17 Best Places to Visit in New England: Vacation Spots You Won’t Want to Miss!

There are so many beautiful places to visit in New England that choosing your next vacation destination in the region will present a delicious dilemma.

Picturesque little towns dotted about a bucolic countryside. Pristine coastlines with sandy beaches. Lighthouses and covered bridges.

Charming islands that seem to be suspended in time. And a few vibrant cities brimming with history, culture, and great food.

New England has all of these, and more!

In this article, we’ve rounded up the very best places to visit in New England.

So if you are thinking about a vacation in the region, check out our suggestions for where to go in New England!

Fall in The Berkshires, MA
Fall in The Berkshires in Massachusetts

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Boston, Massachusetts

Among the most historic cities in the USA, Boston offers much to see and do for every type of traveler.

The largest and most well-known city in the region, Boston is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in New England.

Skyline of Boston, MA
Boston’s impressive skyline

Perhaps the most famous attraction in Boston is the Freedom Trail.

In just 2.5 miles, the Freedom Trail showcases no less than 16 renowned historic sites, from the Paul Revere House to the USS Constitution and the Boston Common.

Foodies will want to browse the offerings at Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market.

Sample lobster rolls and clam chowder, and wrap up your meal with Boston cream pie, the quintessential Bostonian dessert.

Love baseball? Don’t miss a tour of iconic Fenway Park, built all the way back in 1912, and as much a historic landmark as a sports venue.

Garden lovers will want to spend some time strolling the Boston Public Garden, the oldest public garden in the country.

Tulips in the Boston Public Garden in the spring
A display of tulips in the Boston Public Garden in spring

Enjoy the water? Take a scenic Boston harbor cruise, or go kayaking on the picturesque Charles River.

If you love shopping, you’ll find opportunities all over downtown, but don’t miss a stroll up and down famous Newbury Street!

Boston’s diverse neighborhoods are well worth exploring. The North End is where you will find all things Italy.

Beacon Hill is home to the Instagrammable Acorn Street. Chinatown has a lively ambience. Boston’s neighborhoods will captivate you!

If you have more time, venture to nearby Cambridge to explore the campuses of two elite educational institutions: Harvard University and MIT.

While you can find plenty to do in Boston on an extended vacation, Beantown also makes for the perfect weekend getaway: check out our two-day itinerary for Boston to enjoy all the major sights in a short time!

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

For unbeatable outdoor recreation in an idyllic setting, head to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts.

With picturesque towns nestled in the postcard-worthy New England countryside, the Berkshires are a compelling New England destination in every season.

Cascade Brook, North Adams, The Berkshires, MA
Cascade Brook in North Adams is stunning!

From hiking to fishing, camping, and water activities, outdoor enthusiasts will find a veritable paradise in the Berkshires.

The iconic Appalachian Trail winds its way through the region, but there are short and easy trails to enjoy here as well.

In the winter, the Berkshires offer a plethora of winter sports, from skiing and snowboarding to cross-country and snowshoeing.

Fishing in the many freshwater bodies in the Berkshires, camping, and horseback riding are popular in the summer and fall.

The Berkshires are not just about natural beauty and outdoor pursuits.

Here you’ll also find many small towns and hamlets, with museums, historic sites, gardens, and opportunities to enjoy the performing arts and wellness retreats.

The little hamlet of Lenox features lots of gorgeous New England architecture. Open-air Tanglewood, in Lenox, is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In Stockbridge, you can visit the Norman Rockwell Museum to view a large collection of his original art.

Photograph the many church steeples and spires in North Adams. Enjoy the beautiful setting of Williamstown.

Gorge on fabulous food in Great Barrington, the largest town in the Southern Berkshires.

Covered bridge in Colrain in the Berkshires, MA
The Arthur A. Smith covered bridge in Colrain

No matter when you choose to visit the Berkshires, you are guaranteed to experience quintessential New England beauty.

And whether you pick a single town for your holiday, or you plan a road trip through the Berkshires, you can’t go wrong!

Thinking of a vacation in Western Massachusetts? Read this round up of 20+ things to do in the Berkshires!

Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

A miniscule island off Cape Cod, Nantucket is one of the most popular places to visit in New England in the summer, but the shoulder seasons of spring and fall offer a less crowded ambience and lower prices on accommodations.

