Officially known as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Massachusetts is the 44th largest state in terms of physical size but has the 15th highest state population, making it the third most densely populated state of all. Massachusetts is located in the New England region in northeastern America and is the most populous state in this part of the country. It has borders with Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Connecticut, with a stretch of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Massachusetts covers a total area of 10,565 square miles and has an estimated population of 6.85 million. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


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Nicknamed 'The Bay State' and 'The Pilgrim State', Massachusetts was named after the Native American Massachusett tribe which once lived on the land. This state is home to Plymouth, the site of the first ever colony created by settlers on the famous Mayflower. The state has a very rich history and is also home to two of the most successful educational institutions on Earth: Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The capital city of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the biggest city in the state and the biggest metropolitan area. Here are some additional overviews and statistics of Massachusetts' largest cities.

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Located in Suffolk County, of which it is technically the county seat, Boston is the capital city of Massachusetts and is also the state's biggest city. Boston is located in the eastern part of the state on the Atlantic Coast and covers a total area of 89.63 square miles. The total estimated population of Boston is 685,000, with over 4.6 million people in the full Greater Boston metropolitan area.

The city was settled in 1630, making it one of the oldest major cities in America, and was named after a city after the same name in England. Boston is a very popular touristic location and is also seen as one of the most important educational cities in all of North America, with Harvard and MIT campuses close by.

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Located in Worcester County, of which it is the county seat, Worcester is the second largest city in Massachusetts. It is situated around 40 miles away from Boston in the central part of the state and covers an area of 38.6 square miles. The current estimated population of Worcester is 185,000, with over 923,000 in the full metropolitan area.

Founded by British settlers in 1673, Worcester was named after an English city of the same name. The city has a lot of history behind it and is home to many interest monuments and buildings like Worcester Union Station, Bancroft Tower, and City Hall. Worcester is known as the 'Heart of the Commonwealth' due to its central location and the fact that one of its residents helped to popularize Valentine's Day.

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Located in Hampden County, of which it is the county seat, Springfield is the third largest city in the state of Massachusetts. This city was founded on the eastern side of the Connecticut River, not far from its confluence with the Westfield, Chicopee, and Mill rivers, in the western part of the state.

The city of Springfield covers a total area of 33.1 square miles. The estimated population of Springfield is 154,000, with over 692,000 in the surrounding metropolitan area. The city was founded in 1636 by William Pynchon, an English Puritan, and was named after his own hometown of Springfield, England.

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Located in Middlesex County, Lowell is the fourth largest city in Massachusetts. It is situated in the northeastern part of the state and is part of the Boston metropolitan statistical area. Lowell covers an area of 14.5 square miles and has an estimated population of 110,000.

Settled in 1653 and incorporated as a city in 1836, Lowell was once one of the largest industrial centers in the United States, focusing mostly on textile production. The city therefore played a key role in the American Industrial Revolution.

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Located in Middlesex County, just north of Boston, Cambridge is the fifth largest city in Massachusetts. This city covers a total area of 7.13 square miles and is one of the most important locations in the state. It has an estimated population of 110,000.

Cambridge was named after the University of Cambridge in the city of the same name in England and is a highly important educational area for Massachusetts and the rest of America. Harvard University and MIT are both found in Cambridge, with both of these institutions consistently ranking among the best in the world.

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5 of the Largest Cities in Massachusetts

  • Overview, Photo: Jen Lobo/
  • Boston, Photo: jStock/
  • Worcester, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/
  • Springfield, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/
  • Lowell, Photo: travelview/
  • Cambridge, Photo: Aevan/
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto -

Attraction Spotlight: The Freedom Trail Foundation

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile route, designated by a red line, that takes visitors through 16 historical sites in Boston that are related to the history of the American Revolution. Some of the trail’s official sites include the Boston Common, the Massachusetts State House and the Old State House, the Old South Meeting House, the site of the Boston Massacre, the Paul Revere House, the Bunker Hill Monument, and the USS Constitution.

Tours can be self-guided or visitors can book a tour with an official guide, a costumed 18th-century Freedom Trail Player, who will both entertain and educate. All tours last approximately 90 minutes and may be purchased online, at the starting location of the tour, which is at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center, or the ArtsBoston Booth at Faneuil Hall.

There are several different tours to choose from. Among them, the Walk into History Tour is the most popular and focuses on the history of the American Revolution, which took place at 11 of the 16 sites on the trail. The Pirates and Patriots Tour focuses on stories of the revolution centered around Boston’s harbor. In the 18th century, Boston was America’s largest port city and this tour offers an entertaining look at both the legal and illegal trade of the time and their role in America’s struggle for independence.


