15 Spectacular Places in the Northeast
The Northeast is one of the most amazing areas in the country. In addition to being home to some of the country’s largest cities, the region offers a plethora of outdoor activities due to the heavy forest coverage. Maine and New Hampshire take the first and second positions as the most forested states, while the rest of the Northeast falls within the Top 20.
The ability to quickly travel from urban to rural land and between state to state is definitely a perk. This gives you the opportunity to explore so many different places within a single vacation. From charming coastal villages in New England, to beautiful mountain ranges like the Catskills and White Mountains, to exciting cities like Boston, Philadelphia, & New York City, the region offers a bit of everything for everyone. Listed below are 15 must-see sights, all of which offer amazing views.
CliffWalk is one of the most amazing sights in Rhode Island. The 3.5 mile walk takes you on a coastal journey past Newport’s historic mansions. If you think they are grand from the outside, just wait until you explore the inside of these lavish estates. In addition to taking in stately views of these opulent architectural masterpieces, you will experience one-of-a-kind coastal views on this peaceful walk. If you visit outside of the busy summer season, the walk takes on an even more relaxing nature.
Also be sure to check out my full guide to exploring beautiful Newport
2. The beaches of Islesboro, Maine
Islesboro is a unique island community located just off the central coast of Maine. Its’ secluded nature and beautiful beaches make it a prime summer vacation destination. Although the year-round population of just under 600 residents, the population soars to several thousand during the beautiful summer months. The gorgeous island is perfect for long summer bike rides, hunting for seaglass at the many historic public beaches, and enjoying nature from your beautiful vacation rental. A visit to the island will require a ferry ride from Lincolnville, although the ride over itself is quite scenic, with a charming lighthouse waiting to greet you as you arrive. I was fortunate enough to live in this gorgeous area.
3. The Freedom Trail
Visiting Boston without walking the city’s historic brick-lined Freedom Trail would be a major mistake. Even if you are not at all interested in history, you will still appreciate the beauty of Boston’s wonderful downtown. The amazing architecture alone is enough to warrant a visit. For those interested in history, you will have a field day exploring the 16 sights which make up the 3 mile journey into Boston’s past.
There are plenty of fantastic stops along the way – lunch in the North End neighborhood (home to many authentic local Italian restaurants – I recommend Giacomo’s), a tour of the Paul Revere house, an inside look at the beautiful architecture of Old North Church, and a tour of the USS Constitution, to name a few. Above all, be sure to climb to the top of Bunker Hill Monument. Exhausting (you will need to walk 294 steps up to the observing area) after a full day of walking, yet so worth it for the incredible panoramic views of the city.
4. Kaaterskill Falls
New York’s tallest waterfall is an amazing 2 tier wonder in the beautiful Catskills Region. At a height of 260 feet, it stands mighty as one of the tallest waterfalls in the state. The Catskills Region is known for its’ abundance of gorgeous hiking trails and wonderful natural surroundings. The hike to Kaaterskill Falls is both peaceful and scenic, and thankfully short at just a mile. The falls are truly an amazing sight not to be missed. It beats any pricey man-made tourist attraction any day. There are plenty of wonderful photo opportunities here, especially if you visit on a weekday morning.
In addition to Kaaterskill Falls, you will also come across another smaller, yet still beautiful, waterfall called Bastion Falls. Both are wonderful sights and the hike itself is just so peaceful and rustic. Occasionally, black bears and other small wildlife species can be seen in the area, so keep your eyes peeled and keep your distance!
5. Blue Hills Reservation
Blue Hills is a Massachusetts gem; an enormous hiking oasis just outside of the city. With over 100 trails, the park is amongst the largest you will find so close to a major city. Blue Hills is gorgeous all year-round, with scenic green trees and clear skyline views in the summer months and brisk fall colors in September & October. Fall foliage chair lift rides are a highlight of the fall season; a must-do for any visitor during this time period. And don’t forget to check out Blue Hill Ski area, a winter favorite for area residents looking to enjoy some convenient local skiing. Blue Hills, a fantastic 4 season destination; so close to the city, yet so far away!