Walking to a beach in Nantucket, one of the best places to visit in New England
Walking to a beach on Nantucket Island

Nantucket Island boasts one of the most pristine shorelines on the planet, and there are beautiful beaches all around the island. The island is home to three picturesque lighthouses, two of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

For the gentlest surf, head to one of the beaches along the island’s north shore. Jetties Beach, for example, is a family-friendly Nantucket beach, good for swimming, beachcombing, and sunbathing.

Brant Point is a great spot for photography and watching the harbor traffic. Steps Beach is stunning, but access is via a steep set of steps, so be prepared for the climb back.

Great Point, along the island’s eastern shore, is a little remote but spectacularly beautiful. The most hassle-free way to visit is to book a tour. With many miles of hiking trails, and wildlife and birds to spot, Great Point is a nature lover’s paradise.

Lighthouse at Great Point on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts
Great Point Lighthouse on Nantucket Island

Visitors seeking adventure will want to head to the beaches along the south shore. Here you will find Cisco Beach, considered a prime New England surfing spot. Nobadeer offers offroad driving.

Nantucket’s downtown is charming, with cobblestone streets, boutique stores, and quality eateries. But for an extraordinarily picturesque stroll, head to Siasconset (popularly known as ‘Sconset): the village is breathtaking, with rose-covered cottages and a quaint ambience.

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Encompassing over 40,000 acres of beautiful beaches, marshes, ponds, uplands, and dunes, Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts is definitely one of the must-visit places in New England.

Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts is one of the best places to visit in New England!
Cape Cod National Seashore is a must-visit in New England!

Cape Cod National Seashore features a number of beautiful beaches. Marconi Beach in Wellfleet offers gorgeous views and soft sand. Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown is family-friendly, with lots of amenities. Coast Guard Beach in Eastham has a stunning setting.

Other than beaches, the national seashore area offers lots of great hiking and biking trails. Nauset Marsh Trail offers spectacular views. Fort Hill is a popular birding trail. There are three biking trails, plus the 26-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail.

If you love photographing lighthouses, you will find several charming lighthouses along the Cape Cod National Seashore: Nauset Light in Eastham and Race Point Light in Provincetown are beautiful!

Cape Cod National Seashore stretches for about 40 miles between Chatham and Provincetown. Along the route, you will find Wellfleet, famous for its oysters, and Hyannis Port, home to the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.

Provincetown, at the northern tip of Cape Cod, makes for a great getaway all on its own. Climb to the top of the Pilgrim Monument, photograph beautiful Race Point Lighthouse, stroll lively Commercial Street, or enjoy water activities such as whale-watching.

Race Point Beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts
Race Point Beach in Provincetown

Summer is high season in Cape Cod, so expect crowds, traffic, and high prices. Fall (up to the middle of October) is a fabulous time to visit, because the weather still permits enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, but without the summer crowds.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

A larger island along the Massachusetts Coast that sits just south of Cape Cod, beautiful Martha’s Vineyard is an extremely popular summer New England getaway. You can only get to the island by air or by ferry, but that should not deter you from visiting.

A beautiful part of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts
Martha’s Vineyard is beautiful!

From beaches to lighthouses and museums to churches, Martha’s Vineyard offers a variety of sights and attractions. So whether you love the outdoors, or you’re keen on history and culture, you’ll find activities to suit on The Vineyard.

Public beaches on Martha’s Vineyard include sandy Oak Bluffs Town Beach, with calm waters suitable for families, the Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach, a long beach great for swimming and sunbathing, and South Beach for surfing.

Hikers should head to Menemsha Hills in Chilmark, where you can climb up to the second highest point on Martha’s Vineyard for spectacular views. Biking and fishing are other popular outdoor activities on the island.

As in other parts of the New England coast, lighthouses are must-visit attractions on Martha’s Vineyard. Cape Poge Lighthouse offers stunning views and birdwatching. The Gay Head Light has a breathtaking setting at the gorgeous Gay Head Cliffs.

Gay Head Cliffs on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts
Gay Head Cliffs on Martha’s Vineyard

If you enjoy sightseeing and culture, you will find lots of choices on Martha’s Vineyard. The Gingerbread Houses of Oak Bluffs make for great photos. Martha’s Vineyard Museum showcases local history.

And don’t miss the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs! It was built in 1876, and features hand-carved horses. Each town on the island has a shopping district, so if you want some retail therapy, you are in for a treat!

