Written by Christine Fisher
From large city to small town, coastal routes to mountain vistas, New England has it all. Situated at the northern tip of the United States’ East Coast, New England has played a crucial role in the country’s history. Now known as one of the most liberal regions of the United States, New England is dotted with eclectic towns and cities separated by magnificent, rural expanses.
The region is defined by its four seasons, and you will find it drastically different, though consistently remarkable, during each.
Boston, New England’s largest city and centre of much of its history, holds a great deal for you to explore. The city became one of the first cities in the United States when founded by Puritans in 1630. It later served as the site of crucial moments and battles during the Revolutionary War. The city saw an influx of Irish, German, Polish, Russian and Italian immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries as it grew into a major shipping and manufacturing port.
In recent decades, economic prosperity has helped Boston become an intellectual, technological and political center. Like many New England cities, Boston is a network of interconnected neighborhoods, each offering its own unique feel. Some areas boast brownstone lined streets, while others house famous sporting and entertainment venues. This eclectic mix ensures visitors of all interests will find something suited to their preferences.
Located in the heart of Boston, Faneuil Hall Marketplace is the perfect starting point for your adventures in the city. Faneuil Hall, also known as Quincy Market, is the seat of American history. For over 250 years the market has been a landmark for Boston residents and locals alike making it a true Boston experience.
Get a taste for the city at one of 35 food stalls in the market place itself or one of the many restaurants in the bustling neighborhood outside. Surrounding Faneuil Hall, the Bull Market is home to the country’s first pushcart shopping area. Still fully functional, Bull Market is now covered by a glass canopy, protecting visitors no matter what weather the season brings. Outside, in addition to shops and restaurants, you can find street performers of all tricks and talents including acrobats, magicians, story tellers, musicians and clowns.
From here walk or take the subway (affectionately called “The T”) to historic attractions, Boston’s famous outdoor areas and famed streets such as Newbury Street, Boston’s premier shopping street.
From Boston drive north to the coastal New England towns of Newburyport, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. These quintessential New England towns offer waterfront parks and boardwalks, boutiques, brick-paved streets and a variety of restaurants. The nightlife here, primarily bars and pubs, is smaller than that of Boston but guarantees you will get an authentic experience and intimate exposure to local life.
Another New England city, the eclectic Portland, Maine is worth exploring. Old Port, the city’s working waterfront has been revitalized and now doubles as a major port and centre for shopping, dining and entertainment. If you are looking for sea food, now is the time to get it. Fishermen deliver fresh seafood daily, and area restaurants serve dishes ranging from the famous Maine-lobster dishes to New England clam chowder.
Just up the street from Old Port, take a walk through Portland’s Arts District. Galleries, antique shops and artist studios share the district with world class museums and theatres. Office buildings and historically preserved buildings mingle with these art-centered buildings ensuring that the area is not just a tourist destination. Take note of Portland’s City Hall, designed by Carrere and Hastings who designed the New York Public Library.
The four hour drive may seem daunting, but rest assured your journey will be eventful as you pass through one of Maine’s most famous lake regions, Maine and New Hampshire’s shared White Mountain National Forest, mountainous terrain and Montpelier, Vermont’s state capital. Whether you are visiting in fall, winter, spring or summer, you will find beautiful, scenic vistas on your drive from Portland, Maine to Burlington, Vermont.
If you are visiting in the summer, take part in summer music and food festivals. In the fall, you will find New England’s most picturesque autumnal foliage sightings. Winter in Burlington belongs to snow and ski lovers, and by spring visitors can taste the season’s first drops of maple syrup.
Head south from Burlington to complete your loop in Boston. With extra time in Boston, you may enjoy a visit to the Boston Museum of Fine Art or a subway ride across the Charles River to Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to some of the country’s most elite universities including Harvard University and MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Neighboring Boston, Cambridge was founded in 1630 and named in honor of England’s University of Cambridge. Today the area is still most often associated with education. Harvard University, a private Ivy League university and the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, was founded in Cambridge in 1936. MIT, another internationally prominent university, moved to Cambridge in 1912, solidifying the city as an intellectual center. Today the city remains a hub for education as well as a residential and commercial hot spot.
Spend a second day relaxing in Burlington and find time for recreational opportunities you may have missed out on. Uniquely, Burlington boarders the 150-mile-long Lake Champlain and is situated in a rural, mountainous area. Thus the city’s location offers guests a host of recreational opportunities ranging from boating to skiing and rock climbing. As in the other New England towns you have visited by now, you will find a downtown marketplace, Church Street Marketplace, complete with shops, restaurants and nightlife that will keep you occupied for a second, leisurely day.
Venture from Burlington south to Connecticut. After seeing New England’s larger cities, unwind in Andover, a small country town of just 3,000 residents. You may enjoy a custom tour of Long Hill Gardens, complete with lessons in gardening or flower and vegetable arrangements. Retire to Hurst Farm and Country Store, an “old-fashioned,” family owned farm with scenic views of the Connecticut hills.
For lodging and nightlife, you will be more suited in Hartford, Connecticut’s capital located just half an hour’s drive west of Andover.
Another major New England city defined, Providence offers both natural beauty and metropolitan activity. Like the rest of Rhode Island, Providence is defined by its waterways. Visit Waterplace Park to enjoy the picturesque, outdoor areas lining the river or Roger Williams Park, which offers 427-acres of landscaped expanse and is home to a zoo, museum of natural history, planetarium, botanical center and more.
As the capital of Rhode Island, Providence offers you shopping in the downtown Providence Place Mall and in small shops throughout the neighborhoods. The Italian neighborhood, Federal Hill, has become a hot spot for dining in the city. Coffee lovers will appreciate the city’s rank as the city with the most coffee/doughnut shops per capita in the United States.
Spend the day exploring Providence’s old village centers and cross roads, now linked together to form the city’s neighborhoods. In your exploration you will find recreational, dining, shopping and cultural experiences to suit all tastes.
From Providence, the short drive to Boston is ideal for those catching round-trip flights through Boston’s international airport.
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