- For other places with the same name, see New England (disambiguation).
Tucked away in America's northeastern corner, New England offers an abundance of travel experiences to the millions who visit annually. Thickly settled along the often sandy shores of the Atlantic—it is here where the traveller will find beaches, charming lighthouses, and seaside dining galore. Many of the largest cities are here as well; with Boston being the "hub" around which all New England turns. Head inland to discover bewitching colonial villages, sublime fall foliage, and breathtaking mountain vistas. Scattered throughout the region you'll find a vaunted lineup of museums, architecture, historical attractions, and cultural institutions that can keep you busy for weeks. Add into the mix four distinct seasons, and you've got yourself a recipe which often finds first time visitors yearning to return.
New England is often split out into its component States, and with good reason. But for the purposes of planning your journey, you should consider the differences between coastal and inland New England. Along the coast, you'll find most of the region's population and tourism services. Here, attractions are profuse, prices are high, and timing is critical. Many coastal offerings are in full swing from Memorial Day through Labor Day. If you're visiting off season, be sure to confirm that your chosen recreation remains open! Landlocked locations on the other hand, can be open year round and have often developed their own specific niche of traveller to cater to. Some offer shelter from crowds, some maintain an affinity with nature, while others focus on a signature sport or experience. Whatever your final itinerary, blending coastal and inland destinations affords the best view into what truly makes New England special.
The Constitution State is an important gateway to the region of New England, and more diverse than its small size might suggest. Its bustling southernmost extreme is strongly connected to (and influenced by) New York City, while in its northern reaches you'll find places like the Litchfield Hills or "The Quiet Corner"; where many historic towns and picturesque landscapes remain much as they were a century ago. Sandy beaches along the coast are always crowd pleasers, along with the nautical attractions in and around historic Mystic. For nightlife; check out downtown New Haven, or look to either of two major Native American resorts and casinos near Norwich.
Self-styled "Vacationland"; Maine is well known for its raw, natural beauty and outstanding cuisine. When it comes to dramatic waterfront vistas, there are none finer in New England than the rocky and jagged coastlines of Acadia National Park. For a more solitary experience, spend some time hiking the heavily forested Baxter State Park, deep within Maine's interior. And when you're ready to refuel, head for Portland and discover celebrated dishes involving lobster, clams, or blueberries.
The heart of New England, where visitors have no dearth of options to investigate: Pilgrims, Harvard, Witches, Revolutions (both American and Industrial), Transcendentalism, Basketball, and LGBTQ rights just to get you started. For natural beauty, look no further than Cape Cod—or really anywhere along Massachusetts' well developed coastline. Out west, autumnal fireworks really pop between the Quabbin Reservoir and Mount Greylock. Your journey in the region is likely to start in cosmopolitan Boston, where its airport, train and bus stations handle many millions of connections annually.
|New Hampshire |
To get a sense of this State's fiercely independent nature, look no further than its motto: "Live free or die". Visitors with an adventurous spirit are quick to prize the Granite State's natural beauty and bevy of outdoor activities. A day spent hiking the Franconia Notch Loop will be remembered long after your aching muscles recover. Cyclists might choose to "Crank the Kank"; pedaling through the stunning fall foliage visible from the Kancamagus Highway. Elite skiers could try their hand shredding Tuckerman's Ravine, one of the few alpine climates found east of the Mississippi.
|Rhode Island |
This most diminutive of States tends to leave an outsized impression on visitors. Here, you'll never be more than a few miles from some of the most vaunted beaches in the region. The Ocean State is also no stranger to alluring islands, Block Island is a perennial favorite with sun worshipers. Crown jewel of New England, the history and architecture of Newport has charmed visitors for generations. For more urbane options; prowl the shops, restaurants, and museums available in ivy league Providence.
Charming, picturesque, and rural—Vermont mysteriously receives the lowest number of visitors of any State in New England. Fall is unquestionably the high season here, such as it is. During the winter season, visitors can choose from over a dozen snow covered slopes, the largest collection in the region. You haven't truly visited until you sample some of the Green Mountain State's artisanal foodstuffs. Maple syrup, cheeses, and microbrews should all be jockeying for position at the top of your scorecard.
- 1 Boston — Capital since 1630, in a variety of ways Boston finds itself in the center of it all. Explore the Freedom Trail and Quincy Market, or catch a game at baseballs "shrine"; Fenway Park. Art lovers might head for the Museum of Fine Arts, while gastronomes will find no dearth of options throughout this "city of neighborhoods".
- 2 Burlington — Stroll Church street to find eclectic eateries and old world charm. From here, grab a cone at Ben & Jerry's before wandering the shores of Lake Champlain in search of the perfect brewery. The prolific green infrastructure on offer here is thanks in part to Bernie Sanders, one time city mayor.
- 3 New Haven — Best known as the home of Yale University. The city center has been called the "Nine Square Plan" since 1640, give or take. Today, it packs in a dizzying array of shops and restaurants. Don't leave without trying the coal-fired apizza, claimed to be the world's best.
- 4 Portland — The go-to "Downeast" destination for dining and drinking. Surprises abound in these historic neighborhoods, you might even spot a Sasquatch. The incredible beaches, views, and amenities available from Peak's island are often overlooked.
- 5 Providence — Anchored by Brown University and RISD, Providence supports a booming arts scene and creative economy. Stroll the riverfront on summer nights to partake in WaterFire, a free public art installation. In the morning, wake up with a coffee milk from your favorite doughnut shop.
- 6 Newport — "Walk the Cliffs" and take in the "cottages"; summer homes where Gilded Age titans would put on ostentatious displays of wealth. Coincidentally, sports with an aristocratic air are popular here. Tennis, sailing, and cycling all have strong roots in the area. Additionally, many historic buildings remain and tourists love the colonial-era scale of the town.
