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35 Fun New England Travel Ideas in November 2015 for the Budget-Minded

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Plymouth MA November Thanksgiving Parade
The Plymouth, Mass., Thanksgiving parade. Photo source: America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration Facebook fan page at

November in New England offers some wonderful travel opportunities, including holiday parades, festivals, fairs, cozy restaurants, uncrowded beaches for walking, affordable off-season waterfront lodging and even a famous lighthouse all dressed up in Christmas lights…

1. Get in the Thanksgiving spirit where it all began at the Plymouth Thanksgiving Parade on Sat., Nov. 21. The opening ceremonies begin at the DCR Pilgrim Memorial Park at 10:30 a.m., and the parade step offs at Benny’s Plaza on Court Street at 11 a.m. This is America’s only historically accurate chronological parade, according to the America’s Hometown Thanksgiving web site, and features “beautifully decorated floats, nationally recognized Drum and Bugle Corps, re-enactment units from every period of American history and military marching units.”

2. Buy an organic, pastured or free range turkey at a local New England farm for a healthier Thanksgiving meal.

3. Take in Simsbury Celebrates, a free community holiday celebration in Simsbury, Conn., on Sat. Nov. 28 from 4:30-8:30 p.m. There will be a variety of events — a gingerbread house display, street performers, visits with Santa, cookie and craft making with Mrs. Claus, trolley rides — and culminating with a spectacular fireworks show on Iron Horse Blvd.

4. When the November weather gets inclement, November is a great time to visit a Boston area museum with low cost or free admission!

5. Do some early Christmas shopping at Chic 2 Chic Charity in Stoughton, Mass., where clothing is priced at 50%-90% off the original retail price.

6. Visit Chutters in Littleton, N.H., a mom and pop store that features the longest candy counter in the world coming in at nearly 112 ft. long.

7. Enjoy book and toy shopping at Park Street Books in Medfield. It’s the largest kids bookstore in New England with some wonderfully affordable books and a welcoming, friendly, helpful atmosphere.

8. Take in Boston’s first tree lighting ceremony of the 2015 season at the Tree Lighting Spectacular held at Faneuil Hall, Sat., Nov. 28 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. More great events are happening here throughout the day, too!

Scuseet Beach in November
On a November day, Scusset beach on Cape Cod can virtually be all yours! (photo by Eric)

9. On a good November weather day, visit Scusset Beach in Sandwich, Mass (Cape Cod) for a scenic, refreshing walk along the beach. The crowds are gone, thus making it seem like you have the beach all to yourself.

10. Visit Burlington, Vt. — one of New England’s most beautiful cities — for the Santa Parade and Holiday Tree Lighting all day at the Church Street Marketplace. The event includes Black Friday starting at 6 a.m., the Santa Claus Parade at noon, miniature horse rides and live reindeer from 11 a.m.-3p.m., and the annual holiday lighting ceremony and show at 5:30 p.m.

11. Newport, R.I., is known for its mansions, scenic coastal views and vibrant downtown. Be sure to include, too, on Nov. 7, the annual Harvest Fair at St. Joseph’s Church from 9:30-am-3pm. This wonderful fundraiser features fun, food, and prizes for the whole family including “a major raffle with cash prizes, a quilt raffle, silent auction, white elephant sale, theme baskets table, handcrafted items, Christmas table, boutique table, a 50/50 raffle, and children’s activities,” according to the St. Joseph’s web site. There will also be a “food court for lunch and a table filled with yummy baked goods.”

Picture of Vermont Country Store, Weston, Vt.
Vermont Country Store, Weston, Vt. (photo by Eric)

12. Browse a country store in New England. These traditional, historic stores seem to sell everything under the sun. For some reason, November is a great time to shop a country store — perhaps because they seem like such warm, welcoming, trip-back-in-time retreats from the colder weather — and that Christmas is just around the corner!

13. Get cozy at the Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, Conn. This quaint, restored 1840s farmhouse is great for homemade soups, a great cup of coffee, breakfast items, and many made-from-scratch lunched and dinners.

14. Weather permitting, the Cape Cod Canal Bike Trail in Sandwich, Mass., offers less crowded biking, walking, and roller blading opportunities set to some great water views.

Nubble Lighthouse during the holidays
Nubble Lighthouse in York, all dressed up for the holidays! Photo Credit: Maine Office of Tourism

15. See a lighthouse all dressed up in Christmas lights at the Lighting of the Nubble on Nov. 28, 2015, 5 p.m., at Nubble Lighthouse in Cape Neddick. This is simply a beautiful sight at one of America’s most photographed lighthouses!

16. Revel in the Christmas spirit at the annual National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette Festival of Lights with more than 300,000 lights on display, Nov. 26, 2015 – Jan. 3, 2016, 5-9 p.m. daily, at the La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, Mass.

