Do you worry about finding a room during your fall foliage vacation?
- The cheapest places are not always the best
- Driving forever to find a hotel is not the wisest plan
- Sometimes the big tourist towns have gems worth finding
In a comment, Misty asked me where I would recommend finding a room for her fall foliage vacation? This is a tough one for me since over the past decade, I wouldn’t normally stay overnight. But as I get older, I’m not as interested in driving from Salem all the way up to the NEK (Northeast Kingdom) of Vermont and then back to Salem. This is a minimum of 8-9 hours *if I don’t stop* and where is the fun in that?
So, when I go out on a long drive it will usually turn into an overnight trip. I usually spend the early morning to the mid-afternoon driving as far north as I need to be and then I start looking to find a place to stay. I never make reservations when I’m on the road by myself but if this is a family vacation for Lisa and me then we do make reservations. She! Who must be obeyed, likes a clean room and amenities. Balcony with comfortable chairs overlooking mountains or open the door and walk on the beach. I’m a guy so I can make do with just a clean room, hot shower, cable TV and WiFi.
I usually use my Hotels combined page app which is on my Thrifty lodging page but I’ve heard that some of you like TripAdvisor or other hotel price checking system… Let me know what you like to use!
Lessons to live by…
Lesson #1 – The cheapest places are not always the best
Last Sept I was driving up into Vermont and I arrived in Stowe and I photographed the church on the hill. Then I wanted to see Smuggler’s Notch and after that I got to the top (almost 6PM) I pulled over and parked (to use my cellphone and my thrifty lodging webpage). I identified a place down the road. (*Note, I could have gone back to the places it suggested in the resort but some were $200+)
So with my choice between below in Smugglers Notch (Of course I know those places will be sooo much money) and ahead of me was a place at $79. So I decided to go for the cheaper place. (how bad could it be?) The sun is going down fast and I get there in the dark.
As I sit in the parking lot I observe that the place should have been named the Bates Motel (zero curb appeal). I decide to not go in and see if Norman Bates or Marion Crane is there and I will see what other accommodations are down the road.
Lesson number 2 – A hotel in the hand is worth more than the promise of one down the road…
For the next 2 plus hours I drove (not finding a single hotel) until I ended up circling back around to the outskirts of Stowe. I’ve been driving all day and I’m really beat and don’t care how much I have to pay for finding a room and I figure I’m in Stowe and will pay $$$$. So I again check my thrifty lodging page and I go down the list $240, $300, $97… Wait? $97.00! IN STOWE??
The Stowe Inn
I drive through town looking for what must be a run down motel. Nope wrong again… (note* remember to kick myself later), because I drove right by the Stowe Inn and I would never suggest this place because it “looks” expensive. Clean room, check. Hot water, check. Cable TV, check. WiFi, check. I crawl into bed after a sandwich from the gas station and I’m dead to the world from all the driving today. The following pictures are from before crawling into bed and the next morning.
Ok let’s recap…
I drove all day (4AM start) and into the night (almost 9PM). I didn’t want to spend $$$$ in Stowe since I know how expensive it will be. Only to find out, I could have stopped at 6PM and paid $97. Shows what I know!
So, don’t count someplace out just because it’s got an expensive reputation… Ok they earn those Reputations for the most part but deals can be found and the hotel I stayed at was very nice, clean and quiet.
Here are a few hotels/B&Bs that fall into many price ranges and a one gave me a comp room for a write up (Churches Landing $$$$$) But Oh so nice! $= under $100, $$=100-$160, $$$= more dollar signs means higher cost and amenities.
- $$$-$$$$ Sunset hill house Inn in Sugar Hill NH. I’d rate it good but it is above the price I like to stay at
- $$$$$ Down in Meredith NH I stayed at the Churches landing and at the Inn at Mill falls both are very nice but not cheap (Mill Falls is much more reasonable).
- $$-$$$ The lake shore motel ( 76 Lake Shore Dr, Moultonborough, NH 03254) which is outside Meredith in Moultonborough.
- $-$$ Cabot Inn and suites near Lancaster, NH (Good spot for hitting Colebrook and Dixville Notch at dawn.
- $$ Silas Griffith Inn, Danby Vermont (We stayed in Roberts room with outside deck and chairs to watch the sunset on the Green mountains.
- $/$$ Hartman’s Herb Farm B&B, Old Dana road, Barre MA
- $$-$$$ Norumbega Inn Camden Maine, Very nice old Manor house
All are clean and comfortable. Make your plans early so you have options! I probably have stayed at more places but these are the ones I remember. Leave a comment below if you have a place you’d like to recommend.
but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as: http://www.4cornersnewengland.com/
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff Foliage.com.
I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
Feel free to visit me on my blogs and see what life in New England is like.
I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.