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Portland, Maine

The 16 best day trips from Boston

Take a break from city life and visit these nearby New England destinations—no packing required

Photograph: Courtesy Visit Maine

Olivia Vanni

While many of us could easily spend every waking moment in Boston, it can be refreshing to escape the city for 24 hours or so. Fortunately, this picturesque New England region offers an array of potential day trips from Boston, including quaint seaside villages, historic towns and stunning mountain vistas. So grab your pals or significant other, and hop on a ferry, train or automobile to one of these lovely destinations. Once you're back in town, you'll once again feel ready to take advantage of the  best Boston attractions ,  best free things to do in Boston  and  best museums in Boston . And when you need a little longer time away check out our list of the best weekend getaways in New England . RECOMMENDED: The Best Hotels in Boston

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

Best day trips from Boston

1.  newport, ri.

Newport, RI

The Newport mansions of the Gilded Age still impress with their grandeur—just as they were built to do. If you have time to only tour one estate, check out The Breakers . Near the International Tennis Hall of Fame , the Audrain Auto Museum houses a seasonally rotating display of incredible cars inside a gorgeous Art Deco building.

Take the Cliff Walk, which has stunning views of the ocean, or relax at the public Easton’s Beach . Stroll past cool shops and eateries on narrow Thames Street. On Marlborough Street, dine at the White Horse Tavern , which claims to be America’s oldest restaurant, or duck over to The Reef at Howard Wharf for dinner and drinks with a view. Near the harbor, Bowen’s Wharf’s buildings date back to the 1700s, now offering an inviting maze of restaurants and shops. Stroll over the causeway to Goat Island where the Newport Harbor Lighthouse is overlooked by the upscale Gurney’s Resort.

2.  Portland, ME

Portland, ME

​​Maine's largest city, located about a two-hour drive north of Boston, attracts epicureans from around the country to its cobblestone streets. Wander the charming, hilly Old Port district, where every kind of boutique imaginable touts colorful wares. Pop into one of the many quaint pubs and dimly lit cocktail bars, like the excellent Jewel Box or Blyth & Burrows —the latter of which pairs the best in innovative mixology with equally scrumptious small plates. In the West End arts district, enjoy the I.M. Pei-designed Portland Museum of Art and the State Theatre , which hosts national acts, both musical, comedic and theatrical.

The food scene here lives up to the hype:   Cong Tu Bot for nationally celebrated Vietnamese fare;  Green Elephant for an inventive vegetarian meal;   Evo Kitchen + Bar for progressive twists on Mediterranean cooking; or  Union , a vibrant locavore haunt located at  The Press Hotel , whose historic building was formerly the home of the Portland Press Herald.

3.  Newburyport, MA

Newburyport, MA

The Newburyport Historic District, which encompasses most of the downtown, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This treasure trove of well-preserved, Federal-period architecture includes the notable Cushing House Museum & Garden , home of statesman Caleb Cushing, and the Custom House Maritime Museum , which also unravels local history. The beautiful Waterfront Park and boardwalk has regular concerts during warmer months.

Catch a play or see a show at the Firehouse Center for the Arts , grab a gourmet sandwich and bottle of wine at Joppa Fine Foods ,  relax with excellent cocktails and modern Middle Eastern bites at Bar25 ,  dine on classic seafood at The Black Cow  or head to the Newburyport Brewing Company ,  offering a friendly tap room and beer garden.

Newburyport includes part of neighboring, sedate Plum Island , a barrier island overlooking salt marshes.

4.  Gloucester, MA

Gloucester, MA

Shipbuilders and fishermen put Gloucester on the map, and both industries still exist there today —just  on a smaller scale. The Fishermen’s Memorial on Gloucester Harbor honors all those lost at sea, including the Andrea Gale and its crew, the real-life victims of The Perfect Storm . Check out the Cape Ann Museum , which has an amazing collection of art and artifacts specific to Gloucester and its surroundings.

Across narrow Main Street, you can savor straight-off-the boat seafood at the chic basement restaurant  Tonno . Oak to Ember  will impress with its menu of hearty, wood-fire-cooked dishes and thoughtful cocktails. Or, if you're more about ocean views, head to the Beauport Hotel , whose 1606 Restaurant has a great deck overlooking the water. Next door to the hotel, Beauport Cruise Lines offers seasonal jaunts around the harbor.

5.  Salem, MA

Salem, MA

Salem is forever linked to its horrifying and fascinating 1692 Witch Trials. The curious flock to the home of presiding Judge Corwin, which today is a museum known as The Witch House . Halloween is a big thing here—so are new age and cult shops. On a less spooky note, the Peabody Essex Museum houses a wonderful art collection, and Salem is the birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The House of the Seven Gables. You can even tour the house he may have been writing about, the 350-year-old Turner-Ingersoll Mansion.

