New England is known for its charm, amazing seafood, and drastically changing seasons.
People from all over the Atlantic coast take a road trip to New England to watch the leaves change in the fall, get out in nature, and learn about the history of the United States.
20 Top-Rated Places You Must Visit in New England
1. Boston, MA
Boston is the one big New England city that is a must-visit. From there, it’s just a short drive to plenty of other New England vacation spots, and it makes a great base of operations for a New England vacation.
Boston is steeped in American history and was the site of many important events like the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. A great way to see most of the cultural and historical landmarks in the city is to take the two-and-a-half-mile Freedom Trail.
Downtown Boston is perfect for getting introduced to New England culture. Delicious food, craft beers, art galleries, and museums all make the city center hard to see in just a few days.
2. Nantucket, MA
Nantucket is a fourteen-mile-long island off the coast of Cape Cod that used to be the whaling capital of the world. Today, it’s a popular vacation spot, and the enchanting beach town lures visitors from across the country.
The most significant landmarks on the island are its three lighthouses. The tourist favorite is the Brant Point Lighthouse, which is within walking distance of the ferry dropoff.
Similarly, Sankaty Head Light is at the island’s tip on the Sconset Bluff Walk and is a great place to catch a sunset. However, you’ll need a Jeep to get to the other beacon tower, Great Point Lighthouse, but the views above the Atlantic Ocean are inspiring.
Nantucket is also famous for outdoor activities. For example, the best way to see the island in the warmer months is by bike, and trails crisscross the entire island.
Additionally, this island is one of the best whale watching locations in the world, and the hiking trails are a perfect opportunity to spot other wildlife.
3. Providence, RI
Although the state capital of RI is fairly small, you won’t run out of things to do in Providence. The city is home to Brown University, The Rhode Island School of Design, and a thriving culinary school.
If you’re there in the summer, you can enjoy the Waterfire event that takes place in the city. Fires are lit in the river and on the water, and food trucks, vendors, and street performers come out en masse.
You can even take a gondola ride around the city to take it all in.
In the winter, you can find fun things to do like ice bumper cars, seal harbor tours, or a theater show. However, you’ll want to avoid the spring and fall since these are the busiest times for the schools, but Providence is a great place to visit year-round.
4. Cape Cod, MA
Cape Cod is a beautiful stretch of beaches with 15 charming towns and villages. Plus, Cape Cod National Seashore is one of a few wildlife preserves in the area.
And in addition to a rich history going back to the founding of America, the cape is one of the best places in the world to get fresh seafood.
5. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, ME
This state park is just a thirty-minute drive from Portland, nestled in a beautiful white pine forest with plenty of hiking trails for you to explore.
And later, if you want a break after all that hiking, you can walk to downtown Freeport for refreshment.
6. Acadia National Park, ME
As one of the best national parks to see the fall foliage and colors, everyone should visit Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. The park is on Maine’s northeastern coast, just a few minutes from Bar Harbor, where you’ll also find several quaint bed and breakfast inns.
Hiking and carriage trails sprawl across the park and give you an excellent way to get back in touch with nature. Plus, in winter, the paths double as cross-country ski trails.
Meanwhile, the beaches contain plenty of tide pools where you can spot the tiny creatures that get caught in them.
Likewise, some of the favorite activities for visitors include watching the sunrise from atop Cadillac Mountain or the sunset from Jordan Pond.
7. Martha’s Vineyard, MA
The island is the most crowded during the summer months when many Northeasterners flock there to soak up the sun on the beaches. The seaside towns are open to visitors all year, offering art exhibits, theaters, and history museums.
8. New Haven, CT
Home to the prestigious Yale University and all of the wonderful museums that belong to the institution, New Haven should be near the top of your New England destination list. The Yale Peabody Museum has an enormous collection of dinosaur fossils, and the town also has a rare book and manuscript library worthy of your time near the Town Green.
You can also see a show at the theater or try the United States’ largest indoor rope course at Jordan’s Furniture. And don’t forget to taste New Haven’s signature pizza style in between your fun activities.
9. Provincetown, MA
While in Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod, you should stop by Race Point Beach and Race Point Lighthouse, a registered historic site. There are a few parking areas nearby, but the best way to see the lighthouse is to hike out the cape.
Commercial Street is the best place to go if you’re looking for shopping or nightlife. If you’re interested, there are even plenty of friendly LGBT bars, restaurants, and events downtown as well.
