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Article and photos by Eric H.

You could live in New England for an entire lifetime and not get to see everything. With that in mind, imagine how daunting it can be for a tourist with one week's vacation to experience New England.

The good news is that you could stay in one village, town or city for a few days and capture the essence of what New England is all about. There's simply no need to feel obligated to race from place to place.

If it's mountains you want, Stowe, Vt. will give you just that plus the joys of a quaint New England village. If it's ocean, visit York Beach, Maine, and sample the incomparable seafood, rugged rocky coast and some expansive beaches. If it's the city, Boston, Mass., is your "hub of the universe" with a wonderful sense of history within the confines of a full service city.

Visiting New England.com has chosen the following communities as essential New England travel. Again, it might be best to keep your choices limited so you can experience the full impact of a New England comunity. Then, come back often and experience the rest through the years.

Regions:

Acadia National Park, Maine -- Maine's Acadia National Park is truly one of the most spectacular parks in the United States, with its beyond scenic rocky coast, and forested valleys, lakes and mountains, carved by glacial force. It cannot be fully described, only joyfully visited.Truly a visual treat, this 40,000 acre wonderland offers endless natural delights. Take, for example, the dramatic sunsets at 1,500 foot Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. From Cadillac, one can see amazing views of Penobscot, Frenchman and Blue Hill Bays. From the top of Gorham Mountain, you get an incredible view of the glacial blue Atlantic Ocean. Then there is Thunder Hole, with its waves creating a sonic boom. For those in touch witha more isolated nature, miles and miles of trails and bicycle paths will bring you in touch with beautiful wildflowers, a wonderful variety of trees and some great fresh and salt water swimming. The 27-mile loop at Mt. Desert Island offers endless ocean and mountain scenery, unlike anything you've seen before.Many choose the commercial center of Bar Harbor to launch their Acadia vacation. Bar Harbor is certainly pleasant enough with its tree-lined streets, fine captain's homes, harbor views, and refreshing breeze, but it can also be capable of traffic jams, unctious souvenir shops, unkempt flower children and flavor-of-the-week restaurants, changing hands every few years. In a way, Bar Harbor is not compatible with the untouched scenic beauty of the region, and can often come across as a bit too hectic.We prefer Northeast Harbor, a splendid little village boasting the prettiest harbor you will ever see. Sunny even when it's cloudy, Northeast Harbor is quietly confident , as it never panders to the tourist. In the little village, you will find an old-time market, a bakery owned by "The Colonel" (a military-looking man with a crew cut), some antique stores and a few restaurants. One of them, the Docksider could be considered your classic Maine restaurant, with charming "Downeast" waitresses, lobster to die for, unbelievable clam chowder, and in the summer, salt air flavored outdoor dining on the doorstep of the Harbor. Acadia National Park area Chambers of Commerce or read Visiting New England.com article on Acadia National Park.

 

Berkshire Hills, Mass. -- With over 90 lakes and 90,000 acres of recreational land (golf, skiing, parks, etc.) within 45 miles north to south, the Berkshire Hills are a favorite amongst Bostonians and New Yorkers. Home of the famed Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, Mass., the Berkshires appeal to vacationers with its rolling hills, farmland, all-American, Norman Rockwell-type Main Streets (Stockbridge, Great Barrington, North Adams, West Stockbridge to name a few). North Adams, in particular, has enjoyed a wonderful turnaround, going from dumpy factory town to a charming tourist destination with interesting shops set to beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Mount Greylock serves as the region's official mountain, actually being the highest point in Massachusetts at 3, 491 feet. At Mt. Greylock, the dramatic and rather scary hairpin turn affords views of Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire. The Berkshire may not have the spectacular mountains of the nearby Greem Mountains, of Vermont, but what it does have is true vacation appeal, courtesy of the lovely, gentle, unspoiled towns . For more information on the Berkshires, visit http://www.berkshires.org
 

Cape Cod, Mass. -- Cape Cod has three distinct personalities -- the commercial-laden miniature golf, motels, hotels, candle shop mania on sectors of Route 28 in and around Hyannis; the salt-air, tree-lined Route 6A hugging the ocean with its captain's homes, fine New England restaurants and charming bed and breakfasts; and the barren, expansive beaches found at the Cape Cod National Seashore Park in towns like Eastham, Truro and Welfleet. What that means is there is something for everyone within this famed 70 mile stretch. For those who say Cape Cod isn't what it used to be, trip-back-in-time towns like Yarmouthport, Chatham and Brewster give us the vision of true Cape Cod. For those who say Cape Cod is too boring, Hyannis, Falmouth and Yarmouth offer endless retail and nightlife possibilities. The bottom line is that there are sandy, warm water (for New England) beaches, enough so that you can find your own spot, enjoy the glorious moment, and start planning your next trip to this famed vacation land.

