© Courtesy of Patricia - Fotolia.com
Blessed with beautiful natural areas, Massachusetts contains an array of unique attractions for all types of travelers. In cities and towns, visitors will find museums, unique attractions and great restaurants. In the more remote parts of Massachusetts, there are waterfalls, miles of hiking trails, and tranquil beaches. Classic New England towns and quiet fishing villages line the Massachusetts coast. Massachusetts enjoys a unique history that lives on in full force through its special attractions and well-preserved historic places.
More ideas: Things to Do in Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Antonio, MD beaches
1.Cape Cod National Seashore (1 hour 45 minutes)
© Courtesy of Patricia - Fotolia.com
Renowned for its beauty and mystery, Cape Cod National Seashore features an array of diverse animal and plant life. The forty-mile-long beach is backed by marshes, ponds and upland areas. Wild cranberry bogs and ancient lighthouses dot the long coastline.
Cape Cod National Seashore is filled with opportunities for sightseeing and exploration. Hiking, biking and relaxing on the beach are some popular activities among visitors. There are also designated areas for hunting and fishing, but these activities are only permitted at certain times of the year. Cape Cod National Seashore management also runs junior ranger and junior lifeguard programs for children.
More ideas: Southwest vacations, Romantic Weekend Getaways from New Orleans, Family vacations in Minnesota
2.Kennebunkport (1.5 hours)
© Courtesy of Enrico Della Pietra - Fotolia.com
Kennebunkport is a historic seaside town with a rich seafaring culture. Home to roughly 3,500 people, Kennebunkport is the summer home of former US President George H.W. Bush. Several prominent world leaders, including Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin and Nikolas Sarkozy, have spent time in this New England town.
The center of Kennebunkport is filled with locally-owned shops, galleries, restaurants, museums and more. For recreation, visitors enjoy walking around town, hanging out at the beach, dining at one of the many seafood restaurants near the harbor, and visiting the local parks. Things to Do in Kennebunkport
More ideas: Romantic weekend getaways in Kentucky, Luxury Weekend Getaways, Things to Do in Savannah
3.New England day trips: Rockport (50 minutes)
© Courtesy of Mary Lane - Fotolia.com
Rockport is home to roughly 7,000 people. This quaint New England town sits at the tip of Cape Ann peninsula and is surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean. Once home to a handful of Native American villages, Rockport's modern population consists mainly of fishermen and artists.
Tourists enjoy seeing Rockport's beaches and walking around the historic downtown area. Halibut Point State Park, Thacher Island, the Paper House, and the Rockport Art Colony Galleries are among the popular tourist attractions in the area. There are also several museums and performing arts centers in town.
More: Romantic Weekend Getaways in Michigan, Weekend Getaways in Illinois, Romantic Weekend Getaways from Atlanta, GA
4.Good Harbor Beach (50 minutes)
© Courtesy of Eric BVD - Fotolia.com
Located near the city of Gloucester, Good Harbor Beach features soft white sands and dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean. When tide conditions are right, visitors can walk out to Salt Island or enjoy some boogie boarding and body surfing. Life guards patrol the beach daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Good Harbor Beach contains restrooms, restaurants, concessions stands, mini marts and other amenities. Paid parking is available near the beach at the general rate of $25 per vehicle or $30 per vehicle on holidays. Since parking space is limited, visitors are encouraged to come early.
More beach, honeymoon and last minute resort ideas: Chicago, Places to Visit in Alaska, Things to Do in Charlotte, Orlando
5.Portsmouth (1 hour)
© Courtesy of Sean Pavone Photo - Fotolia.com
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is another iconic coastal town that draws tourists from all over the United States. Portsmouth is packed with history, and some of its most popular attractions include historic homes, forts, cemeteries, gardens, and parks. For families, Portsmouth boasts New England's largest water park along with a marine and science discovery center.
There are beaches and museums that are also great for day trips with kids. Adults will find ample nightlife in Portsmouth along with wineries, golf courses, shopping centers, high-end restaurants, river cruises, hiking trails, locally-organized tours and more. Things to Do in Portsmouth
More trip ideas: Oregon beaches, HI, Indianapolis, Asheville, Hilton Head, Things to Do in Tucson, Retreats
6.The Butterfly Place (45 minutes)
© Courtesy of Wesley - Fotolia.com
At the Butterfly Place visitors can learn all about butterflies from around the world. The unique observation center gives guests the chance to see and interact with butterflies in their natural habitat. Koi fish and quail birds live among the hundreds of butterflies in the exhibit.
