Kayaking in Barnstable Harbor.
Vince DeWitt

New England's Best Outdoor Adventures

Whether you prefer to hike, bike, kayak, or canoe, warm weather in New England gives you a reason to enjoy the outdoors. Here's how to experience the best outdoor adventures in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine.

Photo Caption: Kayaking in Barnstable Harbor
Whale-watching in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Ken Cedeno
Whale-watching, Bar Harbor, ME
When in Maine, watch for wildlife; when in Bar Harbor, watch for whales. Humpbacks, minkes, finbacks -- they all spend the summer fattening themselves up in the fertile waters off the coast here, and there's nothing quite like seeing them up close and personal. You're guaranteed to catch a glimpse in summer, or you get a second trip for free.

Photo Caption: Whale-watching in Bar Harbor, Maine
Walden Pond welcomes swimmers and hikers.
Ken Cedeno
Going Back in Time at Walden Pond, Concord, MA
Surrounded by trees that screen out the modern world, the pond looks much as it did when Henry David Thoreau moved to a small cabin on the shore on July 4, 1845. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately," he wrote, and the lovely site remains a perfect destination for getting away from it all. The pond is the centerpiece of a state park that's popular for walking, swimming, fishing, and imagining days gone by.

Photo Caption: Walden Pond welcomes swimmers and hikers.
Kayaking in Barnstable Harbor.
Vince DeWitt
Getting Out on the Water, Cape Cod
One of the best kayaking trips involves paddling around Barnstable Harbor and out to Sandy Neck, a primitive cottage colony with a lighthouse at the end of a 6-mile barrier beach. You can explore the Great Marsh ecosystem on the west side of the harbor, a unique marine environment with tidal creeks and islands loaded with flora, fauna, and bird life. Sandy Neck itself offers trails for hikers and isolated pristine beaches backed by low dunes.

Photo Caption: Kayaking in Barnstable Harbor
Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth to Woods Hole, Cape Cod.
L. Richard Martin, Jr.
Going for a Ride on Cape Cod
The bike path everyone is talking about is the expanded (12-mile) Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth. It goes from North Falmouth to Woods Hole, passing cranberry bogs, historic farmland, and the Great Sippewissett Marsh, before getting close to Falmouth center and skirting the coastline to the bohemian fishing village of Woods Hole. This flat path is great for families, who can take on a section of it and combine it with a dip in the placid waters of Buzzards Bay.

Photo Caption: Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth to Woods Hole, Cape Cod
Housatonic River adventure.
Canoeing on the Housatonic River, CT
The pine forests and meadows of Connecticut's Litchfield Hills look even more pristine from the beautiful Housatonic. Its shallow waters are welcoming even to novices; most stretches are quiet, and the few rapids you'll encounter are mild. Clarke Outdoors will take you to Falls Village, where you'll begin your 10-mile trek. Pack a lunch, or disembark at the halfway point -- West Cornwall's covered bridge -- to eat in town. At the end of your ride, Clarke will tote you back to the shop, where you can have a hot shower.

Photo Caption: Housatonic River adventure
Bikers on Main Street, Block Island.
Thornton Cohen
Biking Block Island, RI
Even if you don't bike regularly, we strongly recommend that you rent a bicycle or bring your own. It's quite simply the best way to experience the tranquil natural beauty of the 7-mile-long island: stopping to explore the windswept bluffs, lighthouses, Rodman's Hollow, and, of course, the beaches. We especially love Block Island in the fall, when the sun is less intense and the crowds have largely dissipated.

Photo Caption: Bikers on Main Street, Block Island
Bemis Brook drops over a granite cliff at Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch, White Mountains.
Vince DeWitt
Hiking the White Mountains, NH
We're not saying that everyone needs to tackle the mighty Presidential Range (to those who do, we offer a resounding bravo), but if you're in the vicinity of the mighty Whites, you have no excuse: Hit the trails! The crisp mountain air beckons, whether you're taking a gentle hike like the 3.25-mile Lonesome Lake trail in Franconia Notch or a more challenging trek, like the fairly steep 2.6-mile trip to Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch.

Photo Caption: Bemis Brook drops over a granite cliff at Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch, White Mountains.
Mountain biking through Acadia National Park, Maine.
Ken Cedeno
Mountain biking in Acadia National Park, ME
The miles and miles of handsome gravel roads and stone bridges threading through some of Acadia's best territory owe their legacy to oilman John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who envisioned horse-drawn carriages here. But to mountain bikers, it's a paradise of wide lanes, terrific views, and absolutely no cars.

Photo Caption: Mountain biking through Acadia National Park, Maine
The Public Garden in Boston.
Vince DeWitt
Strolling around the Public Garden, Boston
The city's loveliest park is gorgeous year-round, with regularly changing seasonal flowers, stately trees, and a delightful assortment of statuary and fountains. The Swan Boats ply the water of the lagoon all summer; nearby, the Make Way for Ducklings sculptures thrill visitors of all ages. Visit in the spring if you can: There's something magical about the atmosphere when the bitter New England winter finally recedes.

Photo Caption: The Public Garden in Boston