For more information on Cape Cod, visit http://www.capecodchamber.org

Cape Cod hotels for spring, summer, fall and winter  

White Mountain National Forest, N.H. -- The White Mountain National Forest is made for family fun, especially in the Lincoln-North Woodstock area. Great scenery, Mount Washington (the highest mountain in New England at nearly 6,288 ft.), motels with indoor swimming pools, grand hotels like the Balsams or Mt. Washington Hotel, family style restaurants that are easy on the wallet, great skiing in the winter, theme parks (Santa's Village, Clark's Trading Post, Storytown), dramatic peaks and valleys, and lakes with crystal clear water perfect for summer swimming are just a few of the things that have families coming back year after year. The region is impressive in the fall, especially the 34-mile Kancamagus Highway, in the thick of the White Mountain National Forest and designated by the National Forest Service as a Scenic Byway. Spanning from Lincoln to North Conway, the Kancamagus is indeed a candy land of foliage, generally regarded as the premier New England fall foliage destination.

The White Mountain National Forest has been a household name for generations to many New England families as the place to vacation. Wheter it's the juxtaposition of a cook-out blended with the fresh mountain air, or skiing down some of the northeast's best mountains, the White Mountain National Forest is tantamount to your New England vacation.

More White Mountain National Forest information

Browse more White Mountain National Forest inns, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts at our New England lodging page

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Connecticut:

Guilford -- This New Haven, Conn., suburb has a huge common perfect to stroll, sit on a bench, or to admire the peaceful aura of an earlier generation. You'd never know you were just minutes from one of the largest cities in New England. The charming shops, majestic churches, postcard perfect homes, extremely friendly people and the nearby ocean make this a must see during your New England vacation. Guilford Chamber of Commerce

Essex--This harborside town is so pleasant. Essex has a tree lined downtown, great little shops, and a beautiful park with gazebo and picnic benches leading to the Connecticut River. Once you visit, you'll never want to leave this special little place that is so much at peace with the world. Staying overnight is not a bad idea as the old, creaky and quintessentially New England Griswold Inn offers top notch accomodations and dining. What a special place --Essex has to be experienced by anyone visiting New England. 

Hartford -- The state capitol is worth visiting for lovely 41 acre Bushnell Park, a great several acre nicely landscaped area in the heart of the city featuring 600 trees, some over 100 years old and 125 varieties. The park also contains several buildings, statues and monuments. . Hartford is making a nice comeback with lots of nice places to eat, retail returning in bunches, a growing nightlife scene and a safer feel than in previous years. It feels more like a complete city, instead of a smattering of big city amenities here and there. Visit Hartford

Litchfield -- Nestled in the Northwest Connecticut Hills, Litchfield is one of the most relaxing, sleepy little town in New England with its incredibly fresh air, small community market, beautiful village green and only a handful of indepedently owned shops. It is certainly perfect for a summer getaway, or a setting for spectacular foliage. Winter is nice, too, as the snow creates a New England, Norman Rockwell look to this old fashioned community.

Old Saybrook Old Saybrook, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Connecticut River, represents seaside New England quite well. The homes are spectacular in their sea captain and mansion outfits. The trees, so perfectly sculpted, look like they came out of the local day spa. The town has a long, tree-lined, relaxed downtown perfect for strolling past the interesting little, locally owned shops. The air quality is terrific, peppered with salt air from the ocean. It is New Englandf at its finest, a great little town that never full developed, which is the ultimate compliment. Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce

Stonington --This southeastern Connecticut town is a classic New England seaside community with an impossibly beautiful, picturesque harbor, interesting little shops, great seafood restaurants and a solitude that makes you feel like your miles away from everything. Late in the day, the streets are virtually empty which allows residents and visitors to feel totally at peace. It's just you, the fresh ocean air and a few birds chirping. If you have visited neighboring Mystic or towns like Kennebunport, Maine, or Newport, R.I., and were disappointed by the commercialism and crowds, then Stonington is the perfect place for you. Stonington informational web site or read article on Stonington by Visiting New England.com contributing writer, Marc H.

