Many of us are anticipating the last legs of winter to go away and see spring arrive with its warmer weather, blossoming flowers, greener grass, gardening projects, outdoor events and festivals, and, quite simply, the chance to walk outside and enjoy the refreshing, friendlier air. With that said, here are 46 fun, affordable spring New England travel ideas…
1. View eagles in Maine. No, we’re not talking about Don Henley and Joe Walsh. Spring is a great time to visit the Maine coastline, rivers and lakes, as Maine has 75 percent of the bald eagle population of the total estimated in New England and New York!
2.Visit the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich (Cape Cod), Mass., where the Dexter Rhododendrons come to life — simply beautiful. Heritage Museums web site: http://heritagemuseumsandgardens.org/
3. Later in the spring, make sure to see The Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Mass., that features 400 feet of more than 500 varieties of flowers, shrubs and vines spanning a long, walkable former trolley bridge. Spectacular!
4. Celebrate Patriots Day where it all began — in Lexington and Concord, Mass. 2017 marks the 242st anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and that means an April 15-17 weekend of parades, reenactments and commemorative ceremonies. Visit the National Park Service web site for more info at http://www.nps.gov/mima/patriots-day.htm.
5. Enjoy the Vermont maple sugaring season with The Vermont Maple Festival in St. Albans from April 28-30. What a sweet time of the year to visit Vermont! Details: http://vtmaplefestival.org/.
6. Get to know one of Major League Baseball’s greatest baseball parks, Fenway Park in Boston, with a Fenway Park Tour. Home of the Boston Red Sox, the Fenway Park Tours offer a wonderfully educational and entertaining experience with facts, figures, anecdotes and an up-close view of a most unusual, but special park through some terrific tour guides.
7. Take a refreshing spring walk with commanding views of the Atlantic Ocean at the Cliff Walk in Newport, R.I. This is one of New England’s most scenic walks, and it is free!
8. Marvel at the May daffodils in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. The best place in Connecticut to watch the sea of yellow unfold is at the Laurel Ridge Foundation located on Wigwam Rd. in the Northfield section of Litchfield. For information about the Foundation — including the best time for daffodil viewings — visit www.litchfielddaffodils.com. There are no entrance or parking fees, just a sea of daffodils to feast your eyes on!
9. Expanding on the spring flower power scene in Connecticut, see some 30,000 dogwoods bloom during the annual Dogwood Festival, May 12-14 at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in Fairfield. For more info, check out http://www.greenfieldhillchurch.com/dogwood-festival/
10. Visit one of New England’s most scenic state parks: Colt State Park in Bristol, R.I. Here, you can enjoy sweeping green landscapes and the picture-perfect panoramic Narragansett Bay views majestically created by Mother Nature that define this one-of-a-kind 464-acre state park. Colt State Park offers four miles of bike paths along the bay, more than 400 picnic tables at six groves, 10 playing fields, abundant groomed fruit trees and other colorful plant life, and an open-air chapel-by-the-sea — perfect for an ideal coastal New England wedding , according to the Rhode Island Parks Web Site, A town beach and playground borders Colt State Park.
11. Stay ahead of the summer crowds by taking a spring trip to the spectacular Acadia National Park Loop Road, where the ocean meets the mountains for some of the greatest scenery in New England. The Memorial Day Weekend is a great time to visit as temperatures usually warm up and spring is in full bloom.
12. Set forth on a warm spring day for a great picnic destination in New England. What a nice reward after a cold winter!
