Great road trip idea: Visiting New England Lighthouses

Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Looking for a fun summer weekend activity that combines history and scenic splendor? Plan a road trip to visit a few of New England’s many lighthouses – there are almost 200 up and down the coastal states, and even Vermont gets in on the act with lighthouses on the shores of Lake Champlain. This would be a good weekend to make that trip since Sunday is National Lighthouse Day.

Here’s a resource to help you plan your trip: New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Tour is a site compiled by tour guide, lecturer, historian, photographer and author Jeremy D’Entremont, who is an expert on New England’s lighthouses and other maritime subjects. The site offers a breakdown of lighthouses by state. Each lighthouse has a dedicated page with maps, photos, key facts, history, public accessibility info and more. If you’d like to visit the lighthouses by sea rather than by land, the site offers a list of Lighthouse Cruises in New England.

You can also head for the Maine Lighthouse Museum on the waterfront overlooking the scenic harbor of Rockland, Maine. It houses the nation’s largest collection of lighthouse artifacts and mementos, as well as exhibits on exhibits paying tribute to the United States Coast Guard and United States Life-Saving Services. Maine is often called the “Lighthouse State,” but it is not the state with the most lighthouses – Michigan is!

If historical landmarks are your thing, Boston Harbor is also a good destination. It boasts the Boston Lighthouse on Little Brewster Island, Boston Harbor, MA. You can take a tour and actually climb the 76 open spiral stairs and two ladders with hatches to get to the top.

According to Lighthouse Digest:

“This is the oldest light station, but not the oldest tower. The original tower, built in 1716, was destroyed during the Revolutionary War. The tower that stands there today was built in 1783.”

It’s also the only lighthouse that isn’t automated:

“All lighthouses in the United States are automated with the exception of Boston Lighthouse. Because Boston Light is the oldest station in the United States, Congress has declared that Boston Light always be a staffed station where the keepers must still turn the light on at night and turn it off at daybreak. Boston Light is the only official lighthouse with a keeper. However, there are many other light stations around the United States that have people living at them, however they are not keepers, and the lighthouses at these locations are automated and do not require a keeper to turn them on and off.”

Here are some other resources for planning your trip.

New England summer toolkit – road trips & local treasures

Why not stay local this summer and enjoy all the treasures that New England has to offer? We’ve compiled some tips & tools to get you on your way.

First and foremost, before you hit the road, check Gas Buddy and to get the best gas prices. And make sure that your car is in tip-top shape: Consumer Reports offers a great guide to summer road travel with tips for family travel, maintenance and vehicle prep, fuel economy, travel gear, safety & more.

Here are some ideas of where to go:

Find New England Beaches, Whale Watching tours and some great cycling routes – all these, and many more ideas at Discover New England.

Yankee Magazine is a local favorite with great information and ideas for local travel and events. Eat healthy, eat local by finding the best New England Farmers’ markets – pair your veggies with some seafood – here are the 5 best tips for cooking lobster at home. On the road, check out some “only in New England” landmarks – or just explore the Best of New England with the 2013 Editor’s Choice Awards.

If you want to leave the car behind and go by foot, check out Hike New England to explore more than 200 trail reports for detailed guides that include a description of the hike, trail distances, a difficulty rating, and driving directions; often photos or trail maps are also provided. offers 25 things to do under $25 and many other ideas in Explore New England.

If your travels include your pet, check out pet friendly New England lodgings. The Boston Globe recently highlighted a pick of pet friendly choices in New England. Get more pet-friendly trip help from

Have safe and fun wanderings – and don’t forget to load your insurance agent’s telephone number in your mobile phone, just in case!

Holiday road trip tips: stay safe on the highway this Memorial Day

Are you one of the 32.4 million Americans who will be traveling at least 50 miles from home this holiday weekend? If so, you may find some travel bargains – at least in comparison to last year. According to AAA, the average gas price is not expected to top $2.50 over the summer – a big drop from last year’s price, which averaged about $3.80 on Memorial Day. AAA also reports that hotel rates are running about 7% to 12% less than last year.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reminds you to buckle up and drive defensively. NSC estimates there will be 366 traffic fatalities and an additional 19,400 nonfatal disabling injuries. And remember, from May 18 to May 31, the Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign will be in full force – law enforcement agencies join forces day and night, from coast-to-coast, for an enforcement blitz. The primary audience continues to be men ages 18 to 34, which research shows are less likely to wear seat belts.
Here are some holiday driving safety tips:

  • Plan your trip before you go. Check the clickable map for national traffic and road closure information from the federal Highway Administration. Also, check to see if you can dial 511 to access traveler information in the state of your destination.
  • Prepare your car. Ideally, you should have your car checked before long road trips. At minimum, check your gas, oil, windshield wiper fluid and tire pressure. Clean headlights and mirrors. Be sure you have a spare tire and the essentials in a roadside emergency kit.
  • Be well rested. Driving can be hypnotic – if you are yawning or having trouble keeping focused, pull over and take a short nap. Even if you aren’t sleepy, take a break every few hours to stretch your legs and keep alert.
  • Allow extra time to reach your destination. Leave early and plan to avoid peak traffic hours, if possible.
  • Wear your seat belt and ensure that all passengers wear theirs.
  • Obey speed limits. Speeding is unsafe at the best of times and even more dangerous in heavy holiday traffic. And remember – it’s also illegal. Police will be out in force over the long holiday weekend.
  • Minimize distractions. Turn off the cell phone and bring games for the kids. Read your maps before you go, or pull over if you need to consult one.
  • Don’t tailgate. Keep a good distance from the car ahead of you to allow maximum reaction time. A good rule of thumb is one car length for every 10 miles of speed for cars. Double that for trucks.
  • Use caution around trucks and large vehicles and give them a much wider berth. Don’t pull out in front of them or brake suddenly because trucks require more stopping time. Only change lanes when you can see both of the truck’s headlights in your rear view mirror. Be aware that truck divers can have many blind spots – pass on the left not on the right.
  • Don’t drink and drive. This should go without saying! Also be careful about overindulging in food – that can make you sleepy.
  • Plan for emergencies. Bring phone numbers for your insurance agent and your insurer. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Bring a spare car key. The University of Oklahoma Police Department has a great emergency checklist that you can print out to ensure that you have all the info you would need should you run into an emergency or have a lost or stolen wallet.