Top 22 Resorts in the Northeast: Readers’ Choice Awards 2022

22 Best Northeast Resorts 2022 Readers Choice Awards

View all of the  2022 Reader’s Choice Awards winners here .

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Twin Farms

Twin Farms Arrow

Twin Farms, an 18th-century Southern Vermont farmhouse that once belonged to Nobel Prize–winning writer Sinclair Lewis, is the perfect spot to get away from the city and relax amid maple and pine trees. Our readers laud the first-rate service at this rural retreat. One of only a handful of Relais & Chateaux properties in New England, the food here is superb, with chef Nathan Rich putting together a highly seasonal menu drawn from Vermont produce, meats, and dairy. Beyond the dining room, there’s a guide readily available for walks through the surrounding woods, an on-call chauffeur for local outings, and even someone to bring you milk and cookies at any hour.

Stoweflake Mountain Resort  Spa Vermont

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The Lodge at Spruce Peak Stowe Vermont

The Lodge at Spruce Peak Arrow

"Nestled into the mountainside in the quintessential storybook town of Stowe," this alpine ski lodge offers views of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Rooms in earth tones of rust, orange, sage, and blue have goose-down duvets—"pluses are the fireplace and kitchenettes." Among the amenities are an on-site performing arts center and a kids’ spa for children ages six and up. Solstice supplies a menu "fit for a king"—think handmade ricotta gnocchi and Atlantic diver scallops—while Hourglass has regional microbrews on tap. "The staff are very friendly and accommodating," and the service includes a ski valet—"a great touch." "A fabulous experience from start to finish."

Omni Mount Washington Resort New Hampshire

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Like many of the hotels on this list, the Omni is a grand space with a history stretching back to 1902. What sets it apart is its famous clientele—noteworthy guests include Thomas Edison and three U.S. presidents. A stroll down the magnificent porch offers views of the woodlands of White Mountain National Forest, including an excellent perch to see fall foliage changing colors. (The trees in the surrounding mountains sometimes turn as red as the hotel’s roof.)

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It's easy to turn back time at the Ocean House. Propped up on a magnificent bluff overlooking Little Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island’s historic Watch Hill neighborhood, the rambling, sunshine yellow Victorian structure recalls the days of the Grand Tour, when men of means would gallivant around the world, and the wealthy were lured from the city to the sea come summer. Though the porticoed property had 159 rooms when it opened in 1868, it ultimately fell into disrepair and was shuttered in 2003. But a $146 million facelift in 2010 left it shiny and new—and a lot roomier. It now has 49 rooms and 18 signature suites, all of which are breezy, bright, and pinstriped, capturing the beach feel but still managing to feel luxurious.

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club Cape Cod Massachusetts

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club Arrow

At this waterfront Cape Cod resort—whose name means "crescent on the water"—"the service is warm and personal." Design includes classic cedar shingles, English-style gardens, fire pits, and nautically inspired rooms with "breathtaking ocean and bay views." At Twenty-eight Atlantic, you can have the Petite Clam Bake—butter-poached lobster, Yukon Gold potatoes, and corn pudding—while gazing at the bay through the eight-foot windows. Come cocktail hour, head to the clubby Thoreau’s and sink into a leather chair by the granite fireplace. "Everything about this place is extraordinary."

The Point

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Inn by the Sea Cape Elizabeth Maine

Inn by the Sea Arrow

A stately hotel set right on the waterfront in Cape Elizabeth, the Inn by the Sea is an all-immersive escape. Its pristine lawn, dotted with Adirondack chairs, offers views of the coast, and its poolside patio is the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon, glass of wine in-hand. Newly built Cove Suites feature two bedrooms, a luxe bathroom with an oversized tub, an ample dining area, and a full kitchen. The Inn also has one of the best spas in the state and unbeatable views of Crescent Beach.

Hidden Pond Kennebunkport Maine

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Drive down the subtly marked dirt road into the resort, and the first thing you come upon is a garden on your right and a small pond on your left. Slowly, you realize that tucked between them and the countless birch trees are cottages and treehouse suites. Hidden Pond has been expanding over the decade-plus since it opened, adding private bungalows and cottages and one of the standout restaurants in the entire state in Earth. Personal, quiet, and soothing, but with plenty of activities for all ages, this is one of those places people come back to again and again.

The Mansion at Ocean Edge Resort  Golf Club Cape Cod

The Mansion at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club Arrow

Ah, to disappear into a thicket of dunes as the summer quiets to a close: At this rambling estate in sleepy Brewster, MA, near Cape Cod, it’s no daydream. The Mansion is one of two options at Ocean Edge (the other, Villages, overlooks the Cape’s sole Nicklaus-designed golf course, but is sadly deprived of direct beach access at Bay Pines), where rooms overlook the bay, and a beach, bar, and two pools are only a short footfall away. All told, it’s hard to resist the pull of this blue-blooded hideout, with its quintessentially Cape Cod décor (inoffensive shades of salmon, coral, and baby blue, and prim, white wooden furniture at every turn) and pleasantly low-key vibes. Test out your new set of whites at one of the nine on-site tennis courts, then celebrate your victory (and even a good-natured loss) with a Stress Solution facial at the spa. An unholy relaxation trifecta, the treatment advertises a gentle cleansing scrub, a head and neck massage dribbled in therapeutic oils, and a custom mask infused with calming plant extracts. Bayzo's pub is analogous to an English tavern, with creamy cups of clam chowder and a piano likely to launch you into Elton John renditions.

The Villages at Ocean Edge Resort  Golf Club Cape Cod Massachusetts

The Villages at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club Arrow

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The Preserve Sporting Club & Residences Arrow

Under Canvas Acadia

Under Canvas Acadia Arrow

Under Canvas Acadia offers everything that brought you to Acadia in the first place—dense woods, a rugged shoreline, a sense of being completely enveloped by nature—yet it’s also meant to compliment the time you’ll spend in the National Park each day, with the comfort of real beds, a campfire to cozy around each night, and grown-up camping meals that’ll reward you for days of hiking.

Winnetu Oceanside Resort Martha's Vineyard Massachusetts

Winnetu Oceanside Resort Arrow

Edgartown can get a bit crowded during summer high season; traffic is heavy and parking can be a hassle. The Winnetu Oceanside Resort offers a respite from the hustle and bustle with a gamut of activities that run from tennis and yoga to a ride on an antique fire truck. Before you leave make sure to play a game of giant chess on their life-sized board. En passant!

The Otesaga Resort Hotel Cooperstown New York

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Gurney’s Montauk Arrow

The only luxury hotel in the Hamptons that is located right on a private beach, Gurney’s is the epitome of summer vacationing offering warm sun, an excellent seaside food and drink program, a destination spa, and fabulous people watching.  The style is minimalist and sleek, which helps to draw your attention to the real focal point: the ocean waves. All rooms come with access to The Beach Club which is, frankly, the best perk of them all.

Trapp Family Lodge Stowe Vermont

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Samoset Resort Rockport Maine

Samoset Resort Arrow

Invoking the natural beauty of its seaside surroundings, the "exceptional" and "relaxing" Spa at the Samoset presents an array of treatment options in four private rooms and an outdoor patio overlooking "pristine" Penobscot Bay. Detoxifying seaweed wraps and sea salt exfoliation infuse pampering with ocean inspiration. Those looking for a personal touch can select the Samoset Signature Perfect Massage, which allows guests to customize their experience with available techniques ranging from Swedish to hot stones.

United States New York New Paltz Hotel Mohonk Mountain House

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If you're looking to escape, come here. It's the purest form of relaxation, and you can make as much of everything it offers as you like. A secluded sanctuary, the hotel itself resides on a spectacular mountain preserve and looks out onto a large lake. Rooms are homey and classic, with porches outfitted with rocking chairs. Mohonk provides a daily schedule with something to do at any and every hour. Best of all, there's something for everyone, from yoga to golf, archery to horseback riding, and even wine tasting. Food is included in your daily room rate, and there's daily afternoon tea and cookies, as well as a library (complete with complementary reading glasses, just in case you've misplaced yours) where you can read the paper in front of a warm fire.

Woodstock Inn  Resort Vermont

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Gurneys Newport Resort  Marina

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The Sagamore Resort Lake George New York

The Sagamore Resort Arrow

Perched on "the edge of Lake George," the recently renovated Spa at the Sagamore provides visitors with a medley of eclectic treatment choices. Tranquil private rooms, an indoor hydrotherapy space, and a waterfront spa area set the stage for the Adirondack Hot Stone Massages, Green Island Sugar Scrub, and Rose Hydrating Cocoon treatment. Guests who pick the spa's signature Sagamore Custom Facial receive personalized, attentive care targeting their individual skin concerns.

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  • 1 Grafton, Vermont
  • 2 Sugar Hill, New Hampshire
  • 3 Stockbridge, Massachusetts
  • 4 Montpelier, Vermont
  • 5 Hudson, New York
  • 6 Frenchtown, New Jersey
  • 7 Bristol, Rhode Island
  • 8 Mystic, Connecticut
  • 9 Castine, Maine

Northeast Vacations: The 9 Cutest Towns For Your Trip

With lighthouse-scattered coasts, bucolic countryside, rich historical ties, and too many quaint villages to count, the Northeast radiates a relaxed energy no other region could hope to replicate. Here, 9 of the cutest towns to check out next time you’re in the neighborhood.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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Grafton, Vermont

One look at Grafton’s historic covered bridges, romantic country inns, family-run farmsteads, and sheep-dotted pastures, and you’ll realize that the village is a representation of small town New England at its finest. Nestled in Vermont’s Green Mountains, the charming town is home to less than 600 year-round residents who regularly convene for Town Meetings (see Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow, for reference). Tuck your things away at Main Street’s circa-1801 Grafton Inn —right next door to the village’s iconic white steepled church—and make a beeline for Grafton Village Cheese Co. We'd argue that there's no better way to spend an afternoon than nibbling on naturally-aged, handmade variations (there’s more than 80) like truffle cheddar, 18-month emmentaler, and sheep gouda while you watch the company’s cheesemakers in action.

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Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Tucked away in New Hampshire’s rugged White Mountains, with stunning scenic views (especially come fall), hole-in-the-wall antique shops, and a population that hovers around just 560, Sugar Hill has all the trappings of a quintessential New England town. Swing by in June to catch the annual Celebration of Lupines , when the reborn blooms blanket Sugar Hill’s countryside in a brilliant display of blues, purples, pinks, and whites. From there, extend your outdoor time with an excursion in neighboring Franconia Notch State Park. Take a dip in Echo Lake , listen to the roaring waters of the Flume Gorge , or take a ride on an 80-person cable car at the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway. On a clear day, you can see straight across NH to Maine, Vermont, New York, and even Canada.

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Stockbridge, Massachusetts

In recent years, the Massachusetts Berkshires have been luring more city slickers out of NYC and Boston than ever. Those in search of a picturesque bucolic escape look no further than Stockbridge, a resort town with relative name recognition thanks to famous resident Norman Rockwell. In fact, many visitors make the hike out to the western MA town just to glimpse the largest collection of the prolific artist's work and personal items at the Norman Rockwell Museum . Priceless art aside, it’s also worth spending some downtime at the Berkshire Botanical Garden and window-shopping the bric-a-brac-filled country stores on Historic Main Street. Once you work up an appetite, head 5 minutes down the road to No. Six Depot in West Stockbridge. The rustic small-batch coffee roaster/café/art gallery serves a mean panini (go for the porchetta with truffle aioli, hazelnut gremolata, and lemon-caper aioli) and—of course—the best caffeine fix in town.

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Montpelier, Vermont

If you make the trip to Vermont—the maple syrup capital of the United States— and you don’t leave with a stash of the homemade treat, you’re doing something seriously wrong. To remedy this, start your Montpelier stay with a stop by Bragg Farm Sugar House , a family-run business that’s taught eight generations the secret to crafting perfect maple kettle corn, cookies, and candies. From there, it’s over to stylish creperie, The Skinny Pancake , to further indulge with sweet and savory options like the Pure and Simple, with Cabot butter, granulated sugar, local syrup, and the Sass-Squash, with butternut squash, VT chevre and apples, and organic spinach. Before you’re forced to leave the foothills of the Green Mountains, fit in one last food-fueled event. Swing by the Capital City Farmer’s Market so you can pick up farm-fresh produce that supports local growers.

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Hudson, New York

Despite being just over two hours outside Manhattan, Hudson feels worlds away. As “Upstate’s Downtown,” the once sleepy, now trendy city is an amalgam of old-world architecture (Federal, Victorian, and Queen Anne), verdant countryside, and lively art and music scenes. If you’re visiting from the city, you have to make good on outdoor options with hikes through the hemlock-forested wilderness of Taconic State Park and Bash Bish Falls (just over the border in MA). When you need to refuel, mosey back into town for a meal in Wm Farmer & Sons ’ handsome, modern-meets-vintage dining room (akin to those you’d find in Brooklyn). Once you’ve stuffed your face with cast-iron burgers and smoked brisket on brioche, retire to Rivertown Lodge . Once a two-story movie theater, you’ll easily spot the stylish stay thanks to its enduring marquee. Inside, the aesthetic is just as pleasing as guest rooms are kitted out with custom-built furniture, white oak floors, brass bathroom faucets, and Americana-style accents.

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Frenchtown, New Jersey

Just a 1.5-hour drive from both NYC and Philly, Frenchtown presents an easy weekend getaway that rivals trips to the Poconos and Hudson Valley. Given its size (tiny), the Delaware River gem is shockingly rife with worthwhile restaurants and boutique shops that run the gamut from home decor to fine jewelry. Since you can’t shop on an empty stomach, make a pit stop at the Lovin’ Oven , a farm-to-table eatery that calls a converted manufacturing warehouse home. On Wednesday’s, they serve a three-course “Welcome Home” dinner full of comfort foods (both traditional and modified) like fish and chips, Nashville fried chicken, and vegan sloppy joes. Post-meal, it's time to peruse eclectic titles at The Book Garden . The indie shop sets up its shelves inside a 19th-century Victorian home on Bridge Street. Pro-tip: if you're looking for a cookbook, head straight for the kitchen.

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Bristol, Rhode Island

Bestowed with the nickname “America’s Most Patriotic Town,” colonial-era Bristol has been proudly hosting the oldest, continuous Fourth of July celebration in the US since they threw their first shindig in 1777. Today, the annual affair includes outdoor concerts, soapbox races, an elaborate parade down Hope Street , and more, but you’ll still find plenty to see and do should your visit fall outside of July. Historical sites are a dime a dozen in this neck of the woods. Spend an afternoon at the Blithewold Mansion, Gardens, and Arboretum a 45-room, heirloom-filled estate that sits on 33 garden-framed acres overlooking Narragansett Bay, and plan time for a visit to Linden Place , as well. If the historic house museum has you feeling some sort of déjà vu, it’s likely you saw its on-screen debut in Robert Redford and Mia Farrow’s The Great Gatsby .

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Mystic, Connecticut

This destination may no longer be under wraps, but the maritime village of Mystic is still a top-notch option for those looking to relax in the Northeast. Nearly equidistance between NYC and Boston, the quaint community is brimming with B&Bs, seaside restaurants, and a world-class aquarium. Drop your bags at Spicer Mansion , a romantic, clapboard inn with only eight lavish guest rooms (think: high ceilings, four-poster beds, and antique-inspired furnishings). From there, it’s time to explore the historic downtown for small mom-and-pop shops and a slice of surprisingly good pizza from the one and only Mystic Pizza (be prepared for lots of Julia Roberts kitsch).

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Mystic, CT hotels

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Castine, Maine

In midcoast Maine, on a peninsula in Penobscot Bay, you’ll find one of the state’s oldest communities: Castine. Rich in seafaring tradition, the harbor town is home to the Maine Maritime Academy, and, perhaps, it’s most easily recognizable feature, the stone Dice Head Light. For classic Maine accommodations, the seaside Pentagoet Inn has you covered. The three-story, turreted Queen Anne Victorian is all about old-fashioned details: vintage lithographs, period antiques, clawfoot tubs, and intricately carved headboards—and its location is ideal, putting you within reach of countless art galleries, flea markets, seasonal fairs, and more. Just a minute down the block, MarKel’s Bakehouse is a must when it comes time to snack. Cinnamon buns, sweet breads, scones, and to-go sandwiches all vie for attention, but once you’ve picked something sweet, retreat back to the inn to relax on the wraparound porch where wicker rockers afford guests stunning views of the bay.

