As New England’s largest city and one of the most historically important destinations in the entire country, Boston is arguably one of the top place to visit in Massachusetts. While you’re in Boston, you’ll have the chance to walk the Freedom Trail, which winds through 16 historic sites, many of which date back to the Revolutionary War. The city also boasts wonderful markets, scenic parks, amazing breweries and an array of sporting venues and events. While you won’t lack for things to do here, you can also escape on several day trips from Boston that let you see and experience other amazing spots throughout New England.
Revolutionary War buffs may already known about the connection between Lexington and Concord, two cities in Massachusetts just seven miles apart from one another. In Lexington, known as the Birthplace of American Liberty, the first shot of the American Revolution was fired. In neighboring Concord, one of the first battles of the war took place. Both destinations are packed with history, and visitors should absolutely make time to tour the Minute Man National Historic Park, the Concord Museum, the 18th century Buckman Tavern and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which is the final resting place of authors like Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne. To navigate between the two cities, there is a seasonal trolley throughout the summer that hits most of the historical high points and is perfect for a day trip from Boston.
Head across state lines to Newport, Rhode Island, which is just 70 miles (110 km) south of Boston. Newport is known for its abundance of stately homes and mansions, its beautiful beaches and its charming downtown. Travelers on a budget can enjoy the three-mile Cliff Walk right along the coastline, head to the beach for a swim, spot the famed forty steps landmark or drive along Ocean Drive to see the amazing architecture in the city. If you would rather steep in Newport’s history and experience life like the rich did, then tour Astor’s Beechwood Mansion or Vanderbilt’s The Breakers before doing some upscale souvenir shopping along Thames Street.
If you’re planning a day at the beach from Boston, you’ll be less than an hour from countless destinations. Arguably one of the best, however, is Crane Beach. Located just outside of Ipswich and overlooking Ipswich Bay, Crane Beach is an enormous coastal destination beloved by beach-goers throughout New England. Crane Beach offers pristine beaches, beautiful dunes and even maritime forests. Stroll along the five-mile boardwalk, enjoy a packed picnic lunch or stay for the sand-building competitions right on the beach each summer.
If you’re familiar with early American history, then you have probably heard of Plymouth Rock, the spot where the Mayflower arrived on the journey of the pilgrims from Europe to the new world. The city of Plymouth is steeped in history, and one of its most fascinating attractions is Plimoth Plantation. The landmark is a living history reenactment center, and it helps visitors experience what life was like in the year 1627. You can chat to colonists who lived and worked in Plymouth, asking them about their lifestyles, the foods they eat and where they learned their skills. You can enter the tiny homes they lived in and even dine on the traditional culinary delights of the early 17th century. The Mayflower II, docked near the Plymouth Rock, is also under the care of the museum.
Just 40 miles (65 km) north of Boston, on Cape Ann, is the city of Rockport, Massachusetts. Like many coastal New England destinations, Rockport is home to plenty of wonderful seafood restaurants, a stunning rocky coastline and beautiful scenery. What sets it apart, however, is the fact that Rockport has been an artist’s colony since the 1800s. Today, that art and culture is alive and well, and you’ll have the chance to tour dozens of art galleries. Whether you’re shopping for a few paintings for your home or you’re just an enthusiast interested in seeing local works, Rockport is the ideal art-lover’s getaway.
About 90 miles (145 km) south of Boston is Martha’s Vineyard, the island destination off of Cape Cod that is recognized for being a coastal playground of the rich and famous. Known as Hollywood East, Martha’s Vineyard is absolutely a place that you can enjoy on a day trip from Boston. Outdoor recreation and scenery are the major pastimes here, so be sure to head to the stunning cliffs of Aquinnah, the Long Point Wildlife Refuge and the many lighthouses that dot the coast. Along with hiking and swimming, the beaches offer opportunities to take part in activities like fishing, horseback riding and golfing.
Located at the very tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is yet another thriving artist colony on the beach. Progressive, liberal attitudes reflect that artistic spirit, and Provincetown definitely offers something for everyone. Although it is possible to drive to Provincetown, Massachusetts, from Boston, the journey is much more enjoyable by ferry. You might spend your day here admiring the amazing works of art on display at local galleries, you could go for a swim at Herring Cove, you could catch a theater performance at night or you could set off on a whale-watching expedition if your ferry ride wasn’t quite enough time on the water. Provincetown is also known for excellent cycling trails and amazing views of Cape Cod.
Even if you’ve never been to Massachusetts before, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Salem and the city’s witch trials that famously took place in the 17th century. Halloween collectibles and themed museums abound, and you might be interested in a visit to the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch Dungeon Museum or the walking witch tours. For the more traditional visitor, it is definitely important to spend some time admiring the 18th century architecture for which Salem is also famed. In the late 1700s, Salem was one of the biggest cities in New England, and areas like the Chestnut Street District, the McIntyre Historic District and the Charter Street Historic District provide the chance to see beautifully restored homes from more than two centuries ago.