Travel Trends: New England Getaways You Have to See to Believe


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If you’re looking for New England Getaways, you have a lot of choices.

New England isn’t a single state, but a travel destination, comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. In fact, one of the best things about New England is the close proximity of the states and the easy driving distance to many recreational, cultural and family activities.

So, follow along with us as we explore some of the fun things to do in New England, and start planning a New England getaway of your own today.

New England Getaways Shortcuts

We get it, the list of things to do on a New England Getaway is exhaustive. If you’re looking for inspiration to join the growing trend of New England travelers, keep reading. If you know what you like to do and want to narrow in on it, here’s what we’re covering:

New England Getaways Go Surf-Side

two girls sitting in the waves at Scarborough Beach Rhode Island
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New England is well known for its picturesque rocky coastline, but locals also know about the miles of sandy beaches. Put up an umbrella, throw down a towel, and watch the tide come in. Or, if you prefer, you can grab a boogie board and ride the white-capped waves.

While private or town beaches abound across Rhode Island, areas like Misquamicut and Scarborough are open to the public. These state-owned properties feature restrooms, hot showers (for a small fee) and changing areas.

Moving farther north, southern Maine offers surf-side fun in areas such as York and Ogunquit. Lacking public facilities, and thus the day crowds, these beaches have become popular for New England getaways.

The ubiquity of summer rentals makes the area a popular destination for families. Many hardy New Englanders have have been known to visit year after year, braving the chill of the Atlantic Ocean for peaceful ocean views on a more placid scale than the southerly shores.

If you don’t think you’d like to spend more than a day or two tossing your towel to the sand and watching the tide roll in, you’re in luck. Both coastal areas offer alternative recreation options.

Misquamicut and York are well-known for their carnival-like atmosphere and offer shopping, amusement rides and all of the quintessential sea shacks you could hope to find. There is also crabbing to be done and millions of tide pools to discover, teeming with ocean life.

Even better, the rest of what New England has to offer is only a short drive away.

Family walking across the rocky shore of Rhode Island in search of tide pools
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Road Trips Reveal Out-of-the-Ordinary Things to Do in New England

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Winding through river valleys, marshes and mountains, New England roadways cross varied terrains, opening doors to secrets that have been hidden for decades if not more. Take the Old Boston Post Road in Central Massachusetts.

Once a system of mail delivery routes between Boston and New York City, much of what remains is commemorated in 26 markers that form a treasure hunt through some of Massachusetts most coveted historical towns.

On the way, you’ll find other hidden surprises, such as the lonely way post marking Spooner’s Well. The body of Joshua Spooner was disposed here after a faithless wife had him killed following the American revolution.

She paid for her trouble with her life and was the first woman to be executed in the New America republic.

Marker for Spooner Well in Central Massachusetts
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If historic remains are your guilty pleasure, you might also enjoy visiting what’s left of the mansion where Lucy Stone was raised. She was the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree. She naturally become one of the regular supporters of women’s rights for the time, and is widely recognized across Massachusetts for her efforts.

While the main state routes that crisscross New England offer plenty in beauty and surprises, you’ll find a number of dirt packed byways as well, primarily throughout Vermont and western Massachusetts. Many of these backwoods roadways are easily traveled and hide some of the best wonders.

Road trips are a great way to explore during New England getaways and offer a quieter glimpse into the life of area residents.

Experience the Best that Fall Has to Offer: New England Getaways in Autumn

Blazing autumn leaves highlighted by a setting sun
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Of course, the best time to take a New England road trip is in the fall, when trees come to the peak of life right before blazing off into winter sleep.

Vermont is one of the best locations to witness autumn beauty and is prime for New England getaways. Narrow roadways climb gentle slopes, revealing hidden surprises at varying turns. You’ll find a number of routes, all filled with covered bridges, glorious views and as much leaf peeping as you could hope for.

For many, witnessing the fall beauty is one of the best things to do in New England, but apple-picking is also a popular favorite. Many orchards turn the task into a great family activity, offering wagon rides and cider pressing tours.

Lost Acres Orchard in the small town of Granby, Connecticut does both, while also delivering some great outdoor dining and a sample of earthy pleasures. Try the apple pie. It’s one of the best in New England.

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If you’re a foodie, fall is a bustling time to enjoy the distinctive tastes of New England. For example, did you know there was more than one type of clam chowder in New England not to mention soups and bisques? You can find them across a number of food festivals.

If you’ve never heard of a Fluffernutter, you’re obviously not a New Englander. Even so, you might still enjoy What the Fluff?. This annual festival held in Somerville, Massachusetts and sponsored by Allstate, celebrates all things marshmallow Fluff, including the iconic Fluffernutter sandwich that combines peanut butter with the light airy substance.

Fall isn’t all about food, however. Sports are popular as well.

Yes, the New England Patriots will be gearing up for another run at the Super Bowl, but collegiate athletes offer a broader fare, including options you may not have considered. The number one sailing team in the nation hoists the mainsail from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island on select weekends, and Brown University sponsors one of the top equestrian teams in the country to name a few.