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9 Best Winter Weekend Getaways from NYC

best north east travel destinations

9 Awesome Labor Day Weekend Getaways to Plan This Year

The 14 best day trips & weekend getaways in the US Northeast

Sep 24, 2020 • 6 min read

Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC at sunrise.

The US capital offers some great escapes from the big city noise ©Lingxiao Xie/500px

The Northeast is a haven for day-trippers. New York City is the gateway to a constellation of escapes to beaches, mountains, historic sites, pretty villages and more. Almost half of New England is within easy distance of Boston, from the cow-dotted hills to the tumbling gray seas of Maine. From Washington, DC, head south to Virginia for syrupy-paced country life, west to the Appalachian mountains, north to bustling Philadelphia, or east to the Maryland shore for seaside escapes.

Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice.

Best day trips from New York City

Thomas edison national historical park, west orange, new jersey.

You can still sense Thomas Edison’s brilliance and tireless pursuit of knowledge at his sprawling workshops in West Orange, New Jersey. At the Thomas Edison National Historical Park , visit the actual labs where he and his researchers perfected the light bulb by methodically testing 6000 substances and 3000 designs, beginning in the 1870s. 1hr by train & bus from Penn Station.

Freedom Tower and NYC Skyline from Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach, New York

Surfboards on the subway? A surprising sight, no doubt, but it’s a quick subway (or scenic ferry ride) from Manhattan to the break at the white-sand beach off 90th St in the Rockaways. A tight-knit group of Atlantic wave worshippers has revitalized this section of the beachfront. If you’ve forgotten your board, watch the action from a beachside cafe. 1hr by ferry or 1hr 20min by subway.

Two women cycling on boardwalk

Asbury Park, New Jersey

Hard by the Atlantic Ocean, Asbury Park is where New Jersey’s troubadour, Bruce Springsteen, got his start in the mid-1970s. The first stop for everyone is the Stone Pony, the bar where he launched his career. Another 40 bars, many with live music, lure trains full of young NY-based revelers. Blocks of restored Victorian homes and newer units are also attracting New Yorkers’ attention. 2hr by train from Penn Station.

Woodstock, New York

A minor detail: the 1969 music festival was actually held in Bethel, an hour’s drive west. Nonetheless, the perfectly quaint town of Woodstock still attracts an arty, music-loving crowd and cultivates the free spirit of that era, with rainbow tie-dye style and local grassroots everything, from radio to a respected indie film festival and a farmers market (fittingly billed as a farm festival). 2hr 30min by car.

See more day trips from New York City .


Best day trips from Boston

Providence, rhode island.

The capital of America’s smallest state offers a quirky good time. Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) give the city an arty, youthful vibe, with excellent coffee shops, dive bars, used bookstores and indie theatres. Hit Waterplace Park for art installations and summer concerts. 1hr by car or 30min by train from South Station.

Western Massachusetts

It wouldn’t be fall in New England without hot apple cider and cinnamon-spiked cider donuts, both harvest traditions in the apple orchards of western Mass. You can create a whole day of autumn memories at fourth-generation family-run Red Apple Farm in Phillipston. Pick from 50 varieties of apples, munch donuts and fudge, visit the goats, take a hayride, then sip an apple beer in the seasonal "Brew Barn." 1hr 10min by car.


Mystic, Connecticut

This seaside village was once one of America’s most important whaling and shipbuilding centers, and Mystic now trades on its salty history. Visit the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s oldest wooden whaling ship, at the 40-acre Mystic Seaport Museum , wander the historic riverfront downtown, take a schooner cruise, then tuck into clam chowder at the Captain Daniel Packer Inne , dating from 1756. 1hr 30min by car or by train from South Station.

Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

The town of Oak Bluffs on elite Martha’s Vineyard, only accessible by air or ferry, has been a favorite destination of well-heeled African-American families for more than a century. Take a walking tour on the African-American Heritage Trail . Then relax at The Inkwell beach, whose once-pejorative name is now embraced. 2hr 30min by car & ferry or bus & ferry.

See more day trips from Boston .

Best day trips from Philadelphia

Brandywine valley, pennsylvania.

Running north from the Pennsylvania−Delaware border southwest of Philadelphia, the Brandywine Valley is a patchwork of rolling, wooded countryside, historic villages, gardens, mansions and museums. Spend a day at the Longwood Gardens ; virtually every inch of the 1050 acres has been carefully sculpted into a display of horticultural magnificence. 1hr by car.


Amish Country, Pennsylvania

Buggies still ply the roads of southeastern Pennsylvania, home to the simple-living, modern technology-shunning Amish. So if you’re looking to escape the rat race for a while, this is the place. Shop Lancaster Central Market for Amish-grown veggies and handmade quilts. Chow on traditional treats like apple dumplings and shoofly pie. Ride a buggy or take a farm tour. 1hr 40min by car.

Hershey, Pennsylvania

If you’ve got kids (or just a sweet tooth), go directly to rural Pennsylvania’s Hershey’s Chocolate World for a tram ride through a chocolate factory of singing animatronic candies. Afterward, hit the airplane hangar-sized gift shop for Hershey’s Kisses the size of your head, then head across the street to the century-old Hersheypark for all-American try-to-make-you-hurl amusement park rides and a seasonal waterpark. 1hr 50min by car.


Best day trips from Washington, DC

Shenandoah national park.

Less than 90 minutes after escaping the snarl of DC traffic, you’ll find yourself coasting along the backbone of the Blue Ridge Mountains on Skyline Drive, one of the most glorious roads in America. Running down the center of Shenandoah National Park, it passes meadows of grazing deer, ancient hardwood forests and the craggy peaks of Hawksbill and Old Rag mountains. Hike, picnic, animal-watch, camp, repeat. 1hr 20min by car.

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

The mineral waters in these mountains drew Native Americans for thousands of years before they attracted colonials like George Washington. Today, Berkeley Springs is a quirky spa town with a handful of hot spring hotels, galleries and mom-and-pop cafes. Soak for cheap in the historic Roman Bathhouse at Berkeley Springs State Park or splash out on a private whirlpool at Renaissance Spa. 1hr 50min by car.


Ocean City, Maryland

Sometimes all you want from a summer weekend is a lump of fried dough, a walk on the boardwalk and an airbrushed T-shirt with your face on it. So go "down the ocean," as the Marylanders say, to this beloved Eastern Shore beach. Quintessential Ocean City pastimes include fishing, minigolf, all-you-can-eat crab feasts, drinking at tiki bars and riding rickety carnival rollercoasters. Do it all! 2hr 40min by car.

See more day trips from Washington, DC .

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Julie Around The Globe

15 Best US Northeast Summer Vacation Spots

Posted on March 21, 2023 | Julie J. |

Last Updated on September 25, 2023

Planning a summer vacation in the Northeast and wondering where to go? From sandy beaches to breathtaking mountain ranges, you’ll find plenty of great summer destinations in the Northeast .

Summer is the perfect time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and go on a much-needed vacation. The Northeast region of the United States offers some of the most beautiful and exciting vacation spots with plenty of fun things to do during this time of year.

Last-Minute Booking Deals

From the stunning beaches and quaint towns of Cape Cod to the gorgeous overlooks and outdoor recreation opportunities of the Poconos, there’s something for everyone in the Northeast. Keep on reading to discover some of the best Northeast summer vacation spots !

If you’re on a budget, discover some of the most affordable summer destinations in the USA and abroad.


15 Best US Northeast Summer Vacation Spots


15 Best US Northeast Summer Vacation Spots


15 Best US Northeast Summer Vacation Spots


15 Best US Northeast Summer Vacation Spots


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Cape Cod, Massachusetts

House in Chatham, Cape Cod, MA

Cape Cod is a popular summer vacation destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. This 70-mile-long peninsula is known for its picturesque lighthouses, charming fishing villages, and sandy beaches . There are plenty of things to do in Cape Cod , from whale watching and fishing to biking and hiking.

One of the main draws of Cape Cod is its beautiful beaches . You can spend days relaxing in the sun, swimming in the ocean, or taking a long walk along the beach. Some of the most popular beaches on Cape Cod include Nauset Beach, Coast Guard Beach, and Race Point Beach .

Another popular attraction in Cape Cod is the Cape Cod National Seashore , which stretches for 40 miles and includes beaches, dunes, and marshlands . If you’re looking for a quieter spot to relax and unwind, head to the town of Chatham , which is known for its quaint streets, boutique shops, and historic architecture.

You can also take a whale-watching tour to spot humpback whales, fin whales, and minke whales. Many tours depart from Provincetown or Barnstable Harbor.

For those interested in history and culture, Cape Cod offers many opportunities to explore its rich past. The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History showcases the area’s natural history, while the Heritage Museums and Gardens features exhibits on local history and culture.

Cape Cod is also home to many charming towns and villages , each with its own unique character and attractions. The town of Chatham is known for its picturesque lighthouse and quaint downtown area, while the village of Woods Hole is home to the world-renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Finally, Cape Cod offers a variety of outdoor activities for those who love to stay active. You can hike along the Cape Cod Rail Trail , a 22-mile bike path that winds through the area’s beautiful landscapes, or take a kayaking tour of the area’s many marshes and waterways.

A great place to stay in Cape Cod is the family-friendly Sea Crest Beach Hotel . This beachfront hotel is located in North Falmouth, close to Woods Hole and other Cape Cod attractions. It features an indoor swimming pool, a private beach with watercraft rentals, and an on-site restaurant.

For something more romantic, check out the Chatham Bars Inn . This iconic Cape Cod resort is located in Chatham, with views of Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It features luxurious rooms and suites with ocean or garden views, a full-service spa, a private beach, and a restaurant.

You’ll also find plenty of nice vacation homes , but make sure to book ahead as summer is a popular time to visit Cape Cod.

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island

If you’re looking for a summer vacation spot in the Northeast that combines history, culture, and seaside charm , Newport, Rhode Island, is the place for you. This small coastal town is known for its mansions , which were once the summer homes of America’s wealthiest families. You can take a tour of these mansions , which are now open to the public, and marvel at their opulence and grandeur.

In addition to the mansions, Newport is also home to several museums , including the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the Naval War College Museum . If you’re looking for outdoor activities, head to one of the town’s beaches, such as Easton’s Beach or Second Beach , where you can swim, surf, or sunbathe .

One of the main draws of Newport is its stunning coastal views , which can be enjoyed from the Cliff Walk , a scenic walkway that winds along the rocky shoreline and offers views of the ocean and the area’s historic mansions. Visitors can also take a cruise along Narragansett Bay or go on a whale-watching tour.

In addition to its natural beauty and historic landmarks, Newport is also known for its vibrant arts and culture scene . The Newport Art Museum showcases the work of local and regional artists, and the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival draw music fans from all over the world.

Finally, you can explore the city’s charming downtown area , which offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes. The Bowen’s Wharf area, located along Newport Harbor, is a popular spot for shopping, dining, and people-watching.

Families planning a summer getaway will love staying at the Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina . This waterfront resort is located on Goat Island, with views of Newport Harbor and the Newport Bridge . It features indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, and a marina, as well as several restaurants and bars.

For a more romantic option, check out The Chanler at Cliff Walk . This historic mansion-turned-hotel is located on the Cliff Walk, with views of the Atlantic Ocean and Easton Bay. It features luxurious rooms with antique furnishings and modern amenities, some with a spa bath, and a fine-dining restaurant.

You’ll also find plenty of nice vacation rentals around town.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine

One of the best Northeast summer vacation spots, Bar Harbor is a charming coastal town located on Mount Desert Island, just outside of Acadia National Park. This town is known for its stunning coastal beauty, historic landmarks, and outdoor activities .

One of the most popular attractions in Bar Harbor is the Shore Path , a scenic walkway that follows the shoreline of Frenchman Bay. Another must-visit destination is the Abbe Museum , which showcases the history and culture of Maine’s Native American tribes, and St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church , a historic stone church dating back to the 19th century.

The nearby Acadia National Park offers a variety of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and kayaking . You can explore the park’s many trails, including the popular Cadillac Mountain Trail , which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and ocean.

For those interested in getting out on the water, Bar Harbor offers a variety of opportunities for whale-watching as well as all sorts of cruises to explore the coast.

In addition to its natural beauty and historic landmarks, Bar Harbor is also known for its charming downtown area, which offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes . You can stroll along Main Street and browse the many boutiques and art galleries, or enjoy a meal at one of the area’s many restaurants.

The Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center is a great place to stay during your trip. This hotel is located on a hillside overlooking Frenchman Bay, with easy access to Acadia National Park and downtown Bar Harbor. It features indoor and outdoor pools, a private beach, and a playground, as well as a restaurant and bar.

For something more intimate, check out the many vacation rentals available in and around town, or book a room at the elegant Chiltern Inn .

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington Boathouse

Burlington is a vibrant college town located on the shores of Lake Champlain . This town is known for its lively music scene, craft breweries , and farm-to-table dining, making it a great destination for a summer getaway in the Northeast. Visitors can explore the town’s many shops and restaurants , or take a stroll along the waterfront bike path .

One of the highlights of Burlington is the Church Street Marketplace , a pedestrian-only shopping district that is home to dozens of boutique shops, restaurants, and street performers.

The nearby Lake Champlain offers a variety of water activities like swimming, sailing, and paddleboarding . You can also take a scenic cruise with Spirit of Ethan Allen , which offers a variety of cruises all featuring stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Burlington is also home to a variety of parks and nature preserves, such as the Waterfront Park , which offers beautiful views of the lake and hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the summer. You can also hike or bike the Burlington Bike Path , which follows the shoreline of Lake Champlain for 8 miles.

For those interested in culture, Burlington has a vibrant arts scene , with galleries, theaters, and museums showcasing the work of local artists. The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts offers a variety of performances throughout the summer, and the Burlington City Arts Center hosts exhibits and events throughout the year.

In addition to its natural beauty and arts scene, Burlington is also known for its farm-to-table cuisine , with a variety of restaurants and cafes offering locally sourced ingredients and creative dishes.

Families will enjoy staying at the Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain , located right on the lake and offering plenty of water activities for families. The hotel also has an indoor pool and is located within walking distance of many family-friendly attractions.

The Hotel Vermont is a nice option for couples planning a romantic summer getaway . This boutique hotel offers modern, minimalist accommodations, a gourmet restaurant, and a rooftop bar with stunning views of Lake Champlain.

The Hamptons, New York

Sand dunes in Southampton, Long Island

The Hamptons is a collection of villages and hamlets located on the eastern end of Long Island, New York. It’s known for its luxury homes, high-end shopping, and beautiful beaches . Visitors can take a stroll along Main Street in East Hampton, relax on the beach in Southampton, or enjoy a round of golf in Bridgehampton.

One of the main draws of the Hamptons is its stunning beaches . You can spend your vacation swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying water activities like surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking . Some of the most popular beaches in the Hamptons include Main Beach in East Hampton, Coopers Beach in Southampton, and Montauk Beach in Montauk.

The Hamptons is also home to a variety of upscale shops and restaurants , with something to suit every taste and budget. You can browse the boutiques and art galleries in Southampton, or enjoy a meal at one of the area’s many fine-dining restaurants . The Hamptons is also known for its wineries, with several vineyards offering tastings and tours throughout the summer.

For those interested in culture and history, the Hamptons offers a variety of museums and historic landmarks , such as the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, which showcases the work of local artists, and the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum , which tells the story of the area’s whaling history.

In addition to its beaches, shopping, and culture, the Hamptons also offers a variety of outdoor activities , such as hiking, biking, and golfing . Visitors can explore the area’s many parks and nature preserves, or play a round of golf at one of the area’s many golf courses.

Finally, visitors can take advantage of the area’s nightlife, with plenty of bars and nightclubs offering live music and entertainment throughout the summer.

The Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa is a great place to stay. It’s located right on the beach , with plenty of on-site water activities for families. The resort also has an outdoor pool and kids’ activities .

Couples looking for a romantic option will love staying at the Topping Rose House . This charming inn is set in a beautifully restored 1842 Greek Revival mansion and offers luxurious accommodations, a farm-to-table restaurant sourced from its own on-site farm, and a spa. A complimentary shuttle to the beach and private beach passes are also offered.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Boats in the harbor at Martha's Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard is a popular summer vacation spot in the Northeast . This island is known for its quaint towns, picturesque harbors, and beautiful beaches . Visitors can explore the shops and restaurants in the town of Edgartown, take a ferry ride to Chappaquiddick Island, or relax on the beach in Oak Bluffs.