- 7 Provincetown — This calm harbor served as the Pilgrims first landing site in the new world. Much has changed since 1620, but the beauty of the beaches, the ocean and its sealife have remain constant. An artist colony since at least 1940, it's also a wildly popular destination for the LGBTQ+ community.
- 8 Salem — Location of the infamous 1692 Salem witch trials, many finely preserved 17th and 18th century buildings remain. Boasting great transit options, the world class Peabody Essex Museum, and a variety of attractions; Salem packs in the tourists all year long. It gets pretty spooky here the last weekend in October.
- 9 Stowe — This four-season resort town holds the nickname: "Ski Capital of the East". Options abound for outdoor activities, as you're basically sandwiched between Smugglers Notch, Mt Mansfield and CC Putnam state forests. Relax in the evenings with fantastic food and some of the best pints one can find stateside.
- 1 Acadia National Park — The only National Park in New England, Acadia is perhaps the most dramatic example of a glaciated coastal landscape. Dizzyingly high granite domes swoop down into the Atlantic, where surf crashes over rocky beaches. First inhabited by the Wabanaki people, visitors have considered this place special for at least 12,000 years.
- 2 Baxter State Park — Mount Katahdin looms over this massive wilderness area. Tallest peak in New England, Katahdin functions as the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Those who visit must be self sufficient, as within the park there is no electricity, running water, or even pavement.
- 3 Cape Cod National Seashore — "Escape to the Cape" and explore nearly 40 miles of protected beachfront real estate. Ponds, beaches, lighthouses, and scenic wooded trails all make for top attractions. Established in 1961, which is quite recent for the area. As such, you'll find quite the range of grandfathered in virtu sprinkled around.
- 4 Green Mountain National Forest — These federally protected mountains are Vermont's namesake. Okemo and Stratton are some of the larger ski resorts here. Popular thru-hiking routes include the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail. Arduous, but immensely rewarding.
- 5 Litchfield Hills — Distinctly rural, the agrarian communities here are set amongst rolling hills and seem to be almost frozen in time. Surprisingly, the terroir supports quality viticulture, and you'll find a variety of wines available throughout the region.
- 6 Minute Man National Historical Park — Walk the 5 mile "Battle Road Trail" and follow in the footsteps of local silversmith Paul Revere. The trek culminates at Old North Bridge, where "the shot heard round the world" was fired in the opening salvo of what would become the Revolutionary War. British residents are welcome, nowadays. Next: Cool off at Walden Pond, three miles south.
- 7 Mount Washington State Park — Get your official "This Car Climbed Mt. Washington" bumper sticker here! Fantastic views, an alpine climate, and mile after mile of pristine hiking trails. Railfans can ride the steep and historic Cog to the top. Extreme skiers can try their luck shredding Tuckerman Ravine in the spring.
- 8 Nantucket — Once the capital of a global whaling empire, today Nantucket is a charming seaport town. The entire island is a designated National Historic Landmark District; due to its wealth of cobblestone streets and well-preserved historical artifacts and architecture.
- 9 White Mountain National Forest — Sprawling over 1,200 square miles, visitors will find a full range of outdoor activities on offer. Bag some peaks hiking the strenuous 22 mile "Presidential Traverse", but contact the Appalachian Mountain Club and plan ahead. For a more accessible route, drive the 34-mile Kancamagus Highway. One of New England's finest "leaf-peeping" locations.
There's an expression in New England: "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes." The expression refers to the often changing weather of short periods of time. New England's location on the upper eastern side of North America's continental climate, assures a varied weather picture much of the year. While summer weather is normally the most stable time of the year, late fall, winter and early spring can bring quick changing weather conditions. Coastal areas of New England's are somewhat modified by the influence of the ocean, thus temperature extremes are more moderate. In the winter months, Northern New England winters can be especially harsh — if you plan to visit between December and mid-March, be prepared for freezing temperatures, wicked winds, and chills that take a couple of cups of coffee to dent. "Dress warmly" is an understatement — in northern New England. The best advice, is to dress in layers that include an outer layer to block the wind, plus a sweater or jumper to be removed when exerting oneself. Generally, the only areas of New England that are somewhat comfortable in the winter are the southern portions of Connecticut , Rhode Island, and far eastern Massachusetts, where the lower latitude and elevation is modified by the oceanic location. For the visitor prepared for cold weather, northern New England's deep snows and crisp air can be exhilarating, and the three northernmost states boast much of the best skiing east of the Rockies.
The month of May can be New England’s best-kept secret. In southern Vermont you will find off-season rates in many historic inns, but as noted local Robert Frost once so eloquently put it, "Nature's first Green is Gold." The area is bursting with daffodils, tulips & lilacs and the temperatures are mild with cool nights, just perfect.
New England summers can range from mild to hot and tropical. In northern and central areas (and along the coast of New Hampshire and Maine), summer high temperatures are often in the comfortable 70's F and nights fall into the upper 50's. Once much south and west of Boston, summers can be hot and tropical, with high temperatures into the middle 80's F (and sometimes 90's F) and sultry weather with late day thundershowers. The beach season is normally June through September (more tied to the school calendar than the weather), while points south of Cape Cod (mostly Rhode Island and Connecticut) have a beach season from late May through early October. Most warm weather tourist destinations have a season from mid-May to mid-October. Areas right along the shoreline are often cooler and more temperate than inland areas on the hottest summer days.
New England shines during autumn. New England foliage is world-renowned for displays that rival pyrotechnics for their intense colors, rapid appearance, and equally rapid disappearance. Peak season ranges from early September at the farthest north points of Maine to early November for Southern Connecticut. Combine that with local festivals, hay rides, fresh-pressed apple cider, and fruit harvesting, and you have the recipe for a wonderful time.
