25 Best Places to Visit in New England
While many coastal towns along the Atlantic Ocean find themselves to be popular summer destinations, many of the destinations featured on this list offer adventure and entertainment all year round. There are many New England cities and places to visit, some which are national parks offering seemingly endless hiking and exploration options, while others are quaint small villages allowing guests to step back in time. Whether visitors seek adventure, delicious food, or learning about history, the New England has something to offer to everyone. Photo: Michael/Fotolia
The capital and most populous city in Rhode Island, Providence was founded in 1636 and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Providence boasts a vibrant art scene and the city is filled with writers, musicians, dancers, architects, jewelry designers, and painters. There are many museums located throughout the city dedicated to the fine arts as well as many yearly recurring events that draw many tourists to Providence. With many performing theaters, guests are likely to find, on any given night, a well-known Broadway play, a show, or concert from a local or national artist.
With a strong start as a colonial seaport, Newport flourished until it was mostly destroyed by British occupation during the Revolutionary War, however as time passed and the Gilded Age approached, Newport boomed once again as a premier summer destination for the nation's rich and powerful. A few more ups and downs eventually shaped Newport into the city it is today, and its rich history can be explored through many museums and tours, both by sailboat and helicopter. Tours and history aren't all Newport, New England has to offer; on the contrary, guests will find many art exhibits, theaters, desirable restaurants, and outdoor activities to whet their desire for adventure.
Photo: Yevgenia Gorbulsky/Fotolia
Portland, Maine, offers a deep and intricate history to be explored by guests, lived by locals, and reflected on by future generations. The greater Portland area offers many man-made attractions, such as lighthouses and museums, for guests to explore as well as many naturally occurring sights to behold. Guests can take whale watching tours, stay in lavish accommodations, and eat locally sourced food. When it comes to local cuisine, Portland is well known for its lobster and other seafood dishes. With everything from luxury restaurants to local food trucks, foodies are sure to find something to please their palate.
Photo: Jo Ann Snover/Fotolia
One of the United States most renowned summer vacation spots, Cape Cod has been the premier destination for summer vacations for regular citizens and presidents alike. Cape Cod maintains a local population of approximately 216,000 throughout the year, however that number nearly triples during the summer months as tourists flow in to enjoy the beaches, local beer brews, and unique ice cream. But Cape Cod has attractions to offer all year round, not only during the warm months, and some may find it more enjoyable to visit this destination during the off season when it is less busy. Awe inspiring Atlantic Ocean sunsets can be enjoyed no matter what the season, and the seafood is fresh all year.
Settled in 1652 by Plymouth colonists, New Bedford was originally a fishing community that grew into a whaling port and shipbuilding site. Today, New Bedford is a quintessential New England seaport and one of America’s major fishing ports. Located in Buzzards Bay on the Acushnet River, New Bedford is also recognized as one of the country’s most artistic towns, a major tourist destination, and a sailing port for the Cape Cod region. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park is a great place to learn about New Bedford’s history. The New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! features contemporary as well as traditional artworks by local and international artists. Buttonwood Park Zoo is one of the country’s best small zoos, providing home to animals from all continents, such as mountain lions, black bears, bald eagles, seals, and many others.
With a rotating array of seasonal attractions, Block Island is sure to keep guests coming back time and time again to experience all that it has to offer. Set off the coast of Rhode Island, Block Island is well known for its pristine, free public beaches, preserved open spaces, sheer bluffs, and crystal-clear waters. Visitors can arrive to the island by plane, private boat, or ferry, and there is a large selection of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and established restaurants to service guests. During the summer months, many guests travel to Block Island to enjoy their special Fourth of July celebration, while other guests prefer the solitude and relaxation of the winter months.
Boston is a city bathed in history, from the Freedom Trail to Fenway Park, Harvard University to Beacon Hill, nearly everywhere in Boston has an elaborate history to share. Known as America's Walking City, guests can partake on one of many walking tours offered in the city to see first-hand what makes Boston so historic. For those seeking more than walking tour history, Boston has many museums that cater to many different crowds; from the New England Aquarium to the Children's Museum, families and individuals are sure to find something fascinating when perusing these collections of fine art, animals, and exhibits.