To learn about the butterfly life cycle, visitors can watch a 15-minute video that discusses each stage of a butterfly's life. There is an exhibit that contains eggs, caterpillars, cocoons and chrysalises. Guests can also pick up an at-home hatching kit for butterflies or moths. Souvenirs at the visitor's center include educational books, butterfly-themed gifts, jewelry and more. Read more
120 Tyngsboro Road Westford, MA 01886, Phone: 978-392-0955
More trip ideas: Things to Do in Tampa, ID, Florida vacations, Weekend Getaways from Dallas, WA, UT
7.Peabody Essex Museum (40 minutes)
© Peabody Essex Museum
The Peabody Essex Museum, known simply as PEM, contains an array of interesting and beautiful art objects. PEM began in 1799 when pilgrims brought art to North America from Asia, Oceania, India and elsewhere. Known early on as a “cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities,” PEM officially gained its designation as a museum in the early 20th century.
The museum's collection currently sits at 1.8 million items. The Peabody Essex Museum holds 400,000 books, manuscripts and documents, and is also home to 22 historic buildings. The sprawling campus contains an impressive glass atrium and ample space for relaxing and studying. Read more or Things to Do in Salem
161 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970, Phone: 978-745-9500
More travel ideas: Utah resorts, Maine Resorts, Best resorts in Kansas, Connecticut resorts, North Carolina resorts, Michigan resorts
8.Old Sturbridge Village (1 hour)
© Courtesy of Jeff Schultes - Fotolia.com
Old Sturbridge Village is a living history museum where guests can get a feel for life in the 1830s. The village features authentic homes, a conference center, a store, a tavern, a sawmill, some barns, a church and a gift shop/bookstore.
There are plenty of spots throughout the village for dining and shopping, and there are also accommodation options for visitors who wish to stay overnight. Old Sturbridge Village holds special events and reenactments throughout the year. For school groups, the village runs special tours with guides in period costumes. Admission to Old Sturbridge Village ranges from $14-$28 for visitors above the age of two. Read more
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road Sturbridge, MA 01566, Phone: 800-733-1830
More: Best Massachusetts resorts, Best Alaska resorts, Best Washington Resorts, Romantic weekend getaways in Texas, Georgia Resorts
9.Norman Rockwell Museum (2 hours)
© Norman Rockwell Museum
The Norman Rockwell Museum pays tribute to one of America's most iconic artists. Born in 1894, Norman Rockwell formerly began his art studies at age 14. He honed his skills while attending some of the most prominent art institutions in the United States.
The Norman Rockwell Museum holds the largest collection of Rockwell's works in the world. The museum also hosts educational programs, tours, art appreciation events and school programs to increase appreciation for Rockwell's work among visitors of all ages. In total, the museum holds more than 100,000 items, including photographs, letters, business documents and more. Read more
9 Glendale Road/Route 183, Stockbridge, MA 01262, Phone: 413-298-4100
More: Wedding venues Wisconsin, Georgia wedding venues, Maine wedding venues, Wedding venues in New Mexico, Utah wedding venues
10.The House of the Seven Gables (40 minutes)
© Courtesy of Pierrette Guertin - Fotolia.com
The House of the Seven Gables is a stately cabin that dates back to the mid-1600s. Built by a sea merchant named John Turner, the home stayed in the Turner family for three generations before being sold to Captain Samuel Ingersoll in 1782.
Ingersoll left the property to his daughter Susanna, the cousin of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The sprawling cabin served as the setting for The House of Seven Gables. The house has been preserved over the years and now serves as a space for educational programs and special events. The building is also available to rent for corporate events and weddings. Read more
115 Derby Street Salem, MA 01970, Phone: 978-744-0991
More: Dauphin Island, Provincetown, Best beaches in USA, Birmingham, Carmel
11.Castle Island Park (15 minutes)
© Courtesy of diak - Fotolia.com
Castle Island Park is home to Fort Independence, a pentagon-shaped granite fort that was erected between 1834 and 1851. The impressive structure sits on 22 acres of protected land. Easily reachable from Carson Beach and M Street, Castle Island Park offers beautiful views and plenty of amenities for visitors.
