Boasting natural beauty, culture, history, and an array of attractions and activities, New England promises to delight. Comprising Connecticut, New Hampshire, ME, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, New England is in the northeastern region of the United States that is renowned for its rich colonial past, stunning Atlantic coastline, spectacular forested mountains, and ever-changing autumn foliage. Each New England state has its own distinct character and offers a variety of things to see and do, from beautiful beaches, world-class ski slopes, state parks and national forests, excellent art galleries and museums, and other cultural attractions.
1. Cape Cod National Seashore
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The Cape Cod National Seashore is a pristine marine environment that consists of 40 miles of beautiful white sandy beaches, tranquil ponds, swampy marshes, wild cranberry bogs, and hiking and biking trails. Established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Cape Cod National Seashore offers a variety of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, and ranger-guided activities such as lighthouse tours, snorkeling, and yoga classes. Other activities include four-wheel driving on the beach, camping, and corridor fishing, and there are two visitors centers, namely the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham and the Province Lands Visitor Center in Provincetown, both of which are open year round.
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2. Acadia National Park
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Located on Maine's Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is a vast recreation area on the Atlantic Coast made up of 47,000 acres of rocky beaches, dense woodlands, and ice-topped peaks like majestic Cadillac Mountain, which is the highest point on the East Coast of the United States. Established in 1916 as the Sieur de Monts National Monument and later renamed as Lafayette National Park and then Acadia National Park in 1929, the National Park is the oldest designated park in the country east of the Mississippi. The park is home to the bayside town of Bar Harbor, which has several restaurants, cafés, shops, and bars and a plethora of wildlife such as bears, moose, whales, and a diverse variety of seabirds.
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3.Block Island North Light
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The Block Island North Light is a historic lighthouse on Block Island, Rhode Island, also known as New Shoreham. The tower was built in 1829 to highlight the entrances to the Block Island and Long Island Sounds, as well as to warn sea-farers away from dangerous Sandy Point, which extended a mile out from the island. The Block Island North Light lighthouse has since been replaced four times due to various factors and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a popular tourist attraction. Today, the Block Island North Light lighthouse stands 55 feet height and is built from granite in an octagonal shape. The tower features a fourth-order Fresnel lens, which has a range of 11 nautical miles, and does not have a foghorn.
Block Island, RI 02807, Phone: 401-466-3213
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4.Conway Scenic Railroad
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Located in North Conway, New Hampshire, the Conway Scenic Railroad is a heritage railway that offers fun for the whole family. The Conway Scenic Railroad features a variety of beautifully restored vintage locomotives and train cars, which provide an authentic, old-fashioned railroading experience on two historic valley routes. Train rides depart from the 1874 train station in North Conway and travel through some of the most dramatic natural scenery, including cascading brooks and streams, steep ravines, sheer bluffs, and panoramic mountain vistas, through the spectacular Crawford Notch to Crawford Station, where the trip ends. Guest can relive the golden age of railroading with a first-class dining experience on one of the elegant dining cars during the trip.
38 Norcross Cir, North Conway, NH 03860, Phone: 603-356-5251
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5.Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum
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The Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum is a state-owned natural history preserve in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, that protects one of the most significant dinosaur track sites in North America. The park spans 80 acres and features a geodesic dome that showcases an exceptional display of early Jurassic fossil tracks dating back to 200 million years ago. The park boasts over 2 miles of nature and hiking trails and has an award-winning arboretum, which is home to over 250 species of conifers as well as ginkgoes, katsuras, and magnolias and other plant families that existed during the age of the dinosaurs. The Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum has a museum that offers a unique view of the dioramas of Triassic and Jurassic environments, a preserved Mesozoic floodplain covered with tracks, collections of fossils, and interactive exhibits.
