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    New England tours: how to organize your trip and itinerary

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    Do a tour in New England it means many things: you can immerse yourself in the history of the United States, visiting the places where some fundamental facts took place for the birth of the country, or admire one of the most fascinating stretches of coast in America, with its jagged cliffs and suggestive lighthouses on the sea (only in the State of Maine there are about sixty!). The hinterland will certainly not give you fewer surprises: with its picturesque houses, the placid rural villages, the luxuriant nature (which in the autumn period gives its best with the foliage) and the many farms of typical products it is a area where it is advisable to let yourself go exploring without a precise itinerary. Finally, the beautiful landscapes of the White Mountains, the sandy stretches of Cape Cod, the ecosystem of the Boston Harbor Islands and the cliffs of Mount Desert Island (the latter 3 referred to as US National Parks) are the icing on the cake of a tour full of things. to see and do everything with wide eyes.

    The New England Region is a land that bears a beauty that is as fascinating as it is elusive: it is not just the places you will see, but also the lifestyle you will come into contact with, an authentic experience from which you will be charmed if you know how to organize well. your itinerary.

    Un trip to New England it is in fact able to give you surprises as far as the eye can see, but organizing it may not be easy, since it implies a good knowledge of the territory and distances, and then you have to know how to choose what see, where to go and on how many days set the vacation. Here then, recently returned from a beautiful New England tour, I thought I'd write this post to meet those who have always wanted to visit this area.

    Let's see how to organize an itinerary, starting with some geographical coordinates ...


    • New England map and attractions
    • How to organize a tour in New England?
      • Transport and travel in the Region
      • New England on the Road
      • What to see in New England?
      • New England cuisine
      • Typical New England hotels
      • New England: how many days?
      • When to go to New England?
    • To conclude ...

    New England map and attractions

    The Region is located in the northeastern United States and is characterized by 6 states:

    • Massachusetts: State rich in historical, literary and cultural testimonies. It is home to the most important city, Boston, the seductive countryside of the Berkshires and a very interesting coast, with the resorts of Plymouth, Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and the Harbor Islands.
    • Maine: it is the state of lobsters, lighthouses and the Acadia National Park, but the beauties are not only on the coast. The countryside of the hinterland, with its shining lakes is also very fascinating
    • New Hampshire: the State of the White Mountains, one of the most visited parks in the USA, suitable for those who love nature and mountain walks. The region is dotted with family-run farms.
    • Rhode Island: the smallest state in the USA yet not to be overlooked, especially for the beautiful beaches and for visiting Newport and Providence.
    • Vermont: the typical imagery of rural New England is right here. The ideal destination for those who love local products, historic villages and mountain walks.
    • Connecticut: in addition to the interesting city of New Haven (home of Yale), the home of Mark Twain and the Mystic Seaport Museum, also in this state the privileged aspect is that of the relationship with nature, with many hiking itineraries, lakes, vineyards and undulating meadows.

    How to organize a tour in New England?

    Cape Neddick Lighthouse, Maine

    If you intend to dedicate your entire vacation to this beautiful region, you will want to design an itinerary with arrival and departure from Boston Airport (Logan Airport). You can take a look at our tips to search for low cost US flights, bearing in mind that the most convenient solution is usually the flight + hotel package (selecting the hotel only for the first part of your stay). For the rest of the holiday, whether it is 7, 10, 15 or 20 days, the best solution is to rent a car and book the individual hotels individually (to get an idea of ​​the prices, take a look at this page).

    Another rather frequent solution is to cut out a few days in New York from your tour in New England: if you opt for this option you will have to take into account the move from Boston to Manhattan, the cheapest solution (but at the same time quite uncomfortable) is that of the bus (contact Greyhound), otherwise you can opt for a train (Amtrak) or a domestic flight.

    Transport and travel in the Region


    Coffin Pond, Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

    If you really don't want to know about renting a car, you can rely on the region's transport system. The 3 main modes are 3:

    • bus: it is less reliable and also slower, however it always turns out to be the cheapest option that connects the main cities. In addition to the most well-known lines (Greyhound and Peter Pan) there are numerous local companies that cover specific areas, however I advise you to inform yourself well and choose carefully because the service can sometimes be poor.
    • trains: in addition to the Amtrak company, a leading company in the US railway sector, there is also a seasonal train service that travels in Maine (Maine Eastern Railroad) and in the Boston-Cape Cod area (CapeFlyer)
    • Ferries: the best way to travel along the coastal resorts. Offers great service to the Boston-Cape Cod area, Rhode Island and Southern Connecticut. Again, the companies offering these services are myriad.

