New England may be more defined by its Puritanical roots than its parties, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t places that embrace the fun and funky side of life: Whether or not you believe in Bigfoot, you can see evidence of his existence at the International Cryptozoology Museum, stay overnight in the Lizzie Borden House, and unleash your inner princess at New Hampshire’s nearly 70-year-old Storyland. And if you forgot your boots or tote bag, don’t worry—the L.L. Bean flagship in Freeport has you covered.
Here are the places doing their part to keep New England weird.
New England Midas locations
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International Cryptozoology Museum
Portland, Maine, has one attraction that would be equally at home in the Oregon town of the same name: The International Cryptozoology Museum is devoted to cryptids—creatures whose existence is questionable, such as Yetis, lake monsters, and the enigmatic emblem of the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot. Opened by Loren Coleman in 2009 from his personal collection of art, casts, hair samples, models, and other monstrous memorabilia, the museum is considered to be the first of its kind in the world. A large wooden statue of Bigfoot stands outside, beckoning visitors who want to believe to the museum’s entrance in a strip of shops at Thompson’s Point along the Fore River.
L.L. Bean Flagship
The L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport, Maine, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—and that’s probably still not long enough to see everything this outdoor outfitters wonderland has to offer. With more than 3 million annual visitors streaming past the 16.5-foot-tall version of the classic all-weather Bean boot positioned at the entrance, this multi-level mega-store has something for everyone. There are three other L.L. Bean stores in Freeport alone, but with endless aisles of merchandise, an extensive taxidermy collection, and in-store cafe, you can find everything you need right here, and more.
When it opened in Glen, New Hampshire, in 1954, Story Land only had one ride; today, the family-friendly theme park features more than 30 kid-friendly storybook-themed amusements, including Alice’s Tea Cups, Cinderella’s Castle, and the wooden Roar-O-Saurus Coaster, the only ride of its kind in northern New England. Story Land is open from May through October and hosts special events such as fall weekends and nostalgia nights for adults wishing to relive their childhoods or make new memories with live music, photo ops, and exclusive merchandise.
Lizzie Borden House
The Bordens—Andrew and his second wife Abby, along with Andrew’s daughters, Emma and Lizzie—lived at 92 Second Street in downtown Fall River, Massachusetts, from 1872 to 1892. Located about 3 hours northeast of New York City, the address became notorious on August 4, 1892, when Abby and Andrew were murdered with a hatchet in separate rooms of their home. Lizzie was famously tried and acquitted of the crime nearly a year later; the murders remain unsolved, but intrepid visitors can stay overnight at the home, which operates today as a bed and breakfast and museum (daytime tours are also available).
Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour
Vermont has been a lot sweeter since Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first factory in Waterbury in the mid-1980s. Fans of the pair’s famous pints can tour their first factory, which still manufactures 350,000 pints of Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and other recognizable flavors of ice cream per day. Guided tours began in 1986, and while production schedules vary, every Factory Experience includes a “MOO-vie” detailing the company’s history and, most importantly, plenty of free samples.
After the tour, indulge in a scoop or two from the on-site scoop shop, and pay your respects in the Flavor Graveyard, where discontinued flavors such as Bovinity Divinity, Fossil Fuel, and Holy Cannoli are commemorated with headstones and rhyming epitaphs.
Gillette Castle State Park
Between the towns of East Haddam and Lyme, Connecticut, looms a castle designed and built by stage actor William Gillette. Gillette lived in the medieval Gothic 24-room, 14,000-square-foot home overlooking the Connecticut River from 1919 until he died in 1937. Built of wood, cement, and covered Connecticut fieldstone, the home and grounds were purchased by the State of Connecticut in 1943. Now operating as a state park, the 122-acre property includes hiking, picnicking, and camping facilities; tours of the castle operate seasonally beginning in May.
Newport Car Museum
Take a break from the Gilded Age glamor that suffuses Newport, Rhode Island, and tour the Newport Car Museum located less than 10 miles north in Portsmouth. Open since mid-2017 in a former missile manufacturing facility, Hemmings Motor News called the museum “a notable addition to the classic-car world.” The museum comprises the collection of a private collector, including more than 90 automobiles from the 1950s to present day. With galleries dedicated to American muscle cars, Corvettes, Mopars, Fords, and “fin cars” like the classic 1957 Chevy, the museum also showcases a large collection of mid-century modern furniture.