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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES » RHODE ISLAND » The New England Bucket List
WaterFire, Providence, Rhode Island
The New England Bucket List

What To Do When You Think You’ve Done It All

By Steve Lyons | January 07, 2011

We’re all guilty of it. We adamantly claim we’ve done it all and we’re bored. Nothing can be further from the truth, especially when it comes to discovering the sites and happenings in New England.

It’s hard to imagine any region in the country that offers you as many opportunities to break routine and see, do and experience such a myriad of sites and happenings. Here are eight recommendations of highlights you don’t want to miss, but feel free to discover your own hidden gems of opportunity to see, learn and experience:

The Educated Vacation

Bryn Mawr College, Amhurst, Massachusetts

Sure, you know New England is home to the best education institutions in the world. But have you ever visited them? Doing so will offer you more than just a glimpse into academia; you’ll also discover the region’s and America’s history from a different perspective as well as new cities and towns. And who knows, a few visits may inspire one of your college bound students to try harder.

Where to visit? Here’s a primer: Harvard (Cambridge, Massachusetts); Yale (New Haven, Connecticut); University of Vermont (Burlington, Vermont); and The Seven Sisters (Amhurst, Massachusetts).

The Seven Sisters are Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Radcliffe College, Smith College, Vassar College, and Wellesley College

The Murchinson Estate-Gropius House, Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown, located at the very tip of Cape Cod, offers first-class cultural experiences, from a world-class art scene to readings from some of America’s preeminent writers; fine dining to the famed Commercial Street that during the high and shoulder seasons (roughly, Memorial Day – New Year’s) turns into “New Orleans of the Northeast.”

The Murchinson Estate-Gropius House

What many don’t know is that at the end of the West End of Commercial Street, high on a hill lays the architectural wonder called “The Gropius House.”

Built by former Clark University psychology professor Carl Murchison and his worldly wife, Dorotea, it was named one of the best-designed homes of 1959 by Architectural Record magazine. Guests to the home included pioneering abstract painter Hans Hoffman, as well as Frank Sinatra, who was photographed dancing pool-side at a party.

Though the house is not open to the public, it is presently undergoing restoration by a new buyer. The recent clearing of the overgrowth surrounding the house provides one of the best views of the house seen in years. Controversy about the architect Gropius’ involvement has swirled for years, but the recent discovery of letters in the Murchinson estate demonstrate Gropius’ design and project management. It was one of three residential Gropius projects in the U.S., making it a landmark.

1 Commercial Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts 02657

The Yale Center for British Art
BY & COPYRIGHT: Stakhanov

The Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut

Don’t let the relative “smallness” of this museum cause you to underrate its importance. Donated to the university by Paul Mellon (Class of 1929)‚ this cultural gem houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. The collection of paintings‚ sculpture‚ drawings‚ prints‚ rare books‚ and manuscripts reflects the development of British art‚ life‚ and thought from the Elizabethan period onward. Even if museums aren’t your thing, you’ll find the scale of the space and collection easy to tolerate.

Learn more about the museum’s collection online.

Litchfield County, Connecticut

This bucolic neighborhood, just two hours from New York City, offers many famed New Yorkers respite from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives – including many movie stars who get to be regular people living regular lives. A visit delivers more than a chance at star-gazing, including an opportunity to find rare antiques, fine dining, entertainment and arts, and shopping in eclectic boutiques. As for accommodations, choose a quaint inn and relax in the comfort and coziness they offer. For more information check out the Litchfield County Website.

WaterFire, Providence, Rhode Island


The smallest state in the union also offers one of the most unique attractions loved by tourists and locals alike – WaterFire, Providence. This award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans is installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence, and has earned a reputation by the international community as a powerful work of art and a moving symbol of Providence’s renaissance.

WaterFire features one hundred sparkling bonfires, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the silhouettes of the fire tenders passing by the flames, the torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from around the world engage all the senses and emotions of those who stroll the paths of Waterplace Park. WaterFire has captured the imagination of over ten million visitors, bringing life to downtown, and revitalizing Rhode Island’s capital city.

Get ingenious and take a picnic dinner to dine on while you watch the burning sculpture. Or after your stroll, head to Federal Hill for some of the greatest Italian dinning you’ll find outside of Italy.

Learn more at the WaterFire website.

Farmstay Vacations, Vermont

Think of Vermont and thoughts of lush fields, world-class skiing, and maple syrup come to mind. But this ultra-liberal state also offers some of the most unique vacation packages you’ll find, including Farmstay Vacations. Just as farms offered hospitality to visitors “back in the olden days”, they now offer weary workers respite from their hectic lives.

Your farmstay may include comfortable accommodations in a centuries-old farmhouse, followed by a big family-style breakfast of pancakes, home-grown hash browned potatoes and farm-fresh scrambled eggs. Afterward, you might be invited to help with the chores, giving you an opportunity to milk a cow or tend to the sheep. Or you might choose to pick your own apples or strawberries. In every event, you'll also be treated to some of the most beautiful scenery and friendly faces on the planet.

Find out more at this website.

Portland, Maine Headlight & Museum

Portland Head Lighthouse

Nothing says “New England” like a lighthouse – the shining light to the region’s maritime history.

Commissioned by George Washington in 1791, this gem is Maine’s oldest lighthouse.

Located adjacent to Fort Williams Park, the large grounds provides an idyllic setting with picnic facilities and museum on the premises.

1000 Shore Road (off Route 77) Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

For more information click here.

McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Concord, New Hampshire

Who says you have to travel to NASA for a vacation focused on aerospace? New Hampshire’s The Discovery Center has exciting programs for all ages, and all of the programs dedicated to Aerospace. It even hosts Aerospacefest - a weekend long aerospace festival - to a monthly workshop called Little Explorers for 3-4 year olds. Feel like flying? The Center also offers an aviation ground school. From overnight adventures to summer camps and daily workshops, this destination is out-of-this-world unique.

2 Institute Drive Concord, New Hampshire 03301

(603) 271-7827

The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center Website

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