Burlington is the largest city in Vermont, with approximately 42,000 residents, and lies between Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains. Known as an ultra-liberal city, Burlington contains a large variety of art exhibits, museums, and other creative outlets for guests to explore. For the recreation seeking guest, there are many options such as biking, skiing, and hiking thanks to the nearby mountains, while the more leisure seeking guests may enjoy a visit to Magic Hat Brewing Company or the Sunset Drive-in Theater. Burlington hosts many festivals throughout the year, so no matter the season, there is most likely to be a special event or celebration occurring.
Located just north of Boston across the Charles River, Cambridge was originally named in honor of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Home to both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Cambridge is well known for these two world-renowned prestigious universities. However, Cambridge has more to offer than high education, and guests are encouraged to explore its many museums, historic houses, and specially designed bars and restaurants. For guests who prefer a more catered experience, there is a free walking mobile tour available to guide them through the many neighborhood intricacies throughout Cambridge.
Photo: Yevgenia Gorbulsky/Fotolia
Known as the Insurance Capital of the World, Hartford has more to offer than its main industry would let on. Being one of the oldest cities in the United States, Hartford is home to some of the oldest landmarks and establishments, such as Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest public art museum, and the Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously published newspaper. Hartford is also home to the Mark Twain House, the residence in which the famous author lived while writing his most famous works as well as where he raised his family. Hartford is also the final resting place of abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe, who moved to Hartford to live out her life and came to rest in the city's graveyard.
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Originally established as a fishing and shipbuilding village, modern day Kennebunkport has grown into a tourist destination thanks to its quaint atmosphere and welcoming demeanor. Although Kennebunkport is better known to wealthy summer travelers such as President George H. W. Bush and his family, it is also accessible to the general public. There are many interesting attractions, such as chartered whale watching tours, lighthouses to visit, and working lobsterman to observe, helping to guarantee that no matter the season, Kennebunkport will entertain. For specific information about lodging, locally renowned restaurants, and specific services, guests are encouraged to visit the city of Kennebunkport website or contact the visitors center by telephone.
Photo: Enrico Della Pietra/Fotolia
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Nestled within Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor has been welcoming visitors for over 100 years to its soaring granite cliffs and rocky coast. Containing a large assortment of restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and romantic getaways, guests are sure to find comfort in Bar Harbor whether travelling with family or friends or on a romantic retreat. The town offers rich local history that can be discovered through a walking tour or a museum visit, and there are many galleries containing the works of local artists. In terms of outdoor activities, Bar Harbor offers access to biking, rock climbing, whale watching tours, kayaking, hiking, and many other activities that can be accessed through agencies in town.
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Shared between New York, Vermont, and Quebec, Lake Champlain is a large fresh water naturally occurring lake that has become a popular tourist destination during all times of year. During the winter guests can ice skate, ice fish, explore the natural forests and wildlife on cross country ski excursions, and warm up in many diverse restaurants and lodging opportunities. When the weather is warm, the lake is perfect for boating, swimming, and other water-based activities, while the surrounding lands offer the ideal environment for hiking, horseback riding, and taking bike tours. Specific information about upcoming events, seasonal attractions, and tourism guides can be found on the Lake Champlain website, or by contacting the visitors center by telephone.
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Known primarily as a summer colony, Martha's Vineyard population swells immensely during the summer months when guests travel to the island to enjoy its welcoming beaches, water sports, and copious amounts of sunshine. The island, with its collection of towns, is available to the public all year round, and has more to offer than just summertime delights. When the weather turns colder, guests can enjoy spending time in the many conservation areas or visiting many of the local artist exhibits, theaters, historic lighthouses, and year-round restaurants. For specific information about traveling to the island, places to stay, and general tourism questions, please contact the visitors center by phone or through their website.