6. Duquesne Incline
Pittsburgh is an underrated city which often gets overlooked in favor of more popular tourist destinations. However, the city has much to offer, including incredible museums, interesting neighborhoods, lively sports teams, and above all, an amazing skyline. Pittsburgh is home to one of the most appealing skylines, thus it would make sense to take advantage of a ride up the Duquesne Incline while in town.
The historic incline, which opened in 1877, takes you on a quick, yet scenic ride up to Mt Washington; here you will be greeted with amazing panoramic views of Pittsburgh’s tremendous skyline, bridges, and stadiums. It’s an absolute must-see while visiting the city. In fact, it’s so great that you should consider both a daytime and nighttime visit in order to see the skyline in 2 completely different, yet equally stunning settings.
7. Camden Hills State Park
Camden, located on the central coast of Maine, is one of the most charming coastal towns you will ever come across. The scenery is gorgeous; the diverse variety of trees, gorgeous rolling hills, quaint water views, and historic buildings combine to perform the picture-perfect coastal getaway. The town’s fitting slogan is “Where the mountains meet the sea.” There is plenty of natural fun to be had in the area, most notably the beautiful Camden Hills State Park, home to miles and miles of serene hiking trails.
The must-do trail here is is the slightly strenuous Mt. Battie hike, where after a challenging climb, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Penobscot Bay and the mountains. Bring your camera as you will quickly find out that gorgeous photo opportunities await you here. Aside from the Mt. Battie trail, you will be able to lose yourself in nature on numerous other trails; all offering plentiful wildlife and bird watching opportunities and peaceful views.
8. New Hampshire’s White Mountains
New Hampshire’s incredible White Mountain region is one of the premier New England destinations for recreational fun. Whether you are into hiking and biking or skiing and snowboarding, you will find what you are looking for and more in a New Hampshire getaway. Summer is a great time to get out into the fresh air: explore the trails, observe wildlife, and take some great pictures of waterfalls.
Fall is an excellent time to take a scenic drive. The Kancamagus Highway is one of the most popular routes. The 34 mile drive, which is known to be one of the best places in the country for fall foliage, takes you past rivers, mountains, gorges, and streams. The Mt. Cog Railroad is another great attraction to check out during the fall season. A 3 mile mountain train ride will take you up to the summit of Mt. Washington, which is the highest peak in the Northeast.
Winter is perhaps the best season of all, a quiet time filled with plentiful snow and ample opportunity for winter sports. Everything from secluded cabins in the woods to rustic lodges to luxury ski resorts are available to choose amongst for your winter vacation. A great activity to check out is Bretton Woods Nordic Center, a cross country skiing dream destination sure to please both newbie and advanced skiers. It would be difficult for anyone to to deny the beauty of skiing in such a pristine, beautiful setting. A very memorable experience for everyone, especially tourists visiting from warm weather locales.
Another fun activity while you are in the vicinity is Nestlenook Farms. This charming winter oasis offers a plethora of fun winter activities. From cozy sleigh rides, to skating on a Victorian ice rink, to snowshoeing with the gorgeous White Mountains in the background, it’s a dream destination for snow lovers and Hallmark Christmas movie fanatics.
9. Empire State Building
I always dreamed of the perfect romantic date upon the Empire State building ever since seeing the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan classic Sleepless in Seattle. After multiple visits to New York, I finally made my way up the 86th floor to take in the incredible cityscapes. Although NYC receives much negative press regarding its’ high crime and grittiness factor, the city truly looks peaceful and beautiful from 1050 feet up in the air. For a one-of-a-kind urban view like no other, do make the time for this iconic attraction.
And afterwards, enjoy a slice of pizza at NY Pizza Suprema, one of the city’s best places for an authentic slice of pie.
10. The beaches of Cape Cod
The beautiful Cape Cod region, which includes 15 charming towns in Massachusetts, is a wonderful, peaceful vacation destination within close proximity to many busy cities. If you are looking for a laid-back escape, packed with relaxing leisure activities like hiking and biking, combined with long days relaxing at picturesque beaches, then Cape Cod should definitely top your list of possible New England coastal getaways. The beaches here are often regarded as the most scenic in the world. Coast Guard Beach was referred to as “The Great Beach” by Henry David Thoreau.
