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If you are interested in history and want to know more about it, Massachusetts should be on your list of must-visit states. Massachusetts was one of the original 13 colonies of New England, and that is why it has so much history to tell.
However, it does not mean the state is stuck in the past. Massachusetts keeps growing and developing, with many things to see and do.
Massachusetts is famous for its historical events, culture, fine arts, contemporary art, museums, and historic landmarks. Boston, the state’s capital, is one of its main landmarks. It has many attractions, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts State House, iconic Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and the baseball team Boston Red Sox.
The purpose of this Massachusetts travel guide is to provide you with valuable information about travel and tourism in Massachusetts and its top destinations worth seeing and visiting. With this guide, it will be easier to explore this magnificent state and immerse in its history, atmosphere, and culture.
- Best Things to Do in Massachusetts
- 1. Explore the Cape Cod National Seashore
- 2. Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
- 3. Spend a Day in Peabody Essex Museum in Salem
- 4. Explore and Hike in Bash Bish Falls State Park
- 5. Discover Old Sturbridge Village
- 6. Travel to Cambridge
- Where to stay in Massachusetts
- How to Get Around in Massachusetts
- Travel Tips for Visiting Massachusetts
- Purchase Travel Insurance
- Make Sure to Have Proper Clothing and Equipment
- Do Your Homework and Research Your Destination Before the Trip
- Decide Where You Are Going to Stay
- Choose the Right Season
Best Things to Do in Massachusetts
1. Explore the Cape Cod National Seashore
Cape Cod Bay is famous for its natural beauty, stunning beaches, and peaceful seaside that attract thousands of tourists every year, especially during the summer months. One of the most visited places in Cape Cod is the 40-mile seashore.
It is a local treasure comprising protected uplands, ponds, and marshlands. It is also home to over 400 animals that live in the woodlands, swamps, and marshes of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
If you wonder where you should start exploring the seashore, start with a trip to the Salt Pond Visitor Center located in Eastham. In this center, you will learn more about the ancient Native American communities and see their old artifacts, such as pieces of smoking pipes, glassware, stone tools, and pottery.
If you want to learn more history, make sure to stop by the Highland House Museum in Truro, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century and served as a modest hotel. If you visit the second floor of this museum, you will have a chance to see the restored guest rooms and how they looked a century ago.
What else can the seashore offer? It has a glorious and magnificent coastline, of course. It has six stunning beaches: Coast Guard, Marconi, Herring Cove, Race Point, Head of the Meadow, and Naucet Light.
2. Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
If you are visiting Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, there are also plenty of places that are worth seeing and exploring. One of them is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The museum was established by Isabella Steward Gardner, a patron of arts, in 1903. It was designed as a replica of the Venetian-style palazzo of the 15th century.
Today, this museum is one of the top 10 must-visit attractions in Boston. It features three floors of galleries, garden views, and a garden courtyard. The museum collection includes ancient furniture, paintings, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, tapestries, illuminated manuscripts, and decorative arts from around the world.
In total, there are over 3,000 pieces of art that represent periods from ancient Rome to 19th-century America. You can purchase Go City Explorer Pass to visit the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum and another attraction in Boston.
3. Spend a Day in Peabody Essex Museum in Salem
You may think it is just another museum, but it is not true. The unique thing about this museum, located in Salem, MA, is that it was founded in 1799, which makes Peabody Essex Museum the oldest continuously operating museum in the United States.
Today, it is home to over 1.3 million artifacts and pieces of art, which makes it the biggest museum in New England. It is also one of the most precious museums of Asian arts in America, with unique masterpieces from Japan, China, Africa, and Oceania.
The Japanese Collection is one of the richest collections in the US and includes the fascinating house of the Qing period. This house was dismantled, removed from Japan, and rebuilt inside the Peabody Essex Museum.
4. Explore and Hike in Bash Bish Falls State Park
This beautiful and protected park can be found in the southwestern part of the state, close to Mount Washington. It is home to the highest single-drop waterfall in Massachusetts. It has numerous cascades, one of which is 80 feet high.
