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New England

To visitors and residents alike, the six NEW ENGLAND states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine conjure up nostalgic images of landscapes studded with ageing clapboard houses, Revolutionary War sites and white-spired churches set upon immaculate rolling greens. And while nostalgia does play a role in New England’s marketing, this is still undeniably one of the most historic parts of the United States. Boston especially is celebrated as the birthplace of American independence – so many of the seminal events of the Revolutionary War took place here – and the region was home to, and inspiration for, some of the pre-eminent figures of American literature, from Mark Twain and Henry Thoreau, to Emily Dickinson and Jack Kerouac.

The Ivy League colleges – Harvard, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth et al – are the oldest in the country and remain hugely influential, continually channelling new life into towns like Cambridge and Amherst, attracting vast numbers of bright students from all over the world and setting a decidedly liberal tone throughout the region; though New Hampshire is something of a swing state, New England has voted solidly for Democratic presidential candidates since the 1980s.

The best time to visit New England is in late September and October, when visitors flock to see the magnificent autumn foliage. Particularly vivid in Vermont, autumn in New England is not an event to be underrated, and though hotel rates go up during this time, the region’s magnificent display of crimsons and hues, when it seems someone has flipped the light switch on underneath entire swaths of countryside, is an event that’s not to be missed.

To the east, the peninsula of Cape Cod flexes off of Massachusetts like a well-tanned arm. Here you will find innumerable sunbathing opportunities amid 300 miles of shoreline, fragrant sea roses and tumbling sand dunes. In the western part of the state, the tranquil Berkshires offer the best in summer festivals as well as fascinating and funky art museums, good for a diversion. The sights of Connecticut and Rhode Island tend to be urban, but away from I-95 you’ll find plenty of tranquil pockets, particularly in the way of Newport and Block Island, fifty miles south of Providence. Boston is a vibrant and stimulating city from which to set off north, where the population begins to thin out (and the seafood gets better as you go). The rest of Massachusetts is rich in historical and literary sights, while further inland, the lakes and mountains of New Hampshire and Maine offer rural wildernesses to rival any in the nation. Maine is also known for its coastline, appealingly corrugated and dotted with lighthouses and wild blueberry bushes. The beloved country roads of Vermont offer pleasant wandering through rural towns and serene forests; while in the neighbourhood, be sure to pick up some handcrafted maple syrup for your pancakes back home.

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