boyfriend)
- 1 dog (Otis the pug)
- 1 car
- 2 bikes (that may or may not be used that much - I am still very unsteady and terrified of anything that comes within 5 feet of me while riding. Cars, lampposts, squirrels, etc. are all deathly threats.)
- For reasons beyond our control, we're limited to the lower 48 states (no Canada).
- We have about $2000 budgeted for this. Less would be better, as always.

We would like to take a combination road trip/middle-of-nowhere trip. We have never done this before, but after a 12 year relationship we're fairly certain we can spend a vast amount of time in a car together without too much bloodshed. We've spent a lot of time on previous vacations in New Hampshire/Vermont/the Cape, so we'd like to get away from that, unless anyone has some fantastic recommendations otherwise.

We will be leaving from about half an hour outside of Boston. Ideally, we will drive for 2-3 days, stopping at random interesting places along the way, then stay at a cabin/cottage/etc. in the middle of nowhere for 4-5 days, then drive 2-3 days back. I'm thinking of using airbnb for the "cabin in the woods" part, but first we have to figure out where, exactly, we will be. This is where you guys come in!

What we're looking for in stops along the way:
- nerdy, geeky stuff.
- really cool nature-related things - i.e. not just New Hampshire's "Man of the Mountain"
- weird "world's biggest ball of twine"-type things.
- writer/author/poet-related things.
- offbeat, interesting or unique shopping (flea markets, cool bookstores, etc.)
- dog-friendly areas.

What we're looking for in a "stay put for a few days" location:
- as removed from civilization as possible while still having running water and electricity or a generator (if we can go 4-5 days without seeing or hearing another human it would be amazing).
- near some body of water - lake, river, stream, etc. that we can splash in.
- cool with dogs.
- surrounded by nature

Any suggestions for, well, any of this would be stupendous.
posted by DulcineaX to Travel & Transportation around Eldorado, NY (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
This may be a little too close to home, but how about Nova Scotia with a long stop in Acadia National Forest in Maine on the way there and/or back?
posted by chickenmagazine at 9:20 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


How long will it take you to drive to West Virginia/Appalachia? We have awesome geological features in this part of the world, and there are lots of places I personally want to see between here and Boston (such that I personally will take five days for at least one of the two drives.)

Southeastern Ohio has numerous decent state parks, and WVa has a national park, which would fit your criteria.
posted by SMPA at 9:21 AM on May 24, 2012


Sorry! Just reread and saw no Canada. How about driving to the Badlands in North Dakota, with stops in the Cleveland/Chicago/Minneapolis areas?
posted by chickenmagazine at 9:23 AM on May 24, 2012


I would drive north towards Vermont or Maine. Driving west is just pretty dull until you hit the rockies.. and that's a ways away. There are tons of kettle ponds, lakes and bike paths up north, hit up VRBO.com and book something wicked remote. Maine is "vacationland" for a reason after all.
posted by pwally at 9:30 AM on May 24, 2012


Since you mentioned it, you might as well go see the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota. There's tons of lovely isolated woods around these parts too. Of course, you could try to make a road trip out of it and go see that other ball of twine in Kansas.

If you do come to Minnesota, you can rent a camper cabin. I might call the parks and see when it might be the least busy if you want to feel super isolated.
posted by advicepig at 9:36 AM on May 24, 2012


For one of your stops that may meet your needs and is really interesting and nearby: Concord, MA

There are numerous homes of former authors. It is really interesting because they walk you through houses and tell you stories about the authors(e.g. Hawthorne and his wife used their rings to write messages back and forth in the windows of their former home, or Louisa Alcott and her siblings wrote drawings on the walls for one another ).Or go to the graveyard and leave messages to your favorite authors at some of the tomb stones. Or if you want the lake/water part, check out Walden pond in Concord, MA, although you can only see the site of Thoreau's cabin.
posted by Wolfster at 9:37 AM on May 24, 2012


Well, the White Mountains are great, and there's plenty of cabins around there. It's a little hard in the northeast to find a place with electricity and without seeing other people for days.

I have no idea if it's still there, but Curtiss 6th Wonder Of The World Barbecue is worth a trip. It's in Vermont just over the NH border. The founder (Curtiss, natch) recieved a special dispensation from the governor to not print ingredients on his secret barbecue sauce labels. Good stuff.

