Best of New England

Six states rich in mountain adventure, colonial history and blissful beaches.

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Freedom Trail, Boston

Put on your walking shoes and follow the 2.5-mile red brick trail that winds through some of Boston's most treasure-filled streets and neighborhoods. Most of the 16 historical sites you'll discover along the way won't cost a cent to see, like the gorgeous Boston Common, home to the famed Swan Boats; the original Fanueil Hall; and the site of the Boston Massacre. A nominal fee will let you get acquainted with the battleship known as "Old Ironsides" and tour the former home of Paul Revere, who took his famous Midnight Ride from here in 1775.

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Cadillac Mountain, Maine

If you need an excuse to make the trip to Maine's incredible Acadia National Park, make it getting a chance to stand atop the highest point on the North Atlantic coast. At 1,532 feet, Cadillac Mountain's panoramic views will make little ones feel like "king of the world" and let you gaze over the quaint town of Bar Harbor and the Cranberry Islands. Located on Mt. Desert Island, the mountain is accessible by car or by a semi-challenging hike, and no matter how you get there, you're guaranteed to fall in love with the area's natural beauty and welcoming vibe. Don't miss post-hiking popovers at the famed Jordan Pond House, located right inside Acadia National Park.

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Dolphin Fleet, Provincetown

On its own, Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod, is the perfect summer retreat. But to make it a trip to remember for a lifetime, take your child on a Dolphin Fleet whale watch where the captains are so sure you'll spot a whale that they'll give you a free ticket for a return trip if you don't. With the wind in your hair, you'll get the thrill of an up-close-and-personal whale (or dolphin!) encounter and a great day out on the water.

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Oak Bluffs to Edgartown Bike Trail, Martha's Vineyard

In summer, the entire 87.5-quarter-mile isle of Martha's Vineyard feels like a big family summer camp. And miles of bike trails along its gorgeous shores let you leave the car keys and cares of the mainland world behind. It's truly transporting. You can ferry into Oak Bluffs and bicycle the relatively flat route to Edgartown where you and your little ones can reward yourselves with some island-made ice cream. You may never want to go home!

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Cliff Walk, Newport

As the sailing — and mansion — capital of the nation, Newport has a glitzy reputation, but its spectacular summer groove is inviting to all, and perfect for families. Want to laze at the beach or gaze at the mansions? Do both! Take the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk, which winds along a path offering rocky ocean views on one side, famous estates such as The Breakers and Rosecliff on the other. Older kids in particular will enjoy a taste of the "The Great Gatsby" life with a look inside either of these, while younger ones will just enjoy expending their energy in one of New England's true gems of a town.

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Tanglewood, Massachusetts

Pack up your picnic basket and head out for a must-do New England experience in enjoying a musical performance at Tanglewood in Massachusetts' breathtaking Berkshire Mountains. World-class musicians from Yo-Yo Ma to Diana Krall perform all summer long. There are even a few shows especially geared toward kids. Classical music fans will revel in spectacles put on by the Boston Pops and Boston Symphony Orchestra, all in a festive, open-air experience loved by families. In fact, the best time might be had before the show even starts: Spread out a blanket on the lawn, munch away on your dinner, and play games on the grass in one of the world's most renowned summer music venues.

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Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour, Stowe

Does your child — or do you — go crazy for Chunky Monkey or Chubby Hubby? Then you've gotta go to where it all began: take the Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour in Stowe where you'll not only get a chance to sample the goods, you'll also find a plethora of activities for your brood, from playground adventures and walking trails to a groovy gift shop. It's not like there aren't a million reasons to head into Central Vermont in summer, with its natural beauty and unmatchable charm, but this one'll give you all something to reminisce about every time you reach for Phish Food in the future.

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Whale's Tale Water Park, New Hampshire

On a hot summer's day, few activities can provide as much delight to a kid as a great water park — and that's just what award-winning A Whale's Tale is, with rides, pools, and refreshments suitable for kids of all ages. Nestled in New Hampshire's beautiful White Mountains, the park features wet and wild experiences like the Bonzai Pipeline and Willy's Wild Wave; and there's even a heated pool area with hot tubs so adults can hang out and relax a bit, too.

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