Travelling from Montreal to Boston, this 2 week trip takes in the highlights of the U.S and Canadian East coast. Starting out in the Quebec province of Canada, we explore the stunning city of Montreal and soak up the wealth of history in Quebec City. We then cross the border into the U.S and go on the search for black bears in Jacques Cartier Park, before journeying down the dramatic Atlantic coastline to Boston. National parks - Wade through Jacques Cartier Park's rivers, explore the pristine natural wilderness of Baxter State Park and the cobblestone beaches at Acadia Martha's Vineyard - Stroll around this idyllic and isolated island, dotted with lighthouses and scenic sandy beaches Boston - Discover the city's important revolutionary history by walking along the 'Freedom Trail'
Our trip begins today in Montreal, the world's second-largest French-speaking city. An eclectic mixture of English and French heritage has led to a city of extreme diversity, and the streets filled with 17th- and 18th-century buildings are a joy to explore on foot. Due to the number of evening flights into Montreal, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Montreal at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Montreal International Airport (YUL), which is a 30 minute drive from the hotel. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, our centrally-located hotel is a great place to explore the old port area. For food, try the famous Schwartz's Deli, a haven for Montreal's delicious smoked meat bagels.
Montreal is the world's largest inland port and the world's second-largest French-speaking city. This morning we will take a walk around the city to discover its 17th and 18th century streets and buildings, Old Port and Notre-Dame Cathedral. We will take a short walk on Mount Royal for a great view of the city before heading to Jean Talon Market, one of the largest outdoors farmers markets in North America. In the afternoon, we will transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Quebec City, a three hour drive.
Quebec is a very compact city to explore on foot, and we will take a guided walking tour including the cobbled streets of the Old Town, the Ramparts, the Abraham Plains and the Chateau Frontenac. In the afternoon we leave the city behind and drive into the Laurentian Mountains chain to one of the most beautiful parks in the Quebec province; Jacques-Cartier Park. Formed during the last glacial period, Jacques-Cartier Park offers an incredible environment due to its U shaped valley where mountains crash into the river below. The eponymous Jacques-Cartier River flows at the bottom of these 550m knife cut mountains and is a mecca for white water enthusiasts, while the park itself is home to moose, bears, deer and many bird species. Once arriving in the park, we head into the valley and choose an easy hike to offer a breathtaking view of the surrounding cliffs and mountains and the river flowing below.
Today we take the scenic route from Quebec City into the USA and the state of Maine. We travel to the American border via Old Canada Road Scenic Byway. We continue to Millinocket, meaning 'Land of Many Islands'. This region of the state of Maine (most people are surprised to find such amazing wilderness here) contains thousands of ponds and lakes, miles of hiking trails across the famous Appalachian trail and Baxter State Park. Baxter State Park is home to Mount Kathadin, which at 1606m towers over the park. Arriving at the park in afternoon, we settle into our cabins overlooking Millinocket Lake. The afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the calm ambience. Later, we can watch the sunset over Mount Katahdin from the shores of Lake Millinocket.
Today is a full day to explore Baxter State Park. It is a wilderness area with more than 200,000 acres. The park is named in honour of former Maine Gov. Percival P. Baxter, the land's original owner. There are approximately 200 trails that are maintained by the park. Depending on the fitness of the group, the Tour Leader will find the best hike for everyone. There is also the opportunity to join an optional wildlife viewing safari by boat or vehicle (moose season in New England extends from roughly late May to August).
This morning we will drive down the coast to Bar Harbor where we spend the next two nights. This afternoon is left free to enjoy some of the optional walks or trips in the area.
Bar Harbor lies off Maine's northeast coast on Mount Desert Island, a short distance from Acadia National Park, the only national park in the state. We aim to spend the next two days enjoying the blanketed hills and trails of this sumptuous natural haven, where pine and birch forests cover the rolling downs, providing an idyllic setting for beaver and bald eagles, whilst the waters off shore provide rich hunting grounds for seals and cetaceans. Encompassing some 35,000 acres, the park is made up of granite cliffs and cobblestone beaches, lying in the shadow of glacier-carved mountains and covered in dense forests. Our second day affords an opportunity to spend time following some of the many trails that crisscross this wilderness, or perhaps enjoy a range of optional activities in the park, that include fishing, whale watching excursions and boat trips. Or perhaps you might like to hire bicycles and enjoy venturing farther afield, following the 'carriage roads' built in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller in protest of the introduction of cars onto the island.
