Beautiful homes of Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA. Houses over water at dusk.

9 Offbeat Towns to Visit in New England

Begin your journey beyond the beaten path and explore the charm of New England's offbeat towns that reward those who are willing to take a chance on the lesser-known destinations. Encompassing a region that spans six different states, including Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, New England is home to some of the oldest tales in the country and is often referred to as the birthplace of America, so it is not surprising that the region is home to some of the best-hidden destinations for your next trip. Make a splash in the coastal shorelines of Cape Cod or explore the rolling hills of Stowe, just be sure to clear your schedule as a visit to any of these off-beat towns promises a full itinerary of excitement.

Camden, Maine

Downtown small village in Camden, Maine, USA.
Downtown small village in Camden, Maine, USA. Editorial credit: Kristi Blokhin /

Experience the relaxing seaside lifestyle on your visit to Camden, settled along the Atlantic Ocean this town is the perfect place to listen to the waves roll against the rocks, eat fresh seafood, and kick your feet up and relax. Start your trip with a visit to Camden Hills State Park for breathtaking hikes and panoramic vistas of the surrounding coastline and mountains. If ocean views aren’t enough, then book your very own boat tour that takes you throughout Penobscot Bay. Various tours depart from the historic Camden harbor, and Camden Sailing charters come highly recommended by those who visit. If you’re searching for a place to sit back and relax, then attend a show at the Camden Opera House. The opera venue is over 100 years old and continues to host a variety of performances that never fail to entertain. Lastly, Try some of the local cuisine when you plan a delicious meal at the Waterfront restaurant, known for serving up some of the finest seafood delicacies.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine. Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, Maine and a popular tourist destination.
Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine. 

Escape the fast-paced lifestyle of the city and find time to relax in the harbor town known for offering a serene escape amidst breathtaking natural beauty and a rich maritime history. Bar Harbor is home to Acadia National Park which allows visitors to explore the rugged coast, hike scenic trails, bike along carriage roads, or enjoy stunning ocean views from atop Cadillac Mountain which is the highest peak on the East Coast.

Possessing a unique maritime history, Bar Harbor is home to some of the finest coastal lighthouses in the world, such as Bass Harbor Head Light or Egg Rock Light, which help showcase the seafaring heritage. Continue to learn the region's history when you visit the Abbe Museum, which highlights the region's Native American influence by showcasing artifacts and exhibits. The area is home to some of the most incredible displays of marine life, so be sure to plan your whale-watching tour well in advance and book a seat on the Bar Harbor nature cruise to get up close to the coastal waters filled with marine life.

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Former Town Offices, now shops, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Former Town Offices, now shops, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA. By Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Immerse yourself in a sanctuary of natural beauty and historical significance that promises an unforgettable retreat. Placed in the heart of the Berkshires, Stockbridge offers the perfect blend of outdoor adventure, artistic inspiration, and relaxation to those who visit. To start, discover world-class cultural attractions, including the Norman Rockwell Museum, which highlights one of America's most beloved painters and showcases a variety of Rockwell's iconic works. After, lose track of time and wander through the beautiful Berkshire botanical gardens. Continue your cultural journey by visiting Chesterwood, also the former home and studio of sculptor Daniel Chester French, who is best known for his statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Tour the estate and admire French sculptures displayed throughout the property. To discover the natural beauty of the region, enjoy a scenic hike along the trails slicing through Berkshire hills, such as the Stockbridge Bowl Loop Trail.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Traditional New England buildings and stores on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, USA.
Traditional New England buildings and stores on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, USA. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

This island town promises to deliver to those willing to make the journey; Nantucket sits off the coast of Cape Cod and is known as a place of unparalleled beauty and timeless elegance. After catching a ferry to the island, begin your adventure by strolling the cobblestone street of Nantucket, where historic whaling captain's homes and boutique shops sit side by side in the scenic downtown.

Dive into Nantucket's maritime heritage by visiting the iconic Brant Point Lighthouse or tour the Nantucket Whaling Museum, where you'll learn all about the town’s ties to the ocean. Engage in the famous island debate and plan a trip to Surfside Beach or Jettie’s Beach and make your assessment of which has the better ocean view. If you want to see the oldest building on the island, Jethro Coffin House, which has withstood all mother nature has thrown at it and continues to stand on its foundation, which was constructed in 1686. The town truly has an abundance of history that is hard for any person to discover on their own, so consider booking a guided island tour to help streamline your journey.

Keene, New Hampshire

Main building of Stonewall Farm in Keene, New Hampshire, USA.
Main building of Stonewall Farm in Keene, New Hampshire, USA. Editorial credit: Micha Weber /

Far from the bustling crowds and tourist traps, Keene is hidden within the heart of New Hampshire and is sure to keep you busy on your visit. Be sure to take a piece of Keene with you by visiting the Hannah Grimes Marketplace, known for its unique treasures, oddities, and rare finds located in the historic downtown district. Afterward, immerse yourself in some local history by going to see the Horatio Colony House Museum, which was built in 1806 and has long been explaining the unique history of the town.

