Looking for New England fall foliage tours? You’ve come to the right place.
If you want to see the New England fall colors in all their glory, a tour can be a fantastic idea. Whether you want to go on a quick day tour or a grand multi-day adventure, we’ve compiled all the best options for New England fall tours below.
We understand that not everybody wants to plan their own New England road trip. (If you do, check out our comprehensive itinerary to help you plan!) Some travelers greatly prefer the convenience of a guided tour or an escorted tour. These tours are already planned for you, designed to take you to all the best spots, and generally to provide you with a wonderful experience.
Don’t go searching through dozens of websites for the best in New England autumn tours. We’ve collected them all right here for you so you can easily find the perfect option and book it. So, let’s start dreaming and planning about your adventure in the stunning New England foliage.
A quick note: While I haven’t personally been on these tours (my husband & I prefer independent travel), I am from Vermont and have spent many years exploring the amazing region of New England. These tours cover the places I’ve traveled to, and I made sure to include those New England driving tours I think will take you to the top destinations in New England. Happy trip planning!
Short New England Fall Foliage Tours – Day Trips
If you’ve only got one day to experience fall in New England, don’t worry: there are lots of one-day trips that will give you a great overview of the gorgeous foliage.
This tour provides you with a great day in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Departing from Boston, the tour lasts 11 hours and brings you north through the changing trees. Around the halfway mark, there will be a short stop to refresh/refuel with coffee or cider.
One great thing about this tour is that it takes you along the famed Kancamagus Highway, a 34-mile stretch of road through the White Mountains that boasts some of New England’s prettiest foliage.
For waterfall-lovers, this tour includes stops at 2, which are easily accessed by short hiking trails. This tour also includes a 2-hour stop for lunch and shopping in charming North Conway.
Finally, the final stop takes you to the spectacular Omni Mount Washington Hotel. With its incredible views, this epic spot is the highlight of the tour for many.
Throughout your tour, your guide will provide plenty of commentary on the surrounding area.
Pick-up is at your hotel (or a designated pick-up area). Water and snacks are included on the tour, and the tour makes stops where you can purchase food as well. (Cider donuts, anyone?)
Prefer a slightly shorter tour that includes lunch? You might like this 9-hour day trip. Like the previous tour, this also departs from Boston, but takes a different route through the New England countryside.
You’ll head up to New Hampshire to view the idyllic mountains and vibrant leaves. Alongside the foliage, you’ll pass many quaint villages and homes. The tour stops for photo opportunities in places like a classic covered bridge.
Lunch is included and is buffet-style at the lakeside Woodbound Inn in Rindge, NH.
Your New England foliage tour concludes with an autumn essential: stopping at a classic farm for apples, cider, and baked goods. Perfection!
Perhaps you’re really itching to see all of the splendor of New England in the autumn. Maybe one day just won’t cut it. For you, a multi-day tour will be the adventure of a lifetime. Here are some fabulous options:
This option is one of the most popular and highly-rated New England tours out there. Operated by Insight Vacations, this bus tour definitely provides travelers with a fantastic overview of some of the region’s best spots.
Starting in Boston, the tour brings you to Williamstown, Stowe (a town you’ll fall in love with), North Conway, Portland, and more. Perhaps the most unique part of the itinerary is that it includes a day called “a taste of Vermont.” As a Vermonter, I can tell you that our food is amazing, and I imagine a day of cheese, farm-fresh vegetables, cider donuts, maple syrup, and plenty of home-made, organic culinary delights await you.
The tour includes all of your breakfasts, 5 dinners, and accommodation.
Highlights of this tour:
A stay at the famous Trapp Family Lodge, owned by the von Trapp family who inspired The Sound of Music.
Driving along Ocean Drive in Kennebunkport to marvel at the fabulous homes
This tour follows a great route through some of our favorite New England highlights, including Burlington, Vermont. Altogether, this tour brings you through the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
As this is a multi-day tour, it includes accommodation, breakfast, and plenty of interesting stops along the way. Tour highlights include:
This 9-day tour has one of the most attractive itineraries, in our opinion. It includes highlights in four states, and some of our favorite places in New England, like Stowe, Woodstock, and Lexington, and it even brings you all the way to the spectacular Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine.
With the extensive area covered during this trip, you are likely to have many opportunities to glimpse the New England fall foliage.
Ice cream tasting at Vermont’s famous Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory
Views from Acadia’s Cadillac Mountain
A local lobster dinner- classic New England
The Kancamagus Highway (excellent foliage)
This tour covers most of your meals (some lunches and dinners on your own) and has terrific accommodation including the lovely Essex Resort & Spa in Vermont (a wonderful hotel where I used to work!)
Not all of these New England escorted tours depart from Boston. Here is one that leaves from NYC.
At 6 days, this is a quicker tour, but it covers all of the states in New England, so it’s a terrific overview. I love that it goes through Newport, Rhode Island, which is a fascinating historic town known for its Golden Age mansions.
Accommodation on this tour is in comfortable hotels that all boast a high Booking.com rating.
Highlights of this trip include:
Driving down scenic Vermont 100 (especially lovely in the fall)
A Harvard Campus tour
Visiting The Breakers, the most opulent of Newport’s mansions
This is the only option on this list that includes a stop in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. So if you’re yearning for fall tours of New England states that include a coastal stop, this is an ideal choice.
An 8-day adventure, this one begins in Boston and heads up through a selection of key New England destinations. This includes Woodstock, Stowe, and North Conway, popular stops on any New England fall foliage tour. These are definitely must-visit locations with some great foliage and classic New England charm.
Highlights of the Colors of New England tour:
Sampling craft beers at the von Trapp Brewery in Stowe
A cruise of Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire’s biggest lake
If you want a near guarantee that you’ll see incredible New England fall foliage, Vermont is where to go.
Now, I may be biased as a Vermonter, but Vermont is the most beautiful of all the New England states in many ways, and it is the most charming and most idyllic for a fall trip.
So, if you want a dose of gorgeous Autumn in a quick couple of days, consider this 4-day jaunt to Southern Vermont and Western Massachusetts.
This tour begins in Williamstown, MA, before heading north to spend some time in Manchester and Bennington as well as the nearby village of Dorset. With less time spent driving, this tour invites you to go more in-depth in your destinations, and focus especially on the artistic, cultural, and historic elements of the region.
Highlights of this tour:
Theatre performances by the Oldcastle Theatre Company and the Weston Playhouse
A visit to Hildene, the Lincoln family home in Manchester, VT
Private guided tours of The Clark Art Institute and MASS MoCA
Our last exciting option is not your traditional bus tour, but is an adventure by bike!
If you are into cycling, this would be the most amazing way to experience fall in New England.
This bike tour starts and ends in Burlington, Vermont, a great destination in itself. with your guide and your small group, you will head through the Champlain Valley to see some of the region’s top spots. When visiting in late September through early October, you can expect to be surrounded by colors throughout the journey.
Accommodation for this trip is in some super cozy inns along the route. You’ll also be covered for all breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 4 dinners.
Travel in America is synonymous with the open road, with taking a road trip to see some of the nation’s most beautiful sites. But which routes make for the best road trips in the USA?
If you don’t have months to spend road tripping the whole of the US, what should you prioritize?
We haven’t been everywhere, but like the quote says, “it’s on our list!” To help us create this ultimate guide to the best American road trips, we asked some of the most well-traveled people we know: our fellow bloggers.
Together, we’ve come up with a collection of fantastic USA road trip routes, spanning all parts of the country.
Craving a sunny Southern adventure? We’ve got it. Want to see the best fall foliage in New England? We know the perfect road trip. Whatever your desires (and however long you have) consider this article your essential USA road trip planner.
So, where will you go first?
The Ultimate Guide to the Best USA Road Trips
We’ve divided these great American road trips by region. Some of that, like the famous Route 66 for instance, could fit in multiple categories since they cover more than one area of the country.
For each road trip route, we’ve included the approximate distance you would travel from start to finish. Keep in mind that this does not account for stops, detours, or any additional mileage, but refers to the rough distance you would expect to cover along the entire route.
We’ve also included recommended time frames for when to take these terrific United States road trips (the slower you can go, the better), plus suggestions for the best time of year to travel.
Western USA Road Trips
Some might argue that the best USA road trip is one taken through the American West. It would be hard to dispute this, given the spectacular scenery and vast, open roads in the Western states. Here are some of the best road trip routes to follow in the Western US.
California US-395: Joshua Tree –> Yosemite
Distance: 375 miles
Suggested itinerary: 1 week
Recommended for: mid-September to mid-October
US-395 is a beautiful back road that stretches from southern California all the way north to the Canadian border. Though the route encompasses over 1300 miles, we’re going to focus on the most scenic and attraction-filled stretch between Joshua Tree and Yosemite National Parks.
Joshua Tree National Park is a dynamic desert paradise in southern California. Situated 150 miles south of Las Vegas and 100 miles east of Los Angeles, this under-appreciated park is a great place to start a California road trip. After spending a day or two exploring everything Joshua Tree has to offer, head north on CA-247 to the junction with Historic Route 66 in Barstow.
After a kitsch-filled pit stop in Barstow, head east on CA-58 to pick up US-395. Traveling the length of California via 395 is a great way to experience the highly diverse natural scenery of the state. From Joshua Tree, the vast lonely expanse of desert slowly morphs into the dry mountainous terrain of the Eastern Sierras.
With Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park to the east and Sequoia National Forest and National Park to the west, this first leg of 395 offers plenty of options for places to stop and explore, or even camp, if you’re feeling adventurous.
Heading further north envelopes you in mountains on both sides – desert crags to the east and snow-capped shrubby peaks to the west. You’ll pass Kings Canyon National Park, North Palisade Peak, the thick towering woods of Inyo National Forest, and the utterly breath-taking Mammoth Lakes ski region.
Hook a left onto CA-120 at Mono Lake, and carve your way up the switchbacks and over the mountains guarding the world-famous Yosemite Valley. And if you have a couple of days to spare, jump back on 395 and head another 110 miles north to Lake Tahoe!
(Submitted by Scott, Take Back Roads)
Distance: 2400 miles
Suggested itinerary: 1-2 weeks
Recommended for: Spring and fall
Known as The Mother Road, Route 66 stretches from the Midwest to the Pacific Ocean. Beginning in downtown Chicago and ending at Santa Monica Pier, this epic road trip covers more than 2,400 miles through eight states. It’s one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System, and driving it is to travel America’s past.
Much of the original alignment has been replaced by interstates, but there are still many miles of two lanes where you can see some of the country’s quirkiest roadside attractions. You’ll want to allow at least one week, and preferably two, to make sure you can stop frequently.
And you will want to stop often.
There are giant Muffler Men in Illinois, the Wagon Wheel Motel in Missouri, a giant blue whale in Oklahoma, and Cadillac Ranch in Texas. There’s even a Singing Road in Albuquerque; drive exactly 45 MPH and that stretch of Route 66 plays America, the Beautiful. Other stops include an abandoned mountain lion zoo, a corner in Winslow, Arizona, and a mining town populated with roaming donkeys. It’s a string of ingenuity and Americana.