One of the main draws of Martha’s Vineyard is its stunning beaches offering plenty of water activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing. Make sure to check out South Beach, Oak Bluffs Town Beach, and Katama Beach.

Take a break from the beach and stroll around the charming town of Edgartown , which boasts historic homes and buildings dating back to the 1700s. Don’t miss the historic Gay Head Lighthouse , which was built in the 1800s and offers panoramic views of the island.

In the towns of Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs , browse the boutiques and art galleries or sample local food at one of the island’s many restaurants and cafes.

For those interested in the arts, Martha’s Vineyard has a vibrant arts scene, with galleries, theaters, and museums showcasing the work of local artists. The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse offers a variety of plays and performances throughout the summer, and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum showcases the island’s rich history and culture through exhibits and artifacts.

Located in the heart of Edgartown, the historic Harbor View Hotel offers spacious rooms, easy beach access, an outdoor pool, and kids’ activities.

Lake Placid, New York

Lake Placid

Located in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Lake Placid is known for its beautiful scenery, outdoor activities, and Olympic history . It’s a popular summer destination for outdoor enthusiasts and those looking for a relaxing getaway , hike in the High Peaks, paddle on Mirror Lake, and visit the Olympic Museum and ski jumps.

Make sure to take a gondola ride up Whiteface Mountain for stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests, or hike one of the many nearby trails for a more immersive outdoor experience.

Lake Placid is also home to several water activities, such as swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating. Head to Lake Placid Public Beach for a sandy beach and hike to Shoebox Falls for a natural swimming hole.

You can also tour the Olympic Sports Complex , which was used during the 1980 Winter Olympics, or visit the Lake Placid Olympic Museu m to learn more about the area’s Olympic legacy.

In addition to its outdoor activities, Lake Placid also offers a variety of shopping and dining options, browse the shops and galleries in the town of Lake Placid, or sample local cuisine at one of the area’s many restaurants and cafes.

Check out the Lake Placid Center for the Arts as well, and catch a concert, play, or other performances hosted throughout the summer.

A great place to stay for families, Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa offer plenty of water activities for families as well as a private beach, outdoor pool, restaurant, and game room for kids.

The Whiteface Lodge is also a great option. This luxurious Adirondack-style resort offers a plethora of activities, amenities, and services, with suites featuring a fireplace, full kitchen, and en suite bathroom with a spa bath.

Block Island, Rhode Island

Lighthouse, Block Island in summer, Rhode Island

Known for its scenic beauty, historic landmarks, and beautiful beaches , Block Island is one of the best summer vacation spots in the Northeast – bike around the island, take a tour of the Southeast Lighthouse, or relax on the beach at Mansion Beach.

Enjoy the island’s many beaches such as Mansion Beach, Crescent Beach, and Ballard’s Beach , and maybe do some kayaking or go on a sunset cruise . Summer is also a great time to go whale-watching.

If you want to enjoy the outdoors, don’t miss visiting the Mohegan Bluffs and Clay Head Trail as well. These areas offer opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing , as well as stunning views of the island’s coastline.

Another must-do is to tour the historic Southeast Lighthouse , which was built in the 1800s and offers panoramic views of the island, or visit the Block Island Historical Society Museum , showcasing the island’s rich history through exhibits and artifacts.

The Spring House Hotel is a family-friendly hotel located on Block Island’s picturesque bluffs. This property features spacious rooms, a seasonal outdoor pool , and a farm-to-table restaurant. Families can also enjoy activities such as beachcombing, hiking, and kayaking right from the property.

The 1661 Inn is a romantic property located in the heart of Block Island’s historic district. This inn features elegantly appointed rooms with great views over the water, a gourmet restaurant, and a nice garden.

Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls, NY

A bucket-list destination in the Northeast, Niagara Falls is a world-famous natural wonder that makes a perfect summer vacation spot. Visitors can take a boat tour to the base of the falls, explore the Niagara Falls State Park, or visit the nearby Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino.

It offers a variety of activities in the summer months to enjoy the outdoors and breathtaking views of the falls. A must-do is to take a boat tour on the Maid of the Mist to get up close and personal with the falls, or take a helicopter tour for a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area.

For something more adventurous, some adrenaline-pumping activities include ziplining over the falls or taking a jet boat ride through the rapids.

Niagara Falls State Park is also a must-visit spot in the area. This park is home to several walking trails, picnic areas, and observation decks, as well as the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center , which offers educational exhibits on the area’s geology and ecology.

In town, you can explore Old Fort Niagara , a historic fort that played a key role in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. There are also several museums in the area, including the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center , which offers exhibits on the region’s role in the Underground Railroad.

The Sheraton Niagara Falls is a family-friendly hotel located just steps from the falls. This hotel features an indoor pool , a game room, and a variety of dining options.

For something more romantic, The Giacomo is a boutique hotel located in a historic building in downtown Niagara Falls. This property features luxurious rooms with views of the city, some have a spa bath , a cozy lounge, and a complimentary breakfast.

Kennebunkport, Maine

Kennebunkport, Maine

Kennebunkport is a picturesque coastal town located in southern Maine. It’s known for its historic architecture, beautiful beaches, and quaint downtown area . Take a scenic drive along Ocean Avenue, explore the shops and galleries in Dock Square, or relax on the beach at Goose Rocks Beach for the perfect summer getaway.

You can enjoy spending time at the town’s three main beaches: Kennebunk Beach, Gooch’s Beach, and Mother’s Beach – and go for a hike at the nearby Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge .

Another must-visit spot in Kennebunkport is the Walker’s Point estate , which is the summer home of former President George H.W. Bush. While you can’t visit the house, you can see it from the outside, and tour the Kennebunkport Historical Society’s “ White Columns ” which includes an exhibit on the Bush family and their history in Maine.

Stroll around the town’s charming downtown area, filled with boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. You can also take a guided walking tour to learn more about Kennebunkport’s history.

For those who love the water, there are a variety of boat tours and water activities available during summer – go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding , or take a sunset sail along the coast .

A great place to stay is The Nonantum Resort , a family-friendly property located on the banks of the Kennebunk River. This resort features a variety of activities for families , including a kids’ club, boat tours, and a nightly campfire with s’mores.

The White Barn Inn & Spa is a perfect romantic getaway located in a restored barn in the heart of Kennebunkport. This property features luxurious rooms and suites, a gourmet restaurant, and a spa. Couples can enjoy a romantic dinner in the inn’s candlelit dining room or relax together in the spa’s steam room or sauna.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket beach and lighthouse

Known for its charming town, beautiful beaches, and historic architecture , Nantucket is a great place for a summer vacation. Take a tour of the island’s historic homes, visit the Whaling Museum, or relax on the beach at Madaket Beach, you’ll find plenty of things to do on the island.

Start by exploring the island’s beaches, which are some of the most beautiful in the Northeast. Don’t miss Jetties Beach, Surfside Beach, and Madaket Beach.

Another must-visit spot in Nantucket is the Whaling Museum , which offers a fascinating look into the island’s history as a whaling port. See artifacts from the whaling industry, learn about the life of a whaler, and even step inside a whaleboat.

Nantucket also offers excellent opportunities for biking and hiking. The island has miles of scenic bike paths and hiking trails , with options for all levels of fitness and experience. Some popular trails include the Polpis Harbor Trail, the Squam Swamp Trail, and the Cliff Walk.

You can also take a boat tour around the island to see its beautiful coastline and learn about its history and ecology. Summer is also a great time to see whales.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, the Nantucket Hotel & Resort is a family-friendly property located just steps from the beach in the heart of Nantucket. This resort features a variety of amenities for families, including a heated outdoor pool, a children’s program, and a complimentary beach shuttle . Families can also enjoy activities such as tennis, croquet, and paddleboarding.

Couples looking for something more romantic will love staying at The White Elephant , a luxurious hotel located in Nantucket’s historic district. This property features elegant rooms and suites, a spa, a waterfront location with stunning views of the harbor, and a nice restaurant.

Woodstock, Vermont

Catskills, Woodstock, USA

Woodstock is a charming town in central Vermont and one of the best summer vacation spots in the Northeast. Known for its historic covered bridges, beautiful scenery, and outdoor activities , you’ll find plenty of things to do during summer, from hiking in the nearby Green Mountains to visiting the Billings Farm and Museum.

In the Green Mountains, you’ll find many trails for all levels of fitness and experience. Some popular trails include the Quechee Gorge Trail, Mount Tom Trail, and the Pogue Trail .

Every Wednesday from May through October, Woodstock hosts a farmers market featuring local produce, baked goods, and crafts.

In town, don’t miss driving by Middle Bridge, one of the cutest covered bridges in New England .

At the Billings Farm and Museum , a working dairy farm and a museum that offers a glimpse into 19th-century rural life, you can tour the farmhouse, watch demonstrations of traditional farm practices, and interact with farm animals.

Don’t miss the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park , a great place to learn about the history of conservation and land management in the United States. You can tour the mansion and gardens, as well as take guided hikes and attend educational programs.

The historic Woodstock Inn & Resort is a great place for a summer getaway. This resort features a variety of amenities, including an outdoor pool, a spa, and an on-site restaurant.

For something more intimate, the Lincoln Inn & Restaurant at the Covered Bridge is a cozy bed and breakfast located just outside of Woodstock, with stylishly appointed rooms, a gourmet restaurant, and a scenic location overlooking a covered bridge. It’s the perfect place for couples seeking a romantic getaway in the Vermont countryside.

In the area, you’ll also find plenty of vacation rentals from charming cabins in secluded areas to historic houses.

Greenwich, Connecticut

Greenwich, Connecticut is a beautiful town located just outside of New York City. During the summer months, Greenwich offers a variety of activities and attractions to enjoy.

One of the most popular attractions in Greenwich during the summer is Greenwich Point Park . The park features a stunning beach, walking trails, picnic areas, and beautiful views of the Long Island Sound .

Another must-see attraction in Greenwich is the Bush-Holley House . The historic home dates back to the 18th century and is now a museum that offers tours and exhibits on local history and culture.

For those who love to shop, Greenwich Avenue is a must-visit destination. The charming street is lined with boutiques and shops offering everything from designer clothing to unique gifts and home decor.

Greenwich is also home to several premier golf courses, including the Griffith E. Harris Golf Course and the Stanwich Club . Golf enthusiasts can book a tee time and spend the day on the green.

Finally, visitors to Greenwich during the summer can attend the Greenwich International Film Festival . The annual festival showcases independent films from around the world and includes screenings, panel discussions, and special events.

Families will enjoy staying at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich , conveniently located and featuring an indoor pool and a hot tub, a fitness center, and spacious family rooms.

The Delamar Greenwich Harbor is a great option for a romantic getaway. This waterfront hotel is located on the Greenwich Harbor, with views of the Long Island Sound. It features luxurious rooms and suites with water views, a full-service spa, and a fine-dining restaurant.

Conway, New Hampshire

Cathedral Ledge, North Conway, NH

Located in the heart of the White Mountains, Conway is one of the best summer destinations in the Northeast for outdoor lovers. During the summer months, the area offers a variety of activities and attractions for all ages to enjoy.

One of the most popular attractions in Conway during the summer is the Kancamagus Highway . This scenic byway offers stunning views of the White Mountains and is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area. Visitors can drive or bike the highway , stopping at overlooks and hiking trails along the way.

Another must-see attraction in Conway is the Conway Scenic Railroad . The railroad offers a variety of train rides, including scenic tours of the White Mountains, dinner trains, and special events .

For those who love to hike, Conway is home to several great trails , including the popular Mount Washington hike . Hikers can enjoy a variety of trails of varying difficulty levels, offering beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. Diana’s Baths is an easy flat 0.6-mile hike leading to cascading ponds and natural pools.

If you want to swim and enjoy other water activities, spend a day exploring Echo Lake State Park .

Families with little kids can head to the Story Land amusement park where you’ll find fun attractions, rides, and live shows.

The Red Jacket Mountain View Resort is a great place to stay in town. It features indoor and outdoor pools, a water park, a game room, and several restaurants and bars. For something more intimate, check out the luxurious Inn at Thorn Hill & Spa . It features elegant rooms and suites with mountain views, a full-service spa, and a restaurant.

You’ll also find plenty of great vacation rentals in town and in the surrounding mountains.

The Poconos, Pennsylvania

Delaware Water Gap in summer

Known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities, the Poconos region of Pennsylvania is a popular summer vacation spot with plenty of fun things to do.

One of the most popular attractions in the Poconos is the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area . This area offers stunning views of the Delaware River and a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, swimming, and kayaking.

For something more relaxing, take a scenic drive through the mountains and stops at overlooks or hike one of the many short trails for beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.

For those who love water sports, the Poconos offer several great lakes for swimming, boating, and other water activities. Lake Wallenpaupack is a popular destination for water sports, offering boat rentals.

The Poconos also offers several great golf courses , including the Jack Frost National Golf Club and the Mount Airy Golf Club . Golf enthusiasts can book a tee time and spend the day on the green.

Finally, visitors to the Poconos during the summer can enjoy the region’s unique entertainment options. The Pocono Raceway hosts NASCAR races and other events throughout the summer, while the Mount Airy Casino Resort offers a variety of gaming options, concerts, and other entertainment.

Families will love staying at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions thanks to its famous indoor and outdoor water parks, a virtual reality experience, an arcade, and several restaurants and bars.

The Skytop Lodge is a great option for couples who are planning a romantic summer getaway. The resort offers a luxurious spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, several restaurants, and several types of comfortable rooms.

The area is also filled with charming cabins and cottages , check out the lakefront ones for an unforgettable summer vacation!

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Best US Northeast Summer Vacation Spots

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Best East Coast Vacation spots

15 Places you need to visit in the Northeast U.S.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

best north east travel destinations

Though it’s easy to become entranced by popular attractions, the Northeastern U.S. is much more than the bright lights of New York City, the historic streets of Boston, or the popular national parks in Maine. Don’t get us wrong– these spots are widely known for a reason and deserve to be seen and explored. But, it’s worth knowing there are so many lesser known places to fall in love with in this region.  

From quaint towns, breathtaking foliage, nature trails, waterfalls, mountains, and beautiful bodies of water, the terrain and features of the Northeast are diverse. Take note of this list when planning your Northeast adventure and don’t overlook places that are off the beaten path!


1.  frank knowles-little river reserve.

best north east travel destinations

This serene wetland adventure features a 200-foot-long suspension bridge, an old farmhouse, and plenty of wooden boardwalks. There’s roughly 9 miles of hiking trails to meander!

2.  Menemsha Hills

best north east travel destinations

You’ll be rewarded by stunning ocean views and the Elizabeth Islands in the distance on this vineyard hike. The seaside cliffs are breathtaking and you can take in this popular summer destination island from a whole new vantage point atop the hills.

3.  Nick’s Lake

best north east travel destinations

This family-friendly hike is located in the central Adirondacks by the town of Old Forge. On this relatively flat 6.2-mile trail, you’ll catch glimpses of the peaceful waters of Nick's Lake. A campground on the property offers a beach, bathrooms, and kayak rentals if you decide to stay the night or longer.

4.  Pillsbury Mountain

best north east travel destinations

This 3.3-mile up-and-back adventure leads to panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges and lakes from the top of a fire tower and a ranger station that is no longer in-use. If you're into fire towers, consider doing the Adirondack Fire Tower Hiking Challenge and checking this tower off your list!

5.  Carpenter and Angel Falls

best north east travel destinations

Take yourself to the middle of a serene natural oasis on this three-mile loop! Carpenter Falls is roughly 95-feet tall, making for an impressive and photo-worthy sight. The rocks can be slippery, so be extra careful and use the ropes to assist with climbing.


6.  chauncey peak.

best north east travel destinations

A 2.2-mile loop hike has endless views of the Giuffrida Park and town of Meridan below while at the top! Note that some of the trail markers aren’t very clear and there are a few unmarked trails. Be sure to be prepared with a trail map or proper gpx route. Download the Outbound App  to download offline maps to ensure you're on the right track!

7.  Sleeping Giant State Park

best north east travel destinations

This three-mile out-and-back hike features charming wooded areas, a stone tower, and sweeping vistas. When you reach the top, be sure to explore different overlooks. On clear days, you can see all the way to the Long Island Sound. Find a private spot and sit down to take a rest or enjoy lunch with friends. This is also a great place for bouldering.

