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Globe Magazine

40 tiny, perfect things about summer in New England

Writers from the Globe and around New England share the experiences — some iconic, some unexpected — that their best summer memories are made of.

People walk along Marginal Way near the Beachmere Inn.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/File

1. The Marginal Way, Ogunquit

You’ve probably heard of Ogunquit’s Marginal Way, and it’s sure to be busy on a nice summer afternoon. But with a little luck, you can make this scenic seaside park all your own. Keep your eye out for a patch of grass a bit off the beaten path, preferably tucked between a few trees and with a view of the ocean and the hundreds of vacationing passersby. Upgrade your seaside day by bringing along a great book, a picnic blanket, and a box of treats from Congdon’s Doughnuts in Wells. –Dasia Moore

Details: Entrance at Shore Road, Ogunquit, Maine, marginalwayfund.org


Del's lemonade is a staple of summer in Rhode Island.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

2. Del’s Frozen Lemonade, Rhode Island

The sounds of a perfect summer day in Southern Rhode Island are surf, seagulls, and the squeals of children chasing each other around a sand castle. The smell is salt air cut with coconut-scented sunscreen. The place? Many options, but let’s say Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly. It’s lovely, lively, and convenient to shops and a pavilion. And the taste? In your chilled hand is a cup of Del’s frozen lemonade, a Rhode Island staple. Newbies may wonder, do I eat it with a spoon or suck it through a straw? Nah, just tip the cup to your lips and remember that life is short, and summer is shorter. –Mark Arsenault

Details: Look for Del’s trucks and stands at Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly, Rhode Island, and other beaches; dels.com

3. Chester Sunday Market, Connecticut

Every Sunday morning from June through mid-October, a tiny town in the Lower Connecticut River Valley blocks traffic on Main Street to make way for bounty from across the state. Most of those mornings, I’m there with a shopping list: a loaf of olive and roasted red pepper ciabatta from the Norwalk bakery, produce harvested from the Waterford farm, honey butter from the apiary, and a slice of broccoli and ricotta from the pizza oven on wheels. If you live nearby, you can’t help bumping into a neighbor shouldering a tote bag or tugging a dog leash. And if you’re coming from elsewhere, Chester has the restaurants, shops, and nearby mini-adventures to make a morning into a day. –Jeff Harder


Details: Main Street, Chester, Connecticut, 860-790-5007, chestersundaymarket.jimdofree.com

A mudslide from The Oar.From The Oar

4. Mudslides at The Oar, Block Island

There’s some debate, as there is with most traditions involving alcohol, around who made the mudslide the official cocktail of Block Island (or who makes it best). But I’ll never forget my first, at The Oar during a trip to the island with my friend Gina and her family. The drink is more dessert than cocktail, made with vodka, Irish cream, and coffee liqueur — with an optional but highly recommended choice of floater. It’ll make you a better cornhole player, promise. Let your buzz wear off over a few rounds on the lawn as the sun sets over the Great Salt Pond and wonder why you’d live anywhere but New England. –Alyssa Giacobbe

Details: 221 Jobs Hill Road, New Shoreham, Rhode Island, 401-466-8820, blockislandresorts.com

5. Ocean Drive, Newport

My soul sings a song in the key of ocean waves. Water is medicine. The smell of sea salt, the sun dancing in the sky? We deserve summer softness and Newport is my solace. Ocean Drive is a movie. Hop in the car and let the coastline love you. Start downtown, where Thames Street and Wellington Avenue meet, and let your windows down. Bring on the breeze, even if it’s sticky sweet. Play music that moves you. For 10 miles, go where the winding road takes you and don’t hesitate to stop and park and soak it in. Converse with the ocean, the sand, the rocks, the sky, and the sun. Let your camera capture memories. Or simply just be. –Jeneé Osterheldt


Details: Newport, Rhode Island, discovernewport.org

Huttopia White Mountains offers camping options with electricity and plumbing.Romain ETIENNE