Many tourists visit New England for its nautical charm or history, however Boston, one of America's great urban centers, is the de facto capital of New England as well as the official capital of Massachusetts. Its metropolitan area stretches across four states, comprises the metropolitan areas of the second- and third-largest cities in the region, Providence and Worcester, and includes more than half of New England's population. But even beyond Boston's furthest reaches, New Englanders worship the city's pro sports teams (though championship wins by the Red Sox and Patriots in 2018 mean you'll find fans of either team in many place), and gravitate toward its center for a taste of big-city amenities. Once down into Connecticut, the pull of New York City and the middle Atlantic region reduces the influence of Boston, and the pro sports teams and culture is a big tourist attraction. The City of New Haven, is home to Yale University, as well as one of the most popular cities on the East Coast for different types of cuisine.
As in upstate New York, many New England towns grew up around textile mills or other kinds of factories. When those industries relocated and/or shut down during the 1900s, several of those towns fell into a depression, where many remain.
Similarly, several formerly booming whaling ports like New Bedford, Massachusetts had to rebuild their economies, with varying success, when the industry collapsed. The history of New England's many commercial fisheries is brutally illustrative, with both happy and sad stories, of the necessity of sustainability.
As in the rest of the U.S., English is the de facto official language. Some areas with large Hispanic populations might have a majority speaking Spanish, but most have at least basic English skills (and these are off the tourist path). French is also spoken in the northern parts of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, near the Quebec/New Brunswick borders. In some areas, French-speakers are in the majority. There is a rich French-Canadian heritage in Biddeford, Maine, northern Rhode Island, and Manchester, New Hampshire's largest city. Though the demographics are changing, it is still possible to find shops that cater to French speakers and churches that conduct Mass in French. In truth, though, not much is done to accommodate visitors who do not speak English.
Along with Southerners, New Englanders have a reputation for a distinct flavor of English speech. This is an overly broad generalization. The accents of Senators Kennedy and Kerry are rarely heard. The typical "pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd" Boston accent prevails in eastern Massachusetts, but is losing ground even there. There are some distinctive vocabulary words. "Bubbler" refers to a drinking fountain. Carbonated sweet drinks called "pop" in other parts of the United States and Canada are called "tonic" or "soda" in New England. "Wicked", an adjective interchangeable with "very", is frequently used by young New Englanders, though the once-common phrase "wicked pissah", meaning "excellent", has faded considerably and is used primarily by either the older generation or misled tourists. A relatively common New England traffic intersection not encountered much elsewhere in the United States would be called a "roundabout" in the United Kingdom, but is called a "rotary" in New England. When given directions on how to exit a "rotary" the driver would be instructed to "bang a right" in Boston. Large clams are called "quahaugs" in southern New England. In Maine an inland vacation home is called a "camp" while one on the coast is called a "cottage." Mainers also add the definite article "the" to the official names of roads, but not streets or avenues; and the tree that others might call an aspen is called a "popple" by Mainers.
Many of the cities of Southern New England has a significant Hispanic population (mostly made up of Puerto Ricans, though it is possible to meet people from the entire Latin American region), so it is possible to meet people who speak Spanish. There are also people of Portuguese descent on and around the Buzzards Bay coast of Southern Massachusetts and neighboring parts of Rhode Island who speak Portuguese.
- See also: Flying in the United States
New England is served by a dozen or so airports, all of which are positively dwarfed by Boston Logan (BOS IATA). Almost every airline—international and domestic—coordinates a daily aerial ballet to serve over 25 million passengers a year. Logan is going to be your best bet for finding the most affordable and direct route into the region.
The next tier down offer scores of flights from around the country, and mix in a few international destinations as well. Bradley International Airport (BDL IATA) in Hartford, Connecticut, T.F. Green Airport (PVD IATA) in Providence, Rhode Island, and Portland International Jetport (PWM IATA) in Portland, Maine, will all fill that bill.
If you're trying to fly directly to your vacation destination, check out the island airports on Nantucket (ACK IATA) and Vineyard Haven (MVY IATA). These two serve large amounts of revelers during the warmer months and offer more connections than you may expect.
Smaller airports exist in Manchester, New Hampshire (MHT IATA), Burlington, Vermont (BTV IATA), and Bangor, Maine (BGR IATA). These offer just a small handful of flights connecting to other regions of the United States. Finally, in the "rarely used airport" category, we have: Portsmouth, New Hampshire (PSM IATA), Worcester, Massachusetts (ORH IATA), and New Haven, Connecticut (HVN IATA). These have (at best) only a connection or two a day to a single destination. If any of these six get you closer to your final destination, great. But expect to pay a premium, since the low traffic means you'll miss out on economies of scale.
- See also: Driving in the United States
New England is served by several interstate highways. I-95 enters from the New York City area and links five of the six states together. I-90 and I-84 both come in from the west out of Albany and southern New York, respectively. I-91 links New Haven with Hartford, Springfield and eastern Vermont. I-89 connects Burlington, with Concord. I-93 runs through New Hampshire, connecting St. Johnsbury, Vermont, with Boston.
- See also: Rail travel in the United States
Amtrak operates several routes into New England, most notably the Acela and Northeast Regional, which connect New York City to Boston via New Haven and Providence. For connections to Chicago and points west, use the Lake Shore Limited. The Vermonter goes from Washington, D.C. and New York City; then through Connecticut and western Massachusetts before terminating in Vermont. If you're looking for a more direct route to Rutland, the Ethan Allen Express is your train. While the Adirondack line doesn't cross into New England, it comes very close to several Vermont destinations.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority runs MetroNorth trains between Grand Central Station in midtown Manhattan and New Haven, stopping at many coastal Connecticut towns en route. Shore Line East extends commuter service to the towns east of New Haven through New London.
Greyhound also offers bus service to and from other areas of the country (plus Montreal), as does Peter Pan. From Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City buses serve western New England. Boston's South Station is a hub for bus travel to and from New York and to and from all other areas of New England.
