New England

The 6 Best New Things To Do in New England This Summer

Discover 2023’s most worthwhile new attractions and amusements. Which ones will make your Summer ’23 bucket list?

By Kim Knox Beckius

May 18 2023


Be among the first music lovers to hear a memorable concert at Groton Hill Music Center.

Photo Credit : Groton Hill Music Center

Ready for a carefree summer of ’23, filled with brand-new New England experiences? It’s the first summer since the CDC declared an official end to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, and even though the disease hasn’t actually gone away, many of us will be feeling freer to go, see, and do than we have in years. As you start planning day trips and longer getaways, consider giving these recently opened attractions some love. They’ll show you another side to New England history, entertain you, or even foster stronger family bonds as you compete to sink golf balls or eradicate some creepy spooks.

Visit New England’s Newest Museums

Real Pirates | Salem, MA

Step aside, witches. Salem’s newest immersive museum, Real Pirates, is devoted to the exploits of a band of pirates who could teach us all a thing or two about getting along. You’ll meet Captain “Black Sam” Bellamy, who offered his comrades, whether African, British, Dutch, or French, a democratic say in the pillaging and a fair share of the loot. Speaking of booty—their ship, the Whydah, which was wrecked off the Cape Cod coast in 1717, holds the only real pirate treasure ever discovered. While much still remains below the bottom of the sea, you’ll see recovered ship artifacts and even touch silver coins brought up from the depths. For a gold-caliber experience, book a guided tour with an authentically attired pirate.

New Museum - Real Pirates Salem
You’ll be impressed by both the collection and the creative special effects at New England’s new museum devoted to pirate treasure and lore.
Photo Credit : Kim Knox Beckius

Cape Verdean Museum | Pawtucket, RI

At roughly four times the size of its previous incarnation, the country’s only museum devoted solely to the history and culture of Cape Verdeans now shares even more untold stories through imagery, artifacts, pop-up exhibitions, and events. The first people of Africa to immigrate to America, Cape Verdeans were whalers, shipbuilders, and cranberry harvesters. Celebrating Cape Verdeans’ legacy throughout their diaspora is a passion-fueled endeavor for the Cape Verdean Museum‘s all-volunteer team. A visit’s an opportunity to relate to the universals the connect immigrants past and present. 

See a Show, Then Tell Your Friends

Groton Hill Music Center | Groton, MA

A jam-packed first summer of pop, country, jazz, world, and classical performances will pack Groton Hill Music Center‘s 1,000-seat concert hall: the architectural and acoustical showpiece of the Nashoba Valley’s new destination for music learning and listening. Built of timber and stone in homage to the 110-acre former apple orchard on which the venue is sited, its rusticity is an illusion: This is a state-of-the-art performance space, with 3D projection mapping and an electric organ that can shake the room and mimic the reverberations of great organs from around the world. Who can you look forward to seeing? Artists the caliber of… wait for it… Leslie Odom Jr.

Meadow Hall New Concert Venue in New England
Every seat is superb inside Groton Hill Music Center’s beautifully constructed Meadow Hall.
Photo Credit : Groton Hill Music Center

Nashua Center for the Arts | Nashua, NH

If you’d see more concerts, comedy acts, and theater productions if it didn’t mean driving into Boston, then you belong in the audience at Nashua’s spanking new Broadway-style theater. Already an arts hub, the city’s about to feel livelier as this inaugural season brings diverse entertainment to the Nashua Center for the Arts stage. From any roost in the 750-seat house, you’ll feel drawn right into performances by the likes of folk legend Judy Collins.

Engage in Some Friendly Competition with Your Extended Family

Haunted Hotel at Funtown Splashtown USA | Saco, ME

Whispering Pines isn’t like any Maine hotel you’ve visited. It’s cursed. And when this one-of-a-kind family amusement by industry leader Sally Dark Rides debuts later this summer (check that it’s open before you go) at Funtown Splashtown USA, you’ll want to grip your curse eradicator tightly and laser down all the menacing characters you’ll encounter in the Haunted Hotel’s 14 spooky rooms, all while keeping a keen eye out for Maine-themed “Easter eggs.” Low scorer should treat your whole crew to poutine.

New Dark Ride in Maine - Haunted Hotel
Dark rides have come a long way since their late 19th century origins, and you’ll want to brave New England’s newest during your family vacation in Maine.
Photo Credit : Sally Dark Rides

Connecticut Golf Land | Vernon, CT

A 50-year-old attraction that shut down in 2014 is about to be resurrected, at last. Connecticut Golf Land is set to open this summer (check before making the trip) with all-new family enticements including a dinosaur-themed mini golf course, bumper boats, and the Rocking Horse Smokehouse: a barbecue restaurant in an old movie theater. ConeHeads ice creamery will satisfy your cravings for classic flavors. And as summer progresses, even more fun will come online: Watch for a game room, volleyball courts, and a rooftop patio.

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