6. Huttopia White Mountains, New Hampshire

For fellow city dwellers who enjoy nature — yet lack actual survival skills and still desire everyday conveniences — the Huttopia White Mountains make for a perfect summer getaway. Just 2½ hours from Boston, this family-friendly site offers camping options with electricity and plumbing (my family glamped in a Trappeur tent) and carries a cheerful and relaxed vibe. And the on-site Airstream turned full-service kitchen is aces. We brought along camp provisions, but some of my favorite memories include relaxing with my family on the wooden terrace while delighting in the Airstream’s made-to-order pizzas, local microbrews, and cappuccinos. –Christine Koh

Details: 57 Pine Knoll Road, Albany, New Hampshire, 603-447-3131, huttopia.com

7. Cape Porpoise, Maine

Ah, Kennebunkport. The name itself conjures up images of seafood shacks, charming Dock Square, glorious beaches, and, of course, the crowds. Those looking for a respite will find one at Cape Porpoise, a tiny fishing village with mind-blowing sunset views from the docks. Cape Porpoise, a blip on the map with fishing boats sitting in its cozy harbor. Cape Porpoise, a hamlet on the rocky coast where, at the Cape Pier Chowder House, you can enjoy the ocean’s bounty — especially the lobster rolls, especially with a cold beer — as well as the bracing salt air. Cape Porpoise, just 2 miles from Dock Square. Kennebunkport wouldn’t be the same without it. –Marc Hurwitz


Details: 79 Pier Road, Kennebunkport, Maine, 207-967-0123, capepierchowderhouse.com

8. Buttermilk Falls, Vermont

In the shadow of southern Vermont’s Okemo Mountain, a sign lured us to Buttermilk Falls. We parked our car on the side of a country road, then followed a dirt path into a forest. The trail loop was a half mile, and it took only minutes to reach the upper falls. Water streamed over boulders into a natural pool as a handful of people swam, sans lifeguards. Keeping our water shoes on, we clambered over rocks, held our then 5-year-old son’s hand and waded in. Cooled by icy water on a hot summer day, we were immersed in a sliver of paradise. –Linda K. Wertheimer

Details: For more information visit vermontriverconservancy.org/completed-projects/buttermilk-falls

A visitor carries ice cream to her family at the Ben & Jerry’s factory.Christiana Botic for The Boston Globe

9. The Ben & Jerry’s Factory, Vermont

Every visit to Vermont involves an existential question: Did you really go to the Green Mountain State if you didn’t get a scoop at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory? In our family there is no room for debate. It helps that the tour experience is crafted with the same degree of precision they put into their flavors. A half-hour glimpse inside the production floor paired with a cup or cone is just the right amount of anticipation a kid can handle, and there’s a playground to let your small people burn off their sugar rush before you bind them back into their car seats. And it’s quirky and morbid, but I love the retired flavor graveyard, a place where the “dearly de-pinted” are celebrated with cringe-worthy poems. It’s a good reminder to celebrate one’s mistakes, because really, what is life, but just a series of moments lived between ice cream cones? –Janelle Nanos


Details: 1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury, Vermont, 802-337-1201, benjerry.com/about-us/factory-tours

10. The Book Barn, Connecticut

What could beat getting lost in the world of a great book? Being surrounded by 500,000 of them. A semi-outdoor used bookstore in Niantic, Connecticut, The Book Barn provides an excellent backdrop for summer daydreaming. Barn cats wander between wooden structures housing titles in nearly every genre imaginable. Visitors walk slowly, browsing aimlessly and delighting in unexpected finds. If you’re lucky enough to snag an open chair and sit awhile, you just might satisfy that summer urge to get swept up in the magic of a perfect day. –Dasia Moore

Details: 41 West Main Street, Niantic, Connecticut, 860-739-5715, bookbarnniantic.com

You can order a lobster roll on a burger bun at Petey’s Summertime Seafood & Bar.Adobe Stock

11. Petey’s Summertime Seafood & Bar, New Hampshire

There’s a stretch of rugged road that clings to the seashore just north of Hampton, New Hampshire, lined with grand estates perched on bluffs and Gatsby-esque manors with rolling lawns. This is Ocean Boulevard, the ultimate cruising destination en route to Jenness Beach in Rye. It’s not summer until you roll down your windows, inhale the briny air, and gawk at the spectacular homes while winding along with the breeze in your hair. Petey’s Summertime Seafood & Bar marks journey’s end: Pull off into the rocky parking lot and order up a monstrous, messy lobster roll on a burger bun — an only-in-New England juxtaposition of elegance and simplicity. –Kara Baskin

