Top 10 things to do in New England
Across the globe the ever-changing natural world conjures up a colourful display of seasonal beauty as leaves turn from green to gold and blossom explodes into a thick blanket of pink and white.
New England is made up of six separate states, including: New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, and is regarded as one of the key areas involved in both the abolition of slavery and the battle for independence from the British.
Today you’ll find a blend of historical sites, distinctive culture and affluent neighbourhoods that all go to make a jolly good touring spot especially if you’re into hiking, beaches and skiing during the winter months. From characterful coastal villages to some of the finest ice cream on the planet, check out the top 10 things to do in New England that will give you more of an insight into this perfect pocket of east coast America.
Ben and Jerry’s Factory tour
Touted as ‘one of the happiest places in Vermont’ this delicious sounding ice cream factory tour does exactly what it says on the tub with plenty of B & J quirks thrown in for extra toppings. Located in the Green Mountains, just outside of the town of Waterbury, you’ll be invited to learn more about the history, production methods and the manufacturing process before being given the chance to slurp yourself into an ice-cream-fuelled frenzy in the Flavouroom. Lots of outdoor things to do in the summer months, including: picnic spots, cow spotting and activities for the kids, make this a great day out unless you’re watching your waistline.
The home of the Boston Red Sox has been open for ball business since 1912 and as such it’s the oldest of its kind in use to this day. Thanks to its urban location, in the Fenway district of Boston, expansion has been somewhat restricted meaning that accommodating anything over 35,000 spectators is something of a squeeze. Even if you don’t get the chance to take in an actual game, a visit to Fenway is a chance to appreciate just a taste of true blue American culture and a tour of the ground will give you an hour long insight into exactly why this ground is so special in New England folklore.
The whole of the east coast of America is bedecked with lighthouses and New England is no different with several of the country’s oldest and most culturally significant structures shining brightly out into the North Atlantic Ocean. There are loads of tours on offer that will take you to the iconic guardians of the coast and from Beacon Hill in Boston to the restored wooden grandeur of Rose Island on Rhode Island, lighthouse spotting is just one of many favourite pastimes on a trip to New England.
Acadia National Park
Stephen King’s favourite state is also the home of the wild and woolly shores of Mount Desert Island which lies just off the coastline of Maine and attracts untold visitors wishing to explore the mountainous landscapes of Acadia National Park. This is simply a breath-taking location and if you’re into woodland walks, shoreline strolls or watching the sun melt into a shimmering lake then this is the place to do the lot. With over 40 different species of mammal, including: deer, moose and beaver, Acadia is an incredibly beautiful area and although it draws nature lovers in their droves you’re bound to find your own picturesque spot to escape the hordes during the summer.
If you’re desperate for a bit of family-friendly fun whilst visiting New England then Lake Compounce amusement park should tick the majority of boxes with a water park and beach thrown in for good measure. Located in the city of Bristol, Connecticut, this is the country’s oldest-operated amusement park but don’t panic, the rides have been updated so you’re in safe hands. With over 40 attractions in total, including: three roller-coasters, numerous water slides and the usual mix of bumper cars, carousels and Ferris Wheels, this is a great day out for the whole gang no matter what the time of year.
This is the smallest state in the whole of New England and is renowned for its gorgeous bays and ocean inlets which are perfect for getting away from it all while making the most of the windswept coastline. As the first colony to declare independence from the British, Rhode Island is very proud of its national heritage and cities, such as the capital, Providence, hold plenty of historic buildings and significant landmarks if you fancy an alternative to the beach.
As you’d take for granted from a mountain with a summit of over 6,000 feet, Mount Washington is an absolute mecca for summer hikers and winter skiers and no trip to New Hampshire is complete without at least a photograph. One of the best and most popular trails starts at the wonderfully-named Pinkham Notch campsite and eventually leads to some truly spectacular ravine views from the formidable Wildcat Mountain. As with any hiking trip, being prepared and well-equipped is essential for a successful adventure and as Mount Washington is well-known for its considerably erratic weather you’ll be well-advised to take care when attempting to reach the peak.
Located just off the eastern coastline of Massachusetts, Cape Cod forms one of the largest island barriers on earth as well as some quite magnificent stretches of deserted beach. The island can be reached by road or by train and during the summer months you’ll be joined by a mass of Massachusetts’ locals all heading towards some 60 public beaches that are regarded as some of the best on the east coast. Walking trails, whale watching and fishing trips are all favourites on the Cape and if you fancy a bit of alternative rock and roll between the dunes then check out the annual Naukabout Music Festival that takes place every August.
Green Mountains, Vermont
This section of the Appalachian Trail stretches across the state of Vermont for some 250 miles and is full of peaks, valleys and stunning views which form the backbone to many a memorable hiking trip. Mount Mansfield is the highest peak being just short of 4500 feet tall and also resembling the profile of prostrate man when viewed from a distance. Legendary tracks in the Green Mountains include the Long Trail which takes in all of the major lumps and bumps as well as a few curious stories to keep you awake during camping trips.
The seasonal pilgrimage to New England is undertaken by everyone from professional photographers to school tour parties and if you’re in the mood for some fantastic foliage then there’s no finer place to visit around the autumn months. You’ll find no end of tours and treks to compliment the colour with highlights, such as: the Mohawk trail, the White Mountains and Bennington in Vermont, providing some of the best opportunities to enjoy the fall in all its glory.
Discover the sensational scenery of New England with these recommended tours & stays
Autumn Colours Escorted Tour (8 nights)
Self-Drive Boston to New York by the Beaches (8 nights)
Experience New England Self-Drive (10 nights)
Self-Drive New England Back Roads (7 nights)
Stowe Mountain Lodge
Omni Mount Washington Resort, White Mountains
Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe
Embassy Suites Portland Maine Hotel
South Cape Resort & Club, Cape Cod
Nonantum Hotel and Resort, Kennebunkport
New England Travel Guides
- Road tripping New England
- Top 10 things to do in New England
- Top 10 coastal towns in New England
- A beginner's guide to New England's fall colours
- Explore New England in the fall
- Top 10 things to do in Maine
- Top 10 things to do in New Hampshire
- Top 10 outdoor experiences in New Hampshire
- Maine beach holidays