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48 Great New England Towns, Cities, Villages and Regions to visit

A great New England town to visit: Hanover NH
Hanover, N.H.

by Eric Hurwitz. Article updated 6-3-2021.

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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 visit 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 the 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 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 community. Then, come back often and experience the rest through the years.


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Scenic Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, ME

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine

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 with a 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 saltwater 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, unctuous 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, 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 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 Green Mountains, of Vermont, but what it does have is true vacation appeal, courtesy of the lovely, gentle, unspoiled towns. For more information on a visit to the Berkshires, visit

Charming Chatham, Mass.
Chatham, a charming Cape Cod town.

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.

Main Street in Nantucket, Mass.
Main Street at Nantucket

The Cape Cod islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard are simply beautiful, combining the natural coastal beauty of the area (including public beaches) with historic architecture and plenty of places to shop, stay and eat within their bustling business districts,

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 to visit 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. Whether 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.


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Saybrook Point, Old Saybrook

Old Saybrook

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. 

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 accommodations and dining. What a special place --Essex has to be experienced by anyone wanting to visit 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.

Litchfield -- Nestled in the Northwest Connecticut Hills, Litchfield is one of the most relaxing, sleepy little towns in New England with its incredibly fresh air, small community market, beautiful village green and only a handful of independently owned shops. It is certainly great 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 and Saybrook Point for some coastal walks, mini-golf and luxury accommodations at the Saybrook Point Inn. The air quality is terrific, peppered with salt air from the ocean. It is New England at its finest, a great little town that never fully developed, which is the ultimate compliment. 

Stonington Borough, Conn.
Stonington Borough

Stonington Borough --This southeastern Connecticut town is a classic New England seaside community definitely worth a visit with an impossibly beautiful, picturesque harbor, interesting little shops, great seafood restaurants and 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 Kennebunkport, Maine, or Newport, R.I., and were disappointed by the commercialism and crowds, then Stonington is the perfect place for you. 

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." 


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Dock Square,Kennebunkport, Maine
Dock Square,Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport -- With stunning rocky coastal ocean views at Ocean Drive, plenty of interesting little shops (boutiques, galleries, gift shops, traditional old-time stores) and waterfront seafood restaurants in its visually appealing, colorful small downtown at Dock Square, Kennebunkport truly offers a grand introduction to those interested in a visit to the Maine coast. It's a place of grand old sea captain's homes -- some of which have become inns and bed and breakfasts -- and narrow, crooked streets to stroll by the coast. Our 41st U.S. President, George W. Bush, Sr., also has a spectacular summer home here, which can be seen from Ocean Drive. At times during the summer and revered Christmas tree lighting ceremony where the downtown is beautifully lit with thousands of lights, Kennebunkport can seem a bit hectic and not built for the crowds -- this is, after all, a small little town.

Ogunquit -- This beautiful, quaint southern Maine town features many wonderful local shops and restaurants but that's just the beginning of a great travel experience. 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.

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.

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.

Short Sands Beach, York Beach, Maine.
Short Sands Beach, York Beach.

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, amusements and a zoo at York Wild Kingdom, The Goldenrod specializing in salt water taffy-making since 1896, Dunn's Ice Cream Stand (Formerly Brown's) Ice Cream stand (blueberry ice cream, anyone?) and great gift shops like Joan's Beach and Gift and you have one of the northeast's most loved vacation destinations.


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Boston Public Garden, Boston MA

Boston Public Garden, Boston

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 Worcester. 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 No. 9 Park 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.

Highly recommended reading! Check out this excellent story at the New England With Love blog on weekend getaways in Boston!

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.

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. Take a guided or self-guided tour and be prepared to experience the heart of quintessential historic New England.

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.

Lexington -- 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. 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. Be sure to visit both towns!

Coastal walkway in downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Coastal walkway in downtown Newburyport

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.

Plymouth -- This famous destination retains a remarkable sense of history, best known for its Pilgrim heritage. It's so much more than that, though. Plymouth offers a relaxing aura with ocean beaches and a quaint but bustling downtown with lots of local stores, waterfront lodging and restaurants including Wood's, CabbyShack and East Bay Grille and The Lobster Hut -- all with views of Plymouth Harbor. Plenty of attractions abound in Plymouth and vicinity including Plymouth Rock; the Pilgrim lifestyle recreated at Plimoth Patuxet Museums; Edaville Railroad Fun Park; Mayflower II, a replica on the ship that brought Pilgrims to the new world; and the Pilgrim Hall Museum. Myles Standish State Forest is a beautiful natural destination with 15 miles of bike trails, 35 miles of equestrian trails, 13 miles of hiking trails, and swimming at College Pond. Of course, no trip to Plymouth would be complete without an ice cream at Peaceful Meadows at 170 Water Street -- the homemade ice cream is perhaps one of the best in the state!

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.

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.