Details: 1323 Ocean Boulevard, Rye, New Hampshire, 603-433-1937, peteys.com

La Universidad del Chimi is one of many chimi trucks on La Broa  —  the heart of Providence’s Dominican community.Kevin G. Andrade

12. La Universidad del Chimi, Providence

To conclude an evening’s festivities in Providence, drive down Broad Street until you see an orange food truck parked in front of a yellow mechanic’s shop. La Universidad del Chimi is one of many chimi trucks on La Broa — the heart of Providence’s Dominican community — that appeared in the early 1990s. The chimi (short for chimichurri burger) consists of a grill-toasted bun filled with ground beef, cabbage, and cheese, dripping with a tangy mayo-ketchup based sauce. You and your friends can enjoy your chimis at your car as you absorb the bachata and merengue rhythms permeating the neighborhood. It’s almost a night out in Santo Domingo . . . without the cost of an airline ticket. –Kevin G. Andrade

Details: Broad Street at Lenox (near Thurbers Avenue), Providence, Rhode Island, 401-516-6517

Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire.

13. Story Land, New Hampshire

In 1954, a year before Walt Disney opened Disneyland, the Morrell family of New Hampshire unveiled their kiddie theme park Story Land, “where fantasy lives.” Nestled in the White Mountains, Story Land makes every guest feel like they’ve discovered something magical as they wander among the trees and come upon Heidi’s grandfather’s hut, the home of the Three Bears, Cinderella’s Castle, and the toadstool of Little Miss Muffet’s spider (which descends upon children who dare take a seat), among many others. Even newer additions like the Roar-O-Saurus roller coaster can’t diminish the kitschy, lovely wonder, as hidden speakers throughout the park trill fairy chimes and remind us to visit Yum Yum Junction on our way back to the real world. –Stephanie Tyburski

Details: 850 New Hampshire Route 16, Glen, New Hampshire, 603-383-4186, storylandnh.com

14. Villagers Ice Cream Restaurant, Vermont

Long bike rides deserve sweet rewards and scenic surprises, and Vermont’s Route 131, a scenic state road, doesn’t disappoint. On one 30-mile loop, as my husband, son, and I pedaled, hugging the roadside, the whooshing of the Black River’s rapids and the roar of occasional passing cars created a symphony of sound. With miles to go, we detoured onto a dirt road to explore Upper Falls Covered Bridge (also accessible by car), its windows framing the river and nearby mountains. Then it was downhill to the finale: sandwiches — we chose a fried clam roll, burger, and grilled cheese — and homemade chocolate, cookies and cream, and mint chocolate chip milkshakes at Villagers Ice Cream Restaurant, an eatery designed just for summer. –Linda K. Wertheimer

Details: 4261 Route 106, Weathersfield, Vermont, 802-795-0063, facebook.com/VillagersIceCream

Pittsfield Suns player Connor Berry speaks with a young fan at Wahconah Park in 2019. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

15. Baseball at Wahconah Park, Pittsfield

If you find yourself in Western Massachusetts, head to Wahconah Park for a Pittsfield Suns game. The team, part of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England, is managed by Kevin Donati, a former Suns player. You might see the next Mike Trout or Chris Sale. Wahconah was built in 1919, before the advent of night baseball, and is one of the last baseball parks in America with a wooden grandstand. It’s also one of the only baseball fields where the sun sets directly behind the center field fence, resulting in unique “sun delays” in the early innings of 6:35 p.m. starts. Seriously. Any blinded batter is allowed to pause the game. During the ensuing break, you may be entertained by a T-shirt toss or kids’ games on the field. Then, when the sun sets, it’s time to play ball — again. –Dan Shaughnessy

Details: 105 Wahconah Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 413-464-9309, pittsfieldsuns.com

If you venture into the Yale University Art Gallery on a summer day, you’ll notice two things right away: a soothing sense of quiet and the sweet relief of air conditioning. The art gallery, which is the oldest run by a university in the United States and is free to visit, can be a welcome retreat from the vibrant festivals, restaurants, and campus happenings waiting just outside on Chapel Street. After wandering through special exhibits and in-house collections covering everything from ancient sculpture to contemporary painting and film, you might find yourself on a cozy rooftop patio where you can count the steeples and clock towers that dot the Elm City skyline. –Dasia Moore