400 West St, Rocky Hill, CT 06067, Phone: 860-529-8423
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6. ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
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Located on the Burlington waterfront in northern Vermont at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain Activities, the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center is home to a variety of animals, including more than 70 species of amphibians, invertebrates, fish, and reptiles. Established to inspire and educate the public about the ecology, culture, and history of the Lake Champlain Basin, the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center also features a range of significant traveling exhibitions as well as the state-of-the-art multimedia Awesome Forces Theatre. The marine-focused children's museum offers over 100 award-winning hands-on exhibits, like the ever-popular FrogWorld and the saltwater petting tank, along with a variety of educational and interactive family-friendly activities and daily animal encounters. The museum also has an ecology-themed café that serves light meals and drinks, an eclectic gift shop that sells aquarium-related gifts, souvenirs, and items, the Lake Champlain Navy Memorial, and the University of Vermont research vessel Melosira, which offers exhibits and cruises.
1 College St, Burlington, VT 05401, Phone: 802-864-1848
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7.Faneuil Hall Marketplace
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Located near the waterfront and the Government Center in Boston, Massachusetts, Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a historic marketplace and shopping center that has been part of the city’s heritage for the past 275 years. Founded in 1743, Faneuil Hall was a marketplace and a meeting hall where several famous speeches took place, including statements by James Otis and Samuel Adams, who encouraged independence from Great Britain. Sometimes referred to as “the Cradle of Liberty,” the marketplace is a favorite stop on the Freedom Trail and part of Boston National Historical Park and features a wealth of market stalls, restaurants, eateries, stores, and a famous promenade, all based in three historic buildings.
4 S Market St, Boston, MA 02109, Phone: 617-523-1300
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8.Farnsworth Art Museum
© Farnsworth Art Museum
Located in Rockland on the mid-coast of Maine, the Farnsworth Art Museum is an art museum that specializes in American art. Built in 1948, the institution was established to celebrate the role of American art in Maine and features a nationally recognized collection of American art in elegantly appointed galleries. The museum collections include works by Thomas Sully, Fitz Henry Lane, Childe Hassam, Thomas Eakins, Eastman Johnson, and Maurice Prendergast along with a permanent collection entitled Maine in America with works by Frank Benson and Gilbert Stuart. Four of the galleries are dedicated to contemporary art, and there is a significant collection of works by the 20th century sculptor Louise Nevelson. The Farnsworth Art Museum also offers a range of educational programs, workshops, and classes for visitors of all ages.
16 Museum St, Rockland, ME 04841, Phone: 207-596-6457
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Located at Yawkey Way in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood near Kenmore Square in Boston, Fenway Park is a world-renowned baseball park that has been the home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912 and a Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise for the past 65 years. The oldest ballpark in the Major League Baseball, Fenway has hosted the World Series ten times, five of which the Boston Red Sox won. The stadium is also used for other sporting and cultural events, such as professional football for teams like the Boston Patriots, the Boston Yanks, and the Boston Redskins, soccer, hockey, concerts, and political and religious campaigns, and visitors can explore the grounds on guided tours.
4 Yawkey Way, Boston, MA 02215
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10.Green Mountain National Forest
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Located in central and southwestern Vermont, the Green Mountain National Forest is a pristine ecoregion of Acadian and New England forests that offers a four-season recreation experience. The near 400,000-acre Green Mountain National Forest features more than 2,000 archeological and historic sites that highlight the history and heritage of Vermont, including remains of colonial-era farmsteads, ancient Native American sites, industrial-period technologies, and facilities built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The forest is also an area of spectacular natural beauty, with rugged mountainscapes and verdant woodlands, offering an array of recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fall foliage tours, and bird and wildlife watching year round.
231 N Main St, Rutland, VT 05701, Phone: 802-747-6700
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11.Harvard Museum of Natural History
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The Harvard Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum that is dedicated to enhancing an appreciation and understanding of the natural world and the role that humans play in it. Housed in the University Museum Building on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Harvard Museum of Natural History features a vast collection of artifacts, items, and objects in dramatic specimen displays, interactive exhibits, and hands-on activities. The collection includes impressive mounted specimens of African, Asian, and South American wildlife, fossils from the Cenozoic Era, rare gemstones and minerals, the evolutionary history of vertebrates, and the internationally acclaimed Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass. The museum offers a variety of educational programs, workshops, and classes as well as guided tours of the facility.
