I love living in New England, because there are so many fun and interesting places that are just a short ride away. Instead of driving hours and hours, some of these spots are just one or two hours away from my home. Whether you live in New England and are looking for some fun new places to explore, or are visiting the area and want to see as much as possible, here are some quaint cities and towns in New England to visit with kids. Did I miss your favorite? Leave a comment!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that we may get a small commission when a link is clicked and/or a purchase is made. We experienced a few of these attractions at no cost for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.
Quaint Cities and Towns in New England to Visit
Rockport is probably my favorite quaint town in Massachusetts. Located on Cape Ann in Massachusetts, Rockport has delicious restaurants, cozy shops, and beautiful views. Don’t miss seeing Motif #1, a frequently-photographed replica fishing shack. You can see it from the adjacent Barefoot Neck area, where you can eat, shop, and explore. There are several beaches in the area, so it’s definitely a nice spot to visit during the summer.
Freeport Maine is famous for being the worldwide headquarters of L.L. Bean, but the area also features a number of outlet stores and smaller shops. My kids always love exploring the flagship L.L. Bean store, where you’ll find kids’ activities in addition to clothing and other outdoor gear. For a completely different experience, head to Wolfe’s Neck Farm, which offers a number of family programs and has free admission every day.
Find hotels in Freeport here.
I have such fond memories of visiting Mystic, CT when I was a kid growing up in Rhode Island, and so I have loved bringing my kids back there. Mystic offers a number of activities for families, including Olde Mistick Village, a shopping center made up for small buildings designed to look like a village of the 1700s. It’s a fun spot to explore.
Mystic is also home to the Mystic Aquarium, which is a fantastic aquarium to visit with kids. It’s a great size for kids, and offers shows and other events for families. If your kids are tweens or older, they’ll appreciate visiting Mystic Seaport, a maritime museum with interactive exhibits and shows.
Foodies will love the drive into Stowe, Vermont – with the Ben and Jerry’s Factory and the Cold Hollow Cider Mill located right on the drive off the highway. Once you arrive in Stowe, you’ll have a number of fun activities for families, including those at Stowe Mountain (great in winter and summer).
Newport, Rhode Island is a gorgeous city, with lots of great things to do. Brick Marketplace and the adjacent Thames Street feature fun shops and delicious restaurants in a beautiful environment. In addition, Newport is home to several stunning Gilded-age mansions that you can tour. I recommend the children’s audio tour at The Breakers – my kids really enjoyed learning about the history of the house. Tennis lovers may also enjoy visiting the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which is located right in town.
Portland Maine, not unlike the same-named city on the West Coast, is known for its artsy vibe and delicious food. If you are visiting during the summer, you can take one of the many boat tours and cruises that are offered. But even if you choose to visit in the off-season, there are fabulous museums, fun shops, and of course, great food.
Portsmouth New Hampshire is located right near two states – Massachusetts and Maine. This seaside town offers kid-friendly museums, shops, and restaurants as well as harbor cruises. While you are there, head to neighboring Kittery, Maine to shop the various outlet stores.
Nantucket is a city and an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Like its sister island Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket is an incredibly popular summer vacation destination. But it’s definitely worth visiting for a quintessential New England summer vacation. While you can just go for the day, try to stay for at least an overnight so that you can fully explore the island.
Newburyport, on the north shore of Massachusetts, is home to shops, restaurants, and a beautiful waterfront. In addition, you’ll find the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge as well as Plum Island, which features a beautiful beach.
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