When thinking of New England, one often pictures scenic drives with stunning fall colors, quaint country inns, or bustling seaports. It is a beautiful region full of interesting cities and towns. Some may head up north in search of adventure, beauty, or simply the tastiest lobster dish. One of the most common reasons people go, though, is because of its history. America made its start on the coast of New England, and so much has happened since that time. Simply put, America would not be the nation that it is today without the events that transpired there so long ago.
Here are 7 towns that you simply cannot miss on your next New England road trip. Some you may have heard plenty about before, and others you may not have, but each is unique and has played an important role in shaping American history.
You can see the trip mapped out here on roadtrippers.com
1. Newport, Rhode Island
Since its founding in 1639, Newport has been and remains to be a center for diversity. When Ann Hutchinson was driven out of Boston for challenging the Puritan leaders, she moved to Aquidneck Island and began a settlement there. Soon, the settlement split in two, and one group moved south to the place now known as Newport. People facing persecution from all over the world began moving here, where they were free to worship as they wanted. Today, Newport continues its tradition of hospitality and has a bustling tourist industry. Visitors can take a ferry ride in the harbor or enjoy gawking at the stunning gilded-age architecture that has been so well preserved.
2. Plymouth, Massachusetts
If you’re truly looking to take a trip to the past, Plymouth is a must. In 1620, 100 English men and women set sail for the New World to make a new life for themselves. As the first successful colonial settlement of the New World and the birthplace of American Thanksgiving, we owe so much to those original Plymouth colonists for our heritage and traditions. Visitors can experience what life was truly like for the pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation or at one of the town’s numerous museums. You can gaze upon Plymouth Rock or even hop aboard a replica of the Mayflower ship that brought the pilgrims over.
3. Boston, Massachusetts
Few cities played as important a part in the American Revolution as Boston. The Boston Massacre. The Boston Tea Party. Paul Revere’s ride. So many events took place on the streets (and harbor) of this iconic city, and this history has been so well preserved. Visitors can take a walk on “The Freedom Trail,” a 2.5 mile walk that highlights many of these important sites. After just a short visit here, itbecomes clear why the city has been called “The Cradle of Liberty.”
4. Salem, Massachusetts
Salem served as the setting for perhaps one of the darkest times in early United States history. In 1692, three girls were accused of witchcraft, sending the entire town, as well as many neighboring towns, into a mass hysteria. Ultimately, more than 200 people were accused, and 20 were killed. To this day, the events that transpired in Salem serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of discrimination and bigotry. Visitors can learn all about the trials at the Salem Witch Museum and even get a glimpse of “The Witch House,” which is the only building still standing from that time period.
5. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth, founded in 1632, is one of the best examples of an early New England village. As one of the first four towns in New Hampshire, it set the foundation for coming colonial settlement. Its downtown street is based on the old English market village style, and it is still a working seaport, just as it was at its founding. Visitors can enjoy delicious clam chowder at one of Portsmouth’s many river-view restaurants as they watch tugboats pulling ships through the river current.
6. Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and home to the state’s most important seaport. While it has been nearly destroyed on several occasions, from war or fire, the city has continually bounced back over the course of the last 400 years. As a tribute to its outstanding resilience, the city flag bears the image of a phoenix rising from the ashes. Portland is a great example of the fighting spirit that has persisted throughout American history. Visitors can view the lighthouse in Casco Bay, do some shopping along cobblestone streets, and tour the Tate House, a colonial-era home.
7. Boothbay Harbor, Maine
The last stop on this road trip, Booth Bay Harbor, may not be the site of any famous historical events, but it is surely one of the prettiest towns in New England. A major port for shipbuilding and fishing back at its founding, today Boothbay attracts visitors from all over the world. Visitors can stroll through the botanical gardens, explore the town’s many lighthouses, and, if they’re up for it, watch the sunrise atop Cadillac Mountain, the first place in the US to see the sun each morning.
New England is famous and well-travelled for a reason, but even those who have been to the region a hundred times have not seen everything there is to see. So much of our nation was built in New England by those first visitors in 1620 – what will you discover there?
Want to learn about more road trips to take this fall? Check out the first two posts from this series here. And as always, you can find us on social media under @goodnewstrvls