The Barnum Museum is full of local history and unusual exhibits showcasing the famous circus and its eccentric owner. Come for the accurate 19th-century furnishings, stay for the homages to the freaks who made the circus such a spectacle.
Most travelers can recite the top New England tourist attractions pretty easily – walk the Freedom Trail in Boston, drive through Vermont during fall foliage season, go hiking in Maine, etc. But you’d be surprised at how many five-star New England tourist attractions are just off the beaten path. We’ve mentioned our favorite hidden gems below to create the ultimate list of New England attractions that deserve more hype.
30 New England Tourist Attractions That Deserve More Hype
Essex Steam Train (Essex)
Vintage Pullman locomotive trolleys take riders through the Connecticut landscape, ending with a riverboat cruise. Themed rides like the Polar Express and Thomas the Tank Engine are a major hit with children.
Music Mountain (Falls Village)
This country-located venue offers chamber music concerts on Sunday afternoons, and a range of popular music on Saturday evenings. Concerts take place in an intimate, church-like setting.
Keeler Tavern Museum (Ridgefield)
The Keeler Tavern Museum has been a farmhouse, tavern, stagecoach stop, and post office. Today, visitors can take a tour of the home to marvel at its history, including the errant cannonball lodged in the side during the Battle of Ridgefield.
The Barnum Museum (Bridgeport)
At Earthplace, Connecticut’s nature and scientific research center, visitors can enjoy public trails for exercise, or head indoors to interact with the current science exhibits. Travelers love the birds of prey rehabilitated here – including owls, bats, and hawks.
Common Ground Country Fair (Unity)
Celebrate the rural and agricultural traditions of Maine at the Common Ground Country Fair. Thousands from the farming community attend, and thousands more come from near and far to experience one of central Maine’s biggest fall events. Some of the favorite events at the fair include the Sheep Dog Demonstration and Draft Horse Show.
Maine Maritime Museum (Bath)
Located in the “City of Ships”, the Maine Maritime Museum is a look back at the state’s seafaring heritage. Thousands of visitors annually experience the culture through gallery exhibits, the historic shipyard, educational programs, and tours.
Colby College Museum of Art (Waterville)
This free museum is a must-see for any art lover visiting Waterville. A large collection of works by Alex Katz, along with traditional fine art pieces from around the world are presented in an attractive, modern building.
Old Fort Western (Augusta)
Old Fort Western, built in 1754, is New England’s oldest surviving wooden fort. It’s a reminder of the great contest of cultures that dominated New England life 250 years ago. Take a tour of the fort led by guides in period costumes, and see the original pieces and documents within.
Penobscot Theatre Company (Bangor)
Performing at the grand, yet intimate Bangor Opera House, Penobscot Theater Company performs both original and famous plays and musicals. Recent hits have been “Lumberjacks in Love”, “Rock of Ages”, and a Janis Joplin tribute.
Zoar Outdoor (Charlemont)
From zip lining to whitewater rafting, if you want some excitement out of your vacation in Mass, book a trip with Zoar Outdoor. They offer fun outings during all four seasons, even in those harsh New England winters.
The Mary Baker Eddy Library (Boston)
The Mary Baker Eddy Library is housed in an 11-story structure originally built in 1932 for The Christian Science Publishing Society. Today, the highlight of the structure is known as the Mapparium. The Mapparium room features a rich orchestration of words, music, and LED lights to showcase the global exchange of ideas. The acoustics of the room allow one person to stand and whisper on one end, while being heard clearly by another in a separate corner!
Angkor Dance Troupe, Inc. (Lowell)
For 30 years the Angkor Dance Troupe has been entertaining the Lowell community with traditional Cambodian dance. The Angkor Dance Troupe is recognized as one of the most accomplished and experienced Cambodian dance groups in the U.S.
The Zeiterion Theatre (New Bedford)
Located in downtown New Bedford, the Zeiterion Theater has a reputation of booking big name performers. Among some of the top acts recently include William Shatner, Jay Leno, Melissa Etheridge and the late Joan Rivers.
Ten Thousand Villages (North Hampton)
Ten Thousand Villages in Northampton, MA, is a fair trade retailer of artisan-crafted home decor, personal accessories and gift items from across the globe. They offer products from more than 130 artisan groups in some 38 countries.