It is possible to visit New England without an automobile. Doing so requires the visitor to study schedules very carefully, purchase tickets in advance when possible, limit visits to one or two destinations, and keep in mind that local public transportation operates infrequently, if at all, at night, on weekends, and during the middle of the day. The visitor may also sign up for a group tour by bus or cruise ship. Bus tours and cruise ships visit all the major tourist destinations, if only to drive by with expert commentary by tour guides. Group tours do have the advantage of eliminating all worries about destinations, lodging, and meals, although they have inflexible schedules, offer virtually no opportunity to meet local people, and perhaps too much acquaintance with one's fellow passengers. Travelers interested in an urban experience will find that Boston is one of the most walkable major cities in the U.S., with an extensive public-transit system; many visitors find it easier to navigate without a car.
You do have a few options for local flights while in New England, mostly connecting coastal islands or providing quick access to busy Boston. The carrier Cape Air is the only real player in the region, although JetBlue often flies these routes as well. Places like Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA IATA) offer connections to Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Boston, and New York. There are also minuscule airports in Rockland, Maine (RKD IATA) and Provincetown, Massachusetts (PVC IATA), each offering a single daily flight to Boston. One of the smallest air carriers in the nation is New England Airlines. They offer only one route, 20 flights a day from TF Green airport in Providence to Block Island, Rhode Island.
Amtrak covers urban New England pretty extensively with the Northeast Corridor (Boston-Rhode Island-Connecticut), the Vermonter (Washington, D.C.-Vermont), and the Downeaster (Boston-Portland--Brunswick). The Acela Express is a high-speed train that follows roughly the same route as the Northeast Corridor. Boston has two major train stations, South Station and North Station. All Amtrak trains to and from Boston are available at South Station. The exception being the Portland train which departs at North Station. These two stations share no direct connection, so those wishing to transfer must choose between either a taxi, two subway lines, or a brisk 1.1 mi (1.8 km) walk.
Commuter rail and bus lines radiate out from New York City and Boston at a distance of about 30 mi (48 km). The MBTA covers the greater Boston area with its commuter rail network, including Providence, Lowell, and Worcester. The MTA Metro North provides very frequent and affordable service between New York City and New Haven; at New Haven there are numerous connections to points north and east. Commuter service can be infrequent outside of weekday morning and evening rush hours.
Greyhound has several routes in New England. New Hampshire and Maine are served by Concord Coach Lines. The primary intercity bus service in southern New England is Peter Pan Bus though there are many others, particularly in southern New England, including Dattco in south east Massachusetts, Megabus, and several state and smaller regional public systems.
New England has many offshore islands that are attractive destinations reachable only by boat. Typically, these islands are compact enough that the visitor does not require a car to visit them. Relatively flat coastal terrain and light traffic makes it easy to get around them by walking or bicycling. Taking a car on the ferry is expensive and usually requires reservations long in advance. In any case, many ferries are for passengers and bicycles only. Travelers who wish to avoid the notorious summer traffic also have the option of taking a ferry to and from Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod.
Much of rural New England is under-served by bus or train, and driving (or biking or hiking) is required to visit much of Vermont, New Hampshire, western Massachusetts, and Maine.
There are many historical sights in New England, including many colleges, universities, monuments and architecture. Yale University in New Haven and Harvard University and MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts are destinations, offering a variety of interesting museums, as well as nonstop cultural activities. Throughout the region there are small college towns, such as: Kingston Rhode Island; Storrs, Hamden, and Middletown Connecticut; Amherst, Northampton, and Williamstown Massachusetts; Burlington and Middlebury Vermont; and Brunswick, Waterville, and Orono Maine; that offer cultural diversions.
New England was important to Early United States history. Historical events are re-enacted at several collections of historical buildings: Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Ledyard, Connecticut for Native American history; Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts for early European settlement; Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut for maritime history; Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts for early 19th century history; Shelburne Museum just south of Burlington, Vermont; and Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, Massachusetts as well as many other locations. New Hampshire offers colonial-era re-enactments and revitalized buildings at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth and the Fort at No. 4 in Charlestown.
Newport offers visitors the unique opportunity to experience two different historical eras. The small Rhode Island city is known for its extensive collection of intact colonial architecture, one of the largest in the country. But it's even more famous for its jaw-dropping oceanfront mansions, many of which are open for tours, that were built by some of America's most prominent families in the Gilded Age of the late-19th and early-20th centuries.
New England is the cradle of the Industrial Revolution; and while most manufacturing has been decommissioned and automated, it is a great place for industrial tourism, and the first leg of the American Industry Tour. Stop in some of the historical mill towns like Lowell, Massachusetts and Manchester, New Hampshire that have been revitalized.
In its small area New England packs a lot of natural beauty. Highlights would include: pastoral villages with white-steepled churches throughout rural New England; sandy beaches and moorlands along the southern coastal area of Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and adjacent islands; the more rugged rocky coast and cliffs of Maine; the nearly alpine scenery of Vermont, northern New Hampshire, and western Maine; and dense forests everywhere. Treasuring bucolic vistas has in part led to a prohibition on billboard advertising throughout Vermont and in many towns in other states.
A total solar eclipse on Monday 8 April 2024 crosses the north of this region from about 3:15PM local time. The track of totality is northeast from Mexico and Texas to Ohio and straddling the Canada–New England border, then across Maine to New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
Beaches abound along New England's coastline from Connecticut to just south of Portland, Maine. Here vacationers may swim or simply soak up the sun. Because most of New England lacks the barrier islands that line much of the American East Coast, nearly every beach has a unique character, and many locals will have a favorite. Swimmers may find the waters north of Cape Cod to be cold, especially in Maine. Beach hiking is also popular, and long stretches of sand in places like Cape Cod National Seashore, Block Island, and along the Rhode Island coast have white sand and endless blue skies. Inland, swimming is available in New England lakes and ponds, and the water is usually warmer. Almost every New England town has at least one "swimming hole". Swimming areas include those operated by the federal National Park Service in Cape Cod National Seashore and Acadia National Park, large state-owned beaches with parking for hundreds of cars, and local city or town beaches. In addition, local inquiries may reveal the locations of unmapped swimming areas, some quite scenic, along local streams or shorelines.
