What to see in New England
New England, the north-easternmost part of the United States comprising six states: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island, offers a mesmerising variety of tourist attractions. See map of New England.
The region benefits from unparalleled natural beauty and mesmerising, varied landscapes, making it an ideal location for a road-trip, either along the Atlantic coast or in the unspoilt wilderness of the interior. Culture buffs will also find plenty of things to do in New England. As one of the first parts of the USA to be colonized by Europeans and the birthplace of American democracy, the region boasts a wealth of historic heritage. Last but not least, East England is home to some of world’s most renowned universities and thriving scholar and cultural scenes. Below are just a few suggestions on what to see in New England.
New England’s beaches
Although, due to its geographical location, New England is not the warmest parts of the USA, the temperatures in the summer are more than enough to allow beach holiday (find more information about New England’s climate further below).
Great beach locations abound along the 6,000 miles of New England’s coast, ranging from secluded coves in the rocky cliff shores to wide and miles-long strips of white sand. In New England you will find beaches for pure relaxation in the sun and for active water sports activities; fishing bays perfect for a lobster meal in a waterfront restaurant and party hot-spots with animation during the day and vibrant night-life after sunset. Below is the list of the most popular beaches in New England’s states:
Best beaches of Maine:
Old Orchards Beach
Beaches of Kennebunks
Crescent Beach State Park
Popham Beach State Park
Top-rated beaches of Connecticut:
Sherwood Island State Park
Silver Sands State Park
Bluff Point State Park
Calf Pasture Beach
Cape Cod beaches
Coast Guard Beach
Martha’s Vineyard Beach
Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast Cape Code, Massachusetts, is considered to be one of the most upmarket vacationing spots:
Rhode Island beaches:
Narraganset Town Beach
Scarborough State Beach
Captain Roger Wheeler State Beach
Beaches of Newport
Block Island beaches
Beaches in New Hampshire:
The mere 18 miles of New Hampshire coastline boast a few interesting and varied locations, amongst them the Hampton Beach State Park, Jenness State Beach and Wallis Sands Beach.
New England stretches across several climatic zones. Its northern part - Maine and Vermont - are known for harsh, long winters, with heavy snowfall. Massachusetts, most of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the sought, benefit from longer and warmer summers, while the coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island, on the border of humid continental and humid tropical climates are the warmest, yet rainy for large part of the year.
Climate chart for Portland (coastal Maine).
Weather in Vermont (Burlington).
Boston weather (temperatures, rainfall and sunshine hours).
Boston – the gateway to New England
The capital of Massachusetts is the largest city of New England. It is also the region’s most important economic and cultural centre, ranking high on the list of USA’s most influential cities.
Nicknamed “the Athens of America”, Boston played an important role in early history of the United States and its establishing as an independent nation. With a strong tradition of democracy, Boston was also a birth-place of anti-slavery movement in the USA. With such a noble historic heritage, Boston offers plentiful monuments and unique historical sites well worth a visit. Do not miss out on:
- Trinity Church, a witness to Boston’s puritan past
- Boston Common, the oldest park of the United States
- Granary Burial Ground
- Boston State House, in which in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was read for the first time
- Paul Revere House, once inhabited by a hero of the American idependence
- Boston Maritime Museum
- the harbour area, which boasts a singular, yet modern, Boston attraction - the New England Aquarium with the largest salt water tank in the world.
Boston’s history is also the one of industry. Once a major centre of textile industry, the area of Boston was a key-element of the American industrial revolution. Having to adapt its economy to the challenges brought by the Great Depression and World War II, New England and its capital developed new sectors, amongst them medical research, finance, technology and education.
The town of Cambridge, near Boston, on the other side of Charles River is home to one of the oldest universities in the USA, Harvard founded in the 17 century. The campus of the university is open for visitors.
Apart from Harvard College, New England hosts several other world renowned educational institutions, amongst them the Yale University, located in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, Brown University of Providence, Rhode Island and MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also in Cambridge.
Tourism is also a thriving industry in Boston. With over 16 million visitors each year, Boston is one of the most popular city destinations in the United States.