Acadia National Park, Maine

The only national park in New England, Acadia National Park in Maine packs in a lot of scenic beauty in less than 50,000 acres.

Home to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the east coast of the United States, Acadia National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country.

Fall is a great time to visit Acadia NP in New England!
Acadia National Park in the fall

You can hike up Cadillac Mountain, or drive the narrow 3.5-mile road to the top. From early October to early March, Cadillac Mountain is the first spot in the US to catch the rising sun’s rays, but the access road shuts down during the winter.

Sunrise at the top is spectacular on a nice weather day, worth the early wake-up call.

Driving the park loop road is the best way to access major sights in the park. The 27-mile road offers access to popular spots such as Sand Beach and Otter Cliff. The road does see a lot of traffic in the summer months, so start early for a less congested experience.

Another great spot to photograph sunrise (or sunset!) in Acadia National Park is the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse is one of the most photographed spots in New England, and no wonder! It is super picturesque. You can’t tour the lighthouse, but you can view it from the viewing platform at sea level.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is one of the major attractions in Acadia National Park in Maine. The park is one of the best places to visit in New England.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a must-visit photo spot!

Sand Beach is one of two beaches in Acadia National Park. It is extremely picturesque, ensconced between two walls of pink granite. The water is generally too cold for swimming, so admire the views and then hike up the Great Head Trail for more views.

There are many hiking trails in Acadia National Park, from the challenging Precipice Trail, which features climbs up sheer cliff faces using iron rungs, to the easy loop around Jordan Pond or the beautiful Ocean Path trail.

Portland, Maine

Set on a peninsula on the southern part of the Maine coast, Portland is a must-visit city in New England and one of the top vacation destinations in Maine.

Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a foodie, you will find reasons to love Portland.

A view of the skyline of Portland, Maine
A view of Portland at twilight

There are reportedly as many islands in Casco Bay as there are days in a year, hence their name: Calendar Islands. Exploring the Casco Islands should be high on your Portland itinerary, whether you go by sea taxi, on one of Casco Bay Lines’ vessels, or you splurge on a private charter.

Portland’s Old Port area is the touristic hub of the city, with great food, vibrant nightlife, and a rich sense of history. With cobblestone streets and old warehouses lining them, the area makes for a great stroll. Portland is also famous for its microbreweries, so plan a tour if you enjoy tastings.

Art lovers won’t want to miss the Portland Museum of Art, which houses works by masters such as Monet and Warhol. Look for paintings by Maine artists, as well as other forms of art such as sculptures, pottery, and furniture.

A day trip to Cape Elizabeth is a must when you visit Portland. Home to the famous Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth offers beautiful beaches (Crescent Beach State park is gorgeous!) and spectacular views. It is also home to the Two Lights lighthouse.

Beautiful Portland Head Light is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world
Portland Head Light is a dreamy photo op!

The Portland Observatory is an 86-foot tall tower that you can climb for breathtaking views. Architecture enthusiasts will want to tour lavish Victoria Mansion, a National Historic Landmark. For beaches and waterfront trails, plan a visit to the Eastern Promenade.

Rockland, Maine

Located on Penobscot Bay, Rockland is the quintessential Maine coastal town. A prominent lobster shipping center, the town is also famous for its fleet of windjammers, beautiful lighthouse, and great seafood. Whether you opt for a weekend getaway to Rockland or a longer vacation, you will love your time here.

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse in Maine
Visit the Breakwater Light in Rockland!

With lots of islands to explore off the coast, a multi-day windjammer cruise is a unique experience to enjoy in Rockland. If you are limited on time, opt for a sailboat excursion for the day, or pick from one of many boat tours to visit the islands.

At the end of the Rockland Breakwater in the town’s harbor, you’ll find the historic Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. Tour the attached lighthouse keeper’s residence, which has been restored, and climb to the top of the lighthouse for views over the harbor.

Downtown Rockland offers lots of little shops and galleries to browse, and numerous cafes and restaurants, many of them serving local seafood. Just west is the Rockland Residential Historic District, where you can view many historic homes, mainly built between 1870 and 1920.

The Farnworth Art Museum has an impressive collection of American art, including a collection of works by Louise Nevelson, the famous Ukranian-born sculptor who called Rockland home in her early years. At the Wyeth Center, you can view works by Andrew, Jamie, and N.C. Wyeth.

Another Rockland museum worth is a visit is the Maine Lighthouse Museum, located on the waterfront. Lighthouse enthusiasts will find here a large collection of Fresnel lenses, as well as lighthouse and Coastguard memorabilia.