Details: 1111 Chapel Street (at York Street), New Haven, Connecticut, 203-432-0600, artgallery.yale.edu

The Heritage Museums & Gardens property is a combination of horticultural exploration and artistry.Christine Koh

17. Heritage Museums & Gardens, Cape Cod

While many classic summertime delights await along the full length of Cape Cod’s hook, just over the Sagamore Bridge lies a unique gem in Sandwich’s Heritage Museums & Gardens. The property’s 100 acres are a combination of horticultural exploration and artistry — I took many flower and plant inspiration photos for my future dream garden. Explore the reconstructed Wampanoag wetu home and the Hidden Hollow natural play space, among other must-sees. You won’t even notice all the steps you’ll clock as you wind along Heritage’s stunning nature trails, cultivated gardens, and art installations. –Christine Koh

Details: 67 Grove Street, Sandwich, Massachusetts, 508-888-3300, heritagemuseumsandgardens.org

More than 500 varieties of blooms, shrubs, trees, and vines can be found on the Bridge of Flowers.Maggie Freleng

18. The Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Slow life down at the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, where you can stop to smell the roses — and the daylilies, honeysuckle, hibiscus, and more. This 400-foot-long former trolley bridge with views of the Deerfield River was built in 1908 to connect the Western Massachusetts towns of Shelburne and Buckland. When the trolley stopped running 20 years later and the bridge was abandoned, volunteers replaced weeds with flower seeds. Today, more than 500 varieties of enchanting blooms, shrubs, trees, and vines thrive there. After you’ve gotten your fill, head to State Street for ice cream or a square of fudge at Mo’s Fudge Factor. –Brooke Hauser

Details: 22 Water Street, Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, bridgeofflowersmass.org

19. Funspot, New Hampshire

A rainy vacation day rarely elicits squeals of excitement — except at Lake Winnipesaukee, where it’s an excuse to head to one of the world’s largest arcades. Funspot in Laconia, New Hampshire, boasts more than 600 games, including 300 of the classic type (think: Asteroids and Donkey Kong), but the prize games, which spit out tickets redeemable for such priceless treasures as jelly rubber light-up rings and parachute men, are the real draw for kids. Sure, you may find yourself second-guessing the wisdom of your plan as you wait alongside seemingly every other vacationer in the Lakes Region for your kid to pick a prize, but it’s worth it for the giant stuffed Dora you get to lug home. –Julie Suratt

Details: 579 Endicott Street North, Laconia, New Hampshire, 603-366-4377, funspotnh.com

Worthy Burger in South Royalton is less than three hours from Boston by car.Stephen Meuse for The BOston GLobe

20. Worthy Burger, Vermont

Some might ask if Worthy Burger in South Royalton, Vermont, is worth going to. Is its namesake burger with Wagyu beef, Vermont cheddar cheese, and zesty secret sauce worth sinking your teeth into? Is Worthy Burger worth going to for its ever-changing list of great local beers, such as The Alchemist’s legendary Heady Topper IPA or Hill Farmstead Brewery’s Edward pale ale? Is it worth the 2½-hour ride from Boston for its rustic patio with cooling valley breezes, almost eerie peacefulness, and location in a picturesque Vermont village right out of a calendar? I think you already know the answer. It is Worthy Burger, after all. –Marc Hurwitz

Details: 56 Rainbow Street, South Royalton, Vermont, 802-763-2575, worthyvermont.com

Serving up cones at the UConn Dairy Bar. Ellen Albanese for The Boston Globe

21. UConn Dairy Bar

I admit there aren’t a ton of reasons to visit Storrs in the summer, which I can say because I grew up there, but the second best reason for the trip (you’re first, Mom and Dad!) is for what I humbly judge to be New England’s best ice cream. The University of Connecticut started as an agricultural school, and the Dairy Bar helps continue that tradition, crafting dozens of flavors using milk and cream from cows you can actually see from the shop, as they graze on Horsebarn Hill. You can’t go wrong with any shake, sundae, or cone — my go-to flavors are salted caramel crunch, Husky Tracks, and classic chocolate — but if you want to be right, get the giant ice cream sandwich made with homemade chocolate chip cookies. It’s big enough to share. After one bite, you won’t want to. –Francis Storrs

Details: 17 Manter Road, Storrs, Connecticut, 860-486-1021, dining.uconn.edu/uconn-dairy-bar

22. Swimming at East End Beach, Maine

Your feet ache the moment you step in. Your ankles seize, your calves are in a vise, and when the Portland, Maine, sea water hits mid-thigh things start to go numb. Don’t think. Don’t wait. Drop. Your head goes under and the cold is an existential shock that separates you from yourself. You stay there, detached and weightless, then come up to warm air and glints of light. You walk out, protozoan, deprogrammed, transformed. Your brain is clear, your mood spikes, your skin feels taut and polished. You walk up the hill, water dripping from your hair, your body glowing inside and out. –Lily King

Details: Eastern Promenade Trail, Portland, Maine, mainetrailfinder.com/trails/trail/eastern-promenade-trail

23. Sunset at Mass MoCA

You think you know what a sunset looks like. But James Turrell’s installation C.A.V.U., viewed from a bench inside a renovated water tower, will make you see it anew. The main show is simply a hole in the roof revealing empty sky: While night falls, programmed lights paint the walls orange, fuchsia, then aqua. As the interior changes color, the sky appears to as well. Have the clouds always been hiding this rainbow? For 40 minutes, olive, lavender and even tangerine steal across the skyspace, until you stumble out into the darkness reeling, wondering if you’ll ever look at the heavens in the same way. –Josie Thaddeus-Johns

Details: 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, Massachusetts, 413-662-2111, massmoca.org

The East Bay Bike Path connects Providence and Bristol. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

24. East Bay Bike Path, Rhode Island

There are two very different experiences available on Rhode Island’s stunning East Bay Bike Path, a 14½-mile band of asphalt bending along Narragansett Bay, connecting Providence and Bristol. At peak times in the summer, the path is a cheerful river of bikers and ‘bladers, all people-watching each other, and stopping for selfies along postcard-perfect seascapes. In the early morning, however, while the throngs still sleep, the empty path is a thrilling lane for the serious cyclist. With heart and pedals pumping near their maximums, riders slice the morning mist and race through salt marshes that pass in a blur. –Mark Arsenault

Details: For more information visit dot.ri.gov/travel/bikeri/eastbay.php

25. Vermont Creemees, Montpelier

For a summery sweet treat hyper-local to Vermont, snag a creemee. A creemee is like soft serve, but richer, and somehow so specific to the Green Mountain State that other New Englanders might not be familiar with them. Among the best of the many spots that sell them: Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. Morse’s bread and butter is maple syrup — they’re so known for it, they were once an answer on Jeopardy! — and a maple creemee is the way to go. They also have creemees for canines, which will help your dog beat the heat. Plus, you can explore the farm, and buy some maple syrup to take home. –Lauren Daley

Details: 1168 County Road, Montpelier, Vermont, 800-242-2740, morsefarm.com

Beaver Brook North Reservation is just one spot where dozens of bird species make their summer home.Adobe Stock

26. Birding in Beaver Brook North Reservation, Waltham

The spring migration is over and the autumn journey back has yet to begin, but Greater Boston is full of green spaces dotted by birds making their home for the season. If you park at the top of Metropolitan Avenue, next to the abandoned state hospital in Waltham, you can travel through deep woods, marshlands, across the top of Mackerel Hill, along Beaver Brook, and into the wide open vistas of the Rock Meadow community gardens. Last time I was there, I took in over 50 species. But if the birds don’t do it for you, there’s the hospital’s hidden MetFern Cemetery and its sad history, with Protestants and Catholics who were mentally ill segregated into separate burial grounds. –Ty Burr

Details: Beaver Brook North, Waltham, Massachusetts, mass.gov/locations/beaver-brook-reservation

Each step southward along Water Street in Stonington brings visitors closer to the water.Marc Hurwitz