Boston is the home of the American Revolution and one of the oldest cities in the United States. As such, there are many historical sites, monuments, and landmarks of interest to visitors. Although these sites have been preserved, they are spread thin between today’s modern skyscrapers and the bustling city and may easily be passed over. In 1951, Bill Shofield and Bob Winn proposed the idea of the Freedom Trail as a way to offer a concise course of travel to visitors and those interested in visiting Boston’s most historical sites. The two devised a trail, originally just 1.5 miles in length, which would walk visitors past the most significant of Boston’s historical sites. The trail was immediately popular, with over 40,000 visitors in just the 2nd year of operation. Today’s trail is marked with both signage and a painted red line on the sidewalks, guiding visitors through Boston’s hidden gems. A non-profit organization, the Freedom Trail Foundation, was formed in 1964 to help promote and preserve the trail. Today, the foundation manages tourist services, marketing, and programming for over 4 million visitors per year.

Ongoing Programs & Education

In addition to the guided public tours, the Freedom Trail Foundation offers several educational programs. Private and group tours may be customized to meet the particular needs and interests of the group. The wintertime Holiday Stroll explores Boston’s holiday traditions, beginning in the early 19th century. The African-American Patriots tour views the history of the revolution through the eyes of 18th-century African-American revolutionaries. The Revolutionary Women Tour honors Women’s History Month by telling the story of the women of the revolution and their own struggles for equality and freedom. Other special programs of the foundation include History for Hire, which allows groups to hire Freedom Trail Players for their private events and meetings, as well as the Freedom Trail Scholars Program, which offers curriculum supplements to teachers in third and fifth grade classrooms.

What’s Nearby

When planning a trip to the Freedom Trail, one may consider visiting the rich historical sites just a few steps away. Beyond the 16 official sites on the trail, there are many other historical sites close by and worthy of a visit. The Liberty Tree, where hanging effigies of tax collectors in 1765 were considered to have helped spark the revolution, is marked by a plaque just steps from the trail. The Black Heritage Trail begins at the Massachusetts State House and intersects the Freedom Trail; this trail tells the story of African-Americans who were first brought to Boston as slaves, and of how the American Revolution was a turning point in their lives. The USS Constitution, one of the 16 stops on the Freedom Trail, is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard and is worth a visit, as it is home to many other historical sites, including the Commandant’s House, an 1805 Navy Georgian-style home. For a full listing of sites near the Freedom Trail, visit the Freedom Trail Foundation website.

More Things to Do in Boston

44 School Street, Suite 250, Boston, MA 02108, Phone: 617-357-8300

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Attraction Spotlight: The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

The Boston Tea Party was one of the most notable events in American history and changed the course of society for the better. And although numerous history books detail the events of the Boston Tea Party, nothing is quite like experiencing them first hand. Naturally, there exist no time machines for us to go back to that era and experience our ancestor’s struggle for freedom, but there is a good alternative. The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum in Boston has taken the idea of a living museum to a whole new level. Visitors to the museum can become a part of American culture that can otherwise only be visited in history textbooks. The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is unlike any other museum and offers its patrons a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It doesn't intend for people to simply come around and stare at valuable artifacts to learn about past events, but rather aims to make people part of the exhibits themselves to enable them to get a better understanding of these important events.

When it comes to the programs on offer at the museum, the list goes on and on and is guaranteed to keep people occupied and excited throughout the day. The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is one of the best history teaching tools when it comes to imparting education to people and is regularly used to teach school kids about the various events that led to Independence and the formation of the American constitution.

Located in Boston, the museum is a complete package, including live actors and almost indistinguishable replicas of some of the ships that were part of the event. The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum strives to make the entire experience as accurate as possible, giving visitors an all-around amazing experience.

As the only live museum of its kind, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is perfect for anyone looking to delve into history and have an all-around unique and intricately choreographed experience, with its excellent accuracy in recreating the events of that fateful day.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum also houses two replica ships of the took part in the event, the Eleanor and the Beaver, and visitors are encouraged to join the crew on board and enjoy a true time travel experience. The museum also features an award-winning show that offers visitors a fascinating and multi-sensory experience.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is an ideal location to spend a day engrossed in some of the most memorable moments of American history. The entire program has a fixed schedule and visitors are requested to abide by it so that they can experience the complete package. There are a number of tours and programs that visit the ships as well as numerous other interesting attractions. Visitors can enjoy a cup of tea at Abigail’s tea room and terrace, which serves a variety of hot and cold teas and ciders or lemonade and baked goods as well as some alcoholic beverages.

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306 Congress St, Boston, MA 0221, Phone: 617-338-1773

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Attraction Spotlight: Boston, MA: Institute of Contemporary Art

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the Institute of Contemporary Art is a nonprofit contemporary art museum that strives to bring new and innovative multimedia works to the Boston community and foster dialogue between artists and patrons on the creative process.


