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Bucket-list New England destinations to add to your next road trip

From the only national park in the Northeast to Mark Twain’s former home, here are the best historic attractions and scenic parks in New England

Newport Cliff Walk. | Photo: Alexandra Charitan

New England’s rugged, rocky coastline provides endless opportunities for recreation and inspiration. The region includes some of the smallest states in the country (Rhode Island ranks number one with just 1,545 square miles), making it an easy road trip destination. What the area lacks in size and population it makes up for in scenic views, historic attractions, and tons of freshly-caught seafood.  

Here are the must-see New England destinations to add to your bucket list.

New England Midas locations

Midas wants to help you get ready for your road trip, starting with your vehicle. Our techs can run a completely free Closer Look Vehicle Check. This in-depth visual inspection lets you know what needs fixing now and what can wait, so you can hit the road with confidence. 

Map showing all New England Midas locations

a gothic brick house with a long porch draped in red white and blue bunting
Photo: Alexandra Charitan

Mark Twain House

Although his pen name may conjure images of Mississippi river boats, Mark Twain (née Samuel Clemens) wrote a lot of his classic novels—including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Life on the Mississippi—in Hartford, Connecticut.Twain and his family lived in this Gothic-Revival home from 1874 to 1891; after they sold it in 1903, the property housed a school, apartment building, and public library before opening as a museum in 1974. Twain’s neighbor and fellow writer Harriet Beecher Stowe lived nearby at 73 Forest Street for the last two decades of her life; today, her two-story, cottage-style home is also a museum and National Historic Landmark.

a white lighthouse sits on a rock outcropping above the shore

Acadia National Park

Located 280 miles from Boston and less than 50 miles from Bangor International Airport, Acadia National Park surrounds the town of Bar Harbor, Maine, and most of Mount Desert Island. New England’s only national park is a bucket-list destination for many reasons: Designated as such in the early 1900s, Acadia is also the oldest national park east of the Mississippi. Be among the first people in the U.S. to see the sunrise over the 1,529-foot Cadillac Mountain, hike or bike the park’s extensive network of trails, take a 27-mile scenic drive, or enjoy the rugged, rocky beaches for which this part of coastal Maine is famous. Note that reservations may be required for parts of the park during peak season; check the national park website for the latest information.

a white lighthouse sits among sandy dunes under a blue sky

Cape Cod National Seashore

Designated in 1961 by Massachusetts-born then-President John F. Kennedy, the Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS) comprises nearly 40 miles of Atlantic Ocean shoreline and more than 43,000 acres of protected waterways and forests. Primarily a summer destination, the CCNS is beautiful year round; if visiting in the off-season, keep an eye out for Monarch butterflies in the fall, harbor seals in the winter, and whales in the spring. 

At the tip of the Cape in Provincetown, visitors who are able can climb 116 steps and 60 ramps to the top of the Pilgrim Monument—the tallest all-granite structure in the U.S.—for sweeping views; an inclined elevator connecting the monument to downtown opened in 2022. Exhibits at the adjacent Provincetown Museum detail the arrival of the Mayflower Pilgrims (who landed here in 1620 before continuing on to Plymouth) and other highlights from the region’s maritime history.

houses dot a rocky shoreline overlooking the ocean
Photo: Alexandra Charitan

Newport Cliff Walk

Newport, Rhode Island, is known for its opulent Gilded Age mansions and one of the best ways to see them is with a stroll along the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk. It’s hard to pick favorites in a stretch that includes the sweeping back lawn of the Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ 70-room summer home; Doris Duke’s Rough Point; and Richard Morris Hunt’s Beaux Arts masterpiece, Marble House. The walk is open from sunrise to sunset and free to the public; be aware that some sections of the rocky coastline are more difficult to navigate than others, and may be periodically closed due to structural damage.

a brass marker in the brick sidewalk for the boston freedom trail

Freedom Trail

Take a 2.5-mile walk through time along Boston’s Freedom Trail. It features 16 historic sites, including Boston Common, the Boston Massacre Site, Paul Revere House, Old Corner Bookstore, and three burial grounds. The trail is marked with a line embedded in city sidewalks, but before you start, stop at the National Park Service visitor center on the first floor of Faneuil Hall to pick up a map or join a guided tour. 

Beacon Hill’s 1.6-mile Black Heritage Trail crosses the Freedom Trail and includes 15 pre-Civil War structures, most of which are private residences, with the exception of the Abiel Smith School and the African Meeting House, which are a part of the Museum of African American History.

a historical marker for lake champlain stands near a lake

Grand Isle State Park

Located on South Hero Island in northern Vermont’s Lake Champlain, Grand Isle State Park is just 25 miles south of Burlington and 75 miles south of Montreal. The 14-mile-long island is also home to the towns of Grand Isle (in the north) and South Hero (in the south). Originally a private summer resort with more than 4,000 feet of shoreline, Grand Isle State Park is now Vermont’s most-visited campground, offering 115 tent and RV sites, 36 lean-tos, and four cabins. Amenities include restrooms with running water, coin-operated hot showers, a boat launch, sand court volleyball, horseshoes, and an RV sanitary station.

a walkway through a stone gorge above a rocky stream

Flume Gorge

Known locally as “The Flume,” Flume Gorge is located at the base of Mount Liberty in New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch State Park. Formed after the Ice Age when the waters of Flume Brook began to cut through the valley, the natural gorge is framed by 70- to 90-foot-high walls of Conway granite. Open daily from May through October, the 2-mile loop Flume Trail includes uphill walking and dozens of stairs, with a boardwalk to protect local flora including moss and ferns.