New England is one of the centers of boating culture in the United States. With plenty of opportunity for boating whether it be in sheltered bays and harbors along 6,100 miles (9,900 km) of coastline, or on inland lakes, ponds, and rivers. Newport, Rhode Island is one of the major locations were yachts outnumber people and sailing is a way of life, Local yacht clubs usually conduct sailboat races for many different classes. Offshore cruises are offered from coastal tourist towns. These cruises include "whale watch" boats, other nature cruises to observe shore birds, and sailing on traditional sailboats such as Maine's "windjammers". Fishing charters and various community sailing programs are other options. On New England's south coast, where the water is significantly warmer than that north of Cape Cod, and the summer winds are more reliable than they are further south, a dinghy cruising school and guide service caters to sailors happy to rough it for access to more isolated locations off limits to bigger vessels. Anyone heading out to sea north of Cape Cod should bring a jacket or sweater no matter how hot it may be on land. Inland, outfitters offer whitewater rafting on Maine's rivers. Kayakers and canoers have plenty of opportunity to put their craft into local lakes, ponds, and rivers at state-owned boat launching areas. Rentals are often available in larger waterfront towns. Many local areas ban jet skis and have "no wake" areas for motor boats.
Bicycling is popular in New England. The large urban area stretching from Boston to Hartford and into the New York City area are densely populated with lots of automobile traffic, so cyclists often take advantage of the area's "rail-trails", which are paved sections of abandoned railroad track dedicated to bicyclists and pedestrians. Information on rail-trails, such as the East Coast Greenway, is available from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. In northern New England there is less traffic on the roads, but you'll find more mountainous terrain compared with the rolling hills of southern New England. Many of New England's state parks have trails for mountain biking. These trails follow old dirt roads. Mountain biking on hiking trails is usually prohibited. Both Cape Cod National Seashore and Acadia National Park offer ample opportunity for bicycling along scenic routes free of motor vehicle traffic. Biking opportunities abound on New England's many offshore island destinations where roads are usually flat and cooled by sea breezes. Most major tourist destinations have shops that rent bicycles.
Hiking is popular in New England. There are long distance hiking trails in the region, including the Appalachian Trail, which courses through all of the New England states except Rhode Island to its terminus on Mount Katahdin in Maine, and the Long Trail, which traverses Vermont from Massachusetts to Quebec. Although there are hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the region's state and federal parks, bear in mind that most hiking trails do cross private property, and the owner's rights are to be respected. Most of New England's mountains are thickly forested, but there are extensive areas above the tree line in Vermont and especially New Hampshire and Maine. On these mountains climate conditions are similar to those in Labrador far to the north, and the lack of trees affords wonderful long distance views. The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has its headquarters in Boston and local chapters throughout the region. AMC operates campgrounds and lodges throughout the region, most of which are reachable only by hiking. New England's trails are generally maintained by volunteers organized by AMC's chapters or other organizations such as the Green Mountain Club or the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. These organizations offer detailed maps and other hiking information. Many towns and local land trusts have also preserved tracts and maintain trails appropriate for shorter day hikes.
New England is home to some of America's oldest LGBT resorts; the most famous are Provincetown and Ogunquit. Gays from large cities like New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. vacation in New England to enjoy the region's largely tolerant, accepting culture. Prior to nationwide legalization, the passage of same-sex marriage laws in all six New England states combined with the region's scenic beauty have made and still make it a popular wedding destination for straight and gay couples alike. Boston and Providence are known for their lively LGBT nightlife; elsewhere options are pretty sparse. Gay-owned guesthouses are, however, fairly common.
Ski or snowboard in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains of Vermont and the mountains of western and central Maine. In southern New England, Connecticut and Massachusetts have small local ski areas with vertical slopes of less than 300 m/1000 feet. There are many ski areas for everyone from beginners to advanced skiers/boarders. Many areas extend their seasons to year round by providing alpine slides and summertime activities. See the state articles for ski area listings.
New England skiing is unlike skiing in the western United States. Instead of open slopes above tree line, New England ski areas have relatively narrow trails carved through thick woodlands. New England's variable weather continues in winter. The skier or boarder may experience mild weather with temperatures above 10 °C/50 °F or bitter cold with high winds delivering wind chill temperatures of -20 F or less. Rain or snow may fall at any time. Rain often coats the snow with ice, and snow is often wet and sticky. The result of these conditions is that skiing and snowboarding in New England require attention to conditions. To deal with mild or dry conditions, all major New England ski areas make snow through the night and groom their slopes in the early morning.
Cross-country ski centers are spread across the region, some near urban areas on local farms, and others are large mountain resorts with 100+km of trails. Be prepared for various wet or dry conditions with the appropriate wax. Wax-less skis may struggle in wet conditions.
Visiting with children
Children from toddlers to teenagers enjoy indoor and outdoor activities. Hiking levels are easy along the sandy coasts & lake shores; moderate along hills & rivers; and challenging mountain peaks. Plants, birds, rock formations, & views often keep the children entertained throughout the hike. Be prepared with extra layers, plenty of food, and comfortable pace. Alternatively, choose indoor activities in one of the many science centers, children museums, & aquariums. Many of them accept reciprocal programs for members of other facilities, which allows either free admission or reduced fare.
Hundreds of events featuring local flavor take place throughout New England daily. Towns of all sizes play host to springtime celebrations, Fourth of July festivities, and winter carnivals. You'll find Local heritage celebrations are also common. St. Patrick's Day on March 17 for example, is particularly popular. The events below offer a suitable, if narrow, representation of how New Englanders celebrate their way of life.
