Culture, History & Shopping Tour
This New England driving tour takes you to some of the less discovered historic and cultural sites along the more rural back roads of New Hampshire and Vermont. Plus, for those who love shopping, there are some great stops in between at some of the region's most popular designer outlet centers. Start in Boston, then head up the scenic New England coastline. After that, you'll venture into less discovered central New Hampshire with its lakes and countryside, and into the serene greenery of Western Massachusetts.
TRAVEL: Arrive and overnight Boston.
Boston: Visit Cultural Museums
Harvard Museum of Natural History — Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Harvard Museum of Natural History was established in 1998 as the public face of three research museums: the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Harvard University Herbaria, and the Mineralogical and Geological Museum. The Harvard Museum of Natural History is the most visited attraction at Harvard — for its historical collections, its temporary exhibitions, and its new permanent galleries.
Walk the Freedom Trail — Boston, Massachusetts
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile red-brick walking trail that leads you through the streets of Boston to 16 nationally significant historic sites -- each one an authentic American treasure. Preserved and dedicated by the citizens of Boston in 1958 when the wrecking ball threatened, the Freedom Trail today is a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond. Choose from a self-guided or regularly scheduled tour.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world; the collection encompasses nearly 450,000 works of art. The MFA welcomes more than one million visitors each year to experience art from ancient Egyptian to contemporary, special exhibitions, and innovative educational programs. 2010 marked the opening of the Art of the Americas Wing, with four levels of American art from ancient to modern. In 2011, the west wing of the Museum was transformed into the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art, with new galleries for contemporary art and social and learning spaces. Improved and new galleries for European, Asian, and African art have opened through 2013, with more to come.
TRAVEL: Overnight in Boston.
North of Boston
The Peabody Essex Museum — Salem, Massachusetts
The Peabody Essex Museum collections showcase unrivaled New England art, architecture and maritime art, plus outstanding Asian, Asian export, Native American, oceanic and photography collections. Approximately 1 million works — many of them the first to be collected in the USA — offer experiences unique among American art museums. The museum's exhibits are intended to open windows onto how people live, work and celebrate. Be sure to see Yin Yu Tang — a Chinese ancestral home in its entirety.
Salem Maritime National Historic Sites — Salem, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts was once one of the most important ports in America. The historic buildings, wharves, and reconstructed tall ship at Salem Maritime tell the stories of the sailors, Revolutionary War privateers, and merchants who brought the riches of the Far East to America. Go on a guided or self-guided tour of this town's fascinating maritime past. See the West India Goods Store and tour the Friendship, a tall ship replica. If you want to sail in the harbor, take a journey on schooner Fame, a replica of the successful privateer from the War of 1812.
TRAVEL: Follow Route 1A to Ipswich and then to Newburyport, Massachusetts; then take I-95 North to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Overnight in Portsmouth.
Coastal New Hampshire & Southern Maine
A morning visit to Strawbery Banke Museum.
Strawbery Banke Museum: Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Strawbery Banke tells the stories of the many generations who settled in the Portsmouth community, from the late 17th to the mid-20th century, in this city's oldest seacoast neighborhood once known as Puddle Dock. Visitors to this living history museum may tour 40 restored properties, historic landscapes and gardens, and special exhibits. Role-players portray townspeople from different time periods. Meet Mrs. Goodwin out tending her garden, or Mrs. Randall minding the 1940s Abbott Store. Across the street, stroll along the beautiful Prescott Park gardens overlooking the Pistcataqua River.
DRIVING: head north on Route 1 into Maine. You will drive through the Kittery Outlet area.
Late Morning Shopping Break: The Kittery Outlets in Kittery, Maine. Stores include: Aeropostale, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Coach, Cole Haan, Nike, Nine West, Polo Ralph Lauren, Timberland, The Cosmetics Company, Tommy Hilfiger, Reebok and many more.
TRAVEL: Continue north on Route 1 to the town of York. Take a right on Route 1A /York Street. Take your third right onto Lindsay Road for the Museums of Old York parking.
Early afternoon — tour the historic sites of York, Maine.
The Museums of Old York — York, Maine
(Open June through mid-October) Originally referred to as Gorgeana, York is one of New England's earliest colonial settlements. It also has the distinction of being the America's first chartered city (1641) and first incorporated city (1642). On self-guided or organized tours, visit eight historic museums focusing on living history and decorative arts. Tour the Old Gaol, a royal prison for the Province of Maine, a one-room schoolhouse, and an historic tavern. Be sure to see the Elizabeth Perkins house -- one of the finest surviving examples of colonial revival architecture in the region in a beautiful spot overlooking the York River where lobster boats dock nearby. A walking tour leads to a 17-acre nature preserve along the river and the "Wiggly Bridge" -- a childrens' favorite. From the center of York Village, it is a short drive to beautiful sandy beaches and the famous Nubble Lighthouse.
