- Below are two itineraries for a road trip from Montreal to Boston.
- From quaint New England villages to national forests, these are the detours to take along the 5-hour route between the two cities.
- Find out where you should stop on your potential road trip to Boston below!
Boston and Montreal have a lot in common. Their metropolitan areas are similar in size, they both have colonial roots, and they both serve as the hub of economic and cultural activity for their geographic regions. Boston also happens to be the major American city that is closest to Montreal. The residents of the cities engage in a lot of informal exchange as a result. Both are popular road trip destinations for their respective residents, and many students in New England flee to Quebec for its cheap tuitions.
The routes between Boston and Montreal are therefore well-travelled. One path, via U.S. Route 89, takes drivers past the city of Burlington, through the Green Mountains of Vermont, and into southern New Hampshire before hitting Greater Boston.
The other itinerary involves a drive through the Eastern Townships of Quebec and the impressive White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Though not lacking in scenic views of the countryside, the five-hour trek between the two metropolises can become dull for those who use it most.
That's why we've put together this list of fun stops along the way. Below you'll find a list of cities and towns along two routes between Montreal and Boston. At the very bottom of this list is an interactive map that illustrates both journeys.
Consider taking a detour to visit one of these destinations in Quebec and northern New England the next time you find yourself on the road to Boston.
The busiest route from Montreal to Boston includes Quebec autoroutes 10, 35, and 133, and U.S. Route 89. These three stops are only possible along this path.
The largest city in Vermont sits on the shore of Lake Champlain and commands stunning views of the largest lake in New England and the Adirondack mountains of New York.
In the last two decades, the city has earned a reputation as one of the hippest and most progressive places in the United States (Bernie Sanders was once mayor).
Today, visitors can peruse the cute shops lining the pedestrian-only Church Street, bike along the lake, and enjoy a burger while sitting on a dock.
Montpelier & Barre, Vermont
The Vermont town of Montpelier is the least populous American capital city but it's packed with charm. From the 19th century façades of State Street to the perennial skating rink in front of the State House, Montpelier makes for a fun stop on your way to or from Boston along Route 89.
Almost adjacent to the capital is the town of Barre, whose common (the central park in a typical New England town) is post-card perfect in the snow.
Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover is a college town, home to Dartmouth, a member of the Ivy League. As such, it's home to everything you'd expect, including student bars and cafés, and a thriving arts scene. The town buzzes with youthful energy.
The colonial architecture of Dartmouth campus is also pretty darn beautiful.
An alternate route from Montreal to Boston takes drivers along Quebec autoroutes 10 and 55 to U.S. routes 91 and 93. These next five stops are only possible with this itinerary.
Magog is a popular year-round destination in the Eastern Townships. The alternative route to Boston takes you right around the city. Take a stroll down rue Principale, grab some amazing poutine at Cantine Chez Paul, and sit by the incredibly difficult-to-type Lake Mephrémagog.
Stanstead was once a single community that straddled the U.S.-Canada border. That all changed after 9/11 when the U.S. hardened its defences and put up physical barriers that divided the town.
Visitors can still visit the remnants of the binational town, however, like the dual library and opera house that sits right on the border. A line on the floor marks the division between the two countries. Americans are allowed to step a few feet across the border to read an informational tablet next to the building on the Canadian side.
Rue Canusa Street is similarly unusual. Residents on one side of the street live in Canada while their neighbours on the other side reside in the United States. These Americans live within the Canadian customs zone and have to cross the border to access schools and other services. Be sure to take a look at the license plates of parked cars on either side of the street, it's pretty amusing.
Littleton & Franconia, New Hampshire
The New Hampshire towns of Littleton and Franconia sit at the northern edge of the White Mountains National Forest. Littleton is known for its adorable town centre, complete with boutique shops, diners, and a pretty awesome brewery in an old mill. No visit to Littleton is complete without a walk through the covered bridge that crosses the Ammonoosuc River.
Franconia, meanwhile, is a destination for outdoor activities. The Flume Gorge, a series of waterfalls through a small canyon, is perhaps its most famous feature. It's an easy hike with some pretty spectacular views of the surrounding hills, including Liberty Mountain, whose peak is said to resemble the face of George Washington.
The towns are five minutes apart from each other and make for an easy stop.
Laconia, New Hampshire
Laconia is a city on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee, a glacial lake with hundreds of islands and lined with cute New England villages. In the summer months, Laconia is a recreational destination, featuring a famous drive-in theatre, beach, and tiny entertainment district (with arcades and bars) along the lakeshore.
When the cold hits, Laconia is a hub of activity for skiers and winter vacationers. The town centre has a collection of restaurants, bars, and shops.
If you have the time, take a drive through the village of Meredith, just a few miles north on the lakeshore.
Tilton, New Hampshire
Tilton is a shopping centre. It has an expansive outlet mall where Quebecer flock to take advantage of tax-free shopping (New Hampshire has no sales tax). Also nearby are all the chain restaurants and retailers that Canada lacks.
Get all your shopping done on your way to or from Boston.
U.S. Routes 89 and 93 converge in Concord, New Hampshire. The following stops are therefore possible no matter the route from Montreal.
Lawrence is an old industrial city on the Merrimac River. Though it's no longer a manufacturing hub, it retains its 19th-century mill architecture. The city has a busy centre with plenty to see and do.
Lawrence is where the American labour movement got its start, so the city is full of historic sites to check out.
Salem & Marblehead, Massachusetts
These two stops represent the biggest detour on this list. Salem is, of course, a destination in itself. From colonial architecture to an adorable city centre with hundreds of stores and cafés, to its famous witchy history, Salem is a must-see. Visitors must be sure to visit the museums, including the Witch Museum and Peabody-Essex, a large and impressive collection of art and architecture (there's even an early-modern Chinese mansion right in the middle of the museum).
Adjacent to Salem is the town of Marblehead, which has little in the way of places to shop and eat but is famous for its narrow colonial streets, and bright, old homes. It's a lesser-known stop with plenty of Instagram fodder.
Cambridge is part of the Boston metropolitan area (it borders the city) and is often lumped in with the Massachusetts capital in the popular imagination.
Begin with a walk past the colonial mansions of Brattle Street before hitting Harvard Square and campus. From there, walk all the way down Massachusetts Avenue through the bustling Central Square (with some of the best restaurants in Greater Boston) and MIT campus. You'll end up at the Mass Ave. bridge and Memorial Drive, which commands mesmerizing views of the Boston skyline across the Charles River.
That completes my list of recommended stops on the way to Boston from Montreal. This list also works in reverse for you Americans travelling to the Quebec metropolis.
Here's a map to help you find your way!