One thing I love about living in New England is the possibility of visiting new states in just a matter of hours. Growing up in Houston, I was two hours from the Louisiana border and six hours from Oklahoma. There are even points in Texas where you could drive for 20 hours and never leave the state! Now that I live in Massachusetts, I find it incredibly fun to cross state lines — simply because I can.
My family loves to travel, and we’re constantly in competition for the number of states we’ve visited. I’ve been to 43 states, but my brother claims 46 — so it’s a race to see which of us gets to 50 first! From the moment they were born, my children have been in on this competition. So far, they each have around 10 states. When we visit Milwaukee this summer, I will most definitely be driving the extra 40 minutes to the Illinois border, just so my boys can gain a new state.
I’ve had a number of friends visit me in New England and immediately ask how many states they can pick up on their trip. So if you’re visiting the Boston area and would like to see a few new states while you’re here — or if you’re just looking for easy day trips with your family — here are some fun things to do within minutes of crossing state lines.
Located an hour from Boston and only minutes from New Hampshire, Kittery is a charming town with lots of shopping, great restaurants, and beautiful beaches. The Kittery Outlets have over 120 stores, and the Kittery Trading Post has everything an outdoors enthusiast could possibly want. If you drive a little further inland, you can see the Bush family summer home on Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport and then have lunch at the Kennebunkport Brewing Company. The coastal drive along Route 1 is gorgeous in any season.
The New Hampshire seacoast is loaded with beautiful scenery and lots of things to do — and it’s less than an hour from Boston! Portsmouth is one of my favorite towns in New England. It has a charming downtown and great attractions, such as Prescott Park, which hosts the town’s summer arts festival. You can also do some great tax-free shopping at the mall in Salem, and for all the mommies and daddies on the road, the New Hampshire State Liquor Outlets are located immediately across state lines.
Vermont is a great state to drive through to see beautiful mountain scenery and charming covered bridges. Brattleboro is the first major town you encounter coming from Massachusetts, and it’s home to art galleries, performance spaces, and farmers markets. If you keep going inland, the Green Mountain National Forest is great for camping, hiking, and exploring nature. And even though the actual factory is further upstate, you can’t visit Vermont without getting a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
The wonderful thing about Rhode Island is, because it’s so small, everything in the state is located just a stone’s throw from Boston! As soon as you cross into the state, you can go to McCoy Stadium to catch a Pawtucket Red Sox game. Providence is just a little further down the road, and you can check out Water Fire, visit Roger Williams Zoo, or drive by the Big Blue Bug from “Dumb & Dumber”! If you’re looking for a smaller town in a more rural community, Cumberland is right off of I-295, and it’s home to great farms and fall festivals.
If you make your way out to Old Sturbridge Village, which is about an hour from Boston and 30 minutes from Worcester, you can hop across the Connecticut border and have lunch at the Traveler Restaurant in Union. Not only is it a family-friendly establishment, it’s also incredibly fun for books lovers. There is a bookstore in the restaurant’s basement, and you can grab free books with the purchase of your meal. On the other end of the state, the Mystic Aquarium is only 10 miles from the Rhode Island border. You can also drive along the coast and see beautiful lighthouses in North Stonington, Groton, and New London.
BONUS: New York
This takes a little longer, but it’s still a day trip from Boston. You can take the Cross Sound Ferry out of New London, CT, and visit Orient Point on Long Island. This area is sandwiched between the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean and has absolutely gorgeous scenery. It’s also just a few miles down the road from Long Island Wine Country. The kids can play in the vineyards while mom and dad enjoy a nice glass of wine.
So to anyone heading to New England this summer, I hope you enjoy visiting as many states as you can!