I grew up in New Hampshire and I currently go to university near Boston. I could probably tell you the best 10 diners within a 10-mile radius from my hometown (yes, there are that many). These little qualities make me a New Englander, and since New Englanders love bragging about how New England is the best region in the United States, I’ve brought some informational bragging to you in Australia. I hope my insights entice you to plan your next trip to America.
Your Guide to Travelling New England
There are six small states in the top right corner of the United States that are collectively known as New England, the place that I am proud to call home. The states, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, each have their own appeal that collectively work together to create a greater New England charm. There is always something to do year-round in New England. The summers are comfortable, and yes, the winters are cold (you get used to them), but that doesn’t stop locals and visitors from having fun.
When travelling to New England, it is a small area, so you could probably drive through every state within a day, but that’s not recommended. There aren’t many tour buses, but there are some. I have found that local buses that run from city to city are extremely convenient (see the end of the article for recommendations), and there are even some trains that go in and out of Boston that will take you as far as the bottom of Rhode Island. No matter how you travel, take the time to stop in each state and discover what we New Englanders are so proud about. Here are the best things to do in each state, from a real New Englander’s point of view.
Maine is known as Vacationland, and rightfully so. The Northernmost state in New England and the continental United States also has the longest coastline in New England, making it the ideal summer destination. Maine has beautiful beaches, awe-inspiring lighthouses, and the best lobster shacks in New England. Some of the towns that seem to define New England culture are in Maine, from Portland to Ogunquit to Wells and Kittery. Art museums, adorable libraries, fantastic food, and plenty of history, each town has its own charm all while fitting together under the same Maine frame.
As the summer weather cools, head to Acadia National Park for some nice fall weather and nature, or head to Mount Katahdin, the Northern endpoint of the Appalachian Trail. Another fun thing to do in the end of summer to the beginning of fall in Maine is to visit some breweries. Allagash Brewery and Shipyard Brewing Co are some personal favourites, but there are plenty to choose from. For winter, head over to Sugarloaf Mountain for Maine’s best skiing and winter activities.
I wanted to start this New England Travel Guide with New Hampshire, the best state in my opinion (and not only because that’s where I am from), but geographically it made more sense to list it second. New Hampshire, Maine’s neighbour to the left, has something to do year round. In the spring it is maple-sugaring season. Maple sugar comes from maple trees, and spring time is the time to tap all the trees to harvest the sugar and make yummy maple candies and maple syrup.
Summer in New Hampshire is a blast. There are a few big events that are held in New Hampshire draw in people from all over the country. The Laconia Motorcycle Week and the NASCAR Races in Loudon are two of the loudest, but also most interesting events in the summer. New Hampshire only has one, very small coastline, but that doesn’t limit the water activities. Lakes provide a place for locals and vacationers to boat, water ski, tube, and float all summer long.
In addition, New Hampshire has some really great mountains for hiking, like Mount Washington. Hiking goes into fall, which is truly the best season in New England as a whole. New Hampshire is one of the states that is most recognised during fall because of an activity called “leaf peeping." As fall comes, all the green leaves turn to shades of red, orange, and yellow, providing the best views in the world (again, biased). A trip up to the North of New Hampshire will provide all the leaf-peeping you could imagine.
Finally, winter in New Hampshire is cold, yes, but there is so much to do! New Hampshire is where snowmobiling was invented, it is home to Olympic skiers, and there are over 30 ski mountains throughout the state. We take our winter sports very seriously. From Bretton Woods to Loon Mountain to Waterville Valley, the skiing in New Hampshire is endless, and often mountains work together to provide guest passes so that you can ski at more than one mountain with just one pass. For those who aren’t as daring as the natives, tubing, sledding, snowshoeing, and ice fishing are fun alternatives to snowmobiling and skiing.
