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10 Best Summer Road Trips in New England

10 Best Summer Road Trips in New England
5 votes, 4.20 avg. rating (83% score)

New England was made for summer road trips. We’ve got great back roads, fascinating small towns, endless natural splendor, and the ability to hit several states in one day (if that’s your thing). Grab your sunglasses, buckle up, and check out these ten tremendous rambles that we think qualify as the best summer road trips in New England.

best road trips

Get ready for a summer road trip!

MOUNT DESERT ISLAND LOOP, Acadia National Park, Maine
Make charming Bar Harbor your base, and take a relaxed circumnavigation via the island’s Loop Road of this rugged, spectacular island that is the second-largest in the New England. Bring a picnic, and make time for the Hulls Cove Visitors Center. Distance: 27 miles round-trip.

You’re going to go from Mexico to Madrid, Maine-style, on ME routes 17 and 4 as they traverse the pristine lakes and mountains of this wild section of northern New England. Don’t miss the panorama at the Height of Land pullout, and keep an eye peeled the whole way for moose, bear, and bobcats. Distance: 50 miles.

brown's lobster seabrook nh

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Brown’s Lobster Pound in Seabrook, NH.

Here’s a short, summer delight—take in the length of the New Hampshire coastline, from Seabrook Beach to Portsmouth in a breezy half-day. It’s only 18 miles, but full of great places to stop, including funky Hampton Beach, Fort Constitution, and charming New Castle, home of the elegant Wentworth by the Sea Hotel. Distance: 18 miles.

Vermont’s Route 100 is a road-tripper’s dream: long, straight, and flanked the entire way by the beautiful Green Mountains. While the road runs the entire north-south length of the state, a great section begins in Ludlow and ends in Waterbury. Must-stop: the charming villages of neighboring Warren and Waitsfield. Distance: 90 miles.

You’ll think you’re in the Alps, as VT108 climbs steeply from Stowe toward Smugglers’ Notch in the Green Mountains, tightening into a blacktop corkscrew past boulders and cliffs. Get ready to have your breath taken, and Instagram all those photos on the other side, over a meal in tiny Jeffersonville. Distance: 18 miles.

bridge of flowers

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
The Bridge of Flowers can be found along the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts.

MOHAWK TRAIL, Massachusetts
Famous at foliage time, but equally splendid in the summer, this historic scenic highway winds along northern Massachusetts via MA2, among the rolling hills of the Berkshires, combining art museums with classic roadside Americana and great vistas. Distance: 63 miles.

Following Route 7 along the Housatonic River from New Milford to Canaan reveals the green beauty of Western Connecticut. There’s a covered bridge and waterfalls. Distance: 35 miles.

Travel back in history for bucolic tranquility on quiet CT169 from Old Norwich to Woodstock, meandering past colonial homesteads and stone walls, farmers’ fields and quaint town greens. Don’t miss The Golden Lamb Buttery in Brooklyn for lunch or dinner. Distance: 40 miles.

Narragansett, Rhode Island

Narragansett, Rhode Island

The perfect road trip for beach lovers, this route follows US 1 from RI’s funky surf town of Narragansett along Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to historic Westerly (and veranda cocktails at Ocean House). With beaches this good, this might take you a week. Distance: 25 miles.

KINGLY CAPE COD, Massachusetts
Winding, historic, green and dotted with extraordinary vistas out to Cape Cod Bay, this glorious trip along MA6A, or the King’s Old Highway, is a showcase of New England village life from Sandwich to Orleans. Plus, great book shopping and antiquing. Distance: 34 miles.

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Tracey Minkin


Tracey Minkin


Tracey Minkin is an award-winning freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in magazines and online, including Travel + Leisure, Coastal Living, Outside, and Men's Journal. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
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7 Responses to 10 Best Summer Road Trips in New England

  1. Nathan July 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    As a former NH native, I feel it’s poorly represented by only an 18 mile stretch. And, arguably, the Kancamagus Scenic Byway and White Mountain Trail rival the Coastal Crossing in both its history and scenic vistas.

  2. Larz July 29, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    Bring back the old Yankee concept — really good stories about quaint New England characters. I’ve had enough of the “tour guide’ concept. Your biggest competitor? My collection of 40 years of old Yankee magazines. I can always find a good story there.

    • CHESTER August 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm #


  3. Chris July 30, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    While your choices are good, born and bred in New England, from the east or west my favorite is the Kancamagus Highway, NH Rte 112, through the White Mountains of New Hampshire with it’s White Birches and views of Mount Chocorua (also great views of the mountain from NH Rte 16) on through to Conway, NH and Fryeberg, Maine, through Bridgton and the lakes then up to Ocean Point and Booth Bay, Maine.

  4. Chris July 30, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    That is driving that route from the east or the west, great both ways, eh-yah.

  5. Coralie Thomas Oliveira July 31, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    I feel you only touched the tip of the iceberg in not going any further north than Narragansett, RI and then continuing over the Jamestown and Newport Bridges, onto the cape and all the way to Provincetown. Take the ferry to the Islands. And yes I agree about the characters along the way but this is summertime and people are out on the highways, perhaps Route a1a, god I love that road. Not to digress, NE has so much to offer.

  6. C Ann August 1, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Agree with the other posters. This is not a list of the “10 Best Summer Road Trips in New England”, but, if you were to take the word “Best” out of there the title suits it fine.

    YT, please go back to in depth quality research.

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