Checking out festivals and other New England summer weekend events requires at least a little planning. If you lack the time or inclination (or both) to do that much homework, these perennially enjoyable activities fit into flexible schedules.
1. WANDER AROUND CAPE COD
The Cape can be more than a day at the beach. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce’s four Maritime Meandering itineraries focus on seafaring history and traditions on the Upper, Mid, Lower, and Outer Cape. Each option packs in enough sites and activities to keep you busy all weekend. capecodchamber.org/capecodmaritimedays
2. EXPLORE AN ISLAND
A weekend is just about right for hopping a ferry to an island getaway. Maine’s Monhegan Island mixes natural allure with art colony ambience. Off the Rhode Island coast, Block Island shoehorns 17 miles of beaches and excellent cycling onto a 3-by-7-mile speck of land. monheganwelcome.com and blockislandinfo.com
3. INVESTIGATE A STATE PARK
You never know what you might find. In Massachusetts alone, you can chose from (among many other options) abandoned granite quarries at Halibut Point in Rockport, water-sculpted marble formations at Natural Bridge in North Adams, and a dramatic waterfall complete with Native American legend at Bash Bish Falls in Mount Washington. mass.gov/visit-massachusetts-state-parks
4. TAKE THE TRAIN TO MAINE
Amtrak’s Downeaster is so convenient and nicely priced that driving to Maine for the weekend hardly seems worth the trouble. Go car-free to the ocean at Old Orchard Beach, spend a couple of days sightseeing and dining in Portland, or splurge on an outlet shopping spree in Freeport. amtrakdowneaster.com
5. INDULGE YOUR INNER CHILD
Scream your lungs out on the roller coaster or channel your aggressions behind the wheel of a bumper car. There’s no need to be cool at an amusement park. Best bets for all-out fun are Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut, and Six Flags New England in Agawam, and, for retro thrills, Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire. You can even bring the kids if you want. lakecompounce.com, sixflags.com/newengland, and canobie.com
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