8.  Moss Glen Falls

best north east travel destinations

This beautiful waterfall is located right along the scenic Route 100 - just .1 miles off the road. There’s a large parking area, making it super easy to take a quick pitstop to enjoy and photograph the falls. Go during Autumn to experience the beautiful foliage in the area!

New Hampshire

9.  mt. moosilauke.

best north east travel destinations

Explore Benton State Forest while admiring the magnificent forest and mountain scenery along the way during this 7.1-mile loop hike. During the spring and summer, there are beautiful wildflowers along the way. There are several river crossings with bridges, and you can take dips to cool off during the hot summer months.

Rhode Island

10.  beavertail state park.

best north east travel destinations

On the island of Jamestown, soak in true New England coastal beauty at Beavertail State Park. Explore the secluded cove beaches and stay for sunrise or sunset for an especially memorable experience. This park (and its short, dirt trails) is the perfect alternative to overcrowded beaches. There are plenty of nooks to discover and marvel in at this beautiful island state park. Don't be tempted to jump off the cliffs into the water below as it's full of jagged, dangerous rocks. Instead, follow the paths that lead down the cliffs to the beaches where you can swim without the dangers of diving.

11.  Borestone Mountain

best north east travel destinations

This scenic 3.6-mile out-and-back trail is at the base of the 100 Mile Wilderness, part of the Appalachian Trail. Breathe in the fresh air and take in impressive views overlooking the surrounding mountains and lakes at the top. Colorful treetops in the autumn seem to go on forever. Note: there is an entry fee collected at the visitor center located one mile into the hike. Make sure to bring cash!

12.  Rocky Pond

best north east travel destinations

Immerse yourself in the remote mountains of Northern Maine while avoiding large crowds on this one-mile out-and-back hike.The mountain views from Rocky Pond are breathtaking! Be on the lookout for moose along the shorelines - they like to eat and drink here!

13.  The Cranberry Bogs at Double Tree State Park

best north east travel destinations

Before entering Double Trouble Park, you’ll pass by Double Trouble Historic Village, which features old schoolhouses, general stores, sawmills, and cottages dating back to the 1700s to 1900s. Stretch your legs by heading to the park to walk a 1.9-mile nearly flat loop trail through cranberry bogs and forest. Locals harvest tart, sweet cranberries here every year and you can purchase cranberry goods at the village shops.


14.  mill creek falls.

best north east travel destinations

Visiting this easily accessible waterfall is the perfect way to get a quick nature fix and enjoy the natural beauty of this photo-worthy spot. After enjoying the falls, take a two-mile loop hike through the woods to admire glimpses of the Susquehanna River.

15.  Rose Valley Lake

best north east travel destinations

Anglers should explore this pristine area in all seasons! The man-made lake is perfect for bass, bluegill, and perch fishing. For those who like spotting wildlife, there are opportunities to view plenty of birds like ducks, gulls, swans, hawks, and herons. Using a boat or kayak is the best way to explore and take in the full beauty of this stunning body of water.

Cover Photo: Tate Yoder

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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Top Ten Travel List Season Background

15 Spectacular Places in the Northeast

  • Last Updated: July 26th, 2023
  • Written by: Maureen Therese

A beautiful covered bridge at Devil's Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut.

The Northeast is one of the most amazing areas in the country. In addition to being home to some of the country’s largest cities, the region offers a plethora of outdoor activities due to the heavy forest coverage. Maine and New Hampshire take the first and second positions as the most forested states, while the rest of the Northeast falls within the Top 20.

The ability to quickly travel from urban to rural land and between state to state is definitely a perk. This gives you the opportunity to explore so many different places within a single vacation. From charming coastal villages in New England, to beautiful mountain ranges like the Catskills and White Mountains, to exciting cities like Boston, Philadelphia, & New York City, the region offers a bit of everything for everyone. Listed below are 15 must-see sights, all of which offer amazing views.

1. CliffWalk

Cliffwalk sign in Newport, Rhode Island

CliffWalk is one of the most amazing sights in Rhode Island. The 3.5 mile walk takes you on a coastal journey past Newport’s historic mansions. If you think they are grand from the outside, just wait until you explore the inside of these lavish estates. In addition to taking in stately views of these opulent architectural masterpieces, you will experience one-of-a-kind coastal views on this peaceful walk. If you visit outside of the busy summer season, the walk takes on an even more relaxing nature.

Also be sure to check out my full guide to exploring beautiful Newport

40 Stone Steps on Newport's CliffWalk.

2. The beaches of Islesboro, Maine

A gorgeous beach in Islesboro, Maine.

Islesboro is a unique island community located just off the central coast of Maine. Its’ secluded nature and beautiful beaches make it a prime summer vacation destination. Although the year-round population of just under 600 residents, the population soars to several thousand during the beautiful summer months. The gorgeous island is perfect for long summer bike rides, hunting for seaglass at the many historic public beaches, and enjoying nature from your beautiful vacation rental. A visit to the island will require a ferry ride from Lincolnville, although the ride over itself is quite scenic, with a charming lighthouse waiting to greet you as you arrive. I was fortunate enough to live in this gorgeous area.

The island is a great place for finding old pieces of SeaGlass, especially the coveted cobalt blue pieces from old Milk of Magnesia bottles.

3. The Freedom Trail

This statue of Paul Revere is one of the most photographed in the city. It is located in the North End neighborhood, near Old North Church.

Visiting Boston without walking the city’s historic brick-lined Freedom Trail would be a major mistake. Even if you are not at all interested in history, you will still appreciate the beauty of Boston’s wonderful downtown. The amazing architecture alone is enough to warrant a visit. For those interested in history, you will have a field day exploring the 16 sights which make up the 3 mile journey into Boston’s past.

The Old South Meeting House is where plans for the Tea Party were set in place.

There are plenty of fantastic stops along the way – lunch in the North End neighborhood (home to many authentic local Italian restaurants – I recommend Giacomo’s ), a tour of the Paul Revere house, an inside look at the beautiful architecture of Old North Church, and a tour of the USS Constitution, to name a few. Above all, be sure to climb to the top of Bunker Hill Monument. Exhausting (you will need to walk 294 steps up to the observing area) after a full day of walking, yet so worth it for the incredible panoramic views of the city.

Boston's North End neighborhood, home to plenty of fantastic Italian restaurants.

4. Kaaterskill Falls

Kaaterskill Falls is the tallest 2 tier waterfall in New York.

New York’s tallest waterfall is an amazing 2 tier wonder in the beautiful Catskills Region. At a height of 260 feet, it stands mighty as one of the tallest waterfalls in the state. The Catskills Region is known for its’ abundance of gorgeous hiking trails and wonderful natural surroundings. The hike to Kaaterskill Falls is both peaceful and scenic, and thankfully short at just a mile. The falls are truly an amazing sight not to be missed. It beats any pricey man-made tourist attraction any day. There are plenty of wonderful photo opportunities here, especially if you visit on a weekday morning.

The Catskills region is gorgeous during the fall season.

In addition to Kaaterskill Falls, you will also come across another smaller, yet still beautiful, waterfall called Bastion Falls. Both are wonderful sights and the hike itself is just so peaceful and rustic. Occasionally, black bears and other small wildlife species can be seen in the area, so keep your eyes peeled and keep your distance!

Bastion Falls

5. Blue Hills Reservation

A beautiful fall hike through Blue Hills.

Blue Hills is a Massachusetts gem; an enormous hiking oasis just outside of the city. With over 100 trails, the park is amongst the largest you will find so close to a major city. Blue Hills is gorgeous all year-round, with scenic green trees and clear skyline views in the summer months and brisk fall colors in September & October. Fall foliage chair lift rides are a highlight of the fall season; a must-do for any visitor during this time period. And don’t forget to check out Blue Hill Ski area, a winter favorite for area residents looking to enjoy some convenient local skiing. Blue Hills, a fantastic 4 season destination; so close to the city, yet so far away!

Pretty views of the Boston skyline from Elliott Tower, accessible via a short hike on the Skyline Trail.

6. Duquesne Incline

Gorgeous views of the Pittsburgh skyline from the observation deck.

Pittsburgh is an underrated city which often gets overlooked in favor of more popular tourist destinations. However, the city has much to offer, including incredible museums, interesting neighborhoods, lively sports teams, and above all, an amazing skyline. Pittsburgh is home to one of the most appealing skylines, thus it would make sense to take advantage of a ride up the Duquesne Incline while in town.

The historic Duquesne Incline is one of the few remaining in the country.

The historic incline, which opened in 1877, takes you on a quick, yet scenic ride up to Mt Washington; here you will be greeted with amazing panoramic views of Pittsburgh’s tremendous skyline, bridges, and stadiums. It’s an absolute must-see while visiting the city. In fact, it’s so great that you should consider both a daytime and nighttime visit in order to see the skyline in 2 completely different, yet equally stunning settings.

More gorgeous panoramic views from the observation deck.

7. Camden Hills State Park

Beautiful views of the bay from the Mt. Battie tower at Camden Hills State Park.

Camden, located on the central coast of Maine, is one of the most charming coastal towns you will ever come across. The scenery is gorgeous; the diverse variety of trees, gorgeous rolling hills, quaint water views, and historic buildings combine to perform the picture-perfect coastal getaway. The town’s fitting slogan is “Where the mountains meet the sea.” There is plenty of natural fun to be had in the area, most notably the beautiful Camden Hills State Park , home to miles and miles of serene hiking trails.

Beautiful views of the rolling hills on the scenic Mt. Battie hike.

The must-do trail here is is the slightly strenuous Mt. Battie hike, where after a challenging climb, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Penobscot Bay and the mountains. Bring your camera as you will quickly find out that gorgeous photo opportunities await you here. Aside from the Mt. Battie trail, you will be able to lose yourself in nature on numerous other trails; all offering plentiful wildlife and bird watching opportunities and peaceful views.

More gorgeous views of Camden's green rolling hills.

8. New Hampshire’s White Mountains

New Hampshire's beautiful White Mountains during the snowy winter season

New Hampshire’s incredible White Mountain region is one of the premier New England destinations for recreational fun. Whether you are into hiking and biking or skiing and snowboarding, you will find what you are looking for and more in a New Hampshire getaway. Summer is a great time to get out into the fresh air: explore the trails, observe wildlife, and take some great pictures of waterfalls.

The summer months are a great time to check out one of the White Mountain National Forest's trails.

Fall is an excellent time to take a scenic drive. The Kancamagus Highway is one of the most popular routes. The 34 mile drive, which is known to be one of the best places in the country for fall foliage, takes you past rivers, mountains, gorges, and streams. The Mt. Cog Railroad is another great attraction to check out during the fall season. A 3 mile mountain train ride will take you up to the summit of Mt. Washington, which is the highest peak in the Northeast.

Winter is perhaps the best season of all, a quiet time filled with plentiful snow and ample opportunity for winter sports. Everything from secluded cabins in the woods to rustic lodges to luxury ski resorts are available to choose amongst for your winter vacation. A great activity to check out is Bretton Woods Nordic Center , a cross country skiing dream destination sure to please both newbie and advanced skiers. It would be difficult for anyone to to deny the beauty of skiing in such a pristine, beautiful setting. A very memorable experience for everyone, especially tourists visiting from warm weather locales.

Cross country skiing in the beautiful White Mountains National Forest is a wonderful experience.

Another fun activity while you are in the vicinity is Nestlenook Farms . This charming winter oasis offers a plethora of fun winter activities. From cozy sleigh rides, to skating on a Victorian ice rink, to snowshoeing with the gorgeous White Mountains in the background, it’s a dream destination for snow lovers and Hallmark Christmas movie fanatics.

Sleigh rides at Nestlenook Farms in Jackson, New Hampshire

9. Empire State Building

Taking in the views from the Empire State Building in New York City

I always dreamed of the perfect romantic date upon the Empire State building ever since seeing the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan classic Sleepless in Seattle . After multiple visits to New York, I finally made my way up the 86th floor to take in the incredible cityscapes. Although NYC receives much negative press regarding its’ high crime and grittiness factor, the city truly looks peaceful and beautiful from 1050 feet up in the air. For a one-of-a-kind urban view like no other, do make the time for this iconic attraction.

Spectacular views from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in NYC

And afterwards, enjoy a slice of pizza at NY Pizza Suprema , one of the city’s best places for an authentic slice of pie.

10. The beaches of Cape Cod

Scenic Cape Cod beach near Wellfleet.

The beautiful Cape Cod region, which includes 15 charming towns in Massachusetts, is a wonderful, peaceful vacation destination within close proximity to many busy cities. If you are looking for a laid-back escape, packed with relaxing leisure activities like hiking and biking, combined with long days relaxing at picturesque beaches, then Cape Cod should definitely top your list of possible New England coastal getaways. The beaches here are often regarded as the most scenic in the world. Coast Guard Beach was referred to as “The Great Beach” by Henry David Thoreau.

Provincetown , located at the tip of Cape Cod, is home to 2 well regarded beaches: Race Point and Herring Cove. The best way to end your day in Provincetown is by watching a gorgeous sunset at either of these 2 beaches. Race Point is the only Eastern point where you can see the sun set over the water.

In addition, there lies a grand, secluded, undeveloped beach along Cape Cod’s amazing Great Island Trail . This beach is only accessible via a hike, therefore, it is completely desolate. This serene beach is perhaps the most magnificent of all.

Views of the gorgeous secluded beach on the Great Island Trail.

Also Cape Cod is known for its’ gorgeous bike paths. Both the Cape Cod Canal Path and the Cape Cod Rail Trail are highly worth looking into. If you are seeking a great workout + fabulous views, it doesn’t get much better!

Cape Cod Rail Trail in Massachusetts

11. Devil’s Hopyard State Park

Pretty fall colors at Devil's Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut

East Haddam, Connecticut is one of the prime areas in New England for spectacular leaf peeping. Although there are many scenic drives to take throughout town, one of the best ways to explore all the wonders of New England’s magnificent fall foliage season is by taking a quiet hike through Devil’s Hopyard State Forest .

New England's fall season is the perfect time to get out there for a wonderful hike! Take a look at these gorgeous colors!

Tree covered trails, a gorgeous waterfall surrounded by foliage, and a historic covered bridge all come together to create some amazing photography opportunities. It would be a shame to pass up such a great park during New England’s best season. The cool crisp air, the striking colors, nature, exercise, photography, and peace and quiet all rolled into one; you just can’t top it!

The beautiful waterfall during the fall season.

12. Walkway over the Hudson

Walkway Over the Hudson in Upstate New York

One of New York’s most scenic destinations is the Walkway Over the Hudson , a 1.25 mile long path over the Hudson River. This year-round pedestrian path happens to be the longest elevated bridge in the world. It’s quite a sight during any season, but even more amazing during the peak of fall. The walkway provides the perfect setting for a refreshing walk. Take a break from your computer and phone and enjoy the wonders of nature in a breathtaking setting.

Wonderful bridge and mountain views from the walkway.

Because the Walkway is open year-round, you have the opportunity to check out how the scenery changes magnificently with each passing season. A fall visit is recommended as upstate New York is well known for its’ amazing autumn season. Nevertheless, whenever you decide to visit, you will be treated to a picturesque setting.

13. Central Park

Central Park in the fall

As one of the most visited and beautiful urban parks in the country, Central Park is well worth a spot on your bucket list. Not only is there so much to see and do here, but the park’s scenery changes drastically with the seasons From summertime greenery, to vivid fall foliage, to a snowy winter wonderland, the park shines anytime of year.

Beautiful Central Park in NYC

Famous attractions include the Central Park Zoo, the Wollman Ice Rink, the historic carousel, and Strawberry Fields (John Lennon memorial). My favorite time to visit is during the quiet winter months. The weather is refreshingly brisk, the crowds have disappeared, and the famous ice rink is open. Movie buffs will quickly remember the rink featured in 2 great holiday classics: Home Alone 2 and Serendipity !

Ice skating at beautiful Central Park

A few more iconic NYC movie filming locations to check out

14. The beaches of Rhode Island

A beautiful, overcast spring day at Narragansett's Scarborough Town Beach.