17. Attend the Connecticut Veterans Parade, Sunday, Nov. 8, stepping off at 12:30 p.m. at the intersection of Buckingham and Washington Sts., near the State Capitol in Hartford, Conn. This is the largest veterans parade in New England and one of the biggest salutes to veterans in the nation, according to the Connecticut Veterans Parade web site.

18. Warm up with some great homemade soup at the New England Soup Factory in Newton, Mass.

19. Go antique shopping in Putnam, Conn., with collectively more than 50,000 square ft. of antiques amongst several shops. You can find some great deals here! Plus, the town center is quaint, charming and friendly and with many excellent dining choices.

20. Take a nice New England scenic drive before the weather goes downhill. Typically, November still has many good weather days, albeit a bit chillier.

21. Discover the Maine State Prison Showroom in Thomaston featuring 600-plus wood products — many at great prices — made by Maine prison inmates. According to the State of Maine Department of Corrections web site, “This highly regulated program enables participating prisoners to earn money which goes toward reimbursing the state for their room and board expenses, as well as paying victim restitution and child support.”

22. Explore historic New England at a time of the year with fewer crowds.

23. Enjoy New England ice cream stands that remain open in November — and year-round, for that matter.

24. Warm up at these three outstanding, cozy Irish pubs in Walpole, Mass.

25. Let someone else do the Thanksgiving turkey cooking. Hart’s Turkey Farm in Meredith, N.H., has been in business since 1954, and on a busy day, serves one ton of turkey, 40 gallons of gravy, 1,000 lbs. of potatoes, 4,000 dinner rolls and more than 100 pies, according to its web site.

26. Unlike white clothing, lobster rolls do not go away after Labor Day Weekend. We like Wood’s in Plymouth, Mass., and Kelly’s at Revere Beach, Mass., for lobster rolls served year-round!

27. Shop at Wilson’s in Greenfield, Mass., one of the last family-run department stores in the United States.

28. Enjoy an “All the Way” signature wiener with ground beef, yellow mustard, onions, celery salt, special spices and soybean oil on a steamed bun for just a few bucks at Olneyville New York System Wieners in Providence, R.I.This place is so good that the James Beard Foundation, a famous proponent of American food cuisine, awarded Olneyville New York System for the 2014 America’s Classics Award. Plus, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has eaten here!

29. Take in the annual Holly Berry Fair to be held on Sat., Nov. 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the United Congregational Church in Walpole, Mass. The Church web site states, “The church is decorated in Christmas galore with holly, ribbons, pine sprigs and colorful signs leading to the many assorted theme rooms. There is shopping for baked goodies, Christmas items and lots of handcrafted items. There are various children’s activities, and maybe even a visit from Santa! Take a break to enjoy a great hot lunch to fuel up for the main event: our three-room, immense SILENT AUCTION. The Silent Auction is a Holly Berry Fair favorite, with hundreds of items up for bidding!”

30. It’s affordable to begin with but the off season rates at the Katahdin Inn in York Beach, Maine, make this an even more budget friendly choice for lodging by the sea. Overlooking Short Sands Beach, the beach and downtown seem virtually empty, thus making the experience seem like you have the whole place to yourself!

31. Good to know that Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vt., features Wagon Ride Weekends every Saturday and Sunday in November from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The wagon is pulled by a team of draft horses for a brisk ride around the farm, according to the Billings Farm web site.

Parker's Maple Barn, Mason NH
Parker’s Maple Barn, Mason, N.H. (photo by Eric)

32. Experience maple based foods, including baby back ribs and pancakes, at the rustic Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason, N.H. The Parker’s Special is phenomenal: two eggs, two pancakes (or one french toast), two bacon strip, two sausages and ham or ham hash in place of all meats, home fries and toast.

33. Explore the Montague Bookmill, a hard-to-find independent book store located in an 1842 rustic gristmill complex setting in Montague, Mass. The book selection is expansive and, at times, quirky and the atmosphere will have you believing in the magic of independent bookstores, forever!

34. The Northeast Kingdom Craft Fair takes place on Sat., Nov. 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Lyndon State College Rita Bole Gym, in Lyndonville, Vt. Vendors will be selling pottery, wood and metal works, specialty foods, quilts, home décor, knitted items, maple products, jewelry, VT wreaths, photos, basket weaving, and more. There will also be an authors’ table where you can purchase books by local authors, then relax with a treat in the Rotunda Café, according to the Northeast Kingdom Craft Fair web site.

35. Visit the Bavarian Christmas Village at Yankee Candle in South Deerfield, Mass. This colorful, charming year-round German style Christmas village features Mr. and Mrs. Claus, snow falling from the ceiling, The Black Forest with its impressive Christmas ornament and collectibles displays, and the Nutcracker Castle with Santa’s Workshop and Yankee Candle Toys.

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