Great Things To Do in New England -- Shopping, tours, food, outdoor fun, spas, culture
It’s nearly impossible tally the number and range of great things to do on a singles or couples or family getaway to New England. Especially when you consider the variety of places and experiences in these six states: from mountain snow sports to dune tours, big-city nightclubs to dinners on the farm. Each state – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont – has its own geography, culture, and atmosphere.
Some pleasures – like a fine spa treatment or a day on the beach -- are common to all states. Some are unique. Vermonters love their maple season; Rhode Islanders cherish their ethnic dining in Providence, the capital, and their Newport mansions. Browse the ideas below and begin exploring.
Looking for Great Things To Do in a specific state? Click here for
• New Hampshire
• Rhode Island
'I Went to the Woods...'
Henry David Thoreau lived at Walden Pond in Concord from 1845 to 1847 and his experience there provided the material for his book “Walden.” Because of this legacy, Walden Pond is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement. Interpreters at Walden Pond State Reservation
915 Walden Street in Concord
provide tours and educational programs. The pond is open for swimming and people may visit a replica of Thoreau’s one-room cabin. A 2680-acre wooded area -- great for strolling, nature viewing, picnicking, and reflection -- surrounds the reservation. The property has a gift shop, bookstore and gallery. Phone: 978 369-3254
55 Coogan Boulevard
Mystic, CT, 06355
SEA more & do more at Mystic Aquarium
Explore the depths of our ocean planet (and beyond!) like never before! Travel Mystic Aquarium’s indoor and outdoor exhibits to visit with thousands of creatures including beluga whales, African penguins, rescued seals, colorful fish and more. Be thrilled – or chilled – by the funky features of over 30 different species of amphibians in ‘frogs!’ and discover some of nature’s most bizarre underwater animals in ‘Weird & Wonderful’. Roll up your sleeves and touch a shark, stingray or even an exotic reptile before catching a complimentary Sea Lion Show. Then step in to ‘Jurassic Giants: A Dinosaur Adventure’ to encounter 12 animatronic dinosaurs. You can even get closer during an exclusive animal encounter! Plus, enjoy special events, activities and more throughout the year that make Mystic Aquarium a destination worth revisiting often. SEA more at MysticAquarium.org.
64 Railroad Street
Lincoln, NH, 03251
There’s magic in the air at this castle made entirely of ice
The photos you will take from deep inside Ice Castles
will be almost as amazing as the attraction itself. Made of solid ice, the walls 10 feet thick, the castles have enchanted visitors with their intricate designs, featuring towers that look like they are right out of “Lord of the Rings,” tunnels, caves, sculptures, fountains – and slides! Thousands of icicles are harvested and planted every day to keep the castles beautiful. And the effect is heightened at night, when LED lights frozen into the ice turn different colors, synchronized to music. You don’t have to be a fan of “Frozen” to find the whole experience magical. Remember to dress warmly, but in case that's not enough there's an on-site concession stand serving up hot chocolate and apple cider! Tickets are guaranteed to sell out each weekend - be sure to buy yours in advance on our website!
1650 Hartford-New London Tpke. (Rt. 85)
Oakdale, CT, 06370
Escape into an adventure of prehistoric proportions
Kids will jump for Jurassic joy at The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village, where 40-plus life-sized dinosaurs inhabit a mile and a half of pristine nature trails. You can even picnic along the trails (there are many scenic spots) if you aren’t afraid of running into the animatronic dilophosaurus or the scary therizinosaurus with the longest fingernails on Earth or the 40-foot-tall brachiosaurus. You can continue the dino theme at the manmade Raptor Bay, the obstacle-filled T. Rex Tower Playscape (complete with zip-line and giant slides), the aMAZEasaurus maze, and the Jurassic Moon Bounce. Even Splashpad, the water playground, has dinosaur water cannons. And you can dig for dino fossils at the Discovery Depot.
Fond of Phlox and Fancy Teatime
Perennial Pleasures Nursery
, at 63 Brickhouse Road in Hardwick, is a nursery, retail store and tea garden. The nursery, greenhouse and display gardens are located on sunny fields behind the owners’ home, an 1840s brick house at the edge of the village. The nursery grows 900 varieties of flowers, herbs and shrubs, specializing in heirloom and medicinal plants, with a special fondness for phlox. An eclectic gift shop, specializing in summer hats, is located in the old wooden extension, and a seasonal tea-room serves English cream teas and light lunches in the display garden or conservatory. The nursery and gift shop are open daily except Mondays, early May to mid-September.
1168 County Road
Montpelier, VT, 05602
Life is sweet for visitors to Vermont farm’s sugarworks
Could anything be yummier than a visit to Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in central Vermont? Open year-round, seven days a week, the sugarworks is a result of 200 years of family tradition, producing scrumptious maple syrup and other products. Visitors can hike a gentle trail to the maples, tour the sugarhouse, sit on a maple stump at the woodshed theater to watch a multimedia display and – of course! – sample some of the farm’s syrups, jams and jellies. You’ll also love the outdoor Vermont farm life museum, the country store and whimsical carved and soft-sculpture folklife characters scattered throughout the property. Don’t leave without trying sugar on snow (hot maple sugar drizzled on shaved ice) or a maple creemee.
55 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA, 01609
Spend a picture-perfect day at this interactive art museum
It’s all about access at the Worcester Art Museum, where you can take a 20-minute zip tour of one artist or one work of art, or pop in to the Drawing Center to sketch what you’ve seen, or touch a knight’s helmet at an art cart. And there’s so much to see in a museum with a collection of 35,000 paintings, sculptures, photos, drawings and decorative arts. With a range from the floor mosaics of ancient Antioch to edgy contemporary works, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Check out the newly reinstalled medieval galleries, marvel at Renaissance and Baroque masterworks, take a guided tour (or go mobile) or step up to an iPad and enter your idea for an artwork label.
Mathews Park - 303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT, 06850
Stepping Stones Museum makes the whole world look fresh
At Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, Conn., we create an environment that inspires lifelong learning. Our museum offers engaging and educational exhibits with indoor AND outdoor experiences that give children, families and educators twice the space to discover, learn, and grow. Our Energy Lab includes hands-on exhibits that teach how the sun, the wind, the force of water, and the burning of fossil fuels produce energy. Tot Town is an imaginative world shrunk down to toddler level. Our Build It! exhibit lets children explore architectural design and construction. We've got tools they can use to pretend to finish walls, paint with brushes and rollers, apply carpeting, and more. After a visit, youngsters will see their world in a whole different way.
Mountain View Road
Whitefield, NH, 03598
Mountain resort high on comfort & fun things to do
From its stately perch in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa offers visitors first-class comfort, personalized service, distinctive dining and lodging – and a full slate of activities. Enjoy rolling dogsled rides and mountain biking in the fall, skiing and snowshoeing in the winter and golf and tennis in the summer. The resort’s small working farm invites guests to help collect eggs, visit with the goats or take a knitting class. Or, stay inside the spacious inn and take advantage of the Tower Spa (with a spectacular view from the inn’s top floor), indoor pool or game room. Luxurious guest rooms and suites take full advantage of mountain, garden or golf course views.
67 Main Street, Steamboat Dock
Essex, CT, 06426
Lots to see, but even more to do, at this river museum on Essex Harbor
Learn about the Connecticut River – or sail on it! – when you visit the Connecticut River Museum, on park-like grounds overlooking scenic and historic Essex Harbor. There’s plenty to see, from models of yachts, nautical paintings and history exhibits to the tools used in early fishing, hunting and trapping to a vertical, three-floor river mural that goes up a staircase. And there’s the model of the Turtle, the Revolutionary War submarine. But there’s also so much to do: rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard and paddle the river’s coves right outside the museum’s doorsteps, go on a a winter wildlife eagle cruise to see bald eagles, or cruise aboard the Onrust, a replica of a 1614 Dutch sailing ship.
The trail that gives visitors an experience to savor
Sip your way across the state of Connecticut by following the delightful CT Wine Trail, which meanders over hills, through valleys and into some of New England’s most charming towns. Each of the trail’s 25 wineries and vineyards has a tasting room where you can sample robust reds, crisp whites and a wide variety of local fruit wines. Some vineyards offer tours, live music, special dinners from brunch to five-course feasts – even weekend yoga. Seasonal offerings range from chocolate and wine pairings to hot mulled wine. Following the trail is a breeze: Blue wine trail signs lead you from one corner of the state to another. Pick up a wine passport, collect stamps and win prizes (including trips to Spain).
One Franklin Park Road
Boston, MA, 02121
Warning: The best of the beasts roam at this Boston-area zoo
It’s all happening at the Franklin Park Zoo, where you can wander from one exotic environment to another, each one filled with interesting animals. There’s the Kalahari Kingdom, where lions roam (and roar); the Outback Trail that kangaroos, kiwis and kookaburras call home; the woodsy Tiger Tales; the grassy Giraffe Savannah; and the Tropical Rain Forest (gorillas and hippos!). Plan to attend a zookeeper chat or watch animals being fed, visit the Franklin Farm to get to know goats and chicks, take a train or carousel ride; or go wild on the zoo playground. And don’t miss the new Children’s Zoo to play next to the red pandas. Family fare is offered at the Giddy-Up Grill, Kalahari Kitchen, or bring a picnic.
2 Southwick Street
Mendon, MA, 01756
This zoo is full of animals, adventures, activities – and so much more!
Southwick’s Zoo is really more than a zoo: It’s a zoo-plus. The plus includes a carousel, a rainforest maze, a Skyari sky ride to give you a bird’s eye view of the African Plains, a Woodland Express train ride, pony and camel rides, a place where you can mine for gems and fossils – even a two-seater zipline! And have they got animals, from lemurs and lions to snakes and sloths. Feed a parakeet in the aviary or a deer in the 35-acre deer forest, interact with pygmy goats in the petting zoo, feed a giraffe or enjoy one of several live-animal presentations and educational exhibits. Lots of dining options, from burgers and wraps to New England tavern meals.
