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8 New England Weekend Getaways

Grab your suitcase and hit the road; New England has plenty of fun summer destinations to offer.

Acadia National Park, Maine: If you’re looking to escape the bustle of modern society, enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature at Acadia National Park in Maine. It is the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi River and consists of more than 47,000 acres of mountains, ocean shoreline, woodlands, and lakes. The grounds are home to a number of plant species as well as animals such as chipmunks, white tailed deer, moose, beavers, porcupines, minks, foxes, and black bears, to name a few. You won’t find the Four Seasons here, but you will find a number of private and public campgrounds perfect for a tent or RV. There is one dining facility on the park’s grounds, the Jordan Pond House, that serves lunch, tea, and dinner mid-May through late October. The menu offers local eats such as a Maine seafood chowder and lobster rolls as well as unique dishes including the buffalo meatloaf sandwich and a popover sundae. Many more dining options are available in nearby communities should you decide to venture beyond the park’s edge. While staying in the park, enjoy your surroundings with a bicycle ride, birdwatching, boating, climbing, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, and more. Dogs are allowed in certain areas; owners looking to bring Fido along can refer to Acadia’s pet regulations for more information. The National Parks service also holds events throughout the summer for visitors such as a children’s story hour, peregrine watch, photo walk, Schoodic Woods hike, Baker Island Cruise, and more. A full schedule with respective fees can be found on the National Park’s website.

Smugglers’ Notch Resort & Ski Area, Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont: Vera Ellen said it best in the 1954 film White Christmas; “Is this Vermont, New England’s winter playground?”. Many imagine this northern state as an attraction reserved only for colder temperatures, but at Smugglers’ Notch, there are more summer activities than guests know what to do with. A skateboarding park that offers lessons to both kids and adults, Segway tours, zipline adventures, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking and hiking, miniature golf, and four water slides are just a selection of the many outdoor activities guests can engage in. If you’re looking to stay indoors, check out their arcade games, art classes, karaoke nights, and more! The facility also offers childcare and babysitting for adults who might want a little vacation time to themselves. With spa offerings, restaurants, and equipment rentals, you’ll want for nothing during your stay here. On the way home, stop by the Ben & Jerry's Factory to see where some of America's most iconic ice cream is made. Ben & Jerry’s Factory offers 30 minute guided tours through their ice cream factory to educate guests on the ice cream manufacturing process. After the tour is over you can visit the Flavor Graveyard, home to the resting sites of all retired flavors, to mourn the “dearly de-pinted”. Of course, you can’t leave without visiting the on-site Scoop Shop for one or two (or many more) scoops of Ben & Jerry’s signature ice cream with hot fudge, waffle cones, or whatever tickles your fancy! Don’t leave without stopping into the gift shop for some cow-themed mementos with everything from lip balm to towels to choose from.

Block Island, Rhode Island: With Cape Cod drawing so much attention, Block Island, RI is often overlooked as a summer tourist destination. Head over to Point Judith to hitch a ride down to this 9.7 square mile island located 13 miles south of the coast of Rhode Island’s mainland. Cars can be brought on the ferry, but during tourist season, often require reservation months in advance. After a scenic 35 minute ferry ride, step into Block Island’s calming culture. Tourist attractions include multiple lighthouses, a number of sandy beaches, the Block Island Historical Society Museum, and at least 50 restaurants. The dunes near the North Lighthouse are also part of the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, home to species including the piping plover and American burying beetle among others. A perfect place for a short getaway, Block Island has a plethora of overnight accommodations.

Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Hancock, Massachusetts: Perfect for the thrill seeking and outdoorsy family, stop into Jiminy Peak's Aerial Adventure park for a self guided aerial forest ropes course! The park consists of 6 individual, elevated courses for different ability levels consisting of over 70 elements challenging the participants as they make their way through such as rope bridges, ladders, cargo nets, ziplines, and more. Second, stop by the Mountain Adventure Park. Take a ride on the Mountain Coaster, a ride where you control the speed of your cart. Whether you want to go leisurely along the track or fly at 23 mph, it’s up to you! The Alpine Super Slide allows the rider to control their speed as well, taking them through a course of tunnels, dips, curves, and turns on one of two identical tracks. For more thrills, try the Soaring Eagle, rock climbing wall, or even the Giant Swing, a four person “screamalicious delight” that launches its riders high into the air. Once you've made your way through some outdoor adventures, hop in the car and visit the Normal Rockwell Museum to view the world's largest collection of original Norman Rockwell art. Exhibits include paintings from The Saturday Evening Post and the Four Freedoms as well as a number of other permanent and temporary displays that help celebrate Rockwell's life and legacy. Another nearby venture is the reknowned MASS MoCA, a modern art museum in North Adams, Massachusetts. Here you'll find exposition of many forms of art including music, sculpture, dance, film, painting, photography, theater, and new forms of art that even the venue itself finds difficult to classify. While on campus, visitors can enjoy free parking, a full service restaurant, cafes, ice cream, coffee, and a microbrewery that utilizes locally grown malted grains and hops. Either museum is a good choice to take a break from the outdoors and engage in cultural growth through American art. 

Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire: A great getaway in New Hampshire is Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in the state. Stretching approximately 21 miles long, there is no lack of activities in the varying towns that touch its shores. A well sought after endeavor, explore the lake with a scenic cruise on the MS Mount Washington either during the day, for brunch, or even a sunset expedition to take in the breathtaking lake views. New Hampshire is known for their fireworks, so catching a show at Lake Winnipesaukee is one sure to please. Quite a few beaches line the lake’s edges, inviting visitors to take a cool dip or lay out on the sand, or you can enjoy the lake by taking part in a water ski ride or kayaking. Little local shops are perfect for antiques and souvenirs or visit a local winery for a taste and a bottle to take home. Dine out for some scrumptious local cuisine ranging from brick oven pizza and steak to seafood and homemade baked goods. Whether you’re looking for a hotel or private cottage, local accommodations range greatly to appease a multitude of guests’ tastes.

Dennis, Falmouth, and Provincetown, MassachusettsNotably one of the most well known vacation hubs in the Northeast, Cape Cod is considered an oasis nestled on the Eastern shore of Massachusetts. As its reaches extend several hours worth of driving, we've identified three majors towns for optimal Cape Cod enjoyment. Dennis, Massachusetts is our first stop. A serene town, Dennis combines New England tradition with modern conveniences to offer itself as one of the ultimate vacation spots for Cape visitors. Sixteen prisitine beaches reside in this town boasting near perfect sand and access to either ocean or fresh lake waters. Activities ranging from boating and kayaking to fishing and jet skiing are available if laying and enjoying the rays isn't your style. For some hard to beat eats, stop into the Red Cottage Restaurant for French Toast Foster at breakfast, a 1/4 lb Lobster Roll at lunch, or Shrimp Scampi at dinner. With a plethora of items to choose from, every member of your family will find something they're sure to enjoy. Next, head to Falmouth to visit Old Silver Beach, arguably one of the most beautiful beaches on the Cape as a whole. Get there early to make sure you'll be able to snag a spot on the sand. Afterwards, head nearby to Main Street to visit a bunch of little shops and restaurants. If you have a sweet tooth, stop into the acclaimed Cupcake Charlies. Not only are they serving up a variety of cupcakes and soft serve ice cream, but they'll combine the two in a Cupcake Sundae or Cupcake Whirlie (a cupcake and ice cream swirled together). The number of tasty shops here is nearly overwhelming, from the Falmouth Raw Bar to Shuckers, to name only a couple of the best. Lastly, stop in to Provincetown, or P-Town as most know it by. The furthest town on Cape Cod, the area is best known for scenic beaches and welcoming atmosphere. While in town, check out the 252 foot tall Pilgrim Monument that affords spectacular views should you make the tremendous climb. For some more exercise, bike the Beech Forest Trail for a burst of scenery. Commercial Street is the town's hub for unique dining and shopping alike, complete with a narrated trolley tour available for those interested in learning more about Provincetown. Whether you visit one or jump around to multiple towns on Cape Cod, you're certain to find nothing but rich, New England culture ready to welcome in guests with open arms, full plates, and sandy shores.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway in Bretton Woods and Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire: A must do stop in New Hampshire, the Mount Washington Cog Railway is a trip no one in your family will ever forget. By way of either a historic steam locomotive or the more modern and eco-friendly biodiesel engine, the 3 hour guided railway tour takes visitors up 6,288 feet to the mountain’s summit. There guests have a full hour take in the views spanning from New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont to Canada and the Atlantic Ocean. The highest peak in the northeast, guests can have their picture taken at the summit marker or send a postmarked stamp from the top of the mountain. Other attractions at the mountain’s top include the Sherman Adams Visitors Center, Mount Washington Observatory’s Weather Museum, and the 1853 Tip Top House. As this is an incredibly popular attraction, advance reservations are highly recommended. For your next stop, trek about 40 minutes farther to visit Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire. Christmas in July takes on a whole new meaning at Santa’s Village. Step inside this thoughtfully themed kid’s park for a day full of Christmas fun. Rides like The Skyway Sleigh, Reindeer Carousel, Yule Log Flume, and The Little Drummer Boy engage kids of any age. Don’t forget your bathing suit - you won’t want to miss playing in the Ho Ho H2O Water Park complete with dumping buckets, slides, and more. The park offers a plethora of food options at shops like Sugar n’ Spice Bake Shop, Dasher’s Delights, and Jolly Lolly Candy Store, to name a few. There are also plenty of shops to pick up a memento from the trip, or you can take a picture at your meet and greet with Santa himself. Whether you’re looking to feed a reindeer or go on an elf scavenger hunt, this truly unique park offers attractions that will make for an unforgettable trip.

Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut: Definitely an adults only getaway, Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut is one of the largest casinos in the United States. At just under a two hour drive from Boston, the sizeable casino and resort is located on the Thames River and offers much more beyond their over 5,000 slot machines. Over 300 tables games are available to guests with games including poker, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and more. Mohegan’s many in-house clubs, bars, and lounges offer high end nightlife where guests can grab a cocktail and dance the night away. Entertainment options abound with many shows including big name music stars and comedy acts for a few good laughs. Spend some time at the resort’s spa, offering services ranging from massage and facials to manicures and sensory dry float bed experiences. Mohegan is also home to a sizable golf course for guests to play or receive instruction. 43 dining options populate the campus, with offerings such as Summer Shack, Johnny Rockets, and Carlos Bakery. Mohegan Sun is a perfect place for adults to let loose and possibly come home with some extra cash in their pockets!

Is a whole weekend or week away too long a break for your family? Tune in next week for our list of New England day trips!

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