By Amanda Huffman
Last spring, our family squeezed in a Northeast road trip before our upcoming PCS that took us from the East Coast to the West Coast. And while we saw a lot of sites over our ten-day trip, there were plenty of things we could have added to our trip. But there were some highlights along the way. I’d like to share some of the best places to visit in the Northeast, which consists of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. While many people include the District of Columbia as the Northeast, there is so much to do in DC it could be considered its own travel destination. And though I only picked one to three things to do in each state, keep in mind there is so much more to see and do.
Baltimore Harbor is one of my favorite places to visit in Maryland. Not only is the Aquarium a fun place to visit, there are also historic ships and submarines located around the harbor that you can explore. There are also plenty of fun shops and museums located around the harbor as well. You can easily park your car at the hotel and spend the whole weekend exploring without having to leave the harbor.
Delaware has a lot to offer. The Air Mobility Command Museum is located at Dover Air Force Base. Also, Cape Henlopen State Park is a highly recommended spot to visit. A ride on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry is a great way to take a break from driving on a road trip and see the coast in a unique way. The ferry takes you along 17 miles in just 85 minutes, cutting out hours of driving from Delaware to New Jersey. My family didn’t make it to Delaware on our road trip and now I’m wishing I had done more research into this fun discovery.
Pennsylvania is a large state and there is a lot to do. While I really enjoyed visiting Philadelphia to see the historic sites such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, one of my favorite places to visit was the Red Caboose Motel in Ronks, PA.
Not only did my kids love getting to sleep in a train car, we also had fun taking a ride on the nearby Strasburg Rail Road, and taking a wagon ride with an Amish driver. There are also a lot of fun attractions near Ronks, PA.
When we visited New Jersey it was so we could take the ferry from there and visit the Statue of Liberty. The ferry is easy to get to. It is recommended to make a reservation for the ferry in advance and required if you plan to go inside the statue. It is only 50 cents more to go inside the statue or up to the crown, and these reservations fill up quickly. Head to the Statue of Liberty website to make reservations. Staying in a hotel across from Manhattan the night before was also part of the fun because it was beautiful to see the cityscape change as night came and the skyline lit up. But the boardwalks and beaches nearby look like another fun option to visit, if we’d had more time to explore.
When most people think of New York, they think of the island of Manhattan and, while there is plenty to do there in the city, it isn’t the only part of New York worth a visit. It is actually only a tiny part of the state. My favorite places to visit in Manhattan are Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Twin Towers Memorial. But this is just the beginning of things to do there.
Outside of Manhattan, there are plenty of things to do and see. There are still remnants of the Erie Canal in New York and a museum in Syracuse. Also, a great natural wonder is Niagara Falls. Not only do the falls provide electricity for much of the state, but it is a beautiful place to visit. We were able to take a ride on a ferry to the base of the falls and hike near the bottom at the Cave of the Winds on our last visit. If you are able to cross over to Canada, there are beautiful views as well.
On our drive through Connecticut, we visited Mystic. Besides being a cute little town with a lot of fun shopping, there is a drawbridge. It was built in 1922 and still operates today. If you go in the summer, the bridge is pulled up at a regular interval. When we visited in early May, since there were no ships waiting for passage, the bridge did not go up. Beyond Mystic, there are plenty of other places to visit within Connecticut, such as New Haven, New London, and Hartford.
Even though Rhode Island is the smallest state in the U.S., there is a lot to see and do. Besides having historic sites from our country’s founding, Rhode Island is host to great beaches and 400 miles of stunning coastline and lighthouses.
My favorite city to visit in Massachusetts is Boston — and my favorite thing to do there is walk the Freedom Trail. This past spring when I went there with my kids, they were not as excited as I had been when I first walked the Freedom Trail as an adult, but they made the whole two-mile walk and enjoyed the ferry back to Boston near the end. The Freedom Trail is just one thing to do in Boston, though. The baseball stadium, Fenway, was built in 1911 and has a great history. It’s also a fun place to watch America’s pastime.
Another fun place to visit near Boston is Salem, which is most notable for the witch trials that occurred there in the late 1600s. The town has embraced its history and not only has a memorial for those who were killed when found guilty of witchcraft, but also has fun shops and other historic spots around town.
The beauty of Maine can’t really be explained. While my family visited Maine, we saw a handful of historic lighthouses. There are so many of them along the coast that you can search for each one by name or just look for them on your GPS to find the next one. Acadia National Park is also located in Maine.
New Hampshire touches the coast below Maine and then heads north to Canada. While driving, I was surprised how quickly we drove through NH on our way north to Maine. We didn’t have time to stop, but there were plenty of places that I wished we had time to visit in Portsmouth. Instead, we spent most of our time driving through the state and stopping to hike in the White Mountain National Forest.
When visiting Vermont, one of the most important places to visit is a maple syrup farm. One of our friends from Vermont sends us maple syrup every year from Dakins Farm and we made a stop there. We stopped by another farm, Bragg Farm SugarHouse and Gift, too, and had an even better experience. There are plenty of great small farms where the owners have a passion to share how they make maple syrup. We made another stop at a covered bridge a few miles from Bragg Farm.
As I stated before, there is a lot to see so if I missed one of your favorite places to visit share it in the comments below. No matter where you go on a Northeast adventure you are bound to find a lot of history and see amazing sites along the way.
Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Service, is the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War Horse, Military.com, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more.