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.
RANGELY LAKES SCENIC BYWAY, Maine
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.
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.
COASTAL CROSSING, New Hampshire
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.
GREEN MOUNTAIN RIBBON, Vermont
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.
ALPINE DRAMA, Vermont
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.
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.
HOUSATONIC VALLEY, Connecticut
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.
THE QUIET CORNER, Connecticut
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.
SHORE OF DREAMS, 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 Old King’s Highway, is a showcase of New England village life from Sandwich to Orleans. Plus, great book shopping and antiquing. Distance: 34 miles.
What are your picks for the best summer road trips in New England?
This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.