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7 New England Historical Vacation Ideas

New England is rich in history, from the Colonial settlers and the Revolutionary War to natural geologic wonders that shape its unique landscape from Connecticut to Maine. For close to 400 years, the region has cultivated renown authors, artists, and performers along with some of the greatest thinkers and leaders in the modern world. Vacationers looking to plan a trip to the area have a robust list of choices, but we've narrowed it down to  7 New England Historical Vacation Ideas.  You can also keep up-to-date with our special offers and packages by visiting our History Getaway page.

Plimoth Plantation - Plymouth, Massachusetts

Let's start from Square One, literally. Plimoth Plantation is about 40 miles south of Boston and has been home to the Mayflower II vessel since 1957. The plantation greets guests with engaging indoor and outdoor learning experiences for visitors of all ages. There's an English Village, Wampanoag Homesite, Hornblower Visitor Center, Craft Center, Plimoth Grist Mill, and the Maxwell and Nye Barns to explore. The entire experience will enrich your mind, touch your heart and spark your imagination.

Looking for historic Plymouth Rock? It's only three miles away in the town of Plymouth. Downtown Plymouth has a number of charming local shops that are worth a visit. 

Note: The Mayflower II is currently being restored in anticipation of the 400-year celebration planned for 2020. A replica is currently in place until it is finished.

Where to Stay: There are a couple of great hotels very close to Plimoth Plantation. Hotel 1620 Plymouth Harbor offers luxury and convenience in the waterfront district of downtown. Guests love the plush rooms and the tasty 1620 Bistro that's on-site. The John Carver Inn and Spa is located on the site of the original Pilgrim settlement. The hotel features a Pilgrim Cove Indoor Theme Pool for the family and a full-service Beach Plum Spa for anyone who needs further relaxation


Freedom Trail - Boston, Massachusetts

Freedom Trail is a two-and-a-half-mile trail that includes 16 historic sites. Along the trail, you'll see where the Sons of Liberty planned out the Boston Tea Party, and visit where the Declaration of Independence was read for the very first time. There's also Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church, where Paul allegedly hung the two famous lanterns. ("One if by land, two if by sea.") You'll also see the Bunker Hill Monument and have access to the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") in nearby Charlestown. Needless to say, this is a can't-miss journey into American history. 

Where to Stay: Book your lodging near Boston Common, where the trail begins. Fifteen (XV) Beacon sits in the heart of downtown, only steps from Boston Common and the trail. The landmark luxury hotel has an on-site steak house and high-end finished throughout. The Omni Parker House is also steps from Boston Common and offers impeccable luxury lodging at the foot of Beacon Hill. Parker's, the on-site restaurant, is home to the original Boston Cream Pie


Minute Man National Historic Park - Concord, Massachusetts

Minute Man National Historic Park is the site of the first official battles of the Revolutionary War, including the "Shot Heard Round the World" in April 1775. There are visitors centers in Concord and nearby Lincoln that tell the entire story. Concord is known as a haven to several literary greats, and there are a few landmark residences worth checking out, like the Ralph Waldo Emerson House. Iconic Walden Pond is nearby. The home and grave of Louisa May Alcott, author of "Little Women," is also in Concord. And there's even more history in the town of Lexington, only 17 miles away.  

Where to Stay: Concord's Colonial Inn dates back to 1716 and is the perfect accommodations for anyone who loves New England history. The inn offers 56 guest rooms with a traditional feel but chock-full of today's conveniences. Choose from the historic Main Inn or the more modern Prescott wing. Guests can dine in the Liberty Room, Tap Room or Village Forge Tavern


Mark Twain House and Harriet Beecher Stowe Center - Hartford, Connecticut

Head to Hartford's Nook Farm neighborhood for a visit to the Mark Twain House. Twain lived at the residence from 1874 to 1891. During that time, he wrote "The Adventures of Tom Sayer" and "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." The on-site museum showcases the writer's wit and wisdom from his storied life. 

While in Hartford, make plans to visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, honoring the abolitionist and author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Stowe lived on the property with her family for many years. In total, Stowe authored 30 books in her lifetime. 

Where to Stay: The Delamar West Hartford is conveniently located in the Blue Back Square neighborhood of downtown and close to everything. The boutique luxury hotel has 114 rooms and suites and offers second-to-none service. The popular, farm-to-table Artisan restaurant at the hotel presents New England-inspired cuisine with a European twist. Or escape to the on-site Delamar Spa for a relaxing treatment or massage during your downtime


Cape Cod Rail Trail - Cape Cod, Massachusetts

When you think of classic New England, most thoughts begin with iconic Cape Cod. The legendary cape welcomes visitors all year long to its unique shops and eclectic charm along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The Cape Cod Rail Trail is the best way to take in the local sights and scenery. The 22-mile paved trail travels through quaint villages, pine forests, salt marshes, sand dunes, and cranberry bogs. You'll pass Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, and Eastham. Grab a bike for a picture-perfect ride, or just hoof it. It's the ultimate New England jaunt. 

Where to Stay: There's no shortage of great hotels in Cape Cod. Our top pick is the Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club in Brewster. The hotel offers 90 luxuriously appointed rooms with direct access to the historic Cape Cod Rail Trail. Guests love the private warm-water beach and the on-site dining that overlooks Cape Cod Bay. Golfers will salivate at the opportunity to play the challenging Jack Nicklaus-designed course.


Cliff Walk - Newport, Rhode Island

The Newport Cliff Walk is a three-and-a-half mile walkway along the shoreline in Newport. It starts at Bailey's Beach and ends at First Beach. The sometimes-hair-raising trail showcases the area's historic mansions along the shoreline, including the majestic homes of railroad mogul Cornelius Vanderbilt II and coal magnate Edward Julius Berwind. Along the way, there's plenty of wildlife, wildflowers and panoramic views of the rocky shoreline. 

Where to Stay: True to its name, The Cliffside Inn puts you right where you need to be. The bed and breakfast has an Old-World-meets-New-World charm, from Victorian-period furniture and imported linens to ultra-chic spa bathrooms with Aveda products. Enjoy a hearty breakfast each morning before hitting the trail. In the evenings, enjoy the metropolitan comforts of downtown Hartford and all of its arts, culture, and nightlife. 


Portland Head Light - Cape Elizabeth, Maine

The Portland Head Light is New England's most iconic lighthouses. Over the years, it has inspired everyone from artist Edward Hopper to poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The area was first used as a lookout for British ships in Casco Bay before the lighthouse was constructed during the Washington presidency. Tour the historic lighthouse and take in its picturesque views, then tour museum at the second keeper's quarters. Nearby Fort William Park, a former army fort, is open all year. Other classic New England adventures include whale watching, sailing, and of course plenty of fresh-caught Maine lobster. 

Where to Stay: The Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth offers the authentic New England experience. The beachfront luxury hotel has a mile of unspoiled sandy beach. Guests love the relaxing atmosphere highlighted by beachfront sunsets and nightly fire pits with views of the coastal waters. The Sea Glass Restaurant offers ocean-view dining and classic regional fare, along with a robust wine cellar with more than 3,000 bottles and 350 different labels. The on-site spa offers signature sea-inspired pampering and a romantic room for two with a deep soaking tub and side-by-side massage tables. The hotel is only 15 minutes from everything in downtown Portland