New England Getaways
With summer at its brightest turn, the East Coast resort towns and summer colonies are in full flourish—and will continue to be through late autumn. Sailing, swimming, chowder cookoffs and art festivals will give way to leaf-peeping and harvest fairs all over New England and farther south. For visitors from the rest of the world, here's a visual guide to a few favorite East Coast summer gems.
By Lena Katz
Newport Rhode Island
A leading Colonial port city by the mid-1700s, Newport began to take historic preservation seriously before the western half of the nation even came to exist. Its greatest era was the Gilded Age, so called because the wealthiest and most artistically brilliant denizens of the East Coast cities anointed it as their summer resort of choice. They built palatial mansions, held glittering parties, and set a standard for Newport that has never entirely disappeared— perhaps because many of the mansions still stand. These days though, the island is more accessible to ordinary vacationers, should they wish to weekend in a romantic inn, go sailing, or explore the charming and historic downtown streets.
Newport | Reasons to Go
Tour the historic mansions, formerly owned by industrial giants and coal magnates, many now preserved under historic trusts or donated as museums. Three not to miss: Marble House (pictured), the Vanderbilts' Breakers, and Rosecliff, built by a silver heiress the townspeople called simply "Tessie."
Summer festivals abound; just take your pick according to interests. August alone brings a Sunset Summer music series, the 28th annual Rose Island Lighthouse Clambake, and the Newport Arts festival…and that's just for starters.
Photo Credit: Matt Binns/Flickr
Nantucket Island, MA
A former whaling port now turned historic summer colony, this little gem 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts has become a haven of the quietly wealthy and of celebrities wanting a break from the spotlight. All of Nantucket Island is on the National Register of Historic Places, so while you'll never be short of creature comforts and wonderful food, you'll be much happier staying in a charming inn and exploring on a bicycle than trying to find a W Hotel and a driver. Nantucket is just over two hours from Hyannisport by car ferry and one hour by high-speed ferry. Driving on-island is discouraged.
Nantucket | Reasons to Go
Sailing is a major draw during summer and is tied into other traditions: charity fundraisers, daytime barbecues and, of course, parties. The major sailing event of the calendar year is Nantucket Race Week, which occurs from August 13-22nd, 2011.
The seasons are so dramatic on this island that three of them (spring, summer, fall) are considered events on their own. Fall on Nantucket is characterized by its gloriously colorful leaf-change and pleasant "Indian summer" temperatures. Spring season really kicks off with the annual Daffodil Festival Weekend in April, when three million daffodils come into bloom.
North Fork Long Island, New York
This is Long Island's wine region, located on the East End of Long Island, not so far from the Hamptons geographically but, fans promise, a million light years away in terms of ambience. Nearly 40 small wineries are dotted around the countryside, as well as inns and restaurants and parks.
Long Island Wine Country | Reasons to Go
During summer, when New York City residents are fleeing to the countryside en masse, this area welcomes them with open tasting rooms, live music at many wineries, and a monthly "wine camp" 4-day experience.
At harvest season, wine buffs can sign up for Harvest Wine Salons— short intro-to-viticulture classes which take place Saturdays in September at different wineries. September and December bring Vine University, a two-part intensive course in at-home winemaking. See liwines.com for information on these and other events.
Lake Placid | Adirondacks, New York
People who haven't spent much time in New York are often heard to inquire, "What are the Adirondacks?" thinking that perhaps the name refers to a collection of villages like the Hamptons. In fact, the Adirondack Region covers six million acres of upstate New York. It's a wilderness area and parkland with more than a hundred villages contained within its borders. The Hudson River cuts through it, the Adirondack Wilds offer 1 million acres without a stoplight or a fast-food joint, and regions like Lake Placid have become famous destinations within the greater area. Lake Placid is actually a sub-region within the Adirondacks, itself split into four chunks. River gorges, sunny shores, historic townships and scenic railways all can be found in this diverse and eternally surprising pocket of the East Coast.
Lake Placid | Reasons to Go
History is made exciting in Lake Placid township through a variety of experiences including Garrison Ghost Tours at Fort Ticonderoga and French & Indian War reenactments at Crown Point.
Charter a small craft and fish, sunbathe, or explore the lakeshore.
There are multiple marinas, and many vacation rentals and hotels have boat-up docks.
Located right where the tri-state suburbs overlap with New England, Litchfield County meets many people's happy medium between a "scene" and a retreat. There are a lot of people out here who commute to New York for work, and even picturesque scenes like the one here are more ritzy than meets the eye: for example, this photo is not the humble farm it seems, but instead, a guest cottage at design resort Winvian, a former farm now turned into an $800-per-night luxury retreat.
Litchfield | Reasons to Go
Harvest season brings a series of old-fashioned country fairs and farm festivities to this admittedly gentrified region. A dozen or so are scattered throughout Litchfield County. Bring the kids or your friends for a day of tasting, handicraft shopping and mingling with the real farmers who grow all that great local/regional/sustainable produce you normally only see in Whole Foods.
If you're a fan of vintage cars, pay a visit to Lime Rock Park on Labor Day for Historic Festival 29, the ultimate historic concours and race on the East Coast.
Along with most of the other beauties in this gallery, Stowe comes into full-color glory in fall, with the turning of the autumn leaves. But then, right when the beach resorts shutter up in preparation for off season, this town prepares for the winter ski season. Between the snow at Stowe Mountain Resort, the "Von Trapp of the New World" aesthetics of the village and the location that's so convenient to East Coast city folk, Stowe is probably more popular in the winter than in the summer—which is why it's styled the "winter sports capital of the East."
Stowe | Reasons to Go
Bring the kids to Stowe in summertime for giggles on the Alpine Slide, gasps in the Gondola Skyride, high-octane bouncing on the Bungee Trampoline, and squeals on the Zip line.
Then get out in the wilderness for fishing, hiking, and in fall, a swirl through the autumn leaves. The Toll Road is a great scenic drive.