- Vermont in Winter: Things to Do & Places to Visit (2024) ❄️ - November 28, 2023
- 23 Best Winter Getaways in New England 2024 (For Non-Skiers, Too!) - November 28, 2023
- Lumen Nature Retreat: Luxury Glamping in the White Mountains - November 27, 2023
Are you looking for day trips in New England? I can help!
There are New England day trips that take you to vibrant cities like Portland and Burlington, or day trip destinations to quaint hidden gem towns tucked away on the coast. If you’re based in Boston, this list includes several awesome day trips from Boston, but there are options from other starting points, too. New England’s small size makes it so great for this kind of trip!
I know there’s something for everyone on this list of day trips, whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, cultural hotspots, or something somewhere in between!
The Very Best Day Trips in New England
This is one of my personal favorites for New England day trips! I’ve been visiting Manchester, Vermont for 20+ years, and even though I no longer live in this area, I return to it often.
This southern Vermont gem is gorgeous year round, but I especially like visiting in the summer and fall when the weather is convenient for exploring and enjoying everything this area has to offer.
For example, a hike – or drive! – up Mount Equinox is the best way to really and truly appreciate the scenery of this stunning area of Vermont. The toll road is closed November through April, so if you’re counting on being able to drive up, time your trip accordingly.
Manchester is full of lovely shops and restaurants. My suggestions for can’t miss Manchester things to do include a visit to the Northshire Bookstore, tubing down the Batten Kill River, sampling a maple latte at Charlie’s Coffee House, and visiting the charming Vermont Country Store in nearby Weston.
Seriously, it’s a Vermont institution. You can’t miss it!
My personal recommendation for where to stay in Manchester is the Kimpton Taconic Hotel. This is such a charming boutique hotel experience and my husband and I absolutely love staying there.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Looking for New England day trips that are perfect for outdoor adventure? Head to the Berkshires!
There is outdoor fun to be found in this area of Massachusetts year round, with excellent hiking trails, cross country skiing trails, ski areas, and more. The Berkshires is a blast in summer, fall, and winter!
33 Main is a beautiful inn in lovely Lenox that’s perfect for a couples’ stay in the Berkshires!
Rockport is one of my personal favorite New England day trips! I’ve visited many times and love exploring this beautiful coastal town.
As an added bonus, you also have nearby Gloucester, home to one of the best beaches on the North Shore, Wingaersheek Beach. The water is so beautifully clear!
Don’t miss out on a visit to Lobsta Land, one of the top restaurants in Gloucester.
I love Cape Ann and always enjoy a visit to this beautiful area of New England.
Super cute, quaint, and very patriotic if you’re planning your New England day trip around the 4th of July, Bristol is one of those small town fun type of places that can feel like a breath of fresh air!
This is the perfect one day getaway destination for anyone who wants to have a nice, relaxing reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.
Hang at Bristol Town Beach, tour Blithewold Mansion, check out the Mosaic Art Gallery, then grab a bite to eat. Portside Tavern is always a great choice for lunch and dinner, and they also have live music often.
PS if your day trip is during the weekend, they serve an incredible brunch with bottomless mimosas. Just sayin’.
If you do decide to do an overnight, book the historic Williams Grant Inn for a classic B&B experience.
What could be a better New England day trip idea than a visit to America’s hometown?
There’s a lot to do and see in Plymouth, like scoping out the Plimoth Patuxet Museum, Plymouth Rock, and the Mayflower II replica for the history buffs out there, and places like the Plymouth Bay Winery for enjoying the present day indulgences, as well!
As for restaurants, there are lots of great choices for where to eat during a Plymouth day trip. Two of the most distinctively Plymouth restaurants are the Rye Tavern, which dates back to the 1700s, and Tavern on the Wharf, one of the top seafood restaurants in the area!
For a little extra pampering, book a room at Mirbeau Inn & Spa and extending your trip – you won’t regret it!
One of my absolutely favorite day trip destinations is Woodstock, Vermont. This is such a fun little town to visit!
You’ve got the Village Green and Woodstock Village that are everything that makes small town New England so freakin charming. You’ve also got covered bridges to enjoy, including some of the best in the state.
You’ve got boutique shopping at places like Yankee Bookshop and FH Gillingham & Sons, Vermont’s oldest independent bookstore and oldest family run general store, respetively.
I’ve stayed in a few local hotels and inns, but if you’re interested in a room with a view, book 506 on the River Inn. As the name suggests, you’re on the river and it’s beautiful.
You can read more about my stay here.
The capital city of Rhode Island makes for one of the best day trips New England has to offer, period!
If you find yourself at Andino’s in Federal Hill, you’re going to want to save room for dessert. It’s going to be hard to choose between crowd favorites like the homemade tiramisu and the ricotta cannoli, so maybe just order both?