Rhode Island , aptly nicknamed “The Ocean State,” has its’ fair share of beautiful beaches. Scarborough Town Beach in Narragansett is amazing; it’s wide and features smooth sand and gorgeous quaint views. Goosebury Beach and Second Beach in Newport are also worthy of a visit. If you are a fan of collecting seaglass, head over to Teddy’s Beach in Portsmouth for an abundance of new pieces to add to your collection. In addition, all of these beaches provide a wonderful setting for taking a long, relaxing stroll. Scarsborough is perfect for summer swimming and sunbathing, while Goosebury is great for photography.

Newport's Second Beach is a perfect place for summer relaxation.

The best aspect of Rhode Island beaches is that they typically only get busy during the prime summer months. Fall and winter, if you can bare the cold, are actually ideal times to take a solitary walk. There are many benefits to visiting in the winter, namely the fact that the beaches do not stay busy all year like California and Florida beaches. Although many complain of the short summer season and cold, long winter season, perhaps, the greatest treasure of all is having a magnificent beach all to yourself.

15. Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge

The Ocean View Loop at Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge.

Rhode Island is home to numerous fantastic hikes, nature preserves, and natural wonders. One of these beautiful places to explore is Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge , a coastal sanctuary located in Middletown (near Newport).

You will find plenty of scenic water views to keep you interested along the way.

Hiking the trails, wildlife photography, birdwatching, exploring the nature museum, and just enjoying the gorgeous marsh and ocean views make for a fun-filled, yet relaxing day out. No doubt, Sachuest is one of the most beautiful place you will have the pleasure of visiting during your stay in Rhode Island.

Have you visited any of these Northeast attractions? What are some of your favorites in the region? Part 2 coming soon.

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Maureen Therese - Top Ten Travel List

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The Top 15 Resort Hotels in the Northeast

This picturesque corner of the country is home to coastal retreats and rustic hideaways.

best north east travel destinations

Note: If you’re looking for our most recent recommendations, check out the 2023 list of our favorite resorts in New England .

This year's World's Best Awards survey closed on Mar. 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers' experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year's honorees will inspire your trips to come—whenever they may be.

The most appealing resorts in New England and New York take all of the creature comforts of a classic bed-and-breakfast and turn up the dial. A welcoming glass of wine beside a roaring fire? Check. Rambling walking paths through picturesque forests or beside peaceful lakes? Check. Comfortable guest rooms and thick mattresses piled with warm coverings? Check.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey , T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

This year, a number of properties are new to the list. The Vanderbilt, an Auberge Resort, occupies a Gilded Age mansion in the heart of downtown Newport, Rhode Island. Hidden Pond, located minutes from the Atlantic coast in Kennebunkport, Maine, offers tree-house-like spa and cabins on stilts. The Taconic Kimpton, just outside Manchester, Vermont, opened in 2017 and won raves from our readers, not least because, like all Kimptons, it's pet-friendly. "We were able to bring our fur baby Charlie Brown, a long-haired German shepherd," one voter wrote. "The resort had bowls of water when we walked into the lobby, a chalkboard with the guests' dogs' names, plus locally made biscuits. They provided a loaner bed and bowls, and we were allowed to bring them to the lobby for complimentary happy hour."

Alongside the newcomers are some of the region's long-beloved classics. Lake Placid Lodge was rebuilt in 2005 after a massive fire burned the original 1882 camp to the ground. But the hotel's spirit is still intact. "My husband and I stayed here for our mini-moon for three nights," one reader wrote. "We arrived exhausted after all of the wedding festivities and couldn't wait to relax and have a quietly romantic weekend. The Lake Placid Lodge delivered exactly that. Between the luxurious room with its wood-burning fireplace and a balcony with a gorgeous lake view, it was the perfect fall getaway."

Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, has existed in some form since the 1860s. The range of activities at the property has perhaps never been bigger. "Visit in the summer and see the incredible gardens and get in some golf," said one reader. "Visit in the winter and get in some ice skating, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. In all seasons, the trails are great for walking independently or on one of the multiple guided hikes. You can also get in on the tomahawk throwing — see if you can hit the target!"

Sometimes it's the little things that bring visitors back year after year. For one reader, the Sagamore, a hotel on the shores of Lake George, New York, that dates back to 1883, it was the thoughtful service: "I'm not sure how they do it, but the staff who have been there for years remember how you like your coffee in the morning, what you like to order, and just when you need something."

One place that does the little things exceedingly well: the charming Rabbit Hill Inn, which repeats as No. 1. Read on to see why it earned top billing again — and which other properties ranked among the best resorts in the Northeastern United States.

1. Rabbit Hill Inn, Lower Waterford, Vermont

Score: 96.69

More information:

Rabbit Hill Inn in northeastern Vermont has captured the top spot on this list for two years in a row. The 19-room lodge has everything readers want from a luxe, quintessentially New England stay. "We live in Hawaii and wanted to have a mini-winter vacation," wrote one reader. "Rabbit Hill Inn fully met our fantasies of what an ideal winter vacation could be. The Inn could not control the perfectly timed snowfall that graced our visit, of course, but the room, the service, the food — everything was done so well and so thoughtfully, with lots of caring and special touches. We stayed for five nights and could not have had a better experience."

2. Twin Farms, Barnard, Vermont

Score: 95.31

More information:

3. The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport, Rhode Island

Score: 95.15

More information:

4. Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, Harwich, Massachusetts

Score: 94.97

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5. The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection, Newport, Rhode Island

Score: 94.86

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6. Hidden Pond, Kennebunkport, Maine

Score: 94.46

More information:

7. The Wauwinet, Nantucket, Massachusetts

Score: 92.70

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8. Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid, New York

Score: 91.73

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9. Woodstock Inn & Resort, Woodstock, Vermont

Score: 91.47

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10. Taconic, A Kimpton Hotel, Manchester, Vermont

Score: 90.96

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11. White Barn Inn, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kennebunkport, Maine

Score: 90.63

12. Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York

Score: 90.19

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13. The Sagamore Resort, Bolton Landing, New York

Score: 89.96

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14. The Nantucket Hotel and Resort, Nantucket, Massachusetts

Score: 89.80

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15. Castle Hill Inn, Newport, Rhode Island

Score: 89.73

More information:

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020 .

Family Vacations in the Northeast USA

best north east travel destinations

Michael Rickard / Getty Images

Families who live in the Northeast have a smorgasbord of wonderful vacation options within a day's drive. The region includes the six New England states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island) as well as three in the Mid-Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania).

Tyler Place Family Resort: Highgate Springs, VT

Tyler Place Family Resort

One of  America's best all-inclusive resorts , the 165-acre  Tyler Place Family Resort   pioneered all-inclusive pricing during the Great Depression and has been helping families create awesome summer family vacation memories ever since. With nine age-staggered groups from babies through teens, the children's program is simply unbeatable. (Tyler Place is also on our shortlist of  top vacations with a baby and toddler .)

New York City

Scott Dunn / Getty Images

From Broadway shows to iconic sightseeing and shopping, New York City offers a slew of fun options for visiting families.

Hershey, PA

brownpau / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Talk about sweet. Hershey is a town where lampposts are shaped like Hershey's Kisses and the pervasive candy theme is, well, just chocolate icing on the cake. The big draw is  Hersheypark ; its impressive array of roller coasters make it one of the best theme parks on the East Coast.

Acadia National Park: Mt. Desert Island, ME

heipei / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

One of America's most visited national parks, Acadia is set on the rugged coast of Maine. The park is home to myriad plants and animals, as well as the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Today visitors come to Acadia to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the coastal scenery.

Whiteface Lodge: Lake Placid, NY

Whiteface Lodge

For families looking for a mountain getaway that's luxurious yet completely family-friendly, the all-suite  Whiteface Lodge  is a fabulous choice in the gorgeous Adirondacks of Upstate New York.

Harborview Nantucket: Nantucket, MA

Harborview Nantucket

Not quite a vacation rental, but not quite a hotel, Harborview Nantucket is comprised of 11 impeccably designed luxury cottages that frame a green lawn beside a boat-filled harbor cove in Nantucket. The property is a wonderful oasis in this bustling little town, and it would make a super home base for multi-generational gatherings or reunions. 

Ogunquit, ME

Corbis / Getty Images

The Algonquin Indians named it  Ogunquit , or “beautiful place by the sea.” A jewel along the southern Maine coast, the pretty village of Ogunquit delights families with a stunning coastal walk, wonderful beach, saltwater taffy, lobstering cruises, and lots of unpretentious family fun.

Philadelphia, PA

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

As if the Liberty Bell and cheesesteak weren't enough, there are many more fantastic reasons to bring your kids in and around Philadelphia .

Mohonk Mountain House: New Paltz, NY

Fred Hsu / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The 250+ room  Mohonk Mountain House  overlooks sprawling grounds containing a pristine lake, 85 miles of hiking trails, a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, stables, and a grand lawn where families can watch movies in the open air. Kids ages four to 12 can participate in the award-winning children’s program that includes guided nature walks, animal tracking, and fossil hunts.

Skytop Lodge: Skytop, PA

Skytop Lodge

The oh-so-grand  Skytop Lodge  in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains has been welcoming families since 1928. There's a huge choice of activities, including zip-lining, kayaking, archery, tennis, boating, biking, rock climbing, and hiking, plus an excellent supervised children’s program, and golfers get a bonus that’s virtually unheard of: Unlimited greens fees. 

The Sagamore: Lake George, NY

TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove

For families looking for a lake getaway that's luxurious yet completely family-friendly, The Sagamore is a wonderful choice on spectacular Lake George in the foothills of New York's Adirondack Mountains.

Upper Cape Cod, MA

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

The most westerly region of Cape Cod—Bourne, Sandwich, Mashpee, Falmouth, and Woods Hole—make up the Upper Cape . Life is a bit sleepier here than on the Outer Cape. The beaches are a bit calmer and prices a bit lower, too, which combine to make this an ideal getaway with kids. 

Winnetu Resort: Martha's Vineyard, MA

Winnetu Oceanside Resort

The upscale  Winnetu  Resort on Martha's Vineyard is wonderfully family-friendly, offering spacious accommodations, family-friendly dining, babysitting, and children's activity programs for kids ages three to 12 as well as for teens.

Woodstock Inn & Resort: Woodstock, VT

Woodstock Inn & Resort

For families looking for a relaxing Vermont getaway with a host of family activities, the Woodstock Inn & Resort is an excellent upscale choice. This four-season resort where family time means games and hikes, farm visits, and afternoon cookies and cider.

Rocking Horse Ranch: Highland, NY

Rocking Horse Ranch Resort

Rocking Horse Ranch  is a popular, extremely kid-centric dude ranch in the hinterland of the Hudson Valley. Besides the usual ranch activities such as horseback riding and hay rides, there's an enormous wagonload of other fun things to do, such as rock climbing, archery, swimming, tennis, and more.

Great Wolf Lodge New England: Fitchburg, MA

Great Wolf Lodge

The wildly popular Great Wolf Lodge chain of indoor water park resorts opened its first New England property in the Boston area in 2014. At 68,000 square feet, the indoor water park is the largest in Massachusetts.

Providence Biltmore: Providence, RI

Providence Biltmore

The grandest hotel in the Creative Capital, the Providence Biltmore opened in 1922 and has been wowing guests ever since.

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12 Beautiful Places To Visit In The Northeast USA

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (14)

No doubt, if it’s your first visit to the northeast of the United States, it’s likely you’ll dive right in to some of the firm favourites of New York City , Niagara Falls and Washington DC, which are all incredible places to experience (there’s no doubt about that) but, and it’s a big but, there is so much more to see! One thing that is pretty darn wonderful about the US is its diversity and gorgeous places to explore, with the northeast being no exception!

If you’re already planning a trip to  New York City or thinking of seeing another side of the region, then make sure to take a look at some of these stunning stops.

If you love natural beauty, quaint towns and opportunities to spot whales and devour fresh lobster, then the northeast is for you.

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (1)

Take a look at some of the very best places you should consider.

1.) Gorge on fresh lobster at Bar Harbour, Maine

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (14)

On the northeast shores of Mt Desert Island, Bar Harbour is one special little place that’s well worth a gander at. Head into the town itself and gorge in one of the quaint, independent, restaurants that line the little streets.

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (15)

Make sure to visit Rose Eden Restaurant, where they serve fresh lobster, with lashings of butter, all right from the shorefront at a very reasonable price too.

If you’re looking to work off all those buttery calories, take a walk along the Ocean Trail by the town. It’s something else.

2.) Time for a tipple on Nantucket Island

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (6)

Approximately 3o miles from the shores of Cape Cod , Nantucket Island is one lovely little spot to visit.

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (2)

Make sure to pop into the Nantucket Vineyard that also crafts local beers (Don’t forget to ask for a taster of some of their limited edition casks).

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (7)

If you’re looking for a little R&R, then head towards Madakat Beach, arguably one of the nicest, sandy beaches, on the island.

Read more: Best things to do in Cape Cod

3.) Watch the sunset at Grand Isle, Vermont

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (12)

If you’re heading north in Vermont , make sure to take a pit stop on the gorgeous Grand Isle.

This intimate little island is only home to a few thousand people who really care about this gorgeous place.

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (3)

Head to the beautiful Grand Isle State Park for a little ramble around the beautiful nature, it’s a great place to watch the sunset across the shores too.

Read more: Best places in Vermont to visit

4.) See the roaring falls of Finger Lakes, New York

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (16)

Last time I visited Finger Lakes was in the midst of a crazy thunderstorm for a night in a tent. It was terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure.

Thankfully, thunderstorms are few and far between and the whole area is a breathtaking place to enjoy a few days away from the hustle and bustle of, say, New York City.

Make sure to take some time to visit, the roaring, Taughannock Falls and Watkins Glen that is truly one of a kind.

5.) Follow the Kanacamagus Highway in the White Mountains, New Hampshire

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (20)

The White Mountains is situated predominately in New Hampshire, with Maine taking a little bit of it too! Head over to the whopping 800,000-acre park and drive the Kancamagus Highway without ever having to break a sweat.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a hike or a ramble, make sure to take a look at the many designated routes that criss-cross the forest.

6.) Discover Mt Desert Island, Maine

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (18)

Mt Desert Island is a picturesque island (home to Bar Harbour, I mentioned previously).

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (11)

The island itself is a beautiful place to explore. Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain and ramble through the picturesque Acadia National Park that’s great to see in Summer and Winter.

7.) Go whale watching in Boston, Massachusetts

Best Places To See In Boston (12)

Boston is one of my favourite east coast cities, packed full of history and incredible seafood, there’s a massive amount to do in the city.

If you’re spending a few days on your trip, make sure to head out whale watching, pack in some walking along the Freedom Trail.

Best Places To See In Boston (23)

Oh, and make sure to see the Museum of Fine Art (if that’s your thing). Its huge collection is one of the very best in the world.

Best Places To See In Boston (5)

Also, if you’re looking for a really quirky place to rest your head, make sure to check out the Verb Hotel that is based on 1960’s America.

Read more: Best places in Massachusetts to visit

8.) See Dr Seuss at Springfield, Massachusetts

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (10)

Springfield has lots of charming things to see and do, evening if you’re only staying for a little time.

Make sure to visit, Watershops Pond, Hubbard Park and even spot the Dr Seuss statues within the sculpture garden itself.

9.) See the stars in Portland, Maine

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (19)

Set on the corner of a peninsula, Portland is one lovely city to visit.

Make sure you take some time to visit the Portland Head Lighthouse where you’ll get the opportunity to brush up on some star-gazing skills (over the sea) or take a tour Victoria Mansion that is stunningly preserved.

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (5)

If you’re looking for some outdoor activities, hop over to Fore Street for some local bites to eat.

10.) Discover the beautiful, Casco Bay Islands

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (17)

Not far from the shores on Portland is the beautiful islands situated within Casco Bay itself. This huge bay has numerous islands that to explore, including Peaks Island (which actually is part of the city of Portland) and the beautiful Cliff Island too.

Alternatively, If you’re looking for a small island where you can stroll around, head over to Great Diamond that is car and lorry free. It’s perfect for walking on this relaxing island!

11.) Explore the wild and beautiful, Block Island

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (4)

Block Island is technically part of Rhode Island (the state) and was named after a famous European explorer who ventured these waters many a year ago.

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (8)

Head across to Mohegan Bluffs to see the iconic clay cliffs that overlook the ocean or visit Block Island North Lighthouse that is 150 years old this year.

It’s stunning.

Read more: Best places in Rhode Island to visit

12.) Gorge in Montpelier, Vermont

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (13)

As the capital city of Vermont , Montpelier has lots of amazing things to see and do for us travellers.

