You’ve seen the lighthouses. You’ve marveled at the fall foliage. You know that New England is a region of beauty, and this must-see destination is just built for the road trip crowd.

At 72,000 square miles – slightly larger than the state of Washington – New England is an easily navigable road trip destination sprinkled with attractions and adventures just a stone’s throw from each other. If you’re visiting the land of lobster, rocky coasts and lighthouses, here are 16 stops for the perfect New England road trip.

Wonder where to stop for your perfect New England road trip? Here are our favourite spots!

MAINE

1. Portland Head Light: This Northeast icon is one of Maine’s most popular attractions; it’s easily accessible by car, dog friendly and absolutely gorgeous during golden hour. But it also draws a large number of tourists, particularly during summer. For a less crowded experience, check out Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, an equally aesthetic but much quieter option in Cape Elizabeth.   

2. Acadia National Park: Hikers, climbers and nature lovers flock to Acadia National Park; it’s known for surreal peaks and even sweeter views. If you’re pressed on time, you can get the experience of summiting one of Acadia’s peaks by driving to the top of Cadillac Mountain.

3. The Lobster Shack: Enjoy “lobstah” and that gorgeous New England coast at this picnic-style restaurant in Cape Elizabeth. The Lobster Shack is BYOB, dog-friendly and oh-so delicious.

4. Breweries: Maine is the East Coast’s version of Colorado, with an impressive brewery roster that includes Allagash, Shipyard, Rising Tide and so many more. Of course, these breweries are the way to end a night (sans driving) to keep yourself and those around you safe.

Wonder where to stop for your perfect New England road trip? Here are our favourite spots!

NEW HAMPSHIRE

5. Mount Washington: At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the Northeast’s highest peak. In the summer, it’s great for hiking and climbing, but the winter months can get a bit dicey, as the summit has notoriously unpredictable – and in some cases dangerous – weather. For an unforgettable experience, hike to the top of Mount Washington and stay overnight at the summit’s observatory.

6. Story Land: While designed for kids, Story Land is fun for kids at heart. It offers rides based on fan-favorite fairytales including Alice’s Tea Cups and Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach.

7. White Mountain Trail: This 61-mile scenic drive takes road trippers through some of New Hampshire’s best scenery, including covered bridges, the glacier-carved Flume Gorge, waterfalls and more.

Wonder where to stop for your perfect New England road trip? Here are our favourite spots!

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VERMONT

8. Lake Champlain: Sure, the formal name is Lake Champlain, but people in Burlington call this scenic area “The Islands.” For roughly 30 miles, The Islands are connected via U.S. Route 2, and are accessible from Burlington and further up north near Champlain, New York. Visitors flock here in spring, summer and fall for relaxed walks on the shoreline, outdoor adventures and the tasty Lake Champlain Coast Wine Trail.

9. Downtown Burlington: Colonial spires and outdoor cafes decorate Burlington’s charming brick streets. Whether it’s the Church Street Market – Burlington’s open-air mall – or a stroll along the Waterfront Park, this laid-back Vermont town is a great stopover for any New England road trippers.

Wonder where to stop for your perfect New England road trip? Here are our favourite spots!

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MASSACHUSSETTS

10. Cape Cod: The Cape is everything you’d expect for summer in New England: lighthouses, dune beaches, fishing boats and lobster – all the lobster! If you’re looking for a party, head to Provincetown (an accepting haven for the LGBTQ community), or for a truly nautical adventure, take the ferry out to Nantucket, a 105-square-mile island with bike paths, restaurants and the absolutely delicious Cisco Brewers.

Wonder where to stop for your perfect New England road trip? Here are our favourite spots!

11. Harpoon Brewery: If you’re brave enough to road trip into Boston (kudos to you), hit up Harpoon Brewery out in the Seaport neighborhood. This is one of the best New England breweries both in taste and character. It’s right near the waterfront; in the summer and fall, they have fun outdoor day-drinking events frequently. Bottoms up!

12. Salem: If spooky is your thing, Salem is the place to go. Stop by the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, the Old Burying Point Cemetery or the Joshua Ward House, all which are rumored to have spirits. For a less ghoulish experience, explore the Pickering Wharf, Peabody Essex Museum or Winter Island Park.

RHODE ISLAND

13. Brown University: Providence is a hilly mix of canals, colonial churches and college campuses. Perhaps the most beautiful of those campuses – Brown University – is as much a tourist sight as it is a college. The historic, antique campus is filled with students throwing the Frisbee or playing a game of Quidditch (no, seriously – I stayed and watched the whole thing). To blend in as a Brown student, grab a bite on bustling Thayer Street, one of the university’s most popular restaurant rows.

14. Newport Mansions: Just because you can’t afford a mansion doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate them. Such is the case with Newport, Rhode Island, a historic area filled with mansions that could easily pass as royal palaces. With mansions belonging to iconic families like the Vanderbilts, Newport will leave you both awestruck and fully aware of your place in society.

Wonder where to stop for your perfect New England road trip? Here are our favourite spots!

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CONNECTICUT

15. Mystic: Stroll along the Mystic Seaport waterfront, duck in a boutique shop and explore the historic ships at one of Connecticut’s most adorable little getaways, Mystic. This is a great half-day trip for anyone passing through the area, but make sure you leave time for lunch, because with a delicious lineup of cafes and restaurants nearby, you won’t leave disappointed.

16. Mark Twain’s home: Bookworms, brace yourself: You can actually see the place famous characters like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer were born at Mark Twain’s home in Hartford. The house is open for tours daily.

What place would you add to your perfect road trip?


This is a guest post by Stephanie Vermillion.

Stephanie Vermillion is a travel writer and blogger based in New York City. Her writing has been published in outlets like Mental Floss, MSN, Matador Network and Travelettes, and she is a contributing author to Thought Catalog’s travel book, “Let’s Get Lost.” Stephanie is also a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, and runs road trip travel blog, The Wanderlost Way. Connect on Instagram @TheWanderlostWay, Twitter @WanderlostWay and YouTube.