2 Folks and a Dog on Road
April 9, 2011 8:58 AM   Subscribe

What do you recommend we visit between Halifax and Detroit?

My lovely gf and I are about to embark on a road trip as we head home to BC. We are currently living in Montreal and we figure we should take some time to see these Eastern sights while we're close by. We plan on hitting the road in early May. What do you recommend we see?

We will be travelling by car, with a 70 pound dog and plan to camp for much of the trip. We're not averse to the occasional night in one of the cheap, dog friendly motel chains, especially to escape a nasty squall. While we're not broke, we also aren't rolling in massive dough piles. We do, however, have some flexibility in the realm of time, so places a day or so off the path are welcome suggestions.

We're lefties, like the outdoors and prefer to eat local, healthy, creative food. We also like cool, local beers and wines. We're both avid readers and enjoy learning stuff about science, nature and history. We're not generally tempted by 'mainstream touristy schlock'. We're also curious about post-industrial, post-peak, 'transition' stuff.

Other interests include the following random things:
Knitting and Sewing
Old School Makers
Bodies of Water
Walkable urban spaces
Painting and Photography

BTW: My gf is doing her PhD in Geography, looking at settler and native conceptualizations of land... so ticky tacky 'Indian' ideas probably won't float...

We also aren't planning on hitting up NYC, she's been there, and with the dog and car, it seems a bit too much, this time around.

So, since we know little to nothing about this chunk of the world, we seek your MeFi expertise.
posted by Sustainable Chiles to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Western Massachusetts may be worth a visit. There are lots of things on your list here, especially walking, hiking, outdoorsiness, bicycling, birds, healthy food, and knitting. Here are two posts that might point you in the right direction:

What to do and where to go in western MA
Good eating in western MA

Also, for outdoorsiness, look into the Berkshires (especially Mount Greylock and points along the Appalachian trail) as well as Mount Tom (east of the Berkshires), and for birds, Arcadia.

Specifically in Northampton, MA, a town that I think you would like a lot given your list:
For biking, Norwottuck Rail Trail. For knitting, Webs. For healthy food, Paul & Elizabeth's, and for beer, Northampton Brewery.

MeMail if you need any more details! Happy traveling!
posted by dayintoday at 9:16 AM on April 9, 2011

I will give you the water, trees, and hiking tour highlights. However, if you are staying in Canada until you cross the border from Windsor to Detroit, you aren't going to see anything too interesting in terms of urban life, except in Toronto. (I will assume that you have seen what there is to see in Ottawa and Quebec City since they are close by to Montreal). Focus on the rocks and trees, here are the must sees:

Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia - the national park is a good 2-3 day loop if you are doing a bunch of hiking/birdwatching along the way.

Fundy National Park in New Brunswick - the Bay of Fundy is known for the highest tides in the world.

Algonquin park in Ontario - you can hike here, or try to get a canoe and canoe across to several lake only access camp sites.

In terms of urbanity - you can certainly stop in Toronto and check out the St. Lawrence Market, Kensington Market, etc to satisfy your "walkable urban spaces" part of the tour. And while you're in the Toronto area, you should go to the McMichael Gallery, so you can see all the Group of Seven paintings inspired by the scenery from Algonquin park from above.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:18 AM on April 9, 2011

Response by poster: I guess I should clarify, we are planning on being South of the Border between Halifax and Detroit. We'll cross back into Canada between Detroit and Winnipeg so we can take Highway # 16 across the prairies.

So, we're looking specifically for US sites on this leg of the journey. But Cape Breton and Fundy are already on the itinerary.
posted by Sustainable Chiles at 9:36 AM on April 9, 2011

Cape Breton isn't between Halifax and Detroit!

Are you taking the Yarmouth-Portland ferry (in which case: Lighthouse Route! Fishing villages! Rich Americans' million-dollar summer homes!), or going through NB (Saint John has a charming sort of squalor to it; you'd get to wiggle your way through the mountain roads of Maine, which is fun; the customs huts in St. Stephen are painted the most retina-searing shade of dayglo orange you will ever see in your lifetime, so there's that, too), or what? When are you leaving? The SappyFest/Ok.Quoi (which features the hippest craft fair ever) is the last weekend in July in Sackville, NB.

