New England is bursting with rolling mountains, breathtaking coastline, and small-town charm. Summer is one of the best times to visit with coastal breezes, balmy evenings, and magical sunsets.
Whether as a day trip, a road trip, or a longer vacation, there are so many options of towns and cities to visit in this beautiful region. This list might give you some inspiration for some can't-miss places in this beautiful corner of the United States.
10 Portland, Maine
Well-known for its lobster and seafood dishes, Portland is a must-visit on any New England itinerary. One of Portland’s most iconic features is the sheer number of gorgeous lighthouses, including Bug Light, one of the smallest, and Portland Head Light, one of the world’s most photographed lighthouses. Visitors can take walk along the coastal paths, take whale watching tours and eat tasty locally-sourced food, there really is something for everyone.
Portland is a short 2-hour drive or easy train ride from Boston, making it a perfect addition to any New England road trip or a fun day trip!
9 Bar Harbor, Maine
Further north in Maine, nestled within Acadia National Park is beautiful Bar Harbor. Another quaint coastal town, Bar Harbor is filled with cute B&Bs, picture-perfect shops, and a large assortment of restaurants. Acadia National Park is just a 5-minute drive away so visitors will have easy access to hikes, ocean paths, and tidal pools, as well as Cadillac Mountain where you can be the first person in the US to enjoy an unforgettable sunrise! For those wanting to get close to nature, Bar Harbor offers access to rock climbing, whale watching tours, kayaking, hiking, and biking.
8 Provincetown, Massachusetts
One of the most popular summer destinations in New England, Provincetown is a seaside town found right at the very tip of Cape Cod. Of all the beautiful towns on Cape Cod, Provincetown is often a favorite with its beautiful beaches, delicious restaurants, and vibrant and colorful vibe. It has a very relaxed, welcoming mindset and is known as one of the best LGBTQ vacation destinations. The fastest and most reliable way to visit Provincetown from Boston is by high-speed ferry which takes about 90 minutes. Driving takes around 3 hours, but in the summer the roads can be very backed up, so leave a couple of extra hours to sit in traffic.
7 Rockport, Massachusetts
Just an hour north of Boston, Rockport is one of the best-hidden gems in New England. Found right on the tip of the Cape Ann peninsula, Rockport is a picturesque seaside town. The charming downtown is bursting with local galleries, boutique stores, and shops selling locally made crafts. There are sandy beaches for swimming and sailing, and the nearby Halibut Point State Park gives visitors incredible vistas over the coastline. For magical sunrises and sunsets, don’t miss the Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse and Thacher Island’s Twin Lighthouses.
6 Williamstown, Massachusetts
Known as ‘The Village Beautiful’ Williamstown is a college town in an old farming community nestled up in the Berkshire Mountains in the very North-West of Massachusetts. During the summer, Williamstown comes alive and visitors flock to hike the beautiful Berkshire Mountains and gold in the 100-acre Taconic Golf Club. In fall, the leaves burst into color, making Williamstown a popular leaf-spotting destination. A well-known place for creativity and art, the Williamsburg Theater Festival develops world premiere plays and musicals, usually before they move to New York.
5 Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Just an hour’s drive away from Boston, Portsmouth is one of the gems of New Hampshire. This small but cute port city on the coast offers great shopping and dining experiences, alongside class New England white-steepled churches and coastal views. Portsmouth has had a tourist boom in the last few years, so new restaurants, bars, and cafés are constantly popping up for visitors to enjoy. Summer and early-Fall are always great times to visit New England, but Portsmouth also really comes alive over Christmas and is known as one of the best Christmas destinations in the country.
4 Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is another gem along the craggy New England coastline. Just 90 minutes south of Boston, Newport has a rich history which visitors can learn at the town’s various museums or on tours by both sailboat and helicopter. This popular yachting destination is probably most well-known as being the summer playground for the rich and famous, and this is most evident in the Point district with its colonial-era homes and huge mansions. Some more nature-focused activities include a visit to both of Newport’s beautiful windswept beaches, inventively named First Beach and Second Beach. There is also a 3.5-mile cliff walk with stunning ocean views.
3 Hartford, Connecticut
Capitol of Connecticut and known as the Insurance Capitol of the World, Hartford might be one of the most surprising destinations for a New England itinerary. As it is one of the oldest cities in the United States, Hartford boasts a huge range of old landmarks and historical sites, including Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest public art museum, and Bushnell Park, the oldest publicly funded park. Harford is also home to the Mark Twain House and is the final resting place of abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe. For a step back in time to learn about the history of New England, Hartford is a great place to visit!
2 Burlington, Vermont
Nestled on the shores of Lake Champlain, it is hard to believe that Burlington is the biggest city in Vermont. Known for its liberal charm, there is something for everyone. With its pedestrian-friendly downtown, cafés spilling out onto the street, and abundance of farm-to-table restaurants, it is difficult not to fall in love with Burlington. For nature enthusiasts, Burlington is a perfect base to explore the mountains and the lake, with many biking, skiing, and hiking options available. Burlington Waterfront Park offers a downtown nature experience right on the shores of Lake Champlain.
1 Woodstock, Vermont
Often called the prettiest small town in America, Woodstock is not to be missed from a New England itinerary. Just 90-minutes outside of Burlington (Vermont), and Manchester (New Hampshire), Woodstock makes a perfect day trip or base for a longer stay. Downtown Woodstock is filled with bookstores, toy shops, and gift stores, and the 1886 general store is renowned as being one of Vermont’s oldest family-run general stores. A short drive out of Woodstock town, visitors can enjoy the Quechee River Gorge or have a wonderful cheese feast at Quechee Gorge Village.