What is the Best Time to Travel to New England?
The best time to travel to New England depends on what you want to do during your trip. The region boasts four distinct seasons, six states, hundreds of years of U.S. history and a wide range of urban and countryside adventures.
Whether you’re interested in winter skiing, summer beaches, colonial history tours, cozy lodges or delectable food tours, you’ll find plenty of New England travel destinations that match your tastes.
Use this New England travel guide to help you figure out when to go and how to spend your time in this picturesque region.
Where is New England?
New England is nestled in the northeast corner of the U.S. This part of the country is comprised of six states, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
This historic area was one of the first to be settled by European colonists, who arrived in waves, with first the French, then the Dutch and finally the English. The rich accents and cultures of these settlers, together with thousands of years of Native American history, have all contributed to the unique charm of New England.
The Best Time to Travel to New England
New England is truly a year-round destination with much to offer in each of its distinct seasons. Each season needs some explanation, however, because the weather varies greatly and some tourist activities are only available in season.
Spring Weather and Activities
Spring brings cool mornings and afternoons. Warmer weather comes as the weeks march toward summer. The advantage of traveling in New England during the spring is that you miss the bone-chilling cold of its winters and the high heat of summer. One disadvantage is that the deep snow melts, turning the countryside into what the locals affectionately call “mud time.”
So, spring is the ideal season to explore the region’s cities and flowering urban gardens, such as the Boston Public Garden, Elizabeth Park in Hartford, Connecticut, and the enchanting Longfellow Garden in Portland, Maine.
Want a more structured trip? Then take advantage of the relaxing 10-night Grand New England Cruise, featuring historic harbors, cobblestone streets, fantastic sunsets and some of the most succulent lobster and chowder in the region.
Summer Weather and Activities
Summer can be surprisingly hot and humid, with temperatures ranging between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit during June, July and August. The hot weather makes this season ideal for tourists looking for beaches, shaded mountain trails, indoor attractions like museums, and refreshing wine and food tours.
Top New England travel destinations in the summer include Crane Beach’s 4-mile stretch of golden sand in Ipswich, Massachusetts, surfing at Town Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island, and hiking to the summit of Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire — a popular hike for many of America’s famous icons, including Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau.
Autumn Weather and Activities
With lows hovering around 45 degrees and highs barely hitting 60, autumn is the perfect time to enjoy cool forest walks, do some canoeing, explore New England’s historic cities, and enjoy the fall harvest at local farmers markets. Is seeing the changing leaves a big priority for you? Then plan your trip between mid-September and late October.
If you want to travel New England in the fall, then consider making a short road trip down Vermont’s Route 100 — one of the most scenic drives in the country that reveals the glorious and colorful foliage of autumnal New England. This route delivers more than 200 miles of colorful forest, quaint villages, antique stores and farmers’ markets.
For a more comprehensive tour of New England in the fall, join the Fall Foliage Classic group tour. This picturesque trip includes iconic locations across four states, including Boston’s Freedom Trail, a maple syrup farm in Montpelier, a gondola ride through New Hampshire’s White Mountains and many more incredible experiences.
Winter Weather and Activities
New England is famous for its freezing cold winters, with temperatures topping out around 30 degrees and dropping to lows of 5. To give you a sense of snowfall, the average winter brings 89 inches of snow to Vermont, 51 inches in Massachusetts and 37 inches to Connecticut.
Consequently, when determining where to travel in New England in the winter, ensure that you pack warm clothing and are comfortable with snowy conditions.
But don’t let the nip in the air take the spring out of your step because New England is bursting with winter destinations. A couple of top activities include exploring ice castles in Lincoln, New Hampshire, and attending the Boston Wine Festival — believed to be the longest-running food and wine festival in the U.S.
Best Places to Travel in New England
New England is a patchwork of cities, farmlands, coasts and vast swaths of forest. Consequently, many visitors select two or three cities as a base, and then schedule day trips into the surrounding countryside. Here are three of the region’s most popular cities and towns:
Boston is a must-visit destination. As the birthplace of the American Revolution, it hosts many historic landmarks, including the site of the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s home and Boston Common.
Not a U.S. history buff? Boston is still worth visiting for the Museum of Fine Arts and its vast collection of Impressionist art and ancient Egyptian artifacts, and the Museum of Science with its IMAX theater and state-of-the-art exhibits.
Also, you can’t miss the city’s enormous food scene. Yes, there’s chowder, but Boston is also famous for the celebrated Gourmet Dumpling House (try the Shandong jiaozi), the vibrant bar scene in the Mission Hill neighborhood, the out-of-this-world Brazilian cuisine served up at Muqueca Restaurant, and so many other fantastic restaurants.
2. Portland, Maine
Portland is perched on the edge Casco Bay, along Maine’s southern coast, and is a bustling city known for its rich history in fishing, industry and many aspects of American culture. The downtown area, called The Old Port, is ideal for walking, with bars, boutiques, fine dining and museums, all within a short distance on the cobblestone streets.
Ready to add some adventure to the itinerary? Aside from urban amenities, Portland offers up beaches, walking trails, lighthouses and islands for exploration.
3. Burlington, Vermont
Burlington is an idyllic New England community that sits on the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain. Like most cities in the region, Burlington has its fair share of colonial and Revolutionary War sites, including the home of war hero Ethan Allen.
Visiting Vermont for the fall foliage? Gorgeous daytrip destinations from Burlington that get you into the forest include Stowe, Waistfield, Norwich and Lake Willoughby.
New England Travel Deals
Looking for travel deals in New England? AAA offers several curated New England tours. Take the stress out of planning your trip by selecting one of our expert-designed itineraries and joining professional travel guides on a relaxing exploration of these states.
New England Travel Packages
- Luxury New England Tour and Cruise. Add some glamour to your trip by booking a spot on our 16-day guided tour of Boston, Cape Cod, New England’s islands and even a few stops in Canada. Feast on sea-to-table delicacies, the harvest of local farmers and foragers, and get to know the region in an intimate way.
- Colors of New England. Be charmed by the colors of New England on this eight-day tour from the heart of historic Boston to the farms, mountains and coast of the North. Tour historic Boston during a two-night stay in the heart of the city. Explore Woodstock, Vermont, a quintessential New England village. Visit Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory and sample some of its delicious creations.
- Autumn Colors Tour. Enjoy nine days of explosive forest color on this serene tour through four states. From Boston to the rocky headlands of Maine, this scenic adventure will lead you along the landmark Mohawk Trail and Kancamagus Highway, giving you plenty of time to soak in the color and birdsong of autumn.
Book Your New England Travel Today
If you’re ready to travel new England states and sample the generous hospitality and friendly culture of this corner of the USA, then contact one of our AAA travel agents to begin planning your trip.
Your new England travel guide will be able to answer all your questions and help you select the ideal vacation from one of the hundreds of tours and cruises we offer.