The next stop on this New England Travel Guide is Vermont. New Hampshire’s neighbour to the left, Vermont and New Hampshire are very similar. They share the same attributes throughout the seasons, floral springs, green summers, gorgeous falls, and snowy winters. Some skiers, though, prefer Vermont mountains in the winter. This is understandable because the mountains like Jay Peak and Mount Killington have some really awesome trails. Vermont is probably most well known worldwide for being the origin of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The Ben & Jerry’s Factory is a great summer stop. You can get a tour of how the delicious ice creams are made, taste some at the end, and even visit the flavour graveyard, home to all the discontinued ice cream flavours.
Vermont has no coastline, but like New Hampshire has some really nice lakes to enjoy summer, as well as plenty of mountains for hiking and activities. Vermont is also pretty well known for some of its breweries, which guests can take tours of and sample the craft beers. Some of the best to try out are The Alchemist, Switchback Brewing Co, Harpoon Brewery, and Magic Hat Brewing Co.
Directly beneath New Hampshire and Vermont is Massachusetts, arguably the best-known state in New England because of its capital, Boston. Massachusetts is home to all of the New England sports teams, the largest city in the area, and some of the best universities in the region.
The coasts of Massachusetts draw the most attention, from the North Shore all the way to the tip of Cape Cod, there is always something to do. In fall, the North Shore, which is a smaller region of towns, is a great place to be because of the town of Salem. Most people have heard of the Salem Witch Trials, and the town comes alive with Halloween spirit as soon as October hits. Moving down the coast, Boston, the capital has appeal year-round. No matter the season, there is something to do in Boston. See the article I wrote on the Boston Freedom Trail for some great Bostonian activities.
Moving South again, visit the Plymouth Rock, where the pilgrims first landed in America, and head to Cape Cod. Cape Cod is usually a very busy place during the summer, but it has some of the best beaches and lighthouses in New England. Off the hook of Cape Cod is Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island, two really great places for a summer getaway. Massachusetts in fall and winter is much like the rest of New England, but with fewer ski mountains. There are still fun things to do, for ice hockey is big in the state. Catch a Boston Bruins game in the city or head to a college game at UMass Lowell or Boston University to see the up and coming hockey stars. To get in on the skating action, head to Boston Common and enjoy a day on the ice on Frog Pond.
Now that we’ve gotten over halfway through on this New England Travel Guide, we have made our way to Rhode Island. Rhode Island is the tiny state below Massachusetts and next to Connecticut, and it is actually to smallest state in the United States. Famous for its beaches and adorable coastal towns and cities, Rhode Island is best travelled to during the summer. Stop over in Providence, the state’s capital for some urban city landscape before continuing South towards Newport. Newport is a gorgeous town, full of old mansions, beaches, and quaint shops. Keep going South from Newport and you’ll come across some of the best beaches in New England and cute towns like Narragansett, then hop on a ferry to Block Island for the complete Rhode Island experience. Even though Rhode Island is best showcased in the summer, the winter is also a fun time to visit, for it is not as busy and the snow over the coastal towns creates incredible sights.
Moving West from Rhode Island, there is Connecticut. Connecticut also has its fair share of coastal towns but also has some well-known universities and attractions. Yale University and The University of Connecticut are two of the best universities in the region. For things to do, head to the Mystic Aquarium, known as the best aquarium in New England, or one of the casinos, Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun for some fun any time of the year. Connecticut is not as well known for its ski mountains as New Hampshire and Vermont, but there are some to visit if you do wish to ski in Connecticut. Connecticut is also known for having beautiful fall foliage and fall activities. Summertime in Connecticut is probably the best season. The South coast of Connecticut goes along the Long Island Sound, the strait of water separating Connecticut and Long Island, New York. There are plenty of great public beaches to spend a nice summer day. Connecticut would be a good last stop on a tour of New England. Because it is so close to New York City, it would be a quick transition into the next region of the United States.
So there you have it, a brief New England Travel Guide for your next adventure in America! As a New Englander, I wish to prematurely welcome you to our beautiful area, and I hope you enjoy your stay. There really is something to do no matter the season in New England, from the ski mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire in the winter, to the warm beaches of Maine and Rhode Island in the summer.
Bus and transport options: