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Top 12 New Things to See and Do in New England This Summer

Discover 2013's Most Exciting New Attractions, Hotels, Restaurants and Events


What new enticements does New England hold for summer vacationers in 2013? Whether you want to surf indoor waves or shoot down a six-story waterslide, visit the studio of a 19th-century Maine painter or a contemporary documentary filmmaker, nibble Bang Bang shrimp or ride on the back of a prancing lobster, search for blown glass orbs or sip vodka from an ice glass, shop for handcrafted items or paddle your way to a world record, or even if you just want to avoid sitting in Cape Cod-bound traffic, this is the year you need to visit New England. Here is your guide to 10 new things to see and do in the region this summer.

Also See: What Was New in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007

1. Stay at the Eco-Friendly Hotel Vermont

Hotel Vermont Lobby
© 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
The city of Burlington, Vermont, on the shores of Lake Champlain has its first independent hotel, newly opened in time for summer 2013: Hotel Vermont celebrated its grand opening in June. Conceived by Vermont architects and designers and expected to earn LEED certification for its environmentally sensitive construction and practices, Hotel Vermont is high-tech, yet it reflects the charming rusticity of Vermont. The 125-room property is home to Juniper Bar and Restaurant. In late August, acclaimed Vermont farm-to-table restaurant Hen of the Wood, overseen by 2011 James Beard Award nominee Chef Eric Warnstedt, will open on-site.

2. Tour the Winslow Homer Studio

Winslow Homer Studio
Winslow Homer Studio photo courtesy of the Portland Musseum of Art, © trentbellphotography.
The Portland Museum of Art purchased famed Maine painter Winslow Homer's studio in 2006, undertook renovations, and in April 2013 invited the public inside for the first time. This summer will be peak season for tours of the artist's waterfront home on Prouts Neck in Scarborough, Maine, where Homer painted many of his masterpieces from 1883 until his death in 1910. Reservations are required for two-and-a-half-hour tours, which depart by van from the Portland Museum of Art.

3. Take the Train from Boston to Cape Cod

Cape Cod Sunset - Picture of a Cape Cod Sunset
Cape Cod sunset photo © 2004 Kim Knox Beckius.
It's been nearly 25 years since Cape Cod-bound drivers stuck in weekend traffic could actually contemplate an alternative, but starting May 24, 2013, the new CapeFLYER train will make travel between Boston and the Cape a breeze. Hop aboard at Boston's South Station, and you'll be in Hyannis in less than two-and-a-half hours... and enjoy free WiFi along the way! Trains operate Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays from South Station, Middleborough and Buzzards Bay and on Saturdays and Sundays from Braintree, too. Kids 5 and under and bicycles ride free. Tickets may be purchased on board the train or in advance via the MBTA's smartphone app.

4. Surf Indoors Year-Round, Dude

SkyVenture in Nashua, New Hampshire, was already New England's only place to skydive indoors year-round. When it opens in late July or early August 2013, this adrenaline-charged destination will add North America's largest indoor surfing facility to its line-up of attractions. This 11,000-square-foot, all-season paradise, known as Surf's Up New Hampshire, will feature a programmable SurfStream from American Wave Machines churning up gnarly, 32-foot waves. The facility's glass roof is retractable for seasonal open-air operation, and there will also be a lounge area and café.

5. Search for Glass Floats on Block Island

Glass Float Project Block Island
Glass float photo courtesy of artist Eben Horton.
The Glass Float Project began modestly in 2012, and thanks to artist Eben Horton's Kickstarter campaign, it takes on much larger dimension starting in June 2013 with double the number of blown glass floats awaiting lucky visitors to Block Island. Here's how it works: 400 handcrafted glass balls made at Horton's Wakefield, Rhode Island, studio will be tucked away along the beaches and Greenway Trails on Block Island. Find one? It's yours to treasure: the only request is that you register your find online. Horton hopes the hunt for these gleaming orbs will become an annual tradition on Block Island.

