Exploring New York, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in 22 days
This past October we took another large road trip across America - this time to primarily explore the northeastern states - the ones listed above as well as Connecticut and Rhode Island very briefly. This 22-day trip was packed with SO many great memories that it will be a challenge to consolidate it here for you, but I’ll try my best!
The journey was broken up into five distinct parts - each taking us to a completely different region where we would stay there for 3 to 4 days before moving to the next. In light of that, I have (somehow) narrowed down to my favorite FIVE images for each of the five parts. Please don’t underestimate the difficulty of that task, given I have about 3,300 final images. But, somehow I did it - just 25 total photos for this trip!
*I do have a rather extensive list of future blogs that will go into more depth into many aspects with many more photos, don’t worry!
TLDR: More of a quick summary via video? Here is a short playlist featuring the entire trip across a series of shorts.
With all that being said, this blog serves as a cohesive outline / summary of the entire trip. Thankfully, my obsessive compulsive nature to photograph and document everything makes remembering all the details no problem! The challenge is to NOT ramble your ears off, so I’ll try to be brief (no promises).
Part One - Upstate New York & Canada
September 28th to October 1st - 1141 miles
We started the trip off VERY strong, being in a region that I was MOST excited about for the entire trip. Thanks to Tiktok, I slowly had been bookmarking stunning places to go, and I was very surprised to find how many of them were in Upstate New York! They have an incredible collection of parks featuring stunning rock formations, gorges, and waterfalls. Of course, at the northern tip lies Niagara Falls. However, I would not underestimate the beauty of Buttermilk Falls State Park, Taughannock Falls State Park, Watkins Glen State Park, and Letchworth Falls State Park.
We spent day 1 just getting to our hotel about 30 minutes south of Rochester. Day 2 was ALL about Niagara Falls. We explored many different views and agreed fully that the Canada side is the BEST viewing area. Bring your passport and enjoy stunning walkways along the cliff edges and getting right up to the edge. Better yet, make your way up to the top of the Skylon Tower for one of the best views above the entire falls. This tower features a 360 degree rotating restaurant at the top, as well as the option to walk outside from all angles.
Day 2 and 3 were devoted to those four state parks I mentioned. I worked out aerial permits for 3 of them, allowing me to get some stunning views. All of them were unique and amazing in their own ways, but I will just say that without question Watkins Glen is the crème de la crème.
It is genuinely a magical place that is beyond words. The entire trail is built to perfection, stunning stone steps and paths that weave along the gorge, sometimes under waterfalls, sometimes with stunning bridges, and sometimes with cave tunnels! There were endless amazing spots to enjoy.
In different gaps, we enjoyed making our way up to Rochester, which is a fun city that has a waterfall right in town! There were some great restaurants, by far our favorite being BBQ at Dinosaur Barbeque.
There, that was concise, right? Here are my five favorite shots!
Watkins Glen State Park
Buttermilk Falls State Park
Taughannock Falls State Park
Letchworth State Park Upper Falls
Part Two - Vermont
October 2nd to 5th - 829 miles
Our journey led us about 6.5 hours east over to the region of Burlington, Vermont. The border from New York to Vermont was a bridge that we passed through near sunset, with a nearby lighthouse monument (Chimney Point) that made for some stunning views.
This region was heavily about enjoying the fall colors and seeing some smaller, yet still stunning, waterfalls. In Vermont, the highlights were four in total: Bingham Falls (very serene and peaceful), Moss Glen Falls (fun hiking through the river for a large waterfall), Sterling Gorge Falls (far away and small - not recommended), and Texas Falls (roadside and very stunning).
This was all around the area of Stowe, where we enjoyed some shopping, apple cider donuts, and seeing in person the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory (where I had my photo taken with a complete stranger in exchange for taking a photo of him with his wife - because - why not?!? Yes the wife was rolling her eyes at our randomness…)! Across the board, our drives had us winding through stunning valleys with endless colorful mountains.
