21 Best Places to Visit in New England: The Ultimate List 🍁

Travelers flock to New England each year, especially in the summer and fall, to discover what the locals already know: New England is a wonderful place for a vacation. 

But what are the best places to visit in New England?

Having lived and traveled throughout New England for over 15 years, I’ve experienced the best of this region, and I’m sharing what I’ve discovered with you:

Whether you’re a beach and coast lover seeking lighthouses, lobsters, and leisure, or a mountain fiend in search of hiking, camping, and lakes, there’s something for you to do in New England. The same goes for city-lovers. You’ll find terrific urban escapes in Boston, Portland, Providence, and beyond.

But don’t just take my word for it. Come visit and discover all of these wonderful New England destinations.

PS: Considering a road trip? Don’t miss my ultimate New England road trip itinerary!

pinnable image that reads best places to visit new england and has a collage of fall photos and a lighthouse image

The Best Places to Visit in New England: 21 Bucket List Destinations

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

A body of water with a lighthouse and houses in the distance in New England
This is a classic coastal New England vacation destination!

This island off the coast of Massachusetts is one of the most beautiful New England spots, especially for a summer trip.

Martha’s Vineyard is a fun getaway. While you’re not coming here for the nightlife, you’re coming here for relaxation and luxury (and delicious restaurants, beautiful inns and hotels, and cool vacation rentals!) Oak Bluffs is an especially cool town to explore.

One of the best things to do on the island is simply to rent a bike and go for a ride. Explore lighthouses as well as the six towns that make up the island. Shopping and art are also things you’ll find on Martha’s Vineyard in abundance.

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

Along the western edge of Massachusetts is the region known as the Berkshires. This area is worlds away from Boston, but it’s not very far as the crow flies. If you’re looking for a bit of country living in MA, this is the region to visit.

This area is a popular destination for travelers, especially in the summer.

Culture abounds in the Berkshires, from spots like Mass MoCA and other museums to venue Tanglewood, where you can enjoy concerts from leading symphonies and folk artists like James Taylor to theatre productions put on by the well-known, professional Shakespeare & Company.

A tree with fall leaves next to a yellow two-story house in New England
What a quaint New England vacation destination!

In addition to culture, you will find plenty of history, including some of the literary variety. In Lenox, visit the Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum, an 1890s home that’s open for tours. If you have literary interest, you may also wish to stop by The Mount, Edith Wharton’s turn-of-the-century estate.

There are many opportunities for outdoor adventuring in the Berkshires. Plenty of hiking trails snake the region, bike routes, and even some ski resorts, plus plenty of cool vacation rentals, cute cabins, and great places to eat.

It’s a great place to visit in the winter, too!

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Boston, Massachusetts

Aerial view of tall buildings in a vacation destination in New England
Boston is a great place to vacation in New England if you’re looking for big city vibes!

Some of the best New England vacations start in Boston, and many stay there! You don’t have to leave the city to have a wonderful New England vacay.

Boston has so much to do for locals and visitors alike. Sports fans, history lovers, culture snobs? Whatever your pleasure, Boston has a site, walking tour, attraction, or event you’ll be psyched about.

You may need several days or weeks to see all that Boston has to offer. No worries! We’ve got some resources to help start you off:

Rockport, Massachusetts

A closeup of pink flowers looking toward a body of water with boats docked next to a red brick building at a vacation destination in New England

Rockport is a wonderful place to visit. It’s just an hour or less from Boston to find yourself in an adorable seaside town. There are art galleries galore to soak up, many delicious places to eat (including a spot selling some of the BEST lobster rolls in New England.)

A woman stands with her back to the camera, facing the sea in Rockport, Massachusetts
Rockport is one of my favorite New England towns!

We love Rockport and have a whole list of things to do there, including where to find the best breakfast.

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Burlington, Vermont

A view of Church Street in Burlington, VT
Burlington is one of the most popular vacation destinations in New England!

Do you like the outdoors, craft beer, and liberal-minded folk? Burlington is the home for those types of people and you’ll love it, too. In fact, even if you’d prefer to stay indoors, sip wine, and chat about Conservative topics, you’re likely to enjoy Burlington too!

This is a great city, although in many ways it feels nothing like a city. Set on the shores of Lake Champlain, Burlington has a small-town vibe but plenty going on. The greater Burlington area is a must-visit mecca for foodies and craft beer lovers.

There are tons of breweries around here and an explosion of farm-to-table cuisine that is well worth the trip. Hard cider is making a strong showing in New England, too, and Citizen Cider is the place to try it in Burlington. Their South End tasting room and restaurant are a great place to be on a summer afternoon.

