What is so special about New England?” Whenever I am asked that question, one particular image comes to mind: a village with a green, clapboard houses, an old tavern and a white wooden church topped by steeple. Providing a backdrop is the gaudy red, gold and orange of New England’s renowned autumn/fall foliage. Photographs cannot capture the intensity of the blue sky or the vibrant colours of the leaves. Trust me: you have to see it for yourself.


But this region, up in the north-eastern corner of the USA, offers far more. However, before I enthuse about what to see and do, first-time visitors need to know that “New England” always refers to just six states: Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island. And, although Americans bemoan their lack of history, there is plenty here – and it is very much part of the present. In Newport, Rhode Island, for example, I have eaten in a pub that opened in 1673, toured North America’s oldest synagogue (1763) and played tennis on the world’s oldest competition grass courts (1880). Then there are the living history museums. Among the best in the USA, these are well-researched, not dumbed down – and loads of fun, for adults as well as children. A favourite is Plimoth Plantation, south of Boston, where “Pilgrim Fathers” – and “Mothers” – go about daily life in the 1620s.


My advice is to start in Boston. Not only is it the gateway to the region, the city is worth a visit in its own right. Compact and walkable, it has brick pavements and handsome Georgian-style houses. Add in world-class museums, galleries and concert halls, and the flavour is almost European. Yet nowhere has more all-American credentials. The battle for independence was kick-started here, with the first shots of the Revolution fired in 1775, just outside the city. Today, Boston is known for its business savvy, fine universities and passion for sport. It also offers great shopping, from international brand names to individual boutiques and outlets crammed with bargains.


Away from Boston, New England boasts a wide variety of landscapes in a relatively small area. For 150 years, holidaymakers have headed for its coastline, particularly Cape Cod’s broad sandy beaches and Maine’s rocky shores. Artists, too, have been inspired. Most famous is Edward Hopper, but worth discovering are Winslow Homer, George Bellows and Andrew Wyeth. See their work in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and, in Maine, the Portland Museum of Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum.
I am one of those active types, who likes nothing better than getting into the Great
Outdoors. New England is one big natural playground, perfect for all ages. Paddle a
canoe or a sea kayak; cycle the quiet back roads; hike the well-marked trails, ranging
from easy rambles to challenges in the rugged mountains. For thrill seekers, rafting on
white water rapids and zip-lining guarantee an adrenaline rush. But sometimes I prefer
sitting back, breathing in the clean air and taking in Mother Nature’s handiwork, much
of which is zealously protected in what has long been one of America’s most ecoconscious
regions.


A frequent question is: “When is the best time to go?” As this is a four-season
destination, the answer is: pretty well anytime. The most obvious period is autumn, the
American fall. Starting in mid-September, the “color” arrives in northern Maine and
slowly moves south; peak time for “leaf peeping” is usually the first two weeks of
October, when skies are blue and the sun is still warm.


Summers are nothing like Old England. Think hot; think swimming in the sea, picnics
and outdoor concerts, from jazz and rock to top-quality concerts by the Boston
Symphony Orchestra in the Berkshire Hills. In winter, with more blue skies, skiers and
boarders head for popular ski resorts in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Spring
comes later than in the UK, in a rush of daffodils and tulips, followed by lilacs,
rhododendron and roses.


As for food and drink, New England has long been the place for seafood. The cold
Atlantic waters provide fish, clams, oysters and – above all – lobster. More recently,
chefs piloted the farm-to-fork movement, promoting local produce, from top-quality
fruit and veg to artisan cheeses. And to drink, what else but craft brews and ciders made
in the region?


Then there are the New Englanders themselves. From Bostonians, with their love of
politics, to the folks in Maine, with the driest humour on the planet, the region is chocka-
block with interesting people. Chat to them as you follow this 12-day itinerary, which
starts and finishes in Boston – and shows you what is so special about New England.

