main Street in Mystic. Editorial credit: Actium /

2024's 8 Most Beautiful Small Towns in New England

The New England region is a year-round gem offering beach days and seafood boils in the spring/summer, changing foliage in the fall, and incredible skiing in the winter. In addition to being known as an outdoor lovers paradise, New England also has a rich historical background. Known as one of the ‘New World’s earliest settlements, New England later played a role in the Declaration of Independence and the abolishment of slavery. Today, the region boasts several historic buildings, lush parks, and clean sandy beach towns to enjoy. Everyone from foodies to history buffs is sure to have a grand time in these eight most beautiful New England Towns.

Mystic, Connecticut

The Mystic River Bascule Bridge in Mystic, Connecticut
The Mystic River Bascule Bridge in Mystic, Connecticut. Editorial credit: littlenySTOCK /

Mystic, Connecticut, is a quintessential New England town. With a ship-building history and the beautiful Mystic River cutting through the middle of town, visitors will find a mix of outdoor activities and educational outings here. Start by visiting one of the most visited sites in the state, Mystic Seaport Museum. Here, visitors can enjoy a collection of intriguing boat-themed exhibits, events, and workshops. Next, it’s time to visit another hugely popular site, Mystic Aquarium. Home to a variety of sea animals, including Beluga Whales and Sea Lions, the aquarium is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon with kids. Nature lovers looking for more can then head to Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center to learn more about the center’s rescued wildlife. Finally, end the trip with a calm and relaxing visit to Mystic’s only public beach-Williams Beach Park. The small beach is located next to a YMCA and features beautiful sandy shores, swimming opportunities, and a small playground. Those visiting Mystic in 2024 can take advantage of local events like the Summer Concert Series and the Lenten Fish Fry Fridays, where local seafood restaurants offer delicious plates of fish and chips for a deal.

Camden, Maine

Rustic buildings in downtown Camden, Maine
Rustic buildings in downtown Camden, Maine. Editorial credit: KMarsh /

Moving along, Camden, Maine, is a gorgeous town tucked neatly along the shores of West Penobscot Bay and Megunticook Lake. Between stunning views of the surrounding water and the towering Mount Battie, outdoor lovers are in for a real treat in this town. Appropriately called “the place where the mountains meet the sea,” Camden offers ample opportunities for hiking and water-based activities. Those looking to get their steps in will want to pay a visit to Camden Hills State Park. In addition to hiking trails, park visitors can also enjoy activities including birdwatching, wildlife viewing, and camping. Next, head to Camden Harbor, where boat tours and views of the Curtis Island Lighthouse are available. In August of 2024, travelers can also attend the Camden Windjammer Festival, a sailing event designed to pay homage to the town's maritime heritage. Finally, take a stroll around Merryspring Nature Center. Here, visitors will find beautifully maintained gardens, forest and meadow walking trails, and educational programs for kids.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine.
Bar Harbor, Maine. Editorial credit: Darryl Brooks /

Drive roughly 80 miles from Camden, and travelers will find Bar Harbor, a friendly little resort town located on Maine’s Mount Desert Island. While here, visitors can participate in a range of outdoor activities at Acadia National Park. Home to clear skies perfect for stargazing, sparkling water views, and great hiking trails-it is no surprise that nearly 4 million visitors flock to this national park each year. Those looking for a more casual but equally beautiful area to explore will want to check out the Shore Path, which is a paved walking path offering waterfront views. When walking gets too tiring, visitors can still tour Bar Harbor on an Oli’s Trolley Tour. Finally, don’t forget to visit The Dorr Museum of Natural History, where animal lovers can immerse themselves in Maine’s local wildlife.

Woodstock, Vermont

Early autumn foliage scene featuring houses in the mountains of Woodstock, Vermont.
Early autumn foliage scene featuring houses in the mountains of Woodstock, Vermont.

