We are so lucky to live in Massachusetts because there are so many fantastic places to visit in New England which are located just a short car ride away. We can drive one direction to see some of the best sandy beaches in the United States, and we can drive in a different direction to see beautiful mountains. There are so many great places for New England vacations with kids – including cities and beach towns.
With so many vacation options, you could easily do something different each season. This past winter break, we spent our break visiting Boston, Portland, and New Haven – all just a quick drive away.
Whether you live in New England, or are planning to visit a few different locations during your New England family vacation, here are some places to go in New England with kids, along with some ideas of attractions to visit.
If you are specifically looking for New England family resorts, check out this post. We have also reviewed some of the best places to visit in New England on this site individually.
Note: We experienced some of these New England vacations and attractions in New England during media trips or hosted stays/media rates. Affiliate links are included – if you click/purchase through an affiliate link, we may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.
Places to Go in New England With Kids: New England Vacations
We don’t seem to go to Maine nearly enough, and it’s really just a quick drive from the Massachusetts border. Every time I visit, I just love it. Kittery, Maine, just over the New Hampshire border, offers lots of great outlets as well as delicious seafood restaurants.
Kittery is also right near Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which is another great waterfront destination. It’s easy to visit both on the same trip.
For one of the best summer Maine family vacations, visit the all-inclusive Migis Lodge, located on Sebago Lake. It’s a luxury family vacation spot that is rustic and fun. Families return year after year, and with good reason, because it’s a special place.
Of course, you can’t miss the original LL Bean store in Freeport, Maine. There are other outlet shops in Freeport as well, as well as a beautiful state park.
For a fun vacation at any time of year, visit Portland, Maine with kids, where you’ll enjoy delicious food, great shopping beautiful views, and fun attractions. Although you may think of it as a summer vacation spot, we usually visit during the winter and still love it. You’ll want to have at least two nights there so that you can enjoy the restaurants and attractions.
When visiting Portland, you can take a quick trip to the beautiful Portland Head Light, which is located in Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. While you can’t go up in the lighthouse, it’s beautiful to see. A little bit further away is the Nubble Lighthouse in York.
Visiting during the summer? The quintessential beach town of Ogunquit offers fun shops, delicious restaurants, and a fantastic beach. Stay at one of the nearby hotels and walk everywhere for the best experience.
Acadia National Park and the nearby town of Bar Harbor are also popular Maine vacation spots – especially in the summer.
If you like to ski, there are some great options in Maine. Popular ski resorts in Maine include Sunday River, Sugarloaf, and Shawnee Peak.
Even if you aren’t a skier, there are so many places to go with kids within Vermont. We absolutely love visiting Smugglers’ Notch Resort. Although it’s a ski resort, it’s also one of the best places to visit in Vermont in the summer.
The kids really enjoy the day camp, and my husband and I spend the afternoons exploring the area (including the Boyden Valley Winery). It’s also a fantastic spot to visit in the winter – with lots of skiing for the whole family.
Down the road from Smugglers’ Notch is Stowe, Vermont, where we can recommend two family-friendly resorts – Stoweflake and he Lodge at Spruce Peak. It’s also a popular place to ski.
In Waterbury, on the way into Stow, you can stop at the Ben & Jerry’s Factory, as well as the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Don’t miss the factory tour at Ben and Jerry’s, which is definitely worth visiting at least once.
We also really enjoyed our visit to the Montshire Museum of Science, located over the NH border in Norwich, Vermont. We visited there on our way to Smugglers’ Notch from Boston.
Other ski resorts in Vermont include Killington, Sugarbush, Jay Peak, and Okemo Mountain.
I’ve enjoyed family vacations in New Hampshire since I was a child, visiting with my parents. It’s not a huge state, but there are so many things to do in New Hampshire with kids.
My family recently enjoyed our stay at the Mountain Club at Loon in Lincoln, NH. While on that side of the famous, scenic Kancamagus Highway, be sure to stop at Clark’s Trading Post – home to a fun, unique trained bear show. In the summer, you can also visit the Whale’s Tale Water Park.