Head over to the delicious Bragg Farm Sugar House that makes all things maple syrup. Be warned, you will leave on a sugar high!

Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA (9)

If you’re looking for a piece of beautiful history, then take a tour of the Vermont State House that has become an iconic site in the city.

For a yummy brunch, dart over to Skinny Pancake that has some of the very best pancakes in all of Vermont . Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

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10 Overlooked Places to Visit in the Northeast This Summer

Places to Visit in the Northeast This Summer

When you think about northeast America, you probably picture New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. These are some great cities to visit, but the northeast has so much more to offer.

From the formal gardens of Brandywine Valley in Pennsylvania to the bear sanctuary of Shenandoah National Park, we’ve put together a list of ten overlooked but incredible places to visit in the northeast this summer .

What to Pack

10 Overlooked Places to Visit in the Northeast This Summer 1

It gets pretty hot in the northeast during the summer. The hot season lasts for almost four months, from May to September, with an average temperature of over 76°F. The hottest month is July, and you can expect an average high temperature of 85°F.

With such high temperatures, it’s important to pack for the weather:

  • Lightweight, breathable fabrics are a must for keeping cool while exploring.
  • Don’t forget a hat for added protection from the midday sun.
  • Sunscreen is a must to protect your skin, whether you’re hiking or sipping cocktails at a beach bar.
  • Comfortable sandals or breathable walking shoes will be best for long days of sightseeing while looking good on your travels .

Places to Visit in the Northeast This Summer

Here are our top ten favorite places to visit in the northeast and what you can expect on each trip.

Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania

Brandywine Valley is known for its beautiful, formal gardens and unique American Castles. Longwood Gardens is particularly popular and renowned for its landscape. The estate is dotted with planted conservatories, fountains, and thousands of acres of gardens and woodland to explore.

There are also several museums in Brandywine that are a must-visit. The Winterthur Museum and Gardens has an impressive collection of furniture and decorative art, as well as a research library.

You can also visit the Brandywine River Museum, which homes an unrivaled collection of art curated by the Wyeth family.

If you’re looking for a place of natural beauty and rich history, Brandywine Valley in Pennsylvania is the trip for you.

Acadia National Park, ME

Acadia National Park Landscape Sea

Sitting on the coast of Maine, sprawling across Mount Desert Island; you’ll find Acadia National Park. It has over 47,000 acres of breathtaking landscape and wildlife and tons of activities to keep you busy year-round.

Whether you’re into winter skiing, summer hiking, or spring fishing, Acadia National Park is the perfect spot. Make sure to start at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center to learn more about the park , or head to the Welcome Center at Rockefeller Hall for fewer crowds.

Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic was once a shipbuilding seaport village that was first settled back in 1654. Today, the town treasures its maritime history and is dripping in New England charm.

Downtown Mystic has a fantastic food and drink scene with some of the best fresh seafood you’ll find. While Main Street is dotted with local shops, eateries, and galleries to explore.

The town only covered four square miles, but there’s a lot packed in. From the USA’s only steam-powered cider mill to the outdoor Art Festival, you’ll never want to leave this quaint town.

Portland, Maine

Portland has the perfect blend of outdoor adventures and a sophisticated art scene. The beach is never far away, and the beautiful weather makes it the perfect summer destination that is often overlooked.

This gorgeous area of Maine is known for its beautiful lighthouses, so don’t forget to go on tour while you’re visiting. From the Nubble Lighthouse to the Portland Head Light, it’s an interesting tour to take.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Nighttime Bridge

Pittsburgh comes alive in the Summer with festivals, live music, and activities filling up almost every weekend. In fact, Pittsburgh was ranked as one of the ten most event-filled cities in 2022 by PredictHQ .

Rent a Golden Triangle Bike and explore the scenic river paths, go for a stroll in Kennywood Park, or simply enjoy the architecture in the city. And when you need to refuel, Pittsburgh has an award-winning food and drink scene and some cool hotels to stay in.

Shenandoah National Park

If you’re looking for unmatched panoramic views and breathtaking natural beauty , Shenandoah National Park should be on your bucket list. This 300-square-mile sanctuary is home to bears, brook trout, and other wildlife, all living in a diverse forest.

The Skyline Drive allows for unbelievable views, with its highest point reaching 4,049 feet at Hawksbill. Shenandoah was the first of Virginia’s national parks but an overlooked spot for adventurers you won’t want to miss.

White Mountains, NH

If you’re looking for a not-so-well-known hiking holiday, check out the White Mountains in New Hampshire. There’s something for everyone, from easy woodland walks to tough scrambles, not to mention gold courses, lakeside beaches, and crystal clear mountain streams for fishing and swimming.

And when you need a break from the wilderness, you’ll find live theater, entertainment, antique stores, and more in the nearby town. It’s pretty popular in the summer, but the buzz of the town is perfect for family vacations and you’ll find plenty to do.

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Stowe Town

Stowe has a small-town charm about it that will make you want to stay forever. Previously named one of the best small towns in America, it has 45 hiking trails to try out, including Vermont’s tallest peak and a breathtaking waterfall.

In the town, you’ll find beautiful architecture and three classic covered bridges, as well as local eateries and cafes to refuel. For small-town charm and iconic scenery, it doesn’t get much better than Stowe.

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport in Rhode Island is known as the sailing capital of the world. Whether you are an experienced sailor or want to get your sea legs, you’ll have fun with the world’s largest fleet of America’s Cup 12 Meters.

But it’s not just sailing Newport is known for, you’ll also get a taste of the high life by touring the Newport Mansions, once home to America’s wealthiest families. Or you could take a peaceful walk along the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk for some of the best scenic views of your life.

There is so much to do and see in Newport that it can be hard to pack it all into one trip. But it’s a must-visit destination for adventurers and families alike.

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Whether you’re an avid hiker or just want a unique adventure, White Mountain National Forest offers outdoor recreation year-round.

Spread over 800,000 acres, you can take part in hiking, cross-country skiing, boating, fishing, kayaking, and more. And with 22 campgrounds scattered across the forest, there are plenty of places to camp . It’s an adventurer’s dream.

Where Will You Visit This Summer?

One Bag Travel Packing Tips

The northeast has so many hidden gems that get overlooked by most travelers. But it’s always great finding a new place to explore. The big question is, where will you visit this summer?

Will you be hiking the trails of the White Mountains in New Hampshire or sunbathing on the beautiful beaches of Portland, Maine?

Hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow down your next adventure.

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Northeast USA Tours & Trips 2024/2025

If you're heading to the USA on a multi-day tour, make sure to visit Northeastern USA to explore New York City, Philadelphia, Maine for an adventure that is sure to impress any traveller! Read here about the best USA vacations .

118 Northeast USA tour packages with 176 reviews

American Triangle – 5 Days Tour

  • In-depth Cultural
  • Active Adventure

American Triangle – 5 Days

Niagara Falls Toronto & 1000 Islands – 3 Days Tour

Niagara Falls Toronto & 1000 Islands – 3 Days

8-day East Coast America Group Tour Tour

8-day East Coast America Group Tour

"A lot of travelling but you get to see a lot in a short amount of time. Excellent guides!"

USA & Canada - Niagara Falls, Toronto and a Thousand Islands Tour

  • Christmas & New Year

USA & Canada - Niagara Falls, Toronto and a Thousand Islands

Niagara Falls, Washington DC, Philadelphia & Amish Country 4D/3N (from New York) Tour

  • Coach / Bus
  • Sightseeing

Niagara Falls, Washington DC, Philadelphia & Amish Country 4D/3N (from New York)

  • 10% deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

New York Uncovered (4 Days) Tour

New York Uncovered (4 Days)

"I loved this tour and our guide Jon was great. However it should be advertised as a 3 day tour as the 4th day is just check out of the hotel, no activities."
  • €100 deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

New York Explorer (3 Days) Tour

New York Explorer (3 Days)

5-Day Tour of America from New York City Tour

5-Day Tour of America from New York City

Great Eastern Cities Tour

Great Eastern Cities

  • €150 deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

New York City, Niagara Falls & Washington DC with Extended Stay in New York City Tour

New York City, Niagara Falls & Washington DC with Extended Stay in New York City

Mount Sterling Appalachian Loop Tour

  • Hiking & Trekking

Mount Sterling Appalachian Loop

"Guide was great, thanks."

Great Eastern Cities Tour

USA – 5 Days Shenandoah – West Virginia Adventure with Rock Climbing via Ferrata

The Big Apple Niagara and Washington DC (8 Days) Tour

The Big Apple Niagara and Washington DC (8 Days)

Cycling Maine\'s Coast & National Park Tour

Cycling Maine's Coast & National Park

Reviews of northeast usa tours.

"The tour was great and very informative. Our tour guide was awesome and friendly and making sure everyone is ok."
"Leif and Peter, were excellent.. tour guides very knowledgeable, as well as Roberto the driver, made us safe during 3 days travel"

Northeast USA Tours starting in:

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International Versions

  • Deutsch: USA Nordosten Rundreisen 2024/2025
  • Français: Circuits en Nord-Est des États-Unis 2024/2025
  • Español: Circuitos por Noreste de EEUU 2024/2025
  • Nederlands: Noordoosten van de USA Rondreizen 2024/2025

21 Best Beaches in the Northeast, USA

Written by Lura Seavey Updated May 11, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Lura R. Seavey lives near the New Hampshire coast and visits beaches in the northeast regularly during her travels.

For some, the perfect beach is a tiny remote cove or one isolated behind miles of undeveloped dunes. Others crave the hubbub and excitement of an old-fashioned beach resort with a busy boardwalk, soft ice cream, a carousel, and maybe even an ocean-side fun park like those found at Old Orchard Beach in Maine or the iconic Coney Island Beach in New York City .

Footbridge Beach, Ogunquit, Maine

Beachgoers also differ on their preferred water temperature, from bracing Maine surf to the warmer waters of Cape May, and even one on the shores of New Hampshire's famed Lake Winnipesaukee.

Ranking beaches is a tricky business at best, so instead, we arranged them geographically , from Maine to New Jersey . We've tried to mix the list to include something for all tastes, although, of course, none of these is the secluded little cove that's a secret to all but a few.

These are all popular places to visit, so expect parking to be difficult — plan to arrive early in the morning, and even then, don't expect to be alone in your quest for a good spot. Remember, there's a reason these beaches are so popular: they're the best.

Plan your next family vacation using this handy list to find the best beaches in the Northeast.

1. Old Orchard Beach, Maine

2. kennebunk beaches, maine, 3. wells and ogunquit beaches, maine, 4. hampton beach, new hampshire, 5. weirs beach, new hampshire, 6. wingaersheek beach, massachusetts, 7. singing beach, massachusetts, 8. cape cod national seashore, massachusetts, 9. head of the meadow and ballston beach, massachusetts, 10. easton's beach/first beach, rhode island, 11. narragansett bay beaches, rhode island, 12. misquamicut state beach, rhode island, 13. ocean beach park, connecticut, 14. hammonasset state park, connecticut, 15. jones beach, new york, 16. brighton beach, new york, 17. coney island beach, new york, 18. sandy hook, new jersey, 19. stone harbor beach, new jersey, 20. wildwood, new jersey, 21. cape may beach, new jersey.

Old Orchard Beach

The throwback atmosphere of Old Orchard Beach is what its devotees love about it as they soar above the beach on a heart-stopping Ferris wheel ride at Palace Playland , New England's last full-scale amusement park on a beach. This carnival-style park has ticketed rides, not general admission, so you can wander around and soak up the atmosphere if you're not up for an arcade game or a bumper-car ride.

The old-fashioned wooden pier is another iconic landmark at Old Orchard Beach, topped with an assortment of shops and restaurants that offer all the expected soft ice cream, saltwater taffy, fried dough, and seafood. If you're here in the evening during a fireworks show, get an outdoor seat and have dinner at the far end of the pier for the best views.

Fountain and shops in Old Orchard Beach

One of the best things about Old Orchard Beach is how accessible it is if you don't want to (or can't) drive here. Just one block from the sand, and right in the center of the main shopping and dining area, sits an Amtrak station that provides seasonal service from May through October. The southernmost station is Boston's North Station, with two more stops in Massachusetts, three in New Hampshire, and several more in Maine.

This is one of the most popular places to visit in Maine , offering seven miles of golden sand that is free and open to the public, as well as plenty of places to eat and an abundance of places to stay.

Location: W. Grand Ave., Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Accommodation: Where to Stay at Old Orchard Beach

Read More: Top-Rated Beaches near Portland, Maine

Gooch's Beach

If you want to wiggle your toes in southern Maine's famous soft sand, formed by eons of grinding the native granite into a fine silver-colored powder, kick off your shoes in Kennebunk. Get a parking sticker at the town hall or take the handy trolley from your hotel or one of the B&Bs that fill the town's former captains' mansions.

Gooch's Beach begins at the Kennebunk River and leads to Mother's Beach , a short section protected by low rocky areas that are safe for kids to play in. Mother's Beach also has super-soft sand and a good playground that's relatively new, and although there are no permanent facilities here, portable toilets are maintained in summer.

West of the in-town beaches, close to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge , is the idyllic dune-backed Parsons Beach . Parking is limited at the beach itself, but you can park near the main road and walk in.

Location: Beach Ave, Kennebunk, Maine

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Kennebunk

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Kennebunkport, ME

Ogunquit Beach

A long barrier beach separates the saltmarshes of the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve from the Atlantic Ocean, stretching from the town of Wells south to Ogunquit. Drake Island, Wells, Crescent, Moody, Footbridge , and Ogunquit beaches meld from one to the other, each with plenty of soft sand and its own following of families that return year after year.

Aerial view of the beach at Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

Hotels, resorts , and restaurants stretch along Route 1, which parallels the coast. Of the lot, Ogunquit is the tonier base, with high-end resorts, fine dining, and shopping, as well as a beach with an especially gentle slope into the water — great for families. Don't miss walking Marginal Way from Ogunquit to Perkins Cove for beautiful ocean views and several tiny beaches enclosed by rocks.

Location: Beach Street, Ogunquit, Maine

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Ogunquit, ME

Aerial view of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

New Hampshire makes the most of its 13-mile coastline with five public beaches, three of which are state parks. The biggest is Hampton Beach, a long span of white sand that's consistently rated as one of the cleanest beaches in the United States and among the best beaches in New England .

The town behind the beach is an unabashedly pure honky-tonk beach resort, with a boardwalk, fried dough, saucy T-shirts, pizza joints, candy shops, and a penny arcade.

At the center of this is the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom , built in 1899 as a community entertainment center, now a live music and comedy venue that hosts name performers and bands.

Consistent with its lively atmosphere, Hampton Beach hosts frequent events and festivals : sand sculpture in June, Children's Festival in August, weekly firework displays, and live music nightly on the Sea Shell Stage.

Location: Ocean Boulevard, Hampton, New Hampshire

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Hampton

Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in New Hampshire

Weirs Beach, Laconia, New Hampshire

Weirs Beach is located near Laconia in New Hampshire's Lakes Region and is a favorite freshwater swimming spot for visitors. It occupies a stretch of sand on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee (locally referred to simply as "the big lake"), within the Endicott Rock State Historic Site.

Although the beach itself doesn't offer much in the way of amenities, it sits at the end of the Wiers Boardwalk , which has plenty of restaurants, shops, and diversions, including classic arcades. This is also home to the dock for the M/S Mount Washington and the US Mailboat M/V Sophie C , which offer sightseeing cruises on Lake Winnipesaukee .

In the evening, visitors can enjoy films on one of the three screens at the Weirs Beach Drive-In theater, and if the weather isn't cooperating, FunSpot is just up the street for plenty of indoor fun, including bowling and the world's largest collection of arcade video games.

Location: Lakeside Ave., Laconia, New Hampshire

Read More: Best Lakes in New Hampshire

Aerial view of Wingaersheek Beach

Stretching along the tidal Annisquam River and Ipswich Bay north of Boston, Wingaersheek Beach has crystal clear waters and a very gradual slope that at low tide extends the beach to more than half a mile wide.

The shallow water makes this Gloucester beach a favorite place to visit for families, especially when the receding tide uncovers huge rock formations to climb on and tidal pools filled with snails and other small marine creatures to discover.

In the summer, you'll find changing facilities and food vendors at the beach.

