Whether it's surfing the sandy Atlantic Coast or hiking the cool woods of the Berkshires, New England has it all. Travel Channel created an itinerary of must-see locations—the 7 Wonders of New England—guaranteed to get travelers off the well-worn path and into the soul of the Northeast.
1. Acadia National Park
Designated a national park in 1919, Acadia National Park is a 47,000-acre, breathtaking slice of the Northeast, one hour from Bangor, ME. Trek through deep woodlands, scale mountain peaks, explore the rugged Maine coastline and glide across icy lakes. Travel on the carriage-road system that runs through the park, and take in the sights: 17 stone-faced bridges arching across bubbling streams and along cliffs and waterfalls.
Keep an eye out for black bear and moose throughout the park and peregrine falcons on Echo Lake Beach. For some fun by the water, visit Sand Beach, Acadia's only ocean-sand beach. Experience the powerful ocean at Thunder Hole, where the waves rush through a breach in the rocky coast. Ride the free Island Explorer bus system, which stops at a number of spots throughout Acadia's Park Loop Road. Watch for bus stop signs, or flag the bus down if you need a lift.
2. Newburyport/Plum Island
50 minutes north of Boston, Newburyport is a small, coastal city that began its life as a clipper ship-building hub. Walk the cobblestone streets and brick downtown shops and restaurants while exploring the historic area. For a nice break, park yourself on a bench on the waterfront boardwalk and watch fishing boats and lobster fishermen plying their trade along the Merrimack River.
While you're in the area, pop over to Plum Island, connected to the city by a winding road that passes the tiny Plum Island Airport. Visit the Plum Island Point lighthouse and try your hand at surf casting. If you like fish, striped bass run throughout the warmer months; in late summer, hearty bluefish pass through.
3. The Cog Railway
Cog Railway is the world's first mountain-climbing cog railroad, winding up Mount Washington in Bretton Woods, NH. Climb aboard a diesel (or bio-diesel) powered locomotive for an exhilarating trip to the summit of the highest point in the Northeast.
The train travels at a speed of roughly 3 miles-per-hour on the ascent, allowing passengers to savor the breathtaking view of New Hampshire's White Mountains range. You'll also have plenty of time to ponder the nearly 40-degree angle that the train achieves during its climb. The journey up through the lush forests and above the treeline to the mountain's peak takes a little more than an hour, while the return trip is completed in about 40 minutes. The view from the top of Mount Washington is worth overcoming your fear of heights.
4. Mystic Seaport
2 hours from Boston and New York City, and less than 1 hour from Hartford, CT, the Mystic Seaport transports visitors back to the 1800s-era New England coast, when wooden-hulled boats carried men to sea. The seaport features 3 main elements: a working preservation shipyard, exhibit galleries, and a recreation of a 19th-century coastal village.
5. Kancamagus Highway
Kancamagus Highway, a 34.5-mile stretch of Route 112, has no cell phone reception, no gas stations, hotels, restaurants or modern amenities. But few drives are as rewarding. Making the trek from the shopping and restaurant hub of Conway to Lincoln, NH, along the Kancamagus, you will see the Swift River on one side, and the White Mountains on the other. (Don't forget to fill your car's tank with gas!)
6. The Casco Bay Islands
The Casco Bay Islands sit just off the coast of Portland, ME, stretching from South Portland all the way through Machias Bay. Peaks Island, a 20-minute voyage from Portland, offers sandy beaches, restaurants and a thriving artists’ community. Bike the dirt roads of Cliff Island, visit the site of Fort McKinley on Great Diamond Island—now a striking collection of stately homes—or spend the night at Chebeague Island, and wake up early for a morning round of golf.
For transportation, the Casco Bay Lines will ferry visitors along their island-hopping tour, and several islands use golf carts for intra-island transportation.
Stowe, Vermont is picturesque, the perfect New England postcard, 3 hours north of Boston, and 30 minutes from the state capital, Montpelier. Cross the Stowe Hollow Bridge that spans the Gold Brook in the center of town. As spring approaches, when the snow melts, this north-central Vermont village blossoms with more than 40 restaurants, an old-fashioned Main Street and seemingly endless shopping opportunities.
Accommodations range from ski chalets to resorts packed with suites. The Trapp Family Lodge, founded by the family made famous in The Sound of Music, is an Austrian-inspired lodge with sweeping views of the Green Mountains. A short trip outside of Stowe will bring visitors into nearby Waterbury, VT, home of both the Cabot Annex Store and the Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory—as close as you'll ever come to touring Willy Wonka's factory.