Woodstock -- Woodstock's bustling downtown comes complete with a produce stand, a church and colonial homes (the town's idea of a strip mall are rows of apple orchards). The placid Inn at Woodstock Hill could convince the most hardcore business executive to slow down, breathe in the untouched air, and marvel at the wise, old trees. Woodstock reminds us that a great vacation means that you don't have to necessarily "do anything." Read Visiting New England article on Woodstock and the Inn at Woodstock Hill

Browse Connecticut inns, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts at our New England lodging page

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Maine

Ogunquit -- The increase in traffic, pretentious shops and trendy people has become annoying, but you can never take away the beauty of the area. Marginal Way makes for a lovely one mile walk along the rocky Atlantic coast with spectacular flowers gardens and incredible ocean views. The beach is one of the best on the east coast as it it pristine and expansive. Perkins Cove, despite a growth in commercialism, is still quaint enough to love with its cul-de-sac harbor views and seafood restaurants. Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce or read article on Ogunquit by Visiting New England.com contributing writer, Lina R.

Old Orchard Beach -- It's easy to be a child again at Old Orchard Beach. The miniature golf, cotton candy, fried dough, french fries, cheeseburgers, carousel, arcade games, amusement rides, festivals, fairs, concerts, fireworks, boardwalk and oh, yes, a long strecth of unusually sandy beach for Maine makes this a great family destination. It's all quite honky-tonk, but in a clean, fun way. Old Orchard Beach has been a favorite family destinations for generations, and remains that way in a big, fun way. Old Orchard Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Portland-- An interesting, revitalized city set on beautiful Casco Bay with old Victorian Homes, tree-lined streets and the great Old Port Exchange, an area with terrific restaurants and stores. Some say it is like a mini San Francisco, with its hills, charm and now a growing eclectism, with an art community, more diversity in its people, lots of culture, all residing by the sea. It is a great city for walking, having a big city feel in some neighborhoods, but ultimately a small-town personality in its people, architecture and retained history. 

York Beach -- Another top New England oceanside vacation spot, York offers two fine beaches, Short Sands and Long Sands, with the latter being a spectacular two mile stretch of sandy Atlantic beach. Nubble Light, the most photographed lighthouse in America, is right around the corner. Combine all this with some excellent seafood restaurants, rugged rocky coastline and the legendary Brown's Ice Cream stand (blueberry ice cream, anyone?) and you have one of the northeast's most loved vacation destinations. For more, read our Visiting New England.com article on York.

Browse Maine inns, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts at our New England lodging page

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Massachusetts

Boston -- From the European leanings of Newbury Street to the festive shops and restaurants at Fanueil Hall, Boston is truly the "Hub of the Universe." With over 40 academic institutions, the magnificent Boston Common with masterful flower gardens, fine harbor views, world class restaurants, the Italian-flavored North End, some fascinating museums, the historic Freedom Trail, and a compact layout tailor made for walking, Boston deserves an extended visit.

Every Bostonian has their favorite memories. Some highlights:

*The authentic Italian flavor of the North End, with great restaurants, bakeries, pizza and generations of Italians colorfully speaking the language in the streets.

*Newbury Street's European flavor, the perfect place to stroll, eat at an outdoor cafe, or frequent the world-class shops.

*Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. The seats are cramped, the bathrooms to be avoided, and the concession stand inferior to its minor league outlet in Pawtucket. Plus, the team will always break your heart. But there is a charm here, from the "Green Monster" wall to the small, intimate feel of a truly old-fashioned park. Enjoy it while you can before a new stadium arrives.

*Santarpio's Pizza. The world's best pizza, served up in the Italian neighborhoods in East Boston. Waiters with great personalities --especially Nick and Rocco-- and pizzas that Bostonians have gobbled up in seconds for many, many years.

*The Isabella Gardiner Museum. A beautiful indoor Venetian courtyard highlights a diverse range of paintings, sculptures and a flower display in this urban oasis.