27. Walking on Water Street, Connecticut

They say the ocean heals. Stonington Borough, on the Connecticut coast, proves this. Each step southward along shop-filled Water Street brings you closer to where the town’s placid harbor meets the mighty Atlantic, and, as you go, stress levels dissipate and thoughts of work become a distant memory. Each step brings more of the smell of the sea and, perhaps, the fog blowing in like a white curtain, covering the village. When, at last, you reach the end of the line at Stonington Point, you’re faced with the fact that you can’t go farther but may not want to turn back, either, until you realize that you can — and will — someday return. –Marc Hurwitz

Details: Water Street, Stonington, Connecticut, stoningtonboroughct.com

28. Music at Thompson’s Point, Maine

Outdoor music can be a risky endeavor, with variables like acoustics, weather, views. At some point, I decided I’d never see another concert so big that I’d favor a big-screen projection of it over what’s happening on stage. Thompson’s Point — the all-ages, waterfront venue for Portland’s historic State Theatre — lands acts big enough to fit up to 8,000 but not so big that you might as well be watching from home: buzzy names like Lake Street Dive, The National, and Khruangbin to the more familiar Brandi Carlile and the Indigo Girls. And since this is Portland, you’ll get better than average snack options courtesy of food trucks that have included Mr. Tuna (sushi), Brother Shucker (oysters), Bar Harbor Lobster Co. (you know); local beer, wine, cider, and craft cocktails; and hands down the best concert sunsets around. –Alyssa Giacobbe

Details: Thompson’s Point, Portland, Maine, 207-956-6000, statetheatreportland.com/thompsons-point-info

29. Yummies Candy & Nuts, Maine

Just down the road from the Kittery Trading Post, Yummies Candy & Nuts is the place to go if you’ve ever wondered what the storeroom at Willy Wonka’s factory would look (and smell) like. Visitors are greeted by waist-high cardboard boxes brimming with saltwater taffy. The walls are piled from floor-to-ceiling with bulk bags of candy — 10,000 pounds of it, according to the road sign which, with its old-fashioned curlicue top, hints at the retro delights within. Kids are entranced by the variety and sheer magnitude of the candy selection while adults inevitably exclaim, “I haven’t had these in forever!” as they gaze up at stacks of licorice laces, satellite wafers, Bit-O-Honey or whatever almost-forgotten treat has transported them back to their own childhood for one sweet moment. –Stephanie Tyburski

Details: 384 State Road (US Route 1), Kittery, Maine, 877-498-6643, yummies.com

Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, Connecticut.DAVE ZAJAC/Associated Press

30. Sunflower Maze at Lyman Orchards, Connecticut

The sunflower maze at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, Connecticut, features some 350,000 sunflowers — a happy riot of yellow, orange, and red petals on flower heads craning and sagging from 6-foot-high stems — planted in deliberate, whimsical designs that change every summer. But be warned that navigating the dead ends can take half an hour; one memorable visit on a scorching day with my then-toddler son seemed to take even longer. We found our exit before he went full Jack Torrance in the hedgerows, however, then climbed some stairs for a pollinator’s view of the labyrinth: PBS kids show characters that seemed to be Etch A Sketched into 3 acres. –Jeff Harder

Details: 105 South Street, Middlefield, Connecticut, 860-349-6015, lymanorchards.com

31. Climbing West Rattlesnake Mountain, New Hampshire

New Hampshire has 48 peaks of 4,000 feet or higher, and West Rattlesnake Mountain is definitely not one of them. There are several routes up the 1,260-foot mountain; we usually take Old Bridle Path starting from the Mount Morgan Trailhead, which offers an easy climb of about an hour. The prize at the top: Instagram-worthy views of Squam Lake. What Rattlesnake lacks in stature it makes up for in convenience and accessibility. (No hiking boots, no problem!) My wife and I first climbed it at age 19, the weekend I met her parents. In our 40s, we climbed it with our teenagers. This summer, we’ll climb it with our 3-year-old niece. We think of Rattlesnake as the hiking equivalent of a familiar neighborhood restaurant — it’s not challenging or exotic, but it’s familiar, and comforting, and always a good time. –Daniel McGinn

