There are so many exciting places to visit in Massachusetts. As a Massachusetts local, I can attest to the Bay State’s interesting and unique destinations.
Massachusetts is a place where history and culture meet. From major cities to seashore towns, and everywhere in between, there is something for everyone. I’ve created this list to help you explore the best of Massachusetts while enjoying all the top attractions.
Table of Contents
- Best Places to Visit in Massachusetts
- FAQs About Places to Go in Massachusetts
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Best Places to Visit in Massachusetts
Boston has something for everyone with its rich history and diverse neighborhoods.
Boston is one of the top places to visit in Massachusetts because of its storied history. It has a legacy of culture, arts, and education dating back to the 1600s. Today, this city offers a blend of historical sites, modern attractions, and waterfront views.
Visit Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum to see the only surviving tea chest from the historic Boston Tea Party protest. Another popular historic attraction is Public Garden, which dates back to the 1800s. Here, you can watch swan boats float along the lagoon.
There’s plenty to do for those visiting Boston with children. Places like the New England Aquarium and the Boston Children’s Museum will guarantee a great time.
Stop by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to browse fine art. Or, perhaps take in a show at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
One of the oldest towns in North America—full of history and mystery.
Salem, Massachusetts draws visitors from around the world for its historic Witchcraft Trials and spooky celebrations. Today, Salem preserves its history and artifacts through local museums and guided tours.
The Salem Witch Museum explores the 1692 Salem Witch Trials that put Salem on the map. The House of the Seven Gables is another one of Salem’s essential stops. It is a historic home, museum, and designated National Historic Landmark.
The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is another Salem museum and one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Salem is most popular in the fall, but this is the best time to visit for the full Salem experience.
A charming little seaside New England town in Northeastern Massachusetts.
Newburyport is about an hour’s drive from downtown Boston. This charming town along Massachusetts’ North Shore offers visitors iconic coastal views to explore.
Wander around the Waterfront Park and boardwalk. There is no shortage of things to do here. Lounge on the grass or browse local shops. The Waterfront Park is especially nice during the spring and summer months.
Be sure to check out Oldies Marketplace, an antique store loved by locals and visitors alike. You will find furniture, decorations, jewelry, and clothes. There are tons of curious knick-knacks to look through.
This city sits across the Charles River from Boston and is home to the renowned Harvard University.
The city of Cambridge has its own distinct charm and identity, despite being so close to Boston. The city is best known for being the home to the historic Ivy League university, Harvard University. Take a tour of Harvard’s campus but feel free to explore other parts of Cambridge. From unique city squares to history, art, architecture, and restaurants—there’s plenty to do.
I love to stroll down Memorial Drive. This street runs along the Charles River. It offers outstanding views of the Boston skyline, especially at night.
Be sure to check out the Head of the Charles regatta (boat race) if you visit in late October. This is the largest regatta in the world where athletes compete in rowing. The background of fall foliage makes it a unique event to experience.
The oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, highly regarded for its influence and reputation.
Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Ivy League university dates back to 1636 and has been esteemed in higher education for 387 years.
Anyone can visit the Harvard campus. There are many student-led tours that cover the historic buildings, dorms, and more. After touring the campus, explore the historic neighborhood of Harvard Square. It is full of shops, restaurants, cafes, and laid-back bars.
Buy a book at the Harvard Book Store. This independent bookshop has been a Cambridge landmark since 1932. Then grab a bagel at my favorite bagel spot at Black Sheep Bagel Cafe.
An island off the coast of Cape Cod best known for its whaling history and reputation as a summer getaway.
Nantucket is an island south of Cape Cod that relishes in its isolation. A quintessential trip to Nantucket consists of riding through the cobblestone streets on bikes and relaxing along the shore with a beach read.
Nantucket was the whaling city capital of the world in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Nantucket Whaling Museum tells the story of how Nantucket left its mark in whaling history. The museum’s scenic rooftop is a big hit and the educational programs are popular.
Old Sturbridge Village
The largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast with re-created settlements and period re-enactors.
Visiting Old Sturbridge Village is like taking a journey through time to the 1830s. This living museum invites visitors into more than 40 historical buildings. These include homes, meetinghouses, shops, and more.
