Seven Secret Places in New England - Page 2

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Moosehead Lake, Longfellow Mountains, Maine
Moosehead Lake, Longfellow Mountains, Maine  (iStockphoto)

Moosehead Lake, Maine
When planning the Maine portion of a New England trip, most people think of the ocean. But set aside time to explore inland to the North Woods, and you'll discover the delights of Moosehead Lake, Maine’s largest lake. Activities abound year-round along the Moosehead’s forested shores. Fish for trout, hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail, explore the lake waters by canoe or the historic steamship Katahdin, and take in the glorious fall foliage. You might even get lucky and spot a moose along the way. Snowmobiling is popular in winter, while hardcore whitewater rafters sing the heart-thumping virtues of the nearby Kennebec and Dead rivers.

Spectacle Island, Boston, Massachusetts
Pull yourself off the Freedom Trail to see Boston's offshore delights. Catch a ferry for the 15-minute ride to Spectacle Island, one of 34 islands that form the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. You'll find an unspoiled and beautiful park with a past: The island has served its city as a quarantine hospital, summer resort, and even a trash dump. Today, Spectacle Island takes on a different shape and role. The topsoil now covers earthen debris moved here from the Big Dig, Boston's landmark tunnel project. With its new landscaping, "green" visitor’s center, five miles of hiking trails, and beach, Spectacle Island offers an easy break from busy Boston. Walk to the top of the 157-foot hill for panoramic views of Boston Harbor and the city.

East Haddam, Connecticut
In the Connecticut River Valley, Hadlyme, a jurisdiction of the quaint town of East Haddam, is home to an intriguing hilltop castle and park built by wealthy actor and playwright William Gillette (1853-1937). The Hartford-born thespian drew inspiration from medieval fortresses to create his 24-room mansion, yet the resulting Gillette Castle looks more like a child's sand castle incongruously perched in a forest. Inside are oddities designed by the actor himself, including built-in couches and tables set on tracks. Equally diverting are the views over the Connecticut River from the castle’s expansive grounds, and its miles of nature trails.

Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour, Waterbury, Vermont
The Vermont leg of a New England trip might include skiing in winter, leaf peeping in autumn, and hiking to green mountain vistas in summer and spring. For an added detour of only-in-Vermont quirk, don't miss the 40-minute tour at Ben & Jerry's. Yes, you get a free sample and time to dally in the shop selling tie-dyed logo wear, but the real reason to visit is the tour itself. Both fun and educational, the tour includes a movie about the funky company's history and picture windows overlooking the production facility. You get the inside scoop on new flavors and can sniff over lost delights at the "graveyard" of flavors past. Plus, the factory has the quintessential cows in green pastures, seemingly posed for a photo op.

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