A placard reading

From cool coffee shops to great places to stay to fun, free things to see and do, Burlington is one of the best places for a New England vacation!

Church Street Marketplace is one of the most popular places to go in Burlington, with great shopping, restaurants, and a whole lotta entertainment, both on the streets and in the businesses surrounding.

an image of an empty shopping street on a sunny day. colorful banners cross over the blue sky and a long bricked walkway leads to a distant church
The most iconic view in Burlington VT on a sunny spring day

The lake is the focus of much of the Burlington’s outdoor activities. The Burlington Bike Path skirts the edges for several miles, providing an ideal route for a bike ride or a run. There’s lots of great hiking nearby, too.

Getting out on the water is a must, whether you want to try sailing, stand up paddle boarding or kayaking. You can also hop aboard one of the bigger boats, the scenic ferries. These will take you across to the other side (NY state) or around for a scenic cruise of this miniature “Great” lake. Check out some of the best ways to get out on Lake Champlain here!

Read Next: 10 Best Airbnbs in Burlington Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

Aerial view of the mountains with fall leaves and a white church with steeple in the midst of them at a New England vacation destination
Summer, fall, and winter are the most popular times to visit this New England vacation destination.

Many people looking for a vacation in New England dream of a classic, iconic Vermont location. For them, Stowe, Vermont would be an excellent choice.

Not only is this a charming and quaint destination tucked in the heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains, but it’s well-appointed for tourists, too, with dozens of fabulous hotels, restaurants, and vacation rentals. This is a region ideally set up for tourism.

A colorful Welcome to Stowe mural on the side of a blue building

Stowe is just stunning. The Main Street of the village has a white-steepled church and an old-fashioned general store, with the mountains in the background. In the autumn, the leaves are incredible.

Up the Mountain Road you’ll find countless cozy eateries, hotels, and shops, including lots of local breweries that will beckon you. Hiking is plentiful, with trails suitable for all ages and a flat bike path that winds through town as well.

Stowe is a lot of fun, and it provides the perfect balance of outdoor activities with relaxation and ‘indoor stuff.’ It’s especially gorgeous in summer!

Read Next: Where to Go for the Best Breakfast in Stowe VT

Acadia National Park, Maine

Maine is home to some of the best vacation spots in New England and Acadia has to be near the top of that list. Acadia National Park is unlike any other part of New England. Here, the mountains and the ocean collide, and visitors can engage in hiking, camping, and exploring, all with spectacular views surrounding them.

A body of water with a mountain in the background at a New England vacation spot
How gorgeous is this scenic New England vacation spot?

Acadia is located on Mt. Desert Island and provides a number of opportunities for outdoor activity for visitors, and unparalleled views!

An expansive view of fall colors in Acadia National Park, Maine, with the ocean in the background
Fall colors beginning in Acadia National Park

The town of Bar Harbor is a focal point of the island, too, just a few minutes from the natural park. Bar Harbor is filled with restaurants, shops, and great places to stay, as well as home to a beautiful harbor.

Many day cruises and trips depart from this harbor, and it is definitely worth heading out for a quick sail on the water. In fact, it’s essential to see the gorgeous cliffs of the coastline from the water. Such epic views.

Check out more things to do in Acadia here.

Read Next: 15+ Best Hotels in Acadia National Park | 21 Best VRBOs & Airbnbs in Acadia and Bar Harbor

Cape Cod

We couldn’t choose just one Cape Cod town, so we’ll just give you a gentle nudge in the right direction here so you can explore and discover for yourself what makes the Cape one of the most popular New England vacation spots!

You’ve got peaceful walking trails and scenic views along Cape Cod National Seashore, beautiful beaches, lighthouses, and so much more.

Go whale watching, stroll the darling downtown areas and their art galleries and gift shops, visit the wineries, and fill your belly at the top restaurants on the Cape. Truly, Cape Cod is home to some of the best seafood restaurants in New England, so seafood lovers will rejoice!

You’ll find excellent places to visit and stay all around the Cape, so you won’t go wrong wherever you choose! We especially loved our stay at the charming Captain’s House Inn in Chatham.

Click Here to Check Prices & Book!

More About Cape Cod:

Midcoast Maine

Many boats in a harbor with buildings in the background in a popular New England getaway spot
Coastal Maine is great for a New England getaway!

One of the best New England vacation destinations has to be the coast of Maine. But with hundreds of miles of coastline, where do you start? We recommend Maine’s Midcoast.

Generally speaking, this region runs from Brunswick (just north of Portland) up to around Belfast, just south of Mt. Desert Island. This whole area is beautiful and, as you can imagine, very coastal-focused.

In addition to museums, art, history, and food, MidCoast Maine is home to many exciting events and festivals.

