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Scenic Foliage Drives

A Recommended Drive: Massachusetts

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If you could survey the generations of Cape Cod visitors and draw a composite picture from their most lasting impressions, the result would almost certainly be a sketch of Route 6A, Old King's Highway (named after the cart path that early settlers used to travel to and from Plymouth Colony).

This section of the Cape is iconic and timeless, a single 40-mile canvas of demure white clapboards and weathered cedar shingles. You can probably see it in your mind's eye: the saltbox homes and sharp-steepled churches, the beaches lapped by placid surf, the vintage motel cottages, the ice-cream and fried seafood stands now run by the adult children of the original owners.

A good place to begin is the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich. The unsurpassed collections of Americana housed here on 100 landscaped acres appropriately set the tone for the journey ahead. Continuing east, you pass so many signs for antiques and art galleries that you may suspect every resident sells things out of his or her garage. Around the halfway point, in Yarmouth Port, stop at the Edward Gorey House to browse the original artwork and personal effects of its famous and prolific namesake, whose darkly humorous illustrations are an antidote to everything sentimental.

Cape Cod Bay is largely invisible from the road except in glimpses across the occasional salt marsh, but if you take nearly any left-hand turn, you'll find a beach. The best beaches are in the town of Dennis. For excellent panoramic views of the bay's ever-changing light, visit Dennis's Scargo Hill Observatory, a small stone observation platform built in 1902 on the area's highest point of land (106 feet).

The penultimate town, Brewster, tempts weary travelers with numerous attractive bed-and-breakfasts, many of which were 19th-century sea captains' homes. Before you know it, the arching boughs over the winding blacktop yield to bustling Orleans, where Old King's Highway ends.

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Heritage Museums and Gardens

An extensive collection of Americana, amassed by founders Mr. and Mrs. Josiah K. Lilly III, is paired with magnificent gardens. Inside the art museum you'll find primitive paintings, Nantucket baskets, scrimshaw, and an enchanting working carousel. A reproduction Shaker round barn is home to Lilly's antique car collection. [DETAILS]

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Reader Comments

Comment from Marina Oliva on August 20, 2008

You must add the drive from Orleans to Chatham via Rt. 28. It is as pretty as any part of Rt. 6A.

Comment from Marina Oliva on August 20, 2008

You must add the drive from Orleans to Chatham via Rt. 28. It is as pretty as any part of Rt. 6A.

Comment from suzanne corcoran on October 20, 2010

Oh please please please keep going up Route 6A! Route 6a in Brewster is just as quaint as can be. Starting with The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, the Brewster General Store and accompanying ice cream store, The Brewster Scoop, wacky Rear View Mirroe for cutting edge fashion with a sense of humor, The Strawberry Patch with it\'s aborvite maze and train set outside for kiddos, Brewster Fish House voted by Boston Magazine as Cape Cod\'s Best Restaurant 2010, the Brewster Bookstore which has a fantastic special kiddie section, Ocean Edge Resort with a Nicklaus Design Golf Course, 6 pools, tennis and kids programs. And access to the Cape Cod Bike and Rail Trail at many points so there is EASY on and off the bike trail. you can even bike to the Cape Cod Baseball LEague\'s Whitecaps games.

Comment from Brenda Sid on January 15, 2012

I am currently back in Florida until the summer and I can honestly say that the foliage and scenery up there in Massachusetts and all of New England is far superior than down here in Hernando County, or any where else here!

Comment from Debbie Comis on March 14, 2013

We will be in Boston for a family wedding in late September 2013 and have a week to take a drive to see fall colours - can anyone recommend a route that would bring us back to Boston over the course of 7 days?

Comment from Gail Thompson on August 27, 2013

Hope I'm not too late to recommend a drive for Debbie.. Take rte 2 west out of Boston to Concord. Follow signs to downtown concord. Just a drive thru downtown is fun where at the end of street is Lousia May Alcotts home, tavern where Paul Revere haunted and just a short side street away is the homes of Hawthorne. If you have a couple of minutes the ride up Sleepy Hollow cemetery to authors hill is fun. Then take 2a to .Littleton, hop on 495 north, to 3 north Nd take the ride thru White Mtns (about 2 hr ride)'. Continue to 91S(about 1/2 hr) and follow thru some of the most gorgeous scenery even if fall color not peak. This will bring you back to Rte 2east (about 3 hrs). Stay on Rte 2 east(about hr to 90 min and you'll be back at Concord rotary. Take a right and visit West concord. The train station has good food, the best fresh roasted turkey club around!, or stop at Concord tea cakes for a sweet treat or grab sandwich/salad /soup and sit I park outside train stn. Continue thru town and hop back onto 2 east for a quick jaunt back into Boston. You'll enjoy and want to come back again.

Comment from Beatrice Cadena on April 13, 2014

Regarding Gail's recommended drive, Is the road windy?, 2 lanes? , what is the traffic like during the week driving from Boston? What time do you reccomend starting our trip? Is this Concord, Lexington area? . We are not familiar with the area and would like to plan accordingly, Unfortunatley have a couple of travelers who at times get car sick. Thank you for any suggestions or information you can provide.

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