    New England on the Road

    The village of York in Maine

    But as I told you, the best way to explore New England is on a road trip. Don't expect the immense and endless streets of California, the spaces are not comparable, however, throughout the region there are some of the most beautiful scenic roads of the United States (scenic byways), so you can refer to the official tourist site.

    The views that await you are the cliffs overlooking the sea (don't miss the Acadia park loop), suggestive lighthouses, fishing villages and a rural countryside dotted with historic sites, period villages, farms, churches with whitewashed bell towers and features small wooden houses typical of the area. If on the road is your choice, don't forget our tips on car rental in the USA.

    What to see in New England?

    This question could be answered with an entire site. In this article we will outline some attractions briefly, referring to further details in individual articles (some already published, others will be released soon).

    Cities of New England

    Streets of North Cambridge, Boston metropolitan area

    The most important city, which you absolutely must not miss, is definitely Boston, of which you will find various insights on this site (take a look at our Boston Travel Guide section). Here I will simply say that it is a city with a unique charm, if I were you I would not miss it (see our article on what to see in Boston to organize your itinerary in the city).

    Coastal villages and hamlets
    Streets of Rockport Village

    In New England there are no big cities, the whole region is instead full of small fishing villages, coastal towns or peaceful rural villages where the typical pointed white bell towers stand out (particularly suggestive in the period of autumn foliage).

    If you are looking for small, pretty, timeless coastal villages, you can stop in Rockport (Cape Ann), Bar Harbor (Mount Desert Island) and Cape Cod towns (especially Chatham and Wellfleet). Absolutely not to be missed Newport, an exclusive tourist resort that can boast an impressive number of sumptuous villas (11 can be visited) and a lively downtown on the pier, as well as one of the panoramic walks on the cliff (Cliff Walk) more scenic than the entire American East Coast.

    Coast of Newport, Rhode Island
    Hunting for historical evidence
    The restored old mill of Plymouth

    Fans of American history cannot miss some fundamental stages of a trip to New England; in addition to Boston and its famous Freedom Trail, other cities are definitely worth a visit:

    • Concord, a city that has indelibly marked both the war of independence and American cultural history. You can visit the Old North Bridge, the place where "the shot that rang all over the world" was fired, which marked the first clash between the minutemen and the English soldiers (1775), the cemetery of Sleepy Hollow, where great personalities are buried of the nation's history, the perfectly preserved home of Louisa May Alcott (the author of Little Women), those of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau, and much more.
    • Plymouth, made famous by the legendary Plymouth Rock, is a beautiful coastal town with a pleasant waterfront and surprising cultural vibrancy. The main reasons to visit Plymouth are:
      • the Plimoth Plantation, an extremely accurate and documented recreation of the plantation of a village of the Pilgrim Fathers of 1627
      • the Mayflower II, a life-size copy of the ship on which the Pilgrim Fathers landed in the New World in 1620
      • the Wampanoag Homesite, which reproduces a village of native Indians of the same era
      • Find in our dedicated article all the information on what to see in Plymouth.
    • Lexington: in this town the skirmishes between colonists and British soldiers actually triggered the War of Independence. The main historical sites to visit are:
      • Battle Green, the place where the battle took place
      • the Lexington Historic Society houses, which include the 2 taverns used by the minutemen and the British as headquarters and the famous Reverend's house where Paul Revere was headed
      • Minute Man National Historic Park, the route followed by British troops to get to Concord
    • Salem: known above all for its sad past linked to witch hunts, this coastal town offers several points of interest, which we have revealed in our article on what to see in Salem,
    University towns
    Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    In New England there are the best universities in the States, just think that of the 8 institutions belonging to the Ivy League (the title that unites the most prestigious in the country) 4 are located in New England:

    • Harvard University a Cambridge, in Massachusetts
    • Yale University a New Haven, in Connecticut
    • Dartmouth University a Hanover, in New Hampshire
    • Brown University a Providence, in Rhode Island

    Harvard, arguably the most famous, is located within the Boston metropolitan area and is easily accessible via the subway. A guided campus tour led by the students themselves will reveal the history and secrets of this historic institution.

    The New England coast

    Glimpses of Acadia National Park, Maine

    That of New England is one of the most suggestive coasts of the East Coast; the most spectacular views are:

    • the spectacular rocky cliffs of Acadia National Park, with their sheared blocks of rock overhanging the sea
    • the characteristic lighthouses of Maine; find those not to be missed in our article dedicated to the topic
    • the beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore which, with their sand dunes, have been registered in the register of American national parks; to learn more, take a look at our article on what to see in Cape Cod and our tips on staying overnight in adjacent Provincetown

    On the coast, I also highly recommend that you treat yourself to a whale watching tour, an exciting experience that cannot be missed in any New England itinerary; it is possible to embark in various points of the coast (Portland, Gloucester, Acadia National Park, Provincetown etc ...) and on this page you will find all the information for starting from Boston.

