On a map, New England might look like one compact, highway-veined region you can see in a couple of days. Yet there is so much diversity here that even Connecticut—the third smallest state in the union—can be viewed as having nine distinct areas to explore. These six states have carved out unique identities, shaped by history, geology, water, economics, ethnic heritage, cuisine, dialect—you name it.
Boston -- Oliver Wendell Holmes dubbed the State House in Boston the “hub of the solar system,” and 160 years later, the region’s largest city is still known as “the Hub.” This alluring metropolis of historic and modern buildings, world-class museums, and top-notch restaurants is a key stop for travelers on any New England trip. Cambridge, Harvard’s home across the Charles River, is equally engaging.
Cape Cod & The Islands -- The ocean is writ large on Cape Cod, an elbowed peninsula with miles of sandy beaches and grassy dunes that whisper in the wind. The carnival-like atmosphere of Provincetown is a draw, as are the genteel charms of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket islands.
Western Massachusetts -- In the heart of Massachusetts, Springfield is the gateway to the Pioneer Valley, which runs along the Connecticut River—named for 17th-century settlers—has many picturesque towns and colleges. West of the Pioneer Valley, the rolling hills of the Berkshires are home to old estates, graceful villages, lots of antiques stores, and an abundance of festivals and cultural attractions, including the Tanglewood Music Festival and Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
Rhode Island -- The smallest state in the U.S., Rhode Island is mostly coast, deeply indented by Narragansett Bay. The mansions and yachts of Newport, that elegant resort town, preside over the mouth of the bay, while Rhode Island’s lively, increasingly artsy capital, Providence, sits at the top of bay, only a half-hour’s drive from Boston.
Newport, Rhode Island, Area -- The lifestyles of the truly rich and famous are on parade in Newport, once home to the likes of the Astors and Vanderbilts. A tour of the oceanfront mansions never fails to astonish.
Connecticut -- The Southeastern Coast, around the port city of New London, has a maritime flavor, from the submarine base at Groton to the must-see village of Mystic. Heading west, the quaint towns of Essex and Old Lyme sit at the wide mouth of the Connecticut River Valley. The main city on the coast is New Haven, home to Yale University and several great pizzerias. West of New Haven lie a string of affluent New York City suburbs, dubbed the Gold Coast. Connecticut’s capital, Hartford, sits at the state’s very middle. Home to several insurance companies, the city has been struggling but does offer some fine cultural attractions. North and west of Hartford lie the Litchfield Hills, a scenic rolling landscape of farms, lakes, and handsome small towns with colonial pasts.
Vermont -- Extending the length of Vermont from Massachusetts to Canada, the Green Mountains are a mostly gentle chain of forested hills that beckon those interested in hiking, scenic back-road drives, fantastic inns, and superb bicycling. Vermont’s northwest forms half the lakeshore of majestic Lake Champlain, with New York’s rugged Adirondack Mountains on the far shore. Vermont’s largest city, Burlington, faces onto Lake Champlain. Vermont’s northeastern counties, called the Northeast Kingdom, are rugged, hilly, and unpolished, but with some delightful surprises—not to mention being a source of tasty artisanal cheeses and superb craft beers.
New Hampshire -- The Connecticut River Valley dividing Vermont and New Hampshire is a world unto itself, full of villages, verdant countryside, covered bridges, cheese farms, and small-town bakeries. It’s got smarts, too: Dartmouth College is here. Central New Hampshire is dominated by the towering White Mountains, with their stark, windswept peaks, forests dotted with glacial boulders, and clear, rushing streams. South of there, Lake Winnipesaukee is the crown jewel of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, but more than 250 other lakes and ponds augment this area’s allure. New Hampshire only has 18 miles of Atlantic coastline, but it’s packed with beaches and the scrappy, well-preserved city of Portsmouth: a smaller (possibly even better) version of Boston.
Maine -- Maine’s rocky Atlantic coast is the stuff of legend, art, and poetry. The southern coast has the best beaches; to the north, the Down East region offers spectacular headlands and Acadia National Park’s dramatic landscapes. The mostly uninhabited North Woods of Maine are still largely owned by timber companies, yet there are some spectacular destinations tucked within them, including big, wild Baxter State Park, home to the state’s highest peak, Mount Katahdin. The oft-overlooked region of Western Maine—centered on Bethel but taking in a wide swath of territory north and south of that mountain village—is home to steep slopes, wide rivers, picturesque lakes, stunning foliage, and endless opportunities for quiet hiking and skiing. You might even see a moose.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.