Details: Route 113 near Pinehurst Road, Holderness, New Hampshire

32. The Ferry to Provincetown

Around Boston, getting there is rarely “half the fun,” but that changes in summertime. Instead of watching overheated car exhaust warp the stagnant highway air from your car prison, or stewing in the swampy dank of a summer subway platform, you can often get where you’re going in a far more glamorous way: by boat. You don’t even need a lobster belt. I would never torture myself by driving all the way out to Provincetown on a summer weekend, but twice my family has taken the fast ferry there. We boarded in downtown Boston, enjoyed the blissful sea breeze and on-board bar, and then, as if by magic, stepped out onto Commercial Street some 95 minutes later entirely unplugged from the real world. It’s not cheap, but neither is therapy, and a 6-mile backup at the Sagamore Bridge is enough to make anyone lose their mind. Boston Harbor beats the expressway for day trips, too. The year-round MBTA ferries out of Hingham and Hull are even more whimsical on a summer day, and when you take your kid into the city by boat, splashing over the waves with wind in your hair, the day is already a win. It doesn’t matter if the Red Sox lose, or if the aquarium cafe runs out of chicken tenders; getting there isn’t just half the fun — it’s most of it. –Jon Gorey

Details: 200 Seaport Boulevard, Boston, Massachusetts, 617-748-1428, baystatecruisecompany.com

Customers can order tickets for the Mendon Twin Drive-In online.Harrison Hill for The Boston Globe

33. Mendon Twin Drive-in

Drive-in movies appeal to our desire for nostalgia and novelty, but in the COVID era, there’s another draw: Being outdoors (or in your car) remains safer than an indoor theater. At Mendon Twin Drive-in, patrons can order tickets online ($32 per car), choose their parking spot, visit the snack bar and beer garden, and then tune their radio to the soundtrack and settle into their front seat (or lawn chairs) for double features on two screens. (Showtimes vary based on sunset; in early July the first shows started at 8:50 p.m.) The lineup leans toward big-budget action and franchise movies — we watched Top Gun from our front seat the weekend it opened — but we’re hoping Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis shows up soon. Pro tip: Figure out in advance how to turn off automatic headlights and put the car into “accessory” mode to prevent a dead battery. –Daniel McGinn

Details: 35 Milford Street, Mendon, Massachusetts, 508-473-4958, mendondrivein.com

34. Atlantic Spice Co., Cape Cod

Those of us with an addiction to kitchen porn — unnecessary but irresistible time-saving gadgets, decorative prep bowls, rows and rows of dried herbs and spices — know to pull in to this small but legendary emporium during any visit to the Outer Cape. They do mail order but you really want the brick-and-mortar olfactory experience, redolent of everything from adobo seasoning to za’atar. Extracts? They’ve got ‘em. Salts, beans, teas, nuts, rices, and risottos? Present and accounted for. If you know, you know: I mentioned this place to my editor and he immediately started kvelling about the vanilla beans. –Ty Burr

Details: 2 Shore Road, North Truro, Massachusetts, 800-316-7965, atlanticspice.com

35. Family Musicals at Prescott Park, New Hampshire

Our daughter didn’t notice the chill of the August night settling in; she was too entranced by the stage actors singing a mere 20 feet away. We were sprawled on a blanket in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where, for nearly 50 years, the Prescott Park Arts Festival has staged family-friendly musicals, in addition to summer-long lineups of concerts and movies. Set alongside the Portsmouth waterfront, Prescott Park is steps away from dozens of downtown shops and restaurants, as well as the Strawbery Banke outdoor history museum, making it easy to mix and match a full day of entertainment and dining. And there’s no better low-key way to introduce young kids to theater. Admission is donation-only, and kids can stretch out and munch on their favorite snacks. If little ones get antsy, you can just take them to play in the grass nearby. But as comforting as that parental insurance may be, it’s rarely needed because the shows are surprisingly, consistently excellent, and capable of captivating your child’s attention, and yours. –Jon Gorey

Details: 105 Marcy Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 603-436-2848, prescottpark.org

