Escapes

Q:

What's the best weekend trip in New England?

I’m spending the summer in Boston but am not from the area. What weekend trips in New England would you recommend?

Sailing in Newport

Sailing in Newport, Rhode Island     Photo: Dsearls/Flickr

A:Between the White Mountains, Green Mountains, Atlantic Coast, clear lakes, whitewater, and offshore islands, there are more amazing adventures near you than I could possibly describe here. So let me give you the five New England things you must do before the summer dies.

Mountain Bike Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom

One of the country’s top trail networks lies hidden among the lakes, mountains, and maple forests of northeastern Vermont, just below the Canadian border. Called the Kingdom Trails, it consists of more than 100 miles of bike paths of varying difficulty levels—from easy to terrifying—on singletrack and fire roads surrounding Burke Mountain and the village of East Burke. In the winter, the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing.

Paddle the Maine Coast

Paddle among the remote islands and inlets among the rocky shores of Casco Bay in southern Maine, and at times you’ll think you and the crews of the lobster boats that occasionally pass by are the only humans on Earth. LL Bean organizes several different sea kayak trips, including a weekend island camping expedition complete with a lobster bake for dinner ($300 per person).

Climb Mount Washington in New Hampshire

How extreme can the weather be on Mount Washington, which towers 6,288 feet above sea level in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire’s White Mountains? Envision a sunny, 80-degree day at the base; six hours of climbing later, you’re wearing a parka and standing among thick clouds above the treeline, reading trail signs covered in frost. The Crawford Path to the top is the country’s oldest hiking trail. The Appalachian Mountain Club operates a series of overnight huts in the Presidential Range for hikers, and provides information, guidebooks, and maps of area trails.

Camp on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

You don’t need to have a huge bank account—or a huge credit limit—to be able to pay for a weekend in Cape Cod. There are more than 20 campgrounds along its 560 miles of sandy shoreline. The sites that book up the fastest are the 400 at the woodsy, 1,900-acre Nickerson State Park in the town of Brewster, mid-way up the Cape. Its eight miles of trails connect to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, its eight ponds are stocked with trout, and the ocean is a short walk away (Campsites $17 a night).

Sail Newport, Rhode Island

You haven’t truly experienced New England until you walk down the cobblestone streets of Newport, founded in the 1630s. Tour the old mansions of the robber barons, and take the helm of a sailboat in breezy Narragansett Bay—the former home of the America’s Cup. The public sailing center Sail Newport, at Fort Adams State Park, offers lessons (starting at $118 per adult) and rents boats ($71 for three hours).

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