When visiting Lincoln, NH with kids, another popular spot in the area is Franconia Notch State Park.
On the other side of the highway, within the White Mountains, you’ll find North Conway, NH, home to lots of premium outlets (and NO sales tax). Enjoy the drive – it’s absolutely beautiful!
We’ve stayed at several hotels in North Conway, and enjoyed our stays at the Red Jacket Mountain View, the North Conway Grand, and the Residence Inn. If you have little kids, be sure to visit one of the best attractions for kids in New Hampshire – Story Land in Glen, NH. Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH is also worth the trip.
You could also spend a morning or afternoon at Attitash, where you can enjoy a mountain coaster, alpine slide, and other outdoor activities. In the winter, Attitash is a great family ski resort. There are so many things for kids to do in New Hampshire.
Another popular New England vacation spot with kids is Lake Winnipesaukee. There are various motels, inns, hotels, and home rentals on the lake.
If visiting New Hampshire without kids, you’ll find plenty of quaint bed and breakfasts. Some are kid-friendly, but you’d definitely want to check that before visiting.
Find hotels in New Hampshire on TripAdvisor.
My home state of Rhode Island may be small, but it has a lot to offer. The capital city, Providence, is just an hour from Boston and has quite a few family-friendly attractions.
On weekend nights in the summer, you can enjoy WaterFire, a performance work of art. WaterFire is one of the more unique outdoor shows to experience.
Our top vacation choice in Rhode Island is Newport, which is just a quick ride from Providence. We recommend a stay at the Hotel Viking, which is located within walking distance of many Newport restaurants and shops.
Don’t miss the kids’ tour at the Breakers mansion, located along the famed Cliff Walk. There are also plenty of beaches in Newport and the surrounding area, as well as Fort Adams State Park.
For a nice day trip, consider taking the ferry over to Block Island, which is part of Rhode Island.
I’ve lived in Massachusetts for over 20 years now, and still find fun places to explore in the state. Of course, the capital city of Boston is a must-visit, especially in the warmer months. There’s so much to do right in the city, including the Boston Museum of Science, Fenway Park, and the New England Aquarium.
In the summer, don’t miss a trip to the Boston Harbor Islands, a quick ferry ride away from the Boston waterfront. There are several different islands that can be explored, so check out the list in advance.
Boston is a great destination to learn more about US history. Walking tours (or self-guided tours) are available on the Freedom Trail, and it is definitely worth doing.
See more to do in Boston with kids here.
Cape Cod and the Islands, including the Cape Cod National Seashore, is another beautiful New England vacation spot. There are several hotels we recommend – the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in Falmouth, Ocean Edge in Brewster, and the Harbor Hotel in Provincetown. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are also absolutely beautiful in the summer.
On your way down to the Cape, you can also stop in Plymouth, MA to check out Plimoth Plantation, which is definitely a must-do for history buffs.
North of Boston is Cape May, where you’ll find many family-friendly coastal towns, such as Rockport and Gloucester. Also on the North shore is Newburyport, MA, as well as Salem. All four are a great place to shop, eat, and explore the waterfront.
Springfield, MA, is another spot that offers great attractions for families. Basketball lovers will want to visit the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. There’s also a new Dr. Seuss Museum, located in Springfield.
If you have little kids, you may want to visit Edaville Family Theme Park, a park that is great for younger kids. Edaville offers a new Thomas Land, featuring Thomas the Tank Engine.
Last winter, we visited Mystic, Connecticut, which offers several great things to do with kids, including the Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport. Stay overnight so you can spend much of the day at both attractions. During our trip, we stayed at the Hilton Mystic, which is right across the street from the aquarium.
This winter, we spent two nights in New Haven, which is about midway between Boston and NYC. We stayed at the Study at Yale, and enjoyed visiting the Yale Museum of Art and the Peabody Museum of Natural History. It’s a surprising city with loads of culture and delicious restaurants.
What is your favorite destination for a New England vacation?
See our story on places to go in New England.