Additionally, Keene is surrounded by beautiful countryside and outdoor adventures. Take a short drive to explore the Monadnock Region, known for its hiking trails, scenic drives, and outdoor adventures. In the evening, relax and enjoy some local entertainment at the Historic Colonial Theatre, which is renowned for hosting live performances, concerts, and the occasional film.

Newport, Rhode Island

The historic seaside city of Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
The historic seaside city of Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Editorial credit: George Wirt /

Situated along the coast of the “Ocean State,” Newport embodies what it means to be a pleasant seaside town. From the grand mansions of the Gilded Age to the cobblestone lanes of the Old Quarter, every corner of Newport tells a story of America's past. Visit iconic landmarks like The Breakers, Marble House, and the Newport Tower to witness the fascinating history of the town first-hand. Immerse yourself in the local arts scene at the Newport Art Museum or check local calendars as the town is known for hosting some extravagant events such as the Newport Jazz Festival to the lively Newport Folk Festival. A visit to Newport isn’t complete without some time to unwind, so lather on some sunscreen and spend your day soaking up some sun on Easton's Beach.

Mystic, Connecticut

Row of houses at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, USA.

A row of houses at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, USA.

Along the shoreline of coastal Connecticut sits a town that preserved its historic charm and invites travelers to enter a world where history, culture, and natural beauty intertwine. The town is deeply rooted in its maritime history, so plan a visit to the Mystic Seaport Museum, the largest naval museum in the United States. Afterward, stop by the Mystic Aquarium, where marine life surrounds you and gets you up close in personal with the sea’s most majestic creatures. Mystic's natural beauty extends beyond its maritime heritage, with scenic landscapes such as Peace Nature Sanctuary, home to over 45 acres of beautiful scenery in the countryside of Connecticut. Channel your inner first mate and book a boat tour with mystic boat adventures, which allows you to experience the coastal waters for yourself.

Stowe, Vermont

Aerial view of Stowe, Vermont, and the Green Mountains with autumn colors.

Aerial view of Stowe, Vermont, and the Green Mountains with autumn colors.

Nestled amidst Vermont's lush forest landscape lies Stowe, predominately known for its Alps-like atmosphere during ski season. Luckily, the town offers plenty of experiences year-round, which leaves visitors wondering when they can return next. Renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, Stowe is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts year-round. In winter, hit the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort, home to some of the freshest powder on the East Coast. As spring blooms, explore the vibrant foliage on hiking trails like the iconic Stowe Recreation Path.

When the sun begins to shine, Summer does not disappoint. Largely considered the “Mecca of Mountain biking,” Stowe has a world-class trail network that accommodates bikers of all skill levels; for a spin through the backcountry, visit Callagy’s trail located in Sterling Forest. Autumn paints the town in hues of gold and crimson, perfect for scenic drives along Vermont's renowned foliage routes. Additionally, there are numerous attractions and historic landmarks like the Trapp Family Lodge, which are sure to entertain regardless of the weather and await visitors who want to have an unforgettable escape.

Washington, Connecticut

18th-century colonial-era home in Washington, Connecticut.
18th-century colonial-era home in Washington, Connecticut. Editorial credit: LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES /

If you are planning a visit to the Whitehouse, you may be disappointed. But, if you want to spend a day learning about unique histories while surrounded by nature, Washington, Connecticut, is the place for you. Nature lovers will enjoy the abundance of outdoor activities, from hiking along the Appalachian Trail to picnicking at Lake Waramaug State Park. For those hoping to keep their shoes clean, Experience the vibrant arts scene with performances at the historic Washington Depot and marvel at the works of local artists at the Washington Art Association. Explore the region's native American history by planning a visit to the Institute for American Indian Studies and journey through the 10,000-year story through various artifacts, exhibits, and events.

If you want to relax, observe, and meet some of the local community, then visit the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens. Created and maintained by a dedicated group of local volunteers, the site was designed to be a central gathering space where people could relax as well as engage in cultural and educational activities.

Discover New England's Hidden Highlights

Load up your bags and hit the road towards New England's offbeat towns, where hidden adventures await those daring enough to seek them out. Travelers who want to stray from the norm should plan to explore lesser-known destinations across six diverse states. Whether you're wandering the cobblestone streets of Nantucket or enjoying the serene beauty of Washington, Connecticut, there's something for everyone in New England's offbeat towns. So, clear your schedule, pack your bags, and prepare for an unforgettable journey filled with excitement, relaxation, and endless exploration. Your next adventure awaits in the charming corners of New England.

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