Transferring onto the mainland we follow the Maine coastline today, passing through a landscape that is peppered with beautiful old harbour towns that testify to the colonial influx of French and British settlers. We will pass through towns that have been built on the influx of some of North America's selfproclaimed aristocracy, where the homes of America's 'old money' occupy locations overlooking some of the best real estate in the country. We will pass by Portland, Maine's largest city and a community that has a rich heritage of trade and ship building. At Old Orchard Beach we pass one of the best beaches in the state, that take us down towards Kennebunkport, famed as the domicile residence of former president George Bush Senior. Our destination today is the town of Ogunquit, which in the language of the indigenous natives translates as beautiful place by the sea. During its heyday the town attracted the rich and famous to these stunning shores, affording it a genteel ambience that is still evident beneath the surface even today. It was also once a vibrant haven for artists and its Museum of American Art is still home to an enviable collection of 19th and 20th century works from some of the country's foremost artists.
We start this morning driving through New Hampshire and onto Massachusetts and the coastal city of Boston, probably one of the east coast's most famous cities, steeped in the history of the county's colonial development and its fight for independence, before heading to Cape Cod. You can choose to pay extra and enjoy the scenery from the ferry if you wish to. A pleasant and welcoming resort town today, the settlement has an historic pedigree to match any of its more renowned mainland rivals. Both the Vikings and the Pilgrims stopped here en route to pastures new and the town's importance as a fishing and whaling port saw its fortunes rise out of all proportion to its small size, making it at one point in the latter years of the 19th century the richest town per capita in the whole state. On arrival many shops and galleries, or just enjoying the afternoon people watching outside one of its numerous cafes. Later this afternoon we will head out to the beach, before continuing on to West Yarmouth for the evening.
A ferry to Martha's Vineyard this morning brings us to one of the most famous, prestigious and popular of all New England's attractions, where we will spend the day exploring this delightful haven. Probably more famous for the curse it seems to hold over the Kennedy clan (Chappaquiddick and the death of John Kennedy Jr are still very much to the fore), the island is in fact a beautiful collection of rolling hills and serene meadows, interspersed with tiny communities of genuine historic importance. Discovered by a British explorer at the turn of the 17th century, this was the traditional home of the Wampanoag Native Americans, before its purchase from the Earl of Stirling (for apparently £40 and a beaver skin hat!) saw an influx of Puritan settlers arriving on the island. Growing rich on the proceeds of whaling, the island still retains a vestige of the elegance and grandeur of those halcyon days amongst its old sea captain's houses, whilst the influence of its farming stock can be found amongst the colourful 'gingerbread' cottages of Oaks Bluff. After our visit we will return to West Yarmouth by ferry later this afternoon.
Today has been left free to continue exploring at your leisure. You may wish to stay around the area and spend time relaxing on the beach, enjoy some tranquil cycling, or perhaps take a whale-watching excursion. One possibility for today, and one that is highly recommended, is a visit to nearby Nantucket, where New England's whaling heritage is probably at its strongest. Once one of the largest cities in Massachusetts, Nantucket still harbours some vestige of its old traditions, with beautifully restored old houses and wharves gracing the cobbled streets of its centre and waterfront. For a century and a half, from the early years of the 1700s, whaling ships from these shores traversed the oceans in search of fame and fortune. At its height the harbour was home to over 100 sea going vessels, until the introduction of larger whalers and a devastating fire in 1846 saw the sad decline of its prosperity. A visit to the Nantucket Whaling Museum will help to better explain this fascinating history, whilst the island is also peppered with beaches and hiking trails, cultural artefacts and historic monuments that will make any visit an enchanting insight into this region's diverse past.
Following a relaxing start to the day we transfer back to Boston, where the rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy this beautiful city at your leisure. Settled by Puritan settlers in the 17th century, the city went on to become a hotbed of revolutionary zeal against the interference of the British Crown. This culminated in the infamous Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party, events that went on to ignite a fermenting powder keg and initiate the start of America's War of Independence. The port's growing fortunes after the war saw it inundated with immigrants from all across the globe and the city today still thrives on the rich influences of the Irish, Italian and Chinese settlers who flocked to these shores over 200 years ago. A great way to absorb some of this rich history is to take a walk along the 'Freedom Trail', which links some of the most significant points in the city's historical development, including the site of the Boston Massacre, the old State House and even the 19th century warship the USS Constitution (Old Ironside), the oldest commissioned warship still afloat anywhere in the world.
The trip ends this morning at our hotel in Boston. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Boston International Airport (airport code: BOS), which is a 20 minute drive away.
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