Suggestions for brief road trip in SE Canada & NE USA
April 15, 2018 1:09 PM   Subscribe

We're going to south-east Canada and north-east USA for two weeks, and any suggestions for our brief trip will be helpful. We'll be there soon: the last week of April and first week of May.

We have a few fixed parts to fit in with air flights etc.: start in Halifax on April 24, back in Halifax on May 1, leave from Montréal on May 6.

Our outline plan is to visit a friend in Burgeo NL for a couple of days in the first week, and visit family in Concord NH the second week. We like nature, hiking, the outdoors, and meeting people; actually, most things really. Our friend in Burgeo is planning some boating with us. I'm expecting cool or cold and somewhat rainy weather, but any special warnings would be good. I'd like to minimize costs (e.g. motels vs hotels).

What should be mandatory must-see/must-do?

We'll have a rental car and we'll be driving quite a lot. Do we need an SUV? (I'm used to bad roads & poor driving conditions.) How busy is it there this time of year, and will we need to pre-book accommodation or will we be able to find motel rooms easily?

(There are other excellent Ask discussions for similar trips, but they're all summertime, and maybe things will be different this time of year.)
posted by anadem to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Burlington VT should be very nice this time of year. Shelburne Museum is overwhelming but worth it if you have a day to spare. It should be a cinch to drive through from Concord to Montreal.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:18 PM on April 15, 2018

Hi! I'm in eastern Canada, so feel free to message me for specific questions.

• You do not need an SUV.
• Accommodations are easy to come by. Tourist season doesn't get into gear until June.

For the first leg, remember that it's 17 hours driving/ferry time from Halifax to Newfoundland, so factor in two full travel days. Bad weather or ice can cancel the ferry, so it's also possible you'll be stuck on either end for a day.

Cape Breton is really nice! Plan to spend a day or two there on your way to/from Nfld.

Generally, the eastern coast of the U.S. is fun and full of interesting little things. Drive the 1 down the coast for as long as is feasible, rather than then I-95. It is charming, with small fishing towns and roadside diners with pie.

Don't forget that you can take a ferry from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick. (In the summertime there's also a ferry from Nova Scotia to Portland, Maine).
posted by lukez at 4:34 PM on April 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Mount Washington Cog Railway!
posted by kevinbelt at 4:35 PM on April 15, 2018

Eastern Canada, everything being south of the North is a given ;-) You could consider Gaspé and Roche Percé on the way west but if you’ve already done NFLD and Cape Breton it might just be more of the same, probably better to head straight for Quebec City and spend a night in the old part before heading to Montreal.
posted by furtive at 6:05 PM on April 15, 2018

You could visit the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia (highest tides in the world)

Also you could head to Tadoussac and try to see some whales.

You can also visit l'Anse aux Meadows in Northern NL. It's an archaeological site where the Vikings had a settlement.

If I were you I'd spend as much time in Newfoundland as possible. It's a gorgeous place and the people are the most charming you'll ever meet.
posted by winterportage at 5:47 AM on April 16, 2018

Are you planning on driving the whole distance (and taking the car on the ferry)? It seems like a fairly punishing itinerary if so, as in you will be spending something like 48 hours of your two-week vacation on the road (or ferry). It's kind of like if you flew into San Francisco and planned to visit Los Angeles and Seattle before flying out of Portland. Except probably actually more driving, plus two border crossings.
posted by mskyle at 10:33 AM on April 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Trip Summary: it was wonderful. As warned we spent a lot of time traveling, but we expected that, to reconnect with friends not seen for half a century, and family not seen for many years. The places which stick in my mind are Burgeo in Newfoundland, Kejimkujik in Nova Scotia (day trip from Halifax), Halifax itself, & Montreal. We skipped many of the kind suggestions because of time and weather.

Interestingly varied weather, from snow and barely-ending winter on the Newfoundland Barrens, to sunny shirt-sleeve spring in New Hampshire. We rented a Chevy Malibu, very comfortable and fine travel for the three of us.

Only two disappointments: no moose seen (but did see caribou); too brief at the Bay of Fundy to see much tidal action.
posted by anadem at 4:19 PM on May 13, 2018

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