How To Spend 7 Days In New England

The Kancamagus Highway
The Kancamagus Highway | © Jim Pennucci/Flickr
Casey Campbell

For many people, experiencing a New England summer is a dream vacation. Those of us who were lucky enough to grow up here often take advantage of the prime real estate, as most New Englanders are in close proximity to all six states in the region. So how do you experience a full New England vacation in just seven days? Bring this guide with you for a jam-packed week-long road trip through the region.

Day One: Providence, Rhode Island

How to Get There: If you’re flying to the region, it’s always worth checking out flights into T.F. Green Regional Airport. You’ll find that tickets are usually much less, and you get to experience the city of Providence. Rent a car here for the rest of your road trip – be sure there’s a return location in Manchester, New Hampshire where this trip will end.

What to Do: Time this trip to start on a weekend in the spring, summer, or fall where you can start with Providence Water Fire – an ongoing installation on the rivers of Downtown that lights over 80 floating bonfires at sunset.

Where to Eat: Italian food in Federal Hill. Dine at one of the award-winning restaurants in Providence’s ‘Little Italy,’ or pick up some signature deli samples at a local market. Both will be authentic, original, and, most important, delicious.

Where to Stay: Rent a room Downtown or in Federal Hill for easiest access to the city.

Water Fire in Providence

Day Two: Newport, Rhode Island

How to Get There: Newport is a quick 40-minute ride from Providence. See directions here.

What to Do: The Newport Mansions are famous for a reason. These homes are elegant, over the top, and beautiful. Accompany them with a walk along the cliffs and some shopping downtown.

Where to Eat: Like many New England towns on the coast, you’ll find some of the freshest seafood in Newport. It’s only 30 miles south of New Bedford, MA, one of the largest fishing ports in the region, so fresh fish is a guarantee.

Where to Stay: If you can splurge, stay at one of the local inns on the water for some fantastic views.

Newport, Rhode Island

Day Three: Boston, Massachusetts

How to Get There: Drive 1 hour, 30 minutes. See directions here.

What to Do: Touring Boston could be an entire vacation in itself, so with just a day here, it requires careful consideration. One of the best-kept secrets of the city is Charles River Canoe & Kayak rentals. Get the best view of the city along the Esplanade in a one-way trip from Allston to Cambridge.

Where to Eat: Pack a lunch and bring it on your kayaking trip, or grab lunch in Kendall Square and explore MIT’s campus. If you’re looking for international options, walk a few blocks to Central Square where you can find dozens of different global cuisines.

Where to Stay: Book a room at a Cambridge or Allston hotel for closer access to the river.

The Esplanade in Boston

Day Four: Salisbury, Massachusetts

How to Get There: Either stay the night in Boston or drive here on the evening of Day 3, but either way, it’s under an hour’s drive. See directions here.

What to Do: Salisbury Beach is one of the few remaining boardwalks on the East Coast, complete with rivaling pizza joints and classic arcade games right on the water’s edge. If you haven’t had enough, you can find a similar scene at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire, just half an hour north by car.

Where to Eat: Cristy’s Pizza and Tripoli’s Pizza. You decide which is best.

Where to Stay: Anywhere close to the beach.

Salisbury, MA

Day Five: Portsmouth, New Hampshire

How to Get There: A quick 25-minute drive from Salisbury. See directions here.

What to Do: If you’re in the mood to shop, Portsmouth is your city. Downtown is lined with small independent retail shops, ranging from toy stores to wine and cheese shops. For outdoor adventurers, there’s plenty of beaches and parks, as well as the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse area to explore.

Where to Eat: Downtown Portsmouth has a plentiful array of restaurants where you can eat anything from fresh raw bar delicacies to traditional English pub food.

Where to Stay: Downtown houses a few hotels, but there’s no shortage of smaller inns in the area as well.

Downtown Portsmouth

Day Six: White Mountains

How to Get There: A two-hour drive north into New Hampshire.

What to Do: Encompassing a quarter of New Hampshire, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to do in the White Mountains. Be bold and hike Mount Washington (bring layers!) or relax on the windy and spectacular car ride down the Kancamagus Highway. For lodging, you can easily rent a cabin, or stay in a nearby bed and breakfast – or camp if you brought a tent.

Where to Eat: Being in this beautiful patch of conserved land will make you want to pack a picnic basket or cook over an open fire. Not in the mood for s’mores? Here’s a list of local restaurants in the area that locals love.

Where to Stay: Rent a cabin, find a bed and breakfast, or – with some planning ahead – pitch a tent.

White Mountains

Day Seven: Fly Out of Manchester, New Hampshire

Use your last New England day to soak up the beauty of the White Mountains, or explore the small towns of New Hampshire. If you need airport access, Manchester Regional Airport is the perfect way to end this one-way road trip. While this is a packed itinerary, you’ll have seen three New England states, explored a variety of different places, and had experiences that you can’t find anywhere else. View a full map of this itinerary here.

The Kancamagus Highway

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