Location: Atlantic Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in Massachusetts

Singing Beach, Massachusetts

Close to Boston , but feeling light years away in the cute and historic town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, is a beach with two unique features: singing sand and a charming bathhouse built in the 1920s. The setting is scenic, with a long rocky headland bookmarking one end of the beach.

The "singing" you'll hear as you walk across the sand is caused by a combination of round, uniformly sized sand grains containing silica, and a humid atmosphere. As you walk, the friction and compression cause the low humming sound.

Address: 119 Beach Street, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts

Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in the Boston Area

Race Point Beach

One of two Provincetown beaches that are part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Herring Cove Beach is great for swimming, sunbathing, shelling, and even spotting seals. With the exception of shorebird nesting season, it's also a dog-friendly beach , and family-friendly as well thanks to well-maintained facilities, including a sizeable concession area.

Unlike Herring Cove, which faces Cape Cod Bay, Race Point Beach sits at the outermost tip of Cape Cod facing the open Atlantic. Backed by miles of protected dunes and on the ocean side of the Cape, Race Point tends to have heavy surf and an undertow. This makes it unsafe for serious swimming, but the shallow waters are fine for playing in the surf.

Herring Cove Beach

And for sunbathers who like a bit of space, its seven miles of sand are spectacular enough to be frequently listed as one of the state's top beaches .

Location: Province Lands Road, Provincetown, Massachusetts

Read More: Top-Rated Beaches on Cape Cod

Head of the Meadow Beach, Massachusetts

Both in Truro, on the outer end of Cape Cod , Head of the Meadow and Ballston Beach are idyllic stretches of sand facing the Atlantic, backed by dunes and sand bluffs that rise as high as 100 feet. Accessed over the dunes on paths lined with dune grasses, Head of the Meadow has two areas: one a town beach, the other inside the Cape Cod National Seashore . The latter has a lifeguard.

Surfing is allowed at Head of the Meadow, outside the designated swimming area. Both beaches are accessed from Route 6.

Location: Holden Street, Truro, Massachusetts

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Truro

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cape Cod & the Islands

View of Easton's Beach from the Newport Cliff Walk

Easton's Beach, also called First Beach, offers ocean swimming, as well as plenty of activities for kids. Younger kids will love the vintage carousel and playground, while teens can make use of the skateboard park and enjoy live music.

Beach amenities include showers, changing areas, and rest facilities, as well as picnic tables and grills for public use. Visitors can rent umbrellas, chairs, and water sports equipment on-site, and there is a snack bar that also sells staples like towels and sunscreen.

For a midday break, head to the Rotunda to visit the Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium . Focused on conservation education, the center has touch tanks and aquariums that are home to more than 40 species of marine life, and it also offers a variety of educational programs and activities.

Address: 175 Memorial Blvd, Newport, Rhode Island

Narragansett Town Beach

There's no need to make hard choices between the beaches that line the shore from the resort town of Narragansett to Point Judith. Twenty-acre Narragansett Town Beach extends for a full mile beginning at the edge of town and is a favorite for surfers, who have their own designated area.

There's plenty of water for swimmers here and in the long golden beaches farther south: Matunuck Beach State Park , East Matunuck State Beach , Roger W. Wheeler State Beach, Scarborough State Beach, and Narragansett Town Beach. All these have changing facilities and parking (if you're planning a few days to sample all of these, you can buy a parking pass that's good at all state parks).

Address: 39 Boston Neck Road, Narragansett, Rhode Island

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Rhode Island

View over Misquamicut State Beach

Despite its small size, Rhode Island has a whopping 384 miles of shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay. Its beaches are legendary — none more so than Misquamicut, in Westerly. Its gradual slope into the water and gentle waves make it an especially popular beach for families.

In addition to the wide beach of soft sand, Misquamicut State Beach has shaded picnic areas and other things to do, including frequent evening concerts and fireworks.

Nearby Watch Hill is a well-kept and upscale old summer resort town with a historic carousel that's a hit with kids. It's also home to one of Rhode Island's best resorts , The Ocean House , which is a stylish and grand Victorian hotel with a wraparound porch and an amazing restaurant.

Address: Atlantic Avenue, Westerly, Rhode Island

Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in Rhode Island

Ocean Beach Park, New London, CT

Ocean Beach Park in New London is an excellent choice for families, offering swimming not only on the half-mile beach, but also in the Olympic-size pool. There is also a spray park for little ones, and an all-ages triple waterslide for an additional fee, adding to the many reasons this is one of the most popular beach towns in Connecticut .

Beach amenities include a changing area with lockers available, as well as a picnic area, playground, and nature trails. There is also an 18-hole mini-golf course on-site, as well as a collection of seaside carnival rides, from kiddie rides to thrill rides for teens and adults. The park also has a coin-operated arcade that offers all the classic games, including pinball.

Visitors can also enjoy live entertainment on Boardwalk Stage , as well as special events during the summer months, including dances and car shows. Day-use fees are per vehicle (up to five people), and there is a lower walk-in rate for individuals who won't be parking here. There are also several food vendors, including a sit-down restaurant, a snack shack, and an ice cream parlor.

Address: 98 Neptune Ave, New London, Connecticut

Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in Connecticut

Hammonasset State Park

The largest beach in Connecticut, Hammonasset State Park beach lines two miles of shoreline facing Long Island Sound . Waves in the sound are much calmer than those facing the open ocean, making this beach a popular place to visit for families with small children. Another attraction is the boardwalk that runs alongside the beach.

Meigs Point Nature Center offers walks, exhibits, and programs for children. Tourists who want to stay right here can camp in one of the 500 adjoining campsites or find several beach hotels and resorts nearby.

Address: 1288 Boston Post Rd, Madison, Connecticut

Read More: Best Places for Camping in Connecticut

Jones Beach

The most heavily visited beach on the East Coast, Jones Beach lines 6.5 miles of Jones Island seafront, off the south shore of Long Island . Known for its gentle waves and wide expanse of soft sand, the beach is easy to reach from the city on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

Once here, you can run, jog, rollerblade, or just stroll and nosh along the two miles of boardwalk and play shuffleboard or ball on the beach. You can even play golf, and on summer evenings take in a show at the Northwell Health Theater .

  • Read More: Top-Rated Beaches on Long Island

Brighton Beach, New York

Another of the most popular beaches near New York City , Brighton Beach is east of Coney Island, in Brooklyn's Brighton neighborhood. Because it's farther from the city, it's correspondingly less crowded and has fewer commercial amusements.

Instead of arcades and rides, you'll find the exotic flavors of " Little Odessa " — a neighborhood of émigrés from Russia and Eastern Europe. You may not find Coney Island hotdogs, but look for pierogies and cheese-filled Georgian flatbread. The nearby New York Aquarium is the oldest in the United States.

Address: 601 Riegelmann Boardwalk, Brooklyn, New York

Aerial view of Coney Island and the beach

Possibly the most iconic old-style beach of all, Coney Island in Brooklyn is everything you imagined: neon lights, noise, arcades, tacky souvenirs, crowds, boardwalk, the legendary Cyclone roller coaster , and hotdogs from the original Nathan's Coney Island restaurant.

You come here for the atmosphere as much as (or more than) for the three miles of sand, but that's part of the undeniable charm of Coney Island — a carefree oasis of whimsical chaos, where everyone is welcome to be a kid again and enjoy the simple pleasures of sunshine, carnival rides, and guilt-free fried dough.

It may be hard to find a few feet of sand on hot summer weekends, but you'll always find plenty of things to do here. Right next to the beach's two seaside amusement parks, the New York Aquarium's massive complex provides plenty more diversions — a great option if you need a little time in air-conditioning or you need to evade a rain shower.

Location: Coney Island Beach, Brooklyn, New York

Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in New York City & Nearby

Sandy Hook beach

At the north end of the Jersey shore, with views of the New York City skyline, Sandy Hook beach is on a long, low spit of land, really an island connected to the mainland by a bridge. Besides the miles of lovely sandy beaches, Sandy Hook National Recreation Area has a seven-mile bike path, camping sites, and water sports equipment. You can watch the abundant birdlife or join a park ranger on a canoe tour .

With its protected wildlands and beautiful ocean beaches, Sandy Hook is one of the favorite weekend getaways in New Jersey . There are no hotels on Sandy Hook, but you'll find places to stay on the mainland in Atlantic Highlands, which is connected to New York City by a 35-minute ferry ride.

Location: Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, New Jersey

Stone Harbor Beach

New Jersey makes the most of its 127 miles of coastline, offering some of the northeast's best beach towns. The easygoing vibe of Stone Harbor Beach, on an island bordered on the west by the Intracoastal Waterway and on the east by the Atlantic, appeals to families and couples seeking a quiet getaway.

Entertainment here means lazing on the pristine dune-backed beach, stopping in a café, and browsing in the boutiques that line the stone-paved streets. Stop at the Wetlands Institute to learn about the shore ecosystem and meet some of the animals that live here, or get closer to the water on a boat excursion or fishing trip.

This is a great place to enjoy the sand with your pup, too — Stone Harbor Beach is among one of the best dog-friendly beaches in the state, with a section that's open to leashed dogs all day, any time of year.

Address: 2 94th Street, Stone Harbor, New Jersey

  • Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in New Jersey

Wildwood beach, New Jersey

After the sedate atmosphere of Stone Harbor and the peaceful natural environment of Sandy Hook, it's hard to believe that Wildwood is part of the same 127-mile coastline. If you long for the neon and the noise, the tacky souvenirs, and cotton candy, Wildwood is your scene.

Thirty-six blocks of the boardwalk are filled with games, rides, frozen custard, beachwear, and fast food of all descriptions. The mood and the décor are strictly retro, with an unmistakable mid-century vibe. Don't let all this distract you from Wildwood's glorious sandy beach .

Address: 1ST E Glenwood Ave, Wildwood, New Jersey

Aerial view of Cape May beach

Known for its Victorian gingerbread beach cottages and saltwater taffy colors, Cape May is like stepping into yet another era, a smartened-up version of the town's historic past as a proper Victorian summer colony.

Lined primly along the beach are spotless Victorian "cottages" replete with towers, gingerbread trim, and inviting front porches. You can retire to a rocking chair of your own at teatime, as many of the houses are now elegant B&Bs.

The history is real, for Cape May claims to be America's oldest seaside resort. Congress Hall , a grand hotel built in 1816 is one of the country's oldest hotels, and Cape May had already been a thriving resort for decades when it opened. The reason is clear: the beach is a spectacularly well-kept, gleaming expanse of soft white sand.

Accommodation: Best Resorts in Cape May

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Cape May, NJ

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Where to Enjoy a Winter Adventure in the Northeast

If you’re in the mood for a winter getaway that involves more than hunkering down in a cozy cabin, you’re in the right place..

best north east travel destinations

If you’re in the mood for a winter getaway that involves more than hunkering down in a cozy cabin, you’re in the right place. It’s the best time of year for a cold-weather adventure, when the Northeast transforms into a winter wonderland, with epic snowy playgrounds just a mere few hours away from major cities .

Whether you’re in the mood for a ski weekend or prefer to partake in something a little less traditional on the East Coast, we’ve got you covered with a whole array of winter activities, from snowmobiling and ice skating to snowshoeing and ice fishing. So lace up your snow boots and get ready to set out on your journey. 

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best north east travel destinations

You can’t talk about winter adventures without mentioning skiing. While the West Coast does, admittedly, tend to get more fresh snow and boast bigger mountains , there are still plenty of slopes to try out if you want to stay on the East Coast. Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Resort offers some of the best skiing in the Northeast, for a quintessential New England ski trip. Other options include Hunter Mountain or Windham Mountain Club in the Catskills. For accommodations, Urban Cowboy Lodge in the Catskills is situated near Belleayre Mountain, and after a day of skiing, you can return to the lodge and relax your sore muscles in the Estonian sauna.

For a more private experience, consider a jaunt to Twin Farms . The all-inclusive luxury resort spans hundreds of acres in Barnard, VT, with six private, groomed skiing trails and all of the necessary equipment. The property’s snowmobile brings guests back to the top of the hill after each run. 

best north east travel destinations

Ice Skating 

Sure, you can go ice skating at one of the busy city rinks, but why not enjoy the activity while taking in the gorgeous New England landscape, outside of the hustle and bustle? Head to the Hudson Valley for a day of skating at Bear Mountain, or Kiwanis Ice Arena in the Catskills. If you want to turn it into an overnight, consider Scribner’s Catskill Lodge , which boasts an on-site ice skating rink, set up for “glice” skating, amidst a mountain backdrop. 

best north east travel destinations

Ice Fishing and Ice Curling 

Perhaps you want to explore less traditional winter pursuits—may we suggest ice fishing and ice curling? The former is pretty self-explanatory, and the kind of ice fishing you’ll experience is typically very dependent on the locale: in Maine, you can reel in salmon, and in Rhode Island, it tends more towards pike. 

Ice curling might be a bit less familiar; it’s a sport where two teams slide stones on ice towards a target—perfect for the adventurous traveler. Professional ice curling clubs can be found all around the East Coast, though it can be harder to find recreational options—if you’re not sure where to go, try Cedar Lakes Estate in the Hudson Valley. 

best north east travel destinations


Skiing or snowboarding can have a rather steep learning curve. If it’s not particularly appealing to you and you’re not feeling the idea of zooming down a mountain, consider snowshoeing. It’s a great alternative that also provides a workout, but requires less experience. Instead of slowly slugging through snow, you’ll trod on top of it with a pair of snowshoes. The best time to go is after a fresh snow, and a plethora of state parks (like Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve and Whitehall State Park) have dedicated trails. 

best north east travel destinations

It turns out that ziplining isn’t just a warm-weather activity. In fact, winter is one of the best times to embark on a ziplining excursion, as the snow-covered tree tops create a breathtaking perspective. Intrigued? Head to New Hampshire, where you can take a canopy tour of Bretton Woods at Omni Mount Washington Resort . This behemoth of a resort is also a good option if you want to try some more traditional winter activities, like alpine and Nordic skiing, gondola riding, tubing and snowshoeing. There’s even an indoor rock climbing wall.

best north east travel destinations


Jet-skiing on land does exist, and it’s called snowmobiling. Hop on one of these motorized vehicles and plow through the snow, for a fun daredevil adventure. For the ultimate snowmobiling experience, check out Polaris Adventures . The company offers rental excursions all around the country, but you can’t go wrong with Maine ; two destinations— Fryeburg and Shin Pond Village —deliver off-roading adventures that give you a nature-immersing rush. You can also explore Mount Washington, for a New Hampshire getaway. 

best north east travel destinations

Mountain Biking 

Feeling particularly daring? Set out on a mountain biking excursion. And yes, this is a winter-approved activity, as the fat tires make for better traction on the snow or ice. If that catches your interest, then there’s no better place to do it than in Stowe, Vermont, which has been hailed a “mountain biking mecca” due to its extensive trail network for all levels of riding. 

Where to Enjoy a Winter Adventure in the Northeast

  • SEE ALSO : Inside Observer’s Nightlife + Dining Power List Party: Hospitality’s Greats, Full-Circle Moments and Spicy Rigatoni

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best north east travel destinations

NatGeo's top 20 travel locations featured in 'Best of the World 2024'

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National Geographic announced their list of top travel destinations in "Best of the World 2024."

National Geographic's team of experts and editors around the globe makes the list each year.

"National Geographic is synonymous with the best in travel, adventure and exploration, and now our editors are sharing the full breadth of their insight across a variety of categories with our fans all over the world," said Courteney Monroe, president of National Geographic Content. "Whether through the pages of National Geographic magazine, @NatGeo on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube, our Best of the World franchise has the power to ignite the explorer in everyone, from the professional traveler to the family looking for their next adventure."

It's not just locations that the "Best of the World" offers, it's also including wellness retreats, hotels, cultural gems, and restaurants.

Their goal was to find things to do that were "worth building a trip around."

"This year, we wanted to give travelers more ideas than ever before to jumpstart their travel planning for 2024 and beyond, so we grew our lists to include curated hotels, restaurants, wellness retreats and cultural spots that we believe are worth getting on a plane for, and gear that will make your travels smoother. And because we know that people can also be a great source of inspiration, we're sharing our picks for Travelers of the Year-those individuals who, through their example, make us all want to get out there and experience something new," said Nathan Lump, National Geographic's Editor-in-Chief.

BEST OF THE WORLD 2024 Categories:

Top 20 travel experiences.