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, off Route 20
Sturbridge, MA, 01566
So much to see and do in this re-created 1830s town
Step back in time – but step lively – at Old Sturbridge Village, where the 1830s come to life in 40 original buildings that form a rural New England town. But the early 19th century was a busy time, as you’ll see when you visit the blacksmith shop, or watch an oxen-driven plow in the field, or watch one of the village’s authentically costumed staff hand-dip candles or make dinner on a hearth. Activities include everything from learning a historical craft like textile-making to taking a trip in a stagecoach or, in the winter, in a horse-drawn sleigh. Holidays are magical from fireworks on the Fourth to Christmas by Candlelight in December, with a roaring bonfire and strolls around the decorated village.
The British School of Falconry
is the nation's first school of its kind to offer hands-on lessons with trained birds of prey. Guests at the Equinox Resort, 3567 Main Street in Manchester Village
, are invited to try one of the world's oldest sports in the picturesque setting of Hildene's meadows and enhance their appreciation of these magnificent birds. During a session, guests will learn to handle and fly Harris hawks. Things to do like introductory falconry lessons and Hawk Walks are offered to give guests the opportunity to appreciate these amazing animals. Handling of the hawks is for people age 12 and older. 802-362-4780
Valley boasts winter wonderland of activities, indoors and outdoors
If you’re seeking a winter wonderland for a fun-filled family getaway or a couples weekend escape, look up: to the Mount Washington Valley, New England’s snow sports playground. With seven acclaimed alpine resorts, six Nordic and snowshoe centers, indoor and outdoor skating rinks, horse-drawn sleigh rides, dog-sledding and ski touring, there is literally something for everyone. You can snow-tube down a groomed snow chute, take an invigorating winter hike past frozen waterfalls, ice skate under a dome (then warm up by a rinkside campfire) or explore miles and miles of cross-country ski trails, many winding their way through the White Mountain National Forest. Inside fun ranges from resort pools and spas to brewery and distillery tours and loads of tax-free shopping.
686 Cushing Road
Newport, RI, 02841
See & learn the Navy’s role in New England, and in history
Want to learn about naval activities in the Narragansett Bay area in colonial times? Or how the science of naval warfare has changed from the time of the Greeks and Romans through the Civil War, both World Wars to today? Then head to the Naval War College Museum, free and open to the public, where naval battles and strategies come to life via changing art collections, exhibits and documents. Starting Dec. 14, learn about the Navy’s role in World War I from the new exhibit, “To Win or Lose All: William S. Sims and the U.S. Navy in the First World War.”
Year round hours: Monday -Friday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The museum is also open on Saturdays from noon to 4:30 p.m. from June through September.
Come play in the sweet mountain air this summer
Less than three hours from New York City and Boston, the Berkshires offer culture and adventure year round. The allure of the Berkshires in summer is a savory blend of sweet mountain air, migratory birdsong; rare wildflowers found in forests and open fields, and the return of locally grown foods to our tables. Nature, like us, sheds its early spring coat and greets the season with a warm welcome. Journey here as a couple or pack up the entire family, get out & about in the Berkshires. Whether you choose to spend your time indoors or out, the Berkshire region comes alive in summer. Come discover all the possibilities the Berkshires has in store during the most-welcomed seasons of all. To learn more visit us at berkshires.org or find us on Facebook at Visit the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.
Fun with a Water Monster at Champ Lane
, a new and brilliant play space for kids age 6 and younger, opened in February 2016 at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center on Lake Champlain in Burlington
. In addition to a fabulous indoor tree house (move over, Tarzan), Champ Lane has a deluxe water table, puppet theater, multilevel boat, play café, and mini French market named after Marché Atwater in Montréal. A book nook offers space for quiet reading, nursing and relaxing. There's also a classroom and lab that will be used to teach about animals and scientific inquiry. Fun for every style of kid. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 802-864-1848.
92 Bourne Lane
Ogunquit, ME, 03907
Farm-to-table dining at its best in southern Maine
At Jonathan’s Ogunquit, you can look forward to more than a wonderful, one-of-a-kind farm-to-table meal. You can also expect a one-of-a-kind experience, from tables looking out onto gorgeous gardens studded with whimsical statues to the restaurant’s entrancing 600-gallon fish tank. If you are there on a show night, you’re in for a treat. Concert series musicians have included July Collins, Arlo Guthrie, Tom Rush; comedians include Paula Poundstone and the topical Capitol Steps troupe. But, mainly, it’s about the food in this casual-fine dining restaurant, where you might start with Boursin stuffed mushrooms, work your way through an entree featuring lamb raised at Jonathan’s farm and end with the legendary creme brulee.
One Railroad Avenue
Essex, CT, 06426
A Connecticut River adventure by train and boat
Gather family and friends for a sightseeing adventure aboard the only steam train and riverboat connection in the United States! This 2½-hour narrated journey explores the nature and beauty of the Connecticut River Valley, designated as one of “the last great places on Earth” by The Nature Conservancy. View historic sites such as Gillette Castle and the Goodspeed Opera House. Excursions begin and end at the historic 1892 Essex station. Rain or shine.
105 Haverhill Road
Salem, NH, 03079
Ponder the mysteries of ancient North American history
You don’t need to travel to Great Britain to see those marvelous megaliths and ceremonial meeting places of ancient peoples. Similar wonders exist at America’s Stonehenge in coastal New Hampshire. A maze of manmade chambers, walls and gathering sites, it begs the question: Was this all assembled by an ancient Native American culture or by migrant Europeans? The self-guided Stonehenge trail (after a 10-minute introductory video) is about a half-mile, although the property includes 105 acres of trails, perfect for winter snowshoeing (in January and February, you can snowshoe by candlelight and warm up later with hot chocolate). Kids can participate in a simulated archaeological dig at the learning center, and there are plenty of picnic areas. Oh, and seven alpacas.
Your taste buds will go into full bloom on these delicious food tours
Sample the culinary delights, architecture and history of two of Rhode Island’s foodie-favorite cities – Newport and Providence – when you sign up with the Rhode Island Red Food Tour. Stroll through Newport’s historic neighborhoods, stopping in to sip or savor the wares at an historic tavern, waterfront cafe and hip hotdog haven, among others. Or, set your culinary sights on Providence, one of America’s top food cities, where your walking tour through the capital city’s arts district will include eight stops, from a Parisian-inspired cafe to a coal-fired pizza palace. Restaurants on the tours support local and regional farms and purveyors. Tours of this eclectic assortment of great places to eat and drink last three and a half hours.
Short Trip to an Island Retreat
An island-based but not-too-remote day trip out of Portland is a trip to lovely Peaks Island
in Casco Bay, easily accessible via several daily trips (30-minutes long) on the Casco Bay Lines ferries
, based in Portland. The island is small, beautiful, and restful. You can rent bicycles cheaply for nearly-flat rides around the island; visit the GEM Island Artists
and the Umbrella Cover Museum (yes, that is: covers of umbrellas); visit the Eighth Maine Regiment Memorial
; go kayaking; dine on seafood; and simply enjoy the day.
Artful Whimsy of Tasha Tudor
Tasha Tudor was a beloved resident of southern Vermont. Over her long career she illustrated nearly 100 children's books, the last being "Corgiville Christmas." Her whimsical stories of Corgis, cats, and other creatures and simple way of living on display at the Tasha Tudor Museum
at 974 Western Ave in West Brattleboro
. She dressed in the style of the 1830s, cooked over an open fire in her New England farmhouse, lived by the light of candles, milked her own goats, and tended a menagerie of pets. Her fans include parents and children in love with her old-fashioned illustrations. Museum is open early May through late October, Wednesdays-Sundays.
Enjoy endless activities from New Hampshire’s campgrounds
Get away from the everyday with a visit to a New Hampshire campground. Stay in a tent, RV, cabin, cottage, lodge – even a yurt! – and enjoy activities from horseshoes and fishing to snowmobiling and snowshoeing. Hike, bike or take a cog railroad up a pine-scented mountain or kayak a pristine pond, river or lake. From your camping site in the woods, near the ocean or in a meadow, check out the Granite State’s historic sites, quintessential New England towns and acres upon acres of natural splendor. Visit our website for a handbook with all the details for individual parks, from whether they are pet-friendly to which ones have cottage rentals, pools, fireplaces, tennis courts, live music – or cable TV.
200 Seaport Boulevard - Commonwealth Pier
Boston, MA, 02210
Harbor cruise lets you see Boston from a unique – and fun – vantage point
Why not see scenic Boston from the sea? Take a Spirit of Boston cruise and check out all the sights, from the Boston Tea Party site to the Old North Church, the Bunker Hill Monument and Old Ironsides. Two-hour lunch and three-hour dinner cruises feature fresh, buffet-style offerings served in a comfortable, climate-controlled inner deck. You can even reserve a window table to savor the city – and a cocktail. The view from the huge observation deck is breathtaking, whether it’s a mid-day look at the spectacular Zakim Memorial Bridge or a sunset panorama of a sparkling cityscape. Onboard activities include games like tabletop shuffleboard and giant Jenga. There’s also a dance floor and DJ-provided music. Look for special holiday cruises and deals.
Route 171 - 455 Old Mountain Road
Moultonborough, NH, 03254
Get above it all by touring this mountaintop castle
Let your spirit soar at Castle in the Clouds, the enchanting mountaintop estate built in 1913-14. Marvel at the Arts and Crafts architecture, the astonishing views from every room, the vintage apparel in the closets and the innovations of the day (central vacuuming and an intercom among them). Stroll through gardens and meadows. Stop by Shannon Pond to watch huge rainbow trout jump for food from special fish-feeders. Dine at the Carriage House Restaurant and visit the art gallery or hike past waterfalls on the 28 miles of trails. Kids can use period tools in the mansion kitchen or practice letter-writing in the guest room. Don’t miss Christmas at the mansion, with music, an artisan fair, carriage and sleigh rides.