Though it only dates back to 1930, Pioneer Village —a 10-minute drive from downtown, in Forest River Park—reenacts early 17th-century colonial life. Eat like a local at Ledger or Settler , or nerd out with old school arcade games and pinball machines at Bit Bar . 

6.  Provincetown, MA

Provincetown, MA

Creative, sassy P-Town—located only a 90-minute ferry ride from Boston—is an artsy LGBT hotspot. It’s got a great mix of galleries, restaurants and nightlife hangouts. Lined with dozens of colorful shops, friendly eateries and local businesses, Commercial Street is the bustling heart of the town. Seek out one of the many events and festivals that fuel the thriving arts scene.

The famous and seasonal  Lobster Pot is the biggest name in town for classic lobster rolls and fresh seafood treats. Climb the 252-foot granite Pilgrim Monument for dramatic harbor views, then escape to Race Point Beach to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the open ocean.

Eat innovative seasonal dishes at Strangers & Saints and great seafood at Mac’s Fish House , which has crispy fish and chips and Happy Hour dollar oysters. Explore the beautifully barren Outer Cape’s stretch of the Cape Cod National Seashore , including Truro’s picturesque Highland Light .

7.  Ogunquit, ME

Ogunquit, ME

Set on the breathtaking Maine coast, Ogunquit is a popular, classic beach town with a quiet ambiance, particularly in the cooler months when crowds disappear. But it’s also a historic arts community; the Ogunquit Museum of American Art was started in the 1950s by native artist Henry Strater, a student of Ogunquit’s Perkins Cove artists colony.

Wander the galleries around town, explore the Barn Gallery on Shore Road and get tickets to a show at the Ogunquit Playhouse —which boasts eight decades of professional theatre and summertime children’s productions—or another summer stock theater.

8.  Watch Hill, RI

A coastal village that’s part of the town of Westerly, Watch Hill has one of the best beaches on the East Coast, and celebrity glamour to spare. Get to town early and take a walk out on the Napatree Point Conservation Area , where  you’ll find the remains of Fort Mansfield and lots of beautiful birds like osprey and piping plovers.

After your nature walk, head into the charming town for a stroll and some shopping. The kids will love the vintage carousel, and be sure to have lunch at the Olympia Tea Room (supposedly Taylor Swift’s fave—you can take a peek at her house from afar, too, because it’s hard to miss). Finish the day with cocktails at the gorgeous Ocean House , where you can have a drink and a bite to eat.

9.  Concord, MA

Concord, MA

Stroll to the Old North Bridge and explore the Minute Man National Historical Park’s five-mile Battle Road Trail, dedicated to the Battle of Concord (April 19, 1775), where militia engaged with British troops and ignited the Revolutionary War. The 19th-century Transcendentalist movement and its influential authors and thinkers—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Bronson Alcott—were rooted in Concord, and the Concord Museum is a good place to connect the dots. Located just outside of Concord Center are Walden Pond , which honors Thoreau’s famed naturalist journal, and Orchard House , where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women 150 years ago.

Pick up a picnic lunch at The Concord Cheese Shop . The Saltbox Kitchen’s tasty dishes and small-batch brewery are both fueled by produce from its nearby Saltbox Farm. For dinner, Woods Hill Table  also sources from their own farm at Woods Hill in Bath, NH, and the sleek, seasonally-focused 80 Thoreau is worth the day trip alone.

10.  Providence, RI

Providence is a foodie’s dream. Why does this small capital city have so much kitchen talent? Nearby Johnson & Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts is a major factor. Hemenway’s downtown is the grand dame of area seafood restaurants;  Waterman Grille is a vibrant jewel on the East Side near Brown University; and Aleppo Sweets is a lauded Syrian bakery and cafe—just to name a few spots. Federal Hill, the city’s impressive Italian neighborhood, is also loaded with Italian eateries and shops. 

Waterplace Park is a lovely gathering spot, and it anchors the city’s annual WaterFire program, which runs from spring through late fall; braziers along the Providence River are lit at sunset and stoked with aromatic wood by black-clad figures on boats, while themed music plays.

Providence is home to the notable Trinity Repertory Company , and The Strand Ballroom & Theatre, one of the nation’s best rock venues. The Rhode Island School of Design’s museum includes one the country’s finest university art collections.

11.  Mystic, CT

Settled in 1654, Mystic was once a shipbuilding seaport village. Now, it's a quintessential New England town, packed with mom-and-pop shops and activities for the whole family to do. 

During warm weather, spend a few hours on the sea with a day sail or sunset cruise from Argia Mystic Cruises , or visit the famous Mystic Aquarium or the Mystic Seaport Museum .  

After working up an appetite, stroll through the village to see the famous weighted Bascule bridge . P ick up a sweet treat from award winning Sift Bake Shop  and  splurge on a Connecticut lobster roll at the The Shipwright's Daughter  or a hearty, grass-fed burger at the Engine Room .  And, if you must eat pizza in Mystic, head to Nana’s Bakery and Pizza for inventive takes on personal pies.