- Vermont Maple Festival: 22–24 April 2022 St. Albans (Vermont). Stop by the last weekend in April and "Tap into Vermont Maple". Tons of concession stands and vendors showcasing some of Vermonts finest viscous liquids. Cast your vote for the most delectable maple dish. Featuring maple art, entertainment, a parade, kids games and so forth. (date needs updating)
- Brimfield Antique Show: 10–15 May 2022 Brimfield. Offered three times a year and billed as the oldest outdoor antiques and flea market in the country. Join the morass of treasure hunters in search of their prize. The show sprawls across acres, with some vendors opting to charge $5 entrance fees. Book lodging well in advance. (date needs updating)
- Laconia Motorcycle Week: 11–19 June 2022 Laconia. First offered in 1916, this wildly popular event draws in hundreds of thousands of bikers annually. Rides depart rally headquarters for scenic tours throughout New Hampshire; while others watch the hillclimb or vintage bike races. (date needs updating)
- Sailfest: 8–10 July 2022 New London (Connecticut). Head down to the harbor and view Connecticut's premiere summertime event featuring hundreds of vendors, rides, and activities. Very child friendly. (date needs updating)
- Newport Folk Festival: 22–24 July 2022 Newport (Rhode Island). Massive multi-day music festival taking place annually in Fort Adams State Park. Featuring acts from Dinosaur Jr to Beebadoobee, among scores of up-and-comers. (date needs updating)
- Maine Lobster Festival: 3–7 August 2022 Rockland (Maine). Join this internationally recognized celebration of Midcoast seafood. Besides the superlative food, there's also parades, races, live entertainment, interactive exhibits, kids activities, and so on. (date needs updating)
- League of NH Craftsmen: 6–14 August 2022 New London (New Hampshire). Seek out and discover bespoke art pieces that speak to you. The talented artisans showing here offer custom fashion, jewellery, pottery, and glassware pieces for sale. There are some live & interactive events, including some offerings for the kiddos as well. (date needs updating)
- Oysterfest: 21 August 2022 Milford (Connecticut). 50,000 attendees congregate in downtown Milford to spend the day gobbling down at least 30,000 oysters. Offers the requisite carnival rides, beer gardens, and live performances. The kayak races in the harbor are fun too. In 2013 National Geographic voted this the best food festival in CT. (date needs updating)
- Topsfield Fair: 30 September – 10 October 2022 Topsfield. America's oldest county fair started in 1818 as a one-day cattle show. Local farmers and residents show their stuff at a variety of exhibition halls. Cows, goats, chickens; fruits and flowers, even bees! The Great Pumpkin Weigh Off is a real highlight, with modern winners tipping the scales at over 2,000 pounds. (date needs updating)
While the first thing on most visitors minds is the excellent seafood, New England has legions of other high quality options. Many travellers find a fine Italian meal in Boston's charming North End an unforgettable experience. Another culinary heavyweight is Burlington, where celebrated microbreweries rub shoulders with sit-down affairs serving elevated French, Mediterranean, and Southern cuisines. The other big dog at the table is Providence. Featuring innovative pop-ups, laid back beer halls, erudite French classics, ethnic fusion cuisine, and everything in between. Your most difficult choice here will be deciding where to eat.
Some of New England's finest chow can be found along Maine's rugged coastline. The state is famous for its lobster and blueberries and with good reason. Portland is the undisputed heavyweight champion of Maine's gastronomic options. Its 500+ restaurants rake in countless accolades, stars, and awards annually. Don't be afraid to explore further afield; however, gems abound in smaller villages. Discover the seafood you seek in places like Biddeford, Brunswick, Camden, and Bar Harbor to name but a few.
Head to New England's northern reaches to sample some Acadian fare: meat pies, poutine, sugar shacks and the like. The influence is stronger in French-speaking areas, and becomes quite powerful as you cross the border into Quebec. To the south, you can find strong Portuguese flavors in places like the SouthCoasat and eastern Rhode Island.
- Fish 'n chips — The mighty codfish, once prized by early colonists, is closely associated with dining in New England. Due to overfishing in the 1990s, cod stocks collapsed and today you're likely to be served scrod, haddock, or some other white fleshed fish instead. As long as they're fresh, each variety has roughly the same flaky texture and delicate flavor. For peak enjoyment, this dish should be eaten within minutes of leaving the fryer.
- Lobster roll — This is a popular way of eating lobster, because the work has been done for you. High quality specimens will have diced lobster meat soaked in butter, and are just kissed with mayonnaise and various seasonings. They must also be served on a toasted New England style bun, split along the top, not the side. Lobster rolls are usually served cold, so don't be surprised by that. If you see a roll piled with toppings and dripping with mayo, it's likely an inferior product.
- Chowder — Kind of like the New England version of pho in that every bowl is similar, yet each shop strives to put its own little spin on this traditional dish. No matter where you get it, you'll certainly find clams swimming in a thick creme broth, diced potatoes, onions, and celery. You might also see colorful garnishes, different kinds of crackers, or even whole clams in your bowl. You can be confident you're getting the best as long as tomatoes are never added, as they blasphemously do in a certain large city to the south.
- Fried clams — If you want to try this iconic regional dish, make it a point to visit the North Shore. There are several longstanding options in and around Cape Ann. Here the clams have been removed from their shells, dipped in batter and deep fried. Delicious, but not particularly healthy. They're purported to taste best when eaten outdoors at a picnic table of questionable cleanliness.
- Oysters — These bivalves can have different flavors and textures depending on the specific bay or inlet they're from. Garnishes tend to be a variety of choices, but cocktail sauce and lemons are almost always present. You'll usually see a few additional toppings, often with a spicier edge. You may see pubs offering "dollar oyster" after-work specials in some larger cities, usually from 5-7PM.
