3 Summer EV Road Trips, Southern New England Style

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What elements do you need to design exceptional EV road trips?

First, the roads on the chosen routes must be fun to drive. Slow roads build regen and settles the senses. Elevation changes and tight curves are a plus.

Second, beyond driving intrigue, the roads must open up to scenic vistas — deep views over valleys, speckled sunlight piercing through long rows of trees, eye-catching architecture.

Third, there must be reliable access to charging. Without it, EV road trips intended to be relaxing and renewing could be fraught with concern.

Finally, a combination of cultural attractions is a must. This means:

  • intriguing accommodations — quaint inns, opulent resorts, convenient hotels;
  • delicious food — cute cafes, reliable casual dining, clever bistros; and,
  • places of interest like museums, festivals, botanical gardens, artisans, and the like.

What kinds of summer EV road trips in southern New England fit these criteria?

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Newport & Rhode Island Coastline

Newport, Rhode Island is a blend of historic mansions and quirky new age shops, scenic coastal drives and crawling traffic. There’s something for everyone, and the visual barrage will help you escape everyday doldrums, for sure.

Start off with exercise. Drive to First Beach and park — the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk is beside you, with its panoramic ocean views, crashing waves, sea breezes, and peeks onto the grounds of the Gilded Age mansions. Then the Newport Mansions should be the next stop, as these “summer cottages” of the 19 century rich and famous are absolutely opulent, designed by the top architects of the time — visit The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House, at least. (Get the audio tour to immerse yourself fully.) If you’re early risers, head over to Fort Adams State Park, and you might be lucky enough to grab one of their 2 chargers. If you’re a competent sailor, you can take out a J22 out of Fort Adams at Sail Newport for a reasonable fee. Or take the ferry across Newport Harbor to the marina and shopping area. An easier bet might be to park at the Newport Gateway Center and walk up and down Thames Street while your car charges (we’ve seen people unload bikes and meander around the area while charging). A really fun and renowned eatery is the Brick Alley Pub, just around the corner. Once you’re all recharged, take a ride around 10 Mile Drive — the expansive ocean vistas will infuse you with feelings of serenity.

For additional relaxation, vineyards set on acres of conserved land along with spirited new breweries and distilleries are an integral part of this coastal landscape — choose your experience: indoor winery/brewery, covered vineyard porch or terrace (rain or shine), or tank patio. Few seem, however, to have embraced the idea of hosting an EV charger — yet.

Cape Cod Bay Shoreline

Cape Cod’s Route 6A, also known as Old King’s Highway, comprises the largest contiguous historic district in the US and traverses about 62 spectacularly scenic miles from end to end. Once you’re over the Sagamore Bridge, you won’t have to worry about range — these are slow roads, excellent for ambling. Most of the chargers are located in Sandwich at the start of the route or in the final Lower Cape section; the heavier traveled central Cape is only around a dozen miles away and is filled with charging options.

Some favorite stops from west to east along Route 6 are the Sandwich Glass Museum (history), Sandy Neck Beach Park (sun and sand), the Cape Playhouse (theater), Cape Cod Museum of Natural History (walking trails along the bogs), Nickerson State Park (recommended starting point for the biking Rail Trail), Sydenstricker Glass (artisans), Hog Island Beer Co. (entertainment while imbibing), Cape Cod National Seashore (ranger-guided tours — love the seal talk!), Fort Hill Trail (1 mile loop, 4 terrestrial ecosystems, great birding), Highland Lighthouse (ocean vistas), Dune Tours (history, culture, ecology), Whale Watch (breathtaking nature connections off Stellwagen Bank), and the Provincetown Art Association & Museum (where so many famous artists have summered).

There are hundreds of accommodations along here from basic motels and historic BnBs to exclusive resorts, but those with chargers include the Isaiah Jones Homestead Bed & Breakfast, Captain Freeman Inn, Ocean Edge Resort, Four Points by Sheraton Eastham, and the Sea Glass Inn.

Choices of restaurants along this 6A tour are extensive, but few provide chargers right now.

Old Colonial Massachusetts

If you’ve not toured this part of the country, it is a page from an historical novel. In mid-Massachusetts, stop at Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum recreated in the 1830s with 200+ acres and 40 buildings. Chat with costumed historians as they work the tasks of the past. There’s only one EV charger at the head of the Village, but others are dotted around the picturesque town filled with quaint shops, restaurants, and a microbrewery.

Then head west on the Massachusetts Turnpike/ I-90. Yes, the Pike will eat up your miles, but, depending on where you access it, you can always get a splash in Springfield with its 393 chargers, of which 31 are free. If you’d like to make an optional stop here, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is a visual treat, and there’s an AmpUp station around the block.

Get back on I-90W and drive ’til Exit 3 for Stockbridge. On the first day, in the afternoon, you can tour the Normal Rockwell Museum, home to 10 galleries of the iconic American illustrator’s work, and plug in at one of their 8 Level 2 chargers. Stay and eat at the historic Red Lion Inn and grab one of their 2 for guests-only chargers.

On the second day, you’ll begin with a tour of the Edith Wharton House — the expansive home and cultivated grounds celebrate the prolific American writer. You’ll want to reserve tickets ahead of time for the evening with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) concert under the stars at Tanglewood in Lenox — an acoustic event not to be missed. (The majority of the chargers in this area are Tesla Superchargers, fyi.) For your evening lodging, reserve a room at the Brook Farm Inn and use either their Tesla Supercharger or CCS charger.

Final Thoughts about Summer EV Road Trips — New England & Beyond

Covid shutdowns created a pent-up desire for many travelers to hit the road on vacations. As EVs become more and more mainstream, so, too, are new demographics of people taking to the roads. Planning EV road trips is fun now that there are more routes with appropriate EV charging infrastructure than ever. Do a little advanced planning ahead of your departure so you’ll be relaxed and informed. Websites, maps, and apps can help design your journey and find charging stations ahead of time.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack: https://carolynfortuna.substack.com/.

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