13. Baseball has become an expensive spectator sport, but not at the minor league level where general admission prices are still quite low. Our favorite spot to take in a minor league baseball game is McCoy Stadium, home of the Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple A Boston Red Sox affiliate). General admission tickets are baseball dirt cheap! The 2017 home opener kicks off on Monday, April 10! PawSox web site: http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t533
14. Get a taste of local Vermont agriculture at the Valley Food & Farm’s annual Flavors of the Valley Expo on Sunday, April 9, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Hartford High School in Hartford, Vt. This wonderful sampling event features more than 50 farm and food-related vendors that sell fresh produce, artisan bread, award-winning cheeses, tasty jams, local pulled pork, ice cream, hand-crafted chocolates, and many other delicious local goods. Web site: http://vitalcommunities.org/valleyfoodfarm/flavors/
15. The Walpole Town Forest in Walpole, Mass., is beautifully cared for and so scenic alongside the Neponset River — like you are somewhere in rural New Hampshire. This is amazing, given urban Boston is only 18 miles away. What a great place for a walk! Details: http://visitingnewengland.com/blog-cheap-travel/?p=67
16. Enjoy the hidden gems of New England like the Whitman Town Park at Maple St. and Park, Whitman, and Hayden Aves. in downtown Whitman, Mass.(see photo of top of this article). Paved walkways, colorful flower beds, a pond, fountain, an old time bandstand, woodlands, a swimming pool, playground and baseball field make this neighborhood park one of the nicest in eastern Massachusetts. Interestingly, the Whitman Town park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features beautiful landscaping and design, courtesy of the famous Olmsted brothers from around 1900.
17. Walk one of New England’s most famous ocean side paths — Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine. This mostly level 1.5 mile path affords beautiful views of the rocky Maine coast and Atlantic Ocean. A nice spring day provides a fabulous opportunity to enjoy this landmark seaside destination, as the tourist season and its crowds usually don’t saturate the area until Memorial Day Weekend.
18. Travel the small towns and back roads of Vermont. Follow the link to see what this beautiful state looks like in the spring. Just looking at the pictures makes me want to be there right now!
19. No spring New England vacation would be complete without a trip to the Asparagus and Flower Heritage Festival on Sat., May 20 at the beautiful Town Common in West Brookfield, Mass. This fun community event fills features plants for sale, garden items, pony rides, and raffles, and the Quaboag Historical Society and other local organizations and businesses offer specialty items. As expected, many asparagus-inspired dishes serve as a main attraction but you’ll also find favorites like burgers, hot dogs and baked goods. For more information, log onto http://asparagusfestival.blogspot.com/.
20. Head to the beach for the 2017 Misquamicut State Beach Spring Fest, May 12-14, at Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, R.I., with music, rides, fireworks and food. For more info, check out http://misquamicutfestival.org/.
21. See the Boston Marathon in Boston, Mass., on April 17. This famous 26-mile running event starts in Hopkinton, Mass., and ends in Boston. The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon! Log onto the Boston Athletic Association Web Site’s Spectator Guide at http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/event-information.aspx for complete details — including starting times and other schedule of events.
22. Discover Rhode Island bike ways for some refreshing spring exercise. Many paths even have coastal views!
23. While on the subject of bike trails, Cape Cod is no slouch, either. Many Cape Cod bike trails have amazing coastal views, too.
24. For a nice treat, connect with a local ice cream stand in New England. While some are open year-round, many reopen for the season in March and April. Always call ahead to find out business hours. Ahhh, spring and ice cream go hand-in-hand! Details on some of the best ice cream stands
25. Go out for some seafood that won’t sink your bank account while, at the same time, also offering nice water views. Great example: Markey’s Lobster Pool in Seabrook, N.H., has been around, seemingly forever, and serves up some terrific lobster and fried seafood dishes. This is a no-frills, family-friendly place where you can pick out your own lobster from the tank!
26. The 22nd Annual Seacoast Home & Garden Show takes place on Sat., April 1-2, at the Whittemore Center Arena at 128 Main St. in Durham, N.H., and will feature more than 200 home related exhibitors, garden and artisan marketplaces, home and garden seminars and a chef’s cooking series. Web site: http://www.portsmouthnh.com/event/22nd-annual-seacoast-home-garden-show/.
27. Visit one of New England’s most beloved destinations, The Goldenrod in York Beach, Maine. Dating back to 1896, The Goldenrod sells “Goldenrod Kisses” salt water taffy candies which are made on the premises. Often, you can see crowds looking through the window to see the taffy-making process. The Goldenrod is more than just salt water taffy, though — it’s a restaurant, soda fountain, candy counter and gift shop. The Goldenrod will reopen for the season sometime in May. Stay tuned for details!
28. Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick, Maine, looks good anytime of the year, but there’s something so special about a spring visit when winter is finally behind us. This is one of the destinations we often think about when dreaming about warmer days and fun spring and summer travel destinations.
