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10 New England Summer Getaways

Jun 28, 2012 09:42AM ● By Erin Frisch

10 New England Summer Getaways

With the kids out of school for the summer, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break from the hustle and bustle of your regular routine and get away from it all on a little vacation. Use holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day to your advantage by taking a couple of extra days off and extending the already long weekend to visit one of the outstanding destinations below.

1. Cape Cod, MA

The Cape offers 15 distinctive towns all along the peninsula. Main areas include the Cape Cod National Seashore’s beaches in Wellfleet, Eastham, and Truro. Provincetown, located at the far tip of the Cape, is home to a thriving gay and lesbian community as well as a lively arts scene. It’s also the departure point for a number of whale watching excursions. Falmouth offers a taste of “Old Cape Cod,” with restored sea captains’ homes (some of which you can experience as bed and breakfasts) as well as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute nearby. Hop on the ferry from Falmouth to visit Martha’s Vineyard for the day. Centrally located Chatham offers seal tours as well as a fun Main Street with shops, restaurants, galleries, and bookstores. Rent bicycles and explore bike trails or rent ocean kayaks to explore the open water. A vacation on the Cape offers both activity and relaxation. Visit Cape Cod’s website for information on lodging and things to do in each of the towns.

2. Tyler Place Family Resort, VT

Open from May to September and situated on Lake Champlain in Vermont, Tyler Place offers family cottages, a country-style inn, and lakefront family studios and suites. It’s an all-inclusive resort for families, including meals, snacks, lodging, and most activities, including eight different kids’ programs, based on age. Families can sail, canoe, kayak, water ski, windsurf, paddleboat, and more on the lake. On land, you can mountain bike or play tennis, lawn games, and ball games, and swim in the indoor and outdoor pools. While the kids are off participating in their programs, adults can take art, yoga, and aerobics classes, have a parents’ night out, or head off to visit towns and vineyards in Quebec. Check the website for more details.

3. North Conway, NH

Nestled between the peaks in the White Mountain National Forest, North Conway, New Hampshire offers many outdoor activities including hiking, golfing, fishing, canoeing, and camping. Other activities include the Cog Railway, which chugs to the top of Mt. Washington (the highest peak in the White Mountains), family attractions like Storyland, scenic tours, and outlet shopping for rainy days. A wide range of available lodging complements the activities and includes hotels, motels, inns, campgrounds, cabin rentals, resorts, and charming bed and breakfasts. In late summer and early fall, this is one of the best places to be to enjoy the beauty of the leaves as they change colors. No matter what your price range or preferred activity is, there is something for everyone in North Conway.

4. Newport, RI

This historic seaside town is well known for being the host of the America’s Cup sailing race, so most people associate it with being on the water. Sailing, sea kayaking, and surfing are all draws for a Newport, Rhode Island vacation. A couple of the beaches boast the warmest waters in New England. Aside from the ocean, Newport offers a chance to see some of the mesmerizing estates and mansions on Bellevue Avenue. Tour Breakers or Marble House and visit Trinity Church and Touro, the oldest synagogue in America. The three-and-a-half-mile Cliff Walk, along the bluffs behind the mansions, offers some of the finest views in the area and is amenable to both recreational walkers and more-avid outdoor enthusiasts. The Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals at Fort Adams State Park draw enthusiastic visitors every summer. Family-friendly hotels are centrally located and many have both indoor and outdoor pools. Another lodging option is to look for condo owners who rent their condos by the week or weekend.

5. Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

This jewel in the crown of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region ensures plenty of family-friendly fun in a beautiful, natural environment. Most days, hundreds of sailboats, speedboats, canoes, kayaks, and jet skis dot the water as their riders enjoy the great weather and picturesque views. The lake is large; a road trip around the circumference takes over four hours. You’ll find locations and activities to suit every taste along your travels. Weirs Beach, part of Laconia (home of Bike Week), offers arcades and mini golf. Meredith, just a few miles away, is a bit more upscale, with restaurants and boutiques to please all ages. The quieter eastern shore, centered on the historic town of Wolfeboro, is one of the finest resort communities in New England. For a guide to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and more information on the towns to visit and lodging offered around Lake Winnipesaukee, visit the website.

