From historic villages to cutting-edge galleries, verdant mountains to granite shores, clam shacks to covered bridges, New England's scenic and cultural treasures are unparalleled.
The history of New England is the history of America. It's the Pilgrims who came ashore at Plymouth Rock, the minutemen who fought for independence from Britain, and the abolitionists who challenged America's legacy of slavery. It's the ponderings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the protests of Harriet Beecher Stowe. It's hundreds of years of poets and philosophers: progressive thinkers who dared to dream and dared to do. It's liberty-loving citizens not afraid to challenge the status quo, as well as generations of immigrants, who have shaped New England into the dynamic region that it is today.
Hikers, bikers, kayakers and skiers all find their bliss among the rolling hills and rocky peaks of the ancient Appalachian range – from Massachusetts' birch-covered Berkshires and Vermont's lush Green Mountains to the towering White Mountains of New Hampshire and Maine.
Some of America's prettiest inland lakes and nearly 5000 miles of coastline mean that New Englanders have unlimited opportunities for fishing, swimming, surfing, sailing and sunbathing. So pack your sunglasses and your sunblock and settle in for some quality time by the lakeside or the Atlantic shore.
At the cutting edge of culture, New England is home to exciting, experimental contemporary-art venues, as well as myriad traditional art museums. Indie bands rock out in Boston, Portland, Providence and Burlington. The world-renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra takes its show on the road in summer, delighting audiences in Tanglewood. Meanwhile, there are blues jams in Maine, folk festivals in Newport and Lowell, theater productions in the Berkshires, puppet shows in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom and classical music in Rockport. Concert series, film festivals and countless other performances mean the cultural calendar is jam-packed.
To get a taste of New England, check out the calendar of events celebrating local delicacies, such as Maine lobsters, Wellfleet oysters and Vermont beer. Blessed with a burgeoning locavore movement and a wealth of international culinary influences, New England cuisine fuses the best of both worlds. A pile of pancakes drenched in maple syrup; fresh farm produce and sharp cheddar cheese; fish and shellfish straight from the sea; exotic dishes with influences of Portugal, Italy or Asia: this is just a sampling of the epicurean delights that travelers will find in New England.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout New England.
Home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912, Fenway Park is the oldest operating baseball park in the country. As such, the park has many quirks that make for a unique experience. See them all on a ballpark tour of this Boston landmark, or come see the Sox playing in their natural habitat. The Green Monster The 37ft-high left-field wall is only 310ft away from home plate (compared to the standard 325ft), so it's popular among right-handed hitters, who can score an easy home run with a high hit to left. However, batters can just as easily be deprived of a home run when a powerful but low line drive bounces off the Monster for an off-the-wall double. As all Red Sox fans know, "the wall giveth and the wall taketh away." The Green Monster was painted green in 1947 and since then it has become a patented part of the Fenway experience. Literally. The color is officially known as "Fence Green" and the supplier will not share the formula. At the base of the Green Monster is the original scoreboard, still updated manually from behind the wall. The Pesky Pole The Pesky Pole, Fenway's right-field foul pole, is named for former shortstop Johnny Pesky. Johnny "Mr Red Sox" Pesky was associated with the team for 15 years as a player and 46 as a manager, coach and special instructor, until his death in 2012. The Triangle Many a double has turned into a triple when the ball has flown into the deepest, darkest corner of center field (where the walls form a triangle). At 425ft, it's the furthest distance from home plate. The Red Seat The bleachers at Fenway Park are green, except for one lone red seat: seat 21 at section 42, row 37. This is supposedly the longest home run ever hit at Fenway Park – officially 502ft, hit by Red Sox left fielder Ted Williams in 1946. Yawkey Way: race and the Red Sox For more than four decades, the road on the west side of Fenway Park was called Yawkey Way, named for the former owner of the Red Sox. In 2018, with the blessing of current Red Sox ownership, city officials changed it back to its original Jersey St. Namesake Tom Yawkey – Red Sox owner from 1933 until his death in 1976 – was revered for the good work of his family foundation. But during Yawkey's tenure, while society and baseball changed, the team and the city did not, sparking allegations of racism. Red Sox management resisted efforts to integrate, and Yawkey passed on the chance to sign baseball greats Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays. The Red Sox were the last all-white team in the major leagues, holding out until 1959 to sign their first African American player. The racist legacy of the organization, as well as the city, plagued the franchise well after Yawkey’s death. Even now, this seemingly progressive city has a reputation for overtly racist displays, especially by sports fans. The Boston Globe documented that athletes reported more incidents of being targeted by racial slurs in Boston than in any other city in the past 25 years (including one highly publicized incident in 2017). In an attempt to make Fenway Park more welcoming to all, current Red Sox owner John Henry led the push to revert the street name, telling local newspapers that he was "haunted" by the club's history. The Red Sox are also involved in the Take the Lead Campaign, an initiative to end hate speech and to promote diversity and inclusion on the fields. Incidentally, the former Yawkey Way Ext is now known as David Ortiz Dr, after the Dominican-born slugger, who led the Sox to three World Series victories before retiring a hero in 2016. Fenway Park tours Tours operate year-round. Hour-long tours depart at the top of the hour, but there are short 15-minute tours for those in a hurry. All tours are fully accessible. Tickets can be bought online in advance. There's also the option of a virtual guided drone tour of Fenway Park. Boston Red Sox tickets If you want to see a game, it's best to buy tickets well in advance. Limited game-day tickets go on sale (one per person) at Gate E, 90 minutes before the game, but people start lining up five hours ahead of time.
