We’re sure you’ve heard about New England. About maple syrup dripping lusciously onto piles of pancakes; about rocky coastlines adorned with lighthouses; heard tell of endless forests bedecked in Fall’s dazzling colours. These are the images that instantly come to mind when you hear “New England”. But where do you find these things? This vast and beautiful region is made up of six states which each have their own unique, regional flavour. So what are the six states, and which goodies is each famous for? We’re glad you asked. We’re going to take you on a tour of New England’s breath-taking regions and let you in on the top things to do in each one. So start planning your dream trip to the USA’s fabled North East – all the info you need is right here.
As the home of world-famous destinations like Boston and Cape Cod, Massachusetts is arguably the best-known of New England’s states. Although full to bursting with vineyards, beautiful coastline and stunning scenery, we think the real treats in Massachusetts lie in its deep, rich history. Take this opportunity to learn all about America’s founding fathers and follow in their footsteps.
Top Things to do in Massachusetts
Boston and the Freedom Trail – Definitely make time for Massachusetts’ capital city when you visit. Founded in 1630, the city is brimming with history despite its modern metropolis feel. Weave your way through downtown Boston’s historic districts along the 16 points of the Freedom Trail, marking significant locations like Boston Common and the Bunker Hill Monument.
Plymouth and the Mayflower – Less than an hour’s drive from Boston is Plymouth, The Home of America. It was here in 1620 that the first pilgrim colonists landed in the New World, disembarking the Mayflower. Take a tour of the full-scale replica, the Mayflower II, and learn its history from costumed guides.
Cape Cod – If you want to see how the locals holiday, then take a trip to the sandy oasis of Cape Cod. Stroll miles of pristine beaches, visit the cranberry bogs or marvel at the impressive holiday “cottages”. This region is perfect for a truly relaxing break with deluxe hotels and charming restaurants.
Connecticut is the most southern of the six states which make up New England, and is easily accessible from Boston – the city known as the gateway to New England. It’s famed for its wineries and the excellent Connecticut Wine Trail will lead you to 25 of them. With a coastline dotted with lighthouses, it’s all about mild days, strolling through vineyards and picnicking on the beach.
Top things to do in Connecticut
Mystic Seaport – This 19th century coastal village has been perfectly preserved with dozens of historic buildings and a shipyard with an authentic wooden whaling ship. Discover maritime history, lighthouses and scrumptious fresh seafood.
Mark Twain’s Home – This National Historic Landmark in the town of Hartford has been rated in the Top 10 Historic Houses in the World by National Geographic.
Yale University – Stroll among the impressive 18th century architecture of this Ivy League institution in New Haven, keeping an eye out for the Harkness Tower and the Yale Peabody Museum.
From the southernmost state in New England we head to the northernmost. Maine is known for its rocky coastline, the rolling hills of its interior and its fabulous seafood. If you’ve heard tell of the huge, juicy lobsters served up in New England, then Maine is where you want to head. Visit its myriad of little fishing communities and stop by its largest city, Portland – an intoxicating mix of charming seaport and lively urban centre. If you prefer getting in touch with nature and exploring stunning national parks, then head inland to hike in true wilderness.
Top things to do in Maine
Acadia National Park – Reserving most of Mount Desert Island in Bar Harbour, this park is full of history and beauty. Take some time to learn about the native Wabanaki people who inhabited the island for 9000 years. View the stunning coastline, hike through the pine forests, and encounter porcupines, moose and beavers along the way.
The Appalachian Trail – This National Scenic Trail extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia all the way to Mount Katahdin in Maine – Maine’s tallest mountain. The challenging yet hugely rewarding eastern section from Monson to Mt Katahdin is called ‘The Hundred Mile Wilderness’. Brave the tough trail and be rewarded with mountains, lakes, forests and the most awe-inspiring views.
Quoddy Head Lighthouse – If you want to be the first in America to be touched by dawn’s pink rays, then make the pilgrimage to Quoddy Head. As Maine is the first state to see sunrise each morning – and Quoddy Head is the easternmost lighthouse – the sunrise illuminates here before anywhere else in the US.
As America’s smallest state, it takes just 45 minutes to drive across Rhode Island. But this little region packs a whole lot into a small area. Surrounded on all sides by the signature beautiful coastline of New England complete with dramatic cliffs, the interior of Rhode Island is home to gorgeous architecture and rich culture.
Top things to do in Rhode Island
The Newport Mansions – These enormous and extravagant homes are testament to Newport’s wealthy, glitzy past. Mansions, palaces and chateaus inspired by Italian, French and English architecture were built by America’s elite – families like the Vanderbilts.
Indulge in the cuisine – In keeping with Rhode Island’s illustrious reputation, the state is home to some of the best dining around. With the freshest seafood on offer and some world-class chefs to cook it, prepare to loosen your belt a notch.
Explore arts and culture – The Rhode Island Tourist Board has heaps of well deigned tours and trails to help you discover more of the island, stopping to admire works of art, galleries and antique shops along the way.
New Hampshire – along with Vermont – should be top of your list to visit if you’re after the stunning hues of autumn. Its large expanse of forested wilderness is a photographer’s dream, burnished with all the coppers and golds imaginable. In the winter, the region becomes a snowy playground perfect for winter sports and boasting many of New England’s best ski resorts.
Top things to do in New Hampshire
Foliage tracker – The New Hampshire tourist board has helpfully put together a foliage tracker to help you plan your Fall visit. Find out which places have the best foliage at which times by following their colour reports.
White Mountains National Forest – This enormous forest spans more than 1200 square miles and is perfect for camping, hiking and biking. More than 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail winds its way through the towering trees, and of course it’s a great place to see the autumn leaves.
Winter activities – Although skiing and snowboarding might be king, there are so many more winter activities on offer that are perfect for the whole family. From ski mobile tours to dog sled rides, tobogganing to snow tubing, you can find every snowy activity you can think of.
Vermont is a true four-season destination. It’s known for some fantastic skiing in the winter, with world-class resorts like Stowe and Jay Peak offering huge areas of skiable terrain. You can find everything from dog mushing to sleigh rides to snowshoeing in Vermont. In spring and summer it comes alive with hikers and mountain bikers, while autumn is renowned for its beautiful foliage.
Top things to do in Vermont
Maple syrup – Like New Hampshire, spring in Vermont is maple sugaring season. Unlike New Hampshire, Vermont is by far the largest producer of maple syrup in America. With such a wealth of sugaring knowledge and an abundance of producers, make time for plenty of touring and tasting on your trip.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory – A tour of the factory of Vermont’s beloved home-grown ice cream wizards is an absolute delight for visitors of all ages. With plenty of tastings and a mind blowing scoop shop, will you go for the Caramel Chew Chew or the Vermonster?
Stowe – This beautiful town is home to a world-renowned ski resort and also boasts America’s largest interconnected cross country trail system. Make sure you take a look at the famous Trapp Family Lodge, which was founded by the family that inspired the Sound of Music.
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of the different regions in New England and what each one has to offer, you can start planning your trip! Will you visit just one corner, or go the whole nine yards with a six state sampler? Whatever you choose, we can advise you on your perfect New England holiday.