Historical re-enactors carry out the daily activities of this early 19th-century community. Wander through the different shops that make up this village. Visit with a farmer plowing the fields or a blacksmith hammering away.
There are more than 200 acres to explore at Old Sturbridge Village, so there is always something new to experience. Overall, Old Sturbridge Village is a wonderful place to bring the whole family.
A one-of-a-kind highland region in Western Massachusetts full of green hills and stunning foliage.
The Berkshires are a highland region in Western Massachusetts that offers beautiful year-round scenery with the best in nature and recreation. You’ll find historic villages, a thriving art community, and diverse terrain.
Enjoy outdoor adventures such as hiking trails and cross-country skiing at this popular vacation destination. Or, take in the impressive collection of cultural and historic sites like Edith Wharton’s Home “The Mount” in Lenox, and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. The Berkshires are most popular to visit in the fall.
This famous Massachusetts summer destination is best known for its scenic, sandy beaches.
Cape Cod has long been a popular New England summer destination. This hook-shaped island on the Atlantic Ocean is acclaimed for its beaches, seafood, and endless coastal fun.
Spend a day at the picturesque Race Point Beach. It is the perfect place for playing in the water, building sand castles, and hunting for seashells. Walk over to the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station Museum and learn about the history of the Coast Guard.
Set aside an entire day to visit the Cape Cod National Seashore. Explore walking trails through salt marshes and see six beautiful beaches. Nature lovers will want to grab their binoculars. The Cape Cod National Seashore is home to many migratory seabirds. You can see them on a stroll through Fort Hill Trail.
A charming New England island just a short ferry ride from Cape Cod.
Martha’s Vineyard is the best place to visit in Massachusetts for stunning natural beauty and scenic sandy beaches. There’s a vibrant beach culture here and it’s the perfect weekend getaway for relaxing by the sea.
Martha’s Vineyard is dotted with charming small towns that make it feel special. Vineyard Haven is a busy port town that welcomes day-trippers to browse its array of local boutique shops. Oak Bluffs is a colorful small town with a Victorian boardwalk. I especially love the pizza and ice cream emporiums here.
Adams National Historical Park
A historical park in Quincy that was the former home of two U.S. presidents and notable American figures.
The Adams National Historic Park is a historical site and home of American presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and their families and descendants. The historic park is located in the town of Quincy outside of Boston.
Here, you can tour the historic family homes. These homes include John Adams and John Quincy Adams’ birthplace, The Old House at Peace field, and Stone Library. But be sure to reserve tickets for home tours ahead of time!
Second U.S. President John Adams lived a full life as a farmer and a world traveler, and helped author the Declaration of Independence. Take in the architecture, art, literature, history, and gardens at this historical attraction—it’s sure to make for a fascinating day.
America’s oldest fishing port with a rich maritime history.
Gloucester is a popular summer destination when visiting Massachusetts. This charming and walkable city is brimming with history, culture, dining, shopping, and beaches.
This seaside city is perfect for friends, families, and visitors of all ages. Gloucester is one of the best New England ports for whale watching. I recommend booking a tour with Cape Ann Whale Watch, as frequent tours are offered from mid-April through October.
Another attraction I love in Gloucester is Hammond Castle Museum, a medieval-style castle. The inventor and art collector Johns Hays Hammond Jr. completed the castle in 1929. Here, you can see artwork and ancient artifacts on a self-guided walking tour.
Home to the Boston Red Sox and one of baseball’s most iconic ballparks.
Fenway Park is the oldest baseball stadium in major league baseball. It has been home to the Boston Red Sox baseball team for over a century.
The park’s most iconic feature is known to locals as the Green Monster. It is a 37-foot wall painted in green, located in the left field. It houses the park’s scoreboard during games.
You should try to catch a game at Fenway even if you aren’t a diehard Red Sox Fan. It is a top Massachusetts attraction during baseball season (April to early October) and a fun experience overall.
A 2.5-mile pathway through Boston’s most historic buildings and sites.
The Freedom Trail path runs 2.5 miles through several of Boston’s most historical sites and attractions. This is one of Boston’s top tourist attractions and walking Freedom Trail is a great way to get acquainted with American History.