Shaker Village can be cool if you're into that kind of thing, as is Strawbery Banke.

I always liked driving Rt 1 from NH into Maine, and stopping at the little shacks for Clam Rolls or Lobster Rolls. Also, there's drive-in theaters still open all around New England, which is a thing for me.

It's been a while since I've been back, but if I think of anything, I'll come back.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:38 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Appalachia - W. Va, Tennessee, or Kentucky somewhere - is probably going to be what you want. But the drive could be kind of boring.

But also definitely consider Northern Maine - it's about as people-free as the East Coast gets. If you rented a place that's *not* on a lake, up in Aroostook or in/near the Allagash Wilderness, I think you'd have as good a shot at not seeing humans. It's probably only 7-8 hours from Boston if you drive straight, but if you wanted to take a more circuitous route you could.
posted by mskyle at 9:41 AM on May 24, 2012


Road trip to South Carolina to South of the Border!
posted by floweredfish at 9:41 AM on May 24, 2012


Can I ask a follow-up question: how leisurely do you want the driving days to be, with how many stops along the way? I know from experience that you can get from Boston to Flagstaff AZ in three days with two drivers. But they're three days of serious driving.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:54 AM on May 24, 2012


Asheville, NC

There are so many places you stop along the way, NYC, Philadelphia, D.C., Richmond. Swing by the Outter Banks on the way home, maybe the Chesapeake Bay Bridge...
posted by unreasonable at 10:19 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


With Vermont and New Hampshire already covered, I would head for the Adirondacks and/or the Poconos first. There are often suggestions for short trips in the New York Times travel section and when I see them I always regret not doing some of them when I lived in New England-- my default was always Vermont, Maine and sometimes Rhode Island.
posted by BibiRose at 10:43 AM on May 24, 2012


The Catskills, and western New York state. Beautiful country there. Check out the Erie Canal too.
posted by Melismata at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2012


A really cool nature thing you could see on your way to the big ball of twine or your middle-of-nowhere cabin: glacial potholes, like at Interstate State Park on the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
posted by clavicle at 11:03 AM on May 24, 2012


If you want very few people, a large body of water, and are willing to drive two long days or three shorter ones, then how about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? It'd save you some time if you could cut through Canada, of course, but it's still doable. Lake Michigan is warmer than Lake Superior, so if you really want to swim you're probably better off on the south shore of the UP. The Lake Superior side is rugged and gorgeous and remote, but Lake Superior is deep and cold.

The northern parts of the Lower Peninsula are gorgeous, too, and would be a lot closer. In addition to Lake Michigan, the area is riddled with smaller lakes that are great for splashing around in. However, the density of vacationers is much higher.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:28 AM on May 24, 2012


IF it wasnt for the fact its not removed from nature enough i would have suggested the east end of long island.

What about somewhere upstate NY? Upstate NY has niagra falls, lake george and other areas.
posted by majortom1981 at 11:32 AM on May 24, 2012


Roadside America might be a good reference when you have a rough idea of where you're heading.

pwally's Maine suggestion made me think of the world's largest chocolate moose and the site pooped up when I was looking for information on it.
posted by bowmaniac at 11:40 AM on May 24, 2012


You should make Grand Marais, MN (or somewhere in Northern MN) your destination. Northern MN, especially along Lake Superior, is absolute heaven in the summer. The air is crisp, the lakes are amazing, and it's easy to truly feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. And if you aim for Grand Marais, it's a really lovely little town to spend an afternoon in if you want to get out of the cabin. If the 24-hour drive is too much, you could make it northern Michigan instead, which gets you the same "north woods" feel without as much driving. But then you don't get to stop in Madison, which would be a shame. :)

There is a ton of good stuff between Boston and the Great Lakes region. Check out the answers to this question I asked a few years ago. I was doing it in the middle of the winter so I missed a lot, but there are definitely some gems.

If you've never been to the Monatague Book Mill in Amherst, you should try to stop there. But it will eat a whole afternoon!
posted by lunasol at 11:45 AM on May 24, 2012


Oops, forgot to link my question: Rust Belt Roadtrip
posted by lunasol at 12:38 PM on May 24, 2012


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