Mt. Washington Auto Road (Gorham)
The Mount Washington Auto Road is not for the squeamish. This narrow, two-way road traverses gigantic Mount Washington, and gives way to breathtaking views of the valley. Drive yourself or buy a ticket for the SnowCoach, the all-terrain truck that takes riders over 4200 feet up, to the top of the treeline.
Unplug, relax, and connect with nature at Prescott Farm. Open to the public year-round, Prescott Farm is a designated ‘wildlife viewing’ area with 160 acres of conservation land. Visitors can play in their natural Playscape, learn about native plant and wildlife species, and explore at their own pace in the heritage gardens. Explore more than three miles of woodland, pond and field trails with views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknap Mountains.
Did you know that between them, the towns of Derry and Londonderry boast five craft breweries and one meadery? To help visitors enjoy this abundance of locally made libations, the Great Derry Chamber of Commerce created a Derry-Londonderry Beer & Mead Tour rack card to show the locations and operating hours of these establishments, which are all conveniently located within a few miles of each other.
The American Classic Arcade Museum (Laconia)
Classic games come to life at the American Classic Arcade Museum, located within Funspot in Laconia. Play all of your favorites: from Atari to Pac-Man to the original Pinball. Read the history of these coin-operated games and the men and women who created them.
Mount Washington Cog Railway (Bretton Woods)
Passengers will experience a sense of adventure and history on the Mount Washington Cog Railway’s 3-hour guided train tour to the highest peak in the Northeast. At the 6,288 foot summit, visitors can take in the spectacular panoramic view, spanning the mountains and valleys of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, north into Canada, and east to the Atlantic Ocean.
Save The Bay Seal Watch & Nature Cruises (Multiple)
When you live in an area that offers 400 miles of natural coastline, you’re bound to want to explore. Save The Bay provides the chance to better understand the Narragansett Bay ecosystem through hands-on educational activities and cruises.
Norman Bird Sanctuary (Middletown)
Over 300 acres of a wide variety of habitats provide a tranquil setting for walking, bird watching, or just communing with nature. There are miles of trails through woods, fields, marshes and ridge lines here – offering an almost never-ending change of scene and experiences.
Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center (Newport)
The Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center is an art-house cinema located in Washington Square in the historic center of Newport, Rhode Island.The JPT Newport is housed in a historic building that was built in 1834 as a church, and has shown films since the silent days of the 1920s.
Paint and Vino (Pawtucket)
Painting and drinking wine simultaneously – what could go wrong? Rhode Islanders and visitors alike love the Paint and Vino Studio in Pawtucket where your group can enjoy art instruction and some fine vintages during a fun night out.
The Providence Athenæum (Providence)
The Providence Athenæum is library and cultural center located on Providence’s historic Benefit Street. For 200 years of existence, the library has welcomed writers, thinkers, and community members through its doors. Beautifully maintained, this library is a restful and inviting place to curl up and read a book.
UVM Morgan Horse Farm (Weybridge)
The home of the famous Vermont “Morgan” horse, this family farm in Weybridge welcomes visitors between May and October. Stop in and see the new foals trotting around the yard. For a couple dollars, your family gets a guided tour detailing the history and current uses of these grand thoroughbreds. Be sure to enter the foal naming contest and the horse giveaway (for real!)
Brattleboro Farmers’ Market (Brattleboro)
The Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market features over 50 vendors with agricultural products, crafts, live music and ethnic foods from around the world. Whether you are local or a tourist, you can stop by to get your weekly produce and grab a quick lunch, or come with your family and stay for the day!
Citizen Cider (Burlington)
A fun tasting room and surprisingly excellent fare make Citizen Cider a must-see in Vermont. Sample one of their famous ciders, or try a flight of five. The laid-back vibe of the place will make you want to stay all day.
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (Brattleboro)
Brattleboro’s railroad station was converted in 1972 to this interesting museum. With no permanent collection, the museum is constantly updating its exhibits, so repeat visitors will always see something new. Vermonters flock here during the annual domino display (it takes two full days to set up, and three minutes to fall down!) and the LEGO competition.
Sandglass Theater (Putney)
Sandglass Theater specializes in combining puppets with music, actors and visual imagery. Since 1982, the company’s productions have toured 24 countries, performing in theaters, festivals and cultural institutions and winning numerous international prizes. Sandglass Theater produces works for both adult audiences and young audiences. They also perform and teach in their own 60-seat renovated barn theater in Putney, Vermont.