The best times of year to drive Route 66 are Spring and Fall. During the milder seasons, you’ll avoid snow in Northern Illinois and through Arizona’s and California’s mountain passages. You’ll also miss some of the blazing heat in the Mojave Desert.
Of course, the best part of driving Route 66 is the people you’ll meet along the way. When you drive through these small towns and historic landmarks, take a moment to meet those who are keeping this piece of America alive.
(submitted by Theresa, The Local Tourist)
San Francisco, California –> Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Distance: 524 miles
Suggested itinerary: 1 week
Recommended for: Summer and early fall
A road trip from San Francisco to Crater Lake National Park is full of surprises. It goes along HW 101 (with small detours) and features a variety of volcanic activity en route that will capture your imagination.
You should allocate one week for this trip. The first stop on this trip is at the town of Redding which is a great place to explore attractions within 40 minutes’ drive radius from town, which includes Lassen Volcanic National Park and Mc Arthur Burney Falls State Park.
Lassen Peak at the center of the Lassen National Park is an active volcano which results in a variety of unique geological activity like steam vents and sputtering hot mud. There are a lot of beautiful hiking trails in the park featuring mountain streams, lakes and the aforesaid volcanic activity.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway with Bumpass Mountain in the background
Mc Arthur Burney Falls State Park is centered around an amazing waterfall that is absolutely worth a side trip. Plan to spend a couple of nights in Redding.
The next stop of this road trip is Mt. Shasta, which is an active volcano as well. There are lots of hiking trails on the mountains at different elevations and the higher up you are the views are amazing. There are also a couple of lakes in the area that are worth exploring, including Lake Shasta and Lake Siskiyou. Plan to spend a couple of days here as well.
The final destination is Crater Lake National Park which was created by a volcano explosion over 7000 years ago. This trip is best for July- September because in other months there is a risk that a lot of trails on Mt. Shasta and in Lassen National Park may be closed
because of snow.
Southwest Road Trip: Las Vegas, Nevada –> Page, Arizona
Distance: 272 miles
Suggested itinerary: 5-7 days
Recommended for: All seasons (check for latest conditions)
One of our favorite road trips features some of the best stops in the US Southwest through Northern Arizona and Utah.
Starting from Las Vegas, Nevada and making your way to Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona where some of our favorite Southwest locations are.
In this recommended road trip you’d ideally need 5 days if not an extra day or two if you want to enjoy more activities around Kanab or Page.
This road trip can be completed any season, however, you’ll have to find what precautions to take each season as there are certain times of the year when flash flooding is more predominant and the summer months can get more crowded.
We completed our road trip during off-season in the winter to experience the Southwest completely differently with a blanket of snow. During off-season you not only get great rates on hotels but you can have many of the natural sites to yourself.
The only downfall of traveling off-season is that some parks do have closures in the winter.
We recommend starting in Las Vegas and driving to Kanab, Utah with stops along the way at the Valley of Fire and Red Cliff Desert Reserve.
Once you make it to Kanab we recommend trying your luck to get a permit for the famous Wave hike in Coyote Buttes North at the local BLM office. If you aren’t one of the lucky ones we recommend still getting a permit for Coyote Buttes South, less popular but just as beautiful.
Afterwards, continue on to Page, Arizona where you can experience the gorgeous Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend.
Then continue to Monument Valley in Utah where you can experience one of the most iconic American Southwest scenery featured in several Hollywood films.
(Submitted by Megan, Bobo & Chichi)
Utah National Parks Road Trip
Distance: 533 miles
Suggested itinerary: 2 weeks
Recommended for: Summer and fall
Now, I may be biased after living here for almost four years, but I think Utah road trips are the best, especially a road trip to Utah’s national parks, the Mighty 5, spread almost evenly throughout Southern Utah making it the perfect road trip route. I would recommend flying in and out of Las Vegas as it’s the closest to the parks and the most affordable.
I would recommend two weeks for the trip so you’re not super rushed and have time to do side trips along the way. The best time to go will probably be summer or fall. Summer is very hot so make sure you stay hydrated and don’t push yourself too hard on hikes if you’re feeling bad or exhausted at all. If you want a less busy trip and have the time, consider a winter trip.
From Las Vegas, the first stop would be Zion National Park (2-3 days), followed by Bryce Canyon (1-2 days), Capitol Reef (2-3 days), Arches (1-2 days), and Canyonlands (1-3 days).
There is so much to see at each park, but some of the best include Angels Landing, The Narrows, Hidden Canyon, and Canyon Overlook at Zion; Mossy Cave Trail and Navajo Loop/Queen Gardens Trail at Bryce Canyon; Hickman Bridge, Cohab Canyon, Cassidy Arch, Headquarters Canyon, and the overlooks at Capitol Reef; Delicate Arch, Devil’s Garden, Fiery Furnace, and Park Avenue at Arches; and finally Mesa Arch, Upheaval Dome, Whale Rock, The Needles Overlook, and Newspaper Rock at Canyonlands.
Some awesome side trips if you have time, or trips for along the drive, include Snow Canyon, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Kodachrome Basin, Goblin Valley, Edge of the Cedars, and Deadhorse Point State Parks. Lake Powell, Grand Staircase Escalante, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Natural Bridges are all great options, too.
(submitted by Megan, Red Around the World)
Southwest Texas Road Trip
Distance: 720 miles
Suggested itinerary: 1 week
Recommended for: Spring or fall, any time of year
When most people think of visiting Texas, it’s usually the big cities that come to mind: Austin, Dallas, Houston. But if you truly want to get off the beaten path on a U.S. road trip, then you need to head waaayyy west in Texas for an epic one-week road trip that will
see you exploring quirky small towns, marveling at the expansive desert and skirting the Mexican border.
This is a road trip where you may go hundreds of miles without seeing another vehicle. You can do this trip at any time of the year, but the weather is more temperate during spring and fall.
Start this trip in El Paso, which sits right on the border of Texas and Mexico. Spend a day here, exploring museums and street art, or tackling one of the great hikes in the area. Alternatively, hit the road straight away, bound for Fort Davis. The outdoors rules here: there are plenty of hikes to choose from, or join a Star Party to explore the skies at the McDonald Observatory.
Your Instagram account will love Marfa, a small, arty town that’s high on the cool factor. Pose in front of the Prada Marfa art installation, visit unique galleries like Ballroom Marfa and see if you can spot the Marfa Lights – are they UFOs? You be the judge. Make sure you time your trip to spend a weekend in Marfa – much of the town shuts down during the week.
Next, you’re heading to one of the U.S.’s most underrated national parks: Big Bend. There are two ways to get there, but I recommend taking the far more scenic Texas River Road, a 120-mile route that begins west of the small town of Presidio. Along the
way, you’ll have gorgeous views of the Rio Grande, splitting the U.S. and Mexico with its winding waters.
In Big Bend, there are plenty of hikes for all fitness levels. A must is the Santa Elena Canyon, an easy hike which ends with stunning views from inside the millions-of-years- old canyon.
To explore Big Bend, base yourself in Terlingua, a town of 60 people, most of whom you’ll find sitting on the porch of the Terlingua Trading Store, sipping beers, telling tales and strumming a guitar or two. Wander the Terlingua Ghost Town to see the cemetery,
old jail and church and learn about the town’s mining history.
Stop in at Marathon for a peek inside the historic Gage Hotel. In Alpine, check out the tiny Target “store” (yep, yet another art installation) before heading back to El Paso, where this unique U.S. road trip ends.
(Submitted by Rebecca, Rebecca and the World)
The Pacific Coast Highway: California Highway 1
Distance: 650+ miles
Suggested itinerary: one week, ideally 10-14 days
Recommended for: late spring-early fall
California’s HWY 1 runs nearly the entire length of the state and is one of the best road trips in the county. This ribbon of road follows the dramatic coastline filled steep cliffs falling sharply into the sea.
Some of the best bits of this 650+ mile-long stretch of pavement are along the central coast. One of our favorite sections of the drive starts in Pismo Beach in the south up through just after the Bixby Creek Bridge near Monterey in the north.
If you plan to tackle just this section you should give yourself about three days to truly experience it. While physically driving this piece of pavement can be done in a little over a half a day – once you are there, you’ll realize quickly that there is a lot to pull over for. If you wanted to do the entire length of HWY 1, we’d suggest to allow for at least a week, but 10-14 days would be better.
The are so many great stops along the central section of HWY 1 but a few you should not miss are: the Elephant seals of Piedras Blancas, the Hearst Castle, McWay Waterfall, Bixby Creek Bridge, Monterey Aquarium, and Morro Rock of Morro Bay. It would also be a sin not to linger in the Paso Robles Wine Region along the way and make sure to catch the sunset at Ragged Point. These are just a few highlights to add as waypoints, but there are countless vista and memories to be made with a road trip along California’s Highway 1.
(Submitted by Adam & Hannah, Getting Stamped)
Badlands to Yellowstone to Grand Tetons to Rocky Mountain National Park Tour
Distance: 857 miles
Suggested itinerary: 10 days
Recommended for: July-September
Roughly 1,000 miles will take you through a diverse range of climates, 3 states, and four beautiful national parks. The best time to take this 10 day road trip depends on your comfort level with driving in the snow! July-September is the safest range; June and October will have less traffic but also a higher risk of snow road closures.
Be prepared for minimal cell coverage while in the national parks. Making advance reservations ahead of time for lodging & dinner is highly recommended!
Day 1: Badlands National Park, take a hike and drive the main park road, look for bison, prairie dogs & bighorn sheep.
Day 2: Drive from Badlands National Park on 90W, stopping to gawk at the extremely touristy Wall Drug shopping plaza. Continue on for some nature at Devil’s Tower National Monument.
Day 3: Drive into the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Explore Lake Yellowstone with a hike or a boat ride and walk along the eerie geysers of the Mud Volcano area.
Day 4: Drive towards the north side in YNP, stopping by to see the petrified tree, Yellowstone Falls, and then touring around Mammoth Hot Springs.
Day 5: Head south in YNP, looping to hike the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook (see more details in this list of top ten yellowstone hikes for families), and then head over to see the Old Faithful area.
Day 6: Drive south into the Grand Tetons National Park; stopping by the small but engaging National Museum of Wildlife Art. Once you’re in the park, walk around Coulter Bay and drive the Teton Park Road.
Day 7: Take a boat ride across Jenny Lake and hike to the famous Hidden Falls. Drive over to Mormon Row, finishing in nearby Jackson Hole for shops & breweries.
Day 8: Drive on 26 S down to Rocky Mountain National Park. To break up the drive, stop by Wind River Hotel & Casino in Riverton, WY, where you can dig for fossils or visit wild horses.
Day 9: Enter through the Grand Lake side of Rocky Mountain National Park and take the famous Trail Ridge Road, stopping to visit the alpine visitor’s center and pick a hike to round out your day.
Day 10: Get up early and visit Bear Lake, taking an easy stroll around the picturesque water or extend your hike up to Emerald Lake. Add on an easy waterfall hike like Alberta Falls or Chasm Falls, and visit the Sheep Lakes area to spot wildlife.
(submitted by Stephanie, Explore More, Clean Less)
Northern Colorado Road Trip: Denver –> Boulder
Distance: 236 miles
Suggested itinerary: 10 days
Recommended for: early May-late September
A northern Colorado road trip packs in a little bit of everything from urban adventure and Rocky Mountain trails to small-town Americana and Dude Ranch fun. Head out to Colorado any time between early May to late September to get the best of the weather.
