Friday, June 14, 2024

The Eco Travel Guide to New England: Explore the Historic Charm of the Northeast


From where to stay to what to eat, here’s how to plan an eco-friendly getaway to New England.

From fluffernutter sandwiches and Fenway’s Green Monster to lobster trap Christmas trees and Martha’s Vineyard, New England is known for many things. Encompassing six states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, the Northeastern region is one of the oldest in the U.S. The New England colonies were established in the 1600s by Puritans seeking to escape religious persecution. However, the area was home to about 60,000 natives long before that. 

For a dreamy escape to the coastline, New England is a treasure trove of popular destination spots, from the 47,000-acre Acadia National Park in Maine to the sandy peninsula of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. A visit to the area is sure to be an adventure full of delicious eats, an immersion in history, and much time spent in nature. For the eco-conscious tourist, here is the ultimate travel guide to New England to help make your travels as sustainable as possible.

Where to stay

New England boasts a wide range of historic inns and luxury hotels, both perfect for a quaint, seaside retreat. Here are some of the most eco-friendly places to stay that the area has to offer.

Omni Parker House - Boston, Massachusetts.
Omni Parker House in Boston, Massachusetts | Courtesy

Omni Parker House – Boston, Massachusetts

Fun fact: every U.S. president since Ulysses S. Grant has had the pleasure of staying in this luxury abode. A Boston landmark since 1855, this hotel “boasts old-world charm and elegance accompanied by all of the modern conveniences of a world-class establishment.” The brand has been a leader in sustainable initiatives for years, including installing energy-efficient appliances and implementing a recycling program.

The Old Harbor Inn - Cape Cod.
The Old Harbor Inn – Cape Cod | Courtesy

The Old Harbor Inn – Cape Cod

Located in Chatham, Massachusetts, this charming bed and breakfast has been providing exceptional hospitality to New England travelers since 1932. With a mission to “preserve the fragile and picturesque environment that is Cape Cod,” the inn’s sustainability initiatives include recycling its trash and composting. Featuring an English Country-style decor, indulge in a little R&R by ordering breakfast in bed or tackle the outdoors with a hiking excursion. Fun awaits.

The Ocean House in Cape Cod.
The Ocean House – Cape Cod | Courtesy

Ocean House – Watch Hill, Rhode Island

Nestled right on the ocean, this five-star historic Rhode Island hotel has everything you need to immerse yourself in luxury and relaxation. Its 49 guestrooms and 20 opulent suites feature 20th-century décor and breathtaking views from atop a bluff overlooking Block Island Sound, a strait in the Atlantic Ocean. Offering a variety of restaurants, you can dine on farm-to-table cuisine, which utilize fresh, local ingredients for a meal to remember. 

Where to eat

New England may be best known for its seafood dishes like clam chowder, fried cod and chips, and lobster rolls. But the area is actually a haven for sustainable dining that emphasizes local plant-based fare. Dig in.

Plant City Food Hall restaurant in Providence Rhode Island.
Photo courtesy Plant City Food Hall

Plant City – Providence, Rhode Island

An all-vegan food hall? This is what food dreams are made of. Featuring four restaurants, three bars, a bakery, a marketplace, and much more, you’re sure to find cuisine for every fancy.

Foglia  restaurant front in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Photo courtesy Foglia

Foglia – Bristol, Rhode Island

Nestled in historic downtown Bristol, this newly-opened, full-service restaurant from Chef Peter Carvelli serves up elevated dishes of seasonal vegetables and house-made pasta. Dine on elegant plates of beet tartare, seared artichoke hearts, and tofu ricotta ravioli.

Sushi rolls at Freshroll.
Photo courtesy Freshroll

Freshroll – Mashpee, Massachusetts

Featuring a 100 percent plant-based and organic menu, this restaurant serves up tasty Asian classics. Feast on battered eggplant strips with a creamy ginger sauce, spicy noodles, or try the grilled “scallops” with pineapple skewers.

What to do

What’s a sustainable travel guide without a few New England adventure tips?


Get out and explore nature by visiting one of the region’s many National Parks. Spanning 215 contiguous miles from Connecticut to Massachusetts, the New England National Scenic Trail is truly a sight to see. Or visit Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire, which has preserved the home, gardens, and studio of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

Head up to Acadia National Park in Maine, where you could catch a glimpse of moose, bear, whales, and seabirds from the highest point on the east coast.

newport rhode island beach
Newport Rhode Island is a perfect summer getaway. | Photo courtesy Joe Byrnes

From kayaking to standup paddleboarding, enjoy a day out on the water. Just be sure to lather on sustainable sunscreen for a cruelty-free outing. Summertime is perfect for a getaway to Newport, Rhode Island. Whether you laze on the gorgeous beaches or visit historic estates like The Breakers, there’s plenty to do.

Shop sustainably

Boston is a tourist destination for a number of reasons, but you can add sustainable shopping to the list now, too. The ethical fashion shops are plentiful from Viola Lovely to Olives and Grace. Or check out Third Piece, which also offers knitting classes so you can make your own eco ‘fits. Beauty more your thing? Credo Beauty has two Boston locations sure to have the eco and clean beauty products you need.

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