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22 new things to do and see in New England in 2022

Enduro World Series at Sugarloaf in maine Be a spectator this summer as the world’s top mountain bikers compete in the Enduro World Series at Sugarloaf in Maine. | Photo courtesy Jamie Walter/Sugarloaf

Innovation is ceaseless in New England’s hospitality industry, and now’s the time to make plans if you want to be among the first to experience the region’s newest enticements. The makings of 22 memorable adventures are here in this guide to events, attractions, and lodging and dining experiences that launched during the second half of 2021 or are on track for a 2022 debut.

1. Earn swag with your Maine Oyster Passport

Maine Oyster Trail

Move over, lobster. The Maine Oyster Trail offers a bounty of perks for visitors ready to sample the state’s other major shellfish harvest. | Photo by Greta Rybus

There are 78 oyster farms, raw bars, charter boats, and tour operators along the expanded and relaunched Maine Oyster Trail. Register online for the new Maine Oyster Passport, then complete challenges year-round at participating stops: Take a tour, paddle among oyster beds, dine, or buy oysters. Your first Oyster Trail swag will arrive by mail after just 3 check-ins, and the more experiences you slurp up, the more merch you’ll earn.

2. Hear acoustically superb jazz and blues

Jimmy's Jazz & Blues Club

Keep an ear out for news about upcoming concerts, plus the 2022 debut of Sunday Jazz Brunches at Jimmy’s, Portsmouth's new music club. | Photo courtesy Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club

The upper floors of Portsmouth’s 1905 YMCA building, vacant since 1959, have been restored and sound-engineered with no expense spared to create a listening experience that blows music fans away. At Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club, you’ll have the rare opportunity to dine and to hear some of the nation’s best jazz talents in a posh and intimate space.

3. Savor celebrity chef cuisine

Ever wish you could dine at New York City’s renowned Le Coucou, Momofuku, or Nobu restaurants without the hassle of traveling to the Big Apple? Chef Jonathan Shepard, who previously oversaw operations at these famed dining establishments, now guides the kitchen at Grey Fox Inn’s new Wildflower restaurant in Stowe, Vermont. And daily brunch, which lingers into the afternoon, is the meal not to miss.

4. Adventure in style

Talta Lodge

Rooms at Stowe’s new Tälta Lodge are designed for gear-intensive vacations. | Photo by Read McKendree

Boutique hotel meets base camp in Stowe at Bluebird by Lark’s new Tälta Lodge (www.bluebirdhotels.com), where most of the 51 rooms are equipped with modular gear walls: perfect for stowing your skis, boots, snowshoes, bike helmets, backpacks, or fishing poles. Amenities like a bike shed, pump track, and indoor pool and hot tub appeal to those who visit the area for nonstop adventure. Twin bunk and pet-friendly rooms ensure your whole crew can tag along.

5. Shop at Sea Bags’ new factory outlet

Sea Bags

Get behind Sea Bags’ sustainable mission by shopping for the Maine company’s upcycled products online or on your next visit to Portland. | Photo courtesy Sea Bags

The story of Sea Bags, makers of upcycled sailcloth totes and accessories, began in Portland, and now the company has 40 stores, including 2 in its hometown. With the opening of a double-the-size showroom on Commercial Street, furnished with reclaimed materials that reflect the company’s commitment to sustainability, the original store has been turned into a factory outlet, where you’ll save 20% on samples and retired designs.

6. Escape to Boston’s gargantuan new hotel

Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport

Omni’s massive new hotel in Boston is like a mini city unto itself, with bountiful options for indulgence and self-care. | Photo courtesy Omni Hotels

The AAA Four Diamond Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport is the largest new hotel the city has seen in decades. Its 1,054 guest rooms are augmented by a lobby stage, wellness services, a skyline-view rooftop pool, and 7 dining experiences, including The Sporting Club and the romantic, modern French brasserie Coquette.

7. Cuddle up in Kennebunkport

Rooms are exclusively for couples or solo travelers at AWOL KPT (www.awolkport.com), Lark Hotels’ transformation of the former Mainestay Inn. Book early if you want one of the newly constructed fireplace cabin suites in the 1860 Melville Walker House. You’re a short stroll from all the action in Dock Square, yet in your own tranquil realm.