Your ten-day road trip starts in Denver, the mile-high city where you’ll spend two days exploring the city’s museums, craft beer scene, cool neighborhoods, and epic street art.
Next head north to Loveland where the Devil’s Backbone makes for epic hiking. Loveland is the sculpture capital of the US so be sure to drop by one of the town’s three sculpture parks before checking in at Sweetheart Winery for a glass or two of Loveland wine. Before you leave, lock in your love by fixing an engraved padlock at the big red Loveland sign.
After your night in Loveland head north to Red Feather Lakes and saddle up at Sundance Trail Guest Ranch. Spend two days enjoying horseback rides in Roosevelt National Forest, campfires and s’mores and good home-cooked ranch food.
Small town Americana is next with a one-night stop at Fort Collins. Get stuck into Farm to table dining with some of the state’s freshest and best food. Take a bike ride around the town’s cycle path and check out the art trail. Stay at the gorgeous Armstrong Hotel.
The mountains are calling and it’s time to head to the Rocky Mountains and stay in a cabin at Estes Park for three nights. You’ll have easy access to the park’s trails and scenic walks around beautiful lakes and trails with stunning vistas. In the evenings explore the town’s lively restaurant and bar scene.
Boulder beckons for your final night. Check out the lively town and the bars, restaurants and shops. Buy some souvenirs, and pop into the Museum of Contemporary Art before heading home.
This guide to the best things to do in Mystic, CT is a guest post by Kelley of Sailing Chance.
Mystic is a charming waterfront town nestled on the Mystic River in Connecticut that is rich in nautical history. Only 3 hours from New York City and less than an hour and a half from Boston, it is a perfect weekend escape in New England. Whether you are a nature lover, nautical enthusiast or seafood lover, Mystic has something for everyone.
Mystic Seaport Museum & Village
If you have ever wondered how America’s maritime past has shaped the lives of craftsmen today, you won’t want to miss Mystic Seaport.
Covering 19 acres along the Mystic River, the museum is touted as the largest and leading maritime museum in the US. It features four National Historic Landmark vessels, including America’s oldest commercial ship and the last wooden whaleship in the world, a working shipyard and a recreated 19th-century coastal village.
This true seafaring village is comprised of dozens of original New England buildings from the 1800s that have been transported to the museum.
The village is full of a variety of nautical specialists including shipsmiths, coopers, riggers and woodcarvers who all bring the town’s seafaring past to life.
Built in 1922, the iconic Mystic River Bascule Bridge opens every hour at 40 minutes past the hour between 8:40 am and 6:40 pm.
A bascule bridge is raised and lowered using a system of counterweights, and the mechanisms of the Mystic River Bridge are fully exposed so you can see all the moving parts as it is hard at work.
Argia Ship Cruises
To really feel a part of Mystic’s seafaring ways, take a sunset or day sail on the 81’ classic wooden Two-Masted Gaff Topsail Schooner, Argia, and explore the scenic coastline and surrounding islands. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Mystic, CT!
The schooner can accommodate up to 49 guests who can spend their time relaxing and taking in the scenery or getting their sea legs by helping the crew hoist and trim the sails.
Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
Those looking to get closer to nature can’t miss Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, a 350-acre sanctuary with over 10 miles of hiking trails. With a mission to inspire an understanding of the natural world and how individuals are a part of it, visitors can spend their day birding, identifying wild plants and enjoying the various wetlands, woodlands and meadow habitats.
The sanctuary features a rehabilitation center where caretakers work with birds and other animals to get them healthy enough to be released back into the wild. For those who can’t be, you can find them in outdoor flight enclosures throughout the sanctuary.
The Center also features a Nature Center, a working farm, a Nature Preschool & drop-in homeschooling classes, gardening classes and other various special events.
Fisher’s Island is a 7-mile long island that protects the sound from the open ocean’s often unpredictable wind and waves. This location has solidified the island as one of the East Coast’s most popular sailing destinations.
For guests without their own sailboats, Poet’s Lounge Sailing Charters offers visitors an ultimate private day on the water, completely catered to their interests. Guests can relax and take in the scenery, stop for a swim, go snorkeling or embark on an ocean sail during their adventure.
Aboard a 40-ft racing boat, Captain Darin Keech sails up to 6 guests through Fisher’s Island Sound for 2 – 6 hour trips. Guests can bring their own food and beverages and may be lucky enough to hear the Captain play his guitar.
One of the best Mystic CTThe Denison Homestead is a privately owned 160-acre property that is home to 1717 House Museum, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center and a farmers’ market. Open Friday – Monday from June – October, visitors step back in time to explore a 300-year-old preserved family manor.
In 1930, after 6 generations of Denisons called the manor home, it was turned into a memorial honoring the Denison family. Each of the 5 rooms was restored to echo different time periods and the family members that lived in them.
Today, guests can visit the museum, enjoy hiking over 8 miles of trails across the property and pick up locally grown and manufactured goods while listening to live music at their Farmer’s Market every Sunday.
Animal lovers don’t want to miss the Mystic Aquarium. The stars of the show are the beluga whales that can be viewed from Mystic Aquarium’s Arctic Coast, a 750,000-gallon outdoor beluga whale habitat. The Aquarium is a leader in beluga research, care and behaviors.
Visitors can also learn the difference between seals and sea lions, watch the African penguins, see the handlers feed the sharks and rays, and even experience of one of the many interactive exhibits.
Don’t forget to catch the 4D Deep Sea movie presentation which rotates sea and arctic-inspired films. Now playing is Smallfoot! The Mystic Aquarium is certainly fun for kids of all ages, but adults will be surprised at how much they love it, too.
Running a race may not be the most typical way to explore a city, but the Mystic Half Marathon is truly unique.
Wind your way through 13.1 miles along one of New England’s most scenic shorelines, past historic ships and through a lovely downtown with a finish line in front of the Mystic Aquarium.
At the very least, it is a guarantee you’ll burn enough calories to counteract all the delicious food you’ll eat later!
Peace Nature Sanctuary
Once used as a gathering place for over 10,000 people to attend annual outdoor peace meetings, today’s Peace Nature Sanctuary offers visitors a different kind of peaceful experience.
Located along River Road the sanctuary features 45-acres of river views, well-maintained walking paths and a host of native plants to uncover.
Each May more than 400 pink lady slippers bloom simultaneously creating quite a sight for visitors. The Sanctuary is now maintained by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.
Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1946, the mission of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra is to inspire, educate, and connect their community through live orchestral music.
They do this each year through a series of six subscription concerts with noteworthy solo features, free lectures and performances with the Eastern Connecticut Ballet in presentations of The Nutcracker.
The Connecticut Wine Trail is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the United States. The area boasts a variety of wine styles that you can sample alongside a stunning backdrop.
The wineries offer a Passport to Connecticut Winery Farms where participants can collect stamps from all the Connecticut based wineries they visit. Collect enough stamps and you are entered to win the grand prize and other prize packages.
Saltwater Farm Vineyard and Stonington Vineyards will be your best options to visit in the area. Cheers!
Sabino Steamboat tour
Take a ride on the oldest wooden, coal-fired steamboat in regular operation in the US as it glides along the Mystic River in 30-minute, 90-minute, and 2-hour cruises.
Operating for over 110 years, Sabino is a 57’ steamboat that came to Mystic in 1973 from Maine and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992. Tours leave from the Mystic Shipyard.
Stroll along Main Street
One of Mystic’s main attractions, guests love to explore the picturesque riverfront downtown area of Mystic which is centered around the Mystic River Bascule Bridge.
Wander through a variety of unique boutiques, galleries, jewelry shops, toy stores and gift shops. For nautical inspired garb to commemorate your seafaring adventure, check out Mystic Knotworks which is the first and oldest knot shop in the US.
Refuel by grabbing a slice at Mystic Pizza, a memorabilia-filled pizza joint that inspired the 1988 film, and then enjoy a delicious scoop (or two!) from Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream shop.
Olde Mystick Village
This shopping village is like no other as it is a recreated 18th century New England Village mirroring the shopping experience before malls. Browse more than 60 small and unique shops as you stroll along cobblestone streets.
From a store dedicated to unique olive oil blends, a mystical Christmas store, Connecticut’s largest retail chocolate manufacturer and so many more, visitors can spend hours wandering the variety of stores within the village.
Be sure to come hungry as some of Mystic’s best restaurants can be found here.
About the Author: Kelley Gudahl lives aboard a 42-ft sailboat in New York City and writes about her sailing and traveling adventures with her husband and 2-year-old daughter at SailingChance.com. They bought their first sailboat near Mystic, CT.
Planning a trip to New England? You might find these resources helpful:
There are so many romantic things to do in Nashville. My husband and I actually had our first date downtown, and as the city continues to grow, there are always new date ideas popping up!
One of my goals leading up to my 30th birthday was to try out something new in the city, and with this town, romance is all around. Whether you’re looking for a place to eat, listen to music or just relax together – you’ll find it in Nashville.
This is a guest post from Kalee of Kim and Kalee.
Enjoy Breakfast at Loveless Cafe
While Nashville is the home to country music, it’s also known for its amazing Southern food. And if you’re going to try a biscuit while you’re here, you have to go a little out of town for the best — Loveless Cafe.
The famous “biscuit lady” recipe is still used today, and you can’t beat their Southern cooking. There can be a bit of wait, but there is plenty of room to sit and talk over picnic tables and corn hole outside.
For our 1st anniversary, Jake and I did a wine tasting at Arrington Vineyards. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and they have live music and events throughout the year. (View their events here)
When we went, we brought a blanket and bought a bottle of our favorite wine from the tasting (blackberry!). The laid-back atmosphere and sweet wine is something you’ll never forget.
They also offer a picnic service which is pretty convenient and romantic!
Go to a Way Late Play Date at Nashville’s Adventure Science Museum
I mentioned our first date was in Nashville, but I didn’t mention what we did! We went to dinner and then to a Laser Show set to 80’s music at the Adventure Science Museum!
They are always doing events, so make sure to check the calendar. One of the things they’ve added since we first went are Way Late Play Dates.
These are themed events open to adults 21 and over. They open up the whole museum in the evening, offer wine, beer and light snacks, and have contests and more. It’s so much fun!
Grab a Cocktail at Whiskey Kitchen
After eating at dozens of Nashville restaurants, Whiskey Kitchen really feels so “Nashville” to me. They offer American food and one of the best peach bellinis I’ve ever had. Jake also says their mojito is one of the best!
See the City From Love Circle
Despite the name, this isn’t one of those “park and make out” spots. It’s a gorgeous spot to see the city’s skyline and relax on a blanket though.
It’s a little bit of a windy road, but you can’t beat the views. I recommend going at sunset. It’s off of West End. You can Google, “Nashville Love Circle Directions” and directions should pop up.
Enjoy a Show at Pucketts
One of my favorite dates of all time was at Pucketts in Franklin, TN. Franklin is one of the more affluent suburbs of Nashville, and a lot of country artists and writers live there.
Pucketts is on the square (which is so cute to start with), and you can often book tickets for a show to enjoy over dinner.
