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If you’re looking for a great getaway where you can bring your whole family, New England offers lots of great options. From the beautiful rugged shores of Maine to the sand dunes on Cape Cod and idyllic Vermont towns, this gorgeous region is sure to please all types of travelers. Look forward to dining on delectable lobster, exploring cultural attractions and taking part in all sorts of outdoor adventure.
Acadia National Park, Maine
This haven for nature lovers offers a gorgeous coastline, picturesque lighthouse, and even soaring mountains. Visitors can look forward to joining kayak or canoe tours, biking or hiking scenic trails like the route to Cadillac Mountain that offers stunning panoramic vistas. In the nearby town of Bar Harbor, there are plenty of family-friendly things to do, like learning about native Wabanaki people at the Abbe Museum and stopping by the unique 2 Cats Café to enjoy a tasty meal and pick up cat-themed souvenirs. Dining on the area’s specialty, lobster, is an absolute must while you’re here.
The postcard-perfect town is a popular ski destination for locals throughout the northeast, with many of the region’s activities revolving around Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont at 4,393 feet above sea level. But it offers a lot more than pristine powder. During the warmer months of the year, hike miles and miles of trails, with autumn bringing especially stunning scenery with the transformation of the trees creating a striking patchwork of reds, oranges and yellows across the landscape. The village itself is especially charming with its covered bridges and church steeples set against the lush Green Mountains.
Both a town and the name of the island, Nantucket sits about 30 miles off the coast from Cape Cod. Accessed by ferry, it’s home to picturesque beaches and grand mansions, high-end restaurants, an interesting mix of unique shops, lighthouses, tranquil harbors, a great whaling museum and lots of paths for hiking or biking. Its historic district is lined with over 800 pre-Civil War houses and you’ll find countless inns, B&Bs and family-friendly hotels to base your stay.
Located at the far tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown offers more than 30 miles of beaches and beautiful sand dunes along with a colorful downtown. Look forward to checking out the bookstores, unique shops and art galleries as well as indulging in fresh seafood at fantastic seafood shacks and sampling the fudge in candy shops. Hike or bike trails that wind through the Cape Cod National Seashore, and offshore, watch for the humpback whales and seals that are frequently spotted or head out on a whale watching tour.
White Mountains, New Hampshire
The White Mountains are home to the largest ski area in New Hampshire, but this area offers lots to do all year long. One of the highlights is a ride “The Cog,” the Mount Washington Cog Railway that runs both steam and biodiesel-powered locomotives which climb the 3,500 feet or so up New England’s highest summit at 6,288 feet. From here, you’ll be able to take in an incredible vista that spans the valleys and mountains of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Canada and the Atlantic. Bretton Woods is a popular place to stay, like the Omni Mount Washington Hotel and Resort which hosts two golf courses, a massive spa, horseback riding and more.
This seaside town in Maine sits along the Kennebunk River about a mile from its mouth on the Atlantic. It offers all sorts of things for families to do, including Dock Square, which hosts a variety of local craft shops that sell everything from hand-crafted jewelry to souvenir t-shirts. There is a wide range of eateries, including famous Mabel’s Lobster Claw Restaurant and opportunities for boating excursions, including whale watching tours and lobstering adventures where you can step into the shoes of a real-life fisherman and even pull up a lobster trap. You can also head out onto the water on your own by renting a kayak or canoe, then retreat to one of the cozy coastal cottages.
The village of Mystic lies along the Mystic River, which flows into Long Island Sound. This especially scenic coastal town boasts well-preserved history and is a popular tourist destination, home to Mystic Seaport which features one of the country’s largest maritime museums. It was also spotlighted int he hit 1988 film, “Mystic Pizza,” with its famous Mystic Pizza eatery the inspiration for the Julia Roberts movie. The Mystic Aquarium is one of just three facilities in the U.S. with Steller sea lions, and it has the only beluga whales in New England.
The “jewel of the Maine coast” as Camden is often called, was once a haven for manufacturing, but today it’s mostly known as a popular tourist destination. It’s so postcard-perfect, it could easily be mistaken for a movie set. And the town has in fact been used as the setting for several films like 2001’s “In the Bedroom.” Sailboats fill Penobscot Bay while waterside seafood beckons. Take a stroll through the High Street Historic District to take in classic New England architecture and perhaps enjoy sailing around Camden Harbor or hiking through Camden Hills State Park.
Known as America’s “Oldest Summer Resort,” Wolfeboro lies along the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee and offers the chance to enjoy just about every type of water sport imaginable along with plenty of activities on land. Some of the highlights include browsing the shops and galleries on the waterfront, visiting the Wright WWII Museum and the New Hampshire Boat Museum, dedicated to all types of watercraft that figure in New Hampshire’s history, and taking a narrated trolley tour.
While there are just under 20 miles of coastline in New Hampshire, what it does offer is absolutely idyllic for enjoying a warm weekend getaway. Hampton Beach, the largest and most popular stretch of sand in the state is transformed into a kaleidoscope of colorful beach blankets and umbrellas, while kites and Frisbees can be seeing soaring through the salty air. Enjoy dips in the Atlantic, building sand castles and relaxing in the sunshine. After dark, concerts are frequently hosted, and on Wednesdays, a fireworks display lights up the sky. When you want a break from the beach, the main street hosts a boardwalk lined with lots of fun shops and eateries.