Exercise more, lose weight, get organized, save money . . . ugh. We say when the ball drops on the 31st, resolve to travel more, see more, and do more in your own backyard! We asked the folks at tourist boards, along with a host of travel advisors and trip leaders: What’s on your list of things to see and do in New England in 2020? Here are 10 of their travel resolutions. Use them to inspire (and nudge you) to explore more of our glorious region during the upcoming year.
Visit an island
Take a mail boat to whale-shaped Monhegan Island, a longtime artist colony and hard-working lobstering community about 12 miles off the coast of Maine (www.monheganwelcome.com). Stroll the tiny village overlooking the harbor, visit artist studios and a lighthouse, and hike paths leading through protected forests and along the rocky coastline. Tour the Isles of Shoals, a group of nine islands straddling the New Hampshire and Maine border, full of history and mystery (www.uncleoscar.com and www.islesofshoals.com). Connecticut’s Thimble Islands in Long Island Sound, with dozens of small islands, creeks, and coves, are perfect for water activities, including boating and kayaking tours (www.branfordriverpaddlesports.com).
Board a train
Hop aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad in northern New Hampshire for a narrated ride through dramatic Crawford Notch. You’ll get glimpses of the Saco River, dense forests and mountain cliffs, and travel over an historic trestle bridge, culminating with a stop at the Crawford Depot at the top of the Notch (www.conwayscenic.com). Take the Mount Washington Cog Railway as it makes a steep climb through three climate zones to the top of mighty 6,288-foot Mount Washington (www.thecog.com). Ride the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat for a 12-mile, 2.5-hour round-trip journey in the heart of the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley (www.essexsteamtrain.com).
Get on the water
Paddle the sheltered bays and scenic coves around Maine’s Pemaquid Peninsula on a guided kayak trip with Maine Kayak (www.mainekayak.com), beginners welcome. Follow the winds and the tides on a schooner sailing trip along the coast of Maine, stopping at a secluded island for a traditional lobster boil (www.mainewindjammercruises.com). Take a wind-in-your-hair powerboat ride on Lake Winnipesaukee, with more than 275 miles of shoreline and islands, coves, and beaches to explore (www.meredithmarina.com). Sail out of Gloucester Harbor on The Ardelle, a 58-foot Pinky Schooner modeled after a fishing vessel that sailed out of Cape Ann from the early 18th through 20th centuries (www.schoonerardelle.com). Explore Narragansett Bay in Newport, R.I., aboard a restored 12-meter America’s Cup sailing yacht (www.americascupcharters.com).
See a moose
. . . or a whale or a puffin. Pemi Valley Moose Tours in Lincoln, N.H., offers narrated bus excursions, traveling the back roads in the western White Mountains looking for moose, with a 97 percent success rate of seeing at least one of the leggy ungulates (www.moosetoursnh.com). On a New England Aquarium Whale Watch, you’ll cruise out to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to see whales, dolphins, sea birds, and other marine life (www.neaq.org). View the thriving colony of puffins on Eastern Egg Rock, Maine; several companies offer narrated boat tours (www.projectpuffin.audubon.org/visit-us/puffin-tours).
Step back in time
Head to Old Wethersfield, Conn., home to more than 150 homes that predate the Civil War (www.wethersfieldct.gov). The three-mile, self-guided Wethersfield Heritage Walk highlights 22 historic spots, and the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum depicts life during the mid-18th and early-19th centuries. Enter a time warp with a visit to Historic Deerfield, Mass.; stroll the mile-long village main street, lined with homes dating from the 1730s to the 1840s, each housing fine collections of art and antiques (www.historic-deerfield.org). Visit the tiny village of Plymouth Notch, Vt., home to the Calvin Coolidge Homestead District (www.historicsites.vermont.gov/calvin-coolidge). The birthplace and burial place of the 30th president of the United States includes several historic buildings.
Hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail
The famed Appalachian National Scenic Trail runs through Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, covering 735 miles (www.appalachiantrail.org). There are hundreds of access points and a variety of terrain, from easy walks in the woods to strenuous mountain hikes.
Watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain
Hike the trail or drive the 3.5-mile winding road to the top of 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park (www.nps.gov/acad) in Maine to watch the sunrise over Frenchman Bay. The view from the summit, the highest point along the North Atlantic seacoast, is a magnificent sight, and you’ll be one of the first in the continental United States to see daybreak. Note: half of the year, from early October to early March, Cadillac Mountain gets the first sight of sunrise; the other half of the year, Mars Hill, a 1,748-foot mountain near the Canadian border, gets first sight of sunrise. No matter, any time of year, the view is spectacular.
Explore the Cape Cod National Seashore
This pristine, protected landscape at the tip of Cape Cod encompasses 43,607 acres of woods, ponds, beaches, salt marshes, and sand dunes (www.nps.gov/caco).
Take a hike; there are 12 designated trails including the Great Island Trail, along a salt marsh and sandy beach, and the Nauset Marsh Trail with views of Salt Pond. Spread a blanket and take a dip in the water at one of six swimming beaches. Visit the Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District, where famed writers and artists sought inspiration. Bike the 5.45-mile Province Lands Bike Trail, the 1.6-mile Nauset Bike Trail, or the two-mile Head of the Meadow Bike Trail. And take a guided off-road ride through the sand dunes (www.artsdunetours.com).
Stay in a lighthouse
What’s it like to be a lighthouse keeper? Find out with an overnight stay at the restored 1881 Border Flats Lighthouse near Fall River, Mass. (www.bordenflats.com) The sparkplug-style, four-story lighthouse sits offshore — and off-the-gird — in Mount Hope Bay, with a living room, kitchenette, and small bedroom. Take a lobster boat ride out to Rose Island Lighthouse in Narragansett Bay, a mile or so offshore from Newport, R.I. (www.roseisland.org). There are five rooms to rent, three in the 1870 lighthouse building, one in the Foghorn building on the rocks next to the lighthouse, and another in the Fort Hamilton Barracks.
“Voluntourism” lets you travel, explore new areas, meet new people, and do some good. The Appalachian Mountain Club offers a host of volunteer opportunities in locations across New England, seeking trail and facility maintenance workers, trip leaders, presenters, event planners, naturalists, and more (www.outdoors.org/volunteer). The National Audubon Society is always looking for help, with bird counts, trail maintenance, gardening, visitor services, and more. Contact your local state for opportunities: www.massaudubon.org, www.vt.audubon.org, www.maineaudubon.org, www.nhaudubon.org, www.asri.org, www.ctaudubon.org. History buffs might consider volunteering at one of the 39 Historic New England properties (www.historicnewengland.org/get-involved/volunteer) located throughout New England. The Trustees would love your help with its conservation efforts at 100 locations covering 25,000 acres across Massachusetts (www.volunteer.thetrustees.org).
Help care for the animals at New England Aquarium (www.neaq.org/get-involved/volunteer) and Zoo New England (www.zoonewengland.org/jobs-volunteering/volunteers).
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org