The entrance of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

11 Most Beautiful Cities In New England

New England received its name in the early 1600s from Captain John Smith (allegedly rescued by Pocahontas) after he founded Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. The region of New England, located in the far northeast of the United States, now consists of six states, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Known best for its charming colonial towns, its historical sites that marked the Revolutionary War, and its beautiful, hospitable cities, many individuals flock to the area for vacation or retirement. These beautiful cities, from Boston to Burlington, offer the traveler a true taste of New England culture.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts Skyline from above by Drone during Summer Time
Boston, Massachusetts Skyline.

Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by settlers from Boston, England. It is now the most well-known city in Massachusetts. Whether you are strolling through the Boston Commons, catching a game at Fenway Park, or visiting one of the many nature parks in the area, Boston is a city steeped in pure history. The Boston Tea Party Museum, the Old North Church, and the birthplace of the American Revolution are a few historical reasons Boston is one of the most beautiful cities in New England. There are also many other exquisite sights inclusive to Boston, including visiting the Boston Harbor and taking a tour along the Boston Freedom Trail.

North Conway, New Hampshire

Classic US styled railroad station showing the timber built design in this popular tourist destination, North Conway, New Hampshire.
Railroad Museum, North Conway, New Hampshire. Image credit Nick Beer via Shutterstock

Tourists, travelers, and vacationers visit North Conway year around, even in the dead of winter. This beautiful city, located south of the White Mountains and Mount Washington, is nearby several ski mountains; Attitash Mountain, Mount Cranmore, and Tuckerman’s Ravine. There are also several other outdoor activities available during the summer season, like Story Land, Crawford Notch State Park, and the Conway Scenic Railroad. Visitors can find numerous quaint shops and stores along the "the strip," which runs between Conway and the Memorial Hospital in North Conway. The Kancamagus Scenic Byway, a 35-mile-long highway running between Conway and Lincoln, offers family and friends options for canoeing, and kayaking, as well as fishing, swimming, hiking, and camping.

Portland, Maine

Portland Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 307 Congress Street in downtown Portland, Maine
Cathedral in downtown Portland, Maine.

The city of Portland, first named such in 1786, is best known for Crescent Beach State Park, Fore River Sanctuary, and the Portland Museum of Art. Other beautiful sights enjoyed by photographers, visitors, and locals alike are views from the Portland Head Lighthouse, the muse for Edward Hopper’s "Lighthouse Hill" known as the most famous painting of a lighthouse in the world. From the Eastern Promenade, stroll a 70-acre public park and recreation area. Along the Eastern Promenade, travelers can swim, sunbathe, or even enjoy a picnic with their family and friends.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

boats in the harbor in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Harbor in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Portsmouth is in the southeastern corner of New Hampshire, across the Piscataqua River from Kittery, Maine, and was first established in 1623 as a fishing settlement. Passing through the names Piscataqua and Strawbery Banke, the city finally claimed its rightful name in 1653 when labeled after the town of Portsmouth, England. Today, Portsmouth is one of the most beautiful cities in New Hampshire, offering breathtaking sights of historic homes and gardens all over the city. Strawbery Banke Museum and the Portsmouth Museum of Art provide a sense of the past to the history buff, while whale-watching tours, bicycle rides, swimming, fishing, and sailing, as well as visiting Prescott Park, offer scenic beauty to those who prefer nature.

Stowe, Vermont

Aerial view of charming small town Stowe in Vermont
Church and homes in Stowe, Vermont.

Stowe, Vermont, located near the center of the state, half of the way between Burlington and St. Johnsbury, boasts a population of fewer than 6,000 people, though that increases during ski season. The small city is famous for being home to several prominent figures, including Joseph Dutton, a Civil War veteran, now being considered for sainthood. Stowe is also known as the "Ski Capital of the East" and the birthplace of alpine skiing. Summer activities include visiting Smuggler’s Notch State Park, Moss Glen Falls, Cody Hill Forest, and Bingham Falls, which have large pools of teal-colored water that are perfect for cooling off on a hot day.

Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island, park and skyline
Downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

Providence is one of those cities in New England, most people do not experience or recognize the hidden scenic aspects that make it beautiful. Established in 1636 and now assuming the role as the capital of Rhode Island, Providence also has several parks and other opportunities that bring beauty to its name. Waterplace Park is famous for its bonfires, its musical festivals, and its free concerts, while the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center is New England’s largest greenhouse display garden. In addition, with Providence located on Narragansett Bay, visitors can enjoy the Goddard Memorial State Park in East Greenwich, Colt State Park in Bristol, and the Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard in the spring, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The city of Cambridge, a major suburb located across the Charles River from Boston and now famous for Harvard University, was established in 1630 as New Towne. Founding Harvard College six years later, an undergraduate school for Harvard University now, New Towne was then renamed Cambridge, after Cambridge, England. Cambridge offers visitors several beautiful, picturesque pastimes, like watching the sun setting over certain parts of the Charles River, strolling through Harvard Square, taking architectural tours of historic buildings, and visiting the Longfellow House. Cambridge also has access to some of the most beautiful islands off the coast, including Spectacle Island and Castle Island, making it a specialty for the outside adventurist.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket Harbor view in Early morning light. The Quaint and Quintessential location of the Cape Cod Islands
Nantucket Harbor, Massachusetts.

Nantucket Island, along with the town of Nantucket, located about 30 miles south of Cape Cod, received its name from an anglicization of an Algonquian word meaning distant and desolate. Tristram Coffin, along with several English proprietors journeyed to the island, meeting the Wampanoag Indians, who had lived on the island for thousands of years. Today, Nantucket boasts an abundance of tasty fish and scallops caught in Nantucket Sound, as well as beautiful scenic vistas from Brant Point Lighthouse, established in 1746, and Sankaty Head Lighthouse, built in 1850. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, though, you can enjoy several activities at Tom Nevers Park and on Surfside Beach.

Newport, Rhode Island

The historic seaside city of Newport, Rhode Island features iconic architecture, whimsical signs and colorful displays of nature.
The historic downtown of Newport, Rhode Island. Image credit George Wirt via Shutterstock

Known first for being a major port and trading center, and a place for arts and humanities later on, Newport is now most commonly known for its sightseeing tours. Some of the tours that this beautiful New England town offers visitors are the Gilded Age Mansions Trolly Tour, the Neighborhood Food Tour, and the Scenic Bay Cruise of Narragansett Bay. There is also the Nutty Newport Scavenger Hunt, with an interactive, live host assisting and encouraging you through your phone. Other outdoor opportunities include the Fort Adams State Park, the Green Animals Topiary Garden, and Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, which offers visitors three miles of nature trails.

Kennebunkport, Maine

Gorgeous homes sit on the rocky shores of Kennebunkport beach, Maine.
Aerial view of Kennebunkport beach, Maine.

Kennebunkport, known as the home for several famous people, including First Lady Barbara Bush, novelist Patrick Dempsey, and painter Garnet Hathaway, is even better known for its sandy beaches and for having some of the tastiest seafood on the East Coast. Being one of the most beautiful vacation spots in all of Maine, and possibly all of New England, Kennebunkport offers visitors several beaches, like Goose Rocks Beach, Gooch’s Beach, and Mother’s Beach. Kennebunkport also offers several opportunities to enjoy its beauty, like strolling along Walker’s Point, visiting the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, and strolling along Ocean Avenue, offering splendid views of the rocky Atlantic coast and President George Bush’s summer home.

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont, US at Church Street Marketplace.
Church Street Marketplace, Burlington, Vermont.

Burlington is in the northwest corner of Vermont, less than 60 miles south of the Canadian border and just under 100 miles south of Montreal, Canada. Burlington is famous for several attractions which add to the overall beauty of the most-populated city in Vermont. Travelers can appreciate several activities on Lake Champlain, like swimming, fishing, canoeing, boating, and sunbathing on North Beach. There is also the opportunity of taking a ferry across Lake Champlain, with or without your vehicle, to New York. Visitors can enjoy sunsets across the lake, a hike in several parks, including Battery Park and Red Rocks Park, and the "Flying Monkeys," a must-see when visiting Burlington.

Whether you and your family are looking for a beautiful city to escape the chaos of traffic jams and congestion, you want to take your spouse on a weekend getaway, or you want to visit a city that takes your breath away, these beautiful cities in New England might be just the ticket. Spend a day, a weekend, or even a week taking in the sights and beauty of what New England has to offer.

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