Sailing the waters of Penobscot Bay near Rockland, Maine.
Sailing near Rockland, Maine

If you love lobster and want to attend the Maine Lobster Festival, plan a visit to Rockland in August. Many thousands of pounds of lobster are cooked annually in the world’s largest lobster cooker. Other events include arts and crafts, a large parade, and lots of topnotch entertainment.

Bar Harbor, Maine

The cute town of Bar Harbor is most famous as the gateway to Acadia National Park. Located on Mount Desert Island on Maine’s north coast, the town also makes for a great vacation spot in its own right.

The beautiful harbor in Bar Harbor, Maine
A view of the harbor in Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor is stunningly beautiful, with a picture-perfect harbor lined with boats of all kinds and views of the ocean and islands lying off the coast. The town itself is picturesque, with lots of shops and galleries, and a variety of accommodations and restaurants.

Walking the 0.5-mile Bar Harbor Shore Path is a great way to enjoy the views of the ocean. During low tide, walk to Bar Island, located north of the Bar Harbor pier. The island offers fabulous views of the town of Bar Harbor and the mountains against which the town is nestled.

While in Bar Harbor, you can pick from a variety of boat tours to enjoy the water: from whale watching to a narrated island tour. From the water, enjoy the spectacular views of the mountains and the town. You can also opt for air tours of Acadia National Park and Frenchman’s Bay.

An aerial view of the harbor in Bar Harbor, Maine
An aerial view of the harbor

Love museums? The Abbe Museum offers insight into the lives of the Wabanaki, Maine’s Native American people. The George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History features the wildlife of coastal Maine. The Bar Harbor Historical Museum, housed in the La Rochelle Mansion offers a peek into the town’s past.

The Village Green, in the heart of town, is a great place for a stroll, or just to relax on a bench and people watch. In the summer enjoy free concerts in the park. Agamont Park, located next to the public pier, overlooks the harbor and islands, and is another popular park in Bar Harbor.

Stowe, Vermont

Romantic Stowe in Vermont is one of the best places to visit in New England, especially in the fall when colorful foliage turns it into the perfect picture postcard. But Stowe is a great getaway in other seasons as well.

Brookdale Bridge is one of the beautiful covered bridges in Stowe, Vermont
Picturesque covered bridge in Stowe

Stowe is located in the northern part of the state, near Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. Drive the Auto Toll Road for fabulous views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. Stowe is also close to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Vermont, as well as picturesque covered bridges.

Great skiing on the slopes of Stowe Mountain makes Stowe a popular winter vacation destination. Go skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, or ice skating during the day, and relax by a cozy fire in the evenings. The winter landscape here is gorgeous.

While winter sports continue into early spring, you’ll love the blanket of fresh green that carpets the countryside once the snow disappears. Spring is the time to go maple sugaring in Stowe! Take a tour of a sugar farm and sample pure Vermont maple syrup.

Summertime brings a wealth of outdoor pursuits to enjoy in beautiful Stowe. You can go hiking or biking, chase waterfalls, or enjoy water activities at nearby Waterbury Reservoir. If you’re up for it, you can hike to the top of Mount Mansfield, or walk the Stowe Recreation Path. Or pack a picnic and go for a short walk in the woods.

Fall offers world-class leaf peeping: Stowe is rated one of the top fall color destinations in the country. Go for a scenic drive, or hike some of the region’s many trails, to enjoy the color up close. If you enjoy leisurely drives, there are lots of back roads waiting to be discovered in and around the town.

Stowe in Vermont is beautiful in the fall and one of the best places in New England to visit for leaf color.
Stowe is a picture postcard in the fall!

Historic downtown Stowe oozes charm. Here you will find small boutiques, galleries, and country stores, and many quality dining options. Just strolling Main Street is a fun activity. And don’t forget to photograph the famous white church: it’s one of the most photographed churches in the world!

Burlington, Vermont

Beautiful Burlington, located on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain in Vermont, is a must-visit New England city. Whether it’s history and culture that interest you, or the great outdoors, or shopping and dining, Burlington checks all the boxes. There’s even a beloved ice cream factory to tour nearby!