As Visit Maine says: “Speaking of festivals, catch Weinerfest (that’s all things Dachshund) in Belfast, the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, and Damariscotta’s Pumpkinfest. And let the good times and big cheese roll at the Highland Games & Scottish Festival in Topsham.”

Most of all, you’ll want to get out on the water. Our favorite way is to head out on an overnight, multi-day schooner adventure; it’s a very unique New England vacation idea!

Read Next: 10 Coastal Towns in Maine That are Hidden Gems

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket is another beloved New England island that has a vibrant summer culture, with great hotels, beaches, and vacation rentals.

It’s similar to Martha’s Vineyard geographically, but it definitely has a different vibe. If you’re not sure which island to visit, this article breaks it down nicely for you.

Nantucket is a lovely warm weather vacation destination in New England, but it has its off season charm, too! While winter in Nantucket is an entirely other experience as many of the hotels, restaurants, and other attractions close during the coldest winter months, this New England island does provide a quiet, serene retreat if you’re not interested in all the usual tourist things.

Newport, Rhode Island

A grey castle in the distance with brown grass in the foreground in New England
They call Newport the Classic Coast and it’s absolutely a classic New England vacation spot!

Luxury and glamour are found on Aquidneck Island in Newport RI. It’s a great New England destination year-round, and becomes especially charming at Christmastime!

One of the main attractions here is visiting the Newport Mansions, opulent, Gilded Age gems that you can tour and fawn over. Especially recommended are The Breakers and Marble House, two of the loveliest and most ornate mansions.

A woman stands in front of a coffee shop in Newport, Rhode Island, dressed for winter.

Aside from the area’s history, you’ll also find plenty of opportunities for dining, shopping, beach walking, and museum-hopping. There’s also the beautiful Cliff Walk, the perfect way to enjoy the coastal scenery of Newport!

Read this article for more info on Newport, and this article on romantic things to do in Rhode Island for couples!

Read Next: 15 Best Hotels in Newport RI: Where to Stay in Newport | 12 Stunning Luxury Hotels in Newport RI | 8 Best Airbnbs in Newport RI

Providence, Rhode Island

The capital of Rhode Island is definitely one of the top places for a New England vacation and has some fantastic places to stay.

As with any city, there is plenty to do along the lines of museums, art, and events – it’s home to the prestigious RISD Museum! There are so many great spots to explore downtown and free things to see and do.

If you can plan your visit to coincide with Waterfire, the famous fire sculpture festival held on the water, that’s a perfect time to come visit. There are also tons of great restaurant in PVD, especially Italian restaurants! Check out this ready made weekend in Providence itinerary for vacation ideas!

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New Haven, Connecticut

Home to Yale, one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, New Haven is a definite must visit in New England. It’s one of those towns that is small in size but big in attractions!

This Long Island Sound town has plenty of arts, culture, and attractions, with a variety of museums, libraries, coffee shops, parks, theaters, and restaurants to choose from – there’s always something happening in this Connecticut town!

Book a room at The Blake and you’ll get to enjoy their art gallery expos and concert series that they host throughout the year. Live music at one of the trendiest boutique hotels in Connecticut? Heck yes!

Click Here to Check Prices & Book!

North Conway, New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s White Mountains are impressive, exciting, and draw thousands of outdoorsy folk each year. These mountains, the tallest in New England, offer spectacular hiking and more.

North Conway is an ideal place for a New England vacation, providing the perfect gateway to the attractions of the White Mountain National Forest.

Someone sitting on a rocky ledge looking at a view of water and mountains with fall leaves in New England
Looking for New England vacation ideas with stunning views? Here ya go.

Conway is a mountain town providing a great mix of shopping, restaurants, and outdoor activities. The Saco River runs nearby, so Conway is a good jumping-off point for tubing or paddling in the river, with lots of cool places to stay.

Pop up to the towns of Bartlett and Jackson if you want to head even more into the mountains. Both are very nice areas with lots to do and see. Near Bartlett you can stop by Diana’s Baths, a beautiful area of cascading waterfalls and gentle pools. On a hot summer’s day, it’s the perfect place to cool off.

Got extra time in NH? Check out the town of Lincoln, too.

Read Next: Your Guide to Mt Washington NH: The Highest Peak in the Northeast!

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

New Hampshire has a very small stretch of coastline and Portsmouth is a small city located here. Portsmouth is very historic, which is great for visitors to New England.  Settled in 1623, it is actually the third oldest city in the nation.

To explore some of this history, check out Strawbery Bank, an outdoor history museum with more than 30 restored buildings built between the 17th and 19th centuries. This is a living history museum, too, with actors portraying historic residents of the town and what life may have been like.

