What can you expect from a visit to the New England states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut? For starters, everyone’s seen images of the region’s natural beauty: the craggy coastline of Maine, the blazing fall foliage of Vermont, the mountain peaks of New Hampshire. Moving toward the middle and southern states: the dune grasses and beaches of Cape Cod and heroes of the American Revolution in Massachusetts, the Colonial streets and Newport mansions of Rhode Island, and the classic town greens and steepled churches of Connecticut.
Everyone who loves New England and water fun has a favorite beach. Among the most well-known are the sandy sweeps and bending dune grasses of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. At the opposite end of image and mood (but without sand), are the swimming holes of the old Vermont marble quarries and the tumbling waters of rock strewn mountain streams. Those images only touch of the variety of salt-water and fresh-water swimming places in New England.
Even the most energetic vacationers need to kick back at the end of the day. Lodgings across New England serve every taste. How would you like to drift into sleep to the lapping of ocean waves from a beach or oceanside resort? Awaken to the hoot of loons in a mountain resort? Sip a leisurely cup of coffee at a boutique hotel or bed-and-breakfast inn in a historic neighborhood in charming Portland, Burlington, Boston, Portsmouth, Providence, or New Haven? Family friendly and pet-friendly lodgings welcome kids and dogs, too.
Start your romantic getaway plans with a walk along a windy beach dune or a sunset cruise on a mountain lake. Move on to a candlelit dinner in a 300-year-old converted stagecoach inn. Romance can go with dazzle, too, like at high-rise luxury hotels in places like Portland, Boston, and Providence, some with rooftop restaurants or pools. In winter, farmers offer horse-drawn carriage rides (or even snowmobile or dog sled rides for the hearty). Romantic dining, from a café in some city’s Little Italy to a restaurant alongside a sweet village green, is everywhere.
Children’s fun is everywhere. Would your children love to ski or snowboard? Poke through granite caves alongside a churning ravine? Ride river rapids or take a zip line dive down a mountain? Play and swim at a sandy ocean beach or a mountain lake? Take a cruise off the Maine coast on a classic windjammer? Maybe visit the olden times at a living history museum like Old Sturbridge Village or Mystic Seaport? Indoors, children’s museums and science museums are found almost everywhere, two of the best aquariums anywhere are in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
New England’s traditional foods range from Maine lobsters and blueberries to Boston baked beans and Vermont cheese and maple syrup. In this region book-ended by the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island Sound, and Vermont’s Lake Champlain, nearly every eatery serves a fine platter of seafood. Do you love friendly, down-home diners? New England has them.
People have their favorite New England seasons, but it can be hard to choose the single best. The sugar maples of the New England mountains burst into brilliant color in fall, with Columbus Day as the usual epicenter of the show. All through the season, smart travelers plan a self-guided foliage drive. Winter brings snow sports of all kinds to the mountain regions, where the ski areas rank up with the best ski spots across the nation. Summer is a time for beaches – from the sandy stretches of Cape Cod to the fresh waters of tree-lined inland lakes and swimming holes.
New England is loved for its waterways, most famously for its waterfront along the Atlantic Ocean, but also the historic Lake Champlain, the mountain-ringed lakes of New Hampshire, the fly-fishing and rafting resource of the Housatonic River, and the many beautiful bays. Maine’s famous windjammers offer cruises, as do boat pilots on Lake Winnipesaukee. Many cruises offer specialty events like sunset views or wine tasting, or a chance to watch lobstermen pull in their catch. Essex, Connecticut, offers a combined land-and-water adventure on am antique train followed by a river paddleboat.
She loves museums; he loves to shop. Let’s start with Boston’s fabulous arts, history, and science museums. Two favorites are the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for art and a medieval courtyard and the USS Constitution Museum, with “Old Ironsides” docked nearby. Shopping is grand at Newbury Street and the famous Faneuil Hall Marketplace. It’s not fair, though, to focus on a single city. Art and history and science museums are plentiful and fascinating in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
You can find stories of the creation of America almost everywhere, along with tales of the region’s seafaring history. Boston has the Freedom Trail among stores, churches and houses where the Revolution of 1776 was planned. The Industrial Revolution was founded at Slater Mill in Rhode Island, when a Brit smuggled plans for a water-powered mill out of England. Living history museums include Plimoth Patuxet (formerly “Plimoth Plantation”). The Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, ME, is one of several that tell the histories of Native peoples.