America's oldest college, Harvard University is one of the country's most prestigious universities. It was originally founded in Harvard Yard in 1636 by the General Court of Massachusetts with donations from Reverend John Harvard, and was intended to educate men for the ministry. Harvard University's notable alumni Alumni of the original Ivy League school include eight US presidents, and dozens of Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. Barack Obama graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991. Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, went to Harvard as did actress Natalie Portman and actor Tommy Lee Jones. Tours of Harvard University campus At the time of writing, only virtual tours are available. When visitors are once again welcome on campus, they should contact Smith Campus Center for information on historical tours. Self-guided tours are also available – start with the historic buildings clustered around Harvard Yard. Harvard Yard While the university now occupies vast areas in Cambridge, Allston and further afield, its geographic and historic heart remains at Harvard Yard. This is where red-brick buildings and leaf-covered lawns exude academia, where students congregate to study and socialize, and where graduates proudly receive their degrees. Flanked by its oldest buildings, the yard's main entrance at Johnston Gate opens up to wide lawns, gracious architecture and a buzzy academic atmosphere. John Harvard Statue The focal point of the yard is the John Harvard Statue, where every Harvard hopeful has a photo taken (and touches the statue’s shiny shoe for good luck). Daniel Chester French’s sculpture, inscribed "John Harvard, Founder of Harvard College, 1638", is known as the "statue of three lies": it does not actually depict Harvard (since no image of him exists), but a random student; John Harvard was not the founder of the college, but its first benefactor in 1638; and the college was actually founded two years earlier in 1636. The Harvard symbol hardly lives up to the university’s motto, Veritas, or "truth." Massachusetts Hall and Harvard Hall Flanking Johnston Gate are the two oldest buildings on campus. South of the gate, Massachusetts Hall (1720) houses the offices of the President of the University. It is the oldest building at Harvard and one of the oldest academic buildings in the country. North is Harvard Hall (1766), which originally housed the library. Memorial Hall North of Harvard Yard, just outside Bradstreet Gates and across the Plaza, this massive Victorian Gothic building was built to honor Harvard's Civil War heroes. The impressive Memorial Transept is usually open for visitors to admire the stained-glass windows and stenciled walls. Most of the building's artistic treasures are contained in Annenburg Hall, which is not open to the public.