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Residing 30 miles south from Cape Cod, Nantucket is an island that is primarily known as a summer colony and tourist destination, although there are approximately 10,000 year-round residents. During the summer months, the population can swell to at least 50,000, with many visitors and part-time residents travelling to the island to enjoy its beaches and summer activities. Many visitors to Nantucket will enjoy the late 18th century New England seaport feel and style the town possess, with its charm reflecting a historic period that guests may find interesting to learn about. There are many unique museums to visit, like the Nantucket Whaling Museum, and Nantucket contains a variety of lighthouses that guests are invited to explore.
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This summer retreat town is known primarily for its beaches, three of which offer diverse options for guests. The Narragansett Town Beach is the most popular and typically contains the roughest surf, which allows for boogie boarding and surfing; budding surfers can take advantage of the lessons offered in the summer months. For families or individuals seeking a quieter or calmer atmosphere, both Roger Wheeler State Beach and Salty Brine State Beach tend to offer a more relaxed vibe. After spending a day in the sun there are many options to refuel with local eatery favorites, such as Aunt Carrie's featuring clam cakes, or Crazy Burger offering vegan options as well as breakfast options until late afternoon.
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With very convenient access to over 700,000 acres of protected White Mountain National Forest, North Conway is an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts at any time of the year. For those visiting in the warmer months, hiking, golfing, fishing, camping, and canoeing are all great options, while those visiting during colder times of year may find joy in snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding, dog sledding, snowshoeing, and more in the crisp winter air. No matter what time of year, though, guests will find over 100 area restaurants, cafes, and bistros to satiate their appetites as well as many hotels, bed and breakfasts, and rental properties to extend their stay in comfort.
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Set along the Atlantic coast in Maine, Ogunquit is a small picturesque town filled with many attractions. The town was founded in 1641, and after the first sawmill was built in 1686, the town industry of shipbuilding boomed thanks to the access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Ogunquit River. The town flourished, in thanks to its fishing and shipbuilding industries, but modern-day Ogunquit relies more on tourists than trade to prosper. A popular LGBT vacation destination, Ogunquit has many LGBT-owned hotels, restaurants, and other establishments, and the town itself is overall progressive in its viewpoints.
Photo: Chee-Onn Leong/Fotolia
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»Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach, located in the state of Maine, first opened to the public over 170 years ago, and its 7 miles of sandy beach are often patrolled by lifeguards. There is more to Old Orchard Beach than its pristine sand and swimming opportunities, however, and the real attraction for some is Old Orchard's Pier, which stretches over 500 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. The pier is covered with a large assortment of entertainment options, from games to whale watching tours, dance clubs, restaurants, and even seasonal firework displays. Near the beach is the Dunegrass Golf Club as well as the Beachfront Palace Playland Park, the only amusement park in New England to be located on a beachfront. The beach is easily accessible by car or, for those looking to have a night out on the town, there is an Amtrak stop moments from the beach that allows for responsible transportation after an evening of fun and indulgence.
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Home of Plymouth Rock, this quintessential New England town is located between Cape Cod and Boston, making it an easy destination to add onto any New England itinerary. Well known for its Native American history and Pilgrim history, Plymouth contains many museums and attractions that feature the rich story of its past. Modern day Plymouth is more than its past, however, and offers many other attractions that are sure to please the entire family. One specific attraction is tours of the area offered by land and air, giving a completely new view of the region while being guided by a knowledgeable professional.
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Located at the very tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown only has an average year-round population of around 3,000 people, however in the summer this population can increase to nearly 60,000. Depending on the time of year, Provincetown has a varying array of options to keep guests entertained and welcomes guests throughout the entire year. Known as one of the premiere LGBT vacation destinations thanks in part to its progressive mindset, artist-filled community, and plethora of open-minded tourists, the roots of Provincetown's LGBT history can be traced back to the early 20th century.