Originally established as a sister museum to New York’s famed Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art opened in 1936 as the Boston Museum of Modern Art. Its partnership with MoMA was short-lived, breaking away in 1939 to pursue further innovation in discovering and highlighting new artists. A name change in 1948 to the Institute of Contemporary Art reflected this mission, as the museum attempted to distance itself from unwanted connotations of the term “modern,” opting instead for the more inclusive term “contemporary.”

The museum has moved locations several times throughout its history. Since 2006, it has resided in a newly constructed facility in South Boston’s Seaport District. Designed by the architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the building has been praised by critics for its open design and incorporation into the surrounding harbor area. In 2007, the museum was presented with the Harleston Parker Medal, an award that celebrates Boston’s most beautiful buildings.

Collections and Exhibitions

True to its mission of highlighting rising artists and works in the fields of visual art, music, film, video, and performance, much of the museum’s gallery space is devoted to rotating temporary exhibitions.

From its inception, the museum has attracted top international artists, with its first exhibit in 1936 focusing on the works of noted post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin and its first fundraiser featuring attendees such as Salvador Dali. Over the years, the museum has served as the first American showcase for legendary artists and creators such as Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Roberto Matta. Groundbreaking ICA exhibitions have highlighted underrepresented voices in the art community, including a 1948 exhibit that served as the first survey of African American art hosted in New England. The museum has long strived to include controversial works in its repertoire, including a 1939 show of German degenerate art that featured pieces by Hitler and a 1990 showcase of Robert Mapplethorpe’s embattled anti-censorship exhibit The Perfect Moment. It is also credited with being a major driving force in the pop art movement, starting with a 1959 exhibit installed on the interior of a Stop & Shop supermarket that is considered one of the movement’s early inspirations. Notably, a 1966 exhibit of Andy Warhol’s works was host to one of the performances of his Exploding Plastic Inevitable piece with The Velvet Underground.

Today, the museum’s installations focus on highlighting the works of leading contemporary artists and offering a platform for first-time gallery artists, particularly through the Momentum series, which showcases the work of emerging artists, and the biennial James and Audrey Foster Prize, which presents an award and display opportunity for Boston-area contemporary artists.

In 2006, the museum established a permanent collection for the first time in its history. Conceived as a resource of contemporary culture for the Boston community, the collection highlights diverse works by national and international artists in a variety of media. The centerpiece of the collection is the Barbara Lee Collection of Art by Women, featuring 68 works collected over three decades, showcasing some of the most important female voices in modern art history. Multimedia works in the collection center on themes of feminism, identity, and the body as a statement of personal and political expression.

Performances and Events

Throughout its history, the museum has been known as a venue for cutting-edge music, theater, and dance performances, often presenting world-premiere works by renowned troupes such as the Mark Morris Dance Group. A 325-seat box theater, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater, serves as host for many touring dance and theater performances throughout the year. Other seasonal events make use of the museum’s outdoor harborfront space, including the Summer Fridays series, which brings top DJs to the museum every Friday in July and August, and the Harborwalk Sounds series, which showcases the city’s top young rising musicians.

Ongoing Educational Programs

The ICA has been called one of Boston’s most family-friendly museums, focusing on making contemporary art accessible for all ages. The Poss Family Mediatheque serves as a digital guide to the museum for children and families, featuring photos, videos, and interviews with current artists on display. Inside the Mediatheque, the Family Library complements current exhibits with books geared toward readers in grades 3-8. Young visitors can pick up an ICA Gallery Games pack on their way into the museum, filled with activities intended to heighten understanding of exhibits, and sketching supplies are available for children to create their own works inspired by the museum’s pieces.

In addition to the museum’s curriculum-incorporated school visits and programs, several award-winning programs for teens have received national attention as a model for incorporating youth voices into the museum curation process. The museum’s Teen Arts Council meets weekly throughout the school year to plan events such as quarterly Teen Nights, which are designed to introduce Boston’s youth to contemporary art in a fun, engaging environment. The annual Teen Convening summit brings youth to the museum to discuss the future of youth arts education and museum involvement on a national scale. A variety of Teen Art Collective programs meet throughout the year to develop young artists’ skills, including a slam poetry team and several DJ collectives.

General events and workshops offer many ways for members of the Boston community to engage with ICA artists and create works of their own. The Artist’s Voice lecture series brings in top artists to discuss their work and engage in conversation with audience members. Forums throughout the year highlight social and political discussions related to exhibitions, and the ICA Reads book club incorporates works of literature with similar themes to current exhibits in order to foster community discussion. The Make/Made art lab allows visitors of all ages to engage in the creative process themselves with weekend drop-in time included with museum admission.

25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA 02210

More Things to Do in Boston

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