The also have a location in downtown Nashville where they have live music often as well; the Franklin location is just a bit bigger.
In the mood for more music? Check out this option from Viator, which takes you to RCA Studio B and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Grab Breakfast at the Pancake Pantry
If you or your significant other loves breakfast, the Pancake Pantry is an amazing little spot that locals and tourists line up for every morning. The chocolate chip pancakes aren’t one to be missed!
Attend a Wine Festival
Nashville has some amazing wine festivals year round! April through September is usually the most active with wine and food festivals, but there is an amazing Wine in the Winter event as well!
The Wildhorse Saloon offers a ton of concerts, as well as, line dancing! They also have a full restaurant inside as well so you can sit and watch as others dance their achy-breaky hearts out too!
See a Show at the Ryman
The Ryman is considered the Mother Church of Country Music. A lot of country music legends played here while it was the Grand Ole Opry (1943 to 1974), and the acoustics inside are still some of the very best (if not the best) in the city!
If you’re not a country music fan, don’t worry! They have all kinds of artists and even comedians at the Ryman as well!
Grab Lunch at The Farmer’s Market
The Farmer’s Market is in such a cool part of town. It’s on the cusp of Germantown, an up-and-coming neighborhood, and the vibe here is so cool.
You can shop the farmer’s market or head into the cafeteria-style area to grab lunch!
Try Nashville’s Hot Chicken at Hattie B’s
If you’ve ever heard of Nashville, then you’ve heard of Nashville Hot Chicken. It’s something we became known for through places like Prince’s and Hattie B’s.
Location wise – Hattie B’s is the easiest to get to with 3 locations. While there is almost always a line, it’s well worth the wait. If you go on Sunday’s, they also have waffles!
There is also a massive mall right next to it if you’re looking for a bite to eat or a great deal.
Be Losers in Midtown
Midtown Nashville is such a cool, unique spot. They have bars lining Broadway including Winners and Losers. As you can guess, Losers is always packed!
Blake Shelton has been spotted there a time or two as well before he opened up his own bar, Ole Red.
Check Out Local Talent at The Bluebird Cafe
The Bluebird Cafe is another historical spot for music. This place is tiny, and you’ll have no choice but to cuddle up over some live music.
Enjoy a Treat at Goo-Goo or Christie Cookie
If a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, you can’t miss the Goo-Goo store or Christie Cookie. Both offer samples, and you won’t want to leave without getting more.
There are several candy places downtown, but these two shops are the best!
Wander Through the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens
Cheekwood Botanical Gardens are absolutely gorgeous, and they are always having new exhibits coming in. If you’re looking for a place to just wander around beauty and talk, this is the place!
Bar Hop Through the Honky Tonks
If you’ve never barhopped through lower Broadway, you and your date may also enjoy the seeing the famous honky tonks!
While they get super cramped on the weekends, you can find a time to suit your fancy usually. If you choose to go on a Sunday afternoon they still offer plenty of live music, and you can usually find a table.
With Movies in the Park, there are tons of food trucks to pick from too so you can even eat picnic style together before the movie starts.
Stay in a Unique Hotel
My mom and I actually stayed at the Aertson Kimpton one night, and I can’t wait to take Jake back. They have an amazing restaurant, Henley, and a luxurious spa on site. Plus they have a rooftop pool where you can relax after a day date!
Enjoy a Movie at the Belcourt Theatre
The Belcourt Theatre is still one of our favorite repeat dates. They show classic and new movies, and they have some fun midnight showings through the year as well.
It’s a classic theatre that was renovated recently, and they also offer wine and unique snacks for moviegoers!
Laugh at Zanies
Nashville is also home to one of the best comedy clubs, Zanies. Several of the shows sell out, so I usually keep an eye on their event calendar a few weeks out.
With that said, there is nothing like laughing until you’re crying with your spouse or significant other! Well worth planning out a time to go!
They offer food and drinks at the club, but I highly suggest checking out Baked on 8th for a sweet treat beforehand!
Venture to the Historic Franklin Square
As you finish up your dates around Nashville, why not plan a day date to aimlessly walk around the Franklin Square.
There you can grab a coffee, and then window shop the unique storefronts and find a great place to eat like Grey’s on Main Street or enjoy a glass of wine at JJ’s Wine Bar.
No matter if you’re looking for a quiet spot alone or a place to play together, you’ll find it in Nashville.
As the city continues to grow, there will only be more romantic date ideas in Nashville. With that said, I think sometimes the most romantic dates are found at places with a ton of history. I hope you and your date love and enjoy these ideas as much as we have!
If you’ve visited the city before or are a local, what’s your favorite romantic date idea in Nashville?
About the Author: Kalee is a full-time writer living in Nashville. She runs a lifestyle brand, Kim and Kalee, with her mom, Kim. She’s married to her husband, Jake, and they love to try out new restaurants and events in the city.
Picking a life partner is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life. And it’s not one that is taken lightly.
If you’re like most single people, as you’re dating, you’re considering whether there’s long-term potential with each person. Could he or she be the right one?
After a few months or even a few years, the considerations become even more significant. Am I with the right partner for the long-haul? Is this the person I want to marry? And of course there is the fear: am I with the wrong person?
We’ve got a popular article that highlights the good signs in a relationship: 9 Signs You’ve Met the Right Person. Today, we’re talking about the more obvious negative elements, the indications that you might not be with the best partner for you.
Disclaimer:Is there such a thing as the right person?
Before diving in, I want to take a moment to talk about what it means to find the right person. Personally, we Two Drifters don’t believe in the traditional concept of soulmates. In other words, we don’t believe that there is only one person for everyone. There is potential for you to be happy with a number of partners.
But what does matter is picking the right person for you. The partner who matches your values, desires, goals, and ultimately enriches your life and makes you a better person. While you likely have additional criteria for what you look for in a partner, these aspects can be a good starting point.
It’s also important to remember that no partner is going to be perfect. Everyone is flawed. We all have issues, baggage from our pasts, and things about us that just aren’t great. So, even if there are some problems in your relationship, don’t panic. Most issues can be solved or improved, so long as you have a partner willing to put in the effort.
It’s also normal to question things even when you’re in a good and solid relationship. It does not necessarily mean you’re with the wrong person or in the wrong relationship. We’ve written about this here.
Finally, please remember that neither of us is a therapist or marriage counselor. We’re writing from our own perspectives, from the point of view of our own experiences, research, and opinions. For serious relationship issues, we recommend and fully support seeking out a trained professional. Therapy is a great thing.
Now, let’s dive into the 9 signs you might be with the wrong person.
There are obvious red flags.
This, without question, is the number one sign you’re with the wrong partner: there are obvious, serious red flags.
We’re talking about abuse of any kind (physical, verbal, etc.), ongoing substance abuse, untreated severe mental illness, or major criminal activity. Sure, you could make an excuse for any of these things, but at the end of the day, these issues can be a threat to your personal health and safety—and that of your family.
If you’re unsure if a red flag is legitimate or not, consider a friend in your position. Would you tell them to leave the relationship? Chances are you would say yes.
If you’re experiencing an issue like this, I urge you to seek out resources that can be of help to you.
Please note, I’m not saying that you should leave a partner with a mental illness or who suffers from addiction. There is help out there for these problems and people have the ability to heal and move forward. However, if your partner remains unwilling to get help or seek out resources, this is going to be a red flag for your relationship.
A general unwillingness to work on the relationship together.
Another sign of a problematic partnership is when your partner just doesn’t want to put in the work.
I’m not going to lie to you, relationships are work. Some seasons are much easier than others, and not every relationship will experience severe hard times, but no long-lasting relationship is built without a fair amount of effort from both partners.
If your current partner shows no interest in strengthening your relationship or working through common issues, this might be a strong sign that they are not the right person for you.
They belittle you in front of others.
Does your significant other constantly put you down in front of others? Are you worried what they will say in front of your friends and family? Do they rarely have a kind word for you?
Any partner that exhibits this type of behavior repeatedly needs an attitude adjustment. Not only does this type of demeaning behavior show a lack of respect and appreciation for you as a partner, such public put-downs likely stem from a deeper issue of insecurity or even anger issues.
You want a partner who believes in you and encourages you to reach your dreams. It’s going to be a long, hard life alongside the person who doesn’t do this.
You deserve to have dreams, big dreams, and you deserve to go after them with all you have.
The right partner for you will be your #1 fan and offer a listening ear and a supportive shoulder. They may offer some constructive criticism, but ultimately, your happiness matters to them and they’ll do whatever they can to help you achieve your dreams. They might also build dreams with you, or shape your dreams in new, meaningful ways.
They give you numerous reasons not to trust them.
Oof. Are you with a partner that you don’t trust? This is a massive red flag. It’s time to sit down together and have a serious talk about trust (or attend couples counseling).
Partners who continually show you they aren’t trustworthy are not the right partner for you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a cheating liar, although it could certainly escalate to that.
An untrustworthy partner may simply be the kind who hides things from you. A person who makes up stories and continuous “white lies.” Maybe they’re evasive with the facts or they refuse to be straightforward with you. Maybe they never do what they say they’re going to do. All of these signals of untrustworthiness should definitely give you pause.
You don’t want the same things.
This is a tough one. Sometimes, you may need to end a relationship simply because you and your partner don’t want the same things. You don’t have the same goals.
This kind of decision to break up can be painful because you may still love the person, but realize that you don’t have a future together. While this can be an enormously difficult step to take, it is the right move when it comes to finding a long-term partner.
Ultimately, you need to be with someone who shares your goals and desires. These might grow and change over the years, but even when you first are dating someone, it becomes clear what your goals for the future are.
If you’ve always dreamed of having kids and your partner is seriously anti-baby, one or both of you is going to end up resentful, regretful, or unhappy.
If he is dead set on a life spent traveling the world but you’ve dreamed of owning a farmhouse, you may have misaligned goals.
Are none of your friends a fan of your significant other? Does your family hate your partner?
While there are some exceptions (maybe your family is super stuck up or you need new friends) the far greater likelihood is that these folks are onto something.
Why don’t they like your partner? What is it that they see that you’re missing? When you’re looking at a person with the love Goggles of infatuation on, your judgment may well be clouded. It’s worth giving some serious time to investigating what these people think. Generally, your closest circle, your family and friends, won’t steer you wrong.
In the end, you can choose to be with a partner that is not popular with your friends and family. But this, too, is going to present some problems for the long term.
Your major values don’t align.
Probably one of the strongest signs you’re not with the right person is when you’re with someone who does not share your values.
Similar to your life goals, your values may involve the things you want in life (family, children, community, etc), but they also are related to the guiding principles that shape your life.
As you spend time with a partner, you’ll learn more and more what they value. Perhaps it is wealth and status. Perhaps they value achievement and challenge. Spirituality and groundedness. Art and culture. Fitness and health. Volunteering and charity. Socializing. Nature. Integrity. Humor. Kindness. Sustainability. Independence. The list goes on and on.
Over time, you should naturally discover whether or not your values align. This goes beyond interests and hobbies, but centers around what each of you deem important and worthy of time and energy. If these are at cross-purposes, you will struggle to be happy in your relationship together.
Not sure if your values align? It might be time to have a deep and searching conversation together.
