Top 21 Must-See Attractions in New England

Last Updated on May 09, 2024 by Nikki Jain

New England is one of the most historically significant and naturally stunning regions in the entire United States. This is the place where the settlers from across the ocean first set up their colony, where America came to be.

But a visit to New England isn’t just about learning about the past—it’s a wondrous adventure into mountains, along coastlines, and through dense forests. Wherever you go, you are bound to uncover something stunning but to help you get your trip started, here are the must-see attractions in New England.

Best Places to Visit in New England

Table of Contents [Show]

Affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you use my affiliate link.

1: Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park tops our list of New England attractions for seemingly endless reasons. This 47,000-acre expanse sits (primarily) on Maine's Mount Desert Island. The national park has various compelling landscapes for any traveler ranging from biodiverse woodlands to glacier-cut granite cliffs and rocky east coast beaches.

Notably, Acadia National Park is home to the east coast's highest point on Cadillac Mountain. Finally, if you are an animal lover, you can count on seeing moose, seabirds, bears, and even whales if you are lucky.

Top tip: If you can time your New England travels around Fall (September to mid-November), you will get to experience the stunning colors of the turning trees. Picture vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows as far as the eye can see.

Address: Acadia National Park, Maine

Visit Website

Also Read: Best Things to Do in Acadia National Park, Maine

2: Mystic Seaport Museum, Connecticut

Mystic Seaport Museum, Connecticut
Flickr/Ken Mist

New England continues to be a historic portal to the maritime ages. At Mystic Seaport, a living museum, you can experience a working preservation shipyard, a recreated 19th-century coastal village, and exhibitions. However, that’s not all you can do. Jump into a carriage and take a ride into the village, where you can enter authentic lobster shacks, listen to sailors sing sea shanties, and learn all about how fishermen in the past lived.

Address: 75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, CT 06355

Visit Website

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Connecticut

3: Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts

Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts
Dreamstime/Sandra Foyt

Visiting Boston sometime soon? It’s the perfect opportunity to walk the Freedom Trail, a 7.6-mile trail that takes you through some of the most historic districts in Boston. Houses and buildings from the American Revolution period are the primary attractions along the walk, but you will also visit Faneuil Hall, the site of the Boston Massacre, the Old North Church, and highly trafficked streets like Tremont Street, the Old State House, and the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Address: Freedom Trail, Boston, MA

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Massachusetts

4: Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
Dreamstime/Xavier Ascanio

The fact that the 34.5-mile-long Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire is separated from civilization and modern conventions might initially turn you off, but hear us out. The road carves a winding trek between the Swift River and the White Mountains, so if you go in autumn, you are in for views that will take your breath away. Meanwhile, visit Sabbaday Falls and Rocky Gorge for some hiking. This is a road trip and camping trip all in one, making it a perfect day trip with kids or by yourself for some quality relaxation.

Address: Route 112, North Conway, NH

Also Read: Most Scenic Drives in the USA

5: Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Cape Cod has drawn Americans for generations. From John F. Kennedy to Meg Ryan to Tommy Hilfiger to Taylor Swift, Cape Cod has been home to some of America’s most famous politicians, actors, musicians, designers, and everything in between. Cape Cod National Seashore has forty miles of sandy beach as well as ponds and marshes, drawing some excellent species.

In addition to the natural drawing factors, you will also find picturesque lighthouses and some of the country's most charming restaurants and shops. The activities along the Cape Cod National Seashore are plenty. You can spend the day watching wildlife with guides to learn about the diverse species roaming the land with you. Alternatively, you can rent bikes and explore the area on wheels or head to the shore for some fishing. Needless to say, this iconic seashore has a lot to offer. 

Address: Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Visit Website

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Cape Cod and the Islands

6: The House of the Seven Gables, Massachusetts

The House of the Seven Gables, Massachusetts

For all the literary enthusiasts reading, we could not complete this New England list without mention of the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts. New England landscapes inspired the likes of Henry David Thoreau, Robert Frost, John Updike, and Emily Dickinson.

Salem, specifically, was the muse for Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, which he wrote in 1851. The house was built in 1668 by John and Elizabeth Robinson Turner and has been used as a setting for Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel of the same name. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2007.

Surrounded by lush gardens and set along the picturesque coastline of Salem Harbor, The House of the Seven Gables stands out among its neighboring buildings with its distinctive seven-gabled roofline. We highly recommend reading Hawthorne’s novel ahead of visiting so you can get the most out of your visit.

Address: 115 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Salem

7: Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in New England and, arguably, even within the entire country. Vermont is filled with beautiful trees and landscapes, and its towns, such as Stowe, have gorgeous old buildings that make one feel as if they are in an old film.

Stowe is famous for its skiing; however, there are endless things to do here at any time of year. In the fall, you will see autumnal colors you’ve never seen before. In the winter, you can hit the renowned slopes and enjoy some of the winter festivals, including ice sculpture making and explorations of the charming old town.

In the spring, you can take a maple syrup class at one of the family-run Maple Syrup houses, and in the summer, you can hike the mountains and finish off the day with a delightful cocktail by the Little River.

