2011 Readers' Choice Winners
As part of the second annual “Best of New England — Readers’ Choice” survey, Yankee Magazine’s readers have named their favorite destinations for travel, food, and attractions. This year’s winners include readers’ favorite weekend and vacation getaways, outdoor and cultural attractions, and best-loved destinations for iconic New England foods.
Family: Cape Cod, Massachusetts; www.capecodchamber.org/
With so many small towns and so much coastline, Cape Cod ranks as the number-one weekend getaway for families in New England. Numerous beaches, plus hiking, biking, and walking trails such as the Cape Cod National Seashore Trails, dot the landscape and keep all ages occupied all year round.
Reader comment: “Cape Cod is simply wonderful in the summer — sun, sand, and great seafood.”
Romantic: Boston, Massachusetts; www.bostonusa.com/
Whatever your preference — a charming boutique inn, a grand historic hotel, or a room with a view of the harbor — Boston makes for a perfect romantic getaway. While the options for live music, theater, museums, dining, and shopping are all first-rate, just strolling hand-in-hand through neighborhoods laden with historic architectural detail makes for a memorable day.
Reader comment: “Boston is my personal favorite destination for a romantic weekend — countless hotels and restaurants make for a great weekend.”
Shopping: Freeport, Maine; www.freeportusa.com/
It’s no secret that Freeport, Maine, is a mecca for upscale bargain shoppers, and L.L. Bean’s flagship store — open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — is one thing that has put this town on the map. With a wide variety of shops selling goods ranging from outdoor gear to antiques and home goods to designer favorites, visitors can shop till they drop. And when they drop, they enjoy a diversity of lodging options — from amenity-intensive fancy inns to just the basics at a local campground. But Freeport’s no one-hit-wonder town. In addition to a bevy of retail opportunities, in true Maine fashion outdoor activities abound — from sails and cruises to kayak, canoe, and bike rentals to the performing arts and live music.
Reader comment: “Freeport has great shopping, plus weekend concerts and outdoor activities. A wonderful weekend place.”
Fall: White Mountains, New Hampshire; www.visitwhitemountains.com/
There’s one reason New England is a world-renowned autumn destination: fall foliage. And that’s the primary reason people travel to the White Mountains region in the fall. North Conway, Conway, Lincoln, and Jackson are popular towns in this area. Destinations such as the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, Franconia Notch, the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, and the White Mountains themselves are all cited as specific reasons to visit. What’ll you see? Beautiful foliage set against staggering mountains, dotted with waterfalls, rivers, and streams: scenic bliss.
Reader comment: “Spectacular foliage, friendly people, small towns, and great restaurants. Lots of outside activities, apple picking, biking, hiking, road races.”
Winter: Northern Vermont; www.vermontvacation.com/north.aspx
Burlington and Stowe are the two most popular destinations for Yankee readers in Northern Vermont during the winter. From the small-city charm of Burlington — with its great restaurants, shopping, and indoor attractions — to the world-class ski resort of Stowe Mountain Resort, Northern Vermont suits those who embrace snowy winter adventures but aren’t afraid to bask by the glow of a warm hearth . Highlights in the Stowe area also include cross-country skiing at Trapp Family Lodge.
Reader comment: “Burlington has it all. Great skiing and places to eat make for the perfect winter destination.”
Reader comment: “With an annual winter carnival each January, world-class skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing, you can’t beat the big-world/small-town feel of Stowe.”
Spring: Boston, Massachusetts; www.bostonusa.com/
Yankee readers love Boston in the spring and enjoy timeless traditions such as the Red Sox home opener and the legendary Boston Marathon. Other favorite pastimes include visiting the public gardens as buds start to bloom and taking a swan boat ride. Of course Boston’s museums, restaurants, and shopping also rank high on the to-do list for a springtime visit to Beantown. But Boston is also a destination for what it doesn’t offer — the unwelcome attributes of mud season — which is what many other parts of New England are in the thick of come late March and early April.
Reader comment: “The start of the baseball season seems to harken to spring ‘rebirth’ and reminds us that summer isn’t far off.”
Summer: Southern Coast, Maine; www.southernmainecoast.com/
The biggest draw for summertime travel in New England is ocean beaches. Yankee readers flock to the Maine shore for surf, sun, and fun and find the Southern Coast particularly desirable. In fact, Ogunquit, Old Orchard, and York beaches, which all topped Yankee’s “Best Beach” category, are close neighbors in this region. Accessibility to huge outlet shopping destinations such as Freeport and Kittery, Maine, offer non-beach options for rainy days. Portland gets rave reviews for nightlife, restaurants, and harbor views. Then again, some people come to this area to feed their addiction for sumptuous local seafood.
Reader comment: ” ‘Beautiful place by the sea’ ” is what ‘Ogunquit’ means, and it certainly lives up to that name. This little spot juts out, surrounded by a sandy beach that’s a dream to walk on. Lovely shops and spots to eat in Perkins Cove. Trolley cars that are fun for all circulate all day, so no need to worry about parking. Summer Theatre House is always a must-see. So don’t miss it.”
Amusement Park: Six Flags New England, Agawam, Massachusetts; www.sixflags.com/newengland
Reader comment: “Six Flags offers roller coasters for all levels of the squeamish.”
Amusement Park, Honorable Mention: Canobie Lake Park, Salem, New Hampshire; http://www.canobie.com/index.html
Reader comment: “Canobie may not be new and big, but it has history.”