In the uppermost eastern corner of the continental United States, there is a magical land called New England. Made up of only 6 states, and accounting for no more than 72,000 square miles of land, New England is a tiny region that packs a punch. There is so much to do in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and the area is popular in every season of the year. You could spend a lifetime here and not experience all there is to see and do. Fortunately, we’ve come up with a list of 101 quintessential things to do in New England, so you can make the most of your time here: whether days, weeks, or even years. Get ready to check off that New England bucket list:
1. Eat a fresh, delicious lobster roll.
New England has a significant coastal influence, and the lobster off the Maine coast is a regional staple. You can try lobster in all types of dishes, but a classic is the cold lobster roll, found in fish shacks everywhere.
Read more: The Best Lobster Rolls in New England
2. Stay in a charming B&B.
From beachside cottages to Victorian mansions in the mountains, New England boasts B&Bs and inns galore. Choose one of these unique properties to stay in and have a special experience (plus meet some locals!)
3. Walk Boston’s Freedom Trail.
Boston’s Freedom Trail will take you along all the historic sites of downtown Boston—and there’s a lot. This is a great way not only to take in the major spots of Boston History, but it will help you get acquainted with Boston’s layout a bit, too.
4. Go whale watching.
Adventure on the high seas! Well….kind of. Take a whale watching cruise out of places like Gloucester or Bar Harbor and marvel at these magnificent creatures. With its seafaring (and whaling) history, New England is an excellent place for this activity.
5. See a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
New Englanders (especially Bostonians) love their sports. Whatever sport you most enjoy, head to a game and catch one of the local faves: Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, or Patriots.
6. Sample beer at some of New England’s finest craft breweries.
Throughout the region you will find an enormous amount of craft breweries. This is one thing New England does well and each state is proud of its unique brews. We recommend Burlington, Vermont as a great spot for touring breweries, but you’ll find awesome ones in Portland, Boston, and really, all over!
Read more: New England Beers to Try Before You Die
7. Find the most amazing lighthouse.
Lighthouses are an icon of New England. There are nearly 200 to be found along our coast (plus some inland!), and each is beautiful in its own way. We loved Bass Harbor Head Light in Maine. Other notable lighthouses include West Quoddy Head Light, Nauset Light, Wood Island Lighthouse, and Block Island Southeast Light.
Read more: New England Lighthouses-A Virtual Guide
8. Play in a pile of brightly colored leaves.
Autumn is an absolutely gorgeous time of year. Throughout New England, the leaves burst forth into crazy colors of red, orange, yellow, and gold. It’s a must-see. Fall is a busy time of year in New England, but head out on a fall foliage road trip and you can become one of the “leaf peepers.”
9. Count the covered bridges.
Like the lighthouse, the covered bridge is a symbol of New England, especially in quaint Vermont. Bring your camera and hunt out the famous and not-so-famous ones.
Read more: New England’s Covered Bridges
10. Sample sugar on snow in the springtime.
When the maple sap runs, its time to enjoy a little treat called sugar on snow. Heating maple syrup to 235°, it is then poured over packed snow, where it hardens into a taffy-like candy. Enjoy!
11. Find Stephen King’s house in Maine.
If your travels take you near Bangor, Maine, and you’re a fan of the famous horror writer, why not visit his house? Stephen King’s home in Maine is quite easy to find. He lives in a cool, creepy mansion on a main street in Bangor. Grab a photo of this place (complete with spider web gates) and try not to get spooked!
12. Go hiking in the White Mountains.
New Hampshire’s White Mountains offer some of the very best hiking in New England. This area has got spectacular views and a range of trails for all difficulties. From day hikes to overnight treks, there’s plenty to choose from and discover.
Read more: Top 25 Hikes in New Hampshire
13. Find out what coffee milk is. (Ask a Rhode Islander)
The official drink of Rhode Island (seriously) is something you need to sample. What is this magical concoction, you ask? Better head to the Ocean State and find out.