Burlington Breakwater North Lighthouse is on Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont
Lighthouse on Lake Champlain in Burlington

History lovers will definitely want to tour the Ethan Allen Homestead. Inside the 18th century farmhouse you will find a collection of artifacts showcasing Allen’s leadership of the Green Mountain Boys, a Revolution Era militia group. Exhibits offer a good sense of life during that time. You can also walk the extensive grounds.

The Shelburne Museum is another must-visit Burlington attraction, with exhibits that range from quilts to entire homes from the 1950s. The 45-acre museum is made up of 40 or so buildings, so allow plenty of time and wear comfortable shoes! Art lovers should visit the Fleming Museum of Art, which houses American art as well as exhibits from artists around the world.

Iconic Church Street Marketplace has something for everyone. The pedestrian-only area offers lots of fun shops and great dining and people watching. Street performers provide lively entertainment as you stroll or sit at an outside table to take in the action. At the end of the street is the photogenic church for which the marketplace is named.

Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont
Church Street Marketplace is the heart of Burlington

Biking enthusiasts will want to ride the scenic Burlington Bike Path: its 8-mile length connects six waterfront parks and the Waterfront District, which is a fun place to explore. Be sure to stop at ECHO, an interactive science and nature museum that’s fun for kids and adults alike.

Just outside the city is the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory, which offers tours. It’s the only manufacturing facility for the famous ice cream, and you’ll get an inside look at how some of their fun flavors take shape. Check out the Flavor Graveyard, where you will find discontinued flavors, and finish with a scoop or two at the Scoop Shop.

White Mountains, New Hampshire

The most renowned outdoor destination in the Granite State, the White Mountains area of New Hampshire is one of the best places to visit in New England. A four-season vacation spot, the region offers a dizzying array of things to see and do through the year. It also looks stunning in every season!

Scenic drive in the White Mountains of New Hampshire
Scenic drives are a must in the fall!

Train rides, ziplines, hiking and biking trails, scenic drives, waterfalls, and activities on the water await outdoor enthusiasts. Winter brings skiing, snowmobiling, tubing, and sledding. For culture lovers, there are museums to discover and theater and art events to attend. And the region’s small towns and villages offer shopping and places to stay and eat.

The region has a lot to offer, so if you are visiting for a short time, consider focusing on a part of the White Mountains, such as the famous Mount Washington Valley. Located on the eastern side of the White Mountains, the valley is home to many major attractions, such as Story Land and the Conway Scenic Railroad.

If you enjoy scenic drives, the region offers several from which to pick. In the fall, the Kancamagus Highway is simply breathtaking. The drive is only about 35 miles, but you will be spellbound for its entire length. The White Mountains Trail is another National Scenic Byway, featuring stunning scenery along its 100-mile length.

Mount Crawford in the White Mountains of New Hampshire
The scenery in the White Mountains is stunning!

Poet Robert Frost’s former home, in Sugar Hill, is now The Frost Place, a house-museum. Tour the museum, do the Poetry Trail Walk, and enjoy the views from the porch. If you love covered bridges (they make for such awesome photos!), there are over two dozen to view in the White Mountains.

While you’ll find restaurants to try all over the region, consider a dinner train! Dinner train excursions in the White Mountains offer gorgeous views of mountains and forests along with exciting menus from top area chefs.

Lakes Region, New Hampshire

The Lakes Region in New Hampshire is home to numerous lakes and ponds, with over two dozen named larger bodies of water. The scenic region is dotted with a few lively towns, and offers a plethora of recreational opportunities in every season. It’s also a scenic area to go leaf-peeping in the fall.

Aerial view of Lake Winipesaukee in New Hampshire
An aerial view of Lake Winipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in the state, is an extremely popular year-round New England vacation spot. Drive the loop around the lake, take a leisurely narrated cruise, rent a boat, canoe, or kayak, and go hiking or biking. Hikes into the surrounding mountains offer great views of the lake. In the winter, you can go skiing, or attend the Winter Carnival.

Love castles? Tour the gorgeous Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, on the north shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. Admire the architecture and the gardens, take a self-guided tour of the interior, and enjoy a meal in the restaurant, which overlooks the water.

Wolfeboro and Meredith are other major towns where you can base yourself when vacationing at Lake Winipesaukee. The towns offer accommodations, dining, and shopping (tax free!), as well as rentals of water equipment. You’ll find one-of-a-kind boutiques, browseworthy antique shops, and art galleries in the towns.

Fall color in the Lakes Region in New Hampshire
Fall in the Lakes Region is gorgeous!

