Looking for the perfect way to spend a summer day with your family? Here are our picks for the best New England waterways.
There’s no better way for a family to spend a summer day than floating down the Farmington together on bright-yellow inner tubes. Although the river flows for more than 80 miles, we’re talking here about a stretch that begins at Satan’s Kingdom Gorge and ends some 2.5 miles later — after you’ve tumbled through three rapids and floated as languorously as a leaf through much of the rest. Memorial Day weekend through mid-September. Restrictions: at least 10 years old, 4 feet 5 inches, able to swim. Check ahead for weather and river conditions.
Farmington River Tubing. 92 Main St., New Hartford. 860-693-6465;
Belgrade Lakes. Alden Camps, established 1910, is among the few American-plan family camps left from the Age of Innocence. Eighteen little log cabins along the shore of East Pond in the Belgrade Lakes region provide quiet retreats with docks and motorboats, while the farmhouse dining room serves some of the best food anywhere. It’s both an experience of the authentic Maine and an indulgence you’ll remember. Memorial Day weekend-Labor Day.
Route 137, Oakland.
Concord River. Downstream from the South Bridge Boat House, operated by the Rohan family since 1949, just past where the Assabet and Sudbury rivers converge at Egg Rock to flow into the Concord River, lies Minute Man National Historical Park. Rent a canoe or kayak; then take the leisurely paddle to North Bridge, where on April 19, 1775, the “shot heard ’round the world” was fired, or upriver to meadows where Thoreau, Emerson, and Hawthorne once gained inspiration. Don’t want to paddle? Let Martha Rohan serve you homemade lunch aboard her pontoon cruise boat.
North Bridge Visitor Center. 174 Liberty St., Concord. 978-369-6993; nps.gov/mima
South Bridge Boat House. Call or visit Web site for pricing and schedules. 496 Main St. (Route 62), Concord. 978-369-9438; 978-371-1785;
Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Paddle the Granite State’s 72-mile stretch of these designated waterways (740 miles in all, upstate New York to northern Maine) from Errol to North Stratford, and you’ll dip into three rivers: the Androscoggin, the Ammonoosuc, and the Connecticut. Along the way, you’ll discover springs once known only to the Abenaki, old mills, bridges, boom piers (from the region’s logging days), miles of undeveloped riverbank, and a variety of birds and other wildlife. Call or visit Web site for suggested trips, launch sites, camping info, and maps.
Blackstone River. The Blackstone, from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Providence, Rhode Island, once powered Pawtucket’s Slater Mill, the first successful water-powered textile factory in America. But the Blackstone paid a price for its fame: Years of industrial waste polluted it beyond recognition. Today this clean, dynamic river has been resurrected and named a National Heritage Corridor. A unique way to tour it is aboard the “Blackstone Valley Explorer” riverboat, and the “Samuel Slater,” a British canal boat that provides overnight accommodations.
Slater Mill. March-Nov. Tues.-Sun. 67 Roosevelt Ave., Pawtucket. 401-725-8638; slatermill.org
John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley
National Heritage Corridor. 1 Depot Square, Woonsocket. 401-762-0250; nps.gov/blac
Lake Willoughby. In the Northeast Kingdom, beauty awaits around every bend. But even here, there’s one sight sure to take your breath away: your first glimpse of Lake Willoughby. Like a Swiss mountain lake, these clear, deep waters are bounded by steep cliffs. But Willoughby’s right here, about 15 miles off I-91, with public beaches at its northern and southern ends.
More Travel Ideas: Ten Great Weekends
Where are your picks for the best New England Waterways?