* A walk along Carson Beach in South Boston, and stopping for a hamburger and soft serve ice cream at Sullivan's,

* Fanueil Hall Marketplace with its specialty shops , restaurants, pushcarts and food stalls soem of which is centered within a 1742 broze-domed building.

* Boston Common, iand the nearby incredible flower gardens and the legendary swan boat rides.

*The world class dining of The Cafe Budapest and other great urban dining experiences.

*The Museum of Fine Arts with its American, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Roman, European and Egyptian collections

Other than some terrible traffic and awfully rude drivers, Boston is one of the great cities of the world. Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Concord -- The downtown area retains a wonderful sense of history with the Old North Bridge, superbly maintained colonial homes, the feel-good atmosphere of the Colonial Inn (lodging and a fine restaurant in a historic setting) and nice, little independently owned shops. Concord is a great place to walk with its tree-shaded side streets, beautiful flower gardens near the Old North Bridge, the lovely Walden Pond and well maintained colonial homes. Concord Chamber of Commerce web site

Deerfield -- The ultimate prep school town. Main Street sports a mile of colonial homes, Deerfield Academy buildings, the renowned Deerfield Inn and students forming intellectual leanings right before your eyes. There's really nothing to do here, except marvel at this classic New England village-like setting. 

Harvard Square, Cambridge -- The long-haired hippies and eclectic shops have given way, in recent years, to a more corporate "Starbucks" mentality, but the liberal aura shall remain, forever. With Harvard University and some preservation of the 1960s still intact, Harvard Square is a great place to people watch, take a stroll, catch a movie at the Havard Theater, dine at one of the culturally diverse restaurants, or walk along the nearby Charles River. Protests still happen, street musicians play their music, and you're always sure to see a professor in his plaid jacket and thick glasses smoking a pipe. Cambridge Chamber of Commerce

Lexington, Mass. -- The Lexington Minuteman statue is located at famous Lexington Battle Green in the heart of beautiful Lexington center. This sculpture of Capt. John Parker -- the first American to die in the Battle of 1775 -- is known as one of the United States' true landmarks, in memory of our country's quest for independence. Today, the statue stands tall as part of Lexington's impressive retaining of history, including the Lexington Battle Green, Revolutionary Monument, Old Burying Ground and pre-Revolutionary War buildings remarkable preserved -- the Buckman Tavern, Munroe Tavern and Hancock-Clarke House. Lexington Minuteman National Park, with over 900 acres of open land, has original parts of the Battle Road used on April 19, 1775. The National Heritage Museum offers great exhibitions of American history and current culture in a modern building. While history permeates the Lexington way of life, there's also enough 21st century offerings to make this well-known town a complete tourist destination. The brick downtown sidewalks lead to fine restaurants, coffee shops, arts and crafts stores and fine walking neighborhoods with incredibly "American" large older homes -- much like its neighboring equally famous town, Concord. Lexington Chamber of Commerce Web Site

Newburyport -- Although Newburyport is a small city, you are easily able to relax and feel safe in this outside masterpiece of sea captain's homes, federalist architecture, brick walkways, restaurants with indoor and outdoor harborside dining and shopping galore (no chain stores, thank goodness). Once downtrodden, Newburyport has become revitalized to the point where it is now a favorite destination for New Englanders not wanting to travel far. For those outside of New England, you'll love the salt-air feel of this interesting, historical museum piece in the form of a city. Nearby is Crane's Beach, one of the best ocean beaches in New England. Newburyport Chamber of Commerce

Marblehead and Salem -- The quaint and isolated Marblehead and city-like Salem both offer fine harbor views, incredible preservation of colonial homes, and a well maintained sense of history. Salem provides great walking opportunities within its compact, walkable downtown, especially Chesnut St., one of New England's architectural masterpieces. Known as the home of the witchcraft panic of 1692, the witch theme can be seen at the House of Seven Gables and Salem Witch Museum. Many other attractions exist in this appealing city, including Pioneer Village (a reproduction of early Puritan settlement) and the Peabody and Essex Institute, featuring spectacular art -- including marine art -- in 30 galleries. Marblehead is pure New England. Have a seat, stare at the harbor and you'll suddenly be introduced to New England. Visiting these two communities perfectly complement a stay in Boston, as it is only a 45 minute drive. Marblehead Chamber of Commerce and Salem.org