29. Take a nice Sunday spring country ride into New Hampshire and stop at a pancake house — like Parker’s in Mason, Polly’s in Sugar Hill and the Intervale in Henniker — nothing like a delicious stack and real maple syrup!
30. Billings Farm in Woodstock, Vt. — know as the “Gateway to Vermont’s Rural Heritage” — is a great spring destination as they always have fantastic seasonal events. Spring is no exception. We recommend checking out its calendar at http://www.billingsfarm.org/programs-events/spec_events/index.html.
31. College Hill in Providence, R.I., is a wonderful place to stroll in the spring with its Brown University Ivy League vibe and spectacular homes on leafy side streets. See what College Hill looks like in the spring here.
32. Travel to the middle of nowhere to visit a quirky, fabulous bookstore: the Montague Bookmill in Montague, Mass. (not too far from UMass Amherst in Amherst). Browse the extensive, diverse selection of books and dine outside on the deck (the Lady Killegrew Cafe and Pub shares the address) at this rustic 1842 gristmill complex setting.
33. Get outside for a spring walk while exploring the remarkable historic preservation that makes New England so special.
34. While on the historic New England subject, spring is a nice time to visit Historic Deerfield, Mass., for a guided or self-guided tour of, arguably, New England’s most historic village.
35. What would spring be like without a visit to the Swan Boats of Boston? The timeless joy of riding on a boat with plastic but rather charming-looking large swans while viewing the lush, green 24-acre Public Garden makes for a classic Boston family tourist destination. The boat rides date back 130 years, have a one-of-a-kind look, and are still operated by pedal power! Opening day is April 15!
36. Take the kids to the Greenway Carousel at The Rose F. Kennedy Greenway in Boston. The 36-seat Greenway Carousel features 14 different characters native to Massachusetts, including a whale, cod, fox, grasshopper, harbor seal and butterflies. Lending an additional special quality to the Carousel is that Boston school children inspired these characters through their own drawings. Stayed tuned for the 2017 spring reopening date!
37. While spring traveling, diners in New England make a great budget-friendly dining out option. New England has many outstanding diners — some classic, others more modern, but all quite satisfying!
38. A spring walk at Short Sands Beach at York Beach, always feels amazing. Surrounded by the Rocky Maine coast, this quarter-mile ocean beach stretch feels cozy and intimate, yet family-friendly.
39. Logee’s in Danielson, Conn., is a great place to start your spring gardening. This isn’t your basic garden variety gardening and flower store: they feature an impressive variety of fruiting, rare, exotic and tropical edible and non edible plants — not common for sale to the northeast region — including bananas, lemons the size of grapefruits, Japanese persimmons, unusual begonias and rare hibiscus variations.
40. Visit the quieter small Rhode Island towns for spring time reflection and solitude.
41. Kennebunkport, Maine offers many good reasons to visit in the spring. Find out why right here.
42. Drive a few miles north of Boston to Kelly’s Roast Beef in Revere Beach for a cheap over- sized lobster roll, or well, a tasty roast beef sandwich. Adding ambiance to the outdoor dining experience is the beach and ocean views right across the street.
43. Stroll the colorful North End Italian neighborhood of Boston, and make sure to eat along the way at these amazing restaurants, cafes and bakeries.
44. Enjoy the 1,700+ acres of walking opportunities at Borderland State Park in Easton, Mass., with its scenic open lands, forest and bodies of water.
45. Visit Spohr Gardens in Falmouth, Mass. for Daffodil Days, April 22 and 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Spring at this beautiful six-acre Cape cod woodland garden located on Oyster pond brings thousands of daffodils, followed by azaleas, rhododendrons and then daylilies. Find more info at http://www.spohrgardens.org/.
46. Discover Massachusetts town greens. Also known as town commons, these historical greens continue to be the center of Massachusetts town events, fairs, and other gatherings. I love town commons so much as a way to feel a sense of community and see some truly beautiful lands that I wrote a book, Massachusetts Town Greens. As you can see in the picture above of Petersham in north central Massachusetts, spring is an especially nice time to explore these town commons with everything blossoming. I encourage you to keep this book with you during your travels in Massachusetts. I fell in love with many of these town commons, and I think you will, too!
Do you have a favorite budget-friendly New England spring travel destination? Please tell us about it in the comment box below. Happy spring travels!