12.  Falmouth, MA

Falmouth is nestled on the southwestern part of Cape Cod, 20 miles south of the Sagamore Bridge. Lined with great beaches, cool boutiques and relaxing spots to eat and drink, it's also one of The Cape’s easiest towns to get to. Do breakfast or lunch like a local at The Pickle Jar Kitchen .

The Falmouth Museums on the Green brings 1700s Cape Cod to life; the Federalist home of Dr. Francis Wicks is wonderfully preserved and packed with original artifacts. The Shining Sea Bike Trail ,  which hugs the coast and brings you past lovely views of both the Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay, runs from Falmouth to Woods Hole. The trail’s name comes from “America the Beautiful,” the famous poem by Katherine Lee Bates, a Falmouth native. (Though once a railroad, the path follows ancient Wampanoag Indian trails.) One more highlight: the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Ocean Science Discovery Center .

13.  Lexington, MA

Lexington, MA

The best part of taking a day trip to Lexington? You can easily do it by bicycle by traveling down the Minuteman Bikeway , which begins in North Cambridge and runs right through the leafy suburb, some 15 miles northwest of Boston. This posh town is most famous for its historic Battle Green , where the bloody Battle of Lexington took place and patriotic Minute Men engaged the British Army on Lexington Common. Many of the original homes flanking the battleground are preserved, including one that serves as a visitor’s center.

Stroll Lexington Center’s mom-and-pop shops, enjoy homemade ice cream at Rancatore’s or dine at il Casale   from local chef Dante de Magistris, who draws from his family’s roots to make handmade pastas, delicious sfizis and classic dishes, all in a rustic-chic atmosphere. For an elegant Sunday brunch or dinner, The Inn at Hastings Park’s Town Meeting Bistro  is a modern pleasure involving sleek, seasonal dishes.

14.  Kittery, ME

Kittery, while most famous for its shopping, has so much more to offer. First stop: Bob’s Clam Hut , a 60-year-old roadside diner that serves incredible fried clams, sustainable local fish and amazing milkshakes. Next stop? Yes, shopping at the adjacent Kittery Premium Outlets , whose stores include everything from discounted Calvin Klein to Lindt chocolate.

Also known for the historic Portsmouth Naval Yard —which is in Kittery, not neighboring Portsmouth, NH—this sleepy town includes Tributary Brewing Company , which has a cool tasting room and live music on weekends.

The heart of Kittery Foreside, which is the downtown area, is Wallingford Square and it's dotted with all kinds of restaurants including the sleek bistro Anneke Jans  and casual asian eatery  Anju Noodle Bar . Or  stop by Lil’s Café , a quaint spot set in a former bank whose old walk-in safe is now its Vinyl Vault, a small alcove with used records for sale. Lil’s bakery downstairs turns out some of the best pastries in New England and excellent chai, too.

15.  Washington, CT

Washington, CT

For a small town in rural Connecticut, Washington has a big reputation for its arts and architecture. The Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens is set in a once-abandoned gas station and boasts lovely landscaping and revolving art exhibits.

Every July, the Litchfield Jazz Festival takes place at venues around town and world-renowned modern dance company Pilobolus holds its Five Senses Festival . In September, Gilmore Girls fans take over—the town inspired the beloved TV program’s fictional Stars Hollow. Surrounded by colonial architecture, you can shop at unique boutiques and treat yourself to dinner (and a room, for a real spurge) at the historic, luxurious Mayflower Inn .

16.  Stockbridge, MA

Just off I-90, Stockbridge is the gateway to the beautiful Berkshires, part of the Taconic Mountains. Main Street is home to the venerable Red Lion Inn , a one-time frontier town tavern that maintains a casual eatery called Widow Bingham’s Tavern, as well as a gorgeously original main dining room with traditional favorites and an award-winning wine list.

Nature and art dominate the area: Just off Park Street, behind Main Street, take the wooden footbridge and walk the Laurel Hill Association’s beautiful trails. Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum and see where the renowned illustrator and artist lived and worked. Nearby, visit Chesterwood , the home of the Lincoln Memorial sculptor Daniel Chester French, and Naumkeag , a Gilded Age architectural masterpiece. A few miles away in Lenox is the Tanglewood Music Center , the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home. Nearby, you can take a guided tour of Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount , and learn about the woman behind the building and the books.

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Adventures in New England

Adventures in New England

A local's guide to savoring the history, culture, food and nature of the Northeast USA

Cape Cod Canal trail

19 Fabulous Day Trips from Boston

boston massachusetts day trips

If you are planning a road trip from southern New England, Boston can be a perfect base as it is centrally located. You can get a hotel and then take many great day trips from Boston to experience the best that this area has to offer.

You will want to start by taking a few days to experience New England’s largest city’s feel. You can read my guide for One Day in Boston with Kids (still a good overview even for adults). Also, be sure to check out my list of hikes right around Boston .

Table of Contents

Short Day Trips from Boston

These day trips from Boston are around an hour’s drive from Boston.