Stockbridge -- Stockbridge represents New England at its best. From the alternatingly sunny and shady tree-lined streets to the locally-owned, small-town center , Stockbridge is indeed Norman Rockwell come to life, but with very little of the overly commercial by-products. you can see true America at its best --the charming little shops, the wide sidewalks and street, kids riding their bikes, the lovely churches, and the splendid diverse New England architecture of the town, to name a few. Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce

Browse Massachusetts inns, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts at our New England lodging page

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New Hampshire

Keene -- A sweet "college town" with an appealing, wide Main Street, an old-time movie theater, low crime, nice parks, a golf course, plenty of services (a big medical center) and really pleasant neighborhoods. It is a good starting point to Thronton Wilder Country, including Mount Monadnock -- one of the most climbed mountains in the United States -- and true New England towns, with village greens, churches and abundant scenery (Peterborough, Hancock, Harrisville, to name a few). Keene Chamber of Commerce

Hollis/Silver Lake State Park -- For many years, New Englanders have frequented the family-oriented Hollis for a drive in the country and a trip to the numerous farmstands and Silver Lake State Park. Hollis may be "more New England" than any other town in southern New Hampshire -- the village green, splendid old homes and farm land provide what tourist envision of New England. In Hollis is Silver Lake State Park with a good stretch of sandy beach, its picnic tables under the cool pines, and a classic food stand made out of dark wood and sporting a pleasant green awning. Silver Lake State Park is a most inviting New England travel destination. Although it can get crowded during the summer, there always seems to be enough room for everyone. Many New Englanders looked puzzled when asked about Silver Lake, thus suggesting that it is certainly far removed from being an official tourist destination -- lucky for you, in search of hidden New England.

Meredith -- Whatever the age, Meredith has great appeal being beautifully situated on the western shores of Lake Winnepeusakee. Despite busy Route 3 dividing the lake and the unpretentious and small business district, Meredith feels like the epitome of a small town once you experience either side of the highway. The lake has so many negative ions (that great smell by a body of water or after a thunderstorm) that you'll laugh yourself silly the next time one of those television ads promotes air purifers with "mountain fresh air." The smell of the water and air in Meredith have a true mountain feel, which leaves you no choice but to relax.Meredith is truly a place for walking, boating, shopping and dining. The myriad paths along the lake are so pleasant that it's easy to forget about Route 3. The small-town scenery, the not-too-distant mountains and wide body of water make boating a summertime joy for many vacationers looking to find the perfect spot at well-known Lake Winnepeusakee. Shopping begins across the street from the lake at the Inn at Mills Falls (with the Inn and the Chase House as well-known, highly rated places to lodge in Meredith). Here you can find upscale and more down-to-earth shop alongside a pretty waterfall, eventually leading to the "real" downtown up on a hill -- a nice place to stroll, have a cup of coffee or ice cream, and feel like you're back in the 1940s or 50s.Meredith Chamber of Commerce or read Visiting New England.com article on Meredith

Portsmouth -- The best small city in New England. From a distance,the majestic church steeple rising above a sleepy looking, small New England town belies the vibrancy of this New Hampshire seacost city. While Portsmouth does have the leanings of a small town, it also has a city feel, minus the traffic, and high crime. Market Square is of particular interest. Locally owned shops, great restaurants with a water view, narrow streets, tree-lined streets with fine old homes and an overflow of eclectic University of New Hampshire students make this section seem like a miniature version of Boston. For starters, check out the historical Strawberry Banke Museum, a 10-acre historic waterfront neighborhood, with homes dating back to 1650. Although modern amenities beckon around the corner in Market Square, Strawberry Banke takes you out of the modern era and into another period of time. Across the street is Prescott Park, with its scenic waterfront, spectacular flower displays and diverse music performances. It's also a great place to sit on a bench and people watch. For more information, log onto the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce  Web Site or read Visiting New England.com article on Portsmouth.