Freedom Trail begins at Boston Common and ends at the Bunker Hill Monument. You will pass through 16 historical landmarks while learning about the American Revolution.
One of the most picturesque neighborhoods in all of Boston.
Beacon Hill is a historic neighborhood in Boston. The brownstone-lined streets of this neighborhood are home to several historic sites. It is one of my favorite places to visit in Massachusetts.
The start of Freedom Trail is located in this neighborhood, which tells the story of the American Revolution. Some landmarks include the Old State House and the Paul Revere House.
While walking through the streets of Beacon Hill, you may notice a building with a golden dome. That’s the Massachusetts State House. It has housed the state’s government since 1798. Learn all about Massachusetts History by taking a free tour.
A popular summer destination named for the beach plums that grow wild in its dunes.
Plum Island is a barrier beach island located in Northeastern Massachusetts. The island is only 11 miles long, but packed with plenty of opportunities for fun and relaxation.
Head over to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. It has 4,662 acres of land that’s home to hundreds of species of birds, animals, and plants. The peaceful Parker River is perfect for cyclists and nature lovers, too.
Check out the Plum Island Lighthouse. It was formerly known as the Newburyport Harbor Light. Occasional public tours of the lighthouse are available through the organization, Friends of Plum Island Light. The charming town of Newburyport is nearby.
A famous port city outside of Boston that was once the whaling capital of the world.
The city of New Bedford used to be the whaling capital of the world during the 19th century. Today, New Bedford leans heavily into its maritime past but the city is growing. New restaurants, parks, and downtown art galleries are transforming the city.
I recommend visiting the New Bedford Whaling Museum. This museum details the city’s complicated whaling history. Here, you’ll find a collection of whale skeletons, a whaling ship replica, and artwork. You’ll also learn about the biology of whales and current conservation efforts.
A waterfront town that’s home to some of America’s most iconic historical monuments.
Plymouth is a picturesque waterfront town in Massachusetts. There’s plenty of local charm and historical monuments here to discover.
Head to Plymouth Rock and Pilgrim Memorial State Park. Plymouth Rock is an iconic American landmark and a symbol of the nation’s beginnings. The famed rock is known as the place where the first Pilgrim settlers stepped foot onto land in Massachusetts.
Experience where American history took place at the Plimoth Patuxet Museum. This outdoor history museum is a recreation of a pilgrim village and an immersive experience with historical activities to enjoy. It is one of the most popular places to visit in Massachusetts.
A charming town in Berkshire County in Western Massachusetts.
Stockbridge is a picturesque village in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. The small lively town has so many fun things to do.
Start at one of the most iconic places in town: The Red Lion Inn. This hotel first opened as a tavern back in 1773. It still retains its colonial features. Stop by, grab a drink, and sit on the porch to watch the day pass by.
American painter, Norman Rockwell, spent his later years in Stockbridge. Now there is a beautiful museum dedicated to his work. The art museum has the world’s largest collection of his paintings.
Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park
A unique collection of bays, harbors, and rivers off the coast of Boston.
The Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park covers 34 islands and peninsulas. It’s filled with hiking trails, lighthouses, tidal pools, campgrounds, and much more.
You can go fishing, picnicking, swimming, and camping under the stars all within reach of downtown Boston. Deer Island offers amazing city views where you can watch the planes take off from Logan Airport.
FAQs About Places to Go in Massachusetts
What are the best places to visit in Massachusetts?
What is the most visited town in Massachusetts?
The most visited town in Massachusetts is Boston. The city is known for its historic sites and waterfront attractions.
Where is the best place to visit in Massachusetts summer?
The best place to visit Massachusetts in the summer is Martha’s Vineyard. It is a popular getaway for its scenic beaches and relaxing atmosphere.
What is the best place to visit in Massachusetts in winter?
The best place to visit in Massachusetts in winter is the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. Winter brings snow-covered hills and outdoor adventures like skiing at areas like Ski Butternut.
I hope this guide gave you plenty of options for places to visit in Massachusetts, whether it’s your first trip or not. For more ideas on places in Massachusetts, check out my list of best day trips from Boston!
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