    Holidays on the high ground

    White Mountains, New Hampshire

    If you love trekking and mountain walks you will soon realize that a vacation in New England has a lot to offer from this point of view as well. You do not have to wait for the heights of the Dolomites, the area is in fact crossed by the ancient Appalachian chain, a complex of mountains lower than the peaks of Northern Spain, but still able to offer panoramic views of rare beauty. The hardened mountaineers should consider at least these 2 possibilities:

    • White Mountains National Forest, the second most visited park in the United States of America, loved by skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer months. The excursion possibilities are practically endless and there is one suitable for everyone that I recommend you do: it is the path inside the Flume Gorge, a suggestive crevasse formed by imposing vertical granite walls.
    • Acadia national park it is an area that offers various paths and hiking trails that allow you to admire breathtaking views of the island, characterized by the coexistence of lakes, sea and mountains dating back to the ice age. I don't know if you understand this, but taking a tour of New England without going through Acadia Park is an unforgivable mistake!

    The New England countryside

    Mount Washington Valley, New Hampshire

    Here is one of the aspects of this region that personally fascinate me the most. The New England countryside is littered with period villages, covered wooden bridges and, above all, family-run farms and businesses where local craftsmanship is expressed, a symbol of an America far from the proliferation of commercial chains and the production of mass.

    You can find examples of this tradition almost everywhere, however the main states where to go in search of the "authentic product" are mainly Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and the hinterland of Massachusetts (the area of ​​the Berkshires). If you are looking for a ready-made itinerary, I recommend the New Hampshire tour I did this summer.

    Obviously, rural New England increases its charm in the period of autumn foliage, if you want to admire with your eyes the wonderful colors that this land is able to offer in this period, the areas to be privileged are always these 4 (soon we will publish a detailed itinerary for the season).

    New England cuisine

    The culinary products that animate the New England tradition are cheeses, maple syrup, fruit, beer, fish and much more, but the real protagonist is undoubtedly the lobster, to which we have dedicated an entire itinerary in Maine. I also advise you not to miss the lobster roll, the popover, the local clam chowder and, if you have children, the whoopie pie. If you want to know more, I refer you to our article on typical New England dishes.

    Typical New England hotels

    If there is a geographical area to which more than any other type of hotel can be associated that perfectly embodies its lifestyle and atmosphere, this is certainly New England, which would never be the same if there were no country inns, characteristic family-run bed & breakfasts full of atmosphere, where hospitality is perfectly combined with artisanal cuisine and quality hotel services that are second to none.

    In these structures you will have the impression not to be a guest, but to live in New England yourself! On the pages of this site you will find reviews of some personally tested properties, such as Adair Country Inn and Merril Farm Inn, as well as an in-depth study dedicated to the best Country Inn in New England.

    New England: how many days?

    Belfry of Concord, Massachusetts

    Looking at it on the map, New England may seem small to you, however to plan an itinerary you will soon realize that you will need time.

    If you have it available 7 days if I were you I would focus on visiting Boston and Acadia Park calmly, using the transfers to (depending on your tastes) go from the interior and cross the New Hampshire countryside, or go by the coast to enjoy at least one lighthouse along the sea.

    However a New England itinerary takes a lot longer, in my opinion around 2 weeks / 15 days (if you have the opportunity to stop longer, the better) not only to enjoy the things to see with the necessary calm, but also to absorb their lifestyle, and to ensure that your holiday does not become a struggle against time.

    In my opinion, a tour in New England should include at least these stops:

    • Boston
    • Acadia national park
    • Some lighthouses along the coast (find the most fascinating in this article)
    • White Mountains
    • Cape Cod and possibly the 2 surrounding islands
    • Newport
    • Plymouth
    • If you go in the autumn and want to enjoy the foliage: the area of ​​Bennington, Manchester and Mount Equinox in the Green Mountains region of Vermont

    When to go to New England?

    View of the coast of Maine

    The busiest season is autumn, due to the splendid colors that are created, but also the summer period is not to be underestimated, since the weather is splendid and you can take advantage of a much less hot climate than those of New York and Washington. . Even if the summer period is not the peak one it is not to be considered low season, do not expect low prices!

    To conclude ...

    As you know, taking a tour of New England involves not only preparing the itinerary, but also taking care of what you need to book and dealing with some paperwork. In order not to be caught unprepared, you will find everything you need in our section travel resources.

    Finally, when preparing your trip, do not forget to consult:

    • our section dedicated to New England
    • our article information and curiosities about New England
    • the official tourist resource, Discover New England.
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