If you can plan your trip to coincide with Waterfire, the incredible art installation that takes place numerous weekends throughout the year, you’ll really be in for a memorable Providence day trip!
PS if you wanted to just go ahead and upgrade to a weekend trip to PVD, I don’t blame you. There are a ton of great hotels in Providence, including historic hotels like The Graduate, formerly known as the Biltmore.
Looking for a cute little seaside town to set up shop in during your coastal New England day trip? Say less, you want Newburyport MA!
Newburyport is full of lovely coastal scenery like that, with the Newburyport Lighthouse, Plum Island Lighthouse, and Maudslay State Park offering some of the best views.
In fact, if you’d like to combine views with some of the best seafood on the coast, head to Michael’s Harborside for lunch or dinner. This is North Shore waterfront dining at its best!
It also has a super cute little B&B, so if you’re looking for romantic day trips from New England that will morph into an overnight trip, check out Compass Rose Inn.
If it’s more big city vibes you’re after in your New England day trip, you’ll definitely love Boston, Massachusetts!
Boston is one of those places that truly has something for everyone. Sports fans will love catching a game or tour of Fenway Park, history lovers will appreciate walking the Boston Freedom Trail, and art and culture lovers will enjoy the multitude of Boston museums.
One thing I love about Boston is the wide variety of options. There are incredible restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, rooftop restaurants and bars, and more. Contessa is one of the coolest rooftop restaurants in town, so if you can get in, GO!
I can tell you, seeing other people carrying around that little blue and white Mike’s Pastry box becomes Pavlovian… It’s hard to not drop everything and head to the North End to get my own!
There’s a lot to choose from if you want to stick to only one day in Boston, so if you decide to extend to a weekend or longer, I completely understand! If you decide to stay longer than a day, check out these resources:
- 9 Fabulous Boston Hotels with an In-Room Jacuzzi
- Where to Stay in Boston: The Best Hotels for Your Visit
- 15 Unique Boutique Hotels in Boston to Book
For that classic Maine coastal vibe, it’s hard to find a better New England day trip than Kennebunkport! You’ve got craggy beaches, boutique shopping, incredible restaurants, and so much more.
Stroll through Dock Square, popping in and out of the great shops you’ll find there. It’s boutique shopping at its finest! Then head to one of the popular local beaches like Goose Rocks or Gooch’s to take in that sweet and salty sea air.
In fact, this is another one of those spots that really deserves more than a day, so consider booking a room at one of the Kennebunkport hotels like The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel – it’s also home to one of the best seafood restaurants in Kennebunkport!
New Haven, Connecticut
One of the top New England day trip destinations in coastal Connecticut, New Haven is a definite must visit.
Home to Yale, one of the most prestigious universities in the US, New Haven is one of those towns that is small in size but big in attractions!
This coastal Connecticut 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 college town!
Lighthouse Point Park and the New Haven green are two lovely outdoor spots to visit during your day trip. The New Haven green is one of the oldest in New England!
If you decide to extend your New Haven day trip overnight, book a room at The Blake so you can enjoy their art gallery expos and concert series that happen onsite. Live music at one of the trendiest boutique hotels in Connecticut? Sounds perfect!
My home for several years, I’ll always have a soft spot for Burlington, Vermont, and recommend everyone visit this incredible city at least once!
As far as day trips in New England go, Burlington may be an official city, but it still has that small town feel and it’s pretty easy to get around and fit a lot of fun into one trip.
In true Vermont fashion, most restaurants pride themselves on ingredients being locally sourced. Burlington is big on keeping the consumer footprint small!
Church Street Marketplace is one of the must visit places to go in Burlington, and there’s shopping, cafes, and street entertainment pretty much year round. Onyx Tonics is one of my favorite coffee shops, I suggest you order a maple latte – delish!
You really can’t skip out on a visit to Lake Champlain during your day trip to Burlington, and it’s walkable from Church Street.
There’s a beautiful waterfront park and the Burlington Bike Path skirts the edges for several miles, providing an ideal route for a bike ride or a run and lots of great hiking nearby, too.
If you’ve got time, getting out on the water is a must! You can go sailing, stand up paddle boarding or kayaking, or hop aboard one of the scenic ferries. A scenic cruise on Lake Champlain is always a good time.
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Looking for island fun? Located off the coast of Massachusetts is one of the most beautiful New England day trip destinations for the summer. As long as you plan your visit during the warm weather months, there will be plenty of opportunities to head over and back on the ferry all in one day!
Oak Bluffs is a great place for your New England day trip, offering a chance to see some of the top island sights like the colorful gingerbread houses, scenic Ocean Park, and the historic Flying Horses Carousel.
Interested in turning your day trip into an overnight? Book a room at the colorful boutique hotel, Summercamp!
Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
This is about as classic small town New England as you can get!