Address: Stowe, VT

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Vermont

8: Mount Washington Cog Railway, New Hampshire

Mount Washington Cog Railway, New Hampshire
Flickr/Tony Hisgett

The Cog Railway is nothing short of mechanical mastery and almost gravity-defying genius. Found on Mount Washington in Bretton Woods, NH, the world’s first cog railroad to climb mountains is found here. Climb aboard the locomotive for a 60-minute ride at a mind-boggling 40-degree ascent. Regardless of the season, the views of the train are breathtaking; and once you reach the top of Mount Washington, that view gets even better. This is one train ride you definitely want to experience at least once.

Address: 3168 Base Station Rd, Bretton Woods, NH 03575

Visit Website

Also Read: The Most Scenic Train Rides in the USA

9: White Mountains, New Hampshire

White Mountains, New Hampshire
Dreamstime/Winston Tan

There are over 20 mountain peaks above 4,000 feet within the White Mountains chain. This is where NH locals head for some fantastic outdoor time. Summers are spent hiking through glens and forests and mountain climbing in the White Mountain National Forest.

At the same time, fall welcomes those with cameras around their necks because the foliage is incredible. Winter brings skiers and snowboarders to the resorts and steeple-like slopes. White Mountains is absolutely one of the best places to visit in New England for all things outdoor.

Address: White Mountains, Lincoln, NH 03251

Also Read: Top 20 Attractions in New Hampshire

10: Block Island, Rhode Island

Block Island, Rhode Island

Block Island is located just 9 miles off the southern tip of Long Island, New York, and belongs to the state of Rhode Island. Block Island is on our list of places to visit in New England for many reasons. The first of which has to do with the wildlife it is home to. The Nature Conservancy includes the island in its list of "The Last Great Places", describing just 12 sites in the Western Hemisphere that are rich in biodiversity.

Roughly 40 percent of Block Island is deemed "under conservation". As such, the plants, animals, and insects you will see here are magnificent. In addition to the nature on the island's 10 square miles of land, you will find some historically rich sites, including grand old homes, lighthouses and museums describing the shipwrecks located just off the shores of the island.

Address: New Shoreham, RI

Also Read: Best Places To See Fall Foliage In New England

11: Conway Scenic Railroad, New Hampshire

Conway Scenic Railroad, New Hampshire
Dreamstime/Christopher Sprake

If you are looking for a special treat from your visit to New England, we highly recommend boarding the Conway Scenic Railroad in New Hampshire. This heritage railway allows one to step into a time machine. The trail is complete with old-fashioned, re-furbished rail cars with wooden panels and charming blue seats. While aboard, the train will take you through the mountains, where you can see endless slopes of magnificent trees and jarring rock faces.

The rail station itself has been frozen in time, with its 1874 façade kept intact. You can choose from the Heritage Valley Excursions and the Mountaineer to Crawford Notch, both of which are sure to delight any traveler looking for a nostalgic experience. Picture yourself as the protagonist from a period novel as you pass by these breathtaking sites.

Address: 38 Norcross Cir, North Conway, NH 03860

Also Read: 30 Best Train Museums in the US

12: The Breakers, Rhode Island

The Breakers, Rhode Island

When it comes to New England sightseeing, The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, is an absolute must. This Gilded Age mansion built between 1893 and 1895 was the summer residence of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, whose name you may recognize as a member of one of America's wealthiest families.

The mansion is exquisite and resembles the likes of Versailles more so than a cozy Rhode Island cottage. The Breakers Landscape is 13 acres and sits overlooking the sea. It once entertained prominent political figures, royalty, and the Gilded Age elite in its 48 bedrooms. If you are interested in architecture, history, or decadent wealth, then The Breakers should be a stop on your journey.

Address: 44 Ochre Point Ave, Newport, RI 02840

13: Lake Champlain, Vermont

Lake Champlain, Vermont
Dreamstime/Ann Moore

We have mentioned Lake Champlain in our coverage of ECHO, which sits on its shores; however, the body of water itself is well worth a visit on your New England tour. At 120 miles in length and 12 miles at its widest point, Lake Champlain is a site to behold.

It boasts 71 islands and 587 miles of shoreline to explore. The aquatic life is fascinating as the lake is freshwater despite its vast size. Interestingly, the lake extends past borders spanning from New York to Vermont and even all the way up to Canada's French province of Quebec.

Address: Lake Champlain, VT

Also Read: Most Beautiful Lakes in the USA

14: The Marginal Way, Maine

The Marginal Way, Maine
Dreamstime/Ann Moore

Any New England traveler is likely looking to experience one of the things the region is most renowned for - which according to anyone who knows anything - is the coastal walk. The Marginal Way is perhaps the most wonderful of these. The path is approximately a mile and a half in length and, thus, gets its name from the tiny margin between land and sea along its cliffs.

The cliff's edge is constantly battered with fantastic waves lifted into the air by the gusty winds. Along the path, you will find 39 benches perfectly placed at points where you can sit and take in the true beauty of the scene. Once you have pondered the view over the sea on the Marginal Way, you will find yourself at the end of the trail in a small town called Perkins Cove. Here, you can indulge in some fish & chips while exploring the movie set-like fishing town.