For full itinerary, click here


What is so special about New England?” Whenever I am asked that question, one particular image comes to mind: a village with a green, clapboard houses, an old tavern and a white wooden church topped by steeple. Providing a backdrop is the gaudy red, gold and orange of New England’s renowned autumn/fall foliage. Photographs cannot capture the intensity of the blue sky or the vibrant colours of the leaves. Trust me: you have to see it for yourself.


But this region, up in the north-eastern corner of the USA, offers far more. However, before I enthuse about what to see and do, first-time visitors need to know that “New England” always refers to just six states: Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island. And, although Americans bemoan their lack of history, there is plenty here – and it is very much part of the present. In Newport, Rhode Island, for example, I have eaten in a pub that opened in 1673, toured North America’s oldest synagogue (1763) and played tennis on the world’s oldest competition grass courts (1880). Then there are the living history museums. Among the best in the USA, these are well-researched, not dumbed down – and loads of fun, for adults as well as children. A favourite is Plimoth Plantation, south of Boston, where “Pilgrim Fathers” – and “Mothers” – go about daily life in the 1620s.


My advice is to start in Boston. Not only is it the gateway to the region, the city is worth a visit in its own right. Compact and walkable, it has brick pavements and handsome Georgian-style houses. Add in world-class museums, galleries and concert halls, and the flavour is almost European. Yet nowhere has more all-American credentials. The battle for independence was kick-started here, with the first shots of the Revolution fired in 1775, just outside the city. Today, Boston is known for its business savvy, fine universities and passion for sport. It also offers great shopping, from international brand names to individual boutiques and outlets crammed with bargains.


Away from Boston, New England boasts a wide variety of landscapes in a relatively small area. For 150 years, holidaymakers have headed for its coastline, particularly Cape Cod’s broad sandy beaches and Maine’s rocky shores. Artists, too, have been inspired. Most famous is Edward Hopper, but worth discovering are Winslow Homer, George Bellows and Andrew Wyeth. See their work in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and, in Maine, the Portland Museum of Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum.
I am one of those active types, who likes nothing better than getting into the Great
Outdoors. New England is one big natural playground, perfect for all ages. Paddle a
canoe or a sea kayak; cycle the quiet back roads; hike the well-marked trails, ranging
from easy rambles to challenges in the rugged mountains. For thrill seekers, rafting on
white water rapids and zip-lining guarantee an adrenaline rush. But sometimes I prefer
sitting back, breathing in the clean air and taking in Mother Nature’s handiwork, much
of which is zealously protected in what has long been one of America’s most ecoconscious
regions.


A frequent question is: “When is the best time to go?” As this is a four-season
destination, the answer is: pretty well anytime. The most obvious period is autumn, the
American fall. Starting in mid-September, the “color” arrives in northern Maine and
slowly moves south; peak time for “leaf peeping” is usually the first two weeks of
October, when skies are blue and the sun is still warm.


Summers are nothing like Old England. Think hot; think swimming in the sea, picnics
and outdoor concerts, from jazz and rock to top-quality concerts by the Boston
Symphony Orchestra in the Berkshire Hills. In winter, with more blue skies, skiers and
boarders head for popular ski resorts in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Spring
comes later than in the UK, in a rush of daffodils and tulips, followed by lilacs,
rhododendron and roses.


As for food and drink, New England has long been the place for seafood. The cold
Atlantic waters provide fish, clams, oysters and – above all – lobster. More recently,
chefs piloted the farm-to-fork movement, promoting local produce, from top-quality
fruit and veg to artisan cheeses. And to drink, what else but craft brews and ciders made
in the region?


Then there are the New Englanders themselves. From Bostonians, with their love of
politics, to the folks in Maine, with the driest humour on the planet, the region is chocka-
block with interesting people. Chat to them as you follow this 12-day itinerary, which
starts and finishes in Boston – and shows you what is so special about New England.

For full itinerary, click here.