With its sprawling mansions, world famous yacht club, and boat shoe–driven economy, Newport offers a posh but decidedly casual forum for hobnobbers looking to get a seat by the water (or in the water, if they're of the surfing persuasion). WASPy standoffishness aside, this old port town comes alive when the spotlight turns on.

And summer in Newport offers no shortage of large-scale events worth attending. In terms of sheer enjoyment, though, the Newport Blues & BBQ Festival has no rival. A one-day, 10-hour, whirlwind event featuring a hard-to-beat 1-2-3 combination of blues, barbecue, and beer, the festival is a joyful retort to the pretentiousness and expensive hotel prices that accompany the more famous Newport Folk Festival. Pound for pound, it's one of New England's best one-day events, period.

More information: The festival takes place on July 20, and tickets are $45 dollars until July 19. Day-of-event tickets will be available for $55.