Provincetown, located at the tip of Cape Cod, is home to 2 well regarded beaches: Race Point and Herring Cove. The best way to end your day in Provincetown is by watching a gorgeous sunset at either of these 2 beaches. Race Point is the only Eastern point where you can see the sun set over the water.
In addition, there lies a grand, secluded, undeveloped beach along Cape Cod’s amazing Great Island Trail. This beach is only accessible via a hike, therefore, it is completely desolate. This serene beach is perhaps the most magnificent of all.
Also Cape Cod is known for its’ gorgeous bike paths. Both the Cape Cod Canal Path and the Cape Cod Rail Trail are highly worth looking into. If you are seeking a great workout + fabulous views, it doesn’t get much better!
11. Devil’s Hopyard State Park
East Haddam, Connecticut is one of the prime areas in New England for spectacular leaf peeping. Although there are many scenic drives to take throughout town, one of the best ways to explore all the wonders of New England’s magnificent fall foliage season is by taking a quiet hike through Devil’s Hopyard State Forest.
Tree covered trails, a gorgeous waterfall surrounded by foliage, and a historic covered bridge all come together to create some amazing photography opportunities. It would be a shame to pass up such a great park during New England’s best season. The cool crisp air, the striking colors, nature, exercise, photography, and peace and quiet all rolled into one; you just can’t top it!
12. Walkway over the Hudson
One of New York’s most scenic destinations is the Walkway Over the Hudson, a 1.25 mile long path over the Hudson River. This year-round pedestrian path happens to be the longest elevated bridge in the world. It’s quite a sight during any season, but even more amazing during the peak of fall. The walkway provides the perfect setting for a refreshing walk. Take a break from your computer and phone and enjoy the wonders of nature in a breathtaking setting.
Because the Walkway is open year-round, you have the opportunity to check out how the scenery changes magnificently with each passing season. A fall visit is recommended as upstate New York is well known for its’ amazing autumn season. Nevertheless, whenever you decide to visit, you will be treated to a picturesque setting.
13. Central Park
As one of the most visited and beautiful urban parks in the country, Central Park is well worth a spot on your bucket list. Not only is there so much to see and do here, but the park’s scenery changes drastically with the seasons From summertime greenery, to vivid fall foliage, to a snowy winter wonderland, the park shines anytime of year.
Famous attractions include the Central Park Zoo, the Wollman Ice Rink, the historic carousel, and Strawberry Fields (John Lennon memorial). My favorite time to visit is during the quiet winter months. The weather is refreshingly brisk, the crowds have disappeared, and the famous ice rink is open. Movie buffs will quickly remember the rink featured in 2 great holiday classics: Home Alone 2 and Serendipity!
A few more iconic NYC movie filming locations to check out
14. The beaches of Rhode Island
Rhode Island, aptly nicknamed “The Ocean State,” has its’ fair share of beautiful beaches. Scarborough Town Beach in Narragansett is amazing; it’s wide and features smooth sand and gorgeous quaint views. Goosebury Beach and Second Beach in Newport are also worthy of a visit. If you are a fan of collecting seaglass, head over to Teddy’s Beach in Portsmouth for an abundance of new pieces to add to your collection. In addition, all of these beaches provide a wonderful setting for taking a long, relaxing stroll. Scarsborough is perfect for summer swimming and sunbathing, while Goosebury is great for photography.
The best aspect of Rhode Island beaches is that they typically only get busy during the prime summer months. Fall and winter, if you can bare the cold, are actually ideal times to take a solitary walk. There are many benefits to visiting in the winter, namely the fact that the beaches do not stay busy all year like California and Florida beaches. Although many complain of the short summer season and cold, long winter season, perhaps, the greatest treasure of all is having a magnificent beach all to yourself.
15. Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge
Rhode Island is home to numerous fantastic hikes, nature preserves, and natural wonders. One of these beautiful places to explore is Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge, a coastal sanctuary located in Middletown (near Newport).
Hiking the trails, wildlife photography, birdwatching, exploring the nature museum, and just enjoying the gorgeous marsh and ocean views make for a fun-filled, yet relaxing day out. No doubt, Sachuest is one of the most beautiful place you will have the pleasure of visiting during your stay in Rhode Island.
Have you visited any of these Northeast attractions? What are some of your favorites in the region? Part 2 coming soon.