Planning day trips from Boston in detail can be overwhelming. But with this guide, you’ll be easily able to experience New England’s charm, nature, and the rich history found in towns near Boston.
I’m a Boston area local who loves exploring the many destinations near Boston. I am here to share my favorite places to visit in New England.
There’s a Boston day trip on this list for everyone. We’ll cover iconic landmarks, adventures on the water, historic towns, and escapes to nature.
Table of Contents
- 19 Best Boston Day Trips
- Lincoln Ice Castles, New Hampshire
- White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
- Salem, Massachusetts
- Nantucket, Massachusetts
- Gloucester, Massachusetts
- Newport, Rhode Island
- Cape Cod, Massachusetts
- Plymouth, Massachusetts
- Portland, Maine
- Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
- Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts
- Rockport, Massachusetts
- Woodstock, Vermont
- Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
- Newburyport, Massachusetts
- Kennebunkport, Maine
- Lexington, Massachusetts
- Plum Island, Massachusetts
- Arnold Arboretum, Massachusetts
- FAQs About Boston Day Trips
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19 Best Boston Day Trips
Lincoln Ice Castles, New Hampshire
A must-see winter phenomenon, featuring frozen castles and family-friendly winter activities.
Boston is known to be a wonderland in the winter. But north of the city lies magical ice castles that look like something straight out of the movie, Frozen.
The Lincoln Ice Castles make for one of the best day trips from Boston for families during winter. This frozen attraction brings fairy tales to life for all ages.
To visit the Lincoln Ice Castles, put on all of your layers and head to the mountains of New Hampshire. The castles include lit-up sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, and fountains. This location also offers snow tubing, sleigh rides, and a mystical light walk through an enchanted forest.
The Ice Castles are open seasonally, with the exact date depending on Mother Nature.
Plan ahead and buy your tickets in advance online.
White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
An expansive natural wonder offering year-round activities and an escape from city life.
White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) is a federally managed forest within the states of New Hampshire and Maine. The region is known for its high peaks, including Mount Washington. It is a good Boston day trip if you’re looking for breathtaking scenery and wildlife.
I got to enjoy a family hike over the summer on this day trip. We hid underneath the shade of the trees as we walked a beginner-friendly trail. We also got to splash and cool off in its mountain-clear streams. Yet, this doesn’t scratch the surface of what 800,000 acres of wilderness offers.
White Mountain National Forest offers outdoor fun in all seasons. In summer, go biking, fishing, climbing, stargazing, bird watching, or scenic driving. You can always admire the bright fall foliage on a hike or drive during the fall. Enjoy skiing over the winter. And finally, go camping during the spring and summer.
Made famous by the 1692 Salem witch trials, Salem offers spooks, art, history, and family-friendly games.
🗺️ Distance from Boston: 41 minutes | 📍 Google Maps
Salem is one of the most popular day trips from Boston during the fall. It is well known for its historic sites of the 1692 Salem witch trials. Salem is home to the wickedly wonderful Sanderson sisters, the House of the Seven Gables, and the Salem Witch Museum.
But this seaside town is so much more than just witches. Visit the world-class Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), the longest continuously-running museum in the country. The Peabody Essex Museum has something for everyone, whether they like to be spooked or not.
Not interested in an art or history lesson? Beat the high scores at the Salem Willows Arcade. The harborside park is packed with vintage games, which gives it a nostalgic vibe. The arcade also features mini-golf, a few rides, and all the greasy foods you can only find at an amusement park.
Nantucket makes a long day trip highlighted by blinking lighthouses and a charming pace of life.
🗺️ Distance from Boston: 3 hours and 47 minutes | 📍 Google Maps
Nantucket is a tiny isolated island located off the coast of Cape Cod. The island known as “The Grey Lady” is dressed in salt air and hydrangeas. Nantucket is open to visitors all year round but becomes lively in the summer when Nantucket’s breathtaking beaches take center stage.
Nantucket’s three lighthouses provide the ultimate Instagramable backdrop. The Brant Point Lighthouse is the shortest distance from town. You can enjoy it with views of the harbor.