Squam Lake, located to the northwest of Lake Winnipesaukee, makes for another gorgeous destination in the Lakes Region. Along with Little Squam Lake and White Oak Pond, Squam Lake served as the location for On Golden Pond. Nestled at the base of the White Mountains, Squam Lake is super scenic, and quieter than Lake Winnipesaukee.

Squam Lake is known for its hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking, scenic lake tours, and wildlife viewing. Towns along the shore offer places to stay, eat, sip, and shop. In the winter, enjoy snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Located along the New Hampshire coast, Portsmouth is a must-visit New England city. The working seaport offers a wealth of art, history, and culture, along with shopping, dining, and nightlife. Outdoor enthusiasts will find lots to do in and around Portsmouth, with beaches, parks, and water activities to enjoy.

Portsmouth in New Hampshire is one of the best places to visit in New England!
Portsmouth is beautiful and historic

Walking the city is the best way to admire the many historic sites in Portsmouth, like the Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden, the John Paul Jones House, and Warner House. Join a walking tour for an informative history lesson and overview of the best sights.

Visit the Strawbery Banke Museum, where you can wander the 10-acre campus to learn about life in the Puddle Dock neighborhood. With costumed role players and traditional crafts demos, the museum brings history to life. The homes on the campus are still on their original foundations!

Stroll Market Square, the beating heart of modern day Portsmouth. Browse the many shops and galleries, pick up gifts and souvenirs, and enjoy the food at local restaurants. Walk Prescott Park, which features annuals and perennials in many beautiful gardens. The tulips display in the spring is captivating.

Prescott Park in Portsmouth NH features beautiful gardens
Prescott Park in the summer

Take a cruise of Portsmouth Harbor (or to the Isle of Shoals) for beautiful views of the coastline. You will cruise past historic Fort Constitution, where the first formal act of the American Revolution occurred, in December 1774. Also do not miss taking a photo of picturesque Portsmouth Harbor Light.

Beach lovers have plenty of fun beaches in the area from which to pick. Wallis Sands State Beach is gorgeous and just 15 minutes south of the city. A little farther south, Hampton Beach is wide and the water warm, making it a super popular destination.

Newport, Rhode Island

Located on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay, the Rhode Island city of Newport packs a punch when it comes to things to see and do.

From outdoor activities like beaches and walks to cultural attractions and great food and drink, Newport makes for a fun New England vacation spot.

The Breakers is one of the famous mansions to tour in Newport Rhode Island
The Breakers is one of the famous Newport Mansions

Newport’s Gilded Age Mansions are among its top attractions. While The Breakers is the most famous of the Newport homes, there are close to a dozen mansions you can explore on self-guided tours. The homes feature opulent interiors and gorgeous grounds and gardens. The Green Animals Topiary Garden is a must-visit!

The 3.5-mile Cliff Walk in Newport offers fabulous views of the ocean on one side, and the Gilded Age Mansions on the other. If you do not have the time to do the full walk, consider doing the stretch between Naragansett Avenue and Ruggles Avenue. And if you love scenic drives, Newport’s 10-mile Ocean Drive is a must-do.

Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island
The Cliff Walk features great water views!

There are several beautiful public beaches in Newport. Easton’s Beach, also known as First Beach, is a long sandy beach with amenities and a boardwalk. It is considered one of the top beaches in New England. Boating and sailing are popular water activities in Newport.

Fort Adams State Park is a must-visit when you visit Newport. Located at the mouth of the Newport Harbor, the park offers a loop walk with unparalleled views of the harbor, Newport Bridge, and the bay. It’s a great sunset walk! There are several areas you can explore on self-guided tours.

Love arts and culture? The Newport Art Museum, founded in the early 20th century, is a must-visit. You can also browse the many art galleries in town, featuring paintings, glass, ceramics, and more. If you enjoy shopping, you will love the many boutiques and shops that line the cobblestone streets in walkable Newport.

Providence, Rhode Island

The capital of Rhode Island, Providence is an underrated New England vacation destination. The small city has a “town” vibe, and is well worth a visit if you enjoy art, architecture, history, and great food.

A view of Providence, Rhode Island
A view of Providence

Providence is home to prestigious Brown University as well as the Rhode Island School of Design, where the RISD Museum, established in 1877, houses an extensive collection of art objects from around the world. If you love art, you can easily spend several hours at the museum.