Salem, Massachusetts

Witch City, USA, also has a fantastic art museum and Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables. Read on for how to spend a day in Salem. 

Fall River and New Bedford, Massachusetts

This center of fishing life in colonial New England is now predominately Portuguese. You can visit the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the church that was part of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick inspiration, and the Lizzie Bordon House.  Read more about the area in Haunted New England.

Rockport, Massachusetts

Spend a day exploring this picture-perfect fishing village on the coast north of Boston.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

There is a lot to explore on this peninsula south of Boston, but you can explore the upper Cape in one day from Boston. Most of my exploration of the Cape has been by bicycle.

Day trips from Boston

Portland, Maine

This foodie town also has lighthouses and parks to explore. Check out 47 Cool Things to Do in Portland, Maine.

Providence, Rhode Island

The capital of Rhode Island has canals to stroll along, great restaurants, and art museums. Read on for The Best Things to Do in Providence.

Newport, Rhode Island

This colonial town on Aquidneck Island has excellent beaches, hiking, dining, and a lot of history. Explore A Local’s Guide to Newport.

Masschusetts Day Trips

Sutton, Massachusetts

Hike this trail along the base of the 75-foot rock Purgatory Chasm and get ice cream at the farm next door. Read more about a day at Purgatory Chasm.

Concord, Massachusetts

Concord was not only an important location in the American Revolution but also in American Literature. Walden Pond sits in Concord, as well as Louisa May Walcott’s home. Read my itinerary for one day in Concord, Massachusetts.

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Visit the recreation of the Native American and pilgrim colony following the landing at Plymouth Rock.

New Bedford, Massachusetts

Explore the colonial whaling capital of the world, located on the southern coast of Massachusetts. This area also has a large Portuguese population, a fort, and was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Read about how to spend a day in New Bedford. 

Whole Day Trips from Boston

It will take about 2 hours to get to these full-day trips from Boston.

Day trips in MA

Martha’s Vineyard

Sand dunes, farms, Kennedy history, and gingerbread cottages, this island off the coast of Massachusetts will introduce you to the best New England has to offer. Read on for Things to Do in Martha’s Vineyard .

Woodstock, Vermont

Woodstock is sometimes known as the quintessential New England town. It is nestled in Vermont’s Green Mountains and alive with the state’s art culture. Plan your day with Things to Do in Woodstock, Vermont.

short trips from Boston

Northampton, Massachusetts

This arty town in northwest Massachusetts is the home of Smith College. Read on for how to spend a day in Northampton.

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

One of the most transcendent concerts you can experience will take place at Tanglewood in the rural mountains of western Massachusett. The Berkshires give ample opportunities for hiking, leaf-peeping, and exploring small New England towns.

New Hampshire’s White Mountains

Take a foliage drive or go waterfall hunting through the White Mountains.

Mystic, Connecticut

Explore the seaport at this colonial town on the Mystic River. Investigate more things to do in Mystic.

hike day trips from Boston

Mount Major, New Hampshire

The views from the peak of this half-day hike are incredible. You will see New Hampshire’s lakes and highest peak, Mount Washington, in the distance. Learn more about climbing Mount Major.

Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts

This village nestled in the Berkshire Mountains has the Bridge of Flowers, a waterfall, glacial potholes and an art-filled downtown. Read about how to spend a full day in Shelburne Falls.

Which day trips around Boston have you taken? Which are the highest on your list? Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Use Boston as a home base to take day trips around New England. Drive to New Hampshire, around Masschusetts, to Connecticut and Rhode Island with these day trips from Boston. #daytripsfromBoston #onedayinNewEngland #USA

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12 thoughts on “19 Fabulous Day Trips from Boston”

I love this list! Boston is such a cool city and I love the idea of spending more time there and venturing out so this list is so helpful!

So many great day trip options from this city! Nice when there is that option, for travellers, it means you can extend your holiday. Make Boston your home base and see some of those smaller towns you have listed. I would love to see more of the nature, in New Hampshire, like Mount Major or Massachusetts with Martha’s Vineyard.

Such great day trip plans even a month of stay there will not suffice to experience it all! The short day trips really sound good and doable. I have not been to Boston yet, but hopefully I will some day with this helpful post! Great pic to go with the post.

Wow! So many things to do. It would really be worthwhile to make Boston a base for a week and do these trips to immerse yourself in the region.

Visiting the east coast has always been something i’ve wanted to do. I’ve seen Boston & DC but that’s about it! Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Main, I want to see them all!

Funny enough I’ve heard most of these day trips destinations from Boston although I don’t know their locations to Boston. I would like to visit most of them, but I think Fall be the best time?

Some of the locations are close enough for a day trip but would plan an early start in the day because even though they are close enough for a day trip, traffic can play a big factor especially during rush hours… planning a trip to the South Shore or Cape Cod offers only 2 travel lanes for most of the trip once you are on Route 3 which starts in Braintree which is about 9 miles south of Boston and the from Braintree to the beginning of the cape it’s about 45 miles or so… I mention this trip because I am very familiar with this section of MA and I live in Plymouth which is about 10 miles from Cape Cod… The Fall or Spring would be best as far as traffic to the cape but many places close down from Oct to Apr because many businesses depend on tourists during the Summer.

You are right about Boston traffic being a bugger. It is always best to consult Google traffic before leaving, start early or consider public transport. I love travelling in shoulder season.

While there’s still so much to see and do on my actual Boston list, I *did* take a day trip from Boston during one of my visits. We followed your recommendation to visit Providence, RI, and had a lovely day!

I just love the northeast and you’ve given me even more places to explore up there! Perfect fall long weekends!!!

Cape Cod, Massachusetts would be my #1 choice. Haven’t been since I was little and have such fond memories!

I have been to Boston several times now and even took a trip up to Maine & Connecticut once but I have been quite lax on visiting the other areas. For me, I really want to see more of the New England Coastal areas like Providence and I know Darcee would love to see Martha’s Vineyard!

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The Geographical Cure

35+ Amazing Day Trips From Boston Massachusetts

Wondering where to go on a day trip from Boston? Boston has always been my most frequent city of travel. I’ve lived there too. Based on my own experience exploring the region, here’s my list of 35 great day trips from Boston.

lighthouse in Portland Maine

Boston is perfectly situated in the northeastern region of the United States . This area of New England boasts gorgeous beaches, charming Colonial towns, seaside ports, and destinations steeped in history.

These destinations are all less than 2 hours away from Boston. Any more than 2 hours is just too far afield for a proper day trip.

Because of its central location, Boston makes a great launchpad for day tripping in New England. Boston is well-connected to other towns and cities. Boston’s main arteries (I-90, I-93 and I-95) give you easy access to Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Western Massachusetts, and even Vermont.

Boston’s main arteries (I-90, I-93 and I-95) give you easy access to Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Western Massachusetts, and even Vermont.

Pinterest pin for best day trips from Boston

On a day trip from Boston, you can escape the city’s adoring (and sometimes maddeningly intense) crowds.

Best Day Trips From Boston

Here are my picks for the best day trips from Boston. I’ve given you a whopping 36 options, along with expected drive times. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order for ease of reference.

The options for Boston day trips are endless and incredibly varied. There’s something of interest for everyone, from culture vultures to history buffs to nature lovers.

You can pick what suits you most, whether you want to relax on the beach or explore a cozy New England town.

If pressed to choose, I’d have to say my top three picks for Boston day trips are Portland Maine (cool foodie city), Stockbridge Massachusetts (quintessential New England town), and Portsmouth New Hampshire (adorable arty village).

Bristol Ferry Lighthouse

1. Bristol Rhode Island (1:10 Drive)

Bristol is a beautiful New England town that’s full of history and charm. With a red-white-and-blue painted stripe down Hope Street, it exudes Americana. 

Bristol has everything you need for a relaxing break from Boston — fine dining, bike trails, art galleries, and ocean views. A highlight of Bristol is its well preserved historic architecture. In Bristol, you’ll find Colonial, Federal, and Gilded Age buildings. 

Linden Place Museum features a stunning spiral staircase and movie memorabilia. Blithewold Mansion has immaculately curated gardens, hosts concerts in the summer, and offers dramatic harbor views.

If you like to hike or bike, the East Bay Bike Path will suit. It’s a 14.5 mile paved path connecting Providence and Bristol, which gives you panoramic views of Narragansett Bay.

Harvard University on the Charles River

2. Cambridge Massachusetts (5 minute drive)

The easiest day trip from Boston is to its next door neighbor, Cambridge. Historic Cambridge is a lively university enclave, with the Charles River as its playground and backyard.

Cambridge is home to the renowned Harvard University (where you’ll be wrapped in red brick) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where you can admire eclectic modern architecture). You can book a walking tour of Harvard here and a tour of MIT here .

And it’s not just the universities that dazzle. In Cambridge, visitors can enjoy outstanding museums, a vibrant performing arts scene, and delicious haute cuisine restaurants.

The  Harvard Art Museums  are the best art spot, with a range of works from antiquity to present, including a prized Van Gogh .

Harvard Yard

Be sure to hang out in Harvard Square, the iconic center of Cambridge. It’s a triangular plaza located at the intersection of Battle Street, John F. Kennedy Street, and Massachusetts Avenue.

You’ll find all manner of humanity — students, tourists, political activists, buskers, chess players, and other street creatures.

You can also visit  Longfellow House . It’s located on Brattle Street, the historic road connecting old Cambridge and Watertown.

The house museum is famous as the one time home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was a novelist and poet who wrote stirring tales that thrilled 19th century America, including the  Midnight Ride of Paul Revere .

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse

3. Cape Elizabeth Maine (2 Hour Drive)

Cape Elizabeth is gorgeous little town just south of the city of Portland. The town faces out into Casco Bay.

