New England is packed with great places to visit, dine, sightsee, and shop. The states help visitors make travel plans by creating themed and self-guided trails. Trails guide you to places to taste wine, ice cream, cocktails, beers, and burgers; places to shop for unique antiques; places to see a fine art; places to absorb the history of a community. Connecticut even has a trail for historic barns. Most trails have helpful brochures with maps and listings of stops. Cue up the brochure on your tablet or smart phone and hit the trail!
The Massachusetts Masterpiece Trail is a curated collection of specific and fascinating artworks that you can view at museums across the state. An online brochure takes you from one location to the next. Plan the stops on your journey in advance or zigzag by whim to all the locations within a region. Examples of wonderful things you may see include Tree Logic at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMoCa) in North Adams, Frog Circus at Wisteriahurst Museum in Holyoke, Jamie Wyeth’s Kleburg & Dozer at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, Cavelli’s guitar at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
The “Super Moon” of March, 2011 sets over Portsmouth Harbor, Porsmouth, NH. Viewed from Kittery, ME
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a delightful riverside city, with a sweet downtown full of interesting restaurants and shop, and a gorgeous park on the Piscataqua River. During Colonial times, Portsmouth was a port for fishing and shipping timber from inland to the sea. Learn all about the old ties up to the present on a choice of walking toursof the Portsmouth Harbor Trail. Guided tours are offered from June through October (call 603-610-5518). Three walks take you through or past Market Square; Prescott Park on the river; Strawbery Banke, a living history museum encompassing 400 years of the town’s story; tug boats at the docks; views of the river; and several historic churches and mansions. Map
This nice guide by doityourselfrv.com describes a well-planned drive up the Maine coast, from York in the south all the way through Bar Harbor and up to the border of Canada. Pictures and handy descriptions guide you through the most popular and accessible lighthouses, from the Nubble in York, through Portland and up into Mid-Coast Maine and Bar Harbor, right through to Canada’s Campobello Island. Drive all or any portion of the route and keep your camera charged up. You will find some lighthouses are open to visitors and some are not. Some also have small gift shops. There is much to learn, starting with “Fresnel.” Map
Vermont African American Heritage Trail
Over the centuries, African Americans have lived in Vermont, farmed its land, founded and operated businesses. Vermonters were active participants in the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. The Vermont African American Heritage Trail tells the stories of black Americans in Vermont. A major player in these stories and the flagship stop of the trail is the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburg, location of the Robinson home, where Quaker abolitionists sheltered black fugitives in the 1830s. Map.
Vermont has a long history of quarrying and stone carving because of the large deposits of granite, marble and slate found there. Spin-off pieces of this industrial and culture history describe communities of Italian-American stone carvers who moved into the area, starting in the 19th century. The Vermont Stone Trail describes dozens of quarrying-related sites, among them the Rock of Ages Visitor Center in Graniteville and the Vermont Marble Museum in Proctor. Hear stories about this rugged industry and the artistry of its finished products, such as ornate grave stones. Map to Rock of Ages. Map to Vermont Marble Museum.
Federal Hill is the name of Providence, Rhode Island’s Little Italy, an authentic and thriving community of food and Italian culture from 1886 to the present. Few people are as well qualified to show you around the food culture of this place as chef, cooking teacher, and historian Walter Potenza. His Premiere Food Tour will take you to places to taste cheeses, charcuterie, and antipasti as you learn about these dishes from experts. You will meet the people who make Federal Hill an important destination. The walking tour ends Chef Walters Cooking School with tastings of olive oil, balsamic, and the wine of the day. 401-273-2652. Map.
Connecticut declares itself the place where the hamburger was created, when, back in the 1800s, a short-order cook at Louis Lunch in New Haven served a fried beef patty wedged into a roll to a customer in a hurry. Like many places, this pretty state of picturesque towns and rural areas also has its fair share of people brewing small-batch beers. The Connecticut Burgers & Brews Trail takes you on a hearty tasting tour to every corner. Spend a whole season treating your taste for brews and burgers on the road.