There are trails within the park for walking, jogging and biking, along with beach areas that are patrolled by trained lifeguards. Fort Independence is open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Visitors can go on a narrated tour with guides from the Castle Island Association or enjoy a self-guided tour at their own pace. Things to Do in Boston
2010 Day Boulevard South, Boston, MA 02127, Phone: 617-727-5290
More: Washington wedding venues, Wedding venues in Colorado, Wedding venues in Missouri, Wedding venues in Ohio
12.New England day trips: Provincetown (2 hours)
© Courtesy of luna marina - Fotolia.com
Known as a haven for artists, Provincetown is hailed as America's First Destination because of its pilgrim heritage. The coastal town only has 3,000 permanent residents, but its summer population soars to 60,000+ people. It is one of the most popular areas in the nation for vacationers from the LGBTQ communities. Provincetown is also home to one of America's oldest continuous art colonies.
The multitude of art galleries, museums and arts centers in Provincetown hold all types of creations, including paintings, sculptures, theatrical productions and music. The town also features a handful of historic buildings and districts that have been carefully preserved for tourism purposes. Things to Do in Provincetown
More: Ellensburg WA, Wedding venues in Idaho , Things to Do in Woodstock
13.New Bedford Whaling Museum (1 hour)
© New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum tells the story of Massachusetts' robust whaling industry. Founded in 1903, the Museum is home to some fascinating artifacts, including the world's largest ship model, the world's largest collection of whaling logbooks and the biggest collection of Japanese whaling art outside of Japan.
The New Bedford Whaling Museum maintains close ties with Japan and Portugal and has started a relationship with some Arctic communities in Alaska and Canada. The museum is filled with unique artwork and detailed records that cover whaling all around the world. There are also numerous educational programs and events that take place at the New Bedford Whaling Museum throughout the year. Read more
18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA 02740, Phone: 508-997-0046
More: Largest Cities in South Dakota, Largest Cities in Russia, Santa Fe weather, Things to Do in Jamaica, Bogota, Colombia, Ecuador
14.The Clark Art Institute (2 hours 45 minutes)
© The Clark Art Institute
The Clark Art Institute is a museum and academic research center that was established by Sterling and Francine Clark in the early 1900s. The institute boasts an impressive collection of sculptures, paintings, drawings and prints from American and European artists.
The academic center of the institute contains a library with more than 230,000 texts. In addition to its detailed exhibits, the Clark Art Institute regularly holds performances and special events. The institute also hosts special educational programs for youth and adults. Lastly, the Clark Institute has online educational programs geared toward families all over the world. Read more
225 South Street, Williamstown, MA 01267, Phone: 413-458-2303
More: Glowing beaches, Things to Do on Fire Island NY, Italy beaches, Delaware beaches
15.Castle Hill (55 minutes)
© Courtesy of pmstephens - Fotolia.com
Castle Hill on the Crane Estate is a stunning seaside mansion known for its immaculate grounds. Purchased by Richard T. Crane in 1910, Castle Hill was designed by some of the most notable architects of Crane's time. The 59-room mansion that sits atop Castle Hill today was designed by renowned architect David Alder.
Guided and self-guided tours are available at the estate at different times throughout the year. During these tours, visitors can spot all sorts of interesting wildlife, including deer, fox, turkey, migrating birds and hawks. Amenities at Castle Hill include public restrooms and a snack bar. Guests who would like to stay overnight can book rooms at the Castle Hill Inn.
More: Things to Do in Wisconsin, Beaches near Boston
16.Race Point Beach (2 hours 14 minutes)
© Courtesy of cindy goff - Fotolia.com
Race Point Beach is a popular recreational area along the Cape Cod National Seashore. Famous for its treacherous waters, more than 3,000 shipwrecks were recorded off the coast of Cape Cod in a 300-year period. Shipwrecks happened so frequently that the Massachusetts Humane Society set up the world's first lifesaving service in the early 1800s.
Today, Race Point Beach is known for its meandering bike trails and expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean. Amenities at the beach include restrooms that are equipped with showers and changing areas. Race Point Beach sits just of Route 6 in Provincetown.
More: Things to Do in Lake Placid, Things to Do in Flagler Beach
17.Wompatuck State Park (30 minutes)
© Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com
Situated half an hour outside of Boston, Wompatuck State Park is the perfect spot for a fun-filled weekend getaway. The park holds more than 250 campsites, 140 of which are equipped with electricity. In addition to ample camping space, Wompatuck has 12 miles of paved bicycle paths and a multitude of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails.