312 Daniel Webster Highway
Meredith, NH, 03253
Chill out or warm up to a variety of activities at lakefront resort
Come to relax or come to play: Mill Falls at the Lake is your ideal destination either way. Kick back at the Cascade Spa, in the indoor pool or in your comfy room at one of four inviting inns. Dine at the Waterfall Cafe overlooking a tumbling 40-foot waterfall or at Lago, with its rustic Italian specialties. Or enjoy the outdoors: Hike up scenic Mount Major or along the Winnipesaukee River Trail, go winter trail biking or take a guided ice-fishing tour. In warmer weather, take a chartered boat cruise to view a Lake Winnipesaukee sunset, or get to know the lake via an aqua cycle, kayak or canoe. Don’t forget to shop at the fun-to-explore Mill Falls Marketplace.
97 Depot Street
Manchester Center, VT, 05255
Take stock of designer-brand fashion & bargains
Sitting pretty in one of Vermont’s loveliest valleys is shopping heaven: the Manchester Designer Outlets. Shoppers with an eye for a bargain, can stroll into outlet stores including Eileen Fisher, Ann Taylor, Michael Kors, Armani, Eddie Bauer and Kate Spade, just to name-drop a few. If you want to take a break from retail therapy, the walkable town features many chef-owned restaurants, from family style to fine dining, as well as a day spa, an ice-skating rink, an arts center and the American Museum of Fly Fishing! More shopping? Go antiquing, visit a classic general store or take in a farmers market. And come back for the holidays, when the town’s trees and lanterns sparkle and sleigh rides await.
Two Great Locations
Chichester and Hooksett, NH
Golf, zoom around a go-kart track or fly through the air at fun parks
You might not really hit a hole-in-one on the giant mini-golf courses at Chuckster’s two New Hampshire locations. But you’ll feel like you did after spending time at the fun-filled activity parks. In Hooksett, tackle the 18-hole Fire Tower or Cave courses then let the winner buy cones at the ice cream barn. In Chichester, if golf isn’t your thing, no worries: There’s a go-kart speedway, a tree-to-tree Aerial Adventure and a TimberClimb where you can climb 50 feet up a tree. Feeling competitive? How about Shoot Four, a basketball version of “Connect Four,” or Shoot-N-Shower (guess what happens to the loser). Or play volleyball/basketball on trampolines or jump and flip up to 18 feet on Jumpster cables. Your little ones, 2 to 8, will love the kid’s bumper boats.
607 West Thames Street
Norwich, CT, 06360
Get pampered from head to toe at this Norwich spa
If you think “spa” just means Swedish massages and a steam room, you have not experienced The Spa at Norwich Inn. With its 37 treatment rooms, the spa’s services are almost limitless, including luminous facials; hot stone, Thai and Swedish massage; tips on the latest makeup trends; and pampering for your hands and feet. (Try a milk and honey manicure or a peppermint pedicure.) Set on the inn’s 42 garden-filled acres, the spa also offers healthy cooking demonstrations, tarot card readings and a variety of fitness classes as well as an indoor pool, sauna, hot tub, tennis courts and salon. And if you emerge wanting to extend your relaxation, book into one of the inn’s 49 guest rooms or suites.
680 Bellevue Avenue
Newport, RI, 02840
This Newport mansion & its stunning landscape are still a marvel
Take yourself back into the Gilded Age when you tour Rough Point, the oceanfront estate of philanthropist and art collector Doris Duke. When the heiress died in 1993, she left her seaside home, originally built for a Vanderbilt in 1887 in the English manorial style, to the Newport Restoration Foundation to be opened as a public museum. It is preserved as she left it, with French furniture, European art, Chinese porcelains and Flemish tapestries from her global travels. An eclectic collector, she combined her treasures with those of her family to decorate her home. Visitors may take a 75-minute guided tour or a self-guided stroll through the mansion and the magnificent formal gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
2617 Killington Road
Killington, VT, 05751
A different, natural approach to health & wellness
No treadmills, no diets! The wellness regimen at the multiple award-winning New Life Hiking Spa instead includes hiking in the fresh Vermont mountain air and eating wholesome, balanced meals featuring fresh, natural food. From spring through fall, the spa offers daily hikes for beginners (past streams and working farms), intermediates (through diverse, wooded terrain) and advanced (up White Mountain peaks), rewarded by time at the spa, where services include several types of relaxing massage and invigorating facials. Guests also have the option to receive nutritional and personal fitness training, and to take classes in yoga, wellness and cooking. With trained, down-to-earth counselors, guests will get a healthier take on life amid a casual, friendly, camp-like atmosphere.
407 Main Street
Rockland, ME, 04841
A great way to explore coastal Maine, and beyond, while upgrading your photography skills
What a fun way to see spectacular sites at Maine’s coast & mountains – and improve your photography skills at the same time. With Coastal Maine Photo Tours, participants of all ages and all skill levels (and all types of cameras) are welcome. Trips include half-day photo walks, passing through quaint fishing villages, to one-day photo tours of Maine Gardens; Lighthouses and Lobsters; Vinalhaven Island (including a scenic ferry ride and exploration of the island’s rocky coastline and working harbor); Pemaquid Point Lighthouse at sunset; and a Great Schooner Race Photo Adventure where you can take pictures of the largest annual gathering of traditional schooners in America. There’s also a week-long foliage excursion in October in the mountains of western Maine. Tours are led by longtime local fine-art photographer Dee Peppe.
909 East Main Road (Route 138)
Middletown, RI, 02842
Island serenity will grow on you during vineyard visit
Planted in 1977 on an island hill overlooking the Rhode Island Sound, Newport Vineyards has grown to include 60 vineyard acres, two restaurants and a busy tasting room. But some things, like the complex flavors of its wines and its family feeling, have never changed. Visitors can sip a Newport Merlot, Island White or Bellevue Blush in the tasting room or by the fire at Brix Restaurant. Or tour the vineyards and go behind the scenes of the wine-making process. The Aquidneck Land Trust’s Sakonnet Greenway Trail loops through the vineyard if you want to take in a morning hike (then enjoy a glass of wine in the Vineyard Cafe). Other activities include yoga, wine and cheese classes and live music.
Multiple Centers & Dock Locations
Providence, Newport, Westerly, RI and Fall River, MA
Learning and fun go hand-in-hand during Save the Bay activities
Hands-on learning is key to the mission of Save the Bay: to protect and improve the national treasure that is Narragansett Bay. But so is fun. So you might want to spy on a seal during seal-watch cruises October through April (cruises leave from Newport and Westerly, R.I., and Fall River, Mass.); or visit a lighthouse during narrated tours of close to two dozen Rhode Island historic lighthouses in the bay; or learn about long-tailed ducks during birding boat tours; or help pull in a bottom trawl from an education/research vessel. Back on land, the beachfront Exploration Center and Aquarium includes a touch tank, interactive exhibits and the opportunity to help feed some of the bay’s favorite critters (including sharks!).
Moo-sey Around the Farm With Us
The Farmer’s Cow
is a group of six family-owned dairy farms in Lebanon, Coventry, Hebron, Thompson, North Franklin
that welcome people to visit the farms for fun farm tours. During the tours, which run almost year-round, visitors may walk the farms, meet the farmers and cows, learn about farming, and sample local products. Some tours in 2018 are: Summer on the Farm (June 30), Ice Cream Day Bluegrass Bash (July 15), Corn Roast in the Hayfield and Farm Tour (August 18), Celebrating Agriculture with Fairvue Farms Wagon Ride Tour (September 22),
More Than Moos Ice Cream Social (October 20).
Small Engineering Gems
This region of New Hampshire is wealthy with covered bridges
. We have a tender spot for the puckishly named Blow Me Down Bridge in Cornish. The most famous of the region’s bridges is the Cornish-Windsor Bridge, the longest wooden covered bridge in the United States. Shutterbugs: try the interesting viewing challenges on both the New Hampshire and Vermont ends of the bridge.
Artist Colony Is Vibrant in Gloucester
Rocky Neck Art Colony
is the oldest working art colony in the country, and has been luring artists to its picturesque shores for more than 150 years. Today the area is still home to many working artists and to galleries showing paintings in all media, as well as batik, photography, jewelry, prints, sculpture, ceramics, and fine gifts. A convenient walking tour of Rocky Neck, along East Main Street, includes information about three dozen galleries and studios on the Neck. A new book about the artists and history of the region, titled Rocky Neck Art Colony 1850-1950, by Judith Curtis, is available. 978-515-7004.
See the Insides and Hear the History of U.S. Submarines
Located in the home region of Electric Boat, builder of nuclear submarines, the Submarine Force Museum
at 1 Crystal Lake Road in Groton
, operated by the U.S. Navy, displays a giant collection of submarine artifacts, documents and photographs, depicting the entire history of the U.S. submarine force history. The "silent service" – you may be stunned to learn – begins with the “Turtle,” used in the Revolutionary War, continuing through to the Ohio- and Virginia-class submarines. The museum presents various fun scavenger hunts and self-guided tours. Truly fascinating! Open year-round, except for a week of maintenance in spring and fall (call ahead). 860-694-3174.
Paddling the Charles
The Charles River west of Boston is a welcoming place for kayakers and canoeists. Several nature preserves run by the Trustees of Reservations along this 20-mile paddling route allow you to touch land, explore, and have a picnic. You can put in at Cedariver, a former farm, in Millis
, which has a state-run boat launch.
Moving downstream, paddlers encounter Shattuck Reservation
, which is old pasture land, with nice views and trails. Next, watch for Bridge Island Meadows
, accessible only when the water is flowing in Bogastow Brook.
Next on The Trustees Charles River float is Rocky Narrows in Medfield
, with incomparable views of the Charles River as it winds between granite walls. Peters Reservation in Dover
, has a mix of natural flora, designed landscape and plantings, and two miles of trails.
Take out can be at Charles River Peninsula
, a great picnic spot surrounded on three sides by the river, with access to a state-run boat launch. It is about a 20-mile float from Cedariver to the Charles River Peninsula -- prepare accordingly and take a map! Phone: 508.785.0339.
