The historic region of New England forms the northeastern corner of the United States. Despite being less than a third of the size of Texas, it comprises six different states – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. It is home to some of the oldest towns and cities in the USA, as well as some areas of natural beauty. We’re going to take a look at some of the best places to visit in New England.
Getting to the region is best done by flying into Boston’s Logan International Airport, the biggest in New England. It’s well situated for trips within Massachusetts with buses, subway trains and even water shuttles run by the local MBTA operating from the airport. There is also a free shuttle bus which runs between the terminals, the Rental Car Center, as well as the Airport Station (MBTA Blue Line). It’s certainly one of the best airports in the USA when it comes to easy downtown access with taxis also a viable option and taking as little as ten minutes to reach the heart of Boston via the toll road.
If you’re travelling a bit further afield and looking to explore New England as a whole and not just the Boston area, having a car will significantly widen your options. There are several parking lots and garages at the airport and in the surrounding area and you can discover the best options at Parkos.com. There are sites to suit all budgets and time lengths and you can choose between self parking and valet parking.
Many of the offsite parking locations are connected to the airport by free shuttle buses. If you’re planning a road trip around New England, they can also be used as a safe and convenient spot to park while you explore the city of Boston, before heading off to see what the wider region has to offer.
New England Locations – 5 of the Best Places to Visit
Boston is the logical starting point for any visitor to New England and you’ll ideally want to spend at least three days here, although it is compact enough that you can get around the main sights quite quickly. Boston is not only the capital of Massachusetts and largest city in New England, but one of the most historic and important in the entire country.
It’s also one of the most visited US cities with over 15 millions people travelling to Boston each year to enjoy its array of museums, historical sights and great options for eating and drinking near the banks of the Charles River and wider bay area. It’s certainly a city of eyecatching, modern waterfronts combined with districts that carry an old world feel seldom found in major North American cities.
Boston is also a great city for sports lovers with Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, one of the iconic stadiums in all US sports and a must visit whether you like baseball or not. A little over 20 miles southwest of downtown Boston, you can also find Gillette Stadium in the town of Foxborough, home to the New England Patriots who have been the most successful NFL team since the turn of the century.
Acadia National Park, Maine
One of the most beautiful places in New England, Acadia National Park attracts up to 3 million visitors per year. It consists of a large area of woodland with great options for camping and hiking during the summer months, although winters are bitterly cold with Acadia located only around 100 miles from the Canadian border.
Aside from the many amazing trails, arguably the best in the Eastern US, there are also opportunities for cycling, fishing, bird-watching and in some cases swimming, although only really during the warmer months and in approved locations.
There are some free bus services which transport visitors to the best hiking trails and those do have bike racks. However, having your own vehicle is obviously more convenient and will allow you to reach some of the best hidden spots in the Park, as well as some of the other best places to visit in Maine.
Block Island, Rhode Island
Hopping back south to tiny Rhode Island, the smallest state in the USA, we can find another of the best New England locations. If you’re from outside of the US, it’s probably worth first noting that Rhode Island is not really an island but a coastal region consisting of small colonial era towns and some pleasant sandy shores. About 15 miles off the mainland though, you can take a ferry to popular Block Island.
This is the perfect retreat from what is a fairly densely populated state with lots of picturesque scenery including some excellent sandy beaches. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, but it’s not quite as quiet during summer which is widely viewed as the best time to visit New England. Visitors flock to Block Island, which is also home to an abundance of seafood restaurants and cosy bakeries, during the summer months.
If you want to avoid the crowds, try to steer clear of weekends as this is also quite a reachable overnight destination for New Yorkers and residents of nearby Long Island.
Named after a market town in England’s Oxfordshire, Woodstock, Vermont (not to be confused with the better known Woodstock, New York) is a small but historic village that makes for a nice visit if you’re looking for a real change of pace and atmosphere.
A population of around 3,000 has been maintained since the early 19th Century and its old buildings have been well preserved giving it something of a stepping back in time feel. Locals claim that almost nothing has changed in 100 years. To learn more about its history, head to the Billings Farm and Museum, a popular outdoor history museum that is located a short walk from the centre.
Getting to Woodstock will take around three hours by road from Boston, a journey which will take you through the heart of New Hampshire with the harbour town of Portsmouth and the White Mountain National Forest possible detours.
Rounding off this look at the best towns to visit in New England, we head to Connecticut which is the closest part of New England to New York City. Hartford is an easy day-trip for anyone staying in New York and would also make for a nice halfway stop if you’re travelling between NYC and Boston.
It is the state capital of Connecticut and is part of a really popular student area in the US with dozens of colleges and universities scattered between Hartford and nearby Springfield in Massachusetts. There are plenty of things to see and do in town with a wide choice of theatres, parks and arts centres giving it a cultural feel.
The most popular attraction is the Mark Twain House and Museum, the 19th Century home of the acclaimed American writer, once dubbed “the father of American literature”.
This rundown of the best places to visit in New England was published in October 2022.