My name is Megan and I was born a temporary Navy brat in Connecticut. A short two years later my family took the drive up to New Hampshire where we’ve called home ever since. New England in the Summer is a far cry from New England in the Winter, and as the legend goes, there’s nothing quite like a New England Autumn.
I’ve lived a semi-stereotypical New England life, going to school in an old brick building with ivy growing up the side, spending nearly ever summer at a classic New England summer camp, apple picking at the different orchards around, and sitting outside eating fresh lobster and corn on the cob, both slathered in butter, in the summertime.
I think the only thing I don’t have is that classic New Englander Boston accent, though I have been known to say “wicked” instead of “very” from time to time. Guilty.
Must go in New England
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
A small, old, brick building city filled with happy people, great food, unique odd shops, art, music, and beautiful scenery. Take an easy stroll around the historic brick buildings, grab an ice cream or a coffee, and enjoy the day.
There’s plenty to do, plenty to see, and nestled in the corner of town, just before the bridge to Maine, is a wonderful little Prescott Park and outdoor historical museum by the name of Strawbery Banke. If you’re lucky you might just even catch a local production of a familiar play.
Specifically old port. Think Portsmouth on a larger scale. The more North you go, the nicer people are, I’m convinced. Take to the cobblestone streets and shop around at the unique restaurants and shops.
Catch the fresh ocean breeze by strolling down the old fishing piers before heading down Exchange Street to see what the city has to offer.
Of course (but don’t count out Providence, RI or Burlington, VT). There’s no doubt that one of the oldest cities in the country, and the largest city in New England, is a must see. There are colleges scattered all over the city and surrounding neighborhoods, making for a young, eclectic bunch of residents.
Visit Fenway if you are a baseball lover, marvel at the old architecture in the Back Bay, walk through Faneuil Hall to visit a 270-year-old marketplace tradition, or spend the day in Boston Common, a beautiful, historical New England park.
Must do in New England
Walk around an old port town
Portland, ME and Portsmouth, NH are my favorites. Burlington, VT, while not a port town, is beautiful as well and has great people, food, atmosphere, and ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s, anyone?). Bonus points if you make it all the way North to Belfast, ME, a wonderfully stereotypical small, New England port town full of wonderful people.
Take a brewery tour!
New England has lots of neat little microbreweries and it’s fun to do mini sampler tours. The Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth, NH is a good place to start, Moat Mountain brewery and restaurant up in North Conway, NH (land of plenty of outlet malls if you want to indulge in the sales-tax-free state) is another fun spot, Vermont has Magic Hat, Switchback, Longtrail, and more.
Want to get touristy?
Stick around Boston and explore the museums and historic sites. Take the Freedom Trail walking tour, jump on a trolley tour, or walk yourself around Paul Revere’s old stomping grounds. Make sure to walk along the Charles River as well, bonus points of there’s a rowing race in town.
Go to the beach, ocean or lake, go pick fruit, go on a hike. There’s no shortage of outdoor activities.
Must eat in New England
Go to one of the old port towns (Portland, ME, Portsmouth, NH, or even York, ME), sit by the water, and feast. It’s fresh, it’s tasty, and there’s no shortage of butter. And, of course, New England Clam Chowder is always a classic.
Vermont maple syrup
On anything, it’ll be great. Look out for desserts or drinks or breakfast meals with authentic ingredients and you won’t be upset. My favorite is a homemade lemonade sweetened with local maple syrup.
You can get it at a brick oven pizza place in Portland, ME, Portsmouth, NH, Somerville, MA, North Conway, NH by the name of Flatbreads.
Coffee and donuts
I’m a sucker for coffee anywhere, but if you happen upon Providence, RI you’ll find the most coffee-doughnut shops per capita out of any other city in the U.S. Nothing like a good coffee and a fresh doughnut to warm you up on a cold New England day.
Cultural tips for Traveling New England
New England weather is a big old question mark more often than not
It’s been known to be summery and warm one minute, then shiver-causing-cold the next. Try to check the weather beforehand to get a ballpark of what it might be like, but bring an extra change of clothes for a warmer than expected day and colder than expected day. Rain coats or an umbrella wouldn’t be a bad idea either. You just never know.
Ask a local
While it’s true that New Englanders can be known for being cold, we are all warm and fuzzy at heart. At least, I like to think so. The area is jam packed with things to do and sites to see that if you are in doubt, ask a local! They’ll have a unique perspective of what you must see within that specific area that you might not get from the internet or any guide books.
You could get pointed in the direction of a fantastic apple orchard that you otherwise wouldn’t have known was there, you might happen upon a quiet little fishing hole to spend a warm afternoon, or you might just be introduced to a smaller restaurant with the best food you’ve ever had. It’s happened to me before, and I’ve been here forever.
It’s true; there is a New England accent
It varies a bit depending on where you go, but Boston has the classic “r” removal from the ends of words. That, with a combination of fast-talkers, can make things tricky to understand if you’re not used to it.
Travel on the cheap in New England
Catch a bus from Boston to Portsmouth, NH
C+J offers tickets starting at $24 and offer tons of discounts (including a Kids Ride Free program!).
Take the train
There is also a cheaper DownEaster Amtrak that runs up and back from Boston, through New Hampshire, and up to Portland, ME. Highly recommended. Perfect for a day trip.
Rent a bicycle!
There are plenty of bicycle rental places around Boston, MA, Portsmouth, NH, and Portland, ME. If it’s sunny and you want to stick around, especially in the New Hampshire and Maine areas where it is less city-traffic-like, ditch the motors for a day and stick to your walking shoes or a borrowed bicycle.
Stay in someone’s house
Airbnb is usually cheaper and more ‘real’ than a comparable hotel. Here’s an entire apartment in Portland for $59 a night and here’s a tiny beach cottage in Scarborough, NH for $29 a night. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking.
Thanks so much for sharing, Megan! Do you guys have any other New England travel tips to share?