Known as the gateway city into New England, Boston is where most New England holidays will begin. Boston is famed for its amazing harbour, delicious lobster rolls, great sporting teams, and historic landmarks - Boston is the perfect city to begin your New England holiday. One of the best things to do in Boston do is to walk The Freedom Trail that will take you along a pedestrian path that is extremely well preserved and lead you to Boston's historic areas such as the Boston Common and Public Garden. It is an easy enough trail to follow as a redline is painted along the ground to lead you through the city to the sites featured in the Revolutionary War. Of course, whilst in Boston you can't forget to try some delicious Boston seafood- Boston is known particularly for its lobster rolls and you won’t find one much better than at Neptune Oyster!
From Boston we were able to drive to Cape Cod, where we stayed at the beach front hotel the Sea Crest Beach Hotel. We visited in late September, and though Cape Cod may not be as warm as it once was in the summer months, the drive through the pretty New England trees and along long straight roads is well worth sacrificing the warmer weather. New England’s coastline is known for its amazing beaches and expect nothing less from Cape Cod; one of the best beaches we visited in Cape Cod was Mayflower beach - with its picket fences, golden sand and swaying seagrass, Mayflower beach is the quintessential, picturesque New England beach to spend the day at.
Cape Cod is a wonderful part of New England, and whilst in the area do be sure to visit some of their quaint coastal towns including Provincetown, Dennis, and Hyannis. Provincetown is known for its lively atmosphere and events like Provincetown carnival. For incredible beaches Dennis is the coastal community you want to visit – specifically Chapin Memorial Beach and Howes Beach. Lastly, we spent a few nights in the town of Hyannis at the Hyannis Harbor Hotel. Hyannis is the biggest of all the Cape Cod coastal communities and has a big city feel even though it is still a small charming New England town.
The next stop on our New England holiday was Martha’s Vineyard - country to what we had believed, there was no actual vineyards on the island of Martha's Vineyard and instead we spent our time visiting the six towns on the island. Our favourites were Oak Bluffs and Edgartown as they are the 2 biggest towns with more to do and see. In oak Bluffs we visited the Gingerbread Cottages and in Edgartown we saw the iconic Jaws Bridge that was made famous by the film Jaws. Many of the local New Englanders and tourists alike can be seen jumping from the bridge into the ocean - this was an exhilarating event; however you have to be careful to know when there is high and low tide. If there are no other jumpers jumping from the Jaws Bridge, then it's best to just admire the view. Also, in Edgartown is South Beach - a beautiful white sandy beach where we spent the afternoon relaxing under the New England sun. We spent the night at one of the iconic New England Bed and Breakfasts on Martha's Vineyard – the Morgan Hotel.
The next island off the coast of mainland Massachusetts we hopped over to on our New England holiday was Nantucket. Nantucket is a beautiful little island that is an official National Historic District home to 800 pre-Civil War buildings, coastal cottages and a whaling museum. Nantucket was once a booming whale port and evidence of this is seen throughout the island. Whilst on Nantucket Island we visited one of its most iconic, and most photographed, spots - the Bronte Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse has been escorting ships into the Nantucket Harbour since the 17th century and today it's one of the most visited locations on the island. Another great place to visit on the island of Nantucket is the whaling museum. The whaling museum sheds light on Nantucket’s past when the island was a booming whaling port and makes for a great day out with the whole family.
Nantucket it is great island to visit if you're travelling to New England with your family as it is home to beautiful golden sand beaches design especially for family fun with calm waters, playground facilities, and other amenities catered specifically for children. A visit to the family-owned farm, Bartlett farm, on Nantucket is another fun family activity as you can shop their fresh produce, enjoy some seasonal cuisine, and enjoy the New England farm life. Staying in Nantucket is a great idea if you have the time, as you can enjoy the classic New England bed and breakfasts and all their charm. The Brass Lantern Inn is a beautiful 19th century Nantucket home turned bed and breakfast that exudes quintessential new England life.
After spending our time exploring the islands off the coast of Massachusetts, we continued our New England holiday in-land and drove through the beautiful scenery to Bar Harbor in Maine. Bar Harbor is situated on New England’s Atlantic coastline and his home to the Acadia National Park - a 50,000-acre National Park of beautiful wilderness and picturesque scenery. Our favourite part of Acadia National Park is Thunder Hole; Thunder hole is where the sea brakes on the rocky shores of the New England Atlantic Coast an funnels water from the waves through a narrow channel. You can hear Thunder Hole before you see it, but be sure to take in the amazing sight of Thunder Hole and the expansive views out over the Atlantic Ocean.
