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New England’s culture is one that is vibrant and varied. Many traditions go back to the 17th and 18th centuries when Europeans first settled here. This itinerary provides a small sample of the many cultural activities there are to do and see throughout five New England states.
Day 1 — Massachusetts
In Boston’s harbor, visitors can experience first-hand the Boston Tea Party and its role in the start of the American Revolution by visiting the Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum. This floating historical museum brings its guests back to the day of the event for a multi-sensory and interactive exhibit. Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams (one of the founding fathers of the United States and second president) and mother to John Quincy Adams (sixth president of the United States), was born in Weymouth, Mass. where her childhood home is now a museum dedicated to her important role in American history.
The Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth, near Cape Cod, is where the famed illustrator and author, Edward Gorey, once lived. It has now been turned into a museum dedicated to celebrating his work — odd and fantastical.
Day 2 — New Hampshire
Heading north from Cape Cod to New Hampshire, you can visit the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth. This outdoor living history museum has 40 restored buildings on more than 10 acres in one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Hampshire. Explore the gardens and interactive exhibits to learn about the early days of New England. The only active Shaker community is in Maine but the Enfield Shaker Museum, in Enfield, New Hampshire, shares the complex history of the Enfield Shaker Village — once home to three “families” of Shakers, a unique and progressive religious sect.
Day 3 — Maine
The ocean has always played a key role in the culture of Maine but there is far more to the Pine Tree State than just its delicious lobster and seafood. The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath provides a scenic campus to learn nearly everything about the state’s seafaring history. Be sure to register for a Bath Iron Works Story Trolley Tour and learn about the shipyard from a current or former employee.
The sea has been artists’ inspiration for centuries and the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland celebrates American artists and their relationship to Maine. The Museum’s Wyeth Center houses a vast collection from all three Wyeths — NC, Andrew and James. Visitors can learn about Maine’s Native American culture, art and history while visiting the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, a museum dedicated to the Wabanaki People and the many millennia they have lived in Maine.
Day 4 — Rhode Island
Two hundred and fifty years of social, architectural and landscape history is on display at the Newport Mansions in Rhode Island through the Preservation Society of Newport County, which cares for 11 historic properties and landscapes, seven of which are National Historic Landmarks. These mansions are perfect examples from the Colonial, Victorian and Gilded Age — they are the extravagant summer homes of the nation’s wealthiest families. In stark contrast, the nearby Casey Farm built in 1750 is a well-preserved working farm and museum that offers tours illustrating a simpler way of living.
Day 5 — Connecticut
Mystic Seaport is one of New England’s most popular attractions. In this recreation of a 19th-century seaport community, you can watch craftspeople at work, go aboard the Charles W. Morgan, the last remaining wooden whaling ship, and much more. The charming town of Essex is known for the Griswold Inn, a 235-year-old tavern, and the informative Connecticut River Museum on the waterfront. Essex makes an excellent base for exploring the lively and historic communities at the mouth of the Connecticut River. Nearby is Old Lyme — this pretty village is the home of American Impressionism; find out more at the Florence Griswold Museum.