The Best Places to Stargaze in New England

Shattuck Observatory
Shattuck Observatory | © Courtesy of Dartmouth College/Joshua Renaud
Christopher Crosby

Bucolic by day, New England’s rural stretches are stargazing playgrounds. Sure, there’s more humidity than the southwest, but for those who can’t get to the desert, the northeast is dotted with dark sites with no light pollution. Since many of the best sites are at or near parks and protected wilderness, star gazing in New England can be paired with other activities, like hiking and camping. These best sites for stargazing will convert you into a night owl.

Acadia National Park

The view is just as spectacular when the lights go down in Acadia National Park. One of Maine’s eastern-most points is arguably the best place to watch the heavens pass. The sea breeze keeps the skies clear and the national park cuts down on any light pollution. Popular spots include the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the site of the annual Star Party (not just telescopes, but talks and walks too).

Cadillac Mountain, Mount Desert Island, ME


Jordan Planetarium and Emera Astronomy Center

Set in the dark of northern Maine, this planetarium holds the Clark Telescope, an 8-inch lens built in 1900. Set in the University of Maine in Orono, the observatory is small but viewing the stars through an old telescope has a romance that can’t be replicated by gazing at stars through a monitor. Fans of modern telescopes need not worry: a second, 20-inch reflecting scope provides research-grade views through a computer. There are free public shows on Fridays and Sundays.

Emera Astronomy Center 167 Rangeley Road, Orono, ME, +1 207 581 1341

Astronomical Society of Northern New England

Astronomical Society of Northern New England

Set on a 3.5 acre plot in a 40-acre parcel, this observatory run by a group of local enthusiasts caters to everyone, beginners and pros. The draw is the Starfield Observatory, built in 2001; the roof can roll back to make way for the 16-inch and eight-inch telescopes, which allow unparalleled views of stars and galaxies. Kennebec is about an hour south of Portland, Maine’s biggest city, and the light pollution is low, especially in the winter.

Astronomical Society of Northern New England, Kennebunk, ME

A Week in Maine | © Allagash Brewing/Flickr

Springfield Telescope Makers


Springfield Telescope Makers

Amateur telescope enthusiasts and makers gather once a year at this National Historic Landmark to show off their newest works and test them in a star-gazing competition. Known as Stellafane (“shrine to the stars”), this observatory and clubhouse on Breezy Hill in south-central Vermont features two observatories, including a 16-inch reflecting turret telescope built in 1931, and a more modern 13-inch telescope located nearby. The gathering is considered among the oldest in the world for amateur enthusiasts.

Springfield Telescope Makers, Jordan Rd, Springfield, VT

Northeast Kingdom Astronomy Foundation

A newcomer to star gazing, this observatory set in rural northern Vermont is ideally suited for observation. Set behind an elementary school (they partner with local area schools), the foundation runs the Northern Skies Observatory, featuring a 17-inch scope that adjusts its direction with the earth’s rotation.

Northeast Kingdom Astronomy Foundation, 336 Bayley-Hazen Road, Peacham VT

The Great Nebula in Orion

Arunah Hill Natural Science Center

Arunah Hill Natural Science Center

Five miles from the nearest streetlight, this observatory sits amid 60 acres of forest, reducing light pollution to the barest minimum. Surrounded by managed forests and parks in “Hidden Hills”, a slice of northwest Massachusetts, the club is membership-based but opens the center’s Gaertner Observatory to the public for marquee events. A true “dark sky” location, the center draws crowds on the weekends, when it sets up monthly public viewings.

Arunah Hill Natural Science Center, 218 Trouble St Cummington, MA

The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is perfect for celestial gazing. In New Hampshire, the Appalachian Mountain Club has trained guides who can not only walk you through the woods but also a field of stars, constellations and galaxies. Visitors at their lodges and huts can gaze through their telescopes at various points along the trail. Lectures are also held, on topics ranging from sun spots and solar flares to planet viewing and eclipses.

Mount Washington

Sure, the weather is inhospitable to human life, but look at those views. Mount Washington, home to some of the coldest temperatures in the U.S. (its official motto is “Home of the World’s Worst Weather”), is a stunning place to contemplate the heavens. Located in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, in the summer the mountain offers summer star gazing parties, which promise stunning photos of the Milky Way. You can hike to the summit, but stargazers lugging telescopes can also drive (the road is open May to October, depending on the weather).

Mount Washington, Sargent’s Purchase NH

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College
© Courtesy of Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College in New Hampshire isn’t just an ideal summer getaway, it’s also home to one of the east’s top astronomy programs. While researchers, faculty and students share use of the state of the art telescopes in Arizona, the public is encouraged to use the North Telescope in the Shattuck Observatory, free of charge. There, visitors can peer into the heavens through a 9.5-inch lens built in 1871. While light pollution is low, call ahead for weather conditions.

Shattuck Observatory, 15 Observatory Rd, Hanover, NH +1 603 646 1110

Shattuck Observatory | © Courtesy of Dartmouth College/Joshua Renaud

Haystack Mountain State Park


Come for the tower, stay for the stars. In addition mountain laurel, visitors to this state park near the Massachusetts-Connecticut border have unspoiled views of Norfolk and the surrounding area from a 50-foot stone observation turret. After night falls, take out the star map, as the park’s remote location means low light pollution. There’s no camping allowed, but the picnic tables, bathrooms and lack of a parking fee make it a great place to linger after dinner.
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.