The extraordinary 45-acre Shelburne Museum, nine miles south of Burlington, showcases the priceless artifacts, from America and abroad, collected by Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) and her parents – totalling 100,000 objects in all. The museum is renowned for the sheer variety of the exhibitions on show, which are housed in 39 buildings, many of which were moved here from other parts of New England to ensure their preservation. With the 220-ft Ticonderoga steamboat on the grounds and paintings from Manet, Monet and Degas, it is Northern New England's most significant art and history museum. History of Shelburne Museum Coming from a home with parents who were European and Asian art collectors, it is not surprising that Electra Havemeyer Webb would want to follow in their footsteps. However, from the tender age of 19, she knew she wanted to collect objects that were rooted in American History. In 1947, Electra founded Shelburne Museum as a place to showcase her family's assemblage of horse-drawn carriages. She spent several years locating 18th- and 19th-century buildings from New England and New York. Then, she had them relocated to the museum grounds as places to display the one-of-a-kind items she was curating. This unconventional museum opened to the public in 1952 with an eclectic collection that ranged from folk art to fine art and architecture to transportation exhibits. Today the museum's collection has grown to include over 100,000 pieces. After Electra died in 1960, her children built the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building. It includes a gallery of Impressionist paintings shown in six-period rooms that were relocated from her family's 1930s New York City apartment on Park Avenue. In 2013, the museum opened the new Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education. Far more modern than other buildings on the grounds, this contemporary exhibition center and learning space has two 2500 sq ft galleries, an auditorium and an education studio. Environmentally conscientious, Shelburne Museum intends to be fully powered by renewable energy by the end of 2021, when the final two solar arrays are constructed on the property. Buildings and collections Shelburne Museum's diverse collections fill its 39 exhibition buildings. Knowledgeable guides staff most of them. The impressive structures include a sawmill (1786), a blacksmith shop (1800), a one-room brick schoolhouse (1840), a covered bridge (1845), a lighthouse (1871), a luxury rail coach (1890), a classic round barn (1901), a railroad station (1915) and the Lake Champlain side-wheeler steamship Ticonderoga (1906). The horseshoe-shaped Circus Building houses the 500-ft Arnold Circus Parade with 4000 figurines. There are also hundreds of vintage circus posters, including those from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Outside, an operating 1920s carousel offers free rides every 15 minutes. Shelburne Museum Gardens There are more than 20 meticulously landscaped gardens on the museum grounds. As a result, there’s always something in bloom to admire, from the Main Entrance Garden to the Circus Building's Daylily Garden. In the early spring, the lilacs are in bloom, welcoming visitors back for the season. Several hundred peonies in 25 varieties will be flowering in the J. Watson Webb Jr. Memorial Peony Garden shortly after that. Filled with perennials, Alyssia's Garden can be found just outside of The Schoolhouse. It’s great for kids, with a swing set and slide to play on. Culinary connoisseurs, meanwhile, will enjoy the 1820s heirloom vegetable garden at the 18th-century Dutton House, the first dwelling to be relocated to the museum’s grounds. Planning your visit Allow at least half a day for your visit. Opening hours vary by season: check the museum’s official website before visiting. Shelburne Museum is a member of the North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM), and therefore offers free admission to members of museums that participate in NARM. The Museum is large and spread out. Buildings are accessed by paved walkways that wind their way through the grounds. There’s a free shuttle that drives around the property so you can hop on and off whenever you want. They also have wagons available free of charge to pull the kids around. Shelburne Museum hosts several concerts throughout the summer season. Everyone from Ray Lamontagne, Bonnie Rait, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson have played on the Green. On-site dining is available at the Weathervane Café, which serves sandwiches, grilled items, and snacks. You can also bring your lunch. There are picnic tables set up near the Café, plenty of lawn space and an open-air lounge area at Shaker Shed. There are several daily tours and demonstrations at the Museum. They are free with admission, and no registration is required. Be sure to save time to check out the museum store located at the Diamond Barn.