The Bluff Walk offers visitors an experience reminiscent of the classic fairytale The Secret Garden. The public walkway runs through the backyards of iconic Nantucket homes. Hike through gardens and lattice archways as you take in the views of the Atlantic Coast.
One of the nation’s top fishing ports, Gloucester offers beaches and whale-watching tours.
Gloucester is a coastal town about 45 minutes from Boston. It is one of America’s oldest fishing ports and is rich in seafaring tradition. Gloucester offers maritime history, fresh-caught seafood, several beautiful beaches, and an active working waterfront.
I love a good adventure out at sea. My favorite activity in Gloucester is whale watching. I’ve been able to see humpback whales, finback whales, dolphins, and sunfish!
Sign up for a whale watching tour with Cape Ann Whale Watch to marvel at these majestic giants. On the tour, you will likely see whales dive, breach, lay on their back, and flap their fins.
Gloucester is home to some incredible beaches. Check out Good Harbor Beach, the perfect spot to spend a summer day. It offers soft white sand and a large area to spread out. Even during the off-season, you can still enjoy the beach and go for a walk or run.
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city of living history, opulent mansions, and yacht-filled harbors.
🗺️ Distance from Boston: 1 hour and 33 minutes | 📍 Google Maps
Newport is one of the best day trips from Boston for a coastal getaway. Newport is a town rich in history. Newport features miles of scenic coastline, colonial-era architecture, art galleries, and charming shops.
Explore the Cliff Walk, a beautiful trail that runs 3.5 miles along the coast. It will take you along the stunning coastline, historic mansions, and rocky beaches of Rhode Island. Parts of the trail are paved, while other parts have a rocky shoreline. Either way, you can still enjoy the scenic ocean views.
Take a family-friendly self-guided tour at the Newport Mansions. Each of the mansions offers a step back in time. The Elms, Marble House, Rose Cliff, and Breakers were all once known as “summer cottages.” Parking is free at all mansions.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod has more than 500 miles of warm sandy beaches and stunning coastlines.
🗺️ Distance from Boston: 1 hour and 27 minutes | 📍 Google Maps
Cape Cod is the hooked-shaped peninsula of the state of Massachusetts. Cape Cod is one of the most popular summertime day trips from Boston. Visit for picturesque ocean beaches, seafood shacks, and lighthouses.
I love the serene beaches in Cape Cod. It feels as if I have left Massachusetts without ever stepping foot outside of the state. There is nothing like relaxing on the warm sandy beaches.
Do you need more adventure? Explore the many hiking and biking trails along the Cape Cod National Seashore, which offer scenic landscapes.
Explore where the Mayflower came ashore 400 years ago at Plymouth.
🗺️ Distance from Boston: 57 minutes | 📍 Google Maps
Plymouth is a perfect day trip from Boston for history lovers. Plymouth was founded in 1620 and is the site of the first Pilgrim settlement and also where you will find Plymouth Rock. Mayflower II is a replica of the Mayflower that carried over 100 settlers to the Wampanoag people’s land. It is anchored in the harbor.
Learn about the country’s history in live action with Plimouth Patuxet Living History Museum. The tour will take you back to a day in the life of the Pilgrims and Pokanoket people. In this living history museum, stories are read by role-playing actors. You can even take a walk through an actual English Pilgrim settlement as well as a trip aboard the May Flower II.
Explore the cranberry bogs with the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association. Learn about the shallow areas of water where the cranberries grow. The bogs are beautiful when cranberries are shaken from their vines into the water.
Maine’s most populous city enchants with cobblestone streets, chic shopping, and nautical history.
Portland is a city set on the peninsula of Maine. This coastal area is popular during the summertime. Tourists enjoy having access to its beaches, forests, and other landscapes.
Experience the charming Old Port, a revitalized warehouse district. The old brick buildings have been transformed into restaurants, shops, and apartments. The area is now known for its chic shopping, renowned dining, and bustling nightlife.