You feel more like a parent (or a child) than a partner.
Whoever you choose to marry or be in a long-time partnership with, you need to be with someone you consider an equal.
Have you ever been with a partner who needed to be reminded of every little thing? Who you couldn’t depend on to get things done or taken care of? It makes you feel like their parent, and you start to lose respect for them.
Or maybe you’ve had partners who take over and dominate in your relationship, not valuing your opinion or letting you have a say in decisions. They’re treating you like a child and it’s not a healthy dynamic.
You need a partner in life and love who you can build a future with. Someone who provides the give and take necessary in a strong, loving relationship.
Want to build your best relationship yet? Check out some of our favorite resources.
Looking to enjoy a romantic time in Sydney with your significant other? Luckily, there’s no shortage of romantic things to do in Sydney. No matter what budget you have: whether the sky’s the limit or you’re looking for something free. Here’s a range of romantic ideas for Sydney to help inspire you.
Dine with a Harbour View
Perfect views from Quay at the Overseas Passenger Terminal
Enjoying a special dinner somewhere fancy is a classic but always a good option, especially for anniversaries and birthdays. For the ultimate romantic touch, head for somewhere with a view of Sydney Harbour.
One of the top picks in Sydney is Quay, Peter Gilmore’s award-winning restaurant at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Choose between a 10-course and six-course tasting menu, ideally paired with the matched wines. (Although there’s also a “temperance” pairing option.)
Across the water is Bennelong, nestled under the sails of the Sydney Opera House. Choose between two- and three-course options, including a reduced-price pre-theatre option for early evening dining. The re-imagined Cherry Jam Lamington is not to be missed.
Another of my favourites is Café Sydney, located on the top floor of Customs House. Make sure you request an outdoor table for the best views (better enjoyed during the summer months at dinner time).
Let the staff know in advance if it’s a special occasion, including if you need help to pull off a certain type of surprise, especially those involving a ring!
Enjoy a Picnic in the Botanic Gardens
The Harbour View lawn in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
If you’re looking for a dining option with harbour views but without the hefty price tag, my recommendation is to consider a picnic in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Fill up a picnic basket with products from a gourmet supermarket, such as the David Jones Food Hall. Or consider stopping off at Gateway Sydney food court, just opposite Circular Quay, for a range of takeaway options.
It’s also permitted to take alcoholic beverages into the Botanic Gardens for now (although this may be restricted for certain events or in the future), so grab a bottle of wine and glasses.
Within the gardens, there’re plenty of lawns to choose from. If you’re okay with sharing, the aptly named “Harbour View Lawn” is my pick. Afterwards, take a walk down to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for superb views across to the Opera House.
While the gardens are open year round, for an evening picnic I recommend sticking to the summer months. In June and July the gardens close at 5pm, but they don’t close until 8pm from November to February.
Do the Sunset Bridge Climb
Climbers on Sydney Harbour Bridge
Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a wow experience, which combines fantastic views and a touch of adrenalin as you climb to its heights. (Although you’re never in danger thanks to the safety harnesses and stringent precautions.)
For the most romantic climb, book one of the Twilight Bridge Climbs offered each day. These climbs are amongst the most expensive, but sunsets in Sydney can be spectacular and up on the bridge you’ll have the best views on offer. Then as you descend, you’ll witness the lights starting to sparkle in the harbour city.
The full BridgeClimb experience lasts 3 ½ hours, including gearing up and the safety briefing. There’s also an Express option that takes just over 2 hours. And leave the glass of champagne for afterwards – there’s a strict breath-testing policy!
Stroll from Coogee to Bondi
The Coogee to Bondi walk during Sculpture by the Sea
On the other end of the spectrum, walking the coastal path from Coogee to Bondi is completely free, except for what you spend along the way. This 6km walk is very popular and deservedly one of the best free things to do in Sydney. It’s best done with company, allowing plenty of time to stop and enjoy it along the way.
The walk starts at the southern end of Bondi Beach, but I prefer to walk it the opposite way, wrapping up the day in Bondi. In Coogee it starts just near the Coogee Pavilion. Along the way you pass through the beachside suburbs of Gordons Bay, Clovelly, Bronte and Tamarama.
If walking the route during the warmer months of the year, make sure you bring your swimmers and stop off for a dip (or two) along the way. Some of the best spots are Gordons Bay, with its excellent snorkeling, the sheltered cove at Clovelly and the gentle beach at Bronte.
In late October and early November you’ll also be surrounded the sculptures from the yearly Sculpture by the Sea Festival, at Tamarama Beach and at Marks Park near Bondi.
Most of the beaches have some simple cafes to stop at, with options including burgers and ice creams. For more extensive food choices, wait until you arrive in Bondi. The stretch along the beach is home to many cafes and restaurants, or else head to celebrity-hangout Icebergs, above the pool at the southern end of Bondi Beach.
While Palm Beach is still technically within Sydney, it feels like you’re a million miles away from Sydney. Even during summer time, the beaches here aren’t too busy, unlike the beaches close to the city. It’s perfect for a day trip for two.
If you want to spend the day on a beautiful beach, there’re multiple options. Choose between the long sandy stretches of Palm Beach and Whale Beach, the beach immediately to the south. Make sure you stick to the patrolled sections, in between the red-and-yellow flags.
Alternatively, take the ferry across Pittwater to the golden sands of Great Mackerel Beach. This relatively deserted and calm beach is only accessible from the water or via a hiking trail, ideal for when you want some privacy.
During cooler weather, pack your sneakers rather than your swimmers and set off on the short hike up to Barrenjoey Head and its lighthouse. There’re superb views on offer over Broken Bay and back along Palm Beach.
There’re multiple spots to choose from for lunch at Palm Beach. One of the most popular is the Boathouse at Palm Beach. Classics on offer include fish and chips and fish burgers, plus a cold seafood platter to share. Note that no reservations are accepted.
Attend an Outdoor Cinema
Sydney has great weather during the summer months, so rather than heading to a typical multiplex for a night out at the movies, instead catch a movie outdoors with your beloved!
The most well known of the outdoor cinemas in Sydney is Moonlight Cinema, which sets up each summer in Centennial Park. The St George Open Air Cinema next to Mrs. Macquarie’s Point is another fancier option. There’re also other options that change from summer to summer.
Most of the cinemas screen a mix of the latest releases and cult classics, with romantic picks often including Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Love Actually. Make it into a proper night out by ordering a package that includes a picnic basket and a pair of beanbag lounges.
The ultimate romantic splurge in Sydney is to take a seaplane trip to somewhere special for lunch. Seaplane trips are offered both by Sydney Seaplanes (departing from Rose Bay) and Sydney by Seaplane (departures from Rose Bay and Palm Beach).
Both companies offer scenic flights over Sydney and its beaches, but also the option to combine a flight with lunch on the water, arriving by seaplane. Restaurant options include Berowra Waters Inn, only accessible by boat or plane, plus the highly praised Cottage Point Inn.
Romantic Places to Stay in Sydney
Whether you’re looking to extend your stay in Sydney or simply for a special overnight experience, there’re plenty of romantic places to stay in Sydney. Consider these three options.
Pier One Sydney: Situated right on the water nearly underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Pier One Sydney is one of the most romantic luxury hotels in Sydney. One Valentine’s Day I spent a romantic night here with my husband and pup. (One of my favourite dog-friendly hotels in Sydney, there are a handful of dog-friendly rooms!) The hotel has an onsite bar and restaurant, where breakfast is served each morning next to the harbour. It’s also just a short walk from the popular Barangaroo restaurant precinct and Circular Quay.
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel:Located in the chic harbourside suburb of Watsons Bay, Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is perfect for a getaway within Sydney. Located just a short ferry ride from Sydney’s city centre, the downstairs part of the hotel houses a spacious restaurant and open-air bar, while upstairs are a variety of rooms to stay the night. Start the day with a Stand-Up Paddleboard session together on the calm waters out front.
Glamping on Cockatoo Island: For a more affordable yet romantic waterfront stay in Sydney, head to Cockatoo Island in the middle of the harbour. Home to the historic ruins of a former penal colony and shipyard, there’s a large grass lawn dotted with glamping tents already set up for you. Don’t miss rising early and taking in the sunset together.
About the Author: Shandos Cleaver is the founder and blogger-in-chief of Travelnuity, a travel blog focused on dog-friendly travel around the world. Shandos is originally from Sydney but has spent most of the last two years travelling around Europe and the USA with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel. On her blog she shares hands-on information for other people wishing to travel with their dog.
Traveling to Boston, Massachusetts? There is so much to do in this exciting city, and you could save a lot of money on these activities by buying the right Boston attractions pass. But which one is better: the Go Boston Card or the Boston City Pass?
We dive in deep to compare these two discount cards to determine which is the best deal.
Should you decide your Boston itinerary first?
Before considering these attraction cards, it can be beneficial to think about what you really want to do and see while in the city. Prioritizing those sites that are most important to you will help you to see which pass will offer you more value. You should also consider how long your Boston vacation is going to be. For a short trip, you may prefer to pay for attractions individually.
Be sure to check out our massive blog post on things to do in Boston to give you some ideas for a fantastic visit.
Let’s start with the Boston CityPASS. This pass grants you admission to 5 of Boston’s top attractions:
New England Aquarium
Museum of Science
Boston Harbor Cruises OR Harvard Museum of Natural History
It’s likely that you would want to visit one or more of these on your visit to Boston. Personally, we LOVE the Museum of Science, and it’s a place worth spending an entire day visiting. The Skywalk Observatory is also a Boston bucket list item. Located atop the Prudential Tower, the Skywalk Observatory grants you views of Boston from nearly 750ft in the air.
A Boston Harbor Cruise is a great way to get out on the water and view Boston from another angle, as you enjoy a 90-minute historic cruise.
Even those three attractions alone, when purchased individually, outprice what you would pay for a Boston CityPASS. Long story short, if you want to visit even 3 of the Boston attractions listed above, the CityPASS is a tremendous value. And you get to visit 2 more essential spots as part of the package.
In addition to admission to 5 major Boston attractions, the Boston CityPASS gets you expedited entry at many of these spots. This saves you the time spent waiting in line and gives you more time for vacation fun.
How long is the Boston CityPASS good for?
The Boston CityPASS is valid for nine consecutive days, including the first day of use. The 9 day period begins on the first day you use/redeem the pass. However, you can purchase well in advance. Passes purchases currently do not expire until 2021.
How much does the Boston CityPASS cost?
Current June 2019 pricing is $64 for an adult (ages 12+) and $52 for a child (ages 3-11). This represents a 45% savings over the cost of individual admission for all activities included with the Boston CityPASS.
Now let’s look at the other popular Boston travel discount card.
You have some choices and flexibility when it comes to buying a Go Boston Card.
The All-Inclusive Card option gives you access to the 40+ sites, and you can choose the number of days of validity: 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 consecutive days. The 3,5, and 7 day passes also include a Premium Experience (denoted below with an asterisk*).
The Explorer Card lets you select a specific number of sites to see (3, 4, or 5 attractions) out of 21 great spots. Check this list to see which attractions you can choose from.
You can also Build Your Own card, combining 2 or more attractions to save 20% on your overall admission.