Sculptor Who Helped Immortalize Abe
, on Williamsville Road in Stockbridge
, is the country home, studio, and gardens of Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., and the Minute Man in Concord. The buildings are furnished with American and European decorative arts and paintings. Woodland walks feature mountain vistas and perennial gardens. The house and gardens are daily open for self-guided tours from May 1 to October 31. Phone: 413-298-3579.
Beacon for Mariners
Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse
off Fort Hill Road in South Portland has the distinction of being the only caisson-style lighthouse in America accessible by land and open for public tours. Constructed in the late 1800s on a dangerous ledge that is now covered by a breakwater, Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse marks the entrance to Portland Harbor. In 2015, the lighthouse will be open to the public 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays in June, weekends in July and August, all of Labor Day weekend, Saturdays in September, and Columbus Day weekend. Visitors must be at least 51 inches tall. Phone: 866-570-5703.
Explore the Island, Then Explore the Park
There is much beauty to see at Acadia Nation Park. A good way to start is to get an overview of the whole landscape by jumping aboard the Island Explorer
bus. This is not a tour – it is public transportation for the park and neighboring villages that runs from late May to Columbus Day. Take a bit of time to ride the bus with others going about their daily lives or on vacation. You’ll get a glimpse of what you may want to see more deeply, and know exactly how to get back there later. "A wonderful service. Best way to get around. Fun to ride," said a visitor from Texas. 207-667-5796
Eyes Above Portland
This is a place to bring a camera and a love of maritime history. Built in 1807 as a communications tower for Portland’s harbor, the Portland Observatory
is the last maritime signal tower in the United States. A National Historic Landmark, the Portland Observatory is the only remaining maritime signal station in the United States, and thus a unique architectural icon of maritime shipping and the Golden Age of Sail. Now, the Observatory operated as a museum and historic site, offering educational programs and guided tours. Open late May through early October, daily. 207-774-5561.
No Fresher Oyster Anywhere
Do you enjoy a fresh oyster? We mean “fresh” as in – just pulled from the sea into the very boat in which you are sitting and eating it? Nonesuch Oysters
welcomes visitors aboard its workboat, Oys-Tour for a tasting tour of its underwater oyster farm, departing from 94King Street in Scarborough
. The boat tour starts at the oyster nursery in the Nonesuch River, where you can see the baby oysters feeding. At the next stop, you can help harvest the shuck the oysters, and then – eat! Bring your favorite pairing beverage. Enjoy the activities of bald eagles and harbor seals. Tours offered July through September.
Insider View of a Historic Lighthouse
Friends of the Wood Island Lighthouse
Offers tours to the lighthouse in July and August (weather permitting). This historic lighthouse, built in 1808, is a picturesque keeper's house connected to the stone tower. Wood Island is an uninhabited island at the mouth of the Saco River off the coast of Biddeford. Tours are Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, July 2-August 22, 2016. Reserve your tour on the lighthouse website and reserve your trip aboard the Lightrunner to traverse the mile from Biddeford Pool to the island. 207-200-4552.
Historic Trades in Action in Deerfield
Crafts people will demonstrate
dressmaking, shoemaking, medical care, basketmaking, gun smithing, cabinet making, coopering pottery making and even gravestone carving as these essential skills were done in places like Deerfield. See schedule for specific demos, offered on weekends from October 3 to December 12, 2015. Fun for the kids, too. 413-774-5581.
Immerse Yourself in Bird Life at Sachuest Point
At 240 acres, Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge
is important stopover and wintering area for migratory birds. Nature- and bird lovers know this rocky peninsula as the place to see colorful harlequin ducks, loons, eiders, gannets, and, in winter, snowy owls. A walk on the three miles of trails around Sachuest Point reveals several habitats, including salt marshlands and steep rocky shorelines around the perimeter. Elevated observation platforms along the trails provide unobstructed views. The visitor center is an ideal way to begin or end a trail walk; creative exhibits tell you all about the land and creatures you will be traversing. You can get a permit for nighttime fishing. Trail map
Explore Squam by Pontoon Boat
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center hosts these fun and informative cruises
of this pristine lake of northern New Hampshire. Learn about the natural history of the lake, its plants and animals, and the people who have lived in this region for more than 5,000 years. See scenes from the movie “On Golden Pond.” Watch for loons, bald eagles, and other wildlife. Cruises are an hour and a half in duration, on canopied pontoon boats, leaving from the dock on Route 3 at the bridge, next to Walter's Basin Restaurant in Holderness
. Binoculars are available for free. Reservations are recommended. Fees are $21-$25. Daily, May 17 to October 13. 603-968-7194.
Wholesome Living With the Shakers
A fascinating day of history and fine dining awaits the curious visitor at the Canterbury Shaker Village and Shaker Table Restaurant
at 288 Shaker Road in Canterbury
. This National Historic Landmark preserves 200 years of Shaker life on 694 acres, 25 original buildings, gardens, and trails. Known for its tranquil beauty, the village offers tours, exhibits, workshops, family programs, hiking trails, unique shopping and dining. There is a great museum store, and the Shaker Table Restaurant features Shaker-inspired cooking using fresh ingredients. Hours: Open daily, May 16-October 24; weekends in November for guided tours only. Phone: 603-783-9511
Art, History, Gardens on Lively Display at Shelburne
on U.S. Route 7 in Shelburne
has so many interesting exhibits scattered among several buildings on a broad lakeside property, it is hard to know where to begin a description, but here goes. It is the home of the restored steamboat Ticonderoga, the last walking beam side-wheel passenger steamer in existence. It operated as a day boat on Lake Champlain, serving ports in New York and Vermont, from 1906 to 1953. Today the Ticonderoga portrays life on board in 1923. Visitors may explore the Ti’s massive engine, four decks, pilot’s house, galley, and crew’s quarters. Buildings on the museum grounds include the Horseshow Barn and the Round Barn, a lighthouse, and several art galleries with changing exhibits, and many gardens. Open mid-May to late October. 802-985-3346.
Meet Vermont's Covered Bridges
Few structures in America combine architectural ingenuity, economic necessity, and romantic idealism better than the covered bridge. Covered bridges
flourished in the United States in the 19th century. Pennsylvania has the greatest number of covered bridges, and Vermont, with about 104 covered bridges, has the highest number relative to the state’s size. In Southern Vermont, some highlights of the many covered bridges include the Bridge at the Green (Arlington Bridge) in Arlington and the Henry / Burt Bridge in Bennington, which is a short distance from the rebuilt Paper Mill Bridge and the Silk Bridge. Covered bridges offer a wonderful opportunity to stop, take pictures, dip your feet in the river, and even to picnic.
Going to Market on the Island
A lazy day or weekend on Martha’s Vineyard is a perfect time to wander to the West Tisbury Farmers Market
, which is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays at the Old Agricultural Hall, 1067 State Road in West Tisbury
. The combination of the brightly colored floral bouquets, the scent of freshly harvested produce, the savory edibles offered and the music on Saturdays all combine to truly create a feast for the senses. Bring your children to visit the alpacas and enjoy the live fiddle music. And watch for the chance to try some more exotic treats, like wheatgrass juice and Vietnamese spring rolls. The Saturday market runs from early June to mid-October. The Wednesday market runs from mid-June 18 to late August. 508-693-9561.
Portsmouth Harbor Trail Walking Tours
Portsmouth is a delightful riverside city today, with a low-profile downtown, lots of dining and shopping, and a gorgeous park on the Piscataqua River. Its history reaches to Colonial times, when it served as a deep-water port for fishing and shipping timber from inland to the sea. This history is on display through three walking tours
of the Portsmouth Harbor Trail. Guided tours are offered from June through October (call 603-610-5518). Three walks take you through or past Market Square, the heart of downtown; Prescott Park on the river; Strawbery Banke, a living history museum encompassing 400 years of the town's story; tug boats at the docks; views of the river; and several historic churches and mansions.
An Extraordinary Garden Experience
Seven Arrows Farm
at 346 Oakhill Avenue in Seekonk
is not your typical farm. During three decades , the farm is the product of owners/growers Judy and Michel’s mutual passion for plants, gardening, and all things green. Here you can stroll through the gardens and the uncommon plant nursery, find a remedy or a gift at the farm’s extensive herb shop, visit with the chickens and goats, seek counsel from one of the farm’s knowledgeable staff members, or simply relax with a book from the farm’s library or in the sunny tea room. Hours: Open year-round; call for spring and summer hours. 508-399-7860.
Paddle Wheeler Cruises Among the Mountains
The Songo River Queen II
is a replica of a Mississippi River stern paddle wheeler offering daily cruises from Long Lake in Naples. The Long Lake Cruise, departing from 841 Roosevelt Trail in Naples,
delights visitors with vast views of the Causeway, Mount Washington, Birch Point, Long Island, Arrowhead Point, Camp Takajo, Pine Island, and Pleasant Mountain, as well as beautiful waterfront properties. Public cruises run from Memorial Day through early October.
Tea Served in High Style, or Take-and-Make
Tea is served in high style and sold in glorious variety at two unique locations in northern Vermont. The Governor’s House
at 100 Main Street in Hyde Park
is an elegant bed-and-breakfast inn that serves tea in all appropriate high style on Thursday and Sunday afternoons (other times by pre-arrangement). The cream tea menu consists of warm freshly-made scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Relax and indulge! (802-888-6888)
, in Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace, welcomes you for quiet refreshment and hard-to-find teas from remote places like India, China, and Japan. This Bohemian tea room also serves light foods and desserts. Taste and decide what to take home, The tea room also sells artisan tea serving ware. Wonderful for gifts. (802-951-2424)
Old Orchard Beach = Classic Summer Fun
Old Orchard Beach
on Maine’s south coast could be a stage set for old-fashioned, on-the-loud-side summer beach fun. The social epicenter of the 7-mile long stretch of wide, sandy beach is the Palace Playland amusement park, an oceanfront playground since 1898. The streets of the town have a carnival atmosphere, with arcades, amusement rides, food, motels, gift shops, clubs and The Pier. Street dances and fireworks happen regularly. The beach itself has lifeguards in season and it is handicap-accessible. Surfing is allowed.
