New England in Summer
New England is on the same latitude as Rome, so summers are hot and sunny. Expect bright blue skies and green forests, cheerful flowers and colorful beach umbrellas. With beaches and mountains, New England is perfect for endless outdoor summer adventures. Or, just relax and do nothing at all!
New England Summer Travel Ideas
Country drives, beaches, lakes, wineries, and America’s first family theme park.
- On the coast: Relax on beautiful beaches, such as Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison. Tour Mystic Seaport, a 19th-century 'living history' village, where the past comes to life with entertaining role players. Take carriage rides and boat trips.
- River fun: From Essex, take a steam train and a riverboat ride for spectacular views of the Goodspeed Opera House and Gillette Castle.
- Central/west: In Bristol, Lake Compounce was America’s first family theme park (1846). Families still love it, and there are rides for all ages. The 60mph Boulder Dash was voted the world’s #1 wooden coaster. Clipper Cove splashes all with its 300-gallon tipping water bucket. And, Mammoth Falls is a family rafting adventure.
- West/Litchfield: Rise and shine for an early-morning hot-air balloon ride over the serene Litchfield Hills. Aer Blarney Balloons in Litchfield offers champagne flights. Keep your eyes peeled for covered bridges.
Beaches or rocky coves? Coastal villages or vast wilderness? Your choice!
- The southern coast: Laze on white sands in York, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, or Cape Elizabeth.
- The Mid-Coast: Boothbay is home to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens; Rockland and Camden are the harbors for Maine’s windjammers (historic schooners). Take the Maine Eastern Railroad for a terrific view of the coastline.
- DownEast & Acadia: Explore Acadia National Park, one of America’s most popular parks, on foot, on a bike or in your car. Stay in Bar Harbor. Take trips to see whales and puffins. Visit West Quoddy Head Light, the easternmost point in the USA.
- The Maine’s Highlands — Bangor, Katahdin, Moosehead: Bangor is the gateway to this huge area: Baxter State Park (200,000 acres/81,000 hectares), Moosehead Lake (the largest in the Northeast), and Mount Katahdin, one mile high (1,600m). Take a moose safari, hike part of the Appalachian Trail, canoe on backcountry waters.
Sandy beaches, cultural festivals and big city fun.
- Cape Cod: Of its 115 beaches, the National Seashore’s are the most famous. Bike along the Shining Sea Bikeway. Play miniature golf, a Cape Cod tradition; go to an old-fashioned drive-in movie in Wellfleet.
- The Islands: Take a ferry to the two famous off-shore islands for great beaches and cycle trails. Stay on Martha’s Vineyard; sail on one of the Black Dog Tall Ships. On Nantucket, learn about the past at the Nantucket Whaling Museum.
- Boston: Glide across the Boston Public Gardens’ lagoon on a swan boat. Take a picnic out to the Boston Harbor Islands or go on a whale watching trip from the New England Aquarium.
- Western Massachusetts: Watch the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood and dance performances at Jacob’s Pillow. Kayak or raft on the Deerfield River; hike, bike or even rock climb in the state parks.
Mountains and lakes, plus a sandy coastline.
- Beaches: The shore is only 18 miles long, but packed with fun. Try North Hampton, Wallis Sands, or Jenness State Parks or Hampton Beach with its boardwalk atmosphere, free fireworks and concerts.
- Portsmouth: One of America’s oldest cities has centuries-old homes and Strawbery Banke Museum. With gardens, workshops, homes and interpreters, this covers 300 years of local life. Across the street, the riverside Prescott Park is home to a summer-long festival of music, dance and drama. For a real treat, spend an afternoon out on the Isles of Shoals just 10 miles off the coast.
- The Lakes Region: On Lake Winnipesaukee, go for a cruise on the M/S Mount Washington; watch the fireworks and ride a train at Weirs Beach. Enjoy an aerial view of lakes and mountains from Castle in the Clouds, a handsome turn-of-the-century Arts & Crafts mansion.
- The White Mountains: Want to hike? Or just go for a walk? Glide to the top of peaks in a gondola? Zoom down on an alpine slide. Do it all in 'The Whites,' whose tallest peak, Mount Washington, is the highest in the northeast. For special fun, summer here is a perfect time for a moose safari.
More than 400 miles of coastline and festivals galore.
- South county: Spend the day on long, sandy beaches and ride one of the nation’s oldest carousels in Westerly. Watch the surfers at Narragansett. At Point Judith, board a ferry for the 12-mile (19-km) ride to idyllic Block Island.
- Block Island: Old-fashioned pleasures are a way of life here: stretch out on the beach or cycle around the island — it’s only 10 square miles (26 sq km)!
- Providence: Summer means WaterFire, a spectacular evening pageant of music and 100 bonfires on the city’s three rivers.
- Newport: There is music in the grand mansions during the Newport Music Festival. Fort Adams State Park hosts the world-famous festivals of jazz and folk. And, for a unique experience, take a sunset cruise aboard an America’s Cup yacht.
The Green Mountains, Lake Champlain, and charming villages.
- Waterbury: Famous for Ben & Jerry’s, where you can tour the factory and sample the ice cream. Nearby, see how apple cider is made at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, taste cheese at Cabot's Cheese, or kayak on the Winooski River.
- Mountains and valleys: Head to the mountain areas for summer fun: Killington, Stowe, Mad River Valley, and Smugglers’ Notch, known to regulars as "Smuggs."
- Burlington Area: Visit the Shelburne Museum, whose eclectic collection of art and Americana includes the steamboat Ticonderoga. In lively Burlington, Church Street Marketplace bustles with shoppers and the city’s annual Discover Jazz Festival just gets better and better.
- Weston: The Weston Playhouse is part of New England’s rich tradition of summer theater.
New England Summer Events
Connecticut — Mystic: Mystic Seaport's Sea Music Festival is jolly fun with maritime music from around the world.
Maine — Rockland: The Maine Lobster Festival is the world’s biggest and best, serving up 20,000 pounds (9,000kg) of lobster.
Massachusetts — Hyannis, Cape Cod: The Cape Cod Chowder Festival is an excuse to slurp and sip.
New Hampshire — Hampton Beach: Art on the beach at the annual Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition.
Rhode Island — Newport: The Newport Jazz Festival is still the best international jazz festival in the world; outdoors by the water.
Vermont — Stowe: the annual Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival is one of Vermont's most celebrated summer celebrations.
If you enjoy outdoor adventure, the Appalachian Mountain Club has a comprehensive list of ideas in each New England state based on your favorite activity.
Summer is a very busy time of year in New England. In the more popular areas, be sure to make reservations several months in advance.
What to Wear
New England summers are hot — so, pack the bathing suits. If you are staying at a small inn and like to have air conditioning, check to see that it is provided. In the hills and mountains, Mother Nature provides the air con! It gets cool at night — great for sleeping.