26 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138, Phone: 617-495-3045
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Nestled in the beautiful Green Mountain town of Manchester in Vermont, Hildene is the historical ancestral summer home of Abraham Lincoln’s family. The property was purchased by Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, in the early 1900s after which he began building a summer home for his family, calling it Hildene, meaning “hill and valley with a stream.” The Lincoln family spent every summer at the house until the next-to-last Lincoln descendant died at Hildene in 1975. The estate was bought by the non-profit organization Friends of Hildene, restored to its former glory, and opened to the public. Today, visitors can explore the beautiful estate and home on self-guided or guided tours, learn about the history of the property at the Oscar V. Johnson Jr. Welcome Center, and purchase souvenirs and Vermont-made products at the gift shop.
1005 Hildene Road, Manchester, VT 05254, Phone: 802-362-1788
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Lake Champlain is a natural freshwater lake in the states of Vermont and New York and partially spanning the Canada–U.S. border, boasting spectacular natural scenery and offering an array of recreational pursuits year round. From hiking, mountain biking, camping, and fishing in the summer to skiing, ice skating, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding in the winter, Lake Champlain is a popular tourist attraction with outdoor lovers. There are also several historic sites and 18th century fort ruins to explore, such as the Crown Point State Historic Site, and the lake is home to several islands, including Isle La Motte, Grand Isle, and North Hero. There are plenty of lodging and dining options to enjoy around the lake.
814 Bridge Road, Crown Point, NY 12928, Phone: 518-597-4649
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14.Mark Twain House
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Once the home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens and his family between the years of 1874 and 1891, the Mark Twain House and Museum is located in Hartford, Connecticut, and showcases the life and career of the famous author Mark Twain. Designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter and built in the American high Gothic style, the beautifully restored home is a museum dedicated to one of the nation's defining cultural figures. The museum chronicles his life and works, including the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which he wrote while living there. A designated National Historic Landmark, the museum also offers a range of educational activities and workshops that illuminate Twain’s literary legacy as well as guided tours of the facility.
351 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT 06105, Phone: 860-247-0998
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15.McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center
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The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center is a science museum dedicated to Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, and Alan Shepard, the first American in space. Located in Concord, New Hampshire, the museum is situated next to the NHTI campus and was established to inspire future generations to take an interest in space through engaging and entertaining activities that delve into astronomy, aviation, and earth and space sciences. The 45,000-square-foot center boasts 20,000 square feet of interactive engineering and science exhibits, a full-dome digital planetarium and observatory, a range of outdoor exhibits, including a full-sized replica of a Mercury-Redstone rocket, a science store, and a casual café that serves light meals and beverages. The center also offers a range of on and off-site astronomy and science-related educational activities and workshops.
2 Institute Drive, Concord, NH 03301, Phone: 603-271-7827
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Mystic Seaport, also known as Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea, is the most significant maritime museum in the United States. Located in Mystic, Connecticut, the institution is renowned for its outstanding collection of boats and sailing ships as well as the re-creation of an entire 19th century seafaring village. Featuring more than 60 historic buildings and rare commercial structures, which have been meticulously restored, the seaside town includes a chandlery, a bank, a shipping agent's office, and a printing office. Visitors to the port can also see a replica the slave ship La Amistad, the 1841 whaleship the Charles W. Morgan, and the Preservation Shipyard, where traditional tools and techniques are used to preserve the museum's collection of historic vessels.
75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, CT 06355
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17.National Museum of American Illustration
© National Museum of American Illustration
The National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI) is dedicated to showcasing American illustration artwork. Located in Vernon Court Mansion on the historic Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island, the museum was founded in 1998 and features a collection of over 2,000 original works by noted American illustrators, such as Norman Rockwell, N. C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Jessie Willcox Smith, and J. C. Leyendecker. The NMAI’s American Imagist Collection, which focuses on works from the Golden Age of American Illustration, is housed Vernon Court, which was designed by Germain Boffrand to reflect the 18th century French Chateau d’Haroue. The 3-acre Stoneacre property is opposite the museum and is home to the William A. Potter-designed mansion of the same name.