- Stuffed quahogs — Quahogs are the largest type of clams you can get, and "stuffies" come in a wide variety. Prominent in Rhode Island, they'll always include some mixture of breadcrumbs, spices, meats and vegetables. They can take on different inspirations depending on when and where you ordering them, for example a Portuguese version with smokey linguiça, or a Thanksgiving stuffie featuring a blend of savory herbs.
- Apizza — Traditionally cooked in coal-fired brick ovens, the Apizza in New Haven is often ranked by food critics as the best in the world. Order a white clam pie if you're trying to keep it as New England as possible. The "holy trinity" of Pepe's, Sally's, and Modern are the shops to keep an eye out for. Worth the wait.
- Bar pizza — Also known as South Shore bar pizza although the style is beginning to spread. It's a personal sized pie on very thin crust, well charred, with toppings pushed all the way out to the edge. The most famous brand is probably Cape Cod Cafe, but many places do a good bar pizza. Check out Town Spa for example.
- Greek pizza — Invented by Greek immigrants arriving in New England during the 1950s, this style is typified by a thicker crust similar to focaccia bread, and topped with local cheddar. You'll find these "houses of pizza" are profuse throughout the region, although they trend towards using lower quality ingredients. Maybe you'll luck out and find a good one, but go in expecting cheap and greasy fare.
- Chow mein sandwich — A true regionalism, the Chow mein sandwich can only be found in the southeastern areas of New England. Believed to have been invented in Fall River by Chinese-American immigrants prior to World War II, the sandwich combines Asian ingredients with New England packaging. A cheap sort of fusion-cuisine style of the era. Ask for yours "strained" to hold the vegetables. Don't expect to pick it up; however, the brown sauce will thoroughly soak through the bottom bun.
- Roast beef three-way — Served since the early 1950s, this sandwich features generous portions of thinly sliced rare roast beef piled high on an onion roll. The "three-way" refers to the triumvirate of sauce, mayo, and cheese. The tangy, sweet sauce cuts through the fatty elements and has won advocates from around the country. Customize it to your tastes by making it spicy, or adding pickles or other garnishes. Prepare to be roasted by fellow customers if you request lettuce and tomato. Kelly's started the trend in the 1950s, and national chain Arby's made millions copying their sandwich.
- Fluffernutter — Take two slices of white bread, spread peanut butter on one slice and Fluff on the other. Press 'em together, and you're done. Fluff is artificial and sickly sweet, it's basically just marshmallows liquified into a spreadable paste. This sandwich is enjoyed by children of all ages throughout New England. So beloved is this sweet treat, that Somerville—the birthplace of Fluff—dedicates an entire weekend festival to celebrating the stuff in late September.
- Subs — These are the same as everywhere else in the USA, but here they're known as grinders, or Italians if you're in Maine. They're even sometimes called a spuckie in Eastern Massachusetts. You might also see it called a wedge if you're in the more New York-ified bits of Connecticut.
- Apple cider doughnuts — Sure a lot of places do a good apple cider doughnut, but New Hampshire can certainly make the case it has perfected the art. Harvest season in fall is the perfect time to visit when many working farms throughout the region create these cake-based masterpieces all day long to meet demand. The flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon pair perfectly with a glass of cider and the crisp autumn air.
- Boston cream pie — A true Boston original, and the official dessert of Massachusetts. Invented at the Parker House Hotel in 1856, you can still order a slice of this custard-filled yellow cake (not pie!) today. If Parker's Restaurant is a little rich for your tastes, try a version made by a nicer doughnut shop, it's the same idea. You could also go for the ubiquitous Dunkin' Donuts version, if expending effort isn't your thing.
- Frappe — A milkshake in New England is mostly milk, and not the drinkable ice cream you're looking for. Here that's still called a frappe, pushing back against a globalistic trend toward convergence. They're delicious whether you pronounce it "frap" or "frap-PAY", or even—ugh—milkshake. Many ice cream shops can make a good one, or try some of the best at Lizzie's in Harvard Square.
- Ice cream — New Englanders are some of the most prolific consumers of ice cream anywhere on earth, Ben & Jerry's started here after all. Not just a summertime treat, you'll see folks gobbling down artisanal varieties from across the region even in cold winter months. For a local twist, grab a maple creemee from the sugar works at Morse Farm.
- Strawberry rhubarb pie — This simple pie can trace its roots back to the 17th century. The sweetness of the strawberries cuts the tartness of the rhubarb perfectly. It's traditionally done with a lattice crust, but your slice may vary. For peak New England, ask to top yours with a generous slice of extra sharp cheddar.
For those with an artless palate, pay a visit to any of these chains to discover bland cuisine designed for mass audience appeal. Their generally smaller reach frees them from some pesky Federal workplace regulations. Pretty much anything else in the region would be a better option, but hey, maybe you're in a jam and just need to give it a shot. You're very unlikely to get diarrhea eating at any of these restaurants.
- D'Angelo Grilled Subs — Incessant radio ads blanket the summer airwaves for this Quiznos-like chain that also serves lobster rolls in the summer. Like Subway, but much worse.
- Dunkin' Donuts — Affectionately called "Dunk's" or "Dunkies", this bare bones experience was born in Quincy in 1950. It's been exported internationally since then and is by far the best known of all New England franchises. Order a "large regular" for the traditional experience.
- Ninety Nine Restaurant — Bar and grill chain found in all six states with a faux oldtime New Englandy vibe. Roughly the same as an Applebee's or TGIFriday's.
- Papa Gino's — There aren't as many fast food pizza chains in New England, so you may notice something called Papa Gino's filling the gap, especially in Massachusetts. They serve a fairly thin crust pie, similar to NY-Style. Like Sbarro but a little worse.