Formal Estate Gardens Near the Sea Are Pure Delight
Gardens , at 10 Willow Avenue in North Hampton
is a public display garden, located on the ocean, with 1,700 rose bushes, formal English perennial borders, a Japanese garden and Koi pond, and a tropical and desert conservatory, all designed in the Colonial Revival style. The gardens were once part of an estaste, located a stone’s throw from the ocean. In May there is an extensive tulip display; perennials, annuals, and roses, bloom through October. Garden are open to the public daily, mid-May to October. There is an admission fee. 603-964-5414.
Hold on to Your Helmet
Descending over 1000 feet of elevation, the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour
on Route 302 in Bretton Woods
takes nature-lovers and thrill-seekers across a series of treetop zip lines, and is one of the longest canopy tours in the continental United States. High-flying suspension bridges and hiking trails connect the zip lines, and the tour concludes with the Williwaw Racing Zip, a dual, side-by-side zip line leading right into the Bretton Woods base area. Designed and constructed by Bonsai Design Inc., this unique canopy tour features a dual-cable construction and coated cables to reduce noise. On the tour, guides describe the local flora and fauna, the natural history and White Mountain lore. Wow! Information: 603-278-4947.
Get Lost at the Gorge
The story of the Lost River in North Woodstock
began many millions of years ago, with the formation of mountains of igneous rock in present-day New Hampshire. A thick ice sheet of 150,000 to 25,000 years ago ground down the mountains and tumbled the rocks, creating the Lost River Gorge and partly burying its river. Today, you can visit the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves
at 1712 Lost River Road (Route 112W), walk the three-quarter-mile boardwalk into and through the gorge, explore the caves, and climb up the Dilly Cliff. Lantern tours offered at night, Kids enjoy the Lost River Mining Sluice, which replicates the work of sifting for gems. Open early May to mid October. Phone: 603-745-8031.
Come See Holyoke’s Historic Carousel
Holyoke Heritage State Park
at 221 Appleton Street in Holyoke is a compact city park on the edge of the Connecticut River. Most important for people who love carousels, the park has a handmade merry-go-round
dating from the early 1900s, the golden age of American carousels, many carved by immigrant craftsmen. The carousel was installed in 1929 at its first home, a former trolley park in the city, and it is open to riders. The Children’s Museum
and the Volleyball Hall of Fame
also are located within the park. The park is a sweet place to relax and have a picnic overlooking Holyoke's three canals and a row of historic mill buildings. 413-534-1723.
The Flower of Connecticut Parks
Known widely for its magnificent large rose garden, comprising about 15,000 bushes, Elizabeth Park
at the corner of Prospect and Asylum avenues in Hartford
encompasses 102 acres and boasts many garden areas, pathways, greenhouses, lawns, a picnic grove, a pond and recreation areas. Because of its gardens, it has been called the, “Flower of New England Parks.” The rose garden is the heart and soul of the park . Keep an eye on the park’s website for special events
like the annual Rose Show, garden tours, and live music.
Connecticut's Chocolate Trails
Every scenic drive in Connecticut is just a little bit better when you travel with some tasty bites of fine chocolate.? Chocolate is an internationally adored food, and Connecticut's chocolatiers will show you why -- if you're not a chocaholic already! Connecticut's Chocolate Trails
include lots of delectable treasures all over the state. From handmade holiday chocolates, to freshly-made exotic deliciousness, this list of chocolatiers is a must-taste New England tradition. Just follow the map!
Track the Great Blue Heron to Scarborough Marsh
The Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center
at 92 Pine Point Road in Scarborough
is an endlessly interesting place to explore an ever-changing salt marsh and estuary. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife manages the estuary, and provides all the information you need to explore the marsh on walking trails or by canoe (you can rent them). The center offers guided walks, canoe tours, exhibits, a nature trail, and a Maine Audubon Nature Store. Come see eye-to-eye with egrets, herons, glossy ibis and many stunning shorebirds. Open May to September. 207-883-5100
Fab Flea Market in South Burlington -- Limited Dates!
The South End Arts District of Burlington
at 180 Flynn Avenue hosts an always-intriguing flea market
on the third Sunday of each month from May through October, offering featuring antiques, vintage household goods, handicrafts, artwork by local people, tastings, lots of food, and tours of the nearby Switchback Brewing Co. (yes, the brewery’s tasting room will be opne.) BTV Flea was named a 2015 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Browsing.” Come and explore! BTV Flea operates from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. April 29, May 20, July 1, and September 9 in 2018.
Artists of Needle and Loom, Take Note
Dorr Mill Store
at 22 Hale Street in Guild, is a national center for wool and has had manufactured an extensive line of 100 percent wool for the time-honored crafts of traditional rug hooking, braiding and quilting. Dorr produces white and natural wools for those who wish to dye their own colors, thousands of yards of woolen textures and solids, and a full line of accessories and the latest patterns from noted designers. Fiber artists find Dorr’s wide selection of fabric designs, textures, wools, and blends irresistible. Open year-round. 800-846-3677.
Vroom Vroom at NH Motor Speedway
Notice to Dixie: You don’t own NASCAR. The New Hampshire Motor Speedway
at 1122 Route 106 North in Loudon
welcomes about 500,000 visitors every season, most of them for two NASCAR weekends in July and September. Also, every month, the Loudon Road Race Series and Granite State Legends Cars arrive for a race weekend. The two series provide some of the premier racing at NHMS outside of NASCAR weekends. The pinnacle of their season is the Loudon Classic, which runs in June as a wrap-up for Laconia Motorcycle Week. Phone: 603-783-4931
Hooves in Harmony at Slater Park Carousel
Slater Memorial Park
is a huge public park along Ten Mile River, with lots of amenities and activities for adults, kids, and families. In the park is the Looff Carousel, built in 1895 by Charles I.D. Looff, a craftsman of carousel construction at the height of that form of entertainment in America. The carousel was installed in the park in 1910 and restored in 1978. It has 44 horses, three dogs (a rarity), a lion, camel, giraffe, and two chariots. It is generally open during the spring and summer. Check with the City of Pawtucket for hours of operation at 401-639-4237.
You Gotta Love the Name
Visit the most-photographed waterfall in Massachusetts at Bash Bish Falls. Located next to the Mount Washington State Forest, Bash Bish Falls
tumbles through gorges and a hemlock ravine forest, and then drops about 60 feet into a sparkling pool. The park is open from sunrise to one-half hour after sunset and access is free. The falls is located next to the 4,169-acre Mount Washington State Forest, adjoining New York's 5,000 acre Taconic State Park.
Coastal Images Though Winslow Homer's Eyes
The former home of Winslow Homer, the painter who created magnificent images of the Maine coast in the late 19th century, is open for guided tours as the Winslow Homer Studio
at Prouts Neck in Scarborough
. The studio is owned and managed by the Portland Museum of Art. Before or after your tour, be sure to stroll along the nearby cliff walk, as a way to enter the world and imagery that Homer so famously turned into painted art. Tours in the warm seasons, May 31 through mid-October. 207-775-6148
Sea Life in the Mud Flats Offers a Close-Up Adventure
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
at 869 Main Street in Brewster
is a delightful museum for adults and children, but not overwhelming in size. Many exhibits explain the fascinating geology, flora, and animal life of the Cape, and the Salt Marsh Room offers a wonderful vista of the adjoining salt marsh. Downstairs is a small but satisfying aquarium. Just outside the back door is a self-guided walking trail of the marsh. Also, in the summer, naturalists offer guided treks of the marsh known a Mudflat Mania. A great way to see the fecund life of the salt marsh up close. Open year-round; seasonal hours. 508-896-3867
History Along a River Trail
New Hampshire Heritage Trail
is a 230-mile walking trail across New Hampshire from Massachusetts to Canada. Plymouth’s portion of the Heritage Trail, a 5.6-mile loop with 16 points of interest, begins at the Railroad Depot, constructed in 1909 for the Boston and Maine Railroad. Other highlights are a cottage where Robert Frost lived while teaching at Plymouth Normal School and Silver Cultural Arts Center, once a stop on the underground railroad. Park at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center on Green Street. The trail begins north of the Senior Center, past the District Courthouse. Follow the brown Heritage Trail directional signs. 603- 536-1001.
Plants Transformed into Artwork
Snug Harbor Farm,
open year-round at 87 Western Avenue in Kennebunk,
is a beauty of a place for sophisticated gardeners, with a special emphasis on topiaries and beautifully potted arrangements. The farm offers unique garden accessories and arrangements with a flavor of old European courtyards. There is always something unusual to find in the greenhouses or The Shop. The farm's topiaries are grown in handmade terra cotta vases and bowls and stone planters. Instruction is offered, along with special seasonal events, like the Haunted Barn at Halloween and classes at Christmas in wreath making and boxwood topiaries. Phone: 207-967-2414.
Boothbay Welcomes Fans of the Railroads
Boothbay Railway Village
on Wiscasset Road in Boothbay
has several exhibits, including a coal-fired steam train, antique fire trucks, and an antique automobile exhibit that includes Model T Fords, Stanley Steamers, and a Rolls Royce. The Village includes a restored 1847 Town Hall, the Spruce Point Chapel, and a historic fire house. The Village Green hosts many special events, like Antique Auto Days, Antique Tractor Pull, a craft fair, and holiday rides. Children love the 20-minute ride on Boothbay Central, a coal-fired narrow-gauge train. Open Memorial Day through mid-October. 207-633-4727.
Broad Meadow Offers Woods, Streams, and Marshes
Within the 400 acres of woods, fields, streams, and marsh at Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary
at 414 Massasoit Road in Worcester
, visitors can hike, cross-country ski, watch birds, look for butterflies, prowl for owls, or learn to snowshoe. The center has a large 3-D model of the sanctuary and a huge map of the Blackstone River watershed. Nature gifts, children’s books, field guides, are available at the center, which also serves as a visitor site for the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Trails are open daily, dawn to dusk. Phone: 508-753-6087.