The Available Attractions (With an All-Inclusive or Build Your Own Card)
Boston Duck Tour*
New England Aquarium Whale Watch*
Red Sox Ticket*
Blue Man Group Ticket*
cityView Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley
New England Aquarium (Fast-track entry available)
Fenway Park Tour
USS Constitution Cruise
Museum of Science (Fast-track entry available)
Freedom Trail Walk into History Tour
Paul Revere House
Old State House Museum
Museum of Fine Arts
Salem Witch Museum (located in Salem, MA)
Swan Boats of Boston
Sam Adams Brewery Tour
Old South Meeting House
Boston Children’s Museum
The Harvard Tour
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Charles Riverboat Cruise
JFK Presidential Library and Museum
Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States
Boston Bike Rental
Franklin Park Zoo
Plimoth Plantation/Plimoth Grist Mill Combo
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston
Six Flags New England
HighFlyer Zipline at Foxwoods Resort Casino (Connecticut)
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Institute of Contemporary Art
Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA)
House of the Seven Gables (Salem, MA)
Mary Baker Eddy Library/Mapparium
Boston Movie Mile Walking Tour
Liberty Ride (Lexington + Concord, MA)
Buckman Tavern (Lexington, MA)
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Otis House Museum
Louisa May Alcott House (Concord, MA)
Concord Museum (Concord, MA)
Old Sturbridge Village (Sturbridge, MA)
Hyannisport Harbor Cruise (Cape Cod, MA)
John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum (Cape Cod, MA)
Cape Cod Canal Cruise (Cape Cod, MA)
*Denotes Premium Experience (available with 3,5,or7 day All-Inclusive Card)
Clearly, the Go Boston Card would be a value, saving you money on admission to these many attractions. The difficulty with this card is the practicality of using it. The 7-day version of the card is the longest duration available. While you could certainly pack a great deal into 7 days in Boston, it is unlikely you’d be able to visit all 40 of these sites, especially as some of them are located outside of Boston.
Of course, if even a few of these attractions are of interest to you, you could absolutely save money by purchasing the Go Boston Card.
How long is the Go Boston Card good for?
The Go Boston Card’s validity varies based on what card you choose. If selecting an All-Inclusive Card, you are limited by the number of consecutive days you’ve chosen: 1,2,3,5, or 7.
With the Explorer Card, you actually have a much larger window. According to the Go Boston Card website:
“Visiting your first attraction activates your pass. Your pass will then be valid for 30 days after activation.
For example, if you have a three-choice Explorer pass and visit your first attraction, you’ll have the next 29 days to visit your remaining two attractions.”
The Build Your Own Card is also valid for 30 days from first use.
How much does the Go Boston Card cost?
The pricing for the Go Boston Card will vary depending on your specific options. Current pricing as of June 2019 is below:
Clearly, there are many options to choose from when selecting a Boston attractions pass. What is our recommendation?
While the right card for you is going to depend on a variety of factors, including your budget, travel goals, and who you are traveling with, our personal recommendation would be to choose the Boston CityPASS. This pass is well-priced, lasts for a relaxing 9 days in duration, and includes 4 essential Boston attractions.
You could consider purchasing a Boston CityPASS as well as an Explorer Boston Go Card. These combined would give you admission to as many as 10 major Boston attractions, with a much more flexible schedule.
While the 40+ attractions included on the All-Inclusive Boston Go Card are attractive, the time frames for visiting them all are too short. The 7-day pass would make it more feasible, but it is the most expensive of all the options. You’d be very busy trying to visit as much as possible during your trip. For shorter trips, you might be better off buying individual admission to attractions or choosing the Build Your Own card.
Our experience sailing on Navigator of the Seas was sponsored by Royal Caribbean. As always, all opinions are our own and reflect our true experience.
Are you a fan of cruising? Nathan and I just became converts to this fabulous way to travel on our recent trip with Royal Caribbean. We spent 4 days aboard Navigator of the Seas and had an absolutely wonderful time.
Look for more cruise-related content on Two Drifters in the future, as we think this is a great type of vacation for couples.
Whether you’re an avid cruise junkie or someone who has never cruised before, we wanted to tell you all about what you can expect on Navigator of the Seas. Royal Caribbean has a whole fleet of exciting ships, but so far, this has been our only ship and we think it ticks all the boxes.
Ready to see what makes the Navigator so special? We’ve got 7 things we loved about our cruise, and that you are sure to love, too.
If you want to have FUN on your vacation, we strongly recommend a cruise. There is so much energy and excitement on board, but especially on a ship like Navigator. We felt like there were great vibes everywhere you went on the ship and all the guests (and staff) seem to be having so much fun.
And everything is an explosion of color!
There is always something going on, too, which adds to the party atmosphere. But of course, you can also escape the constant activity if you’d prefer. Not only are there certain areas of the ship which are quieter and more relaxing (may we suggest the spa?) you will also find that your guest cabin is a cozy retreat from the busy decks.
We recommend booking a room with a private balcony, as it just gives your cruise experience an added taste of luxury, and there’s really nothing so nice as looking at the sea while you’re falling asleep at night.
The Dreamy Cocktails
If you watched our Instagram stories during our cruise, you might have noticed that we always seemed to have a drink in our hands! Well, how could we not when they were SO. DAMN. DELICIOUS?
The bartenders on Navigator of the Seas are amazing: fast, efficient, friendly, and creating beverage deliciousness. Personally, we couldn’t get enough of the piña coladas, but there are dozens of tropical cocktails as well as traditional mixed drinks, beer, and wine to suit your tastebuds.
If you’re sailing with Royal Caribbean, we recommend getting their Deluxe Beverage Package, which includes unlimited drinks of all kinds throughout your cruise. For 2019, the pricing for this unlimited package runs between $63 and $70 per day. At first glance, this package might seem a bit expensive, but when you run the numbers, it’s really an amazing deal. Given that an individual cocktail (like a piña colada) costs around $13, you can see very easily how your bill might rack up quickly.
If you’re the kind of traveler—like us—who really loves to kick back and enjoy a cocktail (or a few) during your vacation, this package is a steal. Especially when you’re on a tropical holiday! That calls for lots of frozen drinks with umbrellas in them, and maybe even a drink served in a pineapple. Well, this package is ideal because you don’t have to worry at all about what your tab is going to be, and you can enjoy your cruise even more.
The Epic Escape Room
Several of the Royal Caribbean ships are now home to escape rooms, an activity that’s exploded in popularity in recent years. On our cruise, we were psyched to try out the escape room, as it would be our first escape room experience.
Navigator of the Seas has one of the toughest escape rooms in the whole fleet, the Observatorium. Do you think we escaped it?
Located at the top of the ship, this is a fantastic group activity that requires communication, patience, and smarts to crack the code. Together with your teammates, you’ll figure out how to restart time and effectively save the world. You have an hour to succeed…or to fail.
The Incredibly Friendly Staff
One hallmark of a good travel experience is friendly staff members. This is especially important when you’re on a cruise—it’s essentially a floating hotel!
Well, Royal Caribbean really wins in this area. Every single staff member we encountered was super friendly and welcoming. Everyone always says hello and greets you with a smile. It’s a nice part of the overall experience.
Hugo was our cruise director on Navigator of the Seas, and he was a fun, lively personality! At first, we heard him only over the intercom, and he had such a flawless speaking voice, we were sure he was a recording! But then we saw him in action as the host of a game show onboard, and he was as likeable and charming as we imagined.
So many colorful, cute spots on the ship. This is the Tiki Bar.
Without a doubt, one of the best parts of cruising is stopping at the ports of call. But even if you opted never to leave the ship, you’d still be treated to amazing views of the surrounding ocean.
There is something so serene and surreal about seeing nothing but open sea around you. And, of course, there are plenty of opportunities to glimpse spectacular sunsets and sunrises.
The Endless Array of Choices
One of the most delightful (and unexpected) elements for us on this cruise (Nathan’s first and my second in 20 years) was just how much there is to do each and every day.
In the evenings, you’ll get the next day’s itinerary and activity list delivered to your guest cabin. We’re not exaggerating when we say the list goes on for 3 pages. Basically, no matter what kind of activities or hobbies you’re into, there’s definitely going to be something to do onboard the ship.
And you can always choose to do nothing! Just sitting by the pool and relaxing is a fine itinerary as well. Although, for a bit of adventure, if you do go on a Navigator of the Seas cruise, we recommend trying out some of the waterslides on the aft side of the ship. There’s one that two people can ride in together, and we had a blast on that slide (which even goes out over the side of the ship a bit to provide you with some awesome views of the ocean).
All of your choices just got even better with the recently opened Perfect Day at CocoCay. We stopped at CocoCay on the second day of the cruise and it was a total dream. This private island in the Bahamas underwent a $250 million renovation to create an island experience like no other. From exciting waterslides and ziplines to the chillest, loveliest sandy beaches, it’s a day of paradise at this port.
Finally, we’re big believers in romantic travel (and honestly, in discovering how to make any trip more romantic). There are plenty of opportunities for romance aboard Navigator of the Seas.
We enjoyed simply spending time together talking on our private balcony. We liked dining in the regal dining room (where you are welcome to dress up, especially on fancy nights!) We had an amazing time dancing till late at one of the nightclubs. And we laughed together as we tried our best to win at Harry Potter trivia.
All in all, this was one of the best trips we’ve been on together. And we’re not saying that because it was a press trip; this was our real opinion of our cruise! In fact, sometimes press trips can be stressful and overwhelming. You feel like you’re not getting to actually experience a place or have any downtime. You lose the travel part of travel blogging.
But this was totally different for us, and it was the best. We mixed work with play and had a ball. And we totally suggest you consider a cruise for your next romantic getaway!
Cape Cod is the perfect summertime destination in America. It’s got historic charm, scenic beaches, national parks, a thriving art scene & fabulous food. For couples, this area is terrific for a romantic getaway or just for some date night ideas. Between the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, there are so many amazing opportunities. So, grab your significant other because we’re going to help you discover the most romantic things to do in Cape Cod!
If you’re looking for an unforgettable date, you’ve got to rent mopeds on Martha’s Vineyard. Martha’s Vineyard is one of the East Coast’s largest islands. It’s home to some 100,000 people during the summer! Because it’s so large, you’ll need some method of transportation to explore it. Mopeds are the perfect solution!
You can catch the ferry at the Hyannis Cruise Terminal. In the summer, there is a ferry departing for Martha’s Vineyard almost every hour. It costs $17 round trip to get to Martha’s Vineyard, and it will take about 45 minutes to get to Vineyard Haven from Hyannis.
Once you arrive, you’ll see plenty of moped rentals. There’s definitely a learning curve on these bikes! But it’s fun, thrilling and adventurous. You can choose to share a bike or ride independently.
Once you’ve mastered the skill, ride over to the East Chop Lighthouse. Take the route along E Chop Drive and enjoy scenic panoramic ocean views. After you’ve seen East Chop Light, continue down E Chop Drive to Oak Bluffs. Stop at the Barn Bowl & Bistro for lunch and get ice cream at Carousel. Head back to Vineyard Haven and walk around downtown. Look for gingerbread houses before you take the ferry back.
2. Sunset cruise
There’s nothing more romantic than being out on the water as the sun is setting. This works well for an anniversary or special event.