There are other museums you can visit in Providence, from the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium to the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropolgy and the Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art. If you enjoy visiting beautiful libraries, be sure to check out The Providence Athenaeum, housed in a Greek Revival building.

History and museum buffs have several historic homes to tour in Providence. The John Brown House Museum is housed in the city’s first mansion. Lippitt House Museum is another stately house museum, and a National Historic Landmark.

For spectacular views over the city of Providence, head to Prospect Terrace in the College Hill neighborhood. The park has been recently renoated, and is known as “the Jewel of the City.” Visit at sunset and drink in the views: you can see Rhode Island State House and Providence Place Mall, among many other landmarks.

Prospect Park in Providence, RI, offers great views.
The views from Prospect Park are spectacular!

Waterplace Park is located along the Woonasquatucket River, and if you visit in the summer, you can attend a WaterFire event here. WaterFire is a public art installation created with several dozen burning braziers for a unique night display. Music accompanies the event. The park makes for a great daytime stroll as well.

Mystic, Connecticut

With a lovely waterfront and a rich history as a prominent seaport, Mystic in Connecticut definitely deserves a spot on your New England itinerary. The coastal village is located on the Mystic River, and has three historic districts to explore.

Mystic Seaport in Connecticut is picturesque and historic.
The beautiful Mystic Seaport

The Mystic Seaport Museum is one of the foremost maritime museums in the world. It is home to four spectacular vessels that are National Historic Landmarks, including the Charles W. Morgan is a 19th century wooden whaling ship, and the Emma C. Berry, a 19th century fishing sloop.

The Mystic Aquarium is another popular attraction in Mystic, with both indoor and outdoor exhibits. The aquarium houses many species, including beluga whales, and is fun for kids and adults alike.

Love historic homes? Make the short drive to the Denison Homestead Museum to tour a 300-year-old family farm. On the 160-acre property, you’ll find the 1717 House Museum, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, a wildlife sanctuary with miles of hiking trails.

Watching the bridge go up is a fun thing to do in Mystic. The bascule bridge over the Mystic River is lifted up with the aid of electric motors to let tall ships pass, and stays open for about five minutes before dropping down again for traffic over the bridge to resume. This happens about 2,200 times a year!

A view of Mystic, Connecticut
Mystic is very picturesque!

If you visit between May and October, plan to take a cruise aboard the Argia! Day sails and sunset cruises are offered on the elegant schooner. Enjoy the scenic coastline, photograph picturesque lighthouses, spot sea birds, and help the crew hoist and trim the sails. Talking about boating, visit during the holidays to enjoy the stunning Christmas Boat Parade!

The historic downtown area in Mystic features charming Colonial era buildings and churches. The district has lots of small unique stores and galleries, perfect for browsing and for picking up souvenirs. Here you will find many local eateries and pubs as well. It’s a great area for strolling and people watching.

Litchfield County, Connecticut

Litchfield County is the picturesque and tranquil northwestern corner of Connecticut. With a landscape of rolling hills and forests and dotted with pretty towns, Litchfield County is a must-visit part of New England.

Picturesque church in Litchfield, CT
You’ll find many pretty churches to photograph in Litchfield!

If you enjoy the outdoors, you will find lots of activities in Litchfield County. Avid hikers can experience the section of the Appalachian Trail that runs through the county. Shorter walks are plentiful: check out the trails in the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield!

Fishing and water activities on the Housatonic River are also popular. The river is a great spot to view wildlife and birds. You can enjoy both whitewater and flat water kayaking and canoeing on the Housatonic River.

Fall color viewing is one of the best things to do in Litchfield County. The town of Kent is considered one of the best places for fall color in the country, but colors are also good elsewhere in the county.

Kent in Litchfield County is a popular leaf-peeping destination.
Fall colors in Kent in Litchfield County

Almost every town in Litchfield County is an antiquing destination, drawing treasure-hunters from near and far. Woodbury, for example, has almost three dozen antique stores: Mill House Antiques, which offers antique furniture, is housed in an old grist mill.

Museum lovers will find a number of places to tour, from the Glebe House Museum & Gertrude Jekyll Garden in Woodbury to the Eric Sloane Museum & Kent Iron Furnace in Kent. If you love churches, you will want to drive around and snap photos of the many gorgeous little churches in the county.

The area offers excellent dining, from upscale eateries to stalls in farmers’ markets, as well as charming inns and B&Bs for a memorable stay.

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