Nautical buffs will enjoy a climb to the Portland Observatory. The observatory was built in 1807 and is the last wooden signal tower in North America. It offers great views of Portland, Back Cove, Casco Bay, and Mt. Washington.
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
The famous summer getaway Martha’s Vineyard is just a fun ferry ride from Cape Cod.
Martha’s Vineyard is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Boston. Martha’s Vineyard is an island just 7 miles off the coast of mainland Massachusetts. This famous New England summer colony is accessible only by ferry or by air.
Visit the quirky and photogenic Oak Bluffs. The campground is a collection of Victorian gingerbread cottages. The cottages are privately owned. But you can still enjoy the charming candy-colored exteriors. Keep an eye out for the Grand Illumination in August. Each porch is hung with Japanese lanterns.
The most iconic lighthouse in the Vineyard is the Edgartown Lighthouse. You will find plenty of photo opportunities from the ground. It is surrounded by a backdrop of greenery and flowers. You’re in for a special treat when you climb to the top of the lighthouse. The reward is breathtaking views of the surrounding area of Martha’s Vineyard.
Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts
History runs deep in the town of Sturbridge, featuring dozens of historic buildings and a massive flea market.
Sturbridge offers small-town charm in the heart of New England. Sturbridge is home to many historical sites and outdoor activities. Sturbridge offers over 30 miles of hiking trails for nature lovers.
The most popular attraction in Sturbridge is the Old Sturbridge Village, a historical living museum. It is a recreated 1830s rural New England Town. You can explore more than 40 historic buildings and interact with costumed historians. You will be inspired by the stories of the early 19th century and see tasks from the past at work.
Peruse through three levels of bargains at the Sturbridge Flea Market. This iconic flea market is housed in a mill from the 1800s. It has three floors packed with vendors. You will find everything from antique jewelry to appliances.
Rockport will take your breath away with its rocky shores, lighthouses, and charming downtown.
🗺️ Distance from Boston: 53 minutes | 📍 Google Maps
Rockport is located north of Boston and is a perfect place for a day of relaxation. Rockport is full of intriguing history and beauty, along with a sense of serenity. This seaside town is a wonderful getaway and is also one of my personal favorite day trips from Boston.
I love to stroll through their charming and eclectic downtown. Bearskin Neck is a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Explore the quaint shops to find handcrafted jewelry, art galleries, locally made crafts, and specialty-housed items.
You’ll also find a ton of recreational activities to do around Rockport. Go swimming, diving, sailing, or kayaking. And don’t miss the most magical sunsets at Thacher Island’s Twin Lighthouses.
👉 Read Next: Best Things to Do in Massachusetts
Charming Woodstock is a paradise for leaf-peepers and foodies.
🗺️ Distance from Boston: 2 hours and 15 minutes | 📍 Google Maps
Woodstock is a small charming town surrounded by green mountains and babbling streams.
Woodstock has some beautiful covered bridges that are worth the visit. Middle Covered Bridge is located in the heart of downtown Woodstock. This lattice-truss bridge is probably the most photographed bridge in the area. Park your car in town and explore the Middle Covered Bridge on foot.
Sample tasty cheeses at Sugarbush Farms for free. This farm is the maker of award-winning cheddar cheese and maple syrup. If you’re a foodie, this stop is a must! Visit with the cows and wander in the woods. Enjoy this little slice of Vermont heaven.
Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Hampton Beach is one of the widest beaches on the Atlantic coast.
Hampton Beach is a popular Boston day trip due to its lively boardwalk. The Hampton Beach boardwalk is lined with souvenir shops, ice cream parlors, and arcade games. Hampton Beach features a full season of entertainment and activities for all ages.
There’s so much outdoor exploration to do out of the Marina. Go paddle boarding through the marshes and take part in deep-sea fishing. End a day of fun in the sun with a splendid sunset over the water.
A small coastal city packed with all the charm of a Quintessential New England town.
🗺️ Distance from Boston: 1 hour and 6 minutes | 📍 Google Maps
Newburyport is a coastal city located northeast of Boston, nestled where the Merrimack River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Newburyport historic district is known for its old-time charm, rich history, and scenic beauty.