DRIVING: Take Route 4 to Concord, New Hampshire, and continue on Route 4 to Andover or New London, New Hampshire, for overnight.
Drive to Canterbury Village in New Hampshire. En route, browse the antique stores on Route 4.
A Special Community: Canterbury Shaker Village
The religious group known today as the Shakers was formed in 18th-century England when dissidents from various religions, including English Quakers and Methodists, formed a religious society based on prophetic doctrine. The group, formally called the United Society of Believers, were known as Shaking Quakers, or Shakers, because of their use of ecstatic dance in worship. The Shakers emigrated to the United States in 1774 and eventually established nineteen self-contained communities from Maine to Kentucky. Canterbury Shaker Village is one of the oldest, most typical and completely preserved of the Shaker Villages. The Village contains the only intact, first-generation Meetinghouse, built in 1792, and Dwelling House, built in 1793, in their original locations. Overall, the Shakers were the most successful communitarian society in American history. Tour the historic buildings, stroll the gardens, and eat lunch at the full-service restaurant in the beautifully reconstructed Blacksmith Shop.
Shopping Break: Tanger Outlets in Tilton, New Hampshire Make a stop for fantastic shopping in New Hampshire's Lakes Region. The Tanger Outlets in Tilton offer more than 50 brand name and tax-free stores, including Bass, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike Factory Store, Levi's Outlet, Gap Outlet, Eddie Bauer Outlet, Wilsons Leather and many more. Be sure to stop by Shopper Services for a coupon book featuring more than $400 in added savings.
Overnight in Andover or New London, New Hampshire.
Estate Gardens & Lake Views: The Fells — Newbury, New Hampshire
The Fells is one of New England's finest examples of an early 20th-century summer estate. Take an historic guided tour of the 22-room Colonial Revival summer home of John Milton Hay; stroll the length of the 100-foot perennial border; discover the old garden hidden behind masses of rhododendron; and admire the view of Lake Sunapee from the formal rose terrace and hillside rock garden, where a brook trickles to a Japanese water lily pool.
Monument to an Artist: Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
Situated in Cornish, New Hampshire, this site is 150 acres of studios and gardens, and the former home of one of America's foremost sculptors, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The estate was the artist's summer residence until his death in 1907. Saint-Gaudens is credited with portraits of American heroes, including presidents, military leaders, and Supreme Court justices, as well as monuments and tributes such as the grieving figure in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington D.C.
Art in the Making: MASS MoCA
Since opening in 1999, MASS MoCA has become one of the world's premier centers for making and showing the best art of our time. With annual attendance of 120,000, it ranks among the most visited institutions in the United States dedicated to new art. More than 80 major new works of art and more than 50 performances have been created through fabrication and rehearsal residencies in North Adams, making MASS MoCA perhaps the most fertile site in the country for new art. The museum thrives on making and presenting work that is fresh, surprising, and challenging.
DRIVING: Take Route 2 East back to Boston — OR — head south on Route 7 to Pittsfield, Massachusetts
City of Peace: Hancock Shaker Village
Hancock Shaker Village began in the late 1780s, when nearly 100 believers consolidated a community on land donated by local farmers who had converted to the Shaker movement. By the 1830s, with a great many more conversions and further land acquisitions, the community had peaked in population with more than 300 believers and more than 3,000 acres. During their peak period of growth and religious fervor, the Hancock Shakers erected communal dwelling houses, barns, workshops, and other buildings, and developed a large and successful farm. With the 1826 Round Stone Barn as the center of a thriving dairy industry, and with many acres of medicinal herbs, vegetables, fruits, and other crops, the Hancock Shakers enjoyed a simple, peaceful, and hard-working lifestyle, separated from the ways of the world. They named their utopian village The City of Peace, and organized the large community into six smaller communal groups known as Families for efficiency of work, worship, and administration.
DRIVING: head south again on Route 7 to Stockbridge, Massachusetts
An American Master: the Norman Rockwell Museum
The Norman Rockwell Museum is dedicated to education and art appreciation inspired by the legacy of Norman Rockwell. The museum preserves, studies and communicates with a worldwide audience the life, art and spirit of Norman Rockwell in the field of illustration. The museum is a gathering place for reflection, involvement, and discovery through the enjoyment of the artist’s work. Norman Rockwell’s unique contributions to art and society, popular culture and social commentary influence the museum’s programs and interpretations.
DRIVING: overnight in Stockbridge OR take I-90 East back to Boston