Boston is known for its drinking establishments known locally as bars or taverns or pubs, including the Cheers bar of TV fame. (See the section in the Boston article.) New Haven is home to hundreds of bars and restaurants, and has a thriving scene including the Playwright, the largest Irish Pub on the East Coast, a huge space holding two thousand people built out of church parts salvaged from Ireland. In addition, several other cities in the region have an active nightlife. Microbreweries and wineries are also located throughout the region, and many can be visited by travellers.
Be aware that New England states have strict laws on driving while under the influence of alcohol. Some New England police departments enforce these laws by stopping traffic near popular bars and interviewing drivers, or by stationing unmarked police cars in or near the parking lots of popular establishments.
Types of stores that sell alcohol for off-premises consumption vary from state to state. Generally, wine and beer may be purchased in groceries and convenience stores but harder liquors may only be available from retail liquor stores known locally as "package stores" or "packies". While former "Blue Laws" prohibited the sale of alcohol on Sundays in Massachusetts and Connecticut, many those laws have since been repealed. However, some cities and towns remain "dry" or do not allow for the sale of alcohol. Other New England states have slowly repealed such alcohol sales bans, but be aware of this odd tradition.
New England is Dunkin Donuts country. Although it has donuts in the name, this is a coffee chain. They are easy to find all over New England, especially southern New England where you are probably within a mile of several locations at once. For those unfamiliar with it Dunkin Donuts (sometimes referred to as "Dunk's" or "Dunkies") is a fairly barebones experience. If you want fancier coffee, most towns will have a few locally owned coffee shops as well.
New England is one of the safest regions of the country overall. Crimes rates are low and the rule of law is strictly enforced. Having said that, it does not mean that New England is a stranger to crime. All of the region's towns and cities, regardless of their size, have areas that should be travelled with caution at night. Larger cities are the best-known for crime because of media publicity, but most crimes in big cities occur among rival gang members and are drug- or alcohol-related. Random acts of violence can happen anywhere, even in smaller towns. It is also best not to hitchhike.
Furthermore, as with other areas of the country, take care while driving. You are 200 times more likely to be injured or killed in a car accident than in any random act of violence. Particular areas to use caution are small, winding roads away from major interstates where cars can travel erratically and at high speeds. Hikers leaving an automobile at trail heads in remote areas should take care not to leave valuables in the vehicle.
As in the rest of the U.S.A., 911 can be dialed for emergencies, even from pay-phones.
Dangerous wild animals are hardly a concern in New England. During May and early June, hikers may want to avoid thick woodlands in northern New England or risk being plagued by hordes of tiny black flies. The best time for hiking is September and October, when cold nights have suppressed insect activity. That said, however, there are many trails with locations exposed to wind and sunshine and minimal contact with biting and stinging insects. There are rare encounters with poisonous snakes in southern and western parts of New England, but hardly any deaths. During warmer months, simply watch your step to avoid treading on a copperhead or timber rattlesnake, especially when stepping over fallen trees or larger rocks or clambering up onto sunny spots sometimes favored by a resting snake. The hiker will encounter no poisonous snakes in Maine or northern New Hampshire. The most dangerous animal likely to be encountered by a hiker in New England is the deer tick, a tiny creature no more than about 2 mm in diameter. Deer ticks carry Lyme Disease, which can engender severe medical symptoms in the victim. The best defense against the deer tick is to use insecticides and wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Wild turkeys, bears, and coyotes abound in New England but almost always avoid humans. Deer and, in northern New England, moose can be dangerous to motorists speeding along dark roads in rural areas. These animals are large and their massive bodies can go right through the windshield when struck by a smaller automobile. The best defense is to drive slowly through moose and deer crossing areas and watch carefully for animals stepping into the road.
Some types of knives are illegal in some states in New England: this concerns mostly some types of spring knives, "butterfly" knives, knuckle knives and the like — possessing such knives is an offense. Knives that are intended as weapons are restricted to persons over 18.
Firearms are strictly controlled in southern New England. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine are all Constitutional-carry states. It is practically impossible to legally carry a gun in public in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island unless you are a law enforcement officer, although after Bruen v NYSRPA this should be changing shortly. The rate of gun ownership is below the U.S. average in every New England state; of the six least-gun-owning states in the country, three are in New England. Still, gun culture is strong in many rural areas, particularly in Vermont. "Fake" firearms may not be carried in public if they resemble real guns. CO2 and air guns are relatively easy to acquire. If the police find any kind of weapon or firearm on you, you will appear highly suspicious.
Bow and arrow do not legally count as weapons while crossbows do, but you're certain to get stopped by police openly carrying either. Hunting is only legal with firearms or employing birds of prey and requires a license with rather strict requirements for environmental and animal welfare reasons.
- Mid-Atlantic — Ranging from New York to Washington, D.C., the Mid-Atlantic is home to some of the nation's most densely populated cities, its most historically significant sites, rolling mountains and seaside resorts.
- New York City — As the largest city in America (nothing else even comes close), it's hard to overstate the draw of quintessential American landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and Central Park. Visitors skipping the iconic skyline, diverse neighborhoods, world-class food, events and music do so at their own peril.
- Quebec — Densely populated along the St. Lawrence River, this region is like a small European country hiding inside North America. French-speaking Quebec is famously known as a "distinct society". Top destinations include the World Heritage-listed old town in Quebec City, and Montreal; Canada's second-largest city and cultural capital.
- New Brunswick — Canada's only province with both English and French as official languages. While the province covers a land area the size of Ireland, there are only 780,000 inhabitants (2020), most of them along the coasts and in the Saint John River valley. The inland consists of sparsely populated forest.
- Nova Scotia — Connected to New England by ferry in summer, Nova Scotia has plenty to offer. Beaches, history, rugged wilderness parks, a mix of Celtic, Acadian French, and Indigenous cultures. As a peninsula exposed to the Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia has a more maritime climate than mainland Canada, with mild winters and cool summers.