By Steve Hartridge | July 2018 | 7 minute read
Beyond the history and autumn colours there is plenty to attract visitors to this region, comprised of Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut: outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, watersports and off-season travel, particularly in the winter months.
“In 2019 we are introducing a new escorted Inns of New England tour - staying in characteristic inns rather than hotels”
JAYNE WHITE, TITAN TRAVEL
New England is known for its coastal communities, sleepy villages with white-picket fences, seafood – particularly lobster and crabs – whale-watching excursions and some of the best beaches on the east coast. But most popular is the annual explosion of autumn colours.
Of course, history abounds in New England: it is also the birthplace of the American Revolution, with Boston, Lexington and Concorde particularly associated with this nation-forging event.
New England will be inviting visitors to take a trip back in time in 2020 when communities across the region mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers.
“2020 will be a great time to be in New England…we will be telling all sides of the Pilgrims’ story and have asked the Wappanoag Native American people, who were here when the Pilgrims arrived, to tell us their own story in their own voice,” said Michele Pecoraro, Executive Director for Plymouth 400.
An official Plymouth 400th anniversary tour that starts in Boston and ends in Provincetown, Cape Cod, taking in several historical sites along the way, is available to UK operators, said Pecoraro.
For clients arriving before 2020, the impressive Plimoth Plantation, located about three miles out of town, provides an entertaining look at life for those early settlers and the Wappanoag Indians.
And in Boston the Freedom Trail offers a walking history lesson, taking in places such as American patriot and revolutionary Paul Revere’s house.
Biking past bogs in Cape Cod
Chilly early-spring breezes are pricking my face as I pedal past a bog ablaze with bright-red berries: cranberries have been harvested in this part of Cape Cod for more than 100 years.
On I cycle, past the distant West Falmouth harbour, before I stop at a viewpoint that looks out over an oyster pond.
Less than a mile on and I am off my bike again, gazing over Great Sippewissett Marsh, a protected 140 acres that make up one of the few undisturbed salt marshes in New England. Through the tall wispy grasses I see gulls, herons and egrets.
A birder peers through binoculars, looking for the endangered Roseate Tern. “It’s out there somewhere,” he says, before telling me to keep an eye out for an osprey nest, covering the top of a telegraph pole, a little further down the track.
All too soon the joggers, cyclists, walkers and views of barrier beaches and freshwater wetlands are behind me and the scenic, easy-riding 17-kilometre Shining Sea Bikeway Trail, built over the bed of a long-defunct railway line, drops me into Falmouth Village.
Here, in this quintessential Cape Cod community, the attractions on tree-lined Main Street centre around locally-owned shops selling gourmet-brewed coffee, homemade cake, artworks and books.
Show some claws: Join a working lobster boat in Maine and learn all you will ever need to know about the crustacean that draws seafood lovers from around the world.
Island break: Take the ferry from Cape Cod to Nantucket, a picturesque island complete with white churches and cobbled streets. Stay in the cosy Brass Lantern Inn, and stroll the couple of the minutes to the Whaling Museum to learn all about an industry that had its heyday on the island between 1818 and 1840 (before the Gold Rush and U.S. Civil War combined to spoil things).
Go Native: In Connecticut visit the fabulous Pequot Museum that tells the story of the Indian tribe. Exhibits in the world’s largest Native American Museum include a ‘village’ with realistic, life-sized characters and extinct animals such as the mastodon and giant beavers.
Martime lore: Mystique Seaport and Mystique Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, bring alive the history of America and the sea amidst an ambient seafaring village featuring homes, gardens, shops, craft workshops and cooking demonstrations that reproduce dishes from the 17th century.
Say Ciao: Learn about the influence of Italian immigrants in Providence, Rhode Island, by taking a culinary tour of the city’s Federal Hill district. Between 1898 and 1930, more than 54,000 Italian immigrants arrived in the city and their influence is still strong today. A guided food tour of ‘Little Italy’ takes in delicatessens and restaurants. Then have coffee and desert at Scialo Bros. Bakery, which has been making authentic Italian cakes and pastries since 1916.
Home run: Clients don’t need to be baseball fans to appreciate the historic beauty of Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Red Sox winning the World Series, so what better time to take a tour of one of the U.S.’s most charming and traditional sports stadiums?
Attractions: The Massachusetts Whale Trail is a new initiative by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT). It features 40 stops including whale- watching tours from Provincetown to Newburyport, museums like the Nantucket Historical Association Whaling Museum, and the Melville Trail in Western Massachusetts, a series of small towns with a connection to Herman Melville, who penned Moby Dick.
Visitors to Maine can enjoy the wilderness of New England’s largest state by staying in restored fishing and hunting lodges.
For example, Medawisla Lodge near Moose Head Lake sits on 70,000 acres of conserved forestland and guests stay in private cottages. There is a main lodge with a restaurant and bar for common meals and activities include hiking, paddling, fly-fishing, canoe camping, and in winter snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Airlines: In May, Primera Air started a four-times-weekly service between Boston and London Stansted.
What the experts say
“When people come to Maine it is usually for the coastal scene, the fabulous seafood, the quaint little villages and the quirky shops. But inland Maine has great fishing, hunting and outdoors activities and is not featured as often by tour operators as it should be. We are also a four seasons destination and have a lot of winter product like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hut-to-hut trails. Snowmobiling is also huge in Maine – there are 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails.”
STEVE LYONS, DIRECTOR, MAINE OFFICE OF TOURISM
“Rhode Island is nicknamed the ‘Ocean State’ and we are the sailing capital of the world. National Geographic named Rhode Island as one of the top 12 adventure destinations anywhere, for our kayaking canoeing, scuba diving – with 700 wrecks – and boating. However, Rhode Island is 60% forested and we have started to include that in our sales materials because the public are telling us that whether driving, biking or walking, they want to get out to explore our natural areas.”
MARK BRODEUR, DIRECTOR OF TOURISM, RHODE ISLAND
Where to book it
America As You Like It offers a 10-night fly-drive to southern New England starting from £1359pp. The deal includes Norwegian flights between Gatwick and Boston, two nights in Boston, two nights in Plymouth, two nights on Nantucket, two nights in Providence, two nights in Hartford and nine days’ car hire.
The 10-day New England in the Fall rail tour from Great Rail Journeys includes Martha’s Vineyard, the White Mountains, North Conway Scenic Railroad, a whale-watching cruise, a ride on the historic Mount Washington Cog Railway and a stay in Boston. Prices from £2,395pp with departures September 21 and September 30 2018. In 2019 the tour has 11 departures (September and October).