People have lived in Cape Elizabeth for thousands of years. In 1765, Cape Elizabeth officially became a town. For a glimpse of those early days, stop by the  Spurwink Meeting House . The austere white clapboard church was built in 1802.

The town’s stretch of coastline is stunning, dotted with lighthouses. The cliff walk is a lovely must do experience in Maine.

The 19th century Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth guards the entrance to Portland. It’s home to the Portland Head Light. You can walk the park’s Arboretum trails, enjoy a picnic, or explore the fort’s old batteries.

historic pastel tow houses in Charlestown

3. Charlestown Massachusetts (5 minute drive)

Charlestown is Boston’s oldest neighborhood. It’s just across the river from the North End.

If you’ve walked the Freedom Trail in Boston, you’ve already been to Charlestown. The town is home to the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution, which are must visit landmarks in Boston .

In 1775, Charlestown was the site of one of the most important battles of the Revolutionary War. American patriots defeated the British in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Nearly the entire town was destroyed during the battle and it wasn’t rebuilt until after the war ended.

Nowadays, Charlestown is a pretty place that’s well worth a stroll. A sense of Colonial charm permeates the streets and parks of Charlestown. The town has a classic main street, town square, and pretty clapboard homes.

Chatham Lighthouse

4. Chatham Massachusetts

A visit to Cape Cod is a no-brainer day trip from Boston. But where to stake your claim?

Try the inimitable charms of Chatham, a tony New England town. In Chatham, the homes induce jaw drops, the historic center is walkable, and the seafood is hauled in just offshore.

Chatham’s curving Main Street conjures up low key elegance and old world charm. Chatham is the only Cape Code town bounded on three sides by water. It’s consistently ranked as one of the US’ best beach towns.

charming shops along Main Street

Chatham Lighthouse Beach is considered the most scenic public beach. It’s set beneath Chatham’s iconic lighthouse. This wild stretch of the Atlantic is the place for long walks and sunbathing (the surf is rough).

If you need a dose of culture with your beach retreat, head to the Orpheum. It’s a restored vintage theater showing first run movies and classics.

Or, take in a play or musical at the Monomoy Theater, after browsing the casual to high end shops.

Old North Bridge from the Battle of Lexington and Concord

5. Concord Massachusetts (35 Minute Drive)

Just 15 miles north of Boston is the small town of Concord. It’s the perfect Boston day trip for literary buffs. Concord is a steeple-studded town home to pretty  Walden Pond . Walden Pond is a nature preserve that’s home to countless local flora and fauna.

Walden Pond is forever linked to novelist Henry David Thoreau. From 1845 to 1847, he lived in a one room cabin , the property of his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. A replica of the original cabin is about half a mile from Concord.

There, he wrote one of America’s most famous novels,  Walden  or  Life in the Woods.   Walden  explored simplistic living, solitude, and harmony with nature.

In Concord, you can also visit Emerson’s House and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House . The novelist based  Little Women  on her experiences growing up in this house with her sisters.

boston massachusetts day trips

Today, the historic home is a museum. It has 80% of its original period furniture.

You can tour the kitchen, dining room, parlor, art studio, and the bedrooms. Louisa’s bedroom has the small white desk where she penned  Little Women  and other books.

If you want to learn about Concord’s Revolutionary War and literary legacy, visit the Concord Museum . On display, you’ll find Native American artifacts, Thoreau’s snowshoes and furniture, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s study, Paul Revere’s original signaling lantern, and period collections of decorative arts and furniture.

If you want to pay homage to Concord’s famous authors, visit Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. You’ll find the final resting places of Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott, and William Ellery Channing.

the gold domed State House in Concord New Hampshire with a statue of Daniel Webster

6. Concord New Hampshire (1:10 Drive)

Concord is the capital of New Hampshire. It’s a sleepy New England town that I used to spend parts of the summer in. Founded in 1734, Concord embodies the American spirit. There are a fair number of things to do in Concord.

You can visit the New Hampshire State House, built in 1819. It sports a gleaming eagle topped gold dome, reminiscent of Boston’s own state house. The New Hampshire legislature still uses the original chambers.

Just steps from the capitol is the New Hampshire Historical Society. It boasts a sculpture by the famous Daniel Chester French.

You can also visit Pierce Manse, the former home of President Franklin Pierce. Via a guided tour, you can see period artifacts. Franklin’s grave is also in town.

houses in Essex along the Connecticut River

7. Essex Connecticut (2 Hour Drive)

Essex just exudes small town charm. It has a bucolic setting on the banks of the Connecticut River. The town is consistently rated as one of America’s best small towns.

Essex seems halted in time, looking much as it did during the height of its ship building prosperity. Essex has a picture perfect harbor. It’s scattered with charming inns and historic architecture.

