Massachusetts may just have the most varied mix of man-made and natural highlights of all states in New England.
Maine is all about its spectacular coastline and inland wilderness; New Hampshire’s home to the majestic White Mountains; Vermont with its barns and rolling farmlands is the most rural state; Rhode Island is tiny and dotted with pretty towns; Connecticut’s also filled with picturesque villages and has a beautiful coastline; but Massachusetts has it all.
The eastern seaboard has miles and miles of wide, soft, sandy beaches, while the western inland areas are the location of the beautiful Berkshire Hills. Throw in a major city like Boston and a few historic towns and sites and you have an incredibly diverse state that is easily explored by car.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 things to do in Massachusetts, shall we?
Top 10 Things to Do in Massachusetts
10. North Shore
Kicking off our list of top 10 things to do in Massachusetts is the North Shore. Located just north of Boston, the North Shore is the preferred escape for stressed Bostonians and tourists alike. This scenic area is made up of sandy shorelines, quaint villages, mansions and seafood shacks. Another attraction are the whale-watching cruises.
9. Westport Point
Westport Point is probably the least known place on this list, yet it’s (in my opinion) one of the best vacation destinations in Massachusetts. Located in the far south of the state, perched at the tip of a peninsula between the towns of Fall River and New Bedford, this historic area is incredibly peaceful, filled with old typically New England houses, seaside fried clam stalls, wide sandy beaches and downright stunning coastlines.
8. Mohawk Trail
The Mohawk Trail lies in the northeast of the state and used to be an Indian trade route. Later on, it became an important traffic artery for early settlement. Now, it’s a 63-mile paved road between Orange and North Adams, which was the first official scenic drive in New England. And it is a gorgeous drive indeed, taking in breathtaking mountain views, pretty rivers and fabulous foliage in the fall.
America-famous as the supposed site of the first permanent English settlement in North America, Plymouth was where the Mayflower and the pilgrims landed in 1602. Now, the town is a popular seaside resort; its main attraction is the Plimoth Plantation, an extremely accurate replica of the village of the pilgrims. This is definitely the most historic of these top 10 things to do in Massachusetts.
Salem’s claim to fame are the infamous witch trials that took place there in 1692. This historic event is exploited to the furthest possible extent in this age of tourism, and there are several witch tours, night walks and a few witch museums. With this overwhelming offer of touristic kitsch it’s easy to forget that Salem once was one of the busiest harbor cities in the American northeast. Historic Salem is filled with old houses, warehouses, government buildings and the like. The waterfront is quite appealing as well.
Although now a quiet and peaceful town, Concord has an eventful and rather turbulent past. It was there that, in 1775, the Battle of Concord marked the start of the Revolutionary War. The battle site can still be visited. Another, yet totally different, historic feature of the town is that it used to be the home of a few of America’s greatest writers, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau.
4. The Berkshires
Possibly one of the most scenic areas in the Northeast, the Berkshires’ landscapes are made up of waterfalls, slow-flowing rivers, tree-covered hills, lush green valleys and – as everywhere in New England – picturesque and welcoming villages. This was where writers such as Hawthorne, Melville and Longfellow came to look for (and found) inspiration.
The capital and by far the largest city in the state, bustling Boston is home to historic architecture and neighborhoods, modern universities and some of the country’s best sports teams. When visiting Massachusetts, a few-day stay in Boston is mandatory. For more information on what to do in Boston, check out the top 10 things to do in Boston.
2. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket
These two islands off the Massachusetts south coast are the most well-known and popular of all New England holiday islands. Serene and scenic, pretty and peaceful, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are the places to go for a relaxing beach holiday. The shoulder seasons are the best time to visit, though, as summers are very crowded.
1. Cape Cod
As one of the most beautiful corners of all of New England, among the Made up of salt marshes, seaside towns, woodlands, cliffs, dunes, white sandy beaches, numerous hiking and biking trails, and bays, it is no surprise that Cape Cod gets overrun by vacationers – 13 million of them! – in summer. It’s a spectacular area.