Best. Summer. Ever. 27 Ways to Fall in Love with New England All Over Again
Whether you’re a native or a new kid on the block, these are adventures, attractions, and curiosities that you cannot miss.
Perform at Old Sturbridge Village
It’s more than just an elementary school field trip; it’s your chance to become a star! Yes, it’s true: Old Sturbridge Village, paean to 19th-century America, employs adult volunteer performers. Rehearsals happen all summer long. Ready to churn butter? Here’s how.
- Abandon all sense of shame (this is important).
- Visit the village’s website (they’re not that old-fashioned) and complete a surprisingly thorough application form. Be prepared with names of references familiar with your yearning for period dance routines and penchant for bonnets.
- Congratulations! You’ve been selected as an “OSV” performer. Make sure you bring your pantaloons to the dry cleaner before your first big gig!
- Attend weekly rehearsals with your fellow townsmen from May through November.
- Perform at least once a month at Old Sturbridge Village. Grab a partner and swirl around in a traditional contra dance. Snag an unsuspecting (and preferably easily embarrassed) visitor for a little audience participation. Force him or her into a cotillion. Sing hymns; belt out patriotic ditties.
- Reap ye olde benefits like free admission and access to the library.
Rev Your Engine
Ah, there’s nothing like cruising the open road in a convertible, wind in your hair, on a warm day. But your shiny ride can only go so fast on the open road. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, book a lesson with the Racing School, which lets wannabe NASCAR drivers get behind the wheel of a 560-plus-horsepower racecar for a spin around one of three pro tracks in Connecticut and Vermont. After a 45-minute safety and operational primer, you’ll be ready for up to 50 laps of high-octane thrills, all the while maintaining radio contact with your instructor (ride-alongs with the pros are also available). It’s a joy ride with plenty of joy and none of the consequences.
Walk Gloucester’s Greasy Pole
Where: Pavilion Beach
When: June 24–26
What you’ll need: A bathing suit and the balancing skills of an Olympic gymnast.
What you’ll do: Attempt to walk or run across a 45-foot-long telephone pole that’s slathered in grease and tethered horizontally above the ocean.
Why? Tradition, of course. The first greasy-pole competition dates back to 1931. Now it’s part of the annual St. Peter’s Fiesta, which honors the patron saint of fishing.
Soothe Your Soul in the Berkshires
When you crave a retreat from the sand and salt air, head to the land of Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow—but make it offbeat.
Sleep — A country estate right next door to Edith Wharton’s home, Lenox’s Seven Hills Inn transports guests back to the Gilded Age—anyone up for a croquet tournament on the rolling lawn, perhaps? 413-637-0060, sevenhillsinn.com.
Eat — Visit Lenox’s criminally unheralded Brava for tapas in a dark, cavernous setting, filled to the brim with salty locals and the occasional famous face. 413-637-9171, bravalenox.com.
Stretch — Stockbridge’s Kripalu is known as an exclusive yoga retreat, but guess what? It’s possible to snag a day pass. Arrive at 6 a.m. for workshops, yoga and dance classes, lectures, sauna time, chanting circles, and three full (and virtuous!) meals—all starting at a manageable $100. 413-448-3152, kripalu.org.
Shop — Funkify your surroundings at Great Barrington’s Griffin, a mellow hive of vintage clothing, art, and furniture presided over by Connie Griffin and Paul Giroux, a pair of New York expats. 413-528-5000, griffingiroux.com.
Gawk — Don’t hit the Pike without driving by Tyringham’s Santarella, which looks just like a melting gingerbread house inhabited by hobbits. 413-243-2819, santarella.us.
Zen Out at the New England Peace Pagoda
It turns out the path to enlightenment runs through the foothills of western Massachusetts. Nestled in the woods of Leverett, the New England Peace Pagoda—with its lily-pad-covered pond and kaleidoscope of Tibetan prayer flags strung among the trees—is an idyllic outdoor escape that welcomes everyone, whether you seek an unusual spot for a picnic or nirvana.
Maine New Hampshire
Eat These Three Essential Lobster Rolls
Because nothing says summer in New England like a bun overflowing with sweet, mayo- or butter-laced claw and tail meat.
Bayley’s Lobster Pound
At more than 100 years old, Bayley’s claims to be the first restaurant in the Pine Tree State to sell a lobster roll. And yet they’re still as fresh as can be, with a magical “mayo-to-meat” ratio. Pleasantly uncrusty service, too.
Rye, New Hampshire
This biker hangout on Route 1A offers cocktails in little plastic cups, lobster bisque thick enough to coat a spoon, and a justifiably famous lobster “roll” served on a burger bun, quaking under the weight of heaping mounds of tender meat. Watching even the most wizened Harley rider reduced to glee upon first bite makes the long lines bearable.
This dainty shack seems like a throwback to another time—a time when people had hours to stand in line for lobster rolls. It’s worth the wait, though, for the meaty chunks of lobster, warm toasted bun, and thimble of butter on the side.
Find a Perfect Slice of Cape Cod Paradise
If you have kids, visit Skaket Beach, in Orleans, for the calm bayside surf
If you like to explore, visit Old Silver, in Falmouth, for the clear water, tidal pools, and plentiful sandbars.
If you want a scene, visit Nauset, in East Orleans, for the dramatic surf (and surfers), plus a snack bar with good onion rings and even better people-watching.
If you are a history buff, visit Head of the Meadow Beach, in Truro, for the more than 1,000 shipwrecks. In fact, the wreck of the Frances is still visible at low tide. Wear a life preserver?
Swim with Hungry Sharks
Ready to rattle some cages? Spend a day with Snappa Charters Captain Charlie Donilon. He’ll take you 40 miles off the Rhode Island coast before plunking a custom-made dive cage into waters infested with blue sharks. If the conditions are clear, Donilon is happy to let advanced divers swim freely with the stealthy predators. “I’ve had eight people get bit,” he says, assuring us that no one has been hurt and that the nips are just curious sharks “feeling with their teeth.” Not scuba-certified? Donilon’s cage is specially designed so snorkelers can swim on top for a bird’s-eye view.
See Century-Old Motorcars Compete
If your wildest dream is to live out a steampunk version of Mad Max, then the ultimate summer adventure awaits in Stow. Every July, the antique-vehicle-preservation gearheads at the Collings Foundation host the Race of the Century, a two-day vintage-vehicle scrum that’s equal parts Jules Verne and Top Gear. Watch antique cars race horses and buggies, and behold the terrifying wood-and-canvas flying machine that is the Blériot XI.