Major airports of New England
Boston is served by a large international airport, Boston Logan –BOS which is also the main airport of the region, operating an extensive network of domestic destinations, as well as a good choice of international routes (including European routes to Boston from London, Zurich and Madrid, amongst others).
Related article: Car hire Boston – find cheap car rental at Boston Logan Airport
Amongst other international airports of New England are: Bradley International Airport (Connecticut), Bangor International Airport (Maine) and Burlington International Airport (Vermont).
Plymouth – historical tours of New England
Dubbed “America’s Hometown”, the city of Plymouth (in the past often spelled as ‘Plimoth’) on the coast of Massachusetts is a mandatory stop on a historical tour of New England. It was here where the first settlers from Europe, referred to as Pilgrims arrived on the famous Mayflower ship and established the first colony in 1620. Mayflower II, the replica of the original vessel is one of the major tourist attractions of Plymouth. Other monuments of the American colonial history include Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth harbour and National Monument to the Forefathers, amongst others.
New England living history museums
United States have a long tradition of living history museums, where past times are recreated in detail, with live actors dressed in historical costumes showing how life looked like in a given period. In New England alone there are 12 of such museums, amongst them:
Mayflower II: The Voyage that Changed the World
The reconstruction of the transatlantic voyage of the Mayflower ship in period costumes.
Plimoth Plantation: The Real Thing
See how life of the first settlers of New England looked like in the mid 17th century. The buildings, plantation, clothes, every day objects and utensils, as well as food of that period are reconstructed with great authenticity at Plimoth Plantation.
Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum
For a unique experience of early American maritime history visit the replica of 18th century ship harboured in Boston. Boston Tea Party experience - click for more information..
Old Sturbridge Village
Everyday life in rural America in the 1830’s is recreated in the country’s largest outdoor museum in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, from simple houses to blacksmith workshops and working watermills. The visitors od Old Sturbridge Village can participate in several interactive experiences: bake bread according to ancient recipes, roast meat or learn how to make maple sugar.
New England scenic drives – experience the Indian Summer
With its vast and diverse landscape, the northeastern region of the United States is a perfect road trip destination. The scenic drive along the Atlantic coast is a popular choice, especially given the abundance of appealing stops on the way – from large cities offering all of the mundane pleasure to small villages hiding sometimes surprising historic heritage. Not least important for shellfish amateurs, the coast of New England is considered to be USA’s best location for a lobster and oyster meal.
Many visitors to New England, however, choose the region’s interior for scenic drives, especially during early Autumn when the vast forests in the north, by the border with Canada offer a dazzling spectacle of changing colours. Ritch reds, oranges and yellows of the foliage used to mark the beginning of the hunting season for the native Americans, thus the popular name of this part of the year in New England – the Indian Summer.
Get a glimpse of Autumn landscapes of New England:
One of the most spectacular scenic drives of New England is along the Kancamagus Highway. The 30 km stretch of Route 112 running through the White Mountains in New Hampshire offers superb views, many charming stops along the way and wildlife sightings (do expect to see a moose crossing the road). Unlike New England’s coastal motorways, the infrastructure of the roads in the region’s interior is less developed, with few gas stations, hotels or restaurants. Additional, in the most remote areas, there is no cell phone reception, so be sure to have a full tank of gas and a map before venturing off to New England’s wilderness. See map of Kancamagus Highway.
Acadia National Park
Known for its pristine nature, New England boast 18 national parks, scattered both at the coast and in the interior.
One of the most popular ones, attracting millions of visitors every year is the Acadia National Park comprising Mount Desert Island, the Isle au Haut and a part of Schoodic Peninsula, off the Maine coast. See Acadia National Park on the map.
New England in miniature, Acadia Park features the most characteristic features of the region’s landscapes and environments. Here, visitors will find mountain forest, rocky coastline, lakes, ponds and marshlands, as well as a variety of wildlife.
Acadia is a prime location for nature-loving active tourists. Apart from hiking amidst breath-taking landscapes, the outdoor activities available in Acadia National Park include biking, horse-drawn carriage trips, fishing, boating, bird watching, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and many, many others.