New England doesn’t cover a lot of ground geographically, which means that you can see and do a lot here in just a single weekend. Whether you’re a foodie looking for amazing culinary experiences, a history buff wanting to do some sightseeing, or an outdoor lover looking for adventure, the possibilities are endless when you take a road trip through this awesome region.
So, if you don’t have a lot of vacation days to spare, here are some weekend getaway ideas to help you start planning!
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Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Originally settled back in the early 1600s, Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a lovely vacation spots that’s easy to experience in a weekend. This town has lots of colonial history and also a thriving cultural scene. Market Square is where most of the downtown walking tours begin, and the Portsmouth Harbor Trail passes by lots of the historic sites. Odiorne State Park and Wallis Sands State Park are close by to experience the beauty of the area once you’ve made your way through town. Other highlights are Prescott Park, the Strawberry Banke Museum, the Music Hall for theater performances, and Red Hook Brewery for a refreshing beer.
Acadia National Park, Maine
If you think impressive rock formations and epic outdoor adventures only happen out west, then you clearly haven’t been to Acadia National Park! The rugged coastline here is breathtaking and you can do a lot more than just look at this landscape. Rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking are all popular activities here. Keep in mind that Acadia gets very busy, so rangers may restrict access to certain areas based on public safety. Early birds get to see the sunrise and beat the crowds here! To get a taste of small-town life with lots to do, head to the nearby town of Bar Harbor.
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Another great getaway spot in New England is Narragansett, Rhode Island, which is a really popular summer haven. The town is located on the southeastern shore of Rhode Island and is a perfect spot to relax and indulge in delicious local seafood. Beaches to visit are the Narragansett Beach, Scarborough State Beaches, and Roger W. Wheeler State Beach. Architectural buildings like the Towers, lighthouses like Point Judith Lighthouse, and marinas like Galilee are also popular in Narragansett.
Burlington has the perfect combination of small-town charm and big-city offerings. It’s located along Lake Champlain and is wonderfully bikeable. You can even bring your bike onto the ferry to get a great ride over to local restaurants, breweries, and shops. In addition to the Burlington Bike Path, it’s also fun to visit Waterfront Park and Church Street Marketplace in town. Many people take beer tasting, wine tasting, and Segway tours here, and the Burlington Farmers’ Market is always a big hit with locals and tourists. Oddly enough, you can see the world’s tallest filing cabinet in Burlington and hop into some excellent breweries, such as Switchback Brewing and Foam Brewers.
Kennebunkport is an endearing vacation location in the Northeast and a great place for a weekend trip. This beach destination offers a rugged shoreline with vacation homes and lots of sailboats, as well as open-air cafes and artists creating their new masterpieces at Dock Square. The beaches here are quiet, so it’s a perfect place to get away from the hustle of daily life and finally relax. To be a little more active while in Kennebunkport, top attractions are St. Ann’s Church, the scenic drives along Ocean Avenue and Walker’s Point, the Seashore Trolley Museum, and popping into local art galleries.
Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
As far a nature-inspired weekend getaways go, it doesn’t get much better than Franconia Notch State Park. This park is in the White Mountain National Forest and is famous for the Flume Gorge, Echo Lake, and the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain. Other fun places to check out here are the Franconia Notch Bike Path and Echo Lake Beach. The Lafayette Campground is open to walk-ins between May and October, and winter camping is welcome as long as you bring your own water. Also, the Cannon Mountain RV park has seven sites with hookups.
There are lots of places where you can learn about American history in the Northeast, but one of the most unique and iconic spots is Plymouth, Massachusetts. Plimoth Plantation is the place to go for hands-on experiences that really immerse you into early 1600s culture. Other top sites here are the Pilgrim Hall Museum, National Monument to the Forefathers, Mayflower II, Plymouth Rock, and the Jenney Museum. Whale watching, golf, ghost tours, culinary tours, and bed & breakfast stays are all popular among weekend travelers in the town of Plymouth.
Block Island, Rhode Island
Another Rhode Island destination we love is Block Island. You can hop on a ferry to get here and just feel all your worries and troubles melt away. The island is about 13 miles from the mainland and spans about 10 square miles. About 17 of those miles are beaches, and there are a couple lighthouses to see here as well. The Block Island National Wildlife Refuge is located here, and you’ll see historic lighthouses and cottages lining the coast.
Mystic offers a fun weekend getaway as well with an old seaport and lots of great restaurants. The town was established in 1654, and there’s a historic downtown area along the Mystic River. To get to know this water-centric area a bit better, check out the Charles W. Morgan ship, the Mystic River Bascule Bridge, and the Mystic Aquarium.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod is a classic summer retreat for New Englanders, known for its quaint cottages and serene beaches. This is an ideal place to book a stay at a bed & breakfast inn and bring your bike to pedal around town. Despite its popularity, the atmosphere here is still refreshingly laid back. Rent a kayak or a fishing boat to get out on the water, or just walk along the seashore to take in the scenery.