17 Unique New England Bucket List Ideas to Try

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New England consists of six states: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. If you’re planning to adventure through this area, expect spectacular scenery, exciting adventures, and family fun at every turn.

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Whether you plan to solo travel, take a trip with friends, or go with your family, you’ll be glad you decided to make the northeast corner of the United States your destination.

New England Bucket List Trip Destinations

If you’re looking for one or two destination spots to stay for a while, these places earn a spot on your travel bucket list.

1. Acadia National Park, Maine

This is a must-see destination in Maine. There is plenty to do here year-round from hiking, camping, kayaking, and fishing to snowshoeing and skiing. Fall is stunning as the entire area gets bathed in yellows, oranges, and reds.

Pro tip: After a long day of hiking or biking, head to the town of Bar Harbor, where you can enjoy fresh blueberry ice cream or pie and chow down on fresh-caught lobster.

2. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Martha’s Vineyard is an island where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and leave the stress of regular life behind. Spend long days fishing, surfing, swimming, sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Watch the beautiful sunsets, ride the oldest carousel in America, and wander around the town known for presenting a slower pace of life.

3. Block Island, Rhode Island

Block Island is a summer destination, and you’ll need to take a ferry or small plane to get there, but you’ll be glad you did! This must-visit destination features pristine beaches, opportunities to fish, go clamming, hike, bike, and explore. There are also two historic lighthouses to discover, one of which offers stunning cliff-top views.

After a day of adventuring, enjoy browsing through boutique shops, sipping on coffee at quaint cafes, or chowing down on fresh-caught lobster at the many bars and restaurants. 

Pro tip: Block Island is definitely a summer bucket list destination. Most businesses and shops close up during the off-season.

Outdoor Activity, Hike, and Adventure Bucket List Ideas for New England

There is plenty to do for the nature lover and outdoor enthusiast. We hope a few of these activities will make it onto your list!

4. Hike around Acadia National Park in Maine

Acadia NP has countless hiking trails ranging in intensity from easy walks to all-day hikes with technical portions. Choose any trail, and you’ll be treated to lush forests, stunning views of the ocean, and scenery you won’t find anywhere else.

Pro tip: Most trails open during the summer are available for snowshoeing during the winter!

5. Go sailing on a tall-masted schooner in Maine

Though you can do this in several New England states, the winner goes to Maine with its windjammer ships. Step aboard and become part of the crew while learning about sailing history. Cruise along the coastline, put in at small harbor towns, explore, go fishing, enjoy delicious food, and get to know your fellow passengers. This is an adventure that’ll last a lifetime.

6. Catch your own crab in Massachusetts

If you’ve ever wanted to catch your own crab, this is your chance! Head out to the bays, estuaries, and streams and go crabbing for mouthwatering blue crab until you hit your legal limit. Local fishing shops will rent you the needed gear, and you get to keep all the crab you catch as long as they are a minimum of five inches wide.

Pro tip: Crabbing season for blue crab runs from May through December, so plan your trip accordingly.

Spring and Summer New England Bucket List Ideas

Spring and summer in New England offer a wide variety of outdoor activities ideal for the warmer months. Here are some of our favorites.

Pro tip: When making a travel bucket list, divide sections into seasonal activities as we did. It makes planning for your trip much easier!

7. Explore Vert Mont, Vermont

Vert Mont, or the Green Mountain, is the mountain that gave the state its name. The entire mountain is bathed in greenery during the summer that invites adventurers of all ages to hike, climb, and explore. Vert Mont is also home to the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the country. The Long Trail runs a whopping 272 miles from the northern tip to the southern border of Vermont.

8. Walk the Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts

History buffs won’t want to miss the opportunity to step back in time to the American Revolution. The Freedom Trail is a two-and-a-half-mile walking trail that takes you to 16 historic sites. The trail can be self-guided with a free map available at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center, or you can join up with a guided tour.

Pro tip: For a fun and in-depth history lesson, choose the guided walking tour. These tours are led by docents in full costume who have a profound understanding of the trail's history.