A body of water with boats and buildings in the distance in New England.
The Seacoast is a fun New England vacation destination.

In Portsmouth, you can also wander along the waterfront. For shopping and dining (Portsmouth has a very lively food scene) Market Square is the center of things. There are some pretty cool bars and breweries in Portsmouth, too!

Read Next: Where to Go for Breakfast in Portsmouth NH | 7 Must-Visit Breweries in Portsmouth NH

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Of course, you’ll want to have America’s Hometown on your list of places to visit in New England!

One of the most charming historic towns in the region, Plymouth is full of historical sites like Plymouth Rock and Mayflower II, a scale replica of the historic vessel that carried the Pilgrims across the sea in 1620!

Also in Plymouth are a variety of fantastic restaurants and places to stay, including Mirbeau Inn and Spa. History, culture, and a little spa-cation? Why not?

Click Here to Check Prices & Book!

The Lakes Region, New Hampshire

Green trees on the left with a body of water on the right and puffy white clouds in the sky in New England.

If you’re looking for a place to spend summer in New England, we can’t recommend enough the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Here you’ll find lakes on lakes on lakes.

In the summertime, these alluring bodies of water are refreshing and calm. They are perfect for swimming with family and friends, boating, or even as a backdrop to your barbecue.

The Lakes Region of NH includes the area surrounding Lake Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam Lake, Squam Lake, and Newfound Lake, among other smaller lakes and ponds (there are 273 in total!).

Some of the towns not to miss include adorable Meredith (right on Lake Winnipesaukee), fun Laconia, and pretty Center Harbor.

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The Litchfield Hills, Connecticut

Looking for a fun day trip from Boston? Consider the enchanting Litchfield Hills. This spot in the northwest corner of Connecticut seems like a hidden gem.

Here you’ll find all the classic New England pastimes you know and love. In particular, there is an abundance of outdoor activities (hiking, paddling, fishing) as well as exceptional Antique shops and farm to table restaurants.

The Litchfield Hills make up a fair portion of the region, and include towns such as Torrington, Woodbury, Kent, Cornwall, and Washington (very English-sounding names, aren’t they?).

If you’re looking for a lovely place to stay, consider The Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington. Not only is this a perfectly classic New England hotel, legend has it it was also the inspiration for Lorelei Gilmore’s inn The Dragonfly in the popular tv show Gilmore Girls.

Click Here to Check Prices & Book!

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Block Island, Rhode Island

One of the most gorgeous vacation islands in the region, Block Island should absolutely be on your list of places to visit in New England!

Your journey to Block Island begins by ferry, and once you arrive, you’ll find yourself in one of the most beautiful places in the Northeast.

There are beautiful beaches, excellent restaurants, and some of the most stunning scenery in New England. The views of the Atlantic Ocean are absolutely marvelous!

Portland, Maine

Portland is one of those quintessential New England vacation spots that has something to offer everyone, really!

You’ll find arts and culture, excellent shopping opportunities, a solid craft brewery scene, fantastic restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops and so much more in this classic port town.

The nearby lighthouses, including Portland Head Light on Cape Elizabeth, are some of the most frequently photographed lighthouses in New England! Getting out on the water for one of the popular Portland boat tours is one of the best ways to see these beauties.

Are you a seafood lover? You’ll love the lobster roll selection in Portland!

As far as where to stay in Portland goes, you’ve got excellent options with cool boutique hotels and unique vacation rentals.

This seaside town is a wonderful place to visit, so be sure Portland is on your New England bucket list!

Read Next: 11 Fun & Free Things to do in Portland Maine | How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in Portland

Mystic, Connecticut

A long walking pier beside the Mystic River in Mystic Connecticut

We love Mystic and truly believe it is one of the best places to visit in New England. This is a classic New England seaside destination and the Mystic Seaport and Museum are a great way to explore the coast. It’s an excellent spot for sailing, learning about maritime history, checking out historic ships, and much more.

That’s not all there is to do in Mystic either. Must-visit sites include the Mystic Aquarium (see the belugas!), Olde Mystick Village, and shopping along the charming Main Street.

The exterior of a building that houses iconic Mystic Pizza in Mystic CT

Don’t skip out on Mystic Pizza, a la the Julia Roberts movie from the 80s!

Mystic is also just a hop, skip, and jump from other Connecticut attractions. It’s a very small state, after all! Plus, you’ll find plenty of great places to eat and stay in this cool coastal New England vacation destination.



Whether you’re interested in historical tours in vibrant cities or relaxing on sandy beaches in quaint seaside towns, these New England places to visit have all that and more!

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