Bay Spirit Tours does a 75-minute sunset cruise that departs from Hyannis. It includes some light music & minimal narration of significant monuments along the bay. Drinks are available for purchase.
At a higher price point, Down Cape Charters offers a private sunset sail. This brings your date night romance to another level! Down Cape Charters is located in Pleasant Bay.
3. Take a sunset walk along the beach
Grab your date and head off on a sunset stroll along the beach. Go to the Mass Audubon Long Pasture and Wildlife Sanctuary. During the day, this place may be filled with families and tourists. However, the petting zoo and facilities close after 4 PM. Then, the trails become more secluded.
The gentle trails at Mass Audubon offer glimpses into the woodlands surrounding the sandy beaches. Also, freshwater wetlands and salt marshes. It’s a unique and diverse ecosystem that becomes breathtakingly beautiful at dusk. Who doesn’t love long walks on the beach?
Cape Cod has a thriving wine community, and vineyards make the perfect backdrop for your romantic date. Take your date on a wine tour and tasting in Cape Cod.
Truro Vineyards is located just south of Provincetown, and it’s one of the prettiest wine estates on the Cape. Their store is set in a historic and charming home. Tastings are done on a stunning outdoor terrace with views of vines all around. Also, local food trucks love to hang out here. There are even games like cornhole! Winery tours are at 1PM and 3 PM daily and tastings are every 30 minutes.
A more intimate winery for your date night is the Cape Cod Winery. The Cape Cod Winery is located in East Falmouth. It’s has a rustic, coastal, garden vibe. The estate is smaller than Truro, and there are no tours offered. But, you can stop in anytime for a tasting! Enjoy the ambiance and delicious flavors with your date.
5. Dine at a romantic restaurant
Dinner is a great way to start or end a date. The best restaurants in Cape Cod serve fresh seafood, but some are a lot more romantic than others. We recommend Ocean House and FIN.
Ocean House is located in Dennis Port. It offers expansive views of the Nantucket Sound, so make sure to request a table near the windows. Next, take your date outside to the Beach Bar for live entertainment. See the full schedule of events on their website.
FIN is another romantic restaurant in Cape Cod. It’s located in Dennis and serves sustainably sourced seafood. The dining space is an absolutely charming 18th Century home.
If you’re not ready to end your date yet, you can head to Caffè Gelato Bertini or Katie’s Homemade Ice Cream. Katie’s is known as the best ice cream in Cape Cod.
6. Bike the Cape Cod Rail Trail
The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a paved bike path that spans 25 miles from South Dennis to Wellfleet. The path is mostly flat and provides excellent views of the local scenery. This is a fun, active date for an energetic couple. Either way, you don’t have to ride all 25 miles of it!
The best place to rent bikes is the Rail Trail Bike & Kayak Shop. It’s located just off of the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and there’s plenty of space to leave your car here. You can rent from 9 am to 5 PM, so be sure to plan this activity in the morning or early afternoon.
7. Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is a little cliché, but it’s still lots of fun and definitely one of the most romantic things to do in Cape Cod. Ride at the Haland Stable in East Falmouth. Their tours take you through rolling meadows, cranberry bogs, salty marshes and lively woodlands. Make an appointment in advance of your visit.
Provincetown is known for its local artist community. All along Commercial Street, there are numerous galleries and exhibition spaces.
Start at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Then, walk southwest along Commercial Street. Stop at the many art galleries and see what you like. Don’t miss the AMP Art Market that’s open on weekends, Mondays and Fridays.
This can be an especially wonderful date for a couple that lives together. Take this opportunity to find an item for your shared space. Once you do, you’ll have a date memory that is sure to last a lifetime.
9. Tour a brewery
If your significant other is into ales, you’ve got to visit a brewery! Cape Cod Beer in Hyannis offers tours and tastings. The tours are offered Monday – Saturdays at 11 AM. Otherwise, you can do self-guided tours and tastings all day.
Antiquing can be a fun and unique date activity in Cape Cod. Make it even more special by surprising your date with a gift. Let them look around and show you what they like. Then, secretly get it for them when they’re not looking!
The Antiques Center in Cape Cod is one of the more popular places to go. Another great spot is the Sandwich Antique Center. Otherwise, check out the Wellfleet Flea Market. It’s the biggest of its kind in Cape Cod! The Wellfleet Flea Market is usually held on weekend mornings.
11. Visit a lavender farm
The ultimate hidden treasure on Cape Cod is the lavender farm. Lavender blooms in June and July. During this time, you can purchase fresh lavender in baskets or bunches. You can purchase plants in May. Year-round, you can shop for an assortment of lavender-based products. They have lotions, soaps, candles and, even, catnip! It’s a small family owned business that you’ll love supporting.
The Cape Cod Lavender Farm sits on a 12-acre property, but the surrounding lands are protected and offer many walking trails. Bring your date here. Pick out some gifts for the home & family. Then, spend the afternoon exploring the nearby trails and lavender fields.
The Nauset Lighthouse is the quintessential Cape Cod lighthouse. You may recognize it from the packaging of Cape Cod Chips. You can visit the lighthouse and hop in for a free tour. Be sure to check the calendar for up-to-date tour times. Once you’ve visited the lighthouse and learned about its history, take a long walk along the shore.
To upgrade this date, you’ll follow the lighthouse visit with a trip to the Cape Cod potato chips company. Eat the chips that are irreversibly tied to this historic lighthouse. Tour the facility and see how they’re made. This is a great first date activity! It’s light and fun.
13. Shop at the Orleans Farmer’s Market
The Orleans Farmer’s Market has long been a Cape Cod tradition. This fresh market runs all year and has both indoor and outdoor spaces. It’s not only a market, but it’s also a non-profit organization. They are dedicated to sustainable food production and promoting a healthy diet in low-income communities.
You and your date could pick out a recipe. Come to the Orleans Farmer’s Market to get your groceries. Then, cook together!
Author Bio: Valentina’s Destinations was born from my obsession with meticulously researching, organizing and planning my travel itineraries. I’m originally from Nis, Serbia. My family moved to the US when I was young, and I’ve been living in Chicago for the last decade. My passion is travelling the world with my boyfriend, Remigijus. When we’re not travelling, I work as a physician assistant in the psychiatry field. The mental health field is as rewarding as travelling can be.
Burlington, Vermont is a city that’s incredibly near and dear to my heart. I’ve lived in Vermont on and off for over 15 years, and in that time, Burlington has remained my favorite part of the state. Today, I’m finally sharing my list of the best things to do in Burlington, VT, in the hopes that you’ll have an amazing stay and that you’ll come to love Burlington as much as I have.
Burlington, VT is the state’s largest city, but it is by no means a large city. The population was just over 42,000 in 2017, which is smaller than Manchester, New Hampshire, Boston (by far), and even smaller than Portland, Maine, which is a fairly comparable city.
Burlington’s modest size is part of its charm. You’ll never feel like you’re in a big urban center when you’re here; in fact, nature is so prevalent here in the Green Mountain state that visitors are likely to think of Burlington as feeling surprisingly rural.
It makes sense. Just 10 minutes from downtown Burlington can bring you to sprawling fields and farmland, with ridges of the Green Mountains in easy reach for hiking and skiing. At the other side of Burlington is the massive, glittering Lake Champlain, which divides Vermont from it’s nearest neighbor, New York. Yes, natural beauty is everywhere, and you’ll embrace both the outdoors and the indoors during your stay in Vermont.
Let’s jump into this Burlington Vermont travel guide by starting off with the top things to do in Burlington VT.
What to Do in Burlington, Vermont
Spend time on Church Street
You can’t visit Burlington, VT without hearing about Church Street. This well-known thoroughfare is a bricked, pedestrian-only walkway that stretches from the church at the top of Church St. and down for half a dozen blocks.
It’s the center of downtown activity, with numerous streets branching off of it filled with cafes, bookstores, shops, and more. The Church Street area is great for shopping, especially if you’re looking to shop locally. From top to bottom, Church Street boasts eclectic boutiques and stores of all kinds.
When you’re not shopping, this is a perfect spot for people watching. It’s crowded nearly every day with locals, visitors, and street entertainers. Pause on a bench for a few moments to listen to a local busker playing their tunes. Watch as a bevy of college students strolls by. And keep your eyes out for the quirkier characters you’re likely to come across, too. It’s a very funky city.
Church Street is home to tons of restaurants. In the summertime, these establishments spill out into the streets, setting up beautiful outdoor spaces for customers to enjoy. Dining al fresco is a pleasure on Church Street and you have dozens of places to choose from for your meal.
Traveling with a dog? A huge number of spots in Burlington are dog-friendly, so your canine friend can dine with you when you sit on the patio.
Burlington, Vermont, USA at Church Street Marketplace.
Walk along the Lake Champlain Waterfront
One of the most stunning Burlington VT points of interest is the lake itself. Burlington is perched on a hill overlooking Lake Champlain. When you drive in from the east into downtown (which you will if coming from the direction of the airport) you will suddenly see the city of Burlington with the glistening expanse of the lake behind it. It’s a spectacular sight and one that never fails to make me smile.
There are many activities to check out on, in, and near Lake Champlain, but the easiest way to access it and take in its views is along the waterfront.
The Burlington Waterfront Park is situated at the bottom of College Street and stretching up to the north past Pearl Street. It’s pretty easy walking distance from Church St. and the main portions of downtown.
I love the waterfront just for walking, relaxing on the grass, or sitting in one of their many bench swings. The boardwalk runs along the lake’s edge and the views here are absolutely gorgeous, with the lake in front of you and the Adirondack mountains framing it from behind. If you can catch a sunset here, I promise it will be worth it.
Get out on the water
Don’t just look at the Lake, get out on it! There are many ways to make the most of Lake Champlain. Taking a sailboat excursion might be my #1 choice. You can hop onboard a schooner and set sail on the lake with an accomplished crew. Choose a private sunset cruise to ensure you’ll have the best seat when it comes to catching a Lake Champlain sunset.
Would you prefer a bigger boat? No problem. There are ferries and scenic cruises of Lake Champlain that depart directly from the Burlington waterfront. One of the most well-known vessels is the Spirit of Ethan Allen, offering daily cruises as well as special cruise events.
When it comes to swimming in Lake Champlain, the waterfront is not the spot for this. For those wanting to take a dip in the cool lake waters, head to one of the nearby beaches. These are in driving distance from downtown, or can be accessed via the Burlington Bike Path that stretches along the shoreline.
Recommended Burlington beaches include North Beach, Leddy Beach, and beaches in Oakledge Park. North Beach is the largest in the area. It has seasonal lifeguards as well as paddleboard and kayak rentals. Definitely a fun place to spend a day in Burlington VT.
Go brewery hopping
One of the absolute best Burlington Vermont things to do is to sample our local craft brews. This is a city that LOVES beer! There are many breweries in the city and beer fans will want to try them all.
Foam Brewers remains one of the most popular breweries for visitors to Burlington with frequent releases of new brews. In nearby South Burlington, Magic Hat is a staple of the Burlington brewery scene. These funky, hoppy beers are crisp and refreshing, and you can take a fun tour of the Magic Hat Artifactory.