Beautiful Oasis in the City
on Trinity Street in Hartford
is a wonderful public sanctuary that merits a full-day visit. The park is home to a carousel that dates from 1914 – the golden age of these structures that combine artistry, magic, and simple fun. For people who love the artistry of nature, Bushnell Park is an urban arboretum of rare and native trees. Visitors can pick up a brochure and take a self-guided walk of magnificent trees from many parts of the world. The park also has beautiful fountains, statues, a pond, and a performance pavilion. The park offers free tours of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch and hosts many public events. Open: May to mid-October. Phone: 860-232-6710.
Drive and Nibble; Drive and Sip
There’s no reason to be craving fine chocolate, cheese, or wine on a visit to the Granite State. The state’s tourism and farming people have creating a marvelously helpful and also beautiful brochure -- available as a pdf -- of New Hampshire’s Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Trails
. A simple and useful map heading the brochure is followed up by detailed listings of wineries, vineyards, cheese makers and chocolatiers. Drive and taste, drive and nibble, year-round. Fall brings bright foliage but all the seasons have great visuals from the car.
Art On the Seacoast
The Ogunquit Museum of American Art
on Shore Road in Ogunquit
has been called “The Most Beautiful Small Museum in the World,” and is home to an extensive collection of American art. The natural setting of the museum by itself is divine: The glass wall of the main gallery overlooks the coast and the ocean. The museum is surrounded by landscaped grounds, a reflecting pool, and sculpture gardens. Hours: Daily, May 1 to October 31. 207-646-4909.
All Aboard for a Fresh View of the Berkshires
Experience a side of the Berkshires that you won’t see from your car. The Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum
is offering it Hoosac Valley Service, a 10-mile, hour-long, round-trip train excursion between North Adams and Adams. The train ride offers beautiful views of Mount Greylock (the highest point in Massachusetts) and the surrounding Hoosac Mountain Range. On-board narration is provided to offer educational, historical and cultural information. Trains depart from 5 Hoosac Street, Adams. Trains operate weekends, Memorial Day to Columbus Day, and there is a Christmas-themed Tinseliner at the holiday period in November and December. 413-637-2210
Bath Builds Big Ships
Would you like to see a warship taking shape before your eyes? From May to October, the Maine Maritime Museum
, at 243 Washington Street in Bath offers a trolley tour of the Bath Iron Works. This one-hour trolley tour takes you behind the gates of Bath Iron Works to see how modern U.S. Navy destroyers are built. The Navy's most modern warship - DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer - is taking shape and visitors in 2012 were among the first to see it being built. Advance reservations are strongly recommended. Tours in 2018 are June to early October. Check museum website for tour hours.
Giddyup the Mountain
What does the Wild West have that we don’t have? Black Mountain Stables
, at 373 Black Mountain Road (Route 16B) outside Jackson Village
, offers scenic trail rides, pony rides, and trail ride lessons on the mountain, including day rides, overnight rides, and group trips. The base of Black Mountain is at 1250 feet and trail rides venture up to elevation 2,000. The views at this altitude are breathtaking. For the equestrian (or wannabe) who enjoys the mountainous outdoors, this is a best of all possible White Mountains adventures. Phone: 603- 383-4491.
Tarzan Never Had It So Good
As a kid, watching the movies, you always wanted to be Tarzan, right? Right?? A zipline canopy tour is the next best thing to living the life of the man of the jungle, but without the rope burns. Starting June 1, 2009, Zoar Outdoor on Main Street in Charlemont
is offering three-hour canopy tours in the woods and forests nearby. The Deerfield Valley Canopy Zipline Tours
leads adventurers on an aerial trek through the woods by means of zip lines and sky bridges suspended in the trees and connected through platforms that sit high above the forest floor. Zip line canopy tours originated 20 years ago in Central and South America as an exciting and unusual way to experience the forest canopy. Open April 1 through November 30. Phone: 800 532-7483.
Cape Cod Lavender Farm, where even the scenery smells lovely
Cape Cod Lavender Farm
on Weston Woods Road in Harwich
is exactly as the name states. Visitors may explore the ground in the company of a couple of friendly farm dogs, take pictures, and buy lavender-infused products like candles and skin care lotions, lavender lemonade, and even a lavender teddy bear. New in 2018 is the Enchanted Garden, with a shade garden, plantings embracing a stone replica of a medieval castle, fairy houses and delicious paths to wander. During harvest time in June and July, the beauty of the fields in bloom at the Cape Cod Lavender Farm is stunning. Open daily, April 1 through Columbus Day. 508-432-8397.
A cruise to visit the whales’ flapping grounds is almost de rigueur on a vacation in Bar Harbor and Acadia. The Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company
can get you on the water and into the whales’ neighborhood in a jiffy. It’s a fantastic view for people of all ages. the company also offers trips that focus on puffin and seal sightings, lobster fishing and lighthouses. All Maine, from the water. Phone: 207-288-9800.
Acadia Beauty Along a Loopy Drive
travels through Acadia National Park and the historic villages of Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island. Along this route, the rugged Maine coast and old-growth forests remain much as they were when the island was described by Samuel de Champlain in 1604. Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park are among the most beautiful places in New England. Travelers can bike on miles of interconnected carriage roads. This byway follows Route 3 into Bar Harbor, then follows the park loop road thereafter. Visitors looking to avoid summer traffic can enjoy the Acadia Byway aboard the free Island Explorer buses
Year-Round Fun in Nature and a Coffeehouse, Too
Located on Lang Road in Windsor
, Northwest Park & Nature Center
is a 473-acre recreational facility that has the virtue of staying open and lively throughout the year. There is a nature center, 12 miles of trails to enjoy during the winter and summer, maple sugaring, a Coffee House Concert Series that brings live music to listeners, and more. Annual events include Country Fair, pancake breakfasts, maple sugaring demonstrations, owl prowls, holiday wreath-making workshop and other forms of fun for all ages. Nice outdoor activities for parents and kids. Phone: 860-285-1886
Beauty of a Burlington Bike Trail
The Island Line biking and walking trail
, using the Burlington Bike Path and Colchester Causeway, is a 14-mile beauty of paved and gravel roads that skirts along Burlington’s shoreline, crosses the Winooski River, and crossed the lake into South Hero. Riders and walkers can enjoy gorgeous waterfront views of Lake Champlain from Burlington to Colchester and stop at many parks and natural areas along the way. See the trail website to findseveral access points. You won’t find more beautiful lake scenery anywhere. Order a map of the bikeway online.
Combine Bike Work and Relaxation in the Whites
If you enjoy bicycling and luxury, plant a three-day bike tour, with overnights at three delightful bed-and-breakfasts in the White Mountains. Bike the Whites
offers the bike-and-rest tours from Tuesdays to Fridays, May through October. Starting at the 1785 Inn in North Conway
, you will travel to the Inn at Crystal Lake in a Eaton Center
, and the Darby Field Inn in Albany
, and then returning to the 1785 Inn. Tours are self-guided with route maps provided by the innkeepers. Each route is 25 miles per day of easy to moderate terrain. The package includes three nights of lodging, two dinners, three breakfasts, transportation of luggage, maps, route planning, and road service as needed. Bike rentals are provided for an additional fee. Phone: 603-356-9025
Good Things Are Brewing Along Vermont’s Back Roads
A day with Back Road Brewery & Winery Tours
is your chance to wander the back roads of Vermont with an experienced guide and to stop and sip at several of the state’s craft breweries or wineries. The Northern Tours travels Route 7 and starts at Middlebury’s Otter Creek Brewery. The alternate Eastern Tour uses Route 4 and begins in Bridgewater at Long Trail Ale. The day closes with dinner. The tour company picks up customers in the Rutland/Ludlow/Killington area (subject to advance reservations). Held daily; please book in advance. Phone: 802-446-3131
Comedy, Music, Gravity Defiance: 15-Year-Old Johnson Hall's Got It
Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center
presents a wide range of artist programs -- live music series, children’s events, outdoor performances in the park and more -- in the historic Johnson Hall Performing Arts building (1864) at 280 Water Street in downtown Gardiner
. The Hall – Maine’s oldest opera hall -- celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016, a sign that it knows and serves its audience. 207-582-7144.
Out in the Woods, in Sight of Boston
For a romantic walk in a leafy woods, visit World’s End
, a nature preserve tucked into the end of a curve of shoreline that sweeps southeast from Boston. Rolling hills and rocky shorelines offer views of the Boston skyline, while tree-lined carriage paths make delightful walking trails. The 251-acre landscape includes rocky shores, broad hillsides, and open fields bracketed by woodlands. The property is ideal for walking, picnicking, jogging, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, or simply enjoying the outdoors. It is managed by the admirable Trustees of the Reservations, and open to the public for walking year-round.
Hanover Region Is Full of Interesting Things to See and Do
is home to Dartmouth College and it has a fun business district of good, casual dining and cool shopping for books, clothing, and art. If you love fine furnishings, Simon Pearce
in Hanover designs elegant glassware, handcrafted by artisans. The old and respected League of New Hampshire Craftsmen
has a retail gallery in Hanover. Saint Gaudens National Historical Site
will school you in the work of one of America’s greatest sculptors. Theater is live at the 800-seat, historic Lebanon Opera House
. Regional artists display work at Gilded Edge, a gallery in Lebanon. The Enfield Shaker Museum
welcomes you to explore a society of people living a unique and low-tech way of life for hundreds of years.
Wadsworth Presents a Mixture of Art and Entertainment
The marvelous Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
is a grand place to visit, particularly after the mid-decade overhall of the galleries. Permanent and changing exhibits are always worth a fresh visit. This museum leads the way in providing events and entertainments to showcase and enhance exhibits. These may include films, talks, live music, even Sunday brunches. There’s always something to enjoy. 860-278-2670.