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When Salem was founded in 1626, it was originally named Naumkeag, however the locals soon came to call it Salem instead, after the Hebrew word for peace. In the nearly 400 years since its founding, Salem has had trials and tribulations, but has since embraced its rocky history and provides guests with plenty of opportunities to learn of and from its mistakes and accomplishments. Aside from many desirable hotels, restaurants, and attractions, Salem also offers museums, rich local history, and many yearly recurring events. Guests are encouraged to contact the city of Salem through their website or by telephone to receive a free copy of an extensive visitors guide.
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Stowe, Vermont, combines the classic architecture and atmosphere of a 200-year-old village with Vermont's highest peak, Mount Mansfield. Stowe is reminiscent of many European ski villages, untouched by time and many modern distractions, and has much history and many events to share with guests. For those seeking more information on the history of Stowe, a visit to the Stowe Historical Society Museum is certainly in order. For guests of all ranges, Stowe offers accommodations to fit their needs, from budget to high luxury, as well as many diverse and unique dining options to please even the pickiest of eaters.
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»White Mountain National Park
With approximately 800,000 acres of National Forest, White Mountain National Park is a multifaceted managed space that provides entertainment and exploration opportunities for guests while also creating a safe space for flora and fauna. With many free and paid attractions, numerous mountains in White Mountain National Park have creative facilities to keep guests entertained, from zipline rides to cog railways, amusement parks to high ropes courses, and much more. With the extensive list of hiking trails, attractions, and natural areas to see, guests are highly encouraged to visit the White Mountains National Park website, stop by the visitor center, or contact them via telephone for more information.
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»Acadia National Park
Set on the Atlantic coast, Acadia National Park features an abundance of space for visitors to explore, from the high biodiversity to the wealth of cultural heritage. Initially founded in 1916 as the Sieur de Monts National Monument, the modern-day Acadia park is visited by over three million people each year. The park offers enough diversity that guests can visit again and again, continually finding something new among the 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads. For guests seeking stark vistas and difficult trails, the visitors center offers maps and guidance to curate each hike to the preference and abilities of the guest.
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25 Best Places to Visit in New England
- Providence, Photo: Courtesy of sbgoodwin - Fotolia.com
- Newport, Photo: Courtesy of Yevgenia Gorbulsky - Fotolia.com
- Portland, Photo: Courtesy of Jo Ann Snover - Fotolia.com
- Cape Cod, Photo: Courtesy of Vincent - Fotolia.com
- New Bedford, Photo: Courtesy of Kevin - Fotolia.com
- Block Island, Photo: Courtesy of kodis - Fotolia.com
- Boston, Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com
- Burlington, Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com
- Cambridge, Photo: Courtesy of Yevgenia Gorbulsky - Fotolia.com
- Hartford, Photo: Courtesy of gnagel - Fotolia.com
- Kennebunkport, Photo: Courtesy of Enrico Della Pietra - Fotolia.com
- Bar Harbor, Photo: Courtesy of jeff - Fotolia.com
- Lake Champlain, Photo: Courtesy of debramillet - Fotolia.com
- Martha's Vineyard, Photo: Courtesy of Brian - Fotolia.com
- Nantucket, Photo: Courtesy of Kevin - Fotolia.com
- Narragansett, Photo: Courtesy of lucky-photo - Fotolia.com
- North Conway, Photo: Courtesy of rickmandia - Fotolia.com
- Ogunquit, Photo: Courtesy of Chee-Onn Leong - Fotolia.com
- Old Orchard Beach, Photo: Courtesy of eqroy - Fotolia.com
- Plymouth, Photo: Courtesy of lightningboldt - Fotolia.com
- Provincetown, Photo: Courtesy of lunamarina - Fotolia.com
- Salem, Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun - Fotolia.com
- Stowe, Photo: Courtesy of rabbit75_fot - Fotolia.com
- White Mountain National Park, Photo: Courtesy of panaramka - Fotolia.com
- Acadia National Park, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Michael - Fotolia.com
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