10. Salem, MA
Perhaps best known for witches and the famous witch trials carried out there, Salem, Massachusetts, has much more to offer. The historic district is a great place to take in New England culture, and if you take the Salem Heritage Trail, you’ll see the birthplace of author Nathaniel Hawthorne.
In October, the city leans into its spooky history, but this leads to longer lines at attractions like the Salem Witch Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum.
11. Portland, ME
The picturesque town of Portland, Maine, offers much more than fantastic beach views and New England charm. Fort Williams Park is home to the most photographed lighthouse in the United States, the Portland Head Light, located on Cape Elizabeth.
Furthermore, the Old Port area and market square are great places to grab a gelato and do some window shopping.
12. Newport, RI
The small seaside town of Newport is one of the best places to visit in New England. Located on Aquidneck Island, also named Rhode Island, Newport contains lots of beaches with tall cliffs.
A local favorite, the Cliff Walk is a 3.5-mile nature trail that offers breathtaking views of the beaches and many famous Newport mansions. Most of the estates have stood for a long time, going back as far as 1850.
However, remember that there isn’t much parking near the most famous mansions, so you’ll need to get out and walk.
Downtown Newport has plenty to do as well. It’s home to an Audubon Museum and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
13. White Mountains, NH
The White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire is a nature lover’s paradise. Hiking to gorgeous waterfalls during warmer months, enjoying the changing of the leaves in the fall, and skiing during winter all make the area ideal for adventurers.
14. Lake Winnipesaukee, NH
The lakes region of New Hampshire offers tons of boating and water sports activities. Along the 27-mile lake, you’ll find plenty of fun pursuits, including stopping by a massive indoor arcade named Funspot.
The lake is one of the best places to visit in New England to watch the leaves change colors as well.
15. Plymouth, MA
Plymouth is famously the town founded by the pilgrims when they arrived in the New World. It’s a fantastic place to walk through history and slow down to relax.
Plymouth Plantation is an outdoor history museum with historic clapboard houses that shows the way of life experienced by early settlers. Also, while you’re there, you can see a replica of the Mayflower as well as Plymouth Rock when you tour the many historic sites in the area.
16. Stowe, VT
Stowe is famous for its ski resorts and is one of the best places to visit for winter activities. It’s also home to the tallest peak in Vermont, Mt. Mansfield.
The Stowe Recreation Path is an excellent route for bikers and walkers that parallels the river and has a great view of the Green Mountains.
17. Block Island, RI
Block Island is a pristine little island off the coast of Rhode Island. Here, you’ll find beautiful public beaches, sheer bluffs to climb, and plenty of wide-open space.
Plus, the island is host to multiple events throughout the year, including special Fourth of July celebrations.
18. Hartford, CT
As one of the country’s oldest cities, Hartford is full of history. For example, the Wadsworth Atheneum is the oldest public art museum in the US, and the local Hartford Courant is the longest-running newspaper.
Similarly, you can stop by Mark Twain’s house, the actual home he lived in while he wrote many of his famous novels.
19. Burlington, VT
Burlington is renowned for its open-air mall, called the Church Street Marketplace. But, this plaza isn’t the only thing to do in the city.
The pedestrian-friendly downtown area is full of cafes, shops, and farm-to-table restaurants. Plus, at the end of Church Street, you can visit Burlington Waterfront Park, a spot on the shores of Lake Champlain that’s perfect for a picnic.
20. Mystic, CT
Mystic is a town made famous by the movie “Mystic Pizza,” but it also has a storied maritime history.
At one time, it was the shipbuilding center of the East Coast, and at the Mystic Seaport Museum, you can learn all about the old ships the town used to build. The area also has a world-class aquarium that promotes conservation and education.
It would be impossible to list all the fantastic New England destinations you should add to your itinerary. Thus, while these are the best places to visit in New England, don’t overlook lesser-known areas like Western Massachusetts, North Adams, and Goose Rocks Beach.
Table of Contents
- 20 Top-Rated Places You Must Visit in New England
- 1. Boston, MA
- 2. Nantucket, MA
- 3. Providence, RI
- 4. Cape Cod, MA
- 5. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, ME
- 6. Acadia National Park, ME
- 7. Martha’s Vineyard, MA
- 8. New Haven, CT
- 9. Provincetown, MA
- 10. Salem, MA
- 11. Portland, ME
- 12. Newport, RI
- 13. White Mountains, NH
- 14. Lake Winnipesaukee, NH
- 15. Plymouth, MA
- 16. Stowe, VT
- 17. Block Island, RI
- 18. Hartford, CT
- 19. Burlington, VT
- 20. Mystic, CT