You can read our post on our favorite Burlington, Vermont breweries for more detailed ideas:
When it Burlington, don’t limit your visit to Church Street and downtown. There are several other cool parts of town that are worth your time. One of the most compelling is the South End.
Once a bland industrial stretch of the city, the South End is now an art-filled hub of restaurants, thriving businesses, and more. There are several breweries down here (including the much-loved Citizen Cider) and a number of art galleries. Check out this site for up-to-date listings of where to find open galleries, art events, and more.
I also highly suggest making time to visit ArtsRiot. This renovated warehouse is a lively music venue and restaurant. In the summer months, they host Truck Stop, which is a gathering of local food trucks featuring live music and more. Super fun.
The Shelburne Museum combines history, art, and more across sprawling, beautiful grounds. It’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re looking for things to do in Burlington with kids.
The 1906 steamship Ticonderoga is on display here, and touring it is a fascinating look into life in the 1920’s, when the ship toured passengers around Lake Champlain in style. The Ticonderoga is a National Historic Landmark and is the last walking beam side-wheel passenger steamer in existence.
Cycle, walk, or blade along the Burlington Bike Path
One of my favorite things to do around Burlington, VT is to spend time along the bike path. The bike path is situated directly next to Lake Champlain and runs for 7.6 miles along its edge.
On any given day, you’ll see many Vermonters and visitors alike enjoying this gorgeous path. You can pick up the path right at the Burlington waterfront, or further south at Oakledge Park, where it begins.
Fans of cycling may want to venture even further on the Island Line Trail, which combines the Burlington Bike Path with several additional miles of trail, literally bringing you out into the Champlain Islands in the center of the lake. It’s a breathtaking journey and a unique experience.
Need to rent bikes? Local Motion has a rental office right along the bike path at the waterfront, and they also offer a one-of-a-kind bike ferry that can bring you and your wheels from the Island Line Trail onto South Hero Island.
Enjoy a few scoops of Vermont’s Finest – Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream!
You’ve probably had Ben & Jerry’s before, but have you had it in the place where it originated? Ben & Jerry’s is the most delicious ice cream, and they have a shop offering scoops, shakes, and much more right on Church Street. The shop is super cute and colorful and (bonus) it smells incredible.
Once you’ve got your Half Baked or your Cherry Garcia, head down to the corner of College Street and St. Paul Street and see where the OG Ben & Jerry’s was located. It’s now a gravel parking lot, but there’s a plaque showcasing where Ben & Jerry’s got their start in the 1970’s.
If you’re a real ice cream fan, you might consider a day trip to Waterbury, where the official Ben & Jerry’s factory is located. Take a factory tour, enjoy a free scoop of your favorite flavor, and pay your respects at the flavor graveyard, where failed creations find eternal rest.
Attend a show at the Vermont Comedy Club
You’re sure to be in for some laughs at the Vermont Comedy Club, a relatively new venue that hosts some amazing big-name acts.
If you’re not keen on comedy, check out the Flynn Theatre, just down the street, which offers a variety of entertainment from touring theatre productions to symphonies.
Explore nearby hiking trails
Burlington is blessed by its proximity to the mountains. (Seriously, a town nestled between mountains and a giant lake? What’s not to love?) So avid hikers will adore this area.
If you want to go hiking near Burlington, VT, you have a range of options.
For a quick hike with a rewarding view of the lake, consider Mt. Philo. This hike is located in Charlotte, VT, a 30-minute drive south of Burlington. The trail up Mt. Philo is rated as easy-moderate, and is a 1.9 mi loop.
Camel’s Hump is one of the most popular and best hikes near Burlington, especially for the experienced hiker. Tackling this iconic Vermont peak is a fairly lengthy endeavor. The Burrows Trail route to the summit is 5 miles in length and is expected to take between 3-5 hours to hike round trip. Still, you’ll find amazing views at the end of this awesome accomplishment. Get more information on this trail here.
The area around Stowe, Vermont is also tremendous for hiking trails. While Stowe is a considerable distance away (45 minutes-1 hour) it is 100% worth a visit if you have time during your trip to Vermont. Stowe is classic New England, with a white-steepled church, magical mountain views, and a quaint Main Street.
And of course, great hiking. Trails to consider include Sterling Pond, Mount Mansfield, and Stowe Pinnacle (pictured below).
Experience a night out in Downtown Burlington
Downtown Burlington has some pretty great nightlife. While this is no Miami, there are a number of fun bars and pubs that offer a low-key, Vermonty vibe. We’re pretty sure you’ll find something you enjoy.
The Three Needs is a hip, rustic bar with plenty of seating, pool tables, and good beers on tap. Drink is a smaller venue that offers cocktails and board games. The Gryphon is a classy joint and has delicious food on top of its solid cocktail options. During weeknights they often have drink specials.
Want to grab some live music? Nectar’s always has something playing, or you can grab an Uber to Higher Ground in South Burlington, where most major musical acts play when they come to town. For dancing to the wee hours, check out Metronome, a nightclub above Nectar’s, as well as the Half Lounge, a tiny, speakeasy-like place right off Church Street.
The Whiskey Room, attached to Irish pub Ri Ra is a nice surprise in Burlington. This austere whiskey lounge feels like it fell right out of Britain.
After your night out, you’ll be pleased to discover a number of food trucks lining Church Street. Nathan and I recommend without reservation the Philly cheesesteak cart. These are THE BEST Philly cheese steaks we’ve ever had, and when we’re away from Vermont, we honestly crave them.
Eat a Vermont creemee & other local & Vermont specialties
Vermont is all about the food. Cheese, chocolate, ice cream, maple….. You are going to want to try all of the local VT specialties while you’re here. Not to mention the vast number of farm-to-table restaurants. You’ll be eating local here and you’ll be eating delicious.
In Burlington, The Skinny Pancake is a great restaurant worth visiting. They are famous for their sweet and savory crepes (aka ‘skinny pancakes’), and have a serious emphasis on sourcing locally.
Lake Champlain Chocolates on Church Street is also calling your name. Amazing chocolate made right here in VT? Say no more.
The Vermont creemee will be a staple of your visit, especially if visiting Vermont in the summer. Creemee is just our cute name for soft serve ice cream. Maple creemees are to die for. They sell some right at the waterfront, by the way. Go get ’em!
Our famous Cabot cheddar is easy to find in nearly every Burlington restaurant or shop. But you can patronize an entire Cabot cheese shop up in Waterbury if you’re super into le fromage.
While poutine isn’t a traditional Vermont food (it’s French Canadian), you can get it here in many places. Poutine consists of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. It might sound odd at first, but it is insanely delicious. For the best poutine in Burlington I recommend Citizen Cider in the South End, and Leunig’s on Church Street, which has a delectable duck confit poutine.
And of course, we Two Drifters always recommend trying out the local coffee shops. Burlington has an abundance of great ones. We profiled our favorites in this post:
Every evening, the sun goes down in the west, and from Burlington, the views over Lake Champlain and the distant Adirondacks are phenomenal.
Make it a priority to catch at least one lakeside sunset during your visit to Burlington. A cloudy evening is usually best, providing plenty of dimension for the dusky sky.
Things to Do in Burlington VT in Winter
Now let’s talk seasonal. While there are an endless number of fun things to do in Burlington, VT year round, certain activities lend themselves better to certain seasons. Burlington is fabulous throughout the year. Depending on when you’re visiting, here are some special recommendations for must-do activities in Burlington, VT.
Catch the Penguin Plunge
A Burlington VT winter is a cold one. Are you amazed to discover that some people jump into the frigid waters of Lake Champlain every year? The Penguin Plunge is an event designed to raise money for Special Olympics Vermont. It’s definitely something to catch if you’re passing by in the wintertime.
Go skiing in the Green Mountains
Vermont doesn’t slow down in the winter; in fact, we’re busier than ever! Winter sports abound throughout the state. We’re definitely known for our skiing and snowboarding. From Burlington, there are many mountain options available to you. Bolton Valley is one of the closest, but Stowe and Smuggler’s Notch are popular spots a bit further afield.
Go holiday shopping on Church Street
Church Street looks especially beautiful during Christmastime. The city puts up tons of twinkling lights along the walkway, and it illuminates the space with joy. It makes holiday shopping extra fun, particularly when the snow begins to fall. Visiting after the holidays? Don’t worry; the lights stay up all winter long.
Summer is my personal favorite time of year in Vermont. It is SO. GREEN. June is usually a spectacular month with perfect weather, but July and August offer traditional summer heat. What will you do in summer in Burlington? Here are some ideas:
Try stand up paddleboarding on the lake
With its fairly calm waters, Lake Champlain is a perfect place to try stand up paddleboarding. Several different businesses offer paddleboard rentals or lessons. WND&WVS has a range of opportunities for guided tours and lessons at reasonable prices. Check them out!
Enjoy a picnic on the waterfront
Head down to Oakledge Park or another waterfront spot and bring snacks. We love a lakeside picnic, especially during the gorgeous summer months. If you want to keep it local and Vermonty, do your shopping downtown at the City Market Co-op. This grocery store has a great selection of cheese, produce, wine, beer, and so much more, with lots of locally-sourced and locally-made items.
Grab local produce at the Farmer’s Market
It’s always so exciting when the Burlington Farmer’s Market starts up again each summer. This year, the market has moved from downtown to the South End, where there’s lots more space.
A Vermont farmer’s market is a must-do when it comes to Burlington VT activities. This is a big market with produce, flowers, baked goods, crafts, art, hot food, and coffee. Best of all, it’s dog-friendly, and everyone brings there adorable pups to the market with them. For me, that’s a major draw!
Things to Do in Burlington VT in Spring
Spring can be an underrated time in Burlington. Unfortunately, it can still be a bit chilly or even rainy, but if you plan ahead, you can have a lovely stay and avoid the crowds of the high season.
Sample some fresh maple syrup
Spring is when the maple sap starts to “run” which means sugar shacks start heating up and producing our famous Vermont maple syrup. Visiting one of these is an essential springtime activity, and you can try not only fresh syrup, but a Vermont specialty: sugar on snow (a chewy maple candy created by pouring hot syrup onto a chilly packed snowbank). In March and April, you might catch one of New England’s maple festivals in action as well.
Visit Shelburne Farms
Enjoy the nature of springtime to its fullest by visiting a working farm. Take a wagon tour of Shelburne Farms and interact with the animals in the Children’s Farmyard. You might even see some baby animals at this time of year.
Take a guided food tour
Did I mention how great our Vermont foods are? To get a serious cuisine experience, I recommend taking a guided food tour of Burlington. The Edible History walking tour is one of the most well-known and popular options, which connects you with Burlington’s early ethnic groups and their culinary history.
Oh, Fall in New England. It’s one of the best times of the year and our foliage is out of this world. We recommend all of the main things to do in Burlington Vermont that we’ve listed above, plus any special fall activities.
Go apple picking
Apple picking is a blast during autumn. Bring home a basket of fresh Vermont apples that you can use to make a pie, jam, or your favorite apple-based item. Take a look at our list of Vermont apple orchards to see where you can go apple picking near Burlington. Be sure to try a cider donut!
Get cozy (and fed) inside American Flatbread
There are lots of yummy places to eat in Burlington VT, but for a cozy fall meal, you can’t go wrong with American..