6. Acadia, ME

Acadia National Park is one of the most scenic parks in America. Its seaside villages, like Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor, are great places to set up your base for your vacation. You’ll find antique shops, fresh lobster, souvenir shops, homemade fudge, and much more. For those who want to be closer to nature, there’s camping in the park itself (fees for camping and fees for park entrance apply). Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain for great views of the coast (or try any of the 115 miles worth of hiking trails). Stop in at Sieur de Monts Spring Nature Center and the Wild Gardens of Acadia on Mount Desert Island. Try horseback riding or biking on the 45 miles of carriage roads, drive the 27-mile Park Loop Road, or attend one of the many ranger-led programs such Acadia’s Birds or a Peregrine Watch.

7. Block Island, RI

This little island south of Rhode Island’s mainland is the perfect place for a summer vacation. Rolling green fields, beautiful ocean views and beaches, and a slower-paced lifestyle are all great reasons to visit. Walk, ride bicycles, or rent mopeds to traverse the 21-square-mile island and enjoy the views of the beaches and forests. The abundance of untouched nature and uninhabited areas are two of the biggest draws to Block Island. Visit the Southeast Lighthouse that stands on clay cliffs or the North Lighthouse near a wildlife sanctuary—a must for bird watchers. For a perfect family beach, visit Fred Benson Town Beach. Lodging, dining, and shopping are available downtown with many restaurants offering great outdoor dining. Get to Block Island by ferry from Point Judith, Providence, and Newport, RI; New London, CT; and Montauk, Long Island, NY.

8. Nantucket, MA

Located 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Nantucket is a quiet place to unwind and spend time with family or friends. One of New England’s most popular summer destinations, this historic town whose name means “faraway island” is a place to escape today’s technology-centered life and relax on a porch with an ice-cold glass of lemonade. Enjoy the intimate beaches, sailing off the coast, or shopping in Harbor Town. If you enjoy biking, many bicycle trails offer gorgeous scenery. Get there via the high-speed ferry from Hyannis or by plane from Boston, Hyannis, New Bedford, or Providence. Lodging possibilities include hotels, inns, house and cottage rentals, timeshare rentals, bed and breakfasts, and luxury accommodations. Visit Nantucket’s travel guide website for more details.

9. Mystic, CT

Mystic, Connecticut is a perfect, historic vacation destination that caters to families. The Mystic Seaport, its main attraction, was the center of shipbuilding from the Revolutionary War through World War I. The heart of this area has been well preserved and is home to The Museum of America and the Sea, which celebrates maritime history. Mystic offers many other excellent attractions, like the Mystic Aquarium and an easily walkable downtown area. The town is centered on the historic drawbridge that crosses the Mystic River. It’s full of shops and boutiques, ice cream shops, and family friendly eateries. Be sure to visit famous Mystic Pizza. Many hotels are housed in historic buildings on the riverfront, offering a picturesque stay.

10. Smuggler’s Notch, VT

Nestled in the Green Mountains near Burlington, Vermont, Smuggler’s Notch is open for summer, fall, and winter fun. Accommodations are condominium units of different sizes (from a studio with a kitchenette up to 5-bedroom homes), and an on-demand Resort Shuttle takes you where you want to go. Summer fun includes eight heated pools, four water slides, splash pools, a water playground, skateboard park, ziplines, kayaking, hiking, and more. The resort offers infant care, kids’ programs, and teen centers, all open through Columbus Day in case parents want to venture out on their own for the day. Packages are available that bundle lodging and activities (best savings are in June and early autumn). Check their website for more details.

What's your favorite vacation spot?

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