Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reader Question for the Community: Best Historic Sites When Visiting New England

Old Sturbridge Village <> - Original Photograph from Archives
This is a similar but more targeted version of the previous <>:
Since you are such a fantastic emissary of New England, may I ask whether you can recommend any historic sites to visit?  We are planning a family trip to NY/NJ/CT this summer, and I would like to take that opportunity to introduce our boys to their heritage.  I just don’t know of any places to visit, other than Plymouth Rock and Old Sturbridge Village.  Our boys are 14 and 12, so they are probably a little too old for Old Sturbridge Village, but I feel obligated to take them there because it’s such a wonderful place and has such a New England feel.  We’re from Los Angeles so it will certainly be a new experience for them! Aside from Plymouth Rock and Old Sturbridge Village, I don’t really know of any other destinations.  Valley Forge and the Myles Standish memorial are possibilities, but they are too far away.  We will be staying in NYC and northern NJ for most of the trip, so I am trying to find destinations that are within 2-2.5 hours from NYC and southern CT by car.  Can you think of any other destinations that might be worth visiting?  Any advice you could give would be very much appreciated.
When I first started thinking of destinations in New England, I immediately thought of your blog because it is so fantastic. New England is a really special place, and you capture the things that make it special – the beautiful scenery, the elegant simplicity, the family gatherings, etc. I really enjoy the Salt Water New England blog – thank you so much for writing and maintaining it! 
Per David Hanssen's Suggestions, Photos Added Below  (Pictures from SWNE Archives):

Beavertail Lighthouse <>

By Land

By Sea

The Road to Beavertail

Mystic Seaport <

Mystic By Land

Mystic By Sea


  1. Obviously Mystic Seaport, which as a young child forever kindled my love of seafaring and ships. There really is nothing like it anywhere else. While you're in the neighborhood Old Stonington is a nice side trip too.

    Underrated, and more recent, I'd say is Bevertail in Jamestown, RI. The lighthouse has a science center in it, but there's also the remaining structures of the World War II fortifications, on top of one of the more scenic spots in southern New England, with great views of Castle Hill and Point Judith. It's also a lot less busy in the summer than neighboring Newport.

  2. If you’re going to be in Plymouth, take the boys to Plimouth Plantation! I haven’t been in years but I found it so interesting. Check it out ~

    Since you’ll be passing through Rhode Island, you may as well swing down to Newport and tour the opulent homes of the Gilded Age millionaires along the ocean.

    I agree about Mystic Seaport along the CT coast.

    In Boston, the Freedom Trail is a must, of course.

    This isn't New England but only an hour and 15 minutes north of NYC is Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site just north of West Point.

    Thirty minutes further up along the Hudson River is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park. And just up the road from that is the Vanderbilt Mansion.

    If you get crazy and decide to head south of NYC, only an hour and 20 minutes south is Princeton University where they do a nice student-led tour.

    About 15 minutes south of Princeton is the tiny site of Washington Crossing on the Delaware River.

    Less than 30 minutes south of that (2 hours south of NYC) is Philadelphia with the Liberty Bell and loads of history!! And Valley Forge isn't far from that.

    1. Susan, this is a great itinerary...complete with links! A+ post! Thanks for the detail! - ER

  3. While you are in the area around Mystic why not stop and visit the USS Nautilus? Essex, Chester, Ivoryton and other river towns are scenic and historic. The New Haven Green, Grove Street Cemetery and the Eli Whitney Museum offer more history. They are but steps away from the finest apizza in North America, if you are looking for a bite to eat.

  4. It's not New England, but southeastern Pennsylvania/Delaware is 2.5 hours or less from NYC. Some favorites in the area:

    Brandywine River Museum (
    Winterthur (
    Hagley Museum (
    Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site (
    Ephrata Cloister (

  5. The Essex/Old Lyme/Old Saybrook region is wonderful. Be sure to have a meal at the Griswold Inn in Essex. Also, Guilford and Madison, CT. are charming towns as well. Candlewood Lake Litchfield areas of western CT are wonderful, too. Newport, RI is always a winner, especially if you take one of the numerous boatrides around Narraganset Bay.

  6. I'm taking notes on the above great comments and putting them on the summer to do list. I don't know where your heritage is, but every town has an historical society or museum which should take care of that for the kids. West Point, the Hudson valley, Caramoor, or John Jay Homestead in Katonah on your way from northern NJ? If coming out of NYC to Mystic, the Old Stone House in Guilford is small, to the point, and doable on the way. Just a tip which you can take or leave, I don't go from NYC to lower Connecticut via the East Side through the Bronx which the GPS will send you. It can bottle neck and be complete hell in the hot weather. I go the West Side/Cross County/ Hutch to the Merrit CT 15 which is a beautiful drive. It avoids 95 which is industrial. The Cloisters @ Fort Tyron is a very cool reprieve from hot, muggy Manhattan and has easy free parking. Also, after museum visits in NYC my kids like a trip to Dylan's Candy Bar on 3rd or Serendipity on East 60th. Last tip. If you are driving in to NYC and do not want to pay horrendous hotel parking or parking lot fees, you can park for free without time limit along both sides of Central Park save for street cleaning. Safe travels!

  7. The Yale University campus, and the Peabody Museum in New Haven would be very worthwhile. The Peabody has everything to delight youngsters as well as adults, such as a large dinosaur skeleton, and exhibits about the natural world. My husband and I find this a great day out. Enjoy your trip.

  8. Old Deerfield and the Florence Griswold museum are among the favorites.

  9. Old Sturbridge Village is wonderful and for all much to see and do there. I finally got there last year as an adult after wanting to go there ever since childhood...and my husband who sometimes doesn't want to spend as much time in museums as I do enjoyed it as well. And we want to go back with our teenager and preteen in tow (even crossing an ocean to do so!) Definitely do go. And if you go there is a great BBQ place right across the street...don't let the location of a converted gas station out you was wonderful. (Perhaps a restaurant recommendation is off-topic but as a parent I find that museum visits and many other events go over much better when everyone is well-fed in advance.)

    So much history to see and experience in the northeast (one of the reasons I love it there so much.)

    As you mention NYC: I also recommend the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace which is right in Manhattan on East 20th, is run by the National Park Service, and is free. The adults might want to read 'Mornings on Horseback' by David McCullough in advance as then the place will really come to life for you.


    1. I also enjoyed my visit to Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace and have one tip to offer. Go early in the day since it's not air conditioned and can get quite warm.