Great small towns or cities to visit in New England
This small town on the southern coast of Maine affords an ideal combination of activities and ambience to please just about anyone. First, it is coastal so the beach is an obvious attraction, especially for families. The town is great for strolling — all the attractions, dining options, and accomodations are within walking distance of one another. Plus, the walks are pleasant, past well-kept homes with wonderful flower displays, and plenty of shops to browse in. The Perkins Cove area is especially scenic with numerous small boats coming and going. Also in this area is the beginning of the Marginal Way, a lovely path which skirts the rugged Maine coastline for several miles.
If quaint only goes so far, there is Summer Theater and also access to outlet shopping a few miles south in Kittery.
2. Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor is the gateway to Acadia National Park, a scenic wonderland of trails and drives accentuating Maine’s picturesque coastline. The park is alive with numerous activites at all times of the year. The village is just outside the park boundaries and offers a variety of accomodations and dining facilities, as well as numerous shops to search for that perfect gift or souvenir. The town is compact and pleasant to walk. Because of its location on Mount Desert Island, aquatic activities also abound. There are fishing boats, sightseeing boats, whale-watching boats, etc, which leave from the docks at various times of the day.
In addition, there is ferry service to the Canadian Maritime Province of Nova Scotia, a way of reaching this eastern outpost without the long drive.
For an interesting and somewhat offbeat activity, stop by at the Jackson Laboratory to learn how the raising of mice with human diseases has led to significant advances in the field of medicine.
Kennebunkport is a good example of an artist colony which has developed into a major tourist stop. This previously quiet enclave today attracts large crowds of people who browse the many shops looking for authentic work by local artists and artisans. Stroll the quaint village and window-shop or stop for a break at one of the many restaurants or ice-cream shops.
4. North Conway
Picture an alpine village transplanted from Europe to America and you have the town of North Conway. There are five (5) ski areas in the immediate vicinity and many more just a scenic drive away. The town is nestled in a valley at the eastern end of the White Mountains, a range of the Appalachians which contains Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeast and the scene of the highest winds ever recorded on the planet’s surface (over 200 miles per hour).
The town lies at the southern end of Franconia Notch, a picturesque cleft between the mountains which is especially scenic in the fall, when the autumn leaves sprinkle the hillsides with vibrant color.
The village itself can be easily walked although some sprawl has occurred in recent years which may necessitate some short driving. Restaurants and pubs abound, as well as accomodations, since this area has become a three-season vacationland. There are too many activities to mention, but, suffice to say, everyone can find something to do. The area is especially popular with families since there are many kid-oriented venues.
5. North Woodstock
On the western side of the White Mountains are the villages of Woodstock, North Woodstock, and Lincoln. Together they provide an alternative to North Conway (#4 above) as a gateway to the region. Once again, numerous activities, many centered around kids, are available in the vicinity. The Flume, a scenic walk through a chasm of waterfalls and sheer cliffs, and the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, a lift to the top of Cannon Mountain which provides glorious views of the countryside, are just two possibilities.
There is also access to Franconia Notch which is just north and east of the villages and to North Conway via the extremely popular Kancamagus Highway.
The capital city of Concord combines easy access (it is located at the junction of Interstates 89 and 93) with a small town atmosphere which is vintage New Hampshire. Although the center of government and therefore often busy with political and business activity, the streets of the city remain friendly to tourists, ideal for walking and interesting to explore.
There are a number of nearby activities which can occupy the visitor.
Stowe is the qunitessential Vermont town, with a white village church whose steeple dominates the skyline, pleasant streets ideal for strolling, numerous shops, restaurants and places to stay which somehow blend harmoniously into the village atmosphere. Ski areas and mountain scenery (especially attractive in the fall) are the major draws, but Stowe remains a great place to get away from it all because of its relaxed lifestyle and unhurried pace.
Just south of the village is Vermont’s premier tourist attraction, the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory which offers tours and some of the best ice cream in the world.
Burlington, although the largest city in the state, retains its Vermont charm despite its size. The classic college town, the city center maintains a year-round exuberance and youthfulness because of the presence of the University of Vermont. Stroll along pedestrian-only Church Street and explore the many shops, restaurants, and pubs. Dine al-fresco during much of the year and people-watch to your hearts content.
In the southern part of the state, just west of the scenic Green Mountains, lies Vermont’s shopping Mecca and a popular excursion from almost anywhere in New England or nearby New York. Manchester boasts outlet shopping in a quaint, pleasant-to-walk village setting.
Nearby Mount Equinox can be climbed by car or by foot for dramatic views of the surrounding countryside.