Top 5 Summer Activities in New England

Although the ski slopes are a draw, New England's cold winters sometimes scare visitors away-- but come the warmer months, the region turns into a bustling destination with beachgoers, outdoors enthusiasts, foodies, and even visitors whose only plans are to watch the world go by from a chair on the front porch of a quaint B&B. From Maine to Rhode Island, New England offers endless options for those looking to relax -- be it with friends, family, or their better half. We picked out five activities so no matter with whom you're traveling, you'll have a great time.

For families: Seal-watching on Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Cape Cod

Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are mostly known for their miles of sandy beaches and famous visitors (we missed you last year, Mr. President). It’s a favorite among couples in need of some R&R, but there is tons for families to do as well. One of the most fun activities when traveling with kids is seal-watching in Chatham, probably the most charming New England beachside community. While seals can be spied from several spots, one of the best places to catch a peek is from the shores of Chatham Lighthouse Beach, which Harbor and Grey seals call home every year when the warm weather sets in. Just remember to stay at a safe distance!

Stay: Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham

Rooms and suites are large enough to fit in a rollaway.
Rooms and suites are large enough to fit in a rollaway.

Nestled near the heart of Chatham on 25 scenic acres overlooking Pleasant Bay, Chatham Bars Inn has been a local staple since 1914. The true Cape-Cod style architecture is complemented by lovely interiors to match -- upholstered wingback chairs, antique-style turned-leg furnishings, and seafaring decor. But don't let the term "inn" fool you, this property is big and amenities-packed, with a beautiful spa, modern fitness center, scenic beach, fine dining, private chartered boats, and classic clay tennis courts. Thanks to the large pools (including a kiddie pool) and an extensive kids' club, the Inn is a popular choice for families.

For foodies: Lobster tasting on the cheap in Maine

Maine and lobster goes together like tennis and ladies-who-lunch, but what many visitors don’t know is that lobster can be cheap, especially during the summer. These crustaceans grow and shed their shells in the warm months, getting new, soft carapaces and more tender meat before the waters cool in the fall. Casual shacks and elegant, award-winning restaurants roll out hundreds of pounds of delicious lobster every day in the region, and picking just one can be hard. The good news is they’re all fabulous -- there’s no way to go wrong here.

Stay: James Place Inn, Freeport

Most rooms come with Jacuzzi tubs or fireplaces at this family-run inn.
Most rooms come with Jacuzzi tubs or fireplaces at this family-run inn.

The intimate James Place Inn offers seven rooms on a quiet street near central Freeport and local shopping. The polished rooms are named for the color on the walls, and some come with fireplaces or soaking tubs. One of the most outstanding features is the free, extensive breakfast made up of homemade items. This family-run inn might be in a historic Victorian home, but it also offers modern amenities such as free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. While nice extras include a peaceful outdoor deck and appealing hammock, its biggest perk for foodies might be its proximity to Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster, one of Maine’s top spots for rolls and steamers.

For a family reunion: Fishing in Lake Champlain, Vermont

Getting the entire extended family to agree on a destination and dates is never easy, but when the plan includes beautiful Vermont and its heaps of options for everyone, things usually become much simpler. From cheese tasting to hiking to exploring quaint little towns, there’s sure to be something for every family member. But if there’s one activity that makes bonding with that weird cousin of yours a breeze, that would be fishing. With 600 miles of shore -- and trout, perch, and Atlantic salmon -- at the tip of your rod, there’s no better place for some fishing than serene Lake Champlain.

Stay: Swift House Inn, Middlebury

The inn's cozy lobby is great for a family hang after dinner.
The inn's cozy lobby is great for a family hang after dinner.

The historic Swift House Inn is located within walking distance of downtown Middlebury. The hotel's 20 rooms are spread throughout the Main House (formerly a Governor's Mansion), the Carriage House, and the Gate House. Room decor varies, allowing guests to choose a room depending on personal style. Some rooms offer a classic New England B&B vibe with floral wallpaper, fireplaces, and four-poster beds, while others are more understated, with soft-toned walls and tasteful furniture. One of the inn's highlights is its delicious and free breakfast, and an on-site restaurant, Jessica's, is a popular destination for both guests and locals.

For a romantic getaway: Sailing in Newport, Rhode Island

There are many ways to discover gorgeous Newport in the summer, from visiting its numerous historic sites, to attending its famous jazz festival. But there’s nothing like relaxing on a boat with your significant other, even if it’s just for a few hours (actually, that's probably more relaxing than an overnight sailing trip). There are many yacht companies that offer charter services, but for the real experience, hop on one of the America’s Cup 12-meter class yachts docked in the marina just north of Bannister's Wharf. These ‘Twelves’ were previously skippered by some of the world’s most famous sailing legends, and are now offered for visitors to enjoy for a few hours (or up to 24). Choose a morning excursion for a quieter experience.

Stay: Vanderbilt Grace

The garden terrace offers wonderful views of the sunset, the harbor, and the city.
The garden terrace offers wonderful views of the sunset, the harbor, and the city.

Vanderbilt Grace is a 100-year-old mansion built by the Vanderbilt family that has been converted into a modern, elegant hotel. It's a luxury property, so accommodations here don't come cheap, but the rooms are well-appointed, the dining is first-class, and the location is prime -- close to Newport, but without the noise. A spa, a substantial fitness center, and two swimming pools round out the list of features. Plus, guests get plenty of free champagne -- when they check in, and at breakfast every morning.

For a trip with friends: Hiking in Connecticut

New England has tons of hiking and biking trails, but not many are as under-the-tourist-radar as Connecticut’s. There are mountain hikes for all levels, from the challenging Appalachian Trail to beginner-friendly Devil’s Den Concourse, and visitors are scarce despite the beautiful views most of them offer. The Litchfield Hills area, located in the northwestern region, is known for its sleepy villages and hidden hiking trails, great for a day spent getting in touch with nature.

Stay: Winvian, Morris

All cottages have been individually decorated and feature working fireplaces and upscale amenities.
All cottages have been individually decorated and feature working fireplaces and upscale amenities.

The Winvian is an upscale property set on 113 acres of countryside in Litchfield county. Its 19 individually decorated cottages all have a feel of understated, rustic elegance with the convenience of modern amenities, including Bose surround systems, flat-screen TVs, and Nespresso coffeemakers. All units have working fireplaces, large bathrooms with separate walk-in showers and jetted tubs, and unique, mind-blowing design features -- one cottage has a helicopter shell that doubles as a living room. The outstanding spa and the wonderful restaurant serving a tasty farm-to-table menu are just some of the highlights.

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