If you are lucky enough to visit Acadia National Park during September like we did, you can experience the stunning Acadia Night Sky Festival. The Acadia Night Sky Festival is an amazing display of stars across the Milky Way that is made visible due to the lack of light pollution in the area. This is one of the best places to see stars in New England and visiting in late September will allow you to enjoy the Acadia Night Sky Festival and the following festivities such as a craft fair and amazing homemade food. If you're looking for a sandy beach in Bar Harbor, Maine then you want to visit Mount Desert Island which is known for its rugged coastline that gives way to a small section of sandy beach known as Sand Beach. This inviting stretch of golden sand and stunning blue water is a great place to spend the day enjoying the sea breeze and perhaps a lobster roll or two on the sand.
Bar Harbor Is a great location to go whale watching in the Gulf of Maine as the Gulf of Maine sits between Cape Cod and Nova Scotia meaning it attracts a wide variety of Whales and other sea life throughout the year - you are likely to see both humpback whales and finback whales along with other marine animals. Along Bar Harbor’s coastline there is also Shore Path – a walking path along the Atlantic coastline that was built in the 1880s. If you don't fancy going out into the Gulf of Maine on a whale watching tour, then why not walk Shore Path and try to spot some whales and other marine animals along the way. Whilst in Bar Harbor, Maine be sure to try some delicious cuisine that Maine is so famous for – Lobster!
The next place we visted our New England holiday was the White Mountains National Forest in New Hampshire. This National Forest is home to 800,000 untouched acres along with quaint New England towns and villages including North Conway, Lincoln, North Woodstock, Bretton Woods, and Sugar Hill. Visiting these towns is part of the experience of going to the White Mountains National Forest and many people love to stay in the rustic bed and breakfasts within the towns. One of our favourite bed and breakfasts, Cranmore Inn, is located in North Conway and has been welcoming tourists since 1863.
Sugar Hill is another great town to visit in the White Mountains National Forest as it is a beautiful little town that is home to some of New Hampshire's most famous pancakes at Polly's Pancake Parlour. From the White Mountains National Forest towns, you are able to explore the surrounding areas through the various walking trails, hiking trails, mountain biking trails, a train ride from Bretton woods that takes you up through Mount Washington, and much more. Our favourite time to visit the White Mountains National Forest is late September as this is when the New England Fall/ Autumn colours are most prevalent. Yellow, orange, green, and brown colourful hues cover the trees of the White Mountain National Forest and make it look absolutely spectacular.
The last location we visited on our New England holiday was Newport, Rhode Island. Newport is a window to a glamorous past; the Gilded Age in America where many rich families flocked to Newport to build their summer mansions. Today, when visiting Newport, you can visit these massive historic mansions and see how the other half lived and flourished during America's Gilded Age. There are quite a few mansions to visit in Newport, however many visitors will not have time to tour them all so we recommend if you only have time to see one of the historic Newport mansions then visit The Breakers. The Breakers is the most spectacular of all the Newport mansions and offers amazing views out over the Atlantic Ocean. However, if you do have more time in Newport to visit the historic mansions then the tops 5 we recommend making time to see are: The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, Rosecliff, and Chateau-sur-Mer.
Of course, there are other things to do in Newport Rhode Island; we loved taking a stroll down Thames Street and darting in and out of the quaint cafes and boutique stores. Another great street to stroll down is Bellevue Avenue which runs parallel to Thames Street and acts as your access street to many of the Newport mansions. Another fun way to spend an evening in Newport is to watch the sunset from Bowen’s Wharf - Bowen’s Wharf is the hub of activity in Newport, home to chic restaurants and trendy cafes, so why not book yourself in for an evening of entertainment and spectacular views. Whilst in Newport we stayed at The Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina - this hotel offers fantastic views out over the New England coastline an amazing seafood restaurant.
Lastly, the best time to visit New England is during the Autumn or in the Fall as this is when the colours of the leaves of the many New England trees create a beautiful rainbow of yellows, oranges, browns, and greens. New England is beautiful any time of year, but late September early October is when New England really shines.