As summer approaches, sleepy towns across New England are beginning to wake up from hibernation. With flowers in bloom and leafy trees covering the mountains, summer is without doubt the best season to visit New England—and the only time to enjoy its pristine beaches. The region has plenty to offer outside of major cities like Boston and Providence, especially on the coast, where locals flock to relax on the beach, go biking and sailing, and enjoy the delicious seafood New England is known for. Starting in Connecticut and heading north to Maine, here are 15 of the most scenic News England destinations to visit for summer fun, food, history, and culture.
Gilded Age tycoons flocked to the charming seaside city of Newport to build their summer "cottages" at the turn of the century. Early examples of these homes—such as Isaac Bell's shingled house—actually resemble cottages. With the arrival of the Vanderbilts came opulent mansions modeled on European palaces. The Breakers, designed by Richard Morris Hunt in the Italian Renaissance style, is the grandest, though Marble House, modeled on Le Petit Trianon at Versailles, set the tone for the rest. Though the mansions are Newport's claim to fame, there's plenty to do in this historic city.
Insider Tip: Every July, the Newport Music Festival puts on performances by world-class musicians at the mansions.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Newport Guide
Halfway between New York City and Boston, Mystic has plenty of coastal attractions. The historic town is home to Mystic Seaport, the world's largest maritime museum with over 500 vessels, including the last remaining whale ship in the world. At the Mystic Aquarium, you can see New England's only beluga whales, plus penguins, seals, sea lions, and plenty of other aquatic animals. Embrace the kitschy side of town at the Olde Mistick Village, where you'll find souvenirs and homemade fudge at Franklin's General Store.
Insider Tip: Check out the spots featured in the 1988 movie Mystic Pizza that made Julia Roberts famous.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Mystic Guide
Home to the Tanglewood music festival, Lenox exudes mountain charm unique to the Berkshires. Winding roads twist and turn, enveloped by verdant canopies that open onto spectacular views of the rolling valleys dotted by farmhouses. The main attraction in Lenox is The Mount, Edith Wharton's country estate. Built in 1902, Wharton designed the home based on the precepts outlined in her 1897 book, The Decoration of Houses, which emphasized simplicity and harmony. Three acres of formal gardens complement the home, providing a beautiful backdrop for a stroll.
Insider Tip: When in the Berkshires, a visit to MASS MoCA—the contemporary art museum in a complex of 19th-century factory buildings—is a must.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Lenox Guide
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