14. Visit the Flavor Graveyard at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory.
In Waterbury, Vermont, you can see where some of the tastiest ice cream is produced. The Ben & Jerry’s Factory offers tours of the ice cream process (plus free samples), but the highlight of your visit might be the Flavor Graveyard. You can pay your respects to flavors of years past, which include ones that weren’t so popular (Peanut Butter and Jelly) and ones dearly missed (RIP Dublin Mudslide).
15. Camp in one of the finest spots in New England.
Starry skies, campfires, lakes…need we say more?
16. Drive the Kancamagus Highway.
In New Hampshire, there is an extremely scenic drive called the Kancamagus Highway (pronounced Kanga-mangus). It stretches 34 miles from Conway to Lincoln, with lovely views and great places to stop. You may want to drive the Highway in fall to appreciate the vibrant foliage, but this is a busy time of year. Also be aware that the Highway closes during the winter.
17. Fly down a slope on a mountain coaster/alpine slide.
Who says mountains have to shut down in the summer? Many ski resorts and other outdoor centers have alpine slides just waiting for you. Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster in Okemo is a Vermont favorite.
18. Attend Burlington’s Mardi Gras parade.
Celebrate Fat Tuesday at this colorful, boozy Vermont event.
19. Go apple picking in the fall.
Come mid-September, the apple trees are ready for picking. There are orchards in every state, where you can pick your own apples at a great price. It’s a blast to walk through the trees picking apples with friends and family and then head home for an afternoon of baking.
Read more: Best Apple Orchards in New England
While you’re at it: Guide to New England Pumpkin Patches
20. Go shopping on Newbury Street.
This street is a shopping icon in Boston’s Back Bay. You’ll find 8 blocks of boutiques, restaurants, and more.
21. Browse the wares in an old country store.
Step inside an old country store and go back in time. New England is full of them! Many of these are historic spots, including a very old one in Woodstock, but the majority of them also stock loads of modern items. Make sure to visit one of these on your tour of New England.
22. Soak in the tower tub in New Hampshire’s Mountain View Grand Resort.
The Mountain View Grand Resort is quite luxe, but the luxest of the luxe is the Tower Sok Tub. At the highest point of the hotel, this tub allows two people to soak and enjoy phenomenal views. Even if you don’t book the tub, the Tower Spa has tons of great services.
23. Enjoy lazy lakeside summer days.
New England is dotted with beautiful lakes. Spending a few days lakeside in the summer is a must do. Enjoy boating, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, and of course, barbecuing!
24. Tour the opulent mansions of Newport.
Newport, Rhode Island is known for its opulent mansions of The Gilded Age. Fortunately, many of these are open to the public today as museums. Prepare for a step back into another era.
25. Attend a county fair.
A county or country fair is a staple of American society, and New England does these fairs right. With plenty of state fairs and smaller local events, you’ll find a perfect spot to eat a funnel cake, ride a ride, sample an award-winning pie, clap for an award-winning cow, and so much more.
26. Pick blueberries in Maine.
Blueberries are the fruit of summer! Maine is famous for this indigo fruit, and there’s even a Blueberry Festival.
27. Fill up on cider donuts.
I never tasted an apple cider donut before I came to New England. Now I can’t get enough. These sweet treats are incredibly delicious, especially when covered in granulated sugar. I like the donuts at Equinox Valley Nursery in Manchester, Vermont, but here’s a list of 9 of New England’s Best Apple Cider Donuts.
28. Visit one of the famous, beautiful New England college campuses: Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, etc.
There are a number of impressive higher institutions of learning in the northeast. Spend some time touring these brick, ivy-covered campuses if you can. Harvard is a classic, but even slightly lesser known schools like Smith and Williams are stunners.
29. Hike Mt. Katahdin.
Mount Katahdin is Maine’s highest mountain at 5,267 feet. There are many trails up to the peak, but the Knife Edge Trail is a popular (albeit thrilling) one!
30. Drive to the top of Mount Washington.
Speaking of tall mountains, New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington clocks in at 6,288 ft. There are many ways to the top, but The Mount Washington Auto Road remains one of the most unique. It’s certainly one of the top things to do in New Hampshire.
