A New England vacation calls to mind brisk walks in picturesque places, bright days, cool nights, and a certain low key gentility. Not for thrill seekers or the international party crowd, the northeastern United States is a region of early American history, college towns, and leafy suburban enclaves. Summer in New England has an old fashioned slow quality that many of us feel we have lost and to which we long to return. We love visiting quintessential villages and small cities where one can slip into the local day to day life, pop in and out of quaint shops, and buy goods made by resident artisans. Each state in New England - Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and our favorite, Maine has its own unique character and charm. It's impossible to choose just one, but we are happy to offer a solid five close to perfect places to visit. Without further ado, here are our top locations in New England for the kind of dreamy summer afternoons you’ll fondly recall all year. 


Brattleboro, VT

Brattleboro, Vermont, is only about 10 miles over the Massachusetts line, but it feels like a world away. Vermont is known as The Green Mountain State, and the first word that comes to mind to describe bohemian Brattleboro is green. The woods are lush, the air is thick with chlorophyll, and every inch of the landscape is bathed in leafy, filtered light. The day tripper can easily divide her day between walks in the fairly wild woods and meandering around downtown, packed with bookstores, thrift shops, and interesting boutiques. There are galleries, indie theaters, and even the New England Center for Circus Arts. There are beauty salons and healing somatic practices, and wellness spaces galore. In July, you will connect with peak Vermont in this adorable village. Brattleboro is one of the very best towns around!


Mystic, CT

Mystic, Connecticut is home to a marvelous seaport with majestic ships and historic reenactors. It is an absolutely charming place to while away an afternoon. Captain your own small craft, rent a stand up paddle board, or channel your inner Beyonce, and charter a small yacht for the day. The harbor is sparkling, with boats of all kinds bobbing in the breeze. Mystic Village is a charming shopping complex. If you have a burgeoning vinyl collection, stop into Mystic Disc for new releases and rare vintage albums. Everyone loves to visit the Mystic Aquarium, it is packed with marvelous marine life and focused on oceanic health, education, and sustainability. The beluga whales are especially compelling; they are playful and performative, and seem as interested in us as we are in them. There is a fun penguin exhibit and a magical, mystical room of incandescent jellyfish. Mystic is a crisp, upscale Connecticut town with so much to do! Plan to spend a weekend, and definitely get a pizza pie from Mystic Pizza, made famous by a great 80’s movie of the same name starring Julia Roberts. 

Northampton, MA

Northampton, Massachusetts walks the line between ivy covered academia and eccentricity. The college kids and locals like to keep it weird, and we appreciate that about this funky liberal arts town, home to some of the prestigious colleges that comprise the Seven Sisters. Smith College Botanical Gardens is an architectural wonder of white conservatories, unusual and exotic flora, reflecting pools, and peaceful benches to think and write. Speaking of writers, literature students, poets, poetry lovers, and 19th Century historians will adore the Emily Dickinson museum in adjacent Amherst. Northampton is an easy town to bicycle around. Take your own bike, or rent one for the day! Live music and performance art are around or on every corner. There is also a very good art museum on the campus of Smith College. Though you can certainly plan an itinerary for spending a day in Northampton, it's the kind of place to wander and get lost, see where the day takes you, and get caught up in the idealistic zeitgeist of the free-spirited boho community. 


Portsmouth, NH

Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a cobblestone sort of small city. It’s walkable and historic, with plenty of shade and shopping. It is another small city on the water, with lots of ships and shops to explore. For kids and families, there is an escape room and an awesome water park. Visit the science center and children's museum. Take a harbor cruise, or head out to the links for a gentle game of golf. At our last count, there were seven breweries in and around Portsmouth! make it your mission to stop by and have a pint or try a flight at every one. Portland has many fine eateries and tucked away cafes. There are great independent bookstores and boutiques for browsing. There are definitely enough attractions in this teeny New Hampshire town to make a long weekend mini break with the family, with girlfriends, with a romantic partner, or if you are a solo traveler. It's a friendly place, and conveniently located on the way north along the coast to Maine!


Spruce Head, ME

Spruce Head is far enough off the beaten path to feel secluded, exclusive, and like a well-kept secret. We'll let you in on the secret, so you can experience a bit of northern New England paradise. It’s just off MidCoast Maine’s pretty, well-traveled Route 1. That means if you're visiting Acadia National Park, which should absolutely be on your bucket list, as it is one of the most stunning national parks in all of America, Spruce Head is on your way! If you're spending a weekend checking out the music scene and dining at James Beard award winning spots in hip, food-centric Portland, you can drive up and visit for the day. Spruce Head is extremely convenient to the cultural center Rockland, so that you can add visits to art museums like the Center for Maine Contemporary Art and quirky attractions like Bixby chocolate factory to your vacation itinerary.

Spruce Head is a sleepy village of lobstermen and artists. You are as likely to pass a group of plein air painters by the sea as you are to see a front yard full of lobster traps. You will see why painters like Edward Hopper could not stop painting these landscapes. Spruce Head is part of a network of working waterfronts on the St. George Peninsula, and there are many spots to get fresh as can be live lobster off the dock, as well as lobster rolls, clams, and crab. Since Spruce Head, Maine is the place we call home, we’re a bit partial to its charms. Make a bingo card of wildlife and see if you can spot deer, turkeys, bobcats, ponies, foxes, and bunnies. 

Spruce Head is a destination for quiet vacationers. If you are looking to fish, swim, walk, read, relax, sail, eat really good food at The Causeway Restaurant, and chill with the locals, this is the place for you. A tranquil room at The Craignair Inn by the Sea is a dream come true. Make a reservation without delay!