New England Getaways: An Anglers Paradise

Fisherman can find plenty of things to do in New England. From braving the frigid ocean waters in search of the beasts that fill the ocean deep, to the more peaceful allure of fly-fishing the area’s many brooks and streams, you’re sure to catch your limit.

For deep-sea fishing, the Frances Fleet out of Galilee, Rhode Island takes to the water rain or shine throughout the summer and weather permitting the rest of the year. They’ll supply the bait and tackle and even offer pointers on luring in the underwater denizens of the ocean.

For a more intimate experience, The Bunny Clark out of Ogunquit Maine offers limited spots on full-day and marathon trips. You’re sure to come home with something you’ll be proud of. You might even make it into one of the famed Tim Tower fishing reports as Seconds-to-Go’s Ali Patton did several years ago.

Seconds to Go, Ali Patton, featured in Tim Tower's Fishing report, FV Bunny Clark
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From Simple to Invigorating, that’s Hiking in New England

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You’ll find some of the best hiking anywhere within the New England states. State sanctuaries, such as Silver Sands Park in Connecticut, offer easy coastal hikes through estuaries and tidal marshes. At low tide, you can even cross the sand to an offshore island.

Moving away from the coast, New England offers trails of varying degrees of difficulty through interior woodlands. Some require steep climbing over rocks and glacial debris while others offer a pleasant stroll beside rivers or trickling streams.

One of our favorite hikes is the Westledge trail in Connecticut’s McLean Game Refuge. The trail crosses two separate open space land tracks, covering the Garret stairs, part of a former stage coach route out of the long-gone town of Pilfershire.

Rock House Reservation in Central Massachusetts offers simple strolls through ancient glacial erratics and a nature-built house of stone.

Part of the rock house at New England's Rock House Reservation
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True adventure seekers will set out across parts of the 2,200 mile-long Appalachian trail which starts in Georgia and runs through Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. The trail finally ends at Mount Katahdin, Maine.

Those who tackle its remote corners take days to do so, camping where they find space, so unseasoned backwoods hikers need not apply. Less strenuous portions of the trail cross open space areas across the region and are more appropriate for casual enthusiasts.

Explore an Unparalleled Culture and History on a New England Getaway

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Whaling ship at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

While every area has its own unique history and culture, none is as primal as New England. Pegged as the birthplace of the nation, local museums celebrate the heritage of our country and provide ample things to do in New England. Sturbridge Village is an immersive experience, allowing modern-day citizens to welcomingly trespass on historical grounds. You’ll enter a colonial New England town where costumed volunteers lead you through the daily life of our nation’s first inhabitants.

Plimoth Plantation offers another glimpse into our early history by taking you inside one of the country’s first settlements. Period actors will fill you in on our earliest settlers’ daily lives while giving insight into the thoughts and attitudes of the time. If you’re looking for things to do in New England that provide insight into how early residents worked and played, both destinations are highly recommended.

Early Native American history is covered at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Connecticut. You can even make a day of it by combining your visit with some high stakes action at Foxwoods Casino.

Stepping into more recent history, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, just outside of Boston, celebrates the hardships of the industry with interactive exhibits and displays. Meanwhile, The Peabody museum in New Haven, Connecticut, takes a deeper look into our ancient history, with fossilized displays and actual remains of the earth’s earliest reptilian inhabitants.

Live It up in the Gilded Age

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Gilded Age mansion in the Berkshires

The late 1800s into the turn of the century represented a time of great prosperity for our nation as the industrial revolution spawned over 4,000 millionaires and ushered in the gilded age of wealth and fashion. While many industrial tycoons lived daily lives in the cities, they built large palaces to recreation in areas such as Newport, Rhode Island and Western Massachusetts.

These palatial mansions allowed the ultra-wealthy to escape the grime of early city living and entertain in style. On the ocean shore, the air was fresher and cool breezes made the summers more palatable.

Several of these residences are available for tour in Newport, Rhode Island, providing a glimpse into how the likes of the Vanderbilts and Astors once lived. Christmas is a particularly popular time to visit the mansions when seasonal decorations light up the extravagance with a bit of festiveness.

Stable from a gilded age mansion in disrepair
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Not all gilded age mansions made it into the present day. This stable house, part of a mansion previously destroyed by fire, may be in disrepair, but seeing its size and the materials associated with its construction, give a good idea of its owner’s wealth.

The Berkshires in western Massachusetts offered another popular escape for wealthy families in the early to mid-1900s. Residences such as Naumkeag and Ventforth Hall are now open to the public and offer guided tours. Parts of The Mount, a historic home owned by author, Edith Wharton, are open to the public on self-guided tours.

New England Getaways Get Back to Nature

Raspberries growing on a bush. Fun things to do in New england
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While the northeast is famed for cities such as Boston and New York, much of the area is rural, still dotted by the farmland that sustained the earliest settlers. Farming today is a much different venture than it was over 200 years ago and provides travelers, or those seeking day trips, many things to do in New England.

Pick-your-own fruits and vegetables are the finest you’ll find during the summer months. You’ll come across these farms travelling rural roads and byways, but the bigger, more commercial establishments can easily be found by doing an internet search.

