Seven Wonders of New England

Spending the summer in the Northeast provides scores of unforgettable places to see: from surfing the sandy Atlantic Coast to hiking the cool woods of the Berkshires. The Travel Channel has created an itinerary of must-see locations -- the 7 Wonders of New England -- guaranteed to get travelers off the well-worn path and into the soul of the Northeast.
Acadia National Park
Thinkstock

Acadia National Park, Maine

Designated a national park in 1919, this 47,000-acre, breathtaking slice of the Northeast is a microcosm of this diverse state. Trek through deep woodlands, scale mountain peaks, explore the rugged Maine coastline and glide across glass-like lakes. The carriage-road system that runs through the park includes 17 stone-faced bridges arching across bubbling streams and along cliffs and waterfalls.

Echo Lake Beach gives visitors a chance to see peregrine falcons, but keep an eye out for black bear and moose throughout the park. Get near the water on Acadia's only ocean-sand beach, appropriately called Sand Beach, but don't miss the well-known Thunder Hole for a perfect example of the power of the ocean roaring through a breach in the rocky coast. The free Island Explorer bus system stops at a number of spots throughout Acadia's Park Loop Road -- just watch for bus stop signs or flag the bus down if you need a lift. Acadia National Park is 1 hour from Bangor, ME.
Newburyport, MA
Greater Bewburyport

Newburyport/Plum Island, Massachusetts

This small, coastal city 50 minutes north of Boston began its life as a clipper ship-building hub, a preserved history that forges an almost tangible connection to the past. The cobblestone streets and brick downtown shops and restaurants invite visitors to explore the area. Park on a bench on the waterfront boardwalk and watch fishing boats and lobstermen head out along the Merrimack River to ply their trade as they have for generations.

Take a quick trip to Plum Island -- connected to the city by a winding road that passes the tiny Plum Island Airport -- and try your hand at the renowned surfcasting in the shadow of the Plum Island Point lighthouse. Striped bass run throughout the warmer months, while hearty bluefish will test anglers in the later part of the summer.
Cog Railway
Cog Railway

The Cog Railway, Mt. Washington, New Hampshire

An inky cloud of steam rises above the Mount Washington Valley, edging slowly toward the summit of Mount Washington in Bretton Woods, NH, and marking the path of the world's first mountain-climbing cog railroad, the Cog Railway. Guests climb aboard a diesel- or biodiesel-powered locomotive for an exhilarating trip to the summit of the highest point in the Northeast.

At a speed of roughly3 miles-per-hour on the ascent, passengers have plenty of time to ponder the nearly 40-degree angle that the train achieves during its climb and the breathtaking view of New Hampshire's White Mountains range. The journey up through the lush forests and above the treeline to the top takes a little more than an hour, while the return trip is made in about 40 minutes. The round-trip expedition can test the mettle of those afraid of heights, but the view from the top of Mount Washington is unparalleled.
MysticSeaport, CT
MysticSeaport, Connecticut

MysticSeaport, Connecticut

A living museum of the New England maritime way of life, the Mystic Seaport transports visitors to a time when wooden-hulled boats carried men to sea. The seaport features 3 main elements: a working preservation shipyard, exhibit galleries and a recreation of a 19th-century coastal village.

Take a carriage ride through the village and explore an authentic period lobster shack, a cooperage or the Fishtown Chapel. Musicians belting out sea shanties and storytellers spinning colorful sea yarns help transport visitors back to the 1800s-era New England coast. The Mystic Seaport is 2 hours from Boston and New York City, and less than 1 hour from Hartford, CT.
Kancamagus Highway
nissanman2009, Flickr

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

There is no cell phone reception, no gas stations, hotels, restaurants or modern amenities along the 34.5-mile stretch of Route 112 known as the Kancamagus Highway, but there are few drives as rewarding. Making the trek from the shopping and restaurant hub of Conway to Lincoln, NH, along the Kancamagus will put the Swift River on one side, and the sometimes steep walls and untamed crags of the White Mountains on the other.

The roadway, a winding path hewn from the mountains, will take travelers by Sabbaday Falls, Rocky Gorge -- where you can traipse across a footbridge above the Swift River -- and the Lower Falls. The end of the Kanc will drop visitors back into modern-day New Hampshire, but here's one pro tip: Top off that tank before embarking on this winding, wondrous trek.
Casco Bay
Maine Office of Tourism

The Casco Bay Islands, Maine

Just off the coast of Portland, ME, is a chain of islands that stretches from South Portland all the way through Machias Bay. Peaks Island, a 20-minute voyage from Portland, offers sandy beaches, restaurants and an artists’ community. Bike the dirt roads of Cliff Island, visit the site of Fort McKinley on Great Diamond Island -- now a striking collection of stately homes -- or stay the night at Chebeague Island and awake for an early round of golf.

The Casco Bay Lines will ferry visitors along their island-hopping tour, stopping at several of the major islands in the bay. Several islands use golf carts for intra-island transportation, providing perfect opportunities to catch deer grazing in the dense forests. Saltwater flows through the soul of the Casco Bay Island communities, from the way residents make a living to reaching these scenic, stubbornly individual plots of land staggered throughout Portland's stretch of the Atlantic Coast.
Stowe, VT
Stowe Area Association

Stowe, Vermont

Envision the perfect New England picture-postcard, and you could very well be imagining Stowe, VT. A tour of New England’s wonders wouldn't be complete without experiencing an old covered bridge, which you can do by crossing the Stowe Hollow Bridge that spans the Gold Brook in the center of town. When the snow melts, this north-central Vermont village blossoms with more than 40 restaurants, an old-fashioned Main Street and seemingly endless shopping opportunities.

Accommodations are plentiful, ranging from ski chalets to resorts packed with suites. The Trapp Family Lodge -- founded by the family made famous in The Sound of Music -- is an Austrian-inspired lodge with sweeping views of the Green Mountains. A short trip outside of Stowe will bring visitors into nearby Waterbury, VT, and the Cabot Annex Store and the Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory -- as close as you'll ever come to touring Willy Wonka's factory. Stowe is 3 hours north of Boston, and 30 minutes from the state capital, Montpelier.

About the Author

Bill Burke is an award-winning humor columnist and writer with 20 years experience in the newspaper and magazine industry. He is the author of Mousejunkies (Travelers' Tales 2009) and Mousejunkies: Second Edition (Travelers' Tales 2011) --a humorous look at Walt Disney World addiction.