8. Visit a tiny but mighty music museum

Tiny Museum of Vermont Music History

Burlington’s Tiny Museum of Vermont Music History documents and celebrates the state’s diverse and significant influences on the music world. | Photo courtesy Tiny Museum of Vermont Music History

The curtain has risen on the Tiny Museum of Vermont Music History at Big Heavy World in Burlington, and while the collection of artifacts here may not be huge, the insights you’ll gain into the state’s vibrant and diverse music scene are. If you can’t get there in person, 2022 will see the addition of a virtual online museum experience.

9. Take a history-themed driving tour 

Antique churches, storied lighthouses, and homes that pre-date Maine’s 1820 statehood are among the landmarks you’ll see when you embark on one of Maine Preservation’s new Drive ME Historic Tours. Choose from 26 mapped trips, ranging in time commitment from 30 minutes to 4 hours, and appreciate not only Maine’s architectural riches but also the people who left us these roadside structures to admire.

10. Play high-tech mini golf

Puttshack

Mini golf is a New England classic, but you’ve never played the game with the level of energy and intensity you’ll experience at the high-tech Puttshack in Boston. | Photo courtesy Puttshack

This is not your granddad’s mini golf. When Puttshack opens in Boston’s Seaport District, this 26,000-square-foot indoor play place will have 4 interactive miniature golf courses enabled with the company’s patented Trackball technology, which means no tiny pencils—and no fudging your score. A menu of food and cocktails adds to the facility’s grown-up appeal.

11. Plan a cycling-centric Vermont vacay

Village Inn

Stay in the company of other mountain bikers when you book a room at the Village Inn, which caters to those who’ve come to ride Vermont’s renowned Kingdom Trails. | Photo courtesy The Village Inn/Dirk Badenhorst

Four friends who met as cycling guides are the new owners of East Burke’s Village Inn (www.villageinnvt.com), which offers ideal access to Vermont’s renowned 100-mile-plus Kingdom Trails network. From a bike room where you can store your wheels to complimentary laundry facilities to a calf-soothing hot tub, you’ll love how they’re reimagining the property with mountain bikers’ needs in mind.

12. Appreciate leading-edge art

New England’s newest art museum occupies the bright, window-walled first floor of a landmark building that once housed Portsmouth’s YMCA. Instead of a permanent collection, the Museum of New Art will display revolving exhibits of work by living artists who are experimenting, exploring, and pushing boundaries.

13. Hike the Great Circle Trail

Great Circle Trail

Maine’s new Great Circle Trail offers up feasts for hikers’ eyes, including this view from atop Wadleigh Mountain. | Photo courtesy Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

Deep in Maine’s northern woodlands near Millinocket, the Great Circle Trail is a new 30-mile loop for both serious backpackers and segment hikers. Begun in 2005 and dedicated in the fall of 2021, this moderately challenging trek connects the Turtle Ridge Loop, Debsconeag Backcountry Trail, and the Appalachian Trail into 1 navigable network with scenic rewards aplenty, including 11 remote ponds and lakes, 4 waterfalls, and 2 gorges. Pause and recharge at 1 of the 8 backcountry campsites along the route.

14. Reconsider Maine’s connections to slavery

Students and faculty from Bowdoin College’s Africana Studies Department have pieced together an untold story of Maine’s role in the slave trade, and the artifacts and documents they unearthed can be seen at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath through May 8. The exhibition, “Cotton Town: Maine’s Economic Connections to Slavery,” tells of the deliberate efforts of sea captains, shipbuilders, and merchants to stifle abolitionist sentiments and to protect Bath’s economic interests in the shipping of cotton and enslaved peoples. You’ll be transported to the Civil War era and see logbooks, letters from captains, and historic photos of the Bath-built schooners used in this inhuman economic endeavor.

