Why Visit New England?
There's something about New England that has earned fans the world over, even among those who have visited it only through words and pictures. What is it that draws people to New England and makes the six-state region — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont — one that travelers return to again and again throughout their lives? While New England is a thoroughly modern region, there's a pervasive aura of timeless permanence that hearkens back to simpler times. Covered bridges and white-steepled churches, maple trees tapped for sap, horse-drawn sleighs, cider mills, and forests blazing with autumn hues are part of the reality families can experience when they choose New England as their vacation destination.
A Region Steeped in the American Tradition
No U.S. region is home to more historic sites, and none is more steeped in the American patriotic tradition. From the Pilgrims' first feast of Thanksgiving, re-created each year at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts; to the Revolutionary War battlefields at Lexington and Concord; to the seeds of political and intellectual influence embodied in the Adams and Kennedy families and writers such as Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau — many of the traditions and ideas that have shaped and continue to guide the destiny of America were born and nurtured in New England.
Mark Twain said, “There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger's admiration — and regret.” The record high temperature recorded in New England was 107°F on August 2, 1975, in both New Bedford and Chester, Massachusetts. The record low was ‐50°F, recorded on December 30, 1933, in Bloomfield, Vermont.
Adding to the region's appeal are the four distinct seasons that continually paint New England with a changing palette of colors, even as time seemingly stands still. Each change in weather and temperature opens the door to new recreational possibilities — skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, fishing, biking, boating, and raking up and jumping into piles of crunchy leaves. And, the region's compactness makes it feasible for families to plan a visit that incorporates an endless variety of activities. Travelers can spend a day walking the Freedom Trail in history-filled and bustling Boston and by evening find themselves either nestled inside a cozy cabin listening to the haunting cry of loons on a sleepy New Hampshire lake, breathing in salty ocean air and feasting on fresh seafood in a seaside Rhode Island town, or lazing on a blanket under the stars listening to the strains of a symphony at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home in Western Massachusetts's Berkshires.
Six Vacations in One
While history, climate, and identity unify the region, each of the six states that comprise New England also has its own distinct appeal. Connecticut is New England's gateway, and it provides interesting juxtapositions of old and new that blend in perfect harmony. Historic whaling towns are a stone's throw from the flashing lights and twenty-four-hour action of the world's largest casino. Maine visitors are equally entranced by outlet shopping bargains and frequent moose sightings.
Massachusetts can't be beat for historic attractions, miles of sandy beaches, delectable chowder, performing arts centers, quaint island escapes, scenic highways, and top-notch museums. New Hampshire satisfies vacationers' hunger for mountain vistas and lakeside retreats, while surprising them with the offbeat — from llama treks to sky rides to attractions such as America's Stonehenge and Clark's Trading Post with its dancing bears. Rhode Island may be America's most diminutive state, but it can boast 400 miles of coastline and one of the nation's densest concentrations of historic landmarks. Vermont's rural stretches and sparse population make it the cure for everyday hassles and a coveted destination for hikers and skiers.
Whether you are planning your first family trip to New England or your fiftieth, this guide will orient you to the region, provide destination inspiration, steer you toward helpful travel resources, and help you maximize your precious time. Hopefully, you will turn to it again and again as you join the legion of fans who have fallen in love with New England.