A quiet walk or stroll through the downtowns and neighborhoods of New England's historic cities and towns can be a tour of wonderful architecture, both traditional and modern; gracious parks; busy, working waterfronts; and bustling shopping and dining destinations. Many towns and cities have created walking and biking trails on former railroad bed; Boston is famous for its Freedom Trail. Kids enjoy walking and rubbernecking as much as grownups do. On your vacation or weekend getaway, take an old-fashioned walk: New England is perfect for it. learn more about New England’s cities.
The Emerald Necklace is a six historic urban parks from the Back Bay of Boston to Dorchester designed by architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The necklace includes places as varied as basketball courts, an arboretum, and a zoo. One park, Back Bay Fens , is a mix of formal and community gardens, ball fields, and historic structures.
To Get There: Avoid driving; parking is difficult. Use trains of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority ( MBTA or "the T" ): Green B, C Lines: Hynes/Mass Ave, Kenmore; Green D Line: Hynes/Mass Ave, Kenmore, Fenway; Green E Line: Museum of Fine Arts, Northeastern University; Orange Line: Ruggles.
Developed during a brilliant revival of downtown Providence starting in the 1990s, this park is largely a walkway along the 3 rivers that meet in the downtown, with delightfully fanciful footbridges that cross the river at intervals. At the end of the walk bracketed by Memorial Blvd., Francis Street, and Finance Way is a circular boat basin with amphitheater-type steps where outdoor performances take place in warm weather. The river is home to the famous WaterFire art installation of broadcast music combined with fires on the water that has charmed thousands of local people and visitors.
In the Center of Oaks Bluffs is a colony of about 300 perfectly preserved examples of Carpenter Gothic style "gingerbread" cottages dating from the mid-1800s. The colorful little homes, owned and occupied by families over generations, are the living continuation of the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, rooted in the 1830s Wesleyan revival movement. The still-dynamic Tabernacle stands at the center of this network of fairytale-like houses.
Portland is so dense with elegant 19th-century urban architecture and waterfront views that any walk through the city is a scenic stroll. A couple of the standout areas are Fore Street along the waterfront, famous for its progressive food culture; the Old Port waterfront; and Congress Street, including the city's Museum of Art, City Hall, and other monumental buildings. These routes all pass waterfront and urban parks, with neat public sculpture and busy social scenes. See the attached map for points of interest.
Perched aside a wooded section of the Connecticut River, Essex is the quintessential New England riverside town of historic clapboard buildings and tree-lined streets. Its three village centers have fine examples of Colonial and Federal architecture. A walk through town would start at the Essex town dock at the end of Main Street and then proceed up Main Street, passing the Connecticut River Museum and Griswold Inn. Where Main Street splits, turn left onto North Main and walk toward the Riverview Cemetery. Continuing, take a left on Grove Street and a left on Prospect Street to loop back to your starting point.
To enjoy the views of Casco Bay near Camden, start at 2 Elm Street and walk along Bay View Street to Laite Beach, with views of Curtis Island Lighthouse. Continue on Bay View to Seaview Cemetery and take a left onto Chestnut Street. You will pass Aldermere Farm, breeding Belted Galloway cattle. Take a left onto Calderwood Lane and watch for views of Casco Bay. Turn right onto Chapel Road, which passes Vesper Hill Chapel, with lovely gardens.
Continue down Chapel Road and turn right onto Beauchamp Road, which follows Rockport Harbor. From Beauchamp, you will connect to Mechanic Street. Follow this to the end. To return to Camden, take a right at the end of Mechanic Street and back into Camden Village. Adapted from www.camdenmaineexperience.com with our thanks.
The central Vermont village of Weston is a picture of small-town Vermont simplicity and loveliness. The center of the village is the Green, also called Farrar Park, on Route 100, where a gazebo is brightly lit at Christmas. Walking southward on Route 100, you may pass the Weston Village Store, the Village Green Gallery, the Vermont Country Store, and the Farrar-Mansur house museum (built in 1797). Walking northward, you will see the Weston Playhouse and Maple Grove Cemetery.
Portsmouth is a picturesque colonial-era town on the bank of the Piscataqua River with wonderful views, shops and restaurants on a very human scale. Walking tours of the Portsmouth Harbor Trail from June through October can be arranged by calling 603-610-5518. Three separate 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.
A walk around Wickford, a beautiful seacoast village on a cove off Narragansett Bay, makes a day of pleasures on a human scale. The village has been doing business since 1709, and it still bustles -- at a mellow pace. Great shops show cool jewelry, gifts, clothing, and more. Galleries are delightful, and there are plenty of places for a good meal. Walk past churches, colonial-period houses and gardens. Listen to the boats gently rattle their moorings from the decks of waterside restaurants.
A beautiful, peaceful, and historic walk in an older city can usually be found at a garden cemetery. Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, surrounded by regal Yale University, sits behind a stone wall and iron fence along Grove and Prospect streets. The cemetery, which has been called the Westminster of Yale, contains the graves of Yale luminaries, like Eli Whitney and Noah Webster. The cemetery was established in 1797; it beauty if enhanced by the architectural gem of an Egyptian Revival-style gateway entrance on High Street.
A sweet walk through a New England college town, including a short trip around a recreational pond, is yours in the center of Hanover, home to Dartmouth College. You are surrounded by traditional and modern college buildings along with stores and eateries. From Dartmouth Green, within North Main Street, East Wheelock Street and College Street, walk northward on Main Street and take a left onto Webster Street, moving through the frat house neighborhood and past the college president's house. Turn right onto Occom Ridge and pass between Occom Pond and the Connecticut River. At the end of Occom Ridge, a right turn onto Hilton Field Road and another right onto Rope Ferry Road will return you to North Main Street and the center of town.
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