Professional wanderluster and Boston native Lauren Wells has spent years exploring all that New England has to offer; here she offer her favorite five escapes. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and learn more about her work here.
The weather in New England is finally warming up, and it is the perfect time to start planning those summer Friday getaways. With access to oceans, lakes, and mountains in any direction you turn, here are five ways to spend a long weekend that will make you feel a million miles away—and will still get you back in front of your desk first thing Monday morning.
1) Nantucket, Massachusetts
There is no place like Nantucket in the summer, with its pristine beaches, cobbled streets, and melting ice cream cones from The Juice Bar. Accessible by ferry or by plane, it is easy to get to and much harder to leave.
Stay at the newly opened Greydon House, an expertly designed boutique hotel in the heart of town. Rent a Wrangler and explore the island, packing a cooler with picnic supplies from Something Natural, stopping at Ladies Beach for a swim (or perhaps Miacomet where clothing is optional), and then continuing on to Great Point for a slice of over-sand paradise.
Once 3pm hits, make your way to Cisco Brewers for an afternoon of laid back, island fun. Evening may bring you to one of the many wonderful restaurants in town (Proprietors Table is a favorite), or it may find you on the dance floor at the infamous Chicken Box. Either way, book a late return on Sunday, so you can maximize your time soaking up the sun before heading back to the mainland.
2) Lake Willoughby, Vermont
Near the Canadian border, Lake Willoughby is a crystal clear haven perfect for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. Flanked by Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor, the landscape is not only impressive, but provides plenty of hiking trails, also extremely popular with mountain bikers.
Spend the weekend under the stars, with no cell phone service and no entertainment besides your present company and a good book. White Caps Campground is directly across from the lake, and provides the perfect spot for tent camping. No need to buy firewood until you arrive, as the owner has plenty, as well as a little store chock full of s’more supplies.
With the nearest restaurant miles away, you will want to pack a cooler and cook your meals over the campfire, adding to the rustic experience. If a rainy day strikes, hop in your car and head to Hill Farmstead Brewery. With incredible beers and a taco stand on-site, you can create your own sunshine.
3) Provincetown, Massachusetts
At the very tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is especially easy to reach from Boston, with ferries leaving right from Seaport Boulevard. The town itself is always a scene in the summer, packed with pedestrians and full of noise and fun. Stay at the Salt House Inn or Eben House, either of which will provide you with ample amounts of Instagram-worthy shots.
Lunch is best served at The Canteen (be sure to sit in the bohemian garden out back), followed by a cone or paleta from Happy Camper next door. On a sunny Saturday, grab your morning cup from Kohi Coffee, and pack a picnic from Pop & Dutch. Rent bicycles from one of the many outfitters in town, and head straight for Race Point Beach. The bike path will take you up and over and through the dunes, providing a stunning landscape along the way.
Should you want to spend the evening at Race Point, call ahead to the National Seashore for a beach fire permit (no cost; first come, first served), and build a fire on the beach while watching the sun go down. No permit? No problem. Head over to the Provincetown Dunes for a sunset hike that will have you feeling as though you are in the middle of a desert, in the middle of nowhere.
4) Acadia National Park, Maine
Getting to Acadia involves quite a bit of driving, but the road trip is half the fun. Passing spots such as Kennebunkport, Portland, Camden, and Boothbay Harbor, this trip up coastal Maine is a beautiful one.
Culminating in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, there are plenty of charming inns and B&Bs to rest your head. If you prefer camping, Mount Desert Campground is the best place to pitch a tent. Spotless and spacious, many sites are on the water, providing the perfect spot for a peaceful weekend.
Wherever you end up checking in, be sure to get to sleep early so you can rise with the sun on top of Cadillac Mountain. Following sunrise, explore the more touristy spots, such as Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, while they are still mostly empty. Hit up Jordan Pond restaurant to enjoy its famous popovers while overlooking the Bubble Mountains, and once you have some energy back, head to Gorham Mountain Trailhead for a breathtakingly beautiful hike.
5) Newport, Rhode Island
With a main street full of shops and restaurants, and plenty of beaches, Newport is a classic summer hotspot. Check in to the newly opened Gurney’s Resort & Spa, which boasts one of the only outdoor pools in the area. In the morning, stroll along the windy and beautiful Cliff Walk, perhaps stopping for a historic mansion tour or two.
Second Beach is a great spot for swimming or surfing, and if you feel like staying out on the water, choose from a handful of sunset sails offered from the harbor. A bit off of the main stretch, Broadway and its surrounding streets have some great places to grab a bite, like the hot dog and cheeseburger staple Mission.
If visiting in July, try to time it right and grab tickets to Newport Folk Festival. Put on each year at Fort Adams State Park, it is a family-friendly and wonderful time had by all.