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Day Trips in New England

Summer is a great time for a day trip, although you may be up for a day trip any time of year. If you, like me, live in the Northeast, there are so many options for New England day trips, including a bunch of quaint New England cities and towns.

Here are some great ideas that you may consider for day trips in New England. If I’ve missed your favorite, leave me a comment below, and I’ll update the post.

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Admission to some of these attractions was offered on a complimentary basis for review. All opinions are my own. 

the Portland Maine waterfront

Day Trips in New England

plimothplantationone

Learn About History

New England offers many historical attractions, so head out and do some learning on your vacation. Of course, Plimoth Plantation is a popular spot, as is Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA.

These living history museums can be a great way for kids to learn about history without even realizing it. If you visit Plimoth Plantation, you can also purchase tickets to the Mayflower II, a replica of the original Mayflower.

To learn about United States history, you can also check out the Freedom Trail in Boston, as well as the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum. For something a little different, head south to Fall River, MA to Battleship Cove, where you can explore the USS Massachusetts.

Salem, MA is another of my favorite places to visit for a day trip. This town by the water is the home of the Salem Witch Trials. In addition to the various museums dedicated to this history, you’ll also find historic homes, shops, restaurants, museums, and more

Visit the Beach for a Day Trip in New England

Beach days are always fun in the summer, and New England is filled with dozens of them. Whether you visit a saltwater ocean beach, like Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA, Ogunquit Beach in Ogunquit Maine, or Nantasket Beach in Hull, MA, or a pond or lake, it’s a great way to cool off in the heat.

Remember that the most popular beaches can fill up in the summer months, so arrive early and check online to learn about what facilities are offered.

In the summer, you may consider taking a day trip down to Cape Cod, where you’ll find miniature golf courses, delicious restaurants, and of course, world-class beaches. Again, these beach parking lots fill up quickly on peak days, so you’ll want to arrive early. 

Yale Peabody Museum
Go to a Museum

New England, especially the Boston area, is home to numerous fantastic family museums. With younger kids, check out the Boston Children’s Museum in Boston, the Children’s Museum in Easton, MA or the Discovery Museums in Acton, MA.

There are also so many fantastic art museums in New England. Art lovers will enjoy the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, CT, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, and the or the Portland Museum of Art in Maine.

For more of a science and/or natural history experience, there are options in Cambridge, MA (the Harvard Museum of Natural History), Boston (the Boston Museum of Science),  New Haven, CT (the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History), and the Montshire Museum of Science in Vermont.

The Newport Mansions in Rhode Island are a fun place to visit, even if you are traveling with kids. These homes, which are the former summer homes of many famous families, offer audio tours. The Breakers has a family audio tour that is especially great for kids. 

West of Boston, you’ll find the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. You may also consider the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, which is also in Springfield. 

Check out more things to do in New Haven, CT and Portland, ME.

Get Great Prices While Outlet Shopping

With back to school season coming up, it may be a good time to start shopping. There are lots of outlet malls in the New England area. My favorites are Settlers Green in North Conway, MA, the Wrentham Premium Outlets in MA, the outlets in Kittery, Maine, and the Merrimack Premium Outlets in NH.

Remember that there’s no sales tax in New Hampshire, so if you are planning to buy lots of things, it may be worth it to go to one of the New Hampshire outlet malls for shopping. 

Mystic Aquarium in Mystic Connecticut

Go to an Aquarium

The New England area offers several world-class aquariums. Right in downtown Boston, you’ll find the Boston Aquarium. It’s located right on the water, and also offers an IMAX theater. 

There’s also a wonderful aquarium in Mystic Connecticut – the Mystic Aquarium. Although it’s smaller than the Boston Aquarium, it’s got some great exhibits including my favorite – the beluga whales pictured above! The Mystic Aquarium has both indoor and outdoor exhibits.

Story Land

Visit a Theme or Water Park

Story Land (Glen, NH), Six Flags (Agawam, MA), Santa’s Village (Jefferson, NH), and Canobie Lake Park (Salem, NH) are just four of the theme/amusement parks that you can visit with your kids this summer in New England.

There are also several outdoor waterparks, like Water Country (Portsmouth, NH), Whale’s Tail (Lincoln, NH), and Water Wizz (East Wareham, MA).

Younger kids will love visiting the Edaville Family Theme Park, which also includes Thomas Land (a land dedicated to Thomas the Tank Engine). It’s definitely a must-visit if you have younger children.

Shop at Boutiques

My daughter and I love shopping at small boutiques, and there are lots of quaint shops throughout New England. Some of our favorite places to walk around and shop are Portsmouth, NH, Portland, ME, Rockport, MA, and Newport, RI.

Have an Outdoor Adventure

New England is home to so many fantastic places for outdoor adventures. I love Purgatory Chasm State Reservation in Massachusetts, and the many hiking locations in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In the summer, you can also take a boat ride or a Whale Watching tour.

I’d definitely recommend taking a day trip over to the Boston Harbor Islands, where you can swim, explore, and learn about nature in this state and national park. Before you take the public ferry, look at their website to see the different islands to visit. They are all different.

Acadia National Park

Another popular spot is Acadia National Park, located in Maine. It’s more of a drive from the Greater Boston area, but worthwhile if you haven’t been to that part of the state. 

What is your favorite New England day trip?

See more New England vacations here.

A collection of day trip ideas in New England, including spots in Boston, Portland, Maine, North Conway, New Hampshire, and Newport, RI.
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Kara B.

Saturday 1st of July 2017

I think you meant Glen, NH (not, MA) for Story Land! Also- the Tanger Outlets in Tilton, NH are awesome-great, great deals and many high-end Brand Name Store (e.g. Coach, J. crew, Banana Republic to name a few). They also have a nice catergory variety for a one-stop shopping experience' from Bath & Bodyworks to an Old Navy Outlet to several children's clothing stores (Gymboree, The Children's Place, Carters, etc.) to a few different shop options for underwear/lingerie, and (not nearly last) right within the plaza lot are a choice of dining options for you (and the family) too! Speaking of family, there's an outdoor playground situated in a main corner between two long Store-strips for when the kiddos get restless! While you're in the area, Laconia offers up the country's (world's?) largest arcade complete with a full bowling alley, small diner/restaurant, and Bingo hall! Of course now I have to mention Weir's beach- a beach with a strip, boardwalk with more arcades, ice cream shops, and (one of the last standing) drive in movie theatres! I could go on and on and on; the entire surrounding area is surrounded with entertainment for families of all kinds and interests!

Jodi Grundig

Tuesday 4th of July 2017

Thanks so much for your comment. You are right - it is definitely Glen NH! Thanks for that. I haven't been to the Tanger Outlets in Tilton, NH in years - but I definitely remember it being a great spot (and you can't beat tax-free)! I also have such fond memories of Weir's Beach because we used to go when I was a kid, but I haven't been back with my kids.