- A selection of must-do adventures right now. From the total eclipse in Niagara Falls in April to glacier treks in Chile, this year's highlights include a ranking system - another first. The full list of animal-watching, rapid-rafting and road-trip experiences can be found at


Hotels, Restaurants, Cultural Spots and Wellness Retreats - The definitive guide to the best hotels, restaurants, cultural gems and wellness retreats to plan your trips around in 2024. Each of these places is a gateway to a destination, helping travelers explore the culture, history, landscape or wildlife in a deeper and richer way.


- Global trendsetters who inspire individuals to explore and experience the best of the world. From PastaGrannies to Liliana Palma Santos to Dolly Parton, these creatives, guides, influencers and adventurers excel at exciting people about the wonders of our world, illuminating diverse cultures and showing them how to travel smarter.


- 18 expert-approved innovative products every traveler will want to pack, whether the next big trip involves a first-class ticket or a full tank of gas. With tips from pro cyclists to adventure photographers on everything from bike racks to binoculars, Gear of the Year highlights the latest equipment travelers will be most excited to take with them in 2024.

You can also find new content on YouTube with a three-part series on three different locations featured in the "Best of the World" guide.

"Best of the World 2024" is available online now at .

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Backcountry Skiing Is Booming in the Northeast. But Can It Survive?

Even as more people take up alpine touring on New England’s trails, winters are getting shorter, ‘weather whiplash’ events are eroding the snowpack and natural snow is becoming less reliable.

Skiers make their way uphill on a thin ribbon of snow between bare hillsides and woods. A small sign on a tree reads “Uphill Route.”

By Josh Laskin

Early last February, at the Mount Washington Backcountry Ski Festival in New Hampshire, the organizers faced an increasingly common problem: Terrible snow.

Four days of temperatures over 40 degrees combined with an already shallow snowpack had rendered many backcountry ski zones unskiable. Up on Mount Washington, where the higher elevations usually mean colder temperatures, what had been soft, wet snow had hardened into ice when the temperature dropped in the late morning.

Corey Fitzgerald, 36, the owner of Northeast Mountaineering in Glen, N.H., who was supposed to photograph a backcountry tour group on the festival’s third day, headed to an area called Gulf of Slides to check out the conditions. He skied into one of the slides ahead of the group and found that “it was just bulletproof,” or so icy that his skis just bounced off the surface, Mr. Fitzgerald said.

“I thought people were just going to fall down the gully. And the snow was so low that there was an ice bulge still visible in the middle.”

One by one, each skier edged their way down the icy slope, but it was far from the best ski run of their lives.

Alpine ski touring, as the sport is known, involves climbing up mountains using special equipment, then skiing down, and it has been booming. There was a 16 percent increase in the total number of people who participated in ski touring nationwide during the 2022-23 ski season compared to the previous year, according to Snowsports Industries Americas , a winter outdoor industry trade association. New Englanders accounted for nearly 4 percent of the total number of skiers, according to the group’s participation study.

The surge can largely be attributed to gear advancements like lighter skis and split snowboards, to which skiers attach “skins” that grip the snow and allow them to climb. Special bindings let skiers’ and riders’ heels stay free for climbing, then lock into place for descents.

Add in the rising cost of lift tickets at resorts and an increased desire for solitude fueled by the pandemic, and you get a spike in interest.

At the same time, especially in the Northeast, winters are getting shorter; more “weather whiplash” events, where rapid swings in temperature result in the thawing and refreezing of the snowpack, are occurring; and natural snow is becoming less reliable . A study published in a 2021 issue of the journal Northeastern Naturalist concluded that Mount Washington’s snow season has decreased by 1.7 days per decade between 1931 and 2018 and snowfall totals have declined by just over eight inches per decade over the same period.

According to the report, New England’s warming trends are outpacing the rest of the U.S. Last year, it wasn’t until late February that skiable backcountry terrain could be reliably found in the Northeast. This year looks similar: Just ahead of Christmas vacation week, a devastating storm brought more than five inches of rain in 24 hours to some parts of New England decimating any existing snowpack. A big snowstorm in early January was followed by warming temperatures and rain.

Different terrain

In the West, much of the backcountry skiing takes place on wide-open slopes above the tree line or in forests, where trees tend to be spaced far apart. In the densely forested Northeast, backcountry skiing is limited to man-made glade runs, creek beds or the scant above-treeline terrain.

Less snow also means fewer avalanches, which might seem like a good thing. They can be deadly when triggered by a person, but they also serve to keep terrain open and navigable for skiers and riders.

In New England’s alpine ecosystem, a shallower snowpack and shorter winter is allowing small trees to grow in open gullies. They hold the snow in place, resulting in smaller and less frequent avalanches, which in turn result in more trees and less skiable terrain. Like the so-called ice-albedo effect in polar regions, where a loss of reflective surfaces on the polar ice amplifies a growing climate crisis, the retreat of these ski lines has entered a similar feedback loop. What’s more, climatic changes mean that trees grow at higher elevations — approximately three meters higher every decade for the last four decades — according to a study published in the Journal of Biogeography in January 2023.

Jordon Tourville, a postdoctoral research fellow for the Appalachian Mountain Club who worked on the study, said the change was largely because of an increase in the length of the growing season. “Like most things in science, there are a lot of factors at play, but it all comes back to these global change drivers — especially temperature,” he said. “Because that impacts both the vegetation growth and the amount of snow we have.”

Mark Synnott, 54, a professional skiing and climbing guide and accomplished mountaineer from Jackson, N.H., has watched as some of his favorite ski lines have been reclaimed by the forest.

“There are gullies I was skiing just 10 years ago that aren’t really there anymore,” he said. “We used to get these robust avalanche cycles that would clear the terrain out, but now, less snow is resulting in smaller avalanches. Some of these gullies are literally disappearing before my eyes.”

‘Uphilling,’ the next best thing

Unreliable conditions are also forcing would-be backcountry skiers onto man-made snow, leading to a growth in “uphilling” or touring inbounds at ski resorts, where skiers skin up the side of groomed slopes, then ski down resort trails which can offer machine-made snow.

Vermont’s Bolton Valley offers access to both lift-served terrain and an extensive network of backcountry zones.

Its backcountry program, launched in 2017, offers guided trips into off-piste terrain, taking advantage of natural drainages that serve as perfect ski descents. The resort also offers a nordic, backcountry and uphill pass that starts at $20 midweek and allows skiers to hike inbounds and then ski down either the groomed or backcountry terrain.

The decision to lean into the backcountry trend, despite warming winters, was justified by the mountain’s high elevation, north-facing slopes known for holding snow longer, and its proximity to Lake Champlain, which often drops a layer of lake-effect snow on the mountain, said Adam DesLauriers, Bolton Valley’s special projects director.

There is often enough snow to ski in the backcountry from early January until May, Mr. DesLauriers said, but last season was cut short by multiple weeks on either end. What he calls “weird” weather events — code for rain — contributed to an abrupt end to the season, and an increase in inbounds uphillers.

Many resorts have been adding uphill-only passes, which often cost around $20 (although some don’t require a fee), designating specific uphill trails, and implementing policies to manage the ongoing increase in users. Some resorts, like Black Mountain and Saddleback, both in Maine, have even designated uphill-only trails that lift-riding skiers and riders aren’t allowed to ski down.

For backcountry-focused skiers and riders, “if the snowpack isn’t there, then ski resorts are the next best thing,” said Ed Warren, who in 2023 founded Uphill New England , a multi-mountain ski pass for skinning. The nonprofit pass, which is good at a dozen ski areas in New England and costs $215 for the season, works similarly to multi-mountain passes like Epic or IKON. But rather than let passholders ride the chairlifts, it only allows them to access the terrain, which can be hiked up and skied down.

Investing in a dying sport?

Conditions are only one part of the equation when it comes to backcountry skiing — not everywhere has natural terrain that can be skied without human intervention. Across New England, nonprofit organizations are attempting to tackle this issue by creating gladed ski zones.

Granite Backcountry Alliance, which was formed in 2016 by Tyler Ray, 45, from North Conway, N.H., has worked to thin 17 densely wooded areas to create backcountry ski runs to meet the demand in New Hampshire and western Maine. But the irony of investing time and energy to develop a sport that relies so heavily on consistent snowfall and cold winters at a time when both are in decline isn’t lost on Mr. Ray.

“Last year, there was only one week of great skiing,” he recalled. “And this is being considered as we embark upon new projects. Our goal is to continue migrating farther north, seeking out colder climates, north-facing aspects and higher elevations.”

Mr. Ray feels the biggest threat is to the small businesses that support the sport. As windows of opportunity for backcountry skiing become less frequent, he wonders who will be left to provide gear and information about current conditions.

This season’s lack of snowfall had Umiak Outfitters , a gear and touring company in northern Vermont, running only 10 percent of its usual tours going into the holidays because of lack of snowpack. It is looking “at adding more activities that are less snow-based,” said Steve Brownlee, the company’s owner. “Backcountry consumers might have to start thinking more of March as a great time to come and do backcountry tours,” he added.

Mr. Synnott is among those who’d rather be in the backcountry — but will settle for the ski resorts. He recalled an afternoon in mid-January last year, as he skinned up the slopes at Wildcat Mountain. He had wanted to ski the natural terrain on Mount Washington, New England’s highest peak, but there wasn’t enough snow, so he had to settle for machine-made.

When Mr. Synnott reached the summit, he peered across the valley at Mount Washington, its upper reaches shrouded in clouds. A storm that would dump 10 inches of snow on its slopes was in the forecast, finally promising a possible start to the backcountry ski season. But the storm was still days away, serving only as a light at the end of what had been a dark tunnel.

The conditions on Wildcat were “surprisingly good,” he said. “Not being able to ski on Washington was a little frustrating, but honestly, I was just glad to have something to skin.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

An earlier version of this article included a photo caption that misidentified a backcountry skiing trail. It is the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, not the John Sherburne Ski Trail, on Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

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Where to Go This Winter

Whether you enjoy snowy landscapes or warmer weather, make the most of the season with the destinations below..

Embrace the Cold

Skiing Without Going Broke: Some states and resorts offer discounted passes for children and teens, knowing that those who start young tend to keep coming back .

Try Extreme Sledding : Looking for a thrill? Sledders in Switzerland are rocketing down steep, miles-long slopes , sometimes at night.

Spend 36 Hours in Vienna: The Austrian capital beckons as a wintry escape  with ice skating paths, cozy coffeehouses and a Christmas market in a palace.

Go Hut-to-Hut in Colorado: Challenge yourself with a backcountry adventure  that rewards skiers with soul-stirring scenery.

Stay in a Cozy Inn: Discover six hotels that are perfect for a weekend of sipping hot cocoa by the fire .

Escape to Warmer Weather

Learn to Love Waikiki:  It’s fashionable to dismiss the famous Honolulu beach as touristy and inauthentic, but it offers more if you know where to look .

Choose Your Cruise: Here are eight cruises to sunny spots  that offer respite from the winter blahs.

Unwind in the Desert: Spend 36 hours dining under the stars and riding mustangs  over a weekend at Joshua Tree in California.

Hunt for a ‘Perfect Beach’:  Search the coast of northern Puerto Rico for a superb stretch of golden sand .

Splurge on a Sailboat Adventure: What you need to know to charter a sailboat in the Caribbean , from costs and type of vessel to timing and itinerary.

Travel + Leisure

The Best North American Destinations for a Bird-watching Trip — and Our Tips for Having the Best Time in Each

These crowd-pleasing North American destinations are as perfect for bird-watching as they are for a good old-fashioned vacation.

Perhaps you’ve heard about the bird-watching boom? Newcomers are flocking to the hobby, which studies have shown has the power to boost happiness. Another upside: unlike many outdoorsy pursuits, this one requires little in the way of specialized equipment or physical fitness.

Serious aficionados often plan their vacations around migrations, visiting spring hot spots such as Nebraska’s Platte River Valley or the shores of Utah’s Great Salt Lake. But if you’re still easing into the hobby — or traveling with friends or relatives who don’t know a warbler from a woodpecker — these five alternatives have plenty to offer in addition to bird-watching bliss.

Greenough, Montana

Bird-watchers appreciate western Montana’s avian biodiversity; it’s particularly known for its populations of greater sage grouse, golden eagles, and Bohemian waxwings. The family-friendly Resort at Paws Up and its luxe, adults-only sibling property the Green O grant guests access to trails through 37,000 acres of wilderness. About 30 minutes away in Missoula, the 42-acre Greenough Park is another destination for bird spotters, with robust signage detailing local species. 

Bragging Rights

The ​​northern pygmy-owl is an adorable but ruthless carnivore that snacks on songbirds.

Besides the Birds

Both Paws Up and Green O offer a huge array of other outdoor activities, including horseback riding, rappelling, and guided fly-fishing for experienced anglers as well as those just learning to cast.

Little St. Simons Island, Georgia

Accessible only by boat, this privately owned island is home to the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island . It is also part of the Golden Isles, one of the most important coastal conservation areas on the Eastern Seaboard. With rookeries of boisterous wading birds and a beach full of plovers, it’s perfect for “hard-core birders,” says Little St. Simons naturalist manager Nate Ramey. “But others can relax on our seven miles of beaches — which you only have to share with twenty or thirty other people,” because they’re open only to guests.

Rainbow-colored painted buntings are big on the island, as are wood storks. “They were a protected species, but now they’ve bounced back dramatically,” Ramey says of the long-legged wader. “It’s a testament to conservation.” 

In addition to the beaches, the island has a network of hiking trails, while overnight guests can borrow bikes and fishing gear. In July, the island-wide bloom of hibiscus grandiflorus draws gardening geeks from around the U.S.

Bristol, Rhode Island

This scenic bayside village between Newport and Providence is home to intriguing species such as the wading willet and the iridescent purple martin, depending on the season. Spotting them is made easier by the boardwalks at the Audubon Nature Center & Aquarium and the hiking route at the Osamequin Nature Trails & Bird Sanctuary. 

The saltmarsh sparrow may look like an everyday songbird, but this species, which nests at Jacob’s Point Preserve, is at risk of habitat loss as sea levels rise.

Bristol’s waterfront Blithewold estate has 33 acres of manicured gardens surrounding a historic mansion. In nearby Newport, the famed Cliff Walk gives a glimpse of the Gilded Age; spend the night at The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection , where the 33 stylish rooms and suites are fresh off a two-year renovation.

Vancouver Island, BC

Summer is the best time to visit this densely forested destination, where the “fall” migration season starts as early as July for some species. Along the island’s serene eastern coast, check out the BC Bird Trail between Parksville and Qualicum Beach, where black oystercatchers, tufted puffins, and bald eagles are commonly seen. On the wild western coast, between Tofino and Ucluelet, visitors can spot soaring albatross while scouting for humpback whales, orcas, and other marine life. “May and September are also prime time for migrating seabirds,” says Mark Maftei, executive director of the Raincoast Education Society. “The nearshore and offshore waters host hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and seabirds that are moving up or down the coast in those months,” he adds.

Despite only weighing the equivalent of four nickels, the plucky western sandpiper migrates thousands of miles between Alaska and South America. 

Outdoor adventures of all sorts can be had on the island. Milner Gardens & Woodland , on the eastern coast near the BC Bird Trail, has a “hidden” teahouse and trails that thread through its 70 acres of gardens and forest. In Tofino, the oceanfront Wickaninnish Inn is a family-owned Relais & Châteaux property known for its fireplaces and the dramatic views from its picture windows.

Lafayette, Louisiana

About a two-hour drive west of New Orleans, this city is the gateway to Cypress Island Preserve and Rip Van Winkle Gardens, both prime springtime habitats for bitterns, rails, and grebes. The broader Atchafalaya National Heritage Area surrounding Lafayette is home to five-inch-tall prothonotary warblers, with their bright-yellow feathers, and the five-foot-tall whooping crane, one of the rarest birds in North America.

With pink plumage reminiscent of a 1980s bridesmaid’s dress, the roseate spoonbill is a wading bird with a large, ladle-shaped beak.

This is the land of crawfish and zydeco, where every meal is an occasion. Dive in at Spoonbill Watering Hole & Restaurant , a James Beard Award nominee inside a refurbished Conoco station in Lafayette, where the motto is “Tastes like good times.” Maison Madeleine is a characterful alternative to the chain hotels in the area.

A version of this story first appeared in the July 2023 issue of  Travel + Leisure  under the headline "Bring the Binoculars."

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Read the original article on Travel & Leisure .

Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, in Louisiana.


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