Explore The Best Of New England's Quirky Towns And Parks On This Scenic Road Trip

With its picture-perfect small towns and fresh salty air, traversing America's alluring New England states should be on every road tripper's bucket list. From the historic districts and port towns sprawled along the coast of Maine to the seashores of Rhode Island, it's hard to find a New England town that doesn't exude a unique, colorful character. This eight hour scenic East Coast road trip cuts through the heart of four New England states, beginning in the urban metropolis of Boston and ending in the vibrant seaport town of Camden, Maine. Between the scenic parks and adorable downtown squares, drivers will pass through some of New England's most notable landmarks and hidden gems.

Before setting out on the open road, spend some time exploring the sights, sounds, and smells of Boston. Grab a bite for breakfast inside Quincy Market, Boston's expansive food hall, or stroll the iconic Newbury Street in Back Bay. This mile-long promenade is a trendy shopping strip that boasts quirky cafés, restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. Head to the vintage Newbury Comics, where you can find vinyls, comic books, collectibles, and fun kitschy things like plush ketchup and mustard bottles. Alternatively, stretch your legs by strolling through the Boston Commons, which offers a peaceful respite in the midst of urban city life. While you're there, catch a glimpse of the famous life-size frog statues around the Frog Pond that were crafted by a local artist. These bronze-colored sculptures are known as the "Frogs in Common," and each one has unique names and personalities.

Plymouth, Massachusetts to Newport, Rhode Island

Setting out for Plymouth, this coastal town sits 40 miles from Boston and captivates visitors with its adorable New England-style architecture and charismatic streets brimming with locally owned shops and eateries. Plymouth isn't just a photogenic seaside town; it's also rich in historical remnants, from Leyden Street, where the first pilgrims built their houses, to a 1957 replica of the Mayflower that you can tour. The peaceful Brewster Gardens are another must-see hot spot, commemorating the sacred heritage of some of Plymouth's earliest settlers. 

Less than an hour from Plymouth, the fish hook-shaped island of Cape Cod is a summertime staple for New England residents. Made up of a network of small coastal towns, including Chatham, Falmouth, and Mashpee, this island boasts miles of unspoiled beaches and a patchwork of locally-owned shops and eateries, like the pink-covered Marylou's Coffee. Cape Cod National Seashore is a celebrated stretch of coastline with multiple historic landmarks, like the Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District — the resting place for a series of small thatched homes from the early 1900s.

Heading west and crossing over the state line into Rhode Island, drivers will soon land in Newport, an enchanting must-see small town known for its magnificent mansions that were even featured in the HBO series "The Gilded Age". Afterward, peruse the shops on Thames Street in Newport's downtown district or grab a meal at the White Horse Tavern. This historic farm-to-table restaurant is believed to be the oldest operating restaurant in America and the 10th oldest restaurant in the world.

Providence, Rhode Island to Camden, Maine

A lively artistic city, Providence is located roughly 50 minutes north of Newport. The pedestrian pathways along Waterplace Park are one of the best ways to take in the sights of the city as well as the soothing waterfront. Fans of Italian cuisine will be entranced by the culinary scene of Federal Hill that's a mecca of mouth watering Italian fare. 

Departing from Providence and crossing back into Massachusetts, stop in Newburyport and check out Tannery Historic Marketplace — noted as one of the best shopping squares on the North Shore by Boston Magazine, and visitors will find everything from locally-owned vintage clothing stores to eclectic cafés. Cap off your visit with dinner at the top of the Newburyport Lighthouse for a meal with a view. 

Pass through Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the final stretch to Camden and admire the vibrant Market Square in Portsmouth's downtown district that's alway alive and buzzing with activity. Afterwards, wander through the Strawbery Banke, an outdoor museum preserving one of the oldest neighborhoods in Portsmouth, named after the surrounding wild strawberry fields.

The landing point of this road trip, Maine's Camden is a small town that looks like something straight off the set of "Gilmore Girls." If you're visiting during the  summertime, the Camden Windjammer Festival is a local Labor Day weekend essential, with everything from lobster crate races to windjammer boat tours and a colorful display of fireworks — the best way to cap off this New England voyage!