Brown’s Harvest in Connecticut offers strawberries and pumpkin picking combined with fun family activities for the kids. In the fall, Red Apple Farm in Central Massachusetts is a family destination. You can pick a variety of apples, sample delicious baked goods, dig into smoke-fired barbecue or commune with goats and donkeys in the petting zoo.

When it comes to animals in New England, they aren’t all tame. This region is home to bears, mountain lions, coyotes and moose to name a few. In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, moose are so plentiful that parts of the area have been nick-named “Moose Alley”. In other regions, such as western Connecticut, bears have become so prevalent that they are frequently sighted in back yards and roadways.

If you’re looking for an up-close encounter with a species that has long been extinct from the natural New England Environment, Wolf Hollow in Ipswich, Massachusetts takes you into the private lives of the wolf. Operated by the North American Wolf Foundation, the sanctuary seeks to preserve the wolf in the wild through education and exposure. They will allow you to “meet” the resident gray wolf pack through various experiences.

You can also strike out into the beauty of backwoods New England while enjoying the gentle communion with an animal companion. Guided trail rides are offered throughout the region and are a great way to explore areas you might not otherwise see.

girls heading out on a trail ride.
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If you don’t mind setting out on your own two feet, hiking with llamas at Rowenwood Farm is a new way to experience nature with a guide who probably understands the land better than we do.

Living It up on the Water

If you’re looking to get out on the water during your New England getaway, you should be happy with your choices. Canoe, kayak or paddle board in the The Lakes region of New Hampshire. Rentals are available from multiple choice vendors if you need equipment.

The lakes are also a popular choice for adrenaline junkies or families who enjoy the more active motorized types of water sports. You can rent boats and equipment, such as skies, from several local vendors by the hour, day or week. Given the number of summer rental accommodations, it’s a prime location to settle in for a few days and cool off from the summer heat.

Kayaking down a tree covered river
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For placid paddling downriver, try the Farmington in Connecticut, however choose your route wisely. Parts of the river are rapid and technical, best experienced by seasoned kayakers. Tubing is also available in parts of the watershed. Local outfitters will provide you with the equipment you need and pick you up at a designated takeout point.

In the spring, New England has its share of white water as local dams release snow melt from upriver. You’ll find prime water conditions in Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont as the temperatures start to warm. Guided outfitters are ready to take you on the ride of a lifetime.

Heat up as the Weather Turns Cold

chairlift in the snow
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New England winters are famed for snow and cold, but that doesn’t mean you need to keep to the indoors. Winter adventures await the hardy and provide plenty of things to do in New England despite the chill.

Vermont and New Hampshire are well-known destinations for downhill adventurers. Places like Okemo, Killington and Bretton Woods are top-rated by skiing enthusiasts, while resorts in the Berkshires, such as Butternut Basin, offer family-friendly trails suitable for all ages and skill levels.

If skiing or boarding is not your style, consider visiting one of the terrain parks. Downhill here takes place in an inner tube and can be a little less intimidating to the uninitiated.

Snowmobile heading down a trail in New Hampshire
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If you’re looking for out-of-the-ordinary things to do in New England during the winter, Vermont is home to thousands of miles of snow mobile trails. You’ll find tours readily available as well as rentals if you prefer to strike out on your own.

Several lodging options are available trail side, allowing you to glide right up to your accommodations and take off again in the morning without the worry of hauling your machine over roadways.

Experience a Romantic New England Getaway at a Historical Bed and Breakfast

Interior shot of one of the rooms at Deer Brook Inn, Vermont
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Deer Brook Inn in Vermont blends the best of the old and new.

When it comes to finding romantic things to do in New England, you aren’t short of options, but making your home base one of the region’s many B&B’s is a sure way to marry modern-day luxury with old colonial charm. Most establishments are located in historic homes or inns, offering the right amount of modern amenities with a variety of cuisines to make your stay memorable.

Some favor meals inspired by fresh locally-sourced ingredients served at a communal table. At the bigger accommodations, you can often expect chef-inspired themes in a more personal intimate space.

One of our favorites is Deer Brook Inn in Vermont. The hosts are entertaining while making you feel like you’re part of the family. The locally-sourced food is delicious, and the location is close to many Vermont day-trip destinations. We also enjoyed the soothing colors of the décor and the comfortable amenities.

There is Always Something to Do in New England

So, now that you’ve had a sampling of the many cool things to do in New England, why not get out and explore? We’ll be covering more destinations and activities in our upcoming trips, so keep checking back for more.

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Kathleen Hesketh

Kathleen is a travel agent with Mickey World Travel, a platinum level Authorized Disney vacation planner, where she helps people discover the magic of a Disney vacation and other travel destinations. She is also the chief author and editor for Seconds to Go - a travel blog where she shares experiences from traveling the U.S. with her daughter, Ali.
Mother daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S.

We're Kat and Ali, a pair of mother-daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S. We're sharing our experiences, tips and insights to help you more easily get out and explore the beautiful landscapes and places of this nation.