Find Food Adventure with New Haven Food & Drink Tours
Most of us know that New Haven is famous for its original and authentic pizza, but there is so much more for your palate to enjoy there. Taste of New Haven Food & Drink Tours
hosts culinary walking culinary tours of this delightful, historic city. Experienced tour guides lead guests on tours with names and themes like Theater District, Canal Quarter, Goatville, Wooster Square, Pizza and Pints Bike, New Haven Symphony, Latin American Tapas, Pizza Lovers, Live To Eat, Theater District, Latin American Tapas, and On 9. Tours usually last 3 to 4 hours, although the Pizza Lovers Tour and the Pizza & Pints Bike Tour are 6 to 7 hours. Gift certificate available for a unique present. You also may book a private tour! Call and check the website for 203-710-3710.
Farm-Made Beers Generate National Excitement
A farm-based beer brewer that is quickly developing a national reputation for unique beers is found waaay up in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, near the town of Greensboro
. Beers by
Hill Farmstead Brewery
, at 403 Hill Road, are hand-crafted and the outcome of years of experience and education. The brewery is based on farmland in use by a family for 220 years. The retail shop, open Wednesdays to Saturdays, noon-5 p.m., is the only place the beer is regularly available. Twelve beers on draft are available at any given time, in 2-liter and 750-ml, bottles. These folks are serious about hand-crafted beers; they even host a Festival of Farmhouse Ales in August.
Bridge of Flowers Is Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen
The Bridge of Flowers
was once a decrepit railroad bridge, before it fell into the hands to local gardeners. They draped the bridge in living gardens of flowers, shrubs, and trees that delight people from spring to fall. It’s a walk through a gorgeous garden above a rushing river with a lovely town on the side. The bridge is in Shelburne Falls
, off Route 2 (the Mohawk Trail). It spans the Deerfield River and connects the towns of Shelburne and Buckland.
See Vermont by Train with the Green Mountain Railroad
Passenger train trips for pure pleasure are nearly obsolete, but not quite: the Green Mountain Railroad
offers several excursion train trips from spring through fall through the glorious mountains of Vermont on restored historic trains. Most of the line’s summer excursions depart from Burlington (1 Main Street); some depart from Chester (563 Depot Street). There is a Dinner Train, with a three-course meal; the Independence Day Flyer, taking people into Burlington for the July 4 fireworks show; the annual Old Home Days excursion from Chester to Bellows Falls; Cocktail on the Rails, a two-hour round-trip ride departing Chester every Friday night (with hors d' oeuvres and live music); and, later, many fall foliage excursions. It sounds confusing, but reservation and FAQ pages will help you choose an excursion perfect for you. 802-861-6050
Island Tours to Suit Your Tastes
Get to know Nantucket on a guided tour just right for your style: by bicycle, by boat, or on foot for eerie nighttime encounters. Cyclists can follow experienced guides on Nantucket Bike Tours
, visiting remote island spots. Shearwater Excursions
will take you offshore to explore the lovely shoreline. For the earthbound explorer, Raven's Walk
will guide you on a choice of spooky nighttime walks.
Off, Off, Off the Beaten Path
If you love the outdoors, quiet, and little to no commerce, plan a day trip to Swan’s Island
, a half-hour ferry ride from Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island. The island has three tiny villages, a very small population, and no amenities. Day visitors can enjoy walking or bicycling, swimming in a quarry, and exploring the rocky shore. Remote and restful.
Where the Flowers Go Wild
Garden in the Woods
at 180 Hemenway Road in Framingham
is the botanic garden of the New England Wild Flower Society. Fifteen hundred native plants live throughout the gardens, along with two miles of paths meander under a canopy of trees past a pond, a wooded bog, springs, and a brook. You can come for guided tours and for classes and other educational opportunities. Bring or buy a boxed lunch for a picnic and browse the Garden Shop, with a charming selection of native plants, books, tools, gifts, and snacks. Check out the family programs
Charms of the Old Port
Portland’s Colonial maritime heritage and authentic 19th-century architecture make this vibrant downtown truly unique. Join guides of the Maine Historical Society for a comprehensive 90-minute tour
of the highlights of Portland’s history during a leisurely walk to the waterfront. The perfect way to orient visitors. Recommended for guests age 12 and older. Tours are offered on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Phone: 207-774-1822.
The Isles of Shoals Steamship Company
offers a boat tour of Portsmouth
harbor that takes visitors deep into the heart of a working waterfront of tugboats, tankers, forts, and lighthouses. This fascinating tour takes visitors past the oldest naval yard in the country, five forts, two lighthouses, and the Olde Port waterfront. Another tour offered by the company takes visitors seven miles offshore to visit the historic and romantic Star Island, once the home of a grand hotel of the 19th century. "Walkabout" or "Stopover" cruises to Star Island offer a one-to-four-hour stopover, with time to stroll past ancient hotel buildings and a historic garden. Steamship company boats docked at 315 Market Street. 800-441-4620
Hope for Fun & Interesting Encounters
To enjoy a relaxed and interesting view into Providence’s boulevard society, take a stroll along Hope Street
on the city’s East Side. The street moves among the properties of Brown University and it is dotted with fun eateries. Hope connects with Wickenden Street
, also a near walk with plenty of cool shops and a sidewalk society that loves to sit, sip, and walk the world go by. Lots of nice shops of Wickenden, purveying goods from fish for you aquarium to art supplies. Denizens of the Brown University community will be kicking about too. Neat walks in all seasons.
Burn Some Energy Along This Historic Trail
The Minuteman Bikeway
, also called America's Revolutionary Rail-Trail, passes through the historic area where the American Revolution began in April 1775. Built on an inactive railroad, the Bikeway has become a treasured resource, used by residents and visitors from near and far. Connecting to the Alewife “T” Station in Cambridge, the bikeway provides an easy way for bicyclists and pedestrians -- and, in the winter, skiiers -- to travel. The bikeway passes through Bedford, Lexington, Arlington
, and Cambridge
. Bikeway map.
Wear Out Those Kids at Canobie
If it’s summertime and you have a passel of kids brimming with energy to burn, here’s the solution: a day at Canobie Lake Park
. The amusement-and-water is doing a huge expansion of its water park for the summer 2018 season. Wear out those kids on a new 60-foot-tall water slide as adults relax in the cabana. Of course, the park has plenty of rides and games for smaller and less-adventurous children, along with plenty of classic summertime food. It will be the height of your summer! Open early May to late October; weekends only in Mary, September, and October. 603-893-3506
Boothe Memorial Park Is Entertaining All Year
Boothe Memorial Park & Museum
on Main Street in Stratford
sits on an idyllic, 32-acre site in the north end of Stratford by the Housatonic River, which was the estate of the Boothe family for many generations. There are many architecturally unique buildings and attractions on the grounds as well as a new, handicapped-accessible playground with two climbing walls. The annual Great Pumpkin Festival is a huge attraction in the fall, while outdoor concerts and Shakespearean plays beckon visitors in the spring and summer. Tours of the historic buildings are seasonal (May - October). The park is open and free of charge year round. 203-381-2046.
Art’s Dune Tours Are Unbeatable Adventure
For three generations, the family-run Art’s Dune Tours
, located at 4 Standish Street in Provincetown
, has been taking spellbound visitors on tours of the dunes of the Provincelands, a marvelous, otherworldly place of sky, sea, bending dune grass, and wind-sculpted dunes. On the tours, you will travel through the majestic dunes where your guide points out the dune shacks where famous artists and writers like Eugene O'Neill and Harry Kemp became inspired to create their art. You will also pass the remains of the Peaked Hill Life Saving Station and learn how the brave "life savers" enacted their heroic efforts to save the lives of thousands from the doomed shipwrecks. Access by the public to the dunes is limited, so this is the
to see them. 800-894-1951
Family Fun on the Farm (Planetarium Included)
The folks who run Stamford Museum and Nature Center
at 39 Scofieldtown Road Stamford
have a genius gene for making farm life, the outdoors, nature and the sky a fascinating adventure for young children and families. The science and nature attraction is on a 118-acre site and it encompasses a working farm, hiking trails, picnic area, a playground, art galleries, and a planetarium with observatory and regularly scheduled events describing the heavens above. Many special seasonal events and things to do for families include maple harvest, Easter egg hunts, and fall activities. Property includes the Bendel Mansion & Galleries. Open all year, with hours change seasonally. Phone: 203-322-1646.
The Stonehenge Is a Spooky Exploration
, at 105 Haverhill Road in Salem
, is a large wooded property filled with mazes of man-made chambers, walls, and ceremonial meeting places, probably more than 4,000 years old. Like Stonehenge in England, America's Stonehenge was built by ancient people well versed in astronomy and stone construction. It has been determined that the site is an accurate astronomical calendar. For the rest of us, America’s Stonehedge is a fun place to explore and marvel, even in the winter. Snowshoeing trails wind through 105 acres of woodlands filled with wildlife. The property is open for snowshoeing daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and snow shoes are available for rent. 603-893-8300.
Driving You to Drink in Portland
Some observers of American life declare that the existence of a lot of craft breweries is a sign of a city’s soulfulness. In any case, the Maine Brew Bus
based at 111 Commercial Street in Portland
scheduled and private tours of breweries in Portland and southern Maine. The tours give you a behind-the-scenes look at Maine's craft breweries, distilleries, wineries, and more. Tours are led by knowledgeable guides and a non-drinking driver. All tours include a snack or meal and trivia games. New tour is Birds on Tap: a guided tour of bird watching and beer-sipping. 207-200-9111.