6. Sip Cool Drinks at New England's First and Only Indoor Ice Bar

Frost Ice Bar
Logo courtesy of Frost Ice Bar.
In July 2013... just as the heat and humidity are really starting to get to us in New England... relief will arrive in the form of solid ice! Frost Ice Bar, opening this summer at Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace, will be the first indoor ice bar in the region. Composed almost entirely of carved ice, the bar will serve cool cocktails and other beverages in ice glasses. With a constant indoor temperature of 24 degrees Fahrenheit, it will be a fun place to chill year-round, and guests of all ages are welcome.

7. See Hidden New England Places with Tauck Tours

New England Hidden Gems - Tauck Tours
Franconia Notch Bridge photo courtesy of Tauck Tours.
Connecticut-based Tauck Tours escorts travelers to phenomenal destinations on all seven continents, but in 2013, this 88-year-old luxury travel company's most exciting new itinerary is in its own backyard. "Hidden Gems of New England" was developed in partnership with Ken Burns and honors the acclaimed filmmaker's passion for American history, culture and personalities. The eight-day trip, with departures from June through October, begins in Hartford with a private, after-hours tour of the Mark Twain House and dinner inside the Mark Twain Museum. The journey proceeds through Massachusetts and into New Hampshire, where travelers visit Burns' studio. Other "insider" experiences include fascinating lectures, a culinary walking tour of Boston's Beacon Hill, a behind-the-scenes tour of Fenway Park and a guided visit to Billings Farm in Vermont.

8. Conquer the Ultimate Water Park Ride

Bonzai Pipelines
Image courtesy of Six Flags New England.
When it debuts this summer, Bonzai Pipelines at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts, is going to be the new thrill to conquer. This six-story waterslide complex is one invigorating ride, to put it mildly. Think you can handle free-falling and sliding at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour? Choose your swimsuit accordingly.

9. Shop Sommerville's New Weekly Handmade Arts Market

Assembled Arts Market
Photo courtesy of ASSEMBLED.
May 18, 2013 marks the launch of ASSEMBLED: a handmade arts market at Assembly Row in the city of Sommerville, Massachusetts, on the outskirts of Boston. Held Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through September 21, this weekly market is Etsy come to life! In addition to showcasing handcrafted products by creative and talented New Englanders including many Etsy artisans, ASSEMBLED will feature live music and yummy food sold by popular Boston-area food trucks including Compliments, Bon Me, Frozen Hoagies and Grilled Cheese Nation.

10. Dine at a Bonefish Grill

Bonefish Grill South Windsor CT
Bonefish Grill photo © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius.
Bonefish Grill, a restaurant chain known for its wood-grilled fresh fish, is a new player on the New England dining scene. There are more than 100 Bonefish Grill locations nationwide, but there are only two in New England--in Cranston, Rhode Island, and South Windsor, Connecticut--and both opened during the spring of 2013. Four more Bonefish Grill restaurants are planned for New England. Stop in and try the sneakily spicy clam chowder: It's only available at Bonefish Grill's New England locations. And if you're near a Bonefish Grill on a Wednesday eve, the $5 Bang Bang Shrimp special is a delicious deal.

11. Ride a Carousel Lobster

Carousel Lobster
Carousel Lobster photo courtesy of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy.
Yes, you heard me right! A lobster will be among the mounts carved by artist Jeff Briggs for a brand new carousel set to debut Labor Day Weekend 2013 in Boston. The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy's new Carousel Park will be located across from Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Christopher Columbus Park. In addition to a lobster, other distinctive carousel animals will include a sea turtle, a cod, a peregrine falcon, a grasshopper, a harbor seal, a fox, a skunk, a whale, three types of butterflies, a barn owl and a sea serpent. The park and carousel will be handicapped-accessible.

12. Help Set a Guinness World Record on Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee photo © 2009 Kim Knox Beckius.
Just as summer is about to bid New England adieu, you'll have one more chance to do something new! If setting a Guinness World Record is on your bucket list, grab a kayak or canoe and head to New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee for LakeFest on Saturday, September 7, 2013. Organizers invite paddlers of all ages to take to the lake at Weirs Beach in Laconia to try to break the record for the largest number of canoes and kayaks on a single body of water. New Hampshire's largest lake is the ideal place for the attempt, which must surpass the current record of 1,902 boats set on Inlet, New York's Fourth Lake in 2011. Register online: There is a fee to participate. There will be a celebration in Endicott Park, which is sure to be lively, even if the attempt falls short.

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