9. Catch FireWater in Providence, Rhode Island

Providence was built along canals and waterways, a feature which the city is proud to use to its advantage. On weekend nights during spring, summer, and early fall, Providence features an art exhibit called FireWater. During the festival, platforms of fragrant wood in the canal are set on fire. Boats glide by, seemingly choreographed to music that fills the air. 

In addition to the fiery spectacle, street performers and food vendors draw large crowds, creating an event that’s fun for the whole family.

Fall and Winter New England Bucket List Ideas

Fall and winter are both stunning in New England. The temperatures will be cold, so dress accordingly. As long as you’re bundled up, there’s plenty to enjoy.

10. Admire Vermont’s stunning fall colors

All of New England is pretty well-known for the fall foliage that goes on display during late September through early November. However, Vermont might win the contest. Take a long drive, go for a walk, or hike up a mountain. No matter where you go, you’ll be treated to delightful views of mountains and valleys filled with the glorious oranges, yellows, and reds of fall.

Pro tip: Take your camera! We know you’ll want to capture the beautiful displays.

11. Check out the New Hampshire Ice Castles

If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity that will leave every member of your party smiling, check out the Ice Castles in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Each year, the town transforms a one-acre area into an icy wonderland of castles, slides, thrones, fountains, sculptures, and mazes. Go on the weekend to catch special performances by a troupe that juggles, dances with, and breathes fire!

Pro tip: Ice Castles is only open during January and February, historically the two coldest months in New Hampshire. Tickets should be purchased well ahead of time and online since they often sell out.

12. Go apple picking in Connecticut

Fall is apple season in New England, and apple orchards are all over Connecticut. Just look for “pick your own” signs while driving around and turn in at the orchard’s main gate. You’ll be given a basket to hold your apples, and you pay at the end. This is a fun activity for the whole family.

Pro tip: Along with apple picking, some orchards also offer live demonstrations of apple cider making, apple pie baking, and apple donut making. Even if demonstrations aren’t happening the day you visit, you can often purchase these delicious apple products to take with you!

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in New England

No matter where you travel in New England, you should be able to get your hands on the fabulous foods mentioned here. We hope you choose a few to add to your food bucket list.

13. Try a steaming bowl of New England clam chowder

Every state in the New England area churns out delicious clam chowder. Sampling clam chowder is an absolute must no matter what season you travel through the area. It’s made with potatoes, cream, fresh clams, and a whole bouquet of spices. It’ll keep you warm on a cold day and fill you up on a warm day.

14. Enjoy a slice of Maine blueberry pie

Maine is famous for its wild-grown blueberries. The small berries are packed with juice and are flavorful and sweet. This combination makes Maine blueberry pie a dessert to die for. 

Pro tip: Blueberries are in season from July through September, and bakeries throughout the state will feature fresh Maine blueberries in their pies during this period. 

15. Add a helping of New England baked beans

Baked beans have long been a staple in the New England area in the late 1800s when molasses was introduced to the traditionally savory dish. Go to a local pub or diner and ask for a large helping to go along with the rest of your meal. You’ll be glad you did.

16. Warm up with a bowl of Yankee pot roast

New England pot roast, or Yankee pot roast, has been around since the Victorian era. You can find it on menus at seaside restaurants and diners and community potlucks and everywhere in between. 

Pro tip: If sampling this delicious stew at a community gathering, ask if there’s a story behind the recipe. If it’s a family recipe, there’s almost always a story that goes back generations to the first person who first made it for their family.

17. Chow down on a lobster roll

Lobsters fished off the coast of Maine are a fresh delicacy that is distributed to the rest of New England and beyond. Fresh lobster rolls feature lobster that’s been tossed with the smallest amount of mayo, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. The succulent meat is piled into a hoagie roll and sometimes garnished with a sprinkling of chives. 

The result is a mouthwatering meal that makes lobster the uncontested star of the dish.

Enjoy a New England Bucket List Trip

New England is a veritable playground of fabulous foods, hiking trails, stunning scenery, national parks, family-friendly activities, and adventures to last a lifetime. Even if you don’t get to everything we mentioned on this list, you’re sure to have a wonderful time exploring these fascinating states.

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