Tinder Hearth serves pizza Tuesday through Friday.Dan Derby

36. Tinder Hearth, Maine

Every summer, my parents rent a place in Deer Isle, Maine, and we always drive up from Boston to visit — first it was just me, then me and my husband, and now the two of us and our son. This means that for years I have been eating the excellent wood-fired, naturally leavened bread baked by Tinder Hearth: loaves of Vollkornbrot rye, French batards, oatmeal porridge boules. At some point, Tinder Hearth introduced pizza nights, and now a trip to Maine wouldn’t be complete without a long drive to pizza heaven. The pies are a little hard to come by, which makes them more special. You must fill out an online request form on Monday, cross your fingers you’ll get a reservation, and wait for a Tuesday callback to confirm and take your order. Although pies are available for takeout, eating them in the lovely garden is part of the experience. Everybody gathers at picnic tables to feast on salads of fresh greens in lemon-basil vinaigrette and pizzas with chewy, charred edges and a series of rotating toppings: maybe radicchio and ricotta with balsamic reduction, or prosciutto and fennel with preserved lemon, or summer squash and feta with chile honey and basil, or the standard red sauce and cheese. Afterward, it’s a visit to the soft-serve stand, lingering conversation as darkness and mosquitoes set in, and the long, hilly drive back home again in satisfied silence. –Devra First

Details: 1452 Coastal Road, Brooksville, Maine, 207-326-8381, tinderhearth.com. Pizza served Tuesday-Friday 4:30-8 p.m.

37. Paddling Lake Champlain, Vermont

Sure, maybe you’ve seen Lake Champlain from Burlington — but have you seen Burlington from Lake Champlain? Summer is the time to paddle out for epic Vermont views. Burlington’s Community Sailing Center offers a number of ways to enjoy the lake — from sailing lessons to canoe or kayak rentals to dockside yoga. For a unique view, rent a stand-up paddle board: stand on top of the lake and soak up Vermont from the water. (Although if your goal is to try and catch a glimpse of Champ, the lake monster of lore, kayak may be the way to go.) –Lauren Daley

Details: 505 Lake Street, Burlington, Vermont, 802-864-2499, communitysailingcenter.org

Fort Wetherill’s concrete walls are covered with bright flourishes of graffiti.Kevin G. Andrade

38. Fort Wetherill State Park, Rhode Island

Overlooking the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown offers peace and chaos. Once a coastal artillery battery, it housed a German POW camp during World War II and closed in 1946. Still seated upon its jutting promontories are the fort’s ghostly concrete husks. One could call it unwelcoming if not for the bright flourishes of graffiti that seemingly give voice to generations of Rhode Islanders over every inch of its walls. Some of the graffiti might even brighten your day, like the bright orange bird in one alcove saying in Spanish: “El sol sale para todos.” The sun rises for everyone. The phrase fits for this gem on the bay. –Kevin G. Andrade

Details: 3 Fort Wetherill Road, Jamestown, Rhode Island, 401-884-2010, riparks.com

A boardwalk across a salt marsh along the John Wing Trail in Brewster. John Tlumacki/Globe staff / File

39. Hiking the John Wing Trail, Cape Cod

Behind the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, there are a few trails; the 1.3-mile John Wing Trail is the star though. It starts on a path that meanders through pitch pines, across a salt marsh, over mud flats, and ends at a breathtaking barrier beach on Cape Cod Bay. There you can sit in the sand and soak in the view, with few others in sight. It’s bliss. The museum is great, too, but this trail is worth the hassle of checking yourself for ticks after your nature walk. Wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet, and check the tide chart and parking rules on the museum’s website. –Stacey Myers

Details: Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, 869 Main Street (Route 6A), Brewster, Massachusetts, 508-896-3867, ccmnh.org

A recent rainbow viewed from Squantum.Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff

40. The View From Squantum

This is the summer of Pinocchio: lies abound. The short-staffed airlines are canceling flights and blaming it on the weather. The price of gas is insane and 401(k)s are in the toilet. The Supreme Court has decided to tell women what to do with their bodies and Putin is murdering children. Take a deep breath, and look toward the heavens for signs. As the ancient philosophers, the Moody Blues, sang a half century ago: “Thinking is the best way to travel.” On a recent night, walking the dog in the rain near a tiny Squantum peninsula beach, I could see the clearing skies coming in from the west and the ensuing sunshine about to meet the retreating mist. I can’t promise you’ll see a rainbow, too, but make a wish anyway. You won’t get a pot of gold but you will lower your blood pressure and increase your hope for humanity. –Stan Grossfeld

Details: Near Orchard Beach, Bayside Road, Squantum, Massachusetts

What makes your summer perfect? Send comments to magazine@globe.com.