Activities

Top Outdoors Attractions in the Northeast

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By Kyle McCarthy

From granite peaks to thundering waves, the Northeast states show off their natural beauty in easy, compact, one-day-or-less road trips.

New Hampshire
Starting with the tallest peaks, the White Mountain National Forest draws more than 6,000,000 visitors each year to the famous Presidential Range and Tuckerman’s Ravine. The scenery is breathtaking and often foggy, whether you walk, drive or take the historic Cog Railway to the peak of Mt. Washington.

Numerous other commercial and natural attractions include the classic Mt. Washington Hotel, site of the World War II era Bretton Woods Conference; we saw a bear cross the golf course while we were having afternoon tea there. The 800-foot long Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park is a dramatic stone chute with 70 to 90-foot walls; fit hikers can view it from a two-mile trail. Several ski areas, including Loon Mountain, Waterville Valley and Cannon, run their children’s programs all summer.

KOAs To Consider:
Chocorua KOA
Lincoln/Woodstock KOA
Littleton/Lisbon KOA
Twin Mountain/Mt. Washington KOA

Maine
Acadia National Park is on the coast, and its rugged beauty, pounding (often cold) Atlantic Ocean surf, and surrounding villages bring Edward Hopper’s New England to life. Park your RV and explore vehicle-free Mount Desert Island by bus, or by using the 55 miles of hiking, biking or horse-drawn carriage trails that connect local inns and campgrounds. Park rangers lead kid-friendly hikes and activities from mid-May to mid-October. Boat tours and excursions for whale watching, sailing, canoeing, or sea kayaking are best suited to older children. The main town of Bar Harbor has tasteful souvenir shops, lobster eateries and lots of small-town charm.

Dramatic Coast in Acadia National Park in Maine
Dramatic Coast in Acadia National Park in Maine

KOAs To Consider:
Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA
Bar Harfor/Woodlands KOA

New York
Known for a style that dominates decorating catalogs, the six-million-acre Adirondack Park region is packed with split-log cabins with dark green shutters, stuffed bear sculptures, Native American-patterned wool blankets, and images of President Theodore Roosevelt seated on a slatted Adirondack chair.

Lake Placid, the two-time Olympic venue (1932 and 1960), is the region’s biggest attraction and a fun base to try watersports on Mirror Lake and explore the Olympic Museum. There’s hiking at Gore and Whiteface Mountains, both ski resorts in winter, and small resorts, crafts shops and museums in the surrounding towns. Mt. Marcy is the highest in the state and can be summited by starting on trails in nearby Keene Valley.

Lake Placid / Whiteface Mountain KOA, Wilmington, New York
Lake Placid / Whiteface Mountain KOA, Wilmington, New York

KOAs To Consider:
Lake Placid/Whiteface Mtn KOA
Herkimer Diamond KOA

Pennsylvania
At lower elevations, the Poconos host sports from river-rafting to ATVing, paintball to trout fishing. Suspended across the Upper Delaware River, with its flat hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, the Delaware Aqueduct is a precursor to the Brooklyn Bridge done by the same engineer: John Augustus Roebling.

The Lehigh River Gorge, in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
The Lehigh River Gorge, in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

The Class I and II whitewater rapids at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area are ideal for a refreshing inner tube float or a gentle, guide-led raft trip. Make time for the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) and Lehigh Gorge State Park with its picturesque gorge, rock outcroppings, and waterfalls. Your family may prefer to tour it from a vintage ca. 1917 railcar on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway instead.

KOAs To Consider:
Delaware Water Gap Pocono Mountain KOA
Honesdale/Poconos KOA

There’s so much variety, everyone in the family should find something to put on her wish list for the perfect Northeast Road Trip. And don’t forget, while we listed several KOA campgrounds close to the attractions listed, there are many more in each state waiting to host you in your travels. Check out www.KOA.com for a complete directory.

Kyle McCarthy is editor of Family Travel Forum. Find more camping tips on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.