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A First-Timer’s Bucket List: 6 New England Attractions You Can’t Miss

With all the scenic sights and attractions waiting in New England, planning your first visit can be a bit like wading in the rapids. To ensure the best sights don’t drift past you we’ve compiled a few must-see spots for a first-timer to visit. Whether you prefer farm animals or ocean views, use these suggestions to start sketching the roadmap for your first New England vacation.

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Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont is a perfect first-time New England destination.
Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont. Photo: daveynin / Flickr CC BY 2.0.

A First-Timer’s Bucket List: 6 New England Attractions You Can’t Miss

Billings Farm & Museum (Woodstock, Vermont)

Get all of the Green Mountain State’s greatest goods in one spot. Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock is a working dairy farm surrounded by rolling countryside hills, and one of New England’s finest outdoor history museums. Get acquainted with the 70-strong crew of moo-ers and other farm animals, tour a charming 1890 Farm House & Creamery, and if that isn’t authentic Vermont enough: get a taste of 100% raw milk Billings Farm Cheddar Cheese (and grab some for the road to be the envy of all your friends).

Submarine Force Museum (Groton, Connecticut)

If you’re a naval maven, the collection of nautical exhibits at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton is an absolute must-visit. As the only submarine museum operated by the U.S. Navy, you’ll experience the first-hand thrill of being a submariner, walking the decks of the world’s first vessel to journey 20,000 leagues under the sea: the USS NAUTILUS.

Cape Cod National Seashore (Cape Cod, Massachusetts)

You can’t say you’ve conquered the Cape without exploring the Cape Cod National Seashore. Head out on one of the many ranger-guided activities that include salt pond paddles, tours of the Cape’s striking lighthouses, and scenic hikes that are as educational as they are gorgeous — the tour guides will share secrets from the Cape’s marine life to meteor showers.

Lake Winnipesaukee Cruise (Laconia, New Hampshire)

Yet to swing by the Granite State? Embark on your first visit to New Hampshire with a scenic Mount Washington Cruise. The M/S Mount Washington visits five ports on Lake Winnipesaukee, taking you through every jaw-dropping mountain and lake view that the lakes region has to offer. If you’re New England-bound with a special someone, indulge in a romantic meal and the serenity of Lake Winnipesaukee at night aboard a sunset dinner cruise.

Newport Mansions (Newport, Rhode Island)

As a summer playground for America’s wealthiest families during the Gilded Age, mansions are synonymous with the seafaring city of Newport, Rhode Island. The exceptionally elegant Newport Mansions are now open to the public, bringing you into the posh life of their former inhabitants. These architectural masterpieces also host a number of events throughout the year, ranging from the Newport Flower Show to the Newport Winterfest.

The Marginal Way (Ogunquit, Maine)

Ogunquit’s favorite seaside walkway, The Marginal Way, may seem short at 1.25 miles long, but every inch offers breathtaking vistas of the Maine coast and the town of Ogunquit. Along the picturesque path lies 40 or so memorial benches positioned at many of the best viewpoints, making it easy to stop and take in the sights. More than 100,000 people walk The Marginal Way each year, and it’s no wonder why: the path offers some of the most spectacular views and iconic scenery in southern Maine.

The Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine is an ideal first-time getaway in New England.
The Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine.

Planning that inaugural New England itinerary may be a bit daunting, but having too many stellar attractions is a problem that we’re proud to have. Whether your first visit focuses on farm country, coastal vistas, or an all-encompassing six-state road trip, be sure to make a reservation with any of our inns or resorts — we’ll be your resident experts on New England’s absolute must-sees.