In this post you will learn about places to stop on Highway 2 from Boston to Albany during a day trip or a weekend break scenic road trip. You can drive in either direction and stop at the below places, it doesn’t really matter which order you do them in. There are many museums, hiking trails and even ski resorts on the way between Boston and Albany, so if you don’t want to go far I would definitely recommend this scenic road trip for a weekend trip. This scenic drive will take you along Highway 2, also known as the Mohawk Trail, one of the oldest and most interesting drives in the United States.
During my trip I stopped at these locations between Albany and Boston:
The drive takes about 4 hours and is 180 miles in total, so I would recommend at least one day there and another day back to take in the scenery and allow yourself time to stop off at various locations.
I have written a separate article about things to do in Boston, so please read more about a day trip to Boston here.
The Drive Along Highway 2 from Boston to Albany
Leaving Boston early in the morning will allow you the opportunity to beat the traffic and to drive at an easy pace towards Albany on Highway 2. I would recommend Highway 2 for two reasons: it crosses many historic towns and is far more interesting than Interstate 90.
As you drive out of Boston, you will pass places like Minute Man National Historical Park or Walden Pond State Reservation as well as the Orange State Forest where you can stop for a short hike in the morning.
About two hours from Boston is a place called Charlemont. This town is at the foot of the Berkshire Mountains and the Berkshire East Ski Resort. If you stopped for a walk in one of the forests along the way, it might be time for lunch already. If you have not stopped and it is still too early, I would recommend going for a hike in the nearby forests here before heading to Berkshire Pizzeria in Charlemont, which in my opinion is the best pizza place in Massachusetts!
I had a very tasty vegetarian pizza and a Dr. Pepper before driving on towards Williamstown, a picturesque university town between Charlemont and Albany. The road climbs many hills on the way to Williamstown and you will also drive through some beautiful valleys – so if you can pick a time I would recommend coming in the fall leaf peeping season. You wouldn’t think but these mountains get quite high and at least two of them were high enough for my ears to pop. On top of one or two of them there was even some snow in October!
The 65-mile View on Eastern Summit
As you drive along Highway-2, or the Mohawk Trail, also takes you across Florida, a very small town on the peak of a mountain. They call this spot the “Eastern Summit View” – from here you will have views of southern Vermont and New Hampshire as well as the Deerfield River Valley in Massachusetts. If you want to see even further, there are a few coin-operated binoculars to check out the valley in front.
There is also a small gift shop at the top of the mountain selling the usual tourist items and refreshments and also some antiquities and old magazines. It is a great spot to stop on the way to Albany and if you have an hour or two you can even go and walk on one of the shorter trails around here.
Williamstown – Quaint Little College Town
Passing Florida you will descend from the mountains and arrive in a valley where you will find Williamstown, simply breathtaking. I have never seen anything so clean and organized as this town before. The best was its surroundings though: dozens of hills covered in red and orange trees as far as the eye could see.
There three good art museums in Williamstown and neighboring North Adams, so if you are into arts then go for a walk around town then stop at the museums. If you want something for free, you should visit the Museum of Art at Williams College, or Mass MoCa in North Adams, which is the USA’s largest contemporary art museum.
If you like nature more than art, go for a walk in Mt Greylock State Reservation where you can walk on trails up to the highest peak ( Mount Greylock: 3,491 ft – 1,064 m) in Massachusetts for some stunning panoramic vistas. The best is that on a clear day, you can see five states from the top of Mt Greylock!
Arriving in Albany, NY
My arrival into Albany wasn’t as grand as that of Henry Hudson in 1609 – but it was still pretty driving along Highway 2 to Albany. As you drive out of Williamsburg, you will see many rolling hills, the river Dayfoot Brook and plenty of steel bridges reminding you of this region’s industrial past. This section of Highway 2 is also known as Taconic Trail.
Highway 2 takes you to Troy in the north of Albany, from where you can take any road into the downtown area. What I did was drive down south on I-787 along the Hudson to see this mighty river.
History of Albany
Henry Hudson sailed up La Grande Riviere in 1609 while looking for a trade route to the Far East. The Dutch then changed the name of the river to Hudson. The first settlers set up a colony in 1624 and named it Fort Orange. The Dutch West India Company established a trading post at Fort Orange in 1629. Finally, in 1652 Pieter Stuyvesant, governor of New Netherlands proclaimed that Fort Orange should become the village of Beverwyck.
The Dutch surrendered to the British without a battle in 1664 and King Charles II granted large portions of land to his brother James, the Duke of both York and Albany. This is how Beverwyck became Albany and New Amsterdam New York. The rest of the history is on the state government’s website. The city eventually developed into a major fur trading post, later followed by an industrial center. With industry came pollution and by the 20th century the Hudson river was devoid of life.
Things to Do in Albany
I walked around the center of Albany to check out the State Capitol, which looks much like a Germanic grand building, the town hall and the main square as well as the High Street. Albany became New York’s state capital in 1797 because of its central location within the state. East of the Empire State Plaza is Albany Institute of History & Art, where you will find art works by Hudson River School painters.
After a walk around downtown Albany I headed down to the riverside. The River Hudson is a truly magnificent river – I cannot understand why anyone was allowed to dump dangerous chemicals in it in the past.
The Hudson Clean Up
During a 30-year period ending in 1977, when the EPA banned the production of PCBs, approximately 590,000 tonnes of it entered the Hudson River. Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are fire preventive and insulator chemicals in the manufacture of electrical devices, like transformers and capacitors. Most of it came from two General Electric (GE) capacitor plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls. Once PCBs entered the river, they settled and mixed with the sediments at many locations on the river bottom and at some locations along the shoreline in the floodplain.
The primary health risk associated with PCBs is accumulation in the human body through eating contaminated fish. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, since 1976, high levels of PCBs in fish have led New York State to close various recreational and commercial fisheries. They also issued advisories restricting the consumption of fish caught in the Hudson River. To top it all off, the EPA placed 200 miles of the river on the National Priorities List, which is a list of the country’s most contaminated hazardous waste sites.Terrible!
Luckily common sense prevailed and the river was cleaned up and now people can fish again. If you are interested in the entire process read the EPA website here. Nowadays there is a pretty park running along both banks of the river and you can check out some nice free exhibits like replicas of fish that used to live in the river.