Travelers and outdoor enthusiasts have visited this area since the 18th century. It became even more popular thanks to a famous painter, John Frederick Kensett, who created several paintings of the falls.
The Bash Bish Falls State Park has numerous hikes that attract outdoor adventurers and those who like spending time in nature. There are also several campsites to enjoy in the surrounding areas.
It is also important to note that even though this State park is known as one of the most beautiful parks in Massachusets, it also has the reputation of being dangerous. There have been over 25 deaths reported due to cliff jumping. For this reason, swimming is forbidden in the Bash Bish Falls Park.
5. Discover Old Sturbridge Village
Are you interested in learning more about New England and American history? Welcome to Old Sturbridge Village – a unique attraction depicting the life of local people in the early 19th century. It is an outdoor living history museum that showcases how people in New England lived two centuries ago.
It is so easy to become immersed in the atmosphere of Sturbridge Village. Once you step on its property, you are transported back to the 19th century and become a member of a village family. You may be easily caught up in a conversation about framing techniques, the politics of the 19th century, the American Revolution, and the latest gossip of the village.
Old Sturbridge Village offers interesting demonstrations and tours every day, the purpose of which is to educate and entertain. You can watch a flintlock musket demonstration, take a guided tour of the herb garden, or learn how to milk a cow by hand. You can always check the calendar to know what is happening in the village this month and plan your visit.
6. Travel to Cambridge
If you are spending time in Boston, you should definitely travel to Cambridge and experience its cultured, innovative, unique, and intellectually curious atmosphere.
Even though many people think that Cambridge is a part of Boston, it is actually its city. Cambridge has a vibrant performing arts scene, outstanding and interesting museums, historic sites, and a great selection of restaurants.
There are many things you can do in this city, and one day might not be enough. You should definitely visit the Harvard Art Museums, which consist of three museums and are a part of the famous Harvard University.
Another museum that should be on your must-visit places in Cambridge is the Harvard Museum of Natural History. It is home to 12,000 specimens and is considered one of the top attractions in the city. Over 240,000 guests visit this museum every year.
You should also take a walking tour of Harvard University to learn more about this one of the most prestigious universities in the world and explore it. During this tour, you will learn more about the history of the University, as well as about famous Harvardians. While in Cambridge, it is also worth seeing the central part of the city, the main street, and historic buildings, including old churches.
Where to stay in Massachusetts
If you are planning a trip to Massachusetts for the first time, one of the most important things you need to decide is where to stay and how to find quality and affordable accommodation that will address your needs and preferences.
Here is a list of the top ten places for you to stay in Massachusets, whether you are traveling by yourself or with family and friends:
- Boston Park Plaza– Boston
- Hilton Garden Inn Boston Logan Airport – Boston
- The Verb Hotel – Boston
- Seaport Hotel – Boston
- Wequassett Resort and Golf Club – East Harwich
- The Wauwinet – Nantucken
- Four Seasons Hotel – Boston
- Winnetu Oceanside Resort at South Beach – Edgartown
- The Ritz-Carlton – Boston
- Hotel Commonwealth – Boston
How to Get Around in Massachusetts
It is quite easy to get around Massachusetts. The state’s includes planes, trains, buses, and boats. If you do not want to use public transportation, you can always rent a car.
There are seven major airports in the state of Massachusetts:
- Boston Logan International Airport. It is located 3 miles from Downtown Boston, and it serves as the primary airport of New England.
- Nantucket Memorial Airport. It is the primary airport for private jets.
- Martha’s Vineyard Airport. It is a small airport in Massachusetts located in Martha’s Vineyard.
- New Bedford Regional Airport. It is a midsized airport with domestic flights only.
- Barnstable Municipal Airport. This small airport located on Cape Cod serves flights by two American airlines – JetBlue and Cape Air.
- Worcester Regional Airport. This airport is located in the town of Worcester. It serves Worcester County, which is known as the second fastest-growing county in the state of Massachusetts.
- Provincetown Municipal Airport. It is a primary service airport that provides scheduled passenger service to Boston Logan International Airport.