On Main Street, whitewashed houses jostle side by side, in early Colonial and Federal styles. Pop into the Griswold Inn, especially for its vaunted Sunday breakfast. The cute shop Good and Curiosities sells gifts with a historical theme.

Essex is famed for its riverboat tour, the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat. On a 2.5 hour tour, you can travel by train and boat through the countryside. By boat, you’ll glide by farms, inlets, coves.

the riverfront buildings of Exeter New Hampshire

8. Exeter New Hampshire (1 Hour Drive)

Exeter was founded in 1638 by Reverend John Wheelwright. This pretty new England town brims with charm at every turn. The beauty of Exeter will appeal to everyone from art lovers to history buffs to recreational seekers.

You can take a leisurely stroll in the quaint and historic downtown. You’ll find elegant buildings with shops, restaurants, art galleries, and more.

Or, walk down tree-lined streets to discover historic homes, including the Ladd-Gilman House that’s now the  American Independence Museum .

If you want to experience the great outdoors, Essex has hiking, biking, and water sports. During New England’s fall foliage season , the colors are truly breathtaking.

Baker Library at Darmouth College in Hanover

9. Hanover New Hampshire (2 Hour Drive)

As a graduate of Dartmouth College, Hanover is a sentimental favorite of mine. And it clocks in at 2 hours, my limit for day trips from Boston.

Forbes named Hanover one of America’s Prettiest Towns. For a remote rural town, Hanover packs a surprising cultural punch.

The best place to get your art fix is the wonderful Hood Museum of Art . It’s one of the oldest teaching museums in the country. It has a large collection of artifacts and art dating back to Assyrian culture in 900 BC.

Rollins Chapel in Hanover NH

But it’s not all ancient. The museum has a surprisingly good collection of contemporary art, with works by Rothko and Ed Ruscha. It also showcases contemporary African and Native American art.

You should also pop into Baker Library. You’ll find eye catching murals by Jose Clemente Orozco in the reading room.

Hanover is also home to the Hopkins Center for Performing Arts (the “HOP”). There, you’ll find a wide variety of performing arts — plays, shows, concerts, special events, movies, etc.

Here’s my itinerary for spending  one day in Hanover . In addition to just driving to Hanover, you can take the Dartmouth Coach from Logan Airport.

he Mark Twain House and Museum

10. Hartford Connecticut (1:35 Drive)

Hartford is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It makes a great day trip from Boston if you want to visit another city. The capital of Connecticut is home to historic sites, art museums, and beautiful parks.

It’s also the birthplace of Mark Twain, a culinary powerhouse, and home to one of the best “little downtowns” in New England.

The Mark Twain House & Museum is a national historic landmark. The museum has it all: inspiring architecture, gorgeous interior design, lovely grounds, and fascinating stories about its owners. It offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the novelist Mark Twain, his family, and his legacy.

Wadsworth Museum Hartford

Another good reason to visit Hartford on a day trip from Boston is to visit the magnificent Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art . The castle-like museum is one of the best museums in New England .

The Wadsworth first opened its doors in 1844. It’s since grown to a collection of over 50,000 works of art from over 5,000 years. There are significant works of modern and contemporary art.

You’ll find works by Frans Hals,  Caravaggio , Orazio Gentileschi, and Bernardo Strozzi. There’s a beautiful painting by pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt called  The Lady of Shallot . There’s also an American art collection, with works by John Singleton Copley and Charles Wilson Peal.

main building of Stonewall Farm in Keene NH

11. Keene New Hampshire

Keene is a beautiful hidden gem in New England’s Monadnock Region. A lively college town, Keene combines culture and the great outdoors.

Keene offers stunning brick streets, charming maple farms, and quaint specialty shops. Keene even has a white clapboard church with a soaring steeple, the United Church of Christ.

Keene is also home to one of the loveliest and widest main streets in New Hampshire. The historic downtown area is centered on Central Square. It’s an eclectic mix of old time shops, bookstores, and funky craft stores.

Keene is also home to covered bridges and museums. The Horatio Colony House and Nature Preserve is housed in a 1806 Federal style building. The museum houses historical artifacts for the history buff. The nature preserve offers miles of hiking trails for the nature lover.

wooden houses in Kennebunkport Maine, a great day trip from Boston

12. Kennebunkport Maine (1.5 Hour Drive)

Kennebunkport is a classic beauty, one of the most beautiful towns in New England . It’s effectively the Hamptons of the Pine Tree State, known for its dramatic mansions. To see them, take a drive between Kennebunkport and its sister town Kennebunk.

Kennebunkport has a lively downtown, the epicenter of which is called Dock Square. It’s chock full of restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries.

There are plenty of patio cafes for people watching perches. The Clam Shack serves up fried claims and lobster rolls.

lobster shack in Kennebunkport

For a walking tour of Kennebunkport’s historic buildings, start at the Brick Store Museum on Main Street. Head south and you’ll see several extraordinary structures from the 18th and 19th centuries, including Lexington Elms, Horace Porter House, and Benjamin Brown House.