The ancestral home of Mary and Robert Lincoln, who was the son of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, 412- acre Hildene is a working farm, museum and gallery nestled between the flanks of New York’s Taconic and Vermont’s Green Mountains. Visit the sprawling, bucolic estate to stroll the halls of Lincoln’s Georgian Revival mansion, to explore the estate’s 14 historic outbuildings, and to wander the extensive gardens and walking paths. What does Hildene mean? Literally, Hildene is a marriage of two old English words “hil” meaning hill and “dene,” meaning valley with stream. Practically, it’s a place driven to encourage Abraham Lincoln’s core values: integrity, perseverance, civic responsibility. Hildene does this through active involvement in land conservation, historic preservation, sustainability, and civil civic discourse, and striving to inspire and impact every visitor. Hildene’s history Robert Lincoln built Hildene as a summer home at the turn of the 20th century. Lincoln’s descendants owned and farmed Hildene until 1975 when the last Lincoln family member passed away and the property was purchased by a non-profit that saved the estate from developers. Tour Hildene Start your tour in the welcome center followed by a self-guided tour of Robert and Mary Lincoln's home. Keep your ears peeled for melodies from the 1,000-pipe Aeolian organ, then wander through the Formal Garden with its famous peonies, stroll the Cutting and Kitchen Gardens, which burst with brilliant blossoms and fragrant herbs all spring, summer and fall. Peek into the Pullman car Sunbeam, and wonder at Robert's Observatory. If you’re still feeling fresh, and like it’s time to get lost in nature, follow the 12 miles of walking trails, then make a visit to Hildene’s Farm goat dairy and cheese making facility. Hildene’s exhibits The estate’s exhibits, which include The American Ideal, Abraham Lincoln and the Second Inaugural and Many Voices and new this year, are also included with the price of admission. Throughout the year, Hildene offers guided tours of the property and educational opportunities in their gardens and farm facilities on everything from peonies to pond critters. The estate’s goal is that every guest leaves “feeling a profound sense of possibility.” When should I visit Hildene? Hildene is open year-round. In summer, after touring the estate’s buildings, explore the 12 miles of walking trails. In winter, the Pavilion adjacent to the Welcome Center rents cross-country skis and snowshoes and the natural and ungroomed trails are open for winter adventure. Things to do around Hildene When you’ve concluded your Hildene tour, stop in Manchester, Vermont, a classic New England town tucked into the mountains and teeming with small shops, a tasty café and restaurants. In Manchester, Orvis’ American Museum of Fly Fishing displays rods, flies and angling-related art. The Southern Vermont Arts Center hosts exhibits, performances and a sculpture garden. The active and adventurous can hike Mount Equinox on a trail that starts from town or spend an afternoon at nearby Stratton Resort’ s new lift-serve bike park, or, in winter, carving turns on the resort’s snowy slopes. Grab lunch or dinner at one of Manchester’s exceptional restaurants like Al Ducci’s on Depot Street, which has a neighborhood market vibe and cases filled with authentic, made from scratch Italian foods, or Social House (SoHo), a Mediterranean restaurant with sharing and family-style options run by two restaurateurs reloaded from New York City's French-Seafood restaurant Le-Bernardin.
The educational playground that is the Museum of Science has more than 600 interactive exhibits. Favorites include the world’s largest lightning-bolt generator, a full-scale space capsule, a world population meter and an impressive dinosaur exhibit. Kids go wild exploring computers and technology, maps and models, birds and bees, and human evolution. Exhibitions and presentations frequently change, but here are some of the permanent highlights. Hall of Human Life The Hall of Human Life takes visitors on an interactive journey into the human body. You'll explore biology, consider aspects of what makes you you, and look at how well you manage your health. Live presentations See bolts fly around in the world's largest Van der Graaff generator in Lightning! and see science brought to life in a rotating schedule of presentations in Science Live! Live Animal Care Center More than 120 furry, feathered and scaly creatures feature in daily live animal presentations at the museum. Go behind the scenes at the Live Animal Care Center to see how they live and how they're cared for when they're not taking part in a demonstration. Charles Hayden Planetarium The Charles Hayden Planetarium boasts a state-of-the-art projection system that casts a heavenly star show, as well as programs about black holes and other astronomical mysteries. Mugar Omni Theater For total IMAX immersion, check out the space-themed and natural-science-oriented flicks at the Mugar Omni Theater. A sweet sound system will have you believing you’re actually roving around Mars or being attacked by sharks. Dinosaurs: Modeling the Mesozoic With life-size models, fossils, bones, footprints, and dino dung, see how paleontologists piece together information to form our understanding of pre-historic beasts today. Discovery Center The Discovery Center (temporarily closed) is a hands-on play area for kids under the age of eight. Tickets and other practicalities Timed-entry tickets must be booked in advance. There is an additional charge for the Planetarium, Omni Films and 4D films. There are accessible features throughout the museum including wheelchairs, assistive listening devices, and ASL interpreters. The Riverview Cafe is a food court–style cafeteria on-site; food must not be consumed in the Exhibit Halls.