FYI, there are plenty of canals in Ontario you'll be missing out on!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:15 AM on April 9, 2011

I'm pretty sure the ferries between the US and Canada are defunct.
posted by pentagoet at 10:28 AM on April 9, 2011

Response by poster: We're headed to Cape Breton before we go to Halifax. As for leaving date, May 3rd (?) and aiming to be back in BC by May 26th (?)

So, looks like we'll miss the SappyFest. As for routes, well, that's why I've asked the question. So far our route is all about possibilities.

Northapmton MA looks great... I'm dying for a solid IPA and that brewery has multiple versions! I know lot's of folks love MTL beers, but for my taste, they have insufficient hops and way to much 'sur lies'. I've sure missed my NW IPAs this winter.

Ontario Canals eh? Well, I'll have to look into those. Like I said, the route is TBD.

Great responses so far! Keep them coming!
posted by Sustainable Chiles at 10:30 AM on April 9, 2011

Maine has great knitting stores (eg Halcyon in Bath; and the little one in a Victorian house in the cute town of Wiscasset) and lots of cute towns and natural splendor. You've seen similar natural splendor in NS. Bath ironworks has majestic industrial equipment. Camden Hills are beautiful. Portland has a nice walkable artsy district and a surprisingly good art museum.

Of course, the Rideau canal is pretty cool; you'd also miss Kingston which is a very nice little town (stop at the Sleepless Goat on Princess St (the main drag) for vegan eats). Ottawa is gorgeous if you've never been. You do well to avoid the 401 between Kingston and Toronto though - most boring road in the world.

The Erie on the American side also has plenty of neat places to stop.

New England and upstate New York are wall-to-wall cool small towns, so you may want to specify your approximate route. Are you coming down the Maine coast (Rte 1 is slower but very scenic and has nice towns - see pas Askme questions about Maine for details), then down to the Mass Pike heading west? The Northampton-Amherst area is nice and not far off the Mass Pike. That route continues in New York as 90, and there are several good stopping places there or within an hour's drive south of it. The Finger Lakes area is a scenic area with lots of old small towns that would fit your interests.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:32 AM on April 9, 2011

I'm pretty sure the ferries between the US and Canada are defunct.

Whoa, WTF, you're right! Disregard, then.

You want a good IPA? Check out Propeller while you're in Halifax. (Stand on Citadel Hill and look for the Staples. Propeller's right next to that. Growlers for nine bucks!)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:50 AM on April 9, 2011

Oh and of course Northampton has the gigantic yarn store - WEBS yarn store.
Halcyon yarn in Bath Maine.
Elaine Eskesen's Pine Tree Yarns in Damariscotta (different cute town - this is the Victorian house yarn shop I was thinking of. If your gf buys pattern books she may know Elaine's name. The review on yelp complains about her personality but I've always found her to be nice and fun to talk with.)

There are a bunch of previous questions with great ideas - for example where to do on a road trip in New England; lesser known sites of New England - also you can click on the tag for "Maine" in that question and you'll get a list of all the questions with that tag, if you are feeling like doing some digging. For example: southern coastal Maine; what to do on our Maine and Atlantic Canada road trip.

Also - road trip sights from Boston to St Louis
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:05 AM on April 9, 2011

If i recall correctly*, Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park has the only Fjord in the US. Also Cadilac Mountain, also in ANP, is the first place in the US to see sunlight. Lastly, there are some great moraines and irregulars easily seen around the park, such as Bubble Rock.

West Quoddy Head is the eastern most point in the US and it is a pretty neat lighthouse to boot.

Those are my fun Geography places in maine that wouldn't be too far out of your way if you were taking Route 1 into the US.

* I am sure about the fjord thing, i am not sure if it is the only one though.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:43 AM on April 9, 2011

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