Ideas for an Unforgettable New England Visit

The six US states that comprise New England have both a unique culture and an endless list of activities and attractions you can combine into the perfect vacation. Whether you’re looking for lobster or moose, fall leaves or summer waves, a historic site or the buzziest new nightclub, you can find all of these and more in this small but enchanting region.

On the Water

It’s hard to beat New England for gorgeous waterfront scenery viewed from land or sea. You can drink a Cape Cod cocktail while overlooking Boston Harbor, eat fresh lobster at a beachfront seafood shack in Maine, or amble along the sandy shore in Rhode Island. New England cruises offer the opportunity to explore the attractions and view the skylines of everywhere from historic seaside villages to all the bustle of Boston.

Peering Into History

For a relatively small area, New England holds a big history. Boston alone boasts the Freedom Trail (where guides can tell you all sorts of Revolutionary War stories and gossip you didn’t hear in school), the USS Constitution (where active-duty service members in period dress show you over this more than 200-year-old ship), the Tea Party Ships and Museum, and too many other sites to list here. Plymouth, Salem, and Lexington and Concord are all an easy drive from Boston, but the region’s history isn’t limited to Massachusetts. In Newport, Rhode Island, you can tour Gilded Age mansions or view them from the Cliff Walk, while Mystic, Connecticut, has recreated a 19th-century seaside village. You can climb the Fort Kent tower in Maine or explore an industrial age mill village in Harrisville, New Hampshire.

Exploring Museums

You could design an entire New England trip just around visiting such literary shrines as the Robert Frost Farm, the Emily Dickinson Museum, Walden Pond, the Louisa May Alcott Orchard House, and even Stephen Kind’s part-time residence in Bangor, Maine — and that’s just a small sample! But there are plenty of museums that focus on other topics. The Maine Maritime Museum, for instance, includes everything from a replica lighthouse to sailors’ belongings to an entire collection of historic boats. The Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton, Connecticut, allows you to explore both the museum itself and the world’s first nuclear powered-submarine, the USS Nautilus. The Shelburne Museum near Burlington, Vermont showcases circus models, toys, firearms, carriages, various buildings, and several types of art, plus a working carousel.

In the Great Outdoors

While skiing may be the first thing you think of when considering outdoor activities in New England, the region provides a huge variety of other options that come in all skill levels. You can ride a tube down a river or a snowy hill, go skating or ice-fishing on a frozen pond, and admire spring wildflowers or autumn leaves. Water sports of every type can be found at lakes, rivers, and the ocean, while hikers can brave the Appalachian Trail or any number of less famous but just as fascinating treks. If you’re into animals, you can go moose-watching or puffin-spotting in Maine, mush behind a team of sled dogs in Vermont, or go horseback riding just about anywhere. Acadia is the only national park in New England, but many state parks are just as attractive and potentially less crowded. You can also go camping in the mountains, at the beach, or anywhere in between.

Living the City Life

Boston is undoubtedly the best-known New England city, but while it’s certainly worth a visit or ten, don’t overlook other urban gems. In Vermont you can build a truly delicious experience around Burlington’s restaurants, cafes, and breweries; don’t forget to taste-test different varieties of maple syrup! Portland, Maine, is offbeat, artistic, and known for its nightlife, while New Haven, Connecticut, is a must-see for fans of both performing and visual arts.

A New England visit can include so many options it’s difficult to choose, but a little planning is all you need to create your dream trip.