If you plan your Litchfield Hills day trip for autumn, you can enjoy some of the fantastic fall foliage this area is known for. It’s quintessential New England countryside, and you’ll find some of the loveliest scenery in the Nutmeg State in this area of farms and gently rolling hills.
There are some of the best New England farm to table restaurants in Litchfield restaurants and surrounding areas, as well. This is one of the best day trips in New England for those looking for a slower pace.
The Litchfield Hills includes towns such as Torrington, Woodbury, Kent, Cornwall, and Washington – very English-y names, aren’t they?
If you’re looking for a lovely place to extend your stay, consider The Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington. Not only is this a perfectly classic New England hotel, but legend has it it was also the inspiration for Lorelei Gilmore’s inn The Dragonfly in the popular Gilmore Girls tv show.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Pretty Portsmouth is one of the top destinations on New Hampshire’s Seacoast, and I love visiting this cute little town! Portsmouth is very historic and is actually the third oldest city in the nation. It’s an excellent New England day trip for history lovers.
One of the must visit spots in Portsmouth is the Strawbery Banke Museum, the outdoor living history museum with actors portraying historic residents of the town and showcasing what life may have been like in historic Portsmouth.
Prescott Park is another outdoor spot you should scope out on your day trip. It’s so pretty!
Portsmouth has a great foodie scene, and a visit to Market Square is perfect for shopping. There are some pretty cool bars and breweries in Portsmouth, too!
If you do decide to extend your visit, book a room at the Hotel Portsmouth!
Looking for a New England day trip that takes you to a classic, iconic mountain town? Stowe, Vermont is where you want to go!
Nestled in the heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains, you’ll find this lovely mountain town is perfect for day trips in summer, fall, or winter.
The Main Street of this stunning village has a white-steepled church and an old-fashioned general store, and the mountains provide a perfectly picturesque backdrop. This is an especially popular Vermont fall foliage day trip destination.
There are countless cozy eateries and shops to explore.
The Von Trapp Brewery and Bierhall is one of my top recommendations because it’s just oh, so Stowe.
Hiking is plentiful, with trails suitable for all ages that offer a variety of beautiful mountain views. If you’re looking for a skiing day trip in New England, Stowe is a top notch choice.
Stowe is a lot of fun and I always enjoy my visits. It is one of those day trip places in New England that achieves the perfect balance of outdoor activities with relaxation and ‘indoor stuff.’ I personally find it especially fun in summer!
PS did you know Emily’s Bridge in Stowe is considered not only one of the most haunted places in Vermont, but also in all of New England?? Cross it… if you dare.
Planning to extend your day trip to an overnight? You’ve got some great hotels and vacation rentals to choose from, but you can’t go wrong booking a stay at the culturally significant Trapp Family Lodge!
It’s a bucket list New England experience.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Attention all outdoor enthusiasts, I’ve got the perfect New England day trip for you!
Acadia National Park is one of those beautiful areas of New England where the mountains and the ocean collide, and visitors are treated to stupendous views in addition to all the fun this area offers.
Located on Mt. Desert Island, you’ll find all kinds of great hiking and natural attractions, like Thunder Hole and Ocean Path. There’s a wide variety of things to do during your day trip to Acadia!
Beautiful Bar Harbor (the town at the entrance of the park) is filled with restaurants, shops, and great places to stay, so if you’re looking to extend your visit, you’ll find plenty of gorgeous Acadia hotels, cabins, camping sites, and more to choose from.
Definitely grab a bite at Side Street Cafe while in Bar Harbor, it’s absolutely fantastic!
If you do end up staying overnight, I recommend Bar Harbor Inn & Spa.
It’s absolutely gorgeous and I love staying at this beautiful inn!
Listen, there are so many Cape Cod towns that would be the perfect New England day trip that I couldn’t decide on just one!
Truly, Cape Cod is home to some of the best seafood restaurants in New England, so seafood lovers will rejoice!
There are incredible places to visit and stay all around the Cape, so you won’t go wrong wherever you choose!
More About Cape Cod:
- Cape Cod in the Fall: 15 Things to Do
- 13 Things to Do in Wellfleet MA: A Cape Cod Getaway
- 25 Top Things to Do in Hyannis MA
- 21 Terrific Things to Do in Provincetown MA
Newport, Rhode Island
Looking for a little taste of luxury and glamour on your New England day trip? You’ll definitely find it on Aquidneck Island in Newport RI.
One of the main attractions in Newport is visiting the Newport Mansions, the historic Gilded Age gems that you can tour and fawn over. I especially loved touring The Breakers.
Newport is one of those day trip destinations where there are plenty of opportunities for dining, shopping, beach walking, and museum-hopping.
There’s also the iconic Cliff Walk, where you can enjoy views of both the incredible ocean and the historic mansions. It’s an incredible way to see Newport.
If you’d like a personal recommendation, I absolutely loved staying at the Hotel Viking.
Their spa services are phenomenal!
North Conway, New Hampshire
One of the best day trips in New England for those seeking fun in the mountains, North Conway is the perfect gateway to the White Mountain National Forest.
New Hampshire’s White Mountains offer spectacular hiking trails and the Saco River for tubing and paddling. After your outdoor adventure, North Conway can help you refuel!
Conway is a mountain town providing a great mix of shopping and restaurants. Muddy Moose Restaurant and Pub is the perfect spot for dinner and drinks after a fun day out exploring the White Mountains.
Nearby Lincoln is also a great day trip destination, with Loon Mountain and all its fun! You can go skiing and ice skating in the winter, or ride the scenic gondola in the summer and fall to get a birds eye view of this gorgeous area.
One of those iconic New England day trips that everyone should make at least once, Salem, Massachusetts is rich with history. You’ll have your pick of museums like the Peabody Essex Museum, and notable sites like the Salem Maritime National Historic Site to explore.
The site of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, you’ll find this area has many interesting historic sites and educational opportunities. Of course, there are also a variety of great walking tours, including ghost tours, if you’d like to get the full effect of the Witch City!
I, as a child of the 90s, am particularly fond of visiting the Hocus Pocus filming sites. It’s so cool to see them in person!
You can follow my ready made one day in Salem itinerary to take the guesswork out of your day trip. If it’s a weekend Salem itinerary you’d like, I have that too.
I didn’t experience any paranormal activity while staying there with my husband, but we did love our stay there.
The Lakes Region, New Hampshire
If you’re looking for day trips for summer in New England, I wholeheartedly recommend the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. There’s so much fun to be had in this area of freshwater bliss!
It’s the perfect day trip for a summer day spent swimming and lounging at the lake.
The Lakes Region includes the areas surrounding Lake Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam Lake, Squam Lake, and Newfound Lake, and other smaller lakes and ponds (there are 273 in total!)
Some of the towns to visit include adorable Meredith (right on Lake Winnipesaukee), fun Laconia, and pretty Center Harbor.
In fact, if you’re staying overnight, you should definitely book a room in Meredith at gorgeous Mill Falls at the Lake. They have so many options!
Portland is one of those New England day trips that should be on everyone’s bucket list!
Are you a seafood lover? Yeah, you’re going to love the lobster roll selection in Portland. You can even get a lobster roll flight at Highroller Lobster Co !
The nearby lighthouses, including Portland Head Light on Cape Elizabeth, are some of the most often photographed lighthouses in New England, and they’re a definite must see. Get out on the water on one of these popular Portland boat tours to see these beauties during your day trip.
I love Mystic! I truly believe it is one of the best day trips in New England.
With classic New England seaside vibes throughout, this is an excellent way to explore the coast. Visit the Mystic Seaport and Museum to learn about maritime history and see the beautiful historic ships.
That’s not all there is to do in Mystic either. Must-visit sites on your day trip include the Mystic Aquarium, where you can say hi to the beluga whales, and Olde Mystick Village, where you can shop and enjoy incredible spots like Alice in the Village.
As awesome as this photo is, it was even cooler in person!
Don’t skip out on Mystic Pizza, yes that one from the Julia Roberts movie from the 80s. You younger kiddos might not get it, but send a pic of you dining at this pizzeria to your older relatives, they’ll appreciate it!
Interested in a little literary history? Head to Concord, where you can walk Walden Pond and find yourself again like Thoreau. Then visit the Ralph Waldo Emerson Home and the Louisa May Alcott house to see if the inspiration for the next American classic might strike you.
Concord has several great little restaurants and lovely outdoor spaces to explore like the Minute Man Visitor Center to make it the perfect low-key New England day trip.
Want to turn your day trip into an overnight? Book a room at Concord’s Colonial Inn, an absolutely charming historic hotel with popular onsite dining.
When is the best time of year for a New England day trip?
Personally, I like planning for a summer or fall day trip. This makes it less likely that the weather might curtail your quick travel plans, and in general, New England is beyond beautiful this time of year.
Of course, New England is also a winter lover’s paradise! There is incredible skiing, XC trails, outdoor ice skating, snowmobiling, and other winter activities all around the state. It really just depends on what you’re after, and always have your back up plan in case you have to extend due to weather.
One of the best parts of exploring this beautiful region is that there’s something for everyone! Whether it’s beachy bliss, mountain fun, or city sights you’re after, you can find the perfect New England day trip to suit your needs.
You might also like:
- How to Take a Day Trip to Nantucket, Massachusetts
- 10 Fun Connecticut Day Trips
- 9 Incredible Day Trips from Burlington VT
- 10 Best Day Trips from Boston: Road Trips to Take ASAP