Regional Guide: The American Northeast

Where you’re covering a region as broad and varied as the American Northeast, there are bound to be distinct reasons for preferring, for example, the charm of a cozy Vermont hideaway to the laid-back lifestyle of the Jersey shore, the political epicenter of Washington, D.C. or the buzz and bustle of midtown Manhattan.  

Let’s Start Our Adventure with a Big Picture Overview. 

The Northeastern U.S. encompasses more than 181,000 square miles of land and water across nine states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. You’ll find abundant natural wonders — from the Adirondack mountains to miles of beautiful coastline; Acadia, the nation’s easternmost national park; and countless lakes and rivers to enjoy year-round. It’s also the most populous and economically developed part of the nation, with major cities, business, education and cultural centers, as well as a thriving tourism industry. 

Autumn foliage near Waits River in Vermont

You’ll notice that the word “New” pops up in the names of various towns, cities and even states in the Northeastern U.S. That’s because all 13 of the original English colonies are included within the region and the earliest settlers co-opted names referring to the locations from which they emigrated. That being said, the names of many other places in the Northeast — from Pawtucket to Musconetcong, Narragansett, Susquehanna and even Manhattan — can be traced back to the Algonquin, Cayuga, Chippewa, Kickapoo, Lenape and dozens of other Native American tribes that were the region’s original inhabitants. As you can well imagine, there is plenty of history behind the names, which makes the region a rich introduction to the American experience. 

In terms of climate, much depends on how far north you areas well as your distance from the coast. The Atlantic Ocean tends to have a moderating effect on temperature extremes. Therefore, winters in Pennsylvania, the western part of Maryland and upstate New York tend to be colder and snowier than areas nearer the Atlantic (like Baltimore, Long Island and Cape Cod)Generally, the further north you go, the colder the temperatures will be whether it’s winter or summer. In short, if you’re moving here, you’ll definitely need a fourseason wardrobe!  

Considering exploring the region or even making a move? Here are a few things to know. 

Hitting the Great Outdoors  

Given the Northeast’s temperate, four-season climate, recreational activities in the region change considerably over the course of a year. In the summer, there Rehoboth Beach in Delaware or Wildwood “down the shore” in New Jersey; in winter there’s Vermont’s Killington Ski Resort or a quaint B&B in New Hope, Pennsylvania. In the transitional seasons, locals are known for taking fall foliage tours of New England, camping in a New Hampshire state park or heading out for a spring getaway to the Poconos, Adirondacks or rocky coast of Maine. Feeling ambitious? You can hike portions of Appalachian Trail in every state within the region.  

Although Acadia in Maine is the Northeast region’s only full—fledged National Park, there are dozens of National Military Parks, National Seashores and National Historic Parks to enjoy, including:

Mayflower Beach on Cape Cod
  • Cape Cod National Seashore (MA) 
  • Blackstone River Valley (RI)
  • North Country Trail (NY/PA) 
  • Assateague Island National Seashore (MD) 
  • Gettysburg National Military Park (PA) 
  • Boston National Historical Park (MA) 
  • Gateway National Recreation Area (NJ)

Looking to take in the scenery? A drive up or down the coast can’t be beat. Consider yourself an outdoorsy type? The Northern Forest Canoe Trail offers 740 miles of premier paddling, while Mount Washington summits at 6,288 feet. Whatever sort of experience you prefer, odds are you’ll find it here. 

Getting a Culture Fix 

Fun fact: Three of the “Big Five” American orchestras — the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra — are located in the Northeast region.  And from a historical perspective, The Bronx is the birthplace of hip-hop and the Harlem Renaissance helped bring jazz to a mass audience. But culturally speaking, there’s more than just music to enjoy.  

Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C. are home to some of the world’s most renowned art and natural history museums. There’s a thriving arts scene in the area around Little Compton and the Rhode Island School of Design; and the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, houses the premier collection of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings.  

Further south, there’s the Delaware Art Museum and the Nemours Estate in Delaware, The Walters Art Museum and American Visionary Art Museum in Maryland and literally hundreds of other immersive exhibits, theatrical performances and concert venues regionwide. And let’s not forget Broadway!  

Cuisine of the Northeast America 

According to our new survey, New York-style pizza tops the list as the food fave for the entire region. However, cuisine in the Northeast is really a collection of gastronomic sub-categories, many of them influenced by the settlers and immigrants who came here from other parts of the world. 

NYC’s finest bagels at Russ & Daughters; photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash.

Want a bagel with a generous “schmear” of cream cheese? Head to New York City. A cheesesteak with all the fixins? Hello, Philadelphia! A shrimp boil? That’s a Nantucket thing. Crab cakes? The tastiest are found down in Maryland. Meanwhile, Vermont maple syrup on buttermilk pancakes is a must on a frosty New England morning. And let’s not forget the statewide debate about pork roll versus Taylor ham in New Jersey. Whatever you call it, it’s the same thing and is best served on a Kaiser roll with egg and gooey melted American cheese. Not to be outdone, there are two types of clam chowder — creamy, decadent “New England” white, and hearty, tomatobased “Manhattan” red.  

As for the western part of the region, the cuisine reflects its original Dutch and English settlers, so  expect to see more game — like venison — than fish. Have a sweet tooth? Score some apple fritters or molasses-y shoo-fly pie, anyone? Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, the term “Pennsylvania Dutch” has nothing to do with Holland — it’s a just mispronunciation of the word “Deutsch.” 

The major cities take cuisine to a whole new level of variety. Boston’s becoming a go-to destination for Vietnamese and Japanese dining; Ethiopian food is trending smartly in Washington, D.C.; and Philadelphia’s “Dosa Belt” is a great neighborhood to explore southern Indian fare. 

Now, who’s up for dim sum in Chinatown, NYC? 

Careers in the Northeast 

The BosNYWash corridor, which extends from the metropolitan area of Boston all the way down to Washington, D.C., is home to some of the most well-known names in business. New Jersey is a magnet for the pharma industry. Optics, lenses and high-tech tracts are well established in upstate New York, while Boston is renowned for its medical research. And of course, there’s Manhattan with its Wall Street, Fashion District, and “Silicon Alley” businesses.  

As you head further south, career choices lean more toward the political and military. Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area is where politics, protocol and policies rule. And there are 24 major military bases across Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.  

And here’s a fun fact: more than half of all publicly traded U.S. companies, and about two-thirds of the Fortune 500, are incorporated in Delaware

Landmarks Worth Experiencing Firsthand 

Narrowing down the region’s most iconic destinations is no easy feat. However, a few spots immediately come to mind, so we’ll give you one for each state: 

Portland Head Light – Maine’s historic lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth
  • Central Park (NY) 
  • Boston Common and Public Garden (MA) 
  • United States Capitol Building (Washington, D.C.) 
  • Inner Harbor (Baltimore, MD) 
  • Robert Frost Farm (VT) 
  • Halfway Rock (Land’s End) Lighthouse (ME) 
  • Mount Washington (NH) 
  • Mystic Seaport (CT) 
  • The Breakers (RI) 
  • Independence Hall (PA) 
  • Fort Delaware State Park (DE) 

There’s so much to explore, really, the only question is, how much time have you got? 

Considering a move to one of these northeastern states? Recently moved and settling in? Mayflower is here to help you Every Step of the Way®. Click here to get the ball rolling, and be sure to check out our blog for helpful moving tips — not to mention advice on making your house feel like a home. 

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