Address: Ogunquit, Maine

15: Harvard University, Massachusetts

Harvard University, Massachusetts
Dreamstime/Marcos Souza

How could one even consider the many things to do in New England without including a trip to Harvard? Harvard does not require an explanation as most people in the country (not to mention the world) will know about this Ivy League college founded in 1636. If you are visiting the campus, we suggest signing up for a tour as you will get much more out of the experience by learning of the many brilliant minds who attended the fine institution.

Address: Cambridge, MA

Visit Website

Also Read: Most Beautiful College Campuses in the USA

16: Hildene -The Lincoln Family Home, Vermont

Hildene -The Lincoln Family Home, Vermont
Dreamstime/Lei Xu

Hildene, Vermont, makes our list of things to see in New England because it features a superb combination of architecture, history, and charm. Hildene, often referred to as the Lincoln Family Home, was the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln and his wife, Mary Harland Lincoln.

The home has been converted into an educational center with the mission of instilling the Lincoln values of integrity, perseverance, and civic responsibility in its visitors. Through diligent conservation of the land on which it rests, preservation of the house itself, and a commitment to both sustainability and upkeep of civil civic discourse, Hildene is a great place to spend an inspiring afternoon.

Address: 1005 Hildene Rd, Manchester, VT 05255

Visit Website

Also Read: Most Famous Historic Homes in America

17: Mark Twain House, Connecticut

Mark Twain House, Connecticut
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

The Mark Twain House is another one of the best places to visit in New England. As the name suggests, it is the restored home of the iconic writer who lived there from 1874 to 1891. It is in this house that Twain wrote Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In addition to its rich literary history, the house itself is breathtakingly beautiful, as you can see here. Plus, with its location in Hartford, you will find yourself next to all sorts of other spots to visit in the city.

Address: 351 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT 06105

18: New England Aquarium, Massachusetts

New England Aquarium, Massachusetts
Dreamstime/Ritu Jethani

If you find yourself in the wonderful city of Boston, Massachusetts, be sure to check out the New England Aquarium. Of course, the aquarium has some lovely things to do inside its doors, including the thousands of aquatic animals, some of which are extremely unique such as the rockhopper penguins, the green sea turtle, or the northern fur seal.

However, what truly sets the New England Aquarium apart is its Whale Watch experience which is its partnership with Boston Harbor City Cruises. Step onboard a boat departing from the Central Wharf that will take you out into the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where you are guaranteed to see whales.

Address: 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110

Visit Website

Also Read: 25 Best Aquariums in the US to Visit

19: Providence Children's Museum, Rhode Island

Providence Children's Museum, Rhode Island

If you have kids on the younger side and know that they won’t be as entertained as you are by New England’s historical sites, then we suggest making a trip to the Providence Children’s Museum in Rhode Island.

We believe the museum’s mantra says it all, “Play isn’t killing time. It’s creating character”. In our technological age, it can be easy to pass your child the iPad to keep them entertained, but at Providence Children's Museum, the iPad won't hold a candle. The museum is all about imagination, games, and interaction with one another.

Address: 100 South St, Providence, RI 02903

Visit Website

Also Read: The Best Children's Museums in the USA

20: ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Vermont

ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Vermont
Dreamstime/Jennifer Lobo

Now, New England is famous for its outdoorsy things to do; however, one of the many New England attractions is actually an indoor wonder. ECHO is one of the country's most advanced science centers and museums. It is located on Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont. The center mainly focuses on nature and everything to do with it because of its prime location in such a biodiverse region.

With over 100 interactive exhibits, 70 species of fish, amphibians, and reptiles, as well as constantly changing major exhibits, ECHO has a lot to offer. The center has a mission to educate children from an early age about the importance of the natural world and how we can prosper alongside our furry (and not-so-furry) friends. If you are looking for a stop on your trip that is both exciting and educational, ECHO is your ticket.

Address: 1 College St, Burlington, VT 05401

Visit Website

Also Read: Best Science Museums in the US

21: Strawbery Banke Museum, New Hampshire

Strawbery Banke Museum, New Hampshire

Our final destination on this extensive list of things to do in New England is the lovely Strawbery Banke Museum located in New Hampshire's very oldest neighborhood. The 10-acre outdoor museum focuses on bringing history to life. It covers over 300 years of rich history through interactive experiences, historic houses, role players in costume, and expansive historical gardens. 

Strawbery Banke Museum opens its doors to around 110,000 visitors annually. In addition to its featured exhibits, which change regularly, you may wish to go in the wintertime to visit the fabulous skating rink at Puddle Dock Pond. This year, the rink opens on November 28th at 9 am and is an idyllic setting for anyone looking for a fun-filled, festive skate surrounded by snow-covered historic buildings.

Address: 14 Hancock St, Portsmouth, NH 03801

10 Most Beautiful Small Towns In Illinois You Need To Visit

Read Article