The cradle of the American nation, New England is proud of its prominent historic and cultural identity. The monuments, museums, festivals and celebrations here all chart the turbulent history of the country's construction. Where better to celebrate Independence Day on July 4 than in the emblematic Boston to gain a genuine insight into the country. Yet New England, very popular with Americans, has many other facets to its character. For a relaxing vacation, head for the rolling hills of the Berkshires, lovely forests of Vermont and historic villages of Northeast Kingdom. For a more active vacation, make a beeline for the mountain paths of the national parks of Maine and the seaside resorts of Cape Cod and New Hampshire. Portland and Burlington, both pleasantly unpretentious, offer an insight into America's counter-culture, while the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard are irresistibly charming. New England's lobster, clams, blueberries and maple syrup will delight good food lovers.