Visitors can catch fish at Cohasset Reservoir or load up on fresh drinking water at Mt. Blue Spring. Wompatuck is named after Josiah Wompatuck, an Indian chief who gave the park land to English settlers in 1665.
204 Union Street, Hingham, MA 02043, Phone: 781-749-7160
More: Small vacation ideas, Things to Do in Alexandria VA
18.Halibut Point State Park (1 hour)
© Courtesy of Satoshi Kina - Fotolia.com
Open year-round, Halibut Point State Park is known for its incredibly picturesque seascape. Ocean-carved rock and dramatic cliffs line the coastal region within the park. There are plenty of areas for hiking, biking, bird watching and relaxing.
Clear weather days allow visitors to get a glimpse of New Hampshire and Maine. On Saturdays between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, visitors can take a tour of the nearby granite quarry and get a firsthand look at how granite is sourced and cut. Entrance fees to Halibut Point State Park are $5 for cars with Massachusetts plates and $6 for vehicles with out-of-state plates.
Gott Avenue, Rockport, MA 01966, Phone: 978-546-2997
More: Things to Do in Sausalito, Things to Do in Hartford
19.Concord (30 minutes)
© Courtesy of Christian Delbert - Fotolia.com
The town of Concord has several claims to fame. In its early days, the town was known for being the first settlement located away from the tidewater on a non-navigable river. Concord evolved into an important seasonal Indian camp site due to its diverse bird and fish life.
In 1775, Concord became the first battle site in the Revolutionary War. Some of America's most prolific writers, including Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson, spent time in this important town. Today, visitors can stop by the Concord Visitor Center to learn all about the town's unique history.
More: Egypt, Guatemala, Mongolia, Latvia, Lithuania, Glamping in Bear Lake, San Jose RV Parks
20.Great Marsh Area of Critical Environmental Concern (55 minutes)
© Courtesy of belizar - Fotolia.com
The North Shore's Great Marsh area is known for being the longest continual stretch of salt marsh in New England. The marsh extends from Cape Ann to New Hampshire. Recognized worldwide as an Important Bird Area (IBA), Great Marsh is protected and managed by the state of Massachusetts.
The 20,000-acre site contains marsh lands, barrier beaches, estuaries and upland islands. Thanks to its varied geography, Great Marsh is ideal for hiking, kayaking and wildlife spotting. An organization named the Great Marsh Coalition runs education and outreach efforts to teach people about the value of Massachusetts' marsh lands.
More: Havana Cuba weather, Best place to stay in Grand Teton, Adelaide
21.The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1 hour 45 minutes)
© The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is dedicated to the more than 300 famous players who have been inducted in the hall's 50+ year history. The 40,000 square-foot space contains all types of basketball memorabilia.
The Hall of Fame has a distinctive sphere-shaped entryway that can be spotted from miles away. There are regular events held at the building to honor basketball's most prominent stars and to bring basketball fans together. Visitors can buy shirts, hats, photos, art, basketball equipment and other souvenirs at the Hall of Fame store. Things to Do in Springfield
1000 Hall of Fame Avenue, Springfield, MA 01105
More: RV Parks in Panama City Beach, Largest Cities in Europe, March Holidays, May Holidays
22.Salem (35 minutes)
© Courtesy of rockerchick 1080 - Fotolia.com
Salem, Massachusetts is known worldwide for being the site of the infamous Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Outside of its colorful history, Salem is known for being a peaceful seaside town with all sorts of interesting tourist attractions.
One of Salem's most popular offerings is the Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours, where visitors can stroll around the streets of Salem as part of a tour led by a modern-day witch. Visitors also enjoy seeing the Corwin House (The Witch House), and Burying Point, the oldest cemetery in Salem. For a change of pace, tourists can hop on a Mahi Mahi Cruise to see the beautiful coastline that surrounds Salem Sound. There is also the Salem Witch Museum, the Salem Haunted Magic Show and more.
More: Best Things to Do in Boston, Best time to visit Boston, Boston wedding venues
23.Plimoth Plantation (50 minutes)
© Courtesy of m heston - Fotolia.com
Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum located less than an hour outside of Boston. Known for serving as the set for many modern films, Plimoth Plantation began in 1947 with two English cottages and a small waterfront fort. Now Plimoth contains a range of historic pieces, including the Mayflower II, the Wampanoag Homesite, several barns, and a grist mill.
