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A New England Road Trip

A New England Road Trip

Vast forest landscapes, striking mountain ranges, idyllic countrysides and sprawling Atlantic coastlines are just some of the reasons New England attracts visitors of all kinds.

This northeastern region—which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont—has served as inspiration for filmmakers, authors, musicians ... and more! With so much history, culinary delights, art and vibrant communities, it's easy to see why.

Thanks to scenic views and countless stops along the way, a New England road trip is always a good idea.

Begin your journey in Boston, Massachusetts, the region's largest city. Here, groups have a bounty of options to kick off their New England adventure. Visit Plimoth Patuxet Museums, which has been visited by millions of people for the last 75 years. Known as the Quintessential New England Experience, it's here groups could learn Indigenous and European perspectives and histories that offer a deeper understanding of today's multicultural America and the contributions of its ancestors. The 17th-century living history museum brings the past to life in a number of ways, providing groups an opportunity to enjoy indoor galleries and exhibits, encounter knowledgeable staff, engage in demonstrations and performances, savor themed-dining experiences inspired by historic recipes and plenty more.

Next, take to the waters of Boston Harbor with a Cycleboat Boston cruise! Groups could choose between riding on comfortable bicycle seats to propel the boat or simply relaxing in the lounge while enjoying sights like the Boston Tea Party Ship, the Downtown Boston Waterfront and more. Whether your group chooses a Harbor Lights or Mimosa Morning Cruise, one thing's for certain: the vibes will be top notch.

Be sure to stop by the New England Aquarium, one of Boston's premier attractions. Not only do their 70 awe-inspiring exhibits and nearly 10,000 marine animals promote discovery and instill a sense of wonder for the ocean, but groups can add a whale watch excursion to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (in partnership with Boston Harbor City Cruises) to see several large whale species in their own seasonal habitat. Even better? See conservation efforts up close and know that every ticket purchased directly supports the Aquarium's mission to ensure a vital and vibrant ocean for all.

For an eerie experience, venture further afield to Fall River where a stay at the infamous Lizzie Borden House merges true crime, hauntings, American history, the justice system and women's rights all into one. Take a daytime history tour, a night time cemetery ghost tour or even stay overnight in the house itself.

The Salem Witch Museum is also worth visiting before leaving the state, where for more than 50 years, the Museum has told the story of one of the most enduring and emotional events in American history, the Salem witch trials of 1692. Visiting groups could experience the drama of that dark time through 13 life-size stage sets and narration as they witness the web of lies and intrigue of the Salem witch hunt before entering Witches: Evolving Perceptions, an exhibit exploring the meaning behind the word "witch" and the evolution of witch image over time.

Head north to Maine, where lobster and lighthouses reign supreme. Stop off in Portland for a hands-on tour on a working lobster boat before enjoying a delicious lobster roll at Luke's Lobster, try your hand at a fiber arts workshop at PortFiber Gallery and Weaving Studio to learn the true meaning of Maine-made quality and more. Of course, Maine is also home to scenic Acadia National Park, known as the "Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast," and for good reason. Its rugged yet stunning woodland coastline and wildlife is not to be missed.

Make your way back west into New Hampshire, where the 34.5-mile Kancamagus Highway—a path cut through the White Mountain National Forest—provides ultimate autumn leaf peeping and scenery untouched by the modern world. Keep the scenic vibes going with a hike to one of the state's more than 100 waterfalls, some of which are even visible from the road (Route 302 in Crawford Notch). After your hike, swing by one of the area's many craft breweries or satisfy your sweet tooth at an ice cream shop along the New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail!

A little further west, Vermont awaits. The state known as the largest producer of maple syrup in the country has much to offer groups with an interest in history, as it's also the site of Hildene, the home of Robert Lincoln, the only child of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln to survive to adulthood. Here, groups could tour the home, grounds and walking trails of this stunning property, which remained home to Lincoln descendants until 1975.

Roadside attractions also abound in Vermont, so be sure to plan to take a picture next to the world's tallest filing cabinet or beside "Reverence," a pair of large granite whale tails situated along South Burlington's Technology Park walking trail.

Next, venture to Connecticut, New England's southernmost state. Here groups will find the Connecticut Wine Trail, a collection of over 20 unique wineries and vineyards offering everything from special pairings and tasting rooms to live music, tours and more.

Be sure to stop over in Mystic to visit the Mystic Seaport Museum, a maritime museum and research center dedicated to connecting visitors to the American maritime experience. Within its 19 acres on the Mystic River, the museum grounds include a recreated New England coastal village, more than 500 historic watercraft, a working shipyard, a Collections Research Center and much more.

Last but far from least on your road trip is Rhode Island, home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) in Newport. This sports museum—the property of which is also a beautiful National Historic Landmark—features over 2,000 artifacts from tennis' earliest origins through today's present champions, and is the site of the first U.S. National Lawn Tennis Championships in 1881 (known today as the U.S. Open).

Groups won't want to miss the museum's unique interactive experiences, including trivia games and immersive exhibits in the Arthur Ashe '68 virtual reality experience and the Roger Federer Hologram—not to mention the ITHF's iconic grass courts, which are open to the public for play! Groups interested in picking up a racquet together can reserve court time year-round.

Time your Rhode Island visit during the summer to also enjoy the annual Newport Jazz Festival, which was established in 1954 and whose stage has seen legendary names including Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.

This article originally appeared in the Mar/Apr '24 issue of Groups Today.


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