492 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840, Phone: 401-851-8949
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18.New England Aquarium
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Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the New England Aquarium is a marine sanctuary and aquarium and a global leader in marine conservation and ocean exploration. Established over 50 years ago to engage and inspire the public to take a broader interest in the ocean and marine animal conservation, the New England Aquarium is a significant public education resource for the region and one of the top tourist attractions in Boston. The aquarium is home to thousands of aquatic animals, ranging from blue penguins to pyjama sharks, and features an array of interactive and informative exhibits and displays, including the four-story coral reef exhibit called the Giant Ocean Tank and the biggest shark and ray touch tank on the East Coast. The New England Aquarium is also home to the Simons IMAX® Theatre, which offers an incredible way to see and experience the marine creatures of the world.
1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110, Phone: 617-973-5200
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19.Portland Museum of Art
© Portland Museum of Art
Located in the downtown Arts District in Portland, Maine, the Portland Museum of Art, or PMA, is dedicated to showcasing the history of American art and culture. Founded in 1882 as the Portland Society of Art, the museum is the most significant and oldest public art institution in Maine, with a vast collection of over 22,000 works in three architecturally significant buildings. The museum’s collection of works spans from the 18th century to the present, with major European movements ranging from impressionism to surrealism. The collection includes works by American artists, such as Winslow Homer, John Marin, and Andrew Wyeth, and European masters such as Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Edvard Munch, and Auguste Rodin, among others. The Portland Museum of Art also offers a wide variety of educational programs and workshops for visitors of all ages.
7 Congress Square, Portland, ME 04101, Phone: 207-775-6148
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20.Providence Children's Museum
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Located on South Street in Providence, Rhode Island, the Providence Children's Museum is an interactive and hands-on museum that focuses on providing an educational environment for creative learning. Founded in 1976 as the Rhode Island Children's Museum, the museum features a wide variety of interactive exhibits and activities for children between the ages of 1 and 11, including Water Ways, Play Power, The Children’s Garden, The Climber, Underland, Iway, ThinkSpace, Littlewoods, Coming to Rhode Island, and Discovery Studio. The Providence Children's Museum also offers a range of educational programs and museum adventure programs, including camp outings, school field trips, homeschool and community group trips, and Scout excursions.
100 South St, Providence, RI 02903, Phone: 401-273-5437
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21.Roosevelt Campobello International Park
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The Roosevelt Campobello International Park is a national park that was established to preserve the family estate and summer retreat of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Located on the southern tip of Campobello Island in the Canadian Province of New Brunswick, the estate is connected to the mainland at Lubec in Maine by the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge. The impressive estate is open to the public and features a modern visitor center with exhibits showcasing the life and times of the 32nd President of the United States as well as an informative bilingual display about the open Canada-US border and a gift shop selling souvenirs, gifts, and merchandise.
459 NB-774, Welshpool, NB E5E 1A4, Canada, Phone: 506-752-2922
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22.Six Flags New England
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Six Flags New England is an amusement park in Agawam, Massachusetts, that offers a wealth of family-friendly fun for adults and children of all ages, from adrenalin-pumping rollercoasters to gentle teacup rides. Established in the late 19th century as Riverside Park, Six Flags New England is the oldest amusement park in the Six Flags chain and features exciting and exhilarating rides. These include two world-class roller coasters, the world-renowned Wicked Cyclone and Superman rides, the Mind Eraser, Flashback, Kryptonite Kollider, the Slingshot, and the new Harley Quinn Spinsanity, among others. Six Flags New England also features several dining outlets and food concessions, family-friendly accommodation and lodging, and souvenir shops and hosts events throughout the year.
