Things to do in New England – 10 Small Towns Not to Miss!

New England is in the northeast of the United States and includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Best things to do in New England

Most people only think of autumn road trips, but New England can be great any time of year and can even be romantic.

These are some small towns you can’t miss!

1. Plymouth, Massachusetts

stone wall with wooden doors

Plymouth rock, not worth it. It’s a rock with “1620” carved into it from when the pilgrims first came to the coast.

What is worth it? Plimouth Plantation where you can interact with actors dressed as the pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe and it’s kid friendly.

Perfect for historians and a great getaway from Boston.

2. Burlington, Vermont

A lit up city at night

One of the best New England vacation spots since Burlington isn’t really near any major highway systems like I-95 so it’s a perfect off the beaten track New England road trip in fall!

From their waterfront park where you can enjoy Lake Champlain weird things like the world’s tallest filing cabinet, this small town has tons to enjoy.

3. Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine

If you really want a full weekend getaway in New England, you have to see this small island.

From Acadia National Park that’s right there, full of hikes and viewpoints in Maine to historic Bar Harbor.

There are carriage rides to enjoy at all times of the year too, and learn things you never knew about the Rockefellers!

4. Merrimack, New Hampshire

Merrimack, New Hampshire

Romantic getaways in New England have to include this small town, simply because of all of the breweries (both beer and wine) in the area.

Seeing the leaves change colors with fall is great along the several trails you can hike and different town parks you can visit.

5. Camden, Maine

A sunset over a body of water

One of the not-so-famous New England vacation spots is Camden Hills State Park.

On top of Mount Battie you can see Camden and all of Penobscot Bay. The small town itself has harbor cruises and whale watches during the appropriate times of the year, including the Snow Bowl ski resort in winter.

6. Chatham, Massachusetts

lighthouse on the beach

This cute beach town on the south east corner of Cape Cod can’t be missed during your New England day trip.

From pristine beaches to beautiful and historical lighthouses with amazing views it’s the place to be.

If you’re into railroads, don’t forget to visit the Chatham railroad museum.

7. Greenwich, Connecticut

lighthouse on rocks in the water

From boating in Long Island sound and seeing old colonial style homes mixed in with modern mansions, Greenwich has it all.

An hour from New York makes it a great place to start your New England getaway. A famous New England attraction is Great Captain Island, which is a quick ferry ride away.

8. Jamestown, Rhode Island

Jamestown, Rhode Island

With lighthouses, beaches, and forts this small island has it all.

Don’t miss Fort Adams State Park, 25 minutes away over the river in Newport, where there’s swimming, sailing, and festivals to enjoy at different times of the year.

Also, visit Castle Hill Lighthouse, which is technically on Newport Island, which is right next to Jamestown.

9. Rutland, Vermont

bridge over water

From hikes to children’s museums to 19th century castles, what more could you want from this beautiful New England small town?

This makes it for the perfect family destination for a New England road trip.

If you’re a fan of Norman Rockwell, visit his museum while you’re there too.

10. Groton, Connecticut

submarine in water

One of the best New England attractions has to be the fact that the navy has submarines in Groton.

All things aquatic are to be seen here, from their aquarium to their submarine museum and an old whaling ship now out of commission for you to enjoy during your New England trip.

More Tips for New England:

Activities in Boston with Get Your Guide:


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9 thoughts on “Things to do in New England – 10 Small Towns Not to Miss!”

  1. Thank you so much for all of the information on the great small towns of New England. My family loves Boston, but have never ventured out to any of the small towns in the area. I’m looking forward to taking a road trip to see the fall colors soon, and now have several cool looking towns to add to our list of activities! My son will especially love Groton and Rutland. Thanks for all of the inspiration!

    1. Hey Christy, glad you found this post about things to do in New England helpful. We loved our trip to Boston too, and the New England area in general.

  2. Wow, trip down memory lane! When I was a university student here in The Netherlands I did an internship with a company in Lexington, MA and lived in Cambridge, MA for 6 months. I absolutely loved the area! Boston is a fantastic city, but I also went for lots of weekend trips up north to New Hampshire for hiking. I’m sure lots has changed since then, but it’s great to see so many familiar names on this list 🙂

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