31. Attend a concert at Tanglewood.
In Massachusetts’ Berkshires region is a famed music venue known as Tanglewood. In the summer, this place comes alive, with top quality concerts that range from the Boston Symphony Orchestra to James Taylor (a regular Tanglewood favorite).
32. See where Emily Dickinson was born.
Are you a lover of literature? The famous poet Emily Dickinson was born in this Massachusetts home, where her poems were found after her death. The site is now a museum open for tours.
33. Ride in a horse drawn sleigh at Christmas time.
When the snow falls, get outside and play! A horse drawn sleigh is a romantic and exciting winter pastime. Nestlenook Farm is a choice spot to spirit through the woods.
34. Buy jam or vegetables from a roadside farm stand.
As you drive along the New England roads, you’re sure to spot a farm stand on the roadside. There are many of these, and here you’ll find some of the freshest vegetables, the tastiest jams, and much more. It’s always worth a stop.
35. Watch the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain.
Acadia National Park in Maine is a scenic wonderland. And the best views may be found at sunrise atop the park’s Cadillac Mountain. Climb up or drive to the top, and make sure to bring a blanket for those chilly Maine mornings.
36. Learn about maritime history at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
New England has dozens of excellent museums. One that is a must for the history lover is the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Here you can further appreciate New England’s rich maritime past.
37. Explore the gorgeous Devil’s Hopyard State Park.
Waterfalls, hiking, picnicking. This Connecticut park has it all, stretching over 1000 acres.
38. Help with a cranberry harvest.
Do you know how cranberries are grown and harvested? It’s pretty amazing. You can learn all about it at a cranberry bog, and maybe even sign up to help with the harvest. Most cranberry bogs are located in Massachusetts.
39. Uncover the fascinating history of the Salem Witch Trials.
Some of New England’s history is quite dark. The Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s are one such infamous event. Thousands flock to Salem each year to learn more about this historic period, and enjoy a charming New England town full of modern day magic.
Read more: Essential Things to Do in Salem
40. Go white water rafting on the Kennebec River.
Ready for adventure? A rafting excursion on Maine’s Kennebec River may be exactly what you need!
41. Indulge in an epic, timeless breakfast.
I don’t know what it is, but New England has INCREDIBLE breakfast. Perhaps it’s all the maple syrup…. Either way, you must breakfast in New England. There’s too much good food not to eat it all.
Some recommended places here: 12 Favorite Places for Breakfast in New England
42. Tiptoe through the tulips in Rhode Island.
When spring arrives, the tulips are in bloom! At Wicked Tulips you can pick your own. Get ready for some Instagram pics!
43. See a moose!
You may have to get up early (or go on a moose tracking tour) but if you are super lucky, you may spot one of New England’s finest animals: the moose.
44. “Summer” on Martha’s Vineyard.
New England’s islands are some of its top summer spots. Head to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket for a classic experience.
45. Learn and discover at the Boston Science Museum.
The Boston Science Museum is enormously fun! Both kids and adults will have a great time exploring and interacting with the exhibits. Pro tip: Don’t miss the lightning show.
46. Eat at a busy food stand in Faneuil Hall.
A historic meeting hall since 1743, Boston’s Faneuil Hall is now a great spot to dine. There are a number of restaurants and food stalls where you can grab a snack. Lobster mac n’ cheese is on offer, as are clam chowder and lobster rolls, of course!
47. Venture into New Hampshire’s Flume Gorge.
The Flume Gorge is a fascinating natural gorge extending 800 feet into NH’s Franconia Notch State Park. The 2-mile walk will take you past waterfalls, cliffs, and other features. Definitely worth a visit!
48. Splash at the indoor water park in Jay Peak.
Even in the cold of winter, you can splash about in warm waters. Jay Peak’s Pump House Indoor Water Park will help you have a summertime escape—in any weather.
49. Go outlet shopping. (Manchester, Freeport, Tilton, just to name a few)
New England has a plethora of great outlet stores. These are gathered in places like Tilton, NH, Manchester, VT, and Freeport, ME. Grab your wallet and see what deals you can snag.