Theater in the Trees
In 1936 a marvelous opera house was built on the site of an old deer run above the village of Harrison
. Constructed in the Adirondack style with near-perfect acoustics, the 300-seat theater was considered as fine as any on Broadway. The Deertrees Theatre & Cultural Center
at 156 Deertrees Road is a unique opera house that offers live music, comedy, professional theater, and special events from June to September. 207-583-6747
Dip a Paddle Into Wild Beauty
Get that kayak into new and interesting waters! Managers of the Crane Wildlife Refuge
off of Argilla Road in Essex
invite kayakers to put theif boats into the water and paddle in and around this glorious salt marsh it is easy to land on or adjacent to the dock on Long Island 9see map).Explore the beauty and tranquility of the island refuge, which is maintained to provide habitat for wildlife and to preserve the property in its natural state. 978-356-4351
Starry Nights at Acadia
Spend a night under the stars at Acadia National Park
on Mount Desert Island
, and everything will come into perspective. The night sky is an endless source of entertainment and beauty, and the clear, dark Maine sky allows stargazers a breathtaking view of constellations. The Seawall Campground picnic area near Manset is an almost magically scenic stargazing spot: See the Milky Way and ocean meet. Discover the brightest stars in the sky, the "hidden" location of hundreds of black holes, and Messier 13, the famous faraway destination of a human attempt at intergalactic contact. Bring your best telescope, or get a rotating star map from the Acadia gift shop.
Go Wild in the Mountains
With a name that includes Seacoast Fun Park, Crazy Apes Adventure Trails and Zip Park
, and Snow Park, you know that this attraction, at 932 Roosevelt Trail in Windham, is for people who like vigorous play. Seacoast Fun Park offers lots of activities April through October, including the adrenaline-pumping Sky Swing and more. The Crazy Apes section has tree top trails where you can zip, climb, and trek through the trees. The zip lines tour is an exhilarating ride down some major zips. Snow tubing happens in winter. 207-892-5829
Visit Writer’s Famous Garden on Isles of Shoals
Celia Laighton Thaxter (1835-1894) grew up on the Isles of Shoals, off of the Maine and New Hampshire coastlines, where her father was the lighthouse keeper on White Island. She became a popular writer of stories and poetry, and, in middle age, was the hostess of her father's hotel, the Appledore House, on Appledore Island. Today, Appledore is an operating station of the Shoals Marine Laboratory, and it is most uninhabited, but tours are offered to see Celia’s famous gardens. Boat tours
are offered on specific dates in summer 2018 from late June to mid-August via the R/V Gulf Challenger. Tours depart from the Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex adjacent to the U.S. Coast Guard Station New Castle
, NH. Reserve early!
Brimfield Antique Show Roars Into 2018
The thrice-yearly Brimfield Antique Show
is the rock star of all antique shows based on hugeness alone. Brimfield is home to 3,000 residents, but during the six-day shows, the population balloons to over 30,000 visitors and 5,000 dealers. The show’s carnival-like atmosphere is fun for all ages. Display booths for thousands of dealers run for a half-mile along Route 20 and about 500 feet from the road. The wildest imagination could not predict what you might find there. Show dates in 2018 are May 8-13, July 10-15, and September 4-9.
Riding in the Clouds at Castle in the Clouds
Many of us are acquainted with Castle in the Clouds
(the Lucknow estate) in Moultonborough
, a 1913 house composed of a unique and charming mix of Arts and Crafts architecture. Do you know you can take a horseback ride
on the grounds of this mountaintop estate. Guided horseback trail rides through the wooded property are offered year-round. The trail ride passes Shannon Pond, small waterfalls, and displays gorgeous views high above Lake Winnipesaukee. Rides are about one hour long in duration and are a relaxing walk only. For riders age 8 and older. Reservations are required, at 603-476-8350.
It’s an Island; It’s a Playground
We love strolling the streets of Portsmouth
but, let’s face it, sidewalks get hot in summer. Solution: Escape to Peirce Island
, a 27-acre island in the Piscataqua River, an easy hop across a bridge from the south side of the city (the island is part of and managed by the city). The island has a glorious public pool, 100 yards longs, 33 yards wide, and 14 inches down to 6 feet in depth. The public is welcome, from end of June through August. Walking trails take you to five waterfront overlooks, of Naval Shipyard, the south end of Portsmouth, and the three Piscataqua bridges. There are public boat launches and a playground. It’s like a summer day in the country next to a great small city.
Star Gazing From Nantucket
Loines Observatory of the Maria Mitchell Association
at 59 Milk Street Extension Nantucket
is open for public viewing year round, and for frequent special astronomical events. Climb a ladder to the eyepiece of a fine, old telescope and sample the sights of the distant heavens. Public hours are longer in the summer and more abbreviated in the winter, so check the calendar on the observatory’s website. Star-gazing nights are held regularly, and posted on the calendar. Remember, observing is weather dependent, so check the skies or call ahead. 508-228-9273.
History, Horticulture, and Hiking in One
The Fells at the John Hay National Wildlife Refuge
was the summer retreat for Secretary of State John M. Hay, archaeologist Clarence Hay, and nature writer John Hay. The 164-acre estate at 456 Route 103A in Newbury
includes historic houses that are open for tours during the summer and hiking trails along Lake Sunapee that are open year-round. The big draw for visitors is the magnificent gardens: a 100-foot perennial border, a formal rose terrace, a Japanese water lily pool, and a walled secret garden. Phone: 603-763-4789.
Flutter on Over to This Butterfly Garden
The Charlotte Rhoades Park & Butterfly Garden
at 191 Main Street in Southwest Harbor
on Mount Desert Island welcomes people to come and enjoy the butterflies and bring a picnic. It has been named Best Pocket Garden by the editors of Yankee Magazine, so you know you are in for a treat. A box at the entrance has brochures and other helpful material. From April to October, volunteers are on site Thursday mornings to describe the garden and butterfly activity. The path through the garden is four feet wide and the surface is compacted crushed rock, which is reasonably easy to navigate for a wheelchair user. No restrooms or drinking water at the garden. Open mid-Ma to mid-October, sunrise to sunset.
Beach Life with Glitter at Weirs
(“Where Lake Winnipesaukee Begins!”) in Laconia
offers a wide, sandy beach and lots of summery beach activities for people who aren’t looking for too much serenity. The attached park is landscaped with picnic areas and play areas as well as a jetty for watching an endless parade of boats A real wooden boardwalk jumps with fun: arcades, boat cruises, railroad rides, waterslides, miniature golf, go-carts, balloon flights, a drive-in movie theater, fireworks, live music, and special events. A family favorite for generations.
Absolute Bliss: A Day Along the Wine Trail
Connecticut’s mild climate makes the state a fruitful place for growing grapes, and the state’s wine-making industry has bloomed in the past three decades. A delightful way to sample Connecticut vintages is to take a drive along the Connecticut Wine Trail
, a route that bypasses 15 vineyards (and some beautiful countryside). The trail consists of two sections, in the eastern and the western parts of the state. Blue highway signs mark the trail and the state produces a colorful brochure. Connecticut's wineries produce a wide variety of wines, ciders, and fruit wines. All the wineries have tasting rooms and all offer at least one tour daily. Many host festive special events. Call ahead for tour schedules. 860-267-1399.
All Aboard at the Thomaston Station
The Railroad Museum of New England
on East Main Street in Thomaston
tells the story of the region's rich railroad heritage. The museum has an extensive collection of New England locomotives of all types, passenger cars, freight cars, and cabooses, and artifacts dating from the 1840s to the present, from tickets to signal towers. From late May through October, the museum offers train rides restored 1920s coaches from the historic Thomaston Station and along the Naugatuck River. Be sure to visit the gift shop at the station. Phone: 860-283-7245.
River Rafting Can Be Wild and Wonderful
The Forks is best known as Maine’s mecca for whitewater rafting. Located where the Dead and Kennebec Rivers meet, it is the starting point for experiencing the heart stopping rolls and punches dealt by the state’s mightiest rivers. Numerous guiding companies are located in The Forks, and many have expanded their services to include guided ATV tours, mountain biking treks, rock climbing, and snowshoeing trips. The Forks is a year-round destination for hunters and anglers, but come winter, the snowmobilers arrive. With more than 100 miles of interconnected trails in the region, sledding becomes the preferred method of transportation once the snow begins to fall. The Forks Area Chamber of Commerce
can help you find all the resources you need. 207-663-2121.
Bohemian Beauty and Origins of the Arts & Crafts Movement
The exhibition, Bohemian Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement and Oscar Wilde’s Newport
on display through November 4, 2018, in Rosecliff, 548 Bellvue Avenue in Newport,
, celebrates the Aesthetic Movement (1870-1890), an important era of artistic experimentation. Irish poet Oscar Wilde was a leading proponent of the Aesthetic Movement in Britain, and he traveled to North America in 1882 to promote it. The style was influential in the Gilded Age, as it merged interests in traditional crafts - a precursor of the Arts & Crafts Movement.
Stretch Out on the Sand
For a day trip to the beach or for overnight camping, local people recommend Ellacoya State Park
at 280 Scenic Drive in Gilford
on Lake Winnipesaukee. The long sandy beach, with views of the Sandwich and Ossipee mountains, is just right for family swimming and picnicking. There is a bathhouse, a souvenir store, and a small boat launch. The campgrounds offer RV hookups and showers.
Gillette Stadium Celebrates the Patriots
, off Route 1 in Foxboro
, includes Gillette Stadium, home of the champion New England Patriots football team, but there is much more to the Place than football alone. The property includes 1.3 million square feet of shopping, dining, and entertainment, along with a state-of-the-art museum dedicated to the Patriots. Major retailers include Bass Pro Shops store, with everything and outdoorsman or outdoorswoman could desire. Dining runs the gamut from basic burgers to seafood to a gourmet bistro. 508-203-2100.
Experience a Colonial Leader at Gilbert Stuart’s Home
Gilbert Stuart was one of the leading portrait artists of 18th century America. He created the portrait of George Washington that appears on the one-dollar bill. His birthplace
is on 23 acres in the woods of Saunderstown
, next to a millpond that his family used to power a snuff mill, a major business of that time. An afternoon spent exploring the authentically restored 1750 house, functioning gristmill, gardens, trails, and art exhibitions of period works is a deeply satisfying learning experience of our Colonial forefathers. Open to the public late April to mid October. 401-294-3001