Teeming with sea creatures of all sizes, shapes and colors, this giant fishbowl is the centerpiece of downtown Boston's waterfront. There are countless exhibits here exploring the lives and habitats of underwater oddities, as well as penguins and marine mammals. Here are some of the highlights. Giant Ocean Tank The main attraction at the aquarium is the four-story Giant Ocean Tank, which swirls with thousands of tropical creatures great and small, including turtles, sharks and eels. The vast tank holds 200,000 gallons of water, and is so huge that the rest of the aquarium was built around it. Seals and sea lions Harbor seals hang out in an observation tank near the aquarium entrance, while the open-air Marine Mammal Center is home to northern fur seals and California sea lions. Visitors can watch training sessions where the pinnipeds show off their intelligence and athleticism. Note that some animal rights groups make a strong case that marine mammals should not be kept in captivity, no matter how classy their quarters. Penguins Most of the aquarium's 1st floor is dedicated to an enormous penguin colony, home to more than 60 birds representing two different species: rockhoppers and African (or jackass) penguins. Shark and Ray Touch Tank The Shark and Ray Touch Tank recreates a mangrove swamp full of Atlantic rays, cownose rays and five species of sharks. Currently it's open for viewing only (no touching), but you can still learn about the importance of protecting ocean habitats and see plenty of activity through the crystal-clear water. Amazon Rainforest Upstairs, six different tanks showcase the flora and fauna of the Amazon rain forest, one of the most diverse habitats in the world. Look out for poison dart frogs, piranhas and anacondas. Olympic Coast exhibit Ever wanted to see a giant Pacific octopus, the largest of its species? This is where you could spot them, stretching their tentacles among other Pacific ocean creatures, including sea cucumbers, hermit crabs, and many different types of fish. Simons Theatre The Simons Theatre features short films with aquatic themes. Follow a pod of humpback whales on their migration, or get to know more about the incredible hunting skills of great white sharks. Closed captioning devices are available for all films. Whale watching The whale-watching cruises run by the aquarium in partnership with Boston Harbor Cruises (March to November) head out to Stellwagen Bank where whale sightings are guaranteed. You may also see sea birds, dolphins and other marine life. Tickets and other practicalities Timed-tickets to the aquarium should be bought online in advance. There is an additional charge for screenings at the Simons Theatre. Children under 3 may visit for free. Wheelchair-users may enter the aquarium free of charge. Whale-watching tickets should be booked through Boston Harbor Cruises, and can be combined with entry to the aquarium at a small discount.
Tucked into Franklin Park, the zoo features a half-dozen different habitats, as well as special exhibits devoted to birds and butterflies. The highlight is the well-designed Tropical Forest pavilion, complete with lush vegetation, waterfalls, lowland gorillas and over 30 species of free-flight birds. The Australian Outback Trail allows visitors to walk among red kangaroos and wallabies. Several exhibits are devoted to life on the savannah, showcasing an African lion, as well as giraffes, zebras and wildebeests. The Franklin Farm lets kids get up close and personal with sheep and goats. In addition to the many animal exhibits, the zoo has a wild and wonderful 10,000-sq-ft playground. Tickets and other practical information Timed-entry tickets should be bought in advance, although some day tickets are released intermittently. The zoo closes for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but is otherwise open year-round. Take bus 22, 28, 29 or 45 from Ruggles station. It's free to park at the zoo. Boston Lights at the Zoo Franklin Park Zoo plays host to Boston Lights: A Lantern Experience where the night sky is lit by many different hand-crafted lanterns. The displays show illuminated sunflowers and cherry blossoms, as well as a huge Tyrannosaurs Rex. The event runs every evening from July through to October, and tickets must be bought in advance.
In 2015 the nation's oldest public art museum completed a five-year, $33-million renovation, renewing 32 galleries and 15 public spaces. The Wadsworth houses nearly 50,000 pieces of art in a castlelike Gothic Revival building. On display are paintings by members of the Hudson River School, including some by Hartford native Frederic Church; 19th-century impressionist works; 18th-century New England furniture; sculptures by Connecticut artist Alexander Calder; and an outstanding array of surrealist, postwar and contemporary works.
One of Maine's most stunning protected areas, Baxter State Park is a verdant wilderness encompassing nearly 210,000 acres. Some 215 miles of trails draw hikers in the summer, and snowshoers in the winter. Mt Katahdin, at 5267ft, is the highest peak in Maine and the end point of the 2190-mile Appalachian Trail. There are numerous other mountains to climb, as well as waterfalls, streams and lakes (canoes are available to hire for $1 per hour).