Skip Lake Chaubunagungamaug in Webster, Massachusetts in favor of nearby attractions in Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, or New Hampshire. Besides being easier to pronounce, the towns on this list of top getaway destinations close to Boston feature several unique attractions and activities. Whether you want to discover a field of ringing rocks, drive over a floating bridge, explore a desert, or just chill out in a quaint coastal town, your next great adventure is never more than five hours away from many Boston vacation rentals.
1. Freeport, Maine
Enjoy the Desert of Maine in Freeport, an unexpected treasure just two hours from Boston. Sit back and relax on the 30-minute narrated coach tour, or enjoy a self-guided walking tour of this desert that a glacier left behind some 11,000 years ago, then head to the picnic area and gift shop that features old-fashioned toys. Enjoy some world-class shopping opportunities in the boutiques and outlets in town. Dozens of restaurants, cafes, and pubs serve up everything from donuts to exotic cuisines. For some unique brews, stop by Maine Beer Company.
2. Bass Harbor, Tremont, Maine
Trade city life for a tranquil weekend on a desert island on Mount Desert Island, Maine. Kick back in Bass Harbor, a little fishing village in Tremont on the quiet side of the island. Carry a camera to get some great shots of yachts, lobster boats, local architecture, and the amazing coast. The Bass Harbor Head Light is located in Acadia National Park at the southernmost tip of the island. From the parking lot, the pathways lead to observation points on the grounds. Seafood Ketch, Eat-a-Pita, and Sips offer up a variety of food and beverage options from traditional seafood to Mediterranean fare. It’s less than a five-hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Boston to this isle of tranquility.
3. Brookfield, Vermont
Brookfield, Vermont, is definitely a place to visit with the kids, and you can be there in about two hours. The Sunset Lake floating bridge, buoyed by pontoons, is a piece of history that you can drive and walk on. During warm weather, bring some bathing suits along, and enjoy a dip in the lake. Located less than 5 miles from the bridge, Fat Toad Farm is the place to go to see goats and browse the local store for yummy goat milk caramel and other treats. For dinner, head over to the Lyons Den Restaurant and Pub, which serves steak, chicken, and seafood favorites along with other traditional American dishes.
4. Doylestown, Pennsylvania
A scant five hours from Boston, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is a mecca of museums and some of the best shopping in the area. Bucks County maintains the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works as a museum where workers produce handmade tiles using methods developed by the pottery’s founder, Henry Mercer. After touring the facility, guests can purchase recreated tiles and mosaics and reissues of many of the original designs. Mercer also built Fonthill Castle, his residence and a museum that he worked to fill until his death. Just 15 minutes from town, you can tour the Pearl S. Buck House, where she wrote some of her most famous works. Experience creative American dishes at Honey, a cozy bistro, or try Italian favorites prepared at Genevieve’s Kitchen with locally grown organic ingredients.
5. Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania
Pack some hammers and hiking shoes for your four-and-a-half-hour drive to Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, which lies just across the Delaware River from Milford, New Jersey. Ringing Rocks Park features a field of boulders that produce crisp musical tones when you strike them with a hammer. Take along some water and snacks for the adventure, and watch the kids scramble over the boulders, hammering away. A nice way to wind down the day is a sunset cruise on the River Otter, operated by Bucks County Riverboat Company. Your captain narrates the scenic stretches of the river while you and your family enjoy refreshments. In addition to fully equipped restrooms, the boat also features a pub with adult libations.
6. Littleton, New Hampshire
In about two-and-a-half hours you can reach Littleton, New Hampshire, a small town with some huge claims to fame. The longest candy counter in America holds glass jars filled with treats from yesteryear and other rare delicacies at Chutters Candy Store. The owner proudly displays a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records for the 112-foot long candy counter. In the historic downtown square, a bronze sculpture of Pollyanna welcomes visitors in honor of author Eleanor H. Porter. While strolling downtown, cross the Riverwalk Covered Bridge to reach the trails along the river. When you return, stop for a lunch at Millers Cafe & Bakery beside the bridge.
7. Conway, New Hampshire
Open your mouth and sigh, “Aaah,” when you see your breathtaking Conway, New Hampshire vacation rental, located a bit over two hours from Boston. The small town, just east of the White Mountain National Forest, is home to Echo Lake State Park, where a trail encircles the lake. A short hike to the north takes you to Diana’s Baths, the site of a tranquil series of small waterfalls. Kids like the interactive weather exhibits at the Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center almost as much as spending an afternoon at Kahuna Laguna, the indoor water park. The Muddy Moose Restaurant & Pub’s fireplace and bar invite you to experience their American cuisine in a family-friendly atmosphere. Step back in time with an excursion on a vintage train that departs from Conway Railroad’s Victorian station, and enjoy traveling in an elegant dining car. Your chef-prepared dinner complements the picturesque scenery outside your window.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Boston vacation rentals on Tripping.com.