50. Ski down the slopes at Sugarbush, Killington, or Bretton Woods.
Winter in New England? Winter sports are a must. Snow sports like skiing are all the rage throughout the region, and leading ski resorts are found in every state.
51. Place your bets at Foxwoods.
Who needs Vegas? Foxwoods Casino can give you a run for your money…literally! Plus, there’s entertainment, shopping, and more.
52. Witness ‘the running of the lambs’ at Sturbridge Village.
Old Sturbridge Village is a worthy New England attraction. This living history museum recreates daily life in the late 1700s and early 1800s. In spring, the newborn lambs make the village extra special, and at the end of the day you can watch “the running of the lambs” as both lambs and sheep run across the common to be fed at the barn.
53. Have a maple creemee in Vermont.
In Vermont, soft serve has the adorable nickname of creemee. These delectable treats are ideal on a summer’s afternoon, and you can’t go wrong with that iconic maple flavor.
54. Meet the cows at Billings Farm in Woodstock.
Billings Farm is another great New England history museum, but it is combined with a working Vermont dairy farm. Here you’ll learn about farming and meet the herd.
55. Follow the Maine Beer Trail.
The Maine Beer Trail will bring you to many of the state’s top craft breweries. Talk about a fun day or days of sampling! This could be an excellent route for a Maine road trip.
56. Immerse yourself in American literary history in Concord.
Concord, Massachusetts has enormous historical significance, but it’s also an important place for many notable literary figures. Explore museums, libraries, graveyards, and homes that played roles in the lives of figures like Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott.
Read more: A Literary Tour of Concord, MA
57. Visit the Lincoln family home at Hildene.
In Manchester, Vermont, you can visit a beautiful mansion which was the summer home of Abraham Lincoln and his family. Not only is the house filled with history, the property has stunning views and a lush garden.
58. Cuddle baby goats at Friendly Farm in Dublin, NH.
Raise your hand if you love baby animals! We certainly do, and we found a place where you can interact with them. Dublin, New Hampshire’s Friendly Farm gives you the opportunity to feed and play with goats, chickens, and sheep, plus visit with many more farm animals. This place is so great! Pro tip: Go early in the spring when the farm first opens and the goats are quite young. Later in the summer they become much more insistent on getting food from you!
59. Enjoy a taste o’ Scotland at the New Hampshire Highland Games.
New Hampshire has an exciting Highland Festival every summer in the mountains. You can reunite with your clan, shop for Scottish wares, learn about Scottish culture and history, and watch strong men in kilts throw heavy things. Sounds great, right?
60. Eat a May Breakfast in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island has a unique tradition known as May Breakfast. Originally started in the 1860s, these breakfasts help raise money for local churches. At the breakfasts, you’ll find staples johnny cakes and clam cakes plus other items.
Read more: Where to Get May Breakfast
61. Listen to buskers on Church Street in Burlington.
Church Street in Burlington is where the action is. This pedestrian only thoroughfare stretches several blocks, and is lined with shops, restaurants, and lots of street performers. It’s a great place to people watch and listen to local musicians. There are even jugglers, and who knows what else you might see.
62. Sit in front of a fireplace with a good book.
Sometimes, it’s nice just to stay inside. With New England’s beautiful scenery, find your spot by a window. Watch the world go by as the fire blazes. Ah, cozy.
63. Scream and laugh at Six Flags New England.
Feel like riding a roller coaster? New England’s biggest theme park will meet your needs.
64. Marvel at Bish Bash Falls, the highest waterfall in Massachusetts.
These cascading falls tumble almost 200 feet.
65. Marvel at the blooms during Nantucket’s Daffodil Festival Weekend.
A sea of brilliant yellow and a celebration of spring.
Read more: Daffodil Festival 2018
66. Take in a lively summer stock theatre performance.
New England is home of fantastic art and culture, and a region where theatre is alive and well. Summertime is a great season when the stages are bustling. Some of the best theatre venues around New England include Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA; Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT; and Weston Playhouse in Vermont.