During this part, I also found myself wandering a bit backwards to New York (going completely around Lake Champlain). This side had a few more highlights: Split Rock Falls (VERY much a magical roadside secret that was a must; I only saw 1 other person, a local who for 20 years didn’t even know this was here!), High Falls Gorge (a private park with nice boardwalks along the gorge), and Ausable Chasm (I was there only for the view from the highway of their gorge with 3 waterfalls - no need to pay or go in). This journey also had endless stunning fall views so driving around all day was very fun.
We of course enjoyed all sorts of foods, but I will again just highlight the favorite - Taste of India, a great little Indian restaurant right against the river in Middlebury. With that, here again are my favorite 5 shots:
Reflective Pond with foliage
Split Rock Falls
Town of Stowe
Part Three - New Hampshire & Maine
October 6th to 9th - 614 miles
Again we journeyed further east, with our first day being the day we entered AND exited New Hampshire. We wound our way through the stunning White Mountain National Forest, stopping at Beaver Pond (a magical place surrounded by colorful hills), Sabbaday Falls (very stunning waterfall in the gorge; fun moment of me watching a park ranger attempt to get a shoe that fell in the gorge 30 feet down using rope and a bucket) and Silver Cascade (a bit difficult to photograph but fun to see; roadside).
As we find ourselves getting all the way to the east coast, a stunning beach town called Old Orchard Beach, I find myself salivating at prospects of fresh lobster rolls - a MUST for being in Maine.
Maine, my goodness, where do I begin? I love you so much. The stunning rocky coastlines of Maine are absolutely breathtaking, further elevated with lighthouses and fall colors. I found my breath taken away time after time. I managed to see 5 lighthouses during my stay: Nubble Lighthouse (a perfect iconic lighthouse in every way, magical), Whaleback Light (a tiny guy sitting on rubble and water; only viewed up close by drone or boat), Portland Light Head (entirely amazing with food trucks for gelato and lobster rolls as well as views from all angles of stunning rocky coasts by the lighthouse), On the Rocks at Two Lights (two in one actually but both more inland - with a stunning patch of rocky coast nearby), and Doubling Point Lighthouse (the cutest and smallest one I have ever seen, with a progressively more narrow and dirt-based road to get there). Another favorite coastal spot that was perfect without a lighthouse was Giant’s Stairs, which I got there at low tide and was very fun climbing around the rocks and getting insane drone shots of this region that is a bunch of small rocky islands and peninsulas.
I also greatly enjoyed the Old Orchard Beach and pier at sunrise and sunset, so colorful! We got to explore fun shops here and try a LOT of amazing seafood. Seriously, so much goodness. I will say my favorite was the lobster roll at Bite of Maine (right AT the Portland lighthouse), but here are my other runner ups (including lobster-loaded chowder in Portland, my first raw oyster & scallop, and an iconic lobster grilled cheese featured in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives as #1 in Maine).
Old Orchard Beach
Doubling Point Lighthouse
Part Four - New York and Pennsylvania
October 10th to 13th - 790 miles
It’s going to be hard to beat Maine, but here we go! Another long travel day took us to the region of New Paltz, New York. This area definitely had some amazing spots, but also served to bring us closer to NYC (our last part) and a chance to slow down and relax. This drive also included us passing briefly through Rhode Island and Connecticut, if ONLY to say we’ve been there.
A major highlight was visiting my wife’s nephew, who is attending school at the Culinary Institute of America. We had an amazing brunch at their local restaurant, as well as a campus tour. We even sat in on a presentation about truffles. Thanks again to Logan, master mushroom forager, for the tour! Nearby was also the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which earned some photos during sunrise one morning.
Other than that, this trip had two days of exploring in two different directions.
The first took me north on an amazing foggy morning (which led to MANY stops to my destination). It was insanely foggy and made for great shots of the roads, some barns, and the Van Winkle Bridge that goes over the Hudson. Eventually I got to my goals - Bash Bish Falls State Park (interestingly on the border of New York and Massachusetts with a very nice classic waterfall) and Kaaterskill Falls (one of the most amazing parks with three huge tiers to explore and climb around, a MUST).
