Seven Secret Places in New England

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Rhododendron blossoms in Rhododendron State Park, Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire
Rhododendron blossoms in Rhododendron State Park, Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire  (iStockphoto)

Travelers exploring New England may stick to tried-and-true tourist paths, such as Vermont's Green Mountains for fall foliage, Boston’s historic core for American history, or Cape Cod’s picturesque bay for beaches. But include any of these seven "secret" places in a New England itinerary, and you're in for a trip full of pleasant surprises.

Rhododendron State Park, Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire
Stop to smell the rhodies at this state park, a National Natural Landmark since 1982. The key attraction is a 16-acre rhododendron grove, which feels almost tropical when in full July bloom. Wander among the fragrant pink and white flowers and listen for the songbirds along the grove’s circle trail. If you miss the rhodies’ summer bloom, take the wildflower trail through the 2,723-acre park and you’re practically guaranteed to come across something flowering from early spring until the first frost. In the fall, you’ll get great views of the brilliant foliage from an adjacent one-mile stretch of the Little Monadnock Mountain Trail.

New Bedford, Massachusetts
"The Whaling City” is noteworthy for both its role in the 19th-century whaling industry—it was once the largest whaling port in the world—and the fact that it's still a major New England fishing port. On New England trips, a lot of folks are so intent on getting to nearby Cape Cod that they miss the seafaring history here. New Bedford's entire waterfront district is on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, where you can learn all about American whaling. Visit the Seamen's Bethel, a maritime church built around 1832 with a ship’s bow for a pulpit. This chapel was immortalized as the "Whaleman's Chapel" by Herman Melville in Moby-Dick.

Marginal Way, Ogunquit, Maine
It's easy to miss Ogunquit as you head north along the scenic Maine coast, but the mile-long, cliff-side Marginal Way is well worth the detour. This paved walkway along the ocean cliffs, complete with a nearly miniature lighthouse, provides one of the finest panoramas of Maine's famously rocky shoreline. The Atlantic waves smash against the rock ledges, sending spray into the air—geologists say these rocks record a geological history stretching back nearly a half-billion years. In 1925 conservationist and state legislator Josiah Chase donated the pathway to the town. Despite its exposure to the elements, little Marginal Way has managed to survive devastating hurricanes, development booms, and municipal budget shortfalls. A non-profit established in 2010 now protects this New England jewel.

Published: 8 Nov 2012 | Last Updated: 4 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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