Wolfeboro -- Wolfeboro, America's oldest resort community at more than two centuries old, never really cared to subscribe to this odd and disturbing form of "progress." Fine neighborhoods with big, old homes and a nice mix of arts and crafts and book stores, bakeries and cafes, and an old-time drug store make Wolfeboro a trip back in time on the eastern shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.Take a stroll down any of the east side streets and you'll end up with one of the prettiest views in New Hampshire -- a cool, calm lake surrounded by mountains. Nice walkways and a gazebo add to the charm, as well as extremely friendly residents who have a respect for their town and the people who visit their charmed community. Once at the lake, it's hard to believe one is just a major league baseball rightfielder's throw from Main Street. The feeling of going from a busy -- but not too noisy -- Main Street to a place of great solitude by the water in just seconds provides a great option to those torn between shopping and relaxing within the same continent. For more info, read our Visiting New England.com article on Wolfeboro.

Browse New Hampshire inns, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts at our New England lodging page

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Rhode Island

Barrington -- CNN once named Barrington, R.I., as the sixth best place to live in the United States. One person's favorite place might be another's least, but Barrington has such a strong appeal with its pretty harbor, stately estates and mansions, well-kept colonials and victorians and pleasing local stores that it seems like the town that everyone dreams of living in. Add the bay view from the extraordinarily attractive Rhode Island Country Club, a wonderful seaside bike trail and a highly-rated school system, and Barrington is an all-around winner. For those vacationing in Rhode Island, Barrington is a must-see town as it represents New England at its best. Barrington is nine miles southeast from the heart of Providence, borders East Providence, is less than a half hour from Newport and is close to antique shop-crazy Warren and Bristol, which reads like a Bedford Falls (It's a Wonderful Life) by the sea -- the all American town. 

Block Island --Warning: stay away from Block Island if you have an affinity for shopping malls, automobiles, ATM machines, laptops and other conveniences. If you are inclined to pristine ocean amd beaches, rolling green fields and pastoral farms, abundant plant and wildlife, and a slower-paced lifestyle, then by all means plan a trip to what the Nature Conservancy has designated as "one of the 12 last great places in the Western Hemisphere."It's easy to see why. With the exception of a small downtown, Block Island's 21 square miles -12 miles south of Rhode Island's main land--provide a treasure chest of unspoiled terrains. Most people walk, ride bikes or drive motor scooters to trek around the island. What they will find is their own beach, their own forest, their own special place, their own discovery. Walking off the beaten path will surely lead you to nowhere. And nowhere is a beautiful place. Block Island Chamber of Commerce or read Visiting New England.com article on Block Island.

Bristol -- A few miles from world famous Newport is Bristol, a quintessential New England town -- tree-lined and quaint with an incredible Patriotic nature (flags waving everywhere you turn). Surrounded by Mount Hope Bay to the east and Narragansett Bay to the south and west, Bristol is stunning from every perspective. Colt State Park is especially impressive with its sweeping views of the Narrangansett Bay and ideally located walking paths. The downtown features well maintained older homes and an understated but pleasing array of restaurants, shops and lodging. Bristol is also offers the oldest (and extremely popular) Fourth of July celebration in the country. Bristol is a perfect start to your Rhode Island and New England vacation. DiscoverBristol.com

Newport --Newport is a wonderful Rhode Island vacation destination, famous for its grand mansions. The fun doesn't end there, however, as visitors will find a plethora of downtown shopping, great beaches, The Tennis Hall of Fame, summer music festivals, the wide open Fort Adams State Park (great for kite flying), a wonderful oceanside cliff walk, countless bed and breakfasts, inn, hotels and motels, and some of the best seafood dining that New England has to offer. It's a colorful town, sure to please on every visit. GoNewport.com

Providence -- From the colorful Italian streets of Federal Hill to the elegant brownstone, Ivy League neighborhoods of Brown University, Providence feels like a complete city. There's the mile of colonial houses on Benefit Street juxtaposed against a rapidly growing skyline. Providence Place Mall, one of the biggest malls in New England shines its modern leanings against the architecturally old world aura of the State House. Providence also offers some of the best restaurants in New England (Al Forno, Pot Au Feu) and a plethora of high quality hotels and inns. Providence is a world class city for several blocks, with expansion of that greatness on the way. Providence Chamber of Commerce