Summer Street is also an architectural showcase, with an array of Federal and Colonial buildings. To get the complete scoop, you can take a guided 90 minute tour of Kennebunkport’s National Historic District. Buy tickets at the Brick Store Museum.

If you want to hit the beach, try Gooch’s Beach along the Victorian-lined Beach Avenue. Or drive 10 minutes north to the beautiful 3 mile long Goose Rocks Beach.

If you’d like to take a day tour from Boston, this excellent tour combines history and lobster. If you’d just like a guided walking tour once you’ve arrived in Kennebunkport, click here for a 2 hour historic tour.

the Marina in Kittery Maine

13. Kittery Maine (1 Hour Drive)

The small town of Kittery is just a short drive from Boston. It’s located on the border between Maine and New Hampshire and is linked by bridges across the Piscataqua River.

Kittery was once known for its shipbuilding. Nowadays, people day trip to Kittery from Boston mostly for its shopping. Kittery has both outlet malls and boutique craft shops. You’ll find stores like Crate and Barrel, Le Creuset, Lululemon, Under Armour, and Nike.

If the weather is warm, head to the beach for a swim. Seapoint Beach is a picturesque shoreline perfect for a dip or a stroll.

You can also visit Fort McClary State Park . It’s a unique historic site that was formerly a defensive military fortification. It has stood for over 275 years protecting the mouth of the Piscataqua River at the entrance to Kittery.

The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in Lenox

14. Lenox Massachusetts (2 Hour Drive)

Lenox is the perfect day trip from Boston for art lovers. It’s a pretty town of art galleries and upscale boutiques housed in historic buildings.

You’ll find iconic properties like Blantyre, Wheatleigh, Canyon Ranch, and The Mount. At one point, there were so many lavish summer homes that Lenox was known as “the inland Newport.”

In 1902, Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Literature, built  The Mount . It was a stately country retreat for the literary lioness and her then-husband. The Mount was modeled after European mansions, but lacked without their ostentatious excesses.

The Mount is home to a summer lecture series, weekly bird walks, concerts, theater performances, and outdoor sculpture exhibits. Edith Wharton’s library has been returned to the house, with 22 first editions of her work.

Lenox is also home to  Tanglewood , the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Tanglewood is a must do for music lovers. You can hear symphony orchestras, solo performances, and world class musicians.

Minuteman Statue & Battle Green in Lexington, a great day trip from Boston for history lovers

15. Lexington (30 Minute Drive)

If you’re a student of U.S. History, Lexington should ring a bell. In 1775, the American Revolutionary War started in Lexington and nearby Concord. Lexungtin is the best day trip from Boston to immerse yourself in Revolutionary war history.

Lexington has more than 10 historic battle sites, cemeteries, and memorials that you can tour. You can see the site of the first battle of the Revolutionary War.

A renowned statue by sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson marks  Battle Green , where the Colonial Minutemen clashed with British troops. In Minuteman National Historical Park, you can see a multimedia exhibit on the Road to Revolution .

While waiting for the British, the Minutemen and their commander, Captain Parker, gathered in the  Buckman Tavern . The interior is preserved exactly as it appeared in the 18th century, complete with the original seven foot wide open fireplace. The old front door still contains British musket-ball holes.

Wrap up your tour of Lexington by seeing the Lexington Depot historic train.

Madison cityscape from Olin city park across the Monona lake

16. Madison Connecticut (2 Hour Drive)

Madison is a shoreline town only East Coasters know about. This beautiful New England day trip from Boston proves the adage that good things come in small packages.

With a population of only 18,000+ residents, Madison delivers a major dose of quintessential New England charm. During his time at Yale, Bill Clinton was so taken with Madison that he mentioned it in his memoir,  My Life , calling it “especially old and beautiful.”

One of the main draws of Madison is Hammonasset Beach State Park . There you’ll find two miles of beaches, wetlands, woodlands, and a nice boardwalk.

The town itself is charming and pedestrianized, full of shops and cafes. A popular haunt is RJ Julis Booksellers, one of the nation’s finest independent shops for book nerds looking for the perfect read.

Madison is also a culture-filled hamlet. A fun outdoor activity is walking the Sculpture Mile . Created by the Hollycroft Foundation, it offers a unique museum-like exhibition that features art work by some of the nation’s most significant sculptors.

skyline of Manchester NH on the Merrimack River

17. Manchester New Hampshire (1 Hour Drive)

You might think New Hampshire is all mountains and lakes. But it also boasts a rich cultural history. In particular, Manchester has some fine art offerings that merit a day trip from Boston.

Manchester is home to the state’s only fine art college, the New Hampshire Institute of Art. It also has an internationally acclaimed museum, the  Currier Museum   of Art .

The museum’s permanent collection includes works by Picasso, Monet, Rothko, Wyeth, and O’Keefe. It hosts touring exhibitions. The museum also manages Zimmerman House, designed by architected  Frank Lloyd