The downtown Waterfront Park is a great place to stroll on its scenic boardwalk. It runs along the Merrimack River and is an excellent spot to relax, people-watch, and take in the view of all the fishing boats. The boardwalk even features a few outdoor art installations.
Newburyport is known for its waterfront dining scene. Grab something to eat at Tuscan Sea Grill & Bar. They specialize in artisan coastal Italian cuisine. It is a beautiful location right on the water with a warm ambiance. They have incredible food and drinks paired with breathtaking waterfront views.
Kennebunkport is a historic fishing village transformed into a seaside tourist destination.
Kennebunkport is a dreamy place to relax and unwind. Kennebunkport is known for its beaches, lighthouses, and fresh local seafood.
One of the top things to do is to visit the bustling center of Kennebunkport. Dock Square is filled with great shopping, remarkable restaurants, and more. You can’t leave without trying the local seafood. Order a lobster roll and some fried clams at the Clam Shack.
Want to get on the water? Consider a fishing or lobster expedition for an unforgettable experience. Or go sailing. In this luxury catamaran sailing tour, you can cruise along the waters in a spacious catamaran.
The birthplace of the American Revolution, Lexington is an iconic destination for history lovers.
Lexington is the birthplace of the American Revolution. Just 20 minutes from Boston, Lexington is rich in cultural activities, history, charming shops, and restaurants.
Start your journey with a ride on the Liberty Ride Trolly Tour. The little trolley travels along sites of Revolutionary War history. On the tour, volunteer guides tell the story of each historical attraction. The trolly is also a convenient way to get around the city. You can hop on and off at any of the sites with free reboarding.
A popular stop on the trolly tour is the Lexington Green. This is where the first shot of the American War of Independence was fired in 1775. You can see the 18th-century buildings still standing as well as the Minute Man Statue.
Plum Island, Massachusetts
Enjoy a day trip in a big sandbox with scenic views covering the coastline.
🗺️ Distance from Boston: 1 hour and 2 minutes | 📍 Google Maps
Plum Island is located right on the coast of Massachusetts. It is 11 miles long with breathtaking views.
Visit Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. This sanctuary takes up most of the land on the Island. People visit the area for bird watching due to the number of migratory birds in the area. The sanctuary is open every day of the week from sunrise to sunset.
Don’t forget to snap your photo at the Pink House! The Pink House is one of the abandoned historic homes you will find throughout Massachusetts. People refer to it as the Plum Island Pink House. It is hard to miss as it is located right off of the Plum Island Turnpike.
Arnold Arboretum, Massachusetts
Escape to nature without needing a car or having to go far from the city of Boston.
Don’t have a car to drive out of the city and enjoy a day in nature? This final entry on my list of day trips from Boston is for you.
Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum is a 281-acre park that is home to over 16,000 hardy trees, shrubs, and vines.
The free public park is located in the Jamaica Plain and Roslindale neighborhoods. Commuters using public transportation can easily access it from the city of Boston. You can grab one of Boston’s blue rental bikes, zoom across the city, and enter one of the eight entrances.
I have enjoyed the beautiful landscapes of this arboretum countless times. Peters Hills is the highest point on the grounds and my favorite spot of all the arboretum. It provides the most glorious view of the Boston skyline.
Harvard Arboretum is completely free to visit and is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. To avoid getting lost, you can download the Expeditions app. It features a map that will help guide you along trails with audio tours.
FAQs About Boston Day Trips
What are the best day trips from Boston?
What are good destinations within 2 hours of Boston?
What are good day trips from Boston without a car?
A good day trip from Boston without a car is the spooky city of Salem, which you can visit hassle-free by taking the MBTA Commuter rail from North Station. Another car-free Boston day trip is Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, a 281-acre park located on the edge of the city and accessible via public transportation.
Boston’s prime location makes it more convenient to explore other parts of New England and its historic towns.
I hope this guide has inspired you to explore some of the best day trips from Boston!
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