New Hampshire

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Peterborough NH

Downtown Peterborough

Hanover -- Bill Bryson, in his book, “The Lost Continent,” wrote about Hanover as one of his favorite places in the United States.  Highly critical of many other United States towns and cities, Bryson felt differently about Hanover and became connected to the unpretentious, genuine feel of the town. He, in fact, enjoyed Hanover so much that he eventually moved there! It is easy to see why: the downtown is quaint with an old-fashioned Main Street, a big town common, and many mom and pop shops and restaurants with attractive signage. Contiguous with leafy Dartmouth College (an Ivy League college), the Hanover downtown district makes for a great walking town. Within close proximity to the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Sunapee and White Mountains regions of New Hampshire, Hanover might just be the nicest town in the area to visit!

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). 

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 towns in southern New Hampshire -- the village green, splendid old homes and farmland 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.

Jackson -- The White Mountains of New Hampshire feature many beautiful mountain towns, but, somehow, Jackson rises above them all. Perhaps as "New England" as any town could get in the region, Jackson features a quaint sleepy downtown, a covered bridge, waterfalls, historic charming inns, and a true sense of place. The latter refers to the fact that you're likely to remember Jackson as a "real town" instead of a fabricated, manufactured place to buy that "turns-to-Swiss-Cheese-after-one-wash" t-shirt with the name "Jackson" on it. Named by Ski America authors as one of the top 10 romantic ski towns in the United States, Jackson is so much more than that. In the summer, the Jackson area offers myriad area biking, canoeing hiking and kayaking opportunities as well as scenic relaxation by the waterfalls and mountain streams. The fall is a haven for brilliant fall foliage colors gracing the leafy but not overly ostentatious streets and peaks and valleys. In the spring, a sense of renewal is brought to you, courtesy of laundry fresh mountain air and Mother Nature starting to bloom.

A walk by the water in Meredith, N.H.
A walk by the water in Meredith

Meredith -- Whatever the age, Meredith has great appeal, beautifully situated on the western shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. 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 purifiers 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 Winnipesaukee. 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.

North Conway -- One of the most famous New England vacation destinations, North Conway features a beautiful view of Mt. Washington (highest New England elevation at 6,288 ft.) from its lively thriving downtown with lots of mom and pop stores.  In North Conway, you'll have several dining, lodging and attractions.  In the fall, the 34-mile Kancamagus Scenic Byway is perfect for fall foliage touring.  Winter brings skiing opportunities  at Cranmore Mountain Resort, while spring and summer offer many local hiking, swimming and boating opportunities. Two nearby attractions will delight the kids: Santa's Village in Jefferson, NH, and Story Land in Glen, NH (a memorable children's theme park with rides and a chance to meet some timeless, famous storybook characters). Another recommended attraction is the Conway Scenic Railroad, on Rt. 16/302 in North Conway, where various train rides take you through the absolutely breathtaking, scenic areas of the Mt. Washington Valley.

Peterborough -- In many ways, Peterborough is the ultimate New England small town. It's traditional with the historic Peterborough Diner, white church steeples rising above all other buildings, and timeless mom and pop stores like Peterborough Shoes. On the other hand, it's a thriving arts town with galleries, cafes and pubs, live theater and musical performances. Best of all, Peterborough is a mountain town, beautifully situated in the heart of the Monadnock region. Walk the main streets, grab a hearty breakfast at the Diner, take in a show, stroll the ring of scenic parks in the central district, enjoy the slower pace and fresh mountain air, and it becomes tough to leave this idyllic town.

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 seacoast 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.

Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H.
Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro.

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. 

Rhode Island

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Wickford Village RI

Wickford Village

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 worth a visit 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 and 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 mainland--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. 

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 Narragansett 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 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.

Thames St., Newport
Thames St., Newport

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. 

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 an expansion of that greatness on the way. 

Wickford Village -- If shopping is your cup of tea, why fight the maddening crowds of one of those "quaint" popular New England 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 in search of "hidden New England." 

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.


Book a Hotel Room in Vermont Church Street Marketplace, Burlington, Vt.

Church Street Marketplace, Burlington

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 pavilion 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.

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 ponytails, and Phish and Grateful Dead t-shirts worn by youth, as well as some really old people, too).

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 turns 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 makes 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.

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.

Vermont Country Store, Weston VT
Vermont Country Store, Weston

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 town.

Woodstock -- One of New England's most scenic and beloved classic small towns, Woodstock has a beautiful quintessential Vermont town common (perfectly complemented by the famous Woodstock Inn and Resort), an interesting variety of locally-owned shops, nice dining options (we recommend the cozy, informal landmark Bentley's Restaurant, downtown) and wonderful surrounding mountain views. Vermont doesn't get much more "Vermont" than Woodstock, once named by National Geographic Magazine as one of the prettiest towns in America. It's a wonderful place to visit, especially for winter area skiing (Whaleback Mountain is located nearby in Enfield, NH), summer vacations, and fall foliage season (spring is nice, too, with the blossoming plant life and warmer weather).

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