1623 Main St, Agawam, MA 01001, Phone: 413-786-9300
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23.Strawbery Banke Museum
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Located in the in the heart of historic downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the Strawbery Banke Museum is an outdoor history museum that is dedicated to bringing more than 300 years of American history to life. The museum spans 10 acres in the waterfront neighborhood of downtown Portsmouth and features 32 historic buildings, eight heritage gardens, and a wealth of traditional arts and craft programs, preservation workshops, interactive activities, and changing exhibits and displays, all of which focus on the history and heritage of the region. Visitors can immerse themselves in the museum’s open, outdoor spaces, learn more about the families who lived and worked in the Puddle Dock neighborhood, and explore the museum’s collection, which consists of more than 30,000 artifacts, item, and objects.
14 Hancock Street, Portsmouth NH 03801, Phone: 603-433-1100
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The Breakers is an elegant and grand summer cottage in Newport that stands as a symbol of the world-renowned Vanderbilt family's social and financial wealth at the turn of the century. Making their fortune in the steamship and railroad industries, the Vanderbilt family bought The Breakers in 1885 and transformed the simple wooden cottage into the opulent 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo it is today. Designed to emulate the 16th century palaces of Genoa and Turin, the magnificent villa is a National Historic Landmark and is open for the public to explore. The Breakers Stable & Carriage House is also part of the estate and located on Coggeshall Avenue, about half a mile west of the house. The stables feature an exhibit on the New York Central Railroad and the empire of the Vanderbilt family, and visitors can enjoy guided tours of The Breakers, the Stable & Carriage House, and other buildings on the estate such as Marble House, The Elms, and Rosecliff.
44 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, RI 02840, Phone: 401-847-1000
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25.White Mountain National Forest
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Situated in New Hampshire and Maine, the White Mountain National Forest is a federally managed forest that boasts spectacular natural beauty, an array of year-round recreational and outdoor activities, and a diverse variety of wildlife. Spanning more than 750,000 acres, the National Forest offers a network of hiking trails, including over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, mountain biking trails, camping, and skiing and cross-country skiing in the winter months. The National Forest includes several mountain ranges, including the Presidential Range, Kinsman Mountain, Cannon Mountain, and Mount Moosilauke. There are several visitor centers throughout the forest, located at Campton, Lincoln, and Lincoln Woods, which offer interactive maps and information on the region.
Lincoln, NH 03251, Phone: 603-536-6100
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25 Best Things to Do in New England
- Cape Cod National Seashore, Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Seufert - Fotolia.com
- Acadia National Park, Photo: Courtesy of Kymry - Fotolia.com
- Block Island North Light, Photo: Courtesy of monamakela.com - Fotolia.com
- Conway Scenic Railroad, Photo: Courtesy of spiritofamerica - Fotolia.com
- Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum, Photo: Courtesy of netsuthep - Fotolia.com
- ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Photo: Courtesy of Angel-Gregor - Fotolia.com
- Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Photo: Courtesy of diegograndi - Fotolia.com
- Farnsworth Art Museum, Photo: Farnsworth Art Museum
- Fenway Park, Photo: Courtesy of vivalapenler - Fotolia.com
- Green Mountain National Forest, Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun - Fotolia.com
- Harvard Museum of Natural History, Photo: Harvard Museum of Natural History
- Hildene, Photo: Courtesy of Iriana Shiyan - Fotolia.com
- Lake Champlain, Photo: Courtesy of Meghan - Fotolia.com
- Mark Twain House, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Photo: Courtesy of lumachina_99 - Fotolia.com
- Mystic Seaport, Photo: Courtesy of Lisa - Fotolia.com
- National Museum of American Illustration, Photo: National Museum of American Illustration
- New England Aquarium, Photo: Courtesy of Pavel Losevsky - Fotolia.com
- Portland Museum of Art, Photo: Portland Museum of Art
- Providence Children's Museum, Photo: Providence Children's Museum
- Roosevelt Campobello International Park, Photo: Courtesy of wrightholdings - Fotolia.com
- Six Flags New England, Photo: Courtesy of maqzet - Fotolia.com
- Strawbery Banke Museum, Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun - Fotolia.com
- The Breakers, Photo: Courtesy of jerdad - Fotolia.com
- White Mountain National Forest, Photo: Courtesy of Xavier Ascanio - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com