Wickford Village -- If shopping is your cup of tea, why fight the maddening crowds of one of those "quaint" popular New Englannd destinations when Wickford Village offers less traffic, a great variety of independent shops (including wonderful toy and clock stores), and a row of 1700s colonial homes and pretty gardens en route to a splendid harbor view? Wickford Village is neatly tucked away in the town of North Kingston, waiting to be discovered by those is search of "hidden New England." Wickford Village Web Site

Watch Hill -- Fun, fun, fun!! Watch Hill has a great beach, ice cream stands, carefully maintained old homes, and a constant top 40 music soundtrack blaring from the sand, en route to the perfect, carefree summertime place. It's not cheesy nor stuffy, just a great, family-oriented place to spend your summer. Westerly, R.I., visitor's guide

Browse Rhode Island inns, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts at our New England lodging page

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Vermont

Burlington -- Home of the University of Vermont, Burlington is one of New England's finest cities with a cultural feel and a picturesque presence on beautiful Lake Champlain. Church Street marketplace is one of Burlington's centerpieces, with four traffic-free blocks featuring colorful, independently- owned shops, great restaurants, art galleries and some splendid 19th century architecture. The brick pavillion offers street musicians, benches to people watch (it gets pretty interesting in a liberal Vermont college town), retail and food vendors) and a feeling of great community spirit in this small city that feels like a town. Vermont Chamber of Commerce

Brattleboro -- Brattleboro's ideal location in southern Vermont has made it a popular destination for Bostonians and New Englanders alike. Close to the Green Mountains and Massachusett's Berkshire Hills, Brattleboro may look a little ragged in some downtown sections, but the overall feel is pure Vermont, with great, little shops owned by New Yorkers who have found a better life, and small towns cafes make Brattleboro a perfect place for a stroll, or as a launching pad to the surrounding scenery. There are some great-looking bed and breakfasts in the area and excellent opportunities for hiking and biking. Brattleboro has a liberal feel, as evidenced by women in long dresses and sandals, men with long beards and pony tails, and Phish and Grateful Dead t-shirts worn by youth, as well as some really old people, too). Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce

Stowe -- Stowe has great little shops, superb and diverse dining choices, state-of-the art ski facilities and some of the best lodging in New England. What matters most, however, is that despite all the development, Stowe still feels like a small, relaxed village. With that in mind, there's no better time to visit Stowe than in the fall when the leaves in this picturesque village turn brilliant colors. A special fall chill in the air, the beautiful views of Mt. Mansfield (the highest elevation in the state) and long and winding roads featuring farms, cows and beautiful open land make the foliage that much more special. We highly recommend taking a stroll through the village or using the ideally- located bike path, marveling at the postcard-perfect classic Vermont surroundings, and reveling in some of the best foliage in New England.GoStowe.com

Waits River -- There's nothing in the northeast village of Waits River (southeast of Montpelier) except, oddly enough, a river and a few old homes. Don't expect to go here and do the "Hot, hot, hot" dance at a four star resort specializing in drinks, loud over stressed people and high prices. In Waits River, all one has is the stark beauty of Vermont. All that is left is the remarkable scenery, comprising of a village that forgot to progress into a line of traffic, strip malls and other cookie-cutter leanings.

Weston -- For those not familiar to the area, Weston, Vt., represents New England (and the Green Mountain National Forest region) at its finest. A charming village green with a gazebo gently tells you, "I am New England. This is what you've been wanting to see your whole life."The serene, green environs evokes a sweet dream, only this isn't a dream. Weston is a Vermont masterpiece, filled with charmingly quaint New England homes, and sunny streets filtered by pure Green Mountain air. Many of us know of homes placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In this case, the whole village of Weston is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Everywhere you look is like a Norman Rockwell painting. Weston may be a quiet town, but it does have a retail district. It's called the Vermont Country Store, purveyors of Yankee bargains, Vermont-made clothing and just about anything else under the sun. This incredible trip back in time offers everything from Vermont fudge to wool socks.So, after eating fudge in your new wool socks, kick back and marvel at the unspoiled, quiet beauty of this fabulous New England community. Whether a day trip or a full fledged vacation, you'll leave wanting to come back to this classic New England community.

Browse Vermont inns, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts at our New England lodging page

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Looking for more great New England travel ideas? Check out our New England travel essay library, and spring and summer vacation guide sections.


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