1 of 13Courtesy of Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism
Because our founding fathers were gentleman farmers, too. Before Litchfield County became prime weekend-house territory for New Yorkers, it was farmland. Now a growing number of city folks are rolling up their sleeves and reclaiming Connecticut’s agricultural roots. Consider John Morosani, who worked on Wall Street until 2006, when he left behind stocks for livestock and opened Laurel Ridge Farm on his Litchfield estate. Now he sells grass-fed beef out of a converted windmill on the property. To get a feel for the area’s other small producers, visit the Saturday Litchfield Hills Farmers’ Market, in its second season.
Because $39 million buys a lot of flowers. After a three-year overhaul, the Nemours Mansion & Gardens has reopened. The formal gardens (modeled after those at Versailles’ Petit Trianon) have been restored, along with the reflecting pool, hedge maze, and a 1929 gold-leafed sculpture by Henri Crenier. While you’re there, drop by Winterthur, another Du Pont family estate in the Brandywine Valley.
Because there’s no place quite like it. Salt air, fresh seafood, cottages lining pine-trimmed beaches—it’s summer in Maine. The recently revamped 32-room Inn at Ocean’s Edge, outside Camden, satisfies the season’s requirements in style. Chef Bryan Dame, formerly of Virginia’s Inn at Little Washington, has taken over the waterfront restaurant, the Edge, where he reinterprets classics (flan with Maine sweet corn; brick-oven salt-roasted lobster). The glass-fronted pool house and attached pair of suites all have views of picturesque Penobscot Bay.
Because minor-league baseball is the real deal. In May, fans gathered in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Waldorf to see the debut of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs at their intimate new 4,200-seat stadium. Owned by former Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson, the team plays in a ballpark that has ice cream and hot dog stands, luxury amenities, and a grassy outfield that’s ideal for a pregame picnic.
5 of 13Courtesy of The Sterling and Francine Clark Institute/Richard Pare
Because there’s art in those hills. Art and architecture buffs have a new reason to head to the Berkshires this summer: the Stone Hill Center, Pritzker Prize–winning architect Tadao Ando’s addition to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. The concrete-and-glass building houses galleries, a terrace café, and a studio where visitors can watch art conservators at work.
Because lighthouses are irresistible. Coastal New England has one of America’s largest collections of working lighthouses (138). New Hampshire native Jeremy D’Entremont leads five-hour land-and-sea tours of the most enchanting locations. Top stop: Portsmouth Harbor, allegedly haunted by its former keeper.
7 of 13New Jersey Department of State Division of Travel & Tourism
Because rock and roll will never die. Can an indie music-and-art festival founded in the desert near Palm Springs thrive in the land of Bruce Springsteen?The organizers of the annual Coachella festival think so. Their All Points West festival (August 8–10; apwfestival.com) is set to take place at New Jersey’s historic Liberty State Park. British rockers Radiohead and Mali-born Afro-blues duo Amadou & Mariam, among others, will perform against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
8 of 13Courtesy of The Public Art Fund/Olafur Eliasson, 2008
Because there’s always something to see in the Big Apple. This summer, the East River takes center stage with a spectacular installation by Icelandic–Danish artist Olafur Eliasson: The New York City Waterfalls (nycwaterfalls.org; through October), a series of four 90- to 120-foot-tall curtains of water that will punctuate the river and harbor at different spots off Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Governors Island. Get a closer look with a 30-minute boat tour (circlelinedowntown.com) organized by the Public Art Fund, which is sponsoring the $15 million project.
9 of 13Courtesy of The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
Because it’s Wright. We all know about the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Fallingwater in western Pennsylvania. Now, visiting devotees of the American architectural master can spend the night in the 1957 Duncan House at Polymath Park, a 125-acre nature reserve in the Laurel Highlands just 17 miles south. The house is one of 50 simple buildings that Wright designed in his very democratic “Usonian” style.
Because you can escape the crowds at the beach. Compared with Newport, its famous neighbor to the west, Little Compton remains off the beaten path. The town’s pebbly beach and pastoral mood is a refreshingly quiet haven on the shores of Narragansett Bay.
Because we love cheese. Vermont may be the cheddar capital of North America. But today more than 30 small-scale fromageries are producing a range of sophisticated alternatives. At Hen of the Wood, set in an early-19th-century mill in Waterbury, chef Eric Warnstedt presents dozens of the state’s best options, from semisoft raw-goat’s-milk to blue Stilton-like sheep’s-milk varieties.
Because it’s horse country. Thoroughbreds, steeplechase jumpers, polo ponies—Virginia has them all. Cross Country International, which plans deluxe horseback adventures in Ireland, Peru, and beyond, recently introduced its first trip in the state: the three- to four-day Hunt Country Trail Ride. Using the 1778 Federal-style Willow Grove Inn as a base, participants saddle up and follow Civil War soldiers’ footpaths through the rolling forests of Shenandoah National Park, then trot to the Wilderness Battlefield, where wartime homesteads and fighting trenches remain intact. Novice equestrians can book lessons with an Olympic gold medalist at the inn’s training ring.