History lovers looking to enjoy historic destinations in New England, while also avoiding some of the more obvious spots, need to give these seven places a try. Not only are these historic destinations across the six New England states, but they don’t always show up on the usual travel guides.
As someone who was born and raised in Massachusetts to a history teacher, I know just how historic my home state is, but the rest of New England is as well. Over the years, my mother and I would do random adventures and road trips to check out historic destinations in our state and the neighboring states. And while some stops were in our hometown, others required an overnight stay or two.
While I have certainly seen stories that offered up historic locations to visit as history and travel buffs, sometimes you want to try something new. And what if that new also touches on more obscure history.
For example, did you know that Springfield, Massachusetts is the home of not only basketball and the Springfield Armory (this should be a stop on your history tour by the way), but it is also the location of Shays’ Rebellion?
7 New England destinations for history lovers
If you love history, these seven stops in New England are perfect for you. Whether you are on a road trip or planning a week away, any of these stops will help enrich your next trip to New England.
Winslow Homer Studio in Scarborough, Maine
Want to know more about the myths and legends of Maine? The things that give this New England state it’s history? Then you need to visit the Winslow Homer Studio.
While it may be located in Scarborough, Maine, it is actually a part of the Portland Museum of Art and tours of this destination all go through the PMA. In fact, you can only visit and tour the site by making reservations with the PMA.
As one of the most famous painters from Maine, Homer was known for his oil work that captured the dark seas in all their glory. His art can be seen at the PMA, but for true history buffs, it is all about visiting his home where the real magic happened.
Honestly, the entire town of Salem needs to be on a history buff’s guide to New England. We all know about what happened in (and around) this coastal New England town, but sometimes I think we forget just how tragic and horrible it really was.
Whether you visit the Witch House or the Maritime National Historic Site, you are in for an immersive look at the history of this town. And of course, you can’t visit Salem without making a stop at the House of the Seven Gables.
Truly, Salem is a destination for anyone who loves history, and that’s why it is not about picking any one site here, but rather pointing out that this is the place to immerse yourself in American history.
Franklin Pierce Homestead in Hillsborough, New Hampshire
When it comes to New England history, we sometimes forget about New Hampshire, even though we shouldn’t. Luckily, there are quite a few historical sites for us to check out, including the Franklin Pierce Homestead.
The home of the 14th president, this state park is a historic site that gives us a taste of what life was like in the state in the 1800s. And of course, if you are a fan of presidential history as well, then this is a must. One visit here was a great reminder of just how hard life could be in New England back then, and it was definitely a perfect destination for the history buff in us.
Naulakha (Rudyard Kipling House) in Dummerston, Vermont
If you loved The Jungle Book or are just a fan of Rudyard Kipling in general, then this one is for you. The Rudyard Kipling House is a National Historic Landmark that was originally built in 1893.
This was not only Kipling’s home, but it is where he wrote many of his classics. What makes this a must visit destination in New England (beyond the obvious)? How about the fact that you can spend the night here! That’s right, this destination in Vermont lets you sleep where Kipling once wrote his classics and even check out the author’s desk!
There is a three night minimum stay, but considering this home is near shops and restaurants and has enough bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate eight, this is definitely worth a trip.
The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat in Essex, Connecticut
What exactly makes the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat a must visit in Connecticut? How about the fact that their mission is “to keep alive the rich mechanical, industrial, and transportation heritage of our state through the continual operation of our vintage steam and diesel locomotives and passenger coaches.”
And how do they do this? By offering us a chance to experience both of these modes of transportation for ourselves. Not only that, but they have a dinner train, experiences (think rail bikes and even a Day out with Thomas), and they also do a Christmas experience that transports you to the North Pole.
Do this once and you will want to come back again and again.
The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island
Honestly, when it comes to Rhode Island, any history buff should want to visit Newport. This is a town of history and wealth. And that has never been more on display than when you visit The Breakers.
If you didn’t know, The Breakers is the Vanderbilt mansion. It is operated by the Newport Preservation Society, and they allow visitors. (When I was in high school we did a senior trip to Newport and visited the Breakers, as well as some of the other amazing mansions, and it was stunning.) This is a place any history lover should visit, and if you love architecture, this is also the place for you.
Springfield Armory National Historic Site in Springfield, Massachusetts
On the grounds of Springfield Technical Community College, the Springfield Armory is a must visit for American history buffs in general. This is the place where the nation was built and forged in many ways. And while it is a very small museum, it is packed with the kind of history that will have you sticking around for a few hours learning more and more.
As someone raised in this town, even the grounds are worth a wander. In fact, the views from here are some of the very best you can get of the Pioneer Valley. It is stunning. It is peaceful. And it is for the history lovers.
Have you visited any of these sites? Do you have any hidden gems of your own? We want to know.