The other day of travel led me south into Pennsylvania, with destinations of Hawk’s Nest (an iconic windy road on the hills along the Delaware river; I got to be there when it was both foggy and sunny), Raymondskill Falls (a bit too foggy when I was there and not the best viewing spots), and the “Niagara of Pennsylvania” Bushkill Falls (not hardly Niagara, but for a private park it had magical boardwalks and fantastic views of the main fall and other spots).
Now, for my foodie review - Other than 100% mandating you to eat at the Culinary Institute of America’s Apple Pie Bakery Cafe, the winner of the trip was again thanks to Tiktok making me drool over these authentically delicious Italian sandwiches from Rossi Rosticceria Deli. Seriously. Insane. The bread alone is magic!
Fall Orchard Vibes
Part Five - NYC and New Jersey
October 14th to 19th - 827 miles
Our final destination was only a couple of hours away - New York City! This was the only part that we added another full day to so we could explore it properly. SO much to see and eat! We were joined in this region by my brother and dad who took a train.
We crammed a LOT in our short time here, which led to very sore legs from so much walking. SO much walking, seriously. Some favorite spots we enjoyed include the Liberty State Park (on the New Jersey side with a view of NYC’s skyline and right by Ellis Island, as well as with a 9/11 Memorial), the World Trade Center station (one of the newest, with amazing clean all-white architecture and a full mall all underground), Ground Zero and the Wall Street Bull (both outside of the WTC station), taking the Staten Ferry (free and amazing views of the city and Statue of Liberty during sunset), Central Park (primarily in the southern sections with places like Belvedere Castle, The Ramble, The Mall, Bethesda Terrace, and the Balto statue), SUMMIT One Vanderbilt (an absolutely breathtaking observation experience with a mirror design inside, insane!), Grand Central Station (iconic old-style station), the Brooklyn Bridge (as well as Manhattan Bridge), Flatiron Building (iconic narrow wedge but unfortunately under construction), Greenwich Village (old style neighborhood with stunning brick homes and shops), and the subways overall (very fun and wish we had this in our area).
PHEW! That was a lot, I know. I didn’t even GET to the food. Because. Yeah. That was 80% of the reason I wanted to go to NYC. I will 100% have a blog JUST about this but let me…attempt…to pick my favorite five for now. (1) Tony Boloney’s (for an amazing Detroit-style slice of pizza and an even more amazing full bone-in rib sandwich), (2) Chengdu 1 (for great Asian cuisine and delicious dim sum), (3) Baekjeong NYC (for proper authentic Korean BBQ), (4) Taiwan Yummy (at a weekend Bazaar booth with some of the best fried squid and I even tried fried pork blood!), and (5) L'Industrie Pizzeria (perfect NYC pizza, thin, fresh, and with burrata on top for perfection).
With our memories and stomachs filled, we finally ended our trip driving back across two days - enjoying a magical Holiday Inn that has a pool, hot tub, mini golf, a small pond with waterfalls, and amenities like free popcorn, cookies, and ice cream in the evening! I upgraded to their nicest room, which was huge and had a giant extra room just for a two-person jacuzzi. A perfect end to a long trip.
Here are the last five favorites from our time in NYC:
Skyline from the Staten Island Ferry
Summit One City
Summit One Mirrors
World Trade Center Station
22 Days - 4201 miles
So, there it is! Another great trip for the record books, and as usual lots of images and videos to edit as a consequence. I am STILL sorting through them for my stock platforms, but I am glad I am far enough along that I can finally publish this blog to share my favorite stories and photos.
Stay tuned across the coming months as I do some more detailed blogs, such as Watkins Glen (which deserves its own full blog), Seafoods of Maine, and Best Parks in Upstate New York - all of which will feature dozens of new images that I couldn’t have possibly crammed in here.
If you haven't read about my other road trip of the year - exploring Western America - you're missing out!
About the Author
Founder and visual artist, specializing in all aspects of a businesses presence from imagery and video to graphics and web. A graduate of IPFW with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, Concentration Photography as well as an Associates Degree in Business. His personal photography works are focused on landscape, travel, and aerial photography.