15. Watch the planet’s most extreme mountain biking

Enduro World Series

Sugarloaf ski area will show off its versatility this summer when it hosts what may be the world’s most extreme mountain biking competition. | Photo courtesy Jamie Walter/Sugarloaf

The Enduro World Series is probably mountain biking’s most challenging competition, and you can cheer for the world’s top riders when the wild action lands at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, on August 20 and 21. Maine native Adam Craig, a legend of the sport, has been tapped to head up design and installation of new hand-cut race trails.

16. Paddle New England’s first whitewater park

The forgotten mill town of Franklin, New Hampshire, is putting itself on the map with New England’s only engineered whitewater park. Construction at Mill City Park is creating a constant pool of rapids on the Winnipesaukee River, making this an ideal spot for skill-building. Access is free, and there are plans to expand the 13-acre site to include a campground, trails, an amphitheater, a mountain bike pump track, and natural play areas.

17. Celebrate boating history

Thousand Islands Region

Based in New York’s Thousand Islands, the Antique & Classic Boat Society has its sights on Burlington, Vermont, as the destination for its annual gathering of enduring watercraft. | Photo by Steve Sturtz/The Antique and Classic Boat Society Inc.

Admire some 125 vintage boats when the Antique & Classic Boat Society brings its International Boat Show to Burlington, Vermont, on September 9 and 10. This public event is part of the ACBS Lake Champlain Chapter’s weeklong annual gathering, which will showcase “Great Warpath” sites on the New York and Vermont sides of 120-mile-long Lake Champlain. Becoming a member is affordable; boat ownership is optional.

18. Discover new ways to stay and play at Owl’s Nest Resort

Owl's Nest Resort

A Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course remains key to the allure of Owl’s Nest Resort, even as this New Hampshire property undergoes a multimillion-dollar expansion. | Photo by Ray Walsh/Fall on Ray Media

A mega-expansion is under way at New Hampshire’s Owl’s Nest Resort (www.owlsnestresort.com), a White Mountains property known for the state’s only Jack Nicklaus–designed 18-hole golf course. This summer, boat on and swim in the freshly dug 10-acre lake, jog or bike a 10-mile lakeside loop, and stay in new hotel rooms and vacation rental homes. The resort also plans to add a spa and a lakeside, 9-hole golf course.

19. Be dazzled by beads

Humans have traded and adorned themselves with beads since before recorded history, and when Portland’s Museum of Beadwork opens later this year, it will exhibit remarkably intricate pieces, including many by top contemporary artists. Even as galleries are being readied, more than 600 works of beaded jewelry, apparel, wall art, and sculpture have been assembled for display. And online workshops and juried contests are uniting the beading community.

20. Catch a show in New Hampshire

Nashua Performing Arts Center

Nashua’s new performing arts center will go from rendering to reality in 2022, and the theater’s flexible design will enable it to host an exciting array of events. | Photo by OTJ Architecture

When the curtain lifts at this newly built, 750-seat, Broadway-style theater this fall, it will cement Nashua’s position as New Hampshire’s arts hub. The Nashua Performing Arts Center expects to host a busy calendar of touring productions, popular artist concerts, dance performances, and children’s events.

21. Luxuriate by the sea

Rockport Harbor Hotel

When it opens late in 2022, Rockport, Maine’s first harborside boutique hotel will offer its small number of guests a chance to feel part of the peaceful rhythms of this coastal community. | Photo courtesy Bay View Collection

The idyllic coastal village of Rockport, Maine, is poised to open its first harborside luxury boutique hotel later this year. Bay View Collection’s all-new Rockport Harbor Hotel (rockportharborhotel.com), with its gracious brick facade and 26 rooms and suites, is destined to be best known for its top-floor restaurant and bar overlooking Rockport’s snug harbor and Penobscot Bay.

22. Get tickets for Boston’s epic new concert venue

Located beyond Fenway Park’s right field, the 4-story MGM Music Hall at Fenway is anticipated to begin wowing concertgoers in early fall. Which national touring acts will be first to play this state-of-the-art venue, with a flexible layout, pumped-up sound and video systems, and space for 5,000 audience members? Root for your favorites and stay alert for ticket sale announcements.

Kim Knox Beckius, a Yankee Magazine contributing editor and tripsavvy.com’s New England travel expert, has been uncovering the region’s best new experiences for 23 years.

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AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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