The Best of Outdoors New England


Every month here at we try to introduce you to cool areas across the country that would fulfill any outdoor lover’s wish list. This month, it’s New England:

Size: New England is the cluster of the six states in the northern part of the United States—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Activities: Backpacking, camping, canoeing, cycling, hiking, scenic touring, skiing/snowboarding, kayaking, surfing, wildlife observation

Why you should go: New England has it all—from the sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound to the steep peaks of the White and Green Mountains. Water sport enthusiasts can choose from many diverse areas—from surfing the Narragansett Atlantic waters in Rhode Island to kayaking the Connecticut River. If you’re more of a land lover, New England offers plenty of hiking and camping spots. Hike the Appalachian trail through parts of New England to enjoy the many beautiful views of the Berkshire Mountains, the foothills of Connecticut, and Vermont’s famous foliage.

Snow lovers have plenty to choose from—cross country, snowshoe, and downhill trails abound, from Loon and Bretton Woods resorts in the White Mountains to Okemo Mountain and Killington in the Green Mountain State to Sunday River resort in Maine, just to name a few.

For the more laid-back outdoor enthusiast, the best reason to go to New England is for the fall foliage—meander through the area’s many back roads, over historic covered bridges, and around famous town greens to get the most colorful, beautiful views Mother Nature has to offer.

When you should go: The wide landscape of New England offers up numerous year-round activities. Truly a four-season destination, New England can get record snowfall and cold temperatures in the winter and hot temperatures and humidity in the summer. Even in early spring, the northernmost parts of the area can still be quite chilly, so if you’re planning to explore a range of sections—from coastal waters to inland mountains—plan to bring layers—the weather can be quite diverse depending on your location.

Parts of New England can get packed with tourists during certain times of the year—crowds migrate to the mountain regions in winter, to the beaches and lakes in the summer, and to the back roads and sleepy towns in fall for the area’s famous fall foliage. Be sure to book your hotels or B&Bs—which are quite popular in New England—well in advance.

Must-see/do: The area is so vast that this list is far from complete, but here’s a quick guide to some of the best things to do. Drive the coast, stopping at the piers and beaches for quintessential views of New England lighthouses. Maine, in particular, has an excellent collection of picturesque lighthouses and lobster shacks—be sure to experience them both. Mystic Seaport in Connecticut offers a historic look at the area’s seafaring past. For the urban-dweller, try out Newport’s famous “cliff walk”—a 3.5 mile path that hugs the cliffs of Newport, Rhode Island, and offers gorgeous Atlantic ocean views. Inland, leave the highway behind to get lost on the many quaint back roads the area has to offer—be sure to drive through historic villages (complete with white churches and town greens) like Marblehead, Massachusetts, and Woodstock, Vermont. Stop off in Stowe, Vermont, for its world-famous fall foliage and equally famous Trapp Family Lodge, once home of the von Trapp family (of Sound of Music fame). For wildlife lovers, take a turn down “Moose Alley” in New Hampshire to catch glimpses of the moose in the area.

Off the beaten path: The best thing about New England is that it’s so vast and diverse that you’re guaranteed to find an adventure and good time anywhere you go. For off the beaten path activities, just take a drive down the nearest back road—perhaps you’ll find the next best fishing hole or campground, or you’ll stop at a local shop to pick up some artisan jewelry or excellent grub.