Woodstock, Vermont, is home to plenty of historical buildings and chances for outdoor adventures. With the Ottauquechee River cutting down the center, Woodstock truly has something for everyone. Spend some time here exploring town staples such as the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park. Here, guests will find hiking trails, covered bridges, lush forests, and the famous Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion. The park is also home to Mount Tom, a 1,357-foot-tall mountain offering breathtaking views of the town below. For the fishing enthusiasts in the group, don’t forget to head to Ottauquechee River to cast a few lines. Then, it’s time to refuel with some homemade goodies at Sugarbush Farm. Since Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the country, you can’t go to Sugarbush without enjoying a few samples during the visit. The farm also produces its own cheese, which is also available for sampling. Those arriving in the winter of 2024 will have the chance to participate in the 40th Annual Wassail Weekend. Wassail Weekend is a holiday-themed event featuring stories for children, carriage rides, live music, Victorian-era Christmas celebrations, and more.

Bristol, Rhode Island

The Port at Bristol, Rhode Island.
The Port at Bristol, Rhode Island.

Bristol, Rhode Island, is a charming town named after Bristol, England. And although the two towns are over 3,000 miles apart, they do share a few similarities. For example, both Bristols are popular seaports, and both offer visitors exceptionally beautiful views of the water and local architecture. Bristol, Rhode Island, is well known for hosting America’s longest-running 4th of July Celebration. Those visiting in 2024 will want to plan their trip around these festivities, which involve fireworks, parades, car derbys, foot races, and so much more. Of course, if you are unable to make it on July 4, don't worry; the town has plenty of other things to see and do. Enjoy a day of sand and swimming at the Bristol Town Beach, hike through Colt State Park, or immerse yourself in sheet beauty at the Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum.

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Beach view of Provincetown, with the Pilgrim's monument in the background.
Beach view of Provincetown, with the Pilgrim's monument in the background.

To say Provincetown, Massachusetts, is a popular summer destination would be an understatement. While the beautiful beach town has a year-round population hovering just over 3,000, that number skyrockets to over 60,000 people each summer. So, what makes Provincetown so appealing? Well, it probably has something to do with the stunning beaches, welcoming community, and bustling LGBTQ+ scene. Those looking to spend a day at the beach will feel spoiled by the wide selection of beaches along the Cape Cod National Seashore. Race Point Beach and Herring Cove Beach are popular choices. The town is also home to three lighthouses and a variety of restaurants, including the beloved Lobster Pot on Commercial Street.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

The harbor in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
The harbor in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Editorial credit: Mystic Stock Photography /

Nantucket, Massachusetts, is located on a small island roughly 75 miles from Provincetown. Like Provincetown, Nantucket is also known for having pristine beaches and lighthouses. During a visit to the island be sure to check out Madaket Beach-one of the best places in town to watch the sunset. The Brantport Lighthouse and the Great Point Lighthouse are also worth a visit. Those arriving in 2024 will want to plan their trip around some of Nantucket's best annual festivals such as the Garden Festival in July and the Sandcastle and Sculpture Festival in August.

Montpelier, Vermont

Autumn town skyline of Montpelier, Vermont.
Autumn town skyline of Montpelier, Vermont.

Montpelier is the capital city of Vermont and serves as a wonderful vacation destination for outdoor lovers. Start the trip off with a laid-back afternoon at Hubbard Park. The 200-acre grassy park has picnic areas, a summer water fountain, and a stone tower that serves as a scenic lookout point. Next, head to the North Branch Nature Center- a 28-acre preserve offering educational programs, wildlife, walking paths, and swimming. Of course, a trip to Vermont isn’t complete without a little maple syrup, so don’t forget to stop by Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks for a sweet treat.

In Conclusion

From the delectable seafood in Connecticut and Maine to the thick, sweet maple syrup in Vermont, these 8 New England towns are some of the best small-town destinations of 2024. Seasoned hikers will find all kinds of awe-inspiring trails to explore, including the Mount Tom summit in Woodstock and the Acadia National Park trails in Bar Harbour. Of course, New England has its fair share of historic buildings, ranging from lighthouses to old mansions. So, no matter what you’re looking for, these New England Towns have you covered.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 2024's 8 Most Beautiful Small Towns in New England

More in Places