Plimoth Plantation regularly holds educational and seasonal events for families. The Plantation also partners with schools to provide in-classroom demonstrations and to facilitate hands-on history lessons. Plimoth Plantation is open for visitors year-round from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM each day.
137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, MA 02360, Phone: 508-746-1622
, Apple Picking Boston
, vegetarian Boston
24.Lexington (30 minutes)
© Courtesy of spirit of america - Fotolia.com
Lexington, Massachusetts, is another key city in American history. Steeped in rich Revolutionary War history, Lexington has more than 10 historic battle sites, cemeteries and memorials. At the Minute Man National Historic Park, visitors can learn all about the young men who put their lives on the line to protect colonists.
Visitors can also see the Lexington Battle Green, where the war with Britain began in earnest in 1775. At the USS Lexington Memorial, there are five granite markers that are dedicated in memory of the people who served aboard the Lexington ships. Tourists can also stop by the Lexington Depot to see the historic train.
More: Amusement Parks near Boston, Boston Trolley, Romantic restaurants Boston
25.Glendale Falls (2 hours 10 minutes)
© Courtesy of Kisa_Markiza - Fotolia.com
Glendale Falls is one of the longest and strongest waterfalls in Massachusetts. Fed by more than five square miles of watershed areas, Glendale Falls is a relaxing and scenic destination. In the forest surrounding Glendale Falls, visitors can see many types of beautiful trees and bushes, including hemlock, birch, beech, maple, shadbrush and mountain laurel.
Several short trails in the area provide visitors with unobstructed views of Glendale Falls and the quiet woods that surround it. Glendale Falls is open year-round and admission is free for all. There is plenty of parking nearby.
Clark Wright Road, Middlefield, MA 01243, Phone: 413-532-1631
More: Boston hotels, Best burger in Boston, Italian restaurants Boston
25 Best Day Trips from Boston
- Cape Cod National Seashore (1 hour 45 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Patricia - Fotolia.com
- Kennebunkport (1.5 hours), Photo: Courtesy of Enrico Della Pietra - Fotolia.com
- New England day trips: Rockport (50 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Mary Lane - Fotolia.com
- Good Harbor Beach (50 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Eric BVD - Fotolia.com
- Portsmouth (1 hour), Photo: Courtesy of Sean Pavone Photo - Fotolia.com
- The Butterfly Place (45 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Wesley - Fotolia.com
- Peabody Essex Museum (40 minutes), Photo: Peabody Essex Museum
- Old Sturbridge Village (1 hour), Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Schultes - Fotolia.com
- Norman Rockwell Museum (2 hours), Photo: Norman Rockwell Museum
- The House of the Seven Gables (40 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Pierrette Guertin - Fotolia.com
- Castle Island Park (15 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of diak - Fotolia.com
- New England day trips: Provincetown (2 hours), Photo: Courtesy of luna marina - Fotolia.com
- New Bedford Whaling Museum (1 hour), Photo: New Bedford Whaling Museum
- The Clark Art Institute (2 hours 45 minutes), Photo: The Clark Art Institute
- Castle Hill (55 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of pmstephens - Fotolia.com
- Race Point Beach (2 hours 14 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of cindy goff - Fotolia.com
- Wompatuck State Park (30 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com
- Halibut Point State Park (1 hour), Photo: Courtesy of Satoshi Kina - Fotolia.com
- Concord (30 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Christian Delbert - Fotolia.com
- Great Marsh Area of Critical Environmental Concern (55 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of belizar - Fotolia.com
- The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1 hour 45 minutes), Photo: The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
- Salem (35 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of rockerchick 1080 - Fotolia.com
- Plimoth Plantation (50 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of m heston - Fotolia.com
- Lexington (30 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of spirit of america - Fotolia.com
- Glendale Falls (2 hours 10 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Kisa_Markiza - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Patricia - Fotolia.com
Located about 20 miles from Boston, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is at 30 acres the largest park of its kind in New England. It was established in 1950 in order to renew interest in sculptures and to become a major sculpture park. There are about 30 large-scale sculptures in the park, most on loan from various owners and artists. The exhibited sculptures are constantly changing, representing high quality contemporary artworks and site-specific installations. deCordova holds a range of year-round activities that include snowshoe tours, nature tours, yoga in the park, curator and artist conversations, special talks, events, and screenings. DeCordova is home to Lincoln Nursery School, probably the only American preschool located within a contemporary art museum.
51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA 01773, Phone: 781-259-8355,