Travel Tips for Visiting Massachusetts
Massachusetts is one of the oldest states in the United States, with a rich culture and history that attract thousands of tourists yearly. However, it is not a good idea to visit this beautiful state without knowing anything about it.
For this reason, we have added a list of tips to this Massachusetts travel guide that will help you plan your trip to this part of New England properly.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is one of the most important things that every traveler needs. The purpose of travel insurance is to protect you against possible financial losses and other risks while you are traveling. Some risks are minor (like canceling a flight or losing baggage), while others are more serious (personal injuries, for example). If you cannot decide whether you need travel insurance or not, here is a list of its benefits you should consider:
- Flight cancellations. Unfortunately, flights are canceled daily, and your flight can be one of them. Travel insurance provides cancellation coverage, the purpose of which is to cover pre-paid costs, including accommodation, rental car services, and others.
- Personal items, documents, and gadgets. Travel insurance policies also cover personal belongings, documents, and any gadgets you have with you while traveling. It is recommended, though, to talk to an insurance agent first and ensure this coverage is included in your policy.
- Emergency medical costs. If you get sick or injured during your trip and need medical help, you do not have to worry about medical costs and bills, as your travel insurance provides medical coverage as well.
Make Sure to Have Proper Clothing and Equipment
Massachusets is the state where outdoor lovers and enthusiasts come to enjoy the outdoors and various outdoor activities. Therefore, one of the most useful tips is to make sure you have proper clothing and equipment with you.
If you are thinking of spending time outside and being active outdoors, here is a list of basic things you should have:
- Hiking pants and jacket. When choosing a jacket and pants for your trip, the main factors you should consider are flexibility, durability, and waterproofness.
- Base layer. This layer includes underwear, tops, leggings, bras, and socks. This layer is very important because its task is to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable.
- Backpack. Whether you are planning a hike for several hours or you are thinking of staying outdoors for several days, a quality backpack is what you need. It is recommended to choose a backpack that is waterproof, multifunctional, and versatile.
- Hiking boots or shoes. You should take your time choosing a pair of hiking boots. Wearing quality footwear when you are outside is very important because hiking boots are designed to protect your feet from rocks, tree roots, and other natural hazards. Also, they provide your feet with proper stability and level of comfort.
Do Your Homework and Research Your Destination Before the Trip
It is important to research beforehand and learn about your destination as much as possible. Research is one of the keys to a successful trip.
You can find trusted information on trusted websites, blogs, local newspapers, and other guides and by reading reviews of others who have already visited the place you plan to travel to.
Decide Where You Are Going to Stay
Accommodation is always the most important aspect of any trip. When you are planning your trip to Massachusetts, decide where you are going to stay and make sure that the accommodation you are choosing is safe and comfortable.
It can be challenging to decide because there are many different types of accommodation. In order to make the right choice, here is what you should do:
- Choose the type of accommodation. There are so many options in Massachusetts, especially in such big and populated cities as Boston. There are hotels, motels, hostels, vacation rentals, and more.
- Compare prices and reviews. Analyze your budget and decide what type of accommodation you can afford. You can easily compare different options and prices on such popular websites as Airbnb and Booking.com. In order to save money, it is better to travel during shoulder periods. Also, the longer you are staying, the cheaper accommodation will be.
- Check facilities, amenities, and services. Before booking any accommodation, check what facilities, amenities, and services are included in the price. Sometimes, there is an additional charge for certain services, or some facilities and amenities might not be available due to certain restrictions.
Choose the Right Season
When you are planning a road trip to Massachusetts, it is important to choose the right season. The best time to visit this beautiful state is from April to October. This period is great for learning more about Massachusetts’ history.
If you are not afraid of large crowds of people, then planning your visit during May or June is also a good idea. These two months are ideal for enjoying boardwalks in Cape Cod and soaking up the sun on a beach.
Traveling in September and October is a smart choice for those who want to experience a beautiful fall in New England, see vibrant colors of the leaves, and attend local harvest festivals.
- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.