67. Stand atop the Mohegan Bluffs on Block Island.
Off the coast of Rhode Island is gorgeous Block Island. The rocky cliffs known as Mohegan Bluffs present a beautiful site. After the climb, you can take a set of stairs down to the beach below.
68. Be transported to the gilded age at Ventfort Hall Mansion.
This stunning Berkshires mansion was built in 1893. It is now open for visits and events. Stop by for a tour, attend a concert, or be a part of murder mystery dinner theater!
69. Ride the gondola in Stowe.
Stowe, Vermont is classic New England at its best. In addition to the charming downtown, you can head to the top of Mt. Mansfield via a shiny red gondola.
70. Browse the shelves of some of America’s oldest and most unique independent bookstores.
Tucked into big cities and small towns, New England’s bookstores are some of the finest. Here the independent bookshop still is alive and well. One of our favorites? The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont.
Read more: Best Independent Bookstores in New England
71. Go tubing on the Saco River.
A favorite summer past time is tubing down a gentle river. There are plenty of options throughout the six states, but one great choice is the Saco River, which passes through both New Hampshire and Maine.
72. Get snowed in.
You can’t control the weather. So embrace it! Hopefully, you’ll be tucked away in a comfortable cabin in the snowy woods.
73. Sip strawberry rhubarb wine at Nashoba Valley Winery.
New England is not just about beer! There are an abundance of wineries producing exceptional wines. One standout is Nashoba Valley Winery in Massachusetts. There are many unique and even fruity varietals, but strawberry rhubarb wine may be the most distinctive.
74. Try out a goat yoga class.
Who says relaxation needs to be boring? At this farm in Rhode Island, you can take a goat yoga class. What a dream to stretch and breathe alongside adorable farm animals.
75. Indulge in New England’s excellent ice cream.
In summer, phenomenal ice cream stands stretch from Connecticut to Maine. New England has great ice cream! Drive around to one of the top spots, or seek out a hidden gem.
Read more: 5 Favorite New England Ice Cream Flavors
76. Browse art at Rockport’s Bearskin Neck.
Rockport, Massachusetts is well known for its history as an art colony. It’s not hard to see why. This coastal village is extremely pretty, surely generating lots of inspiration. There’s also a laid back vibe here that’s hard to find elsewhere. Head to the tip of “downtown” on Bearskin Neck and you’ll find an amazing array of unique galleries.
77. Attend a town meeting.
These are a New England institution. According to Wikipedia: “A town meeting is a form of direct democratic rule, used primarily in portions of the United States – principally in New England – since the 17th century, in which most or all the members of a community come together to legislate policy and budgets for local government.” Perhaps you can catch one during your visit?
78. Relax with stunning coastal views at Beavertail State Park.
This is a beloved spot for many. Spanning 153 acres, this Rhode Island park is known for providing some of New England’s most beautiful coastal scenery.
79. Sample fresh dairy….especially CHEESE.
Did you know Vermont used to have more cows than people? While this is no longer the case, New England sure does produce some outstanding dairy products—especially CHEESE. Sample these at farm stands and shops throughout the region.
80. Stop by ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Castle’.
In Connecticut, you can visit a castle that once belonged to Sherlock Holmes. Well, not exactly. Gillette Castle was once home to William Gillette, well known for playing Sherlock Holmes onstage and in a 1916 silent film. This fabulous and impressive building attracts 300,000 visitors each year who come to tour the castle and grounds.
81. Stay in America’s oldest inn.
Longfellow’s Wayside Inn is the oldest operating inn in the US, having served guests since 1716. Stay in one of 10 historic guest rooms or dine on traditional New England fare in the restaurant.
82. Have sunset cocktails on the rooftop bar of the Grace Vanderbilt.
For another beautiful accommodation choice, head to the Grace Vanderbilt, a luxury boutique hotel in Newport, RI. The main event? Enjoying sunset cocktails on the hotel’s rooftop bar.
83. Go on an antiquing adventure.
For the antiques lover, New England is like a treasure chest awaiting you. There are countless areas to find antique shops, but some of the best are found on this list.
84. Ride a pony on Hartford’s historic Bushnell Park Carousel.
Carousels are not just for kids. This classic and beautiful merry-go-round is worth a visit while you’re in Connecticut.
85. Spot jellyfish and more at the Mystic Aquarium.
Aquariums are endlessly fascinating. In Mystic, CT, the aquarium has a host of species, including the only beluga whale in New England.
86. Enjoy world-famous chicken tenders at this New Hampshire restaurant – popular with presidential candidates for many years.
In Manchester, New Hampshire, The Puritan Backroom restaurant has hosted dozens of presidential candidates and other government figures over the years. Word has it, they are coming for the chicken tenders.
87. Sign up for a glass blowing lesson.
New England is a leading region for artisans. Glass blowing is one such art that you can find being done in many towns. A lot of glass blowing centers offer demonstrations, including Burlington’s Bern Gallery, where they’ll help you create some very special pieces.
88. Stroll America’s widest Main Street.
Keene, New Hampshire is said to be home to the widest Main Street in America. Take a walk here and stop by shops, restaurants, a historic theatre, and our favorite coffee shop in Keene.
89. Witness Providence ablaze during the famous WaterFire event.
Providence, RI is a great city with a lot going on. One of its most exciting events is WaterFire, which is part art exhibit part exhilarating community experience.
90. Stay in a lighthouse, boat, treehouse, or castle.
You can live out your childhood dreams! Here are some truly unique and in-demand AirBnbs in New England.
91. Get lost in a corn maze.
In the autumn, the corn harvest plays double duty, as farmers carve mesmerizing mazes through their fields. This is a fall tradition for many. Do your best not to get lost in the corn!
92. Grab your friends and head to a drive-in movie.
New England has an old-fashioned vibe about it in many ways. There are a few drive-in theaters still dotting the region where you can enjoy a flick on the big screen.
93. Visit the Arctic Museum.
Do you have an interest in arctic exploration? You may wish to explore the Peary-Macmillan Arctic Museum located on the campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
94. Experience New Hampshire’s ice castles.
In the winter, you can have a real life “Frozen” experience at New Hampshire’s ice castles. These imposing structures are especially amazing at night when they are illuminated.
95. Eat popovers at Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park.
During your visit to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park (sooo gorgeous and worth several days of adventuring) you simply must stop at Jordan Pond House. During a recent visit to Acadia, we arrived at Jordans at 11am to find a massive line. We got in fairly quickly, and then dined on 4 glorious popovers. These puffy, light pastries are beyond description. They’ve been making popovers here since the 1800s. Go and have them!
96. Go sailing on Lake Champlain.
This lake, which is tucked between Vermont and New York state, is absolutely breathtaking. Forget the ocean. Go sailing on this wonderful body of water, with the Adirondacks as your backdrop.
97. Go fly fishing on the Housatonic River.
This Connecticut River is nationally known as a premier fly fishing spot. Grab your gear and head to a spot on the river in the Litchfield Hills.
98. Try to grab a reservation at this extremely in-demand Maine restaurant.
Think it’s tough to get a dinner reservation in the big city? This rural Maine restaurant routinely sells out for months within hours. It’s a hidden spot with a dining experience unlike any other. Will you make it there this year?
99. Bike along Cape Cod’s 22-mile Rail Trail.
New England offers some tremendous biking opportunities. The Rail Trail in Cape Cod is an especially scenic and interesting route.
100. Spend some time in vibrant P-Town.
Provincetown, or P-Town MA, has a rich history and a modern vibe. Today, it’s known for its vibrant community that is extremely LGBTQ+ welcoming. The calendar is stocked with constant activities and events.
101. Go ice skating in Boston Common.
Boston Common is a nice place to visit in any season, but in the winter months, you can don a pair of skates and glide across the ice. What a wonderful way to celebrate the snowy season.
What’s on YOUR New England bucket list?
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