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10 Must-have Ideas for Your New England Bucket List

10 Must-have Ideas for Your New England Bucket List

There’s never a bad time to visit New England. Well, part of that depends on your tolerance for the cold, but if you can handle chilly temps, New England has some pretty amazing things to offer even in the dead of winter. Made up of the northeastern most states – Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island – there are a few items that every visitor should have on their bucket list. Below are 10 things you should be sure to do when visiting New England:

1. Drive through Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont in the fall

aerial view of fall foliage in smugglers' notch

There is nothing like fall in Vermont, and Smugglers’ Notch is one of the best places to see peak foliage. Take a drive on Rt. 108 between Smugglers’ Notch and Stowe ski resorts in October, and you’ll understand why people take leaf peeping so seriously. The colors on this scenic drive are incredible, and you’re surrounded by mountains with easy trail hiking access if you’d like to see more on foot. Before you head out, check for road closures as the Notch does close when they start seeing significant snowfall or freeze. And if you plan on hiking, check AllTrails for conditions – the surrounding mountains typically see frost and snow before the road does!

2. Mountain bike at Kingdom Trails

Kingdom Trails is a destination for many avid mountain bikers. With over 85 miles of trails on private property, KT has single and double track options for all skill levels. Pending where you go, you’ll take a ride through farms, mountains, and people’s backyards. Check out trail conditions before making the trip!

3. Hike the Long Trail

See Vermont from tip to tail by taking a hike on the Long Trail. These 272 miles make up the oldest continuous footpath in the U.S. With steep inclines, muddy conditions, and few easy paths, the Long Trail isn’t for the faint of heart. But it’s a challenge worth doing. Not up for the whole 272 miles? No worries! Simply choose a section that looks like your type of adventure and get out there.

4. Summit Mount Washington (via hike or auto road)

view of mount washington

You can’t beat the view at the summit of the Northeast’s highest peak, Mount Washington. The long hike might not be for everyone – the shortest way up is roughly 8 miles. It’s not easy, and the weather on Mt. Washington is known for being cruel. If you’re feeling up for the challenge, check the weather and trail conditions, plan accordingly, and practice safe hiking methods. You can get up-to-date weather information from the Mt. Washington Observatory so you know what the weather is at the top. If you’re up for the adventure, the reward is worth the effort!

Want the view without the work? No problem. Take a drive up the auto road and enjoy the scenic ride and view from the top!

5. Surf off the coast of Maine

man in wet suit surfing a wave

Maine has some incredible beaches, and a passionate community of surfers to go along with it. Ogunquit, Wells, Kennebunk, Old Orchard Beach, and Portland are home to great waves. Be forewarned, the water in Maine is chilly, rarely getting above 60 degrees, making this an adventure for those who aren’t afraid of the cold – or who think the adventure is worth the chill. First timer looking to give it a go on your vacation? Check out the local surf shops to find a lesson!

6. Eat a lobster roll

photo of a lobster roll

New England lobster rolls are the stuff of legend. Grab one of these well-known sandwiches when you’re visiting a coastal town or city in New England and you won’t regret it. There are tons of articles on where to get the best one, so find a shop that’s on your road trip and hit it up for lunch or dinner!

7. Visit a sugar shack and see how maple syrup is made

sugar house sign on a sugar shack roof

Most New Englanders won’t be caught dead with a store-bought, brand-name maple syrup in their pantry. They want the real deal, which they can typically get from their local sugar shack or nearby market. Plan a visit to a sugar shack and see how the liquid gold is made. Don’t forget your maple candies on the way out!

8. Explore Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island

view of ocean on newport ri cliff walk

This 3.5 mile walk has sweeping ocean views on one side and stunning mansions on the other. Grab a coffee and watch the waves break on the cliffs as you take in some of the most incredible views Newport, RI has to offer.

9. Grab some Italian food in Boston's North End

People travel from all over to visit Boston’s North End, known for its incredible Italian food. Grab an authentic Italian dinner and then head down the street for a world-famous cannoli. You’ll see lines forming as you stroll down the crowded streets, so take a look at online menus and reviews, grab a cappuccino to-go, and get in line for a delectable treat.

outside view of mikes pastry shop north end boston

10. Whale watching

Bar Harbor, Maine, is one of the best places to see whales on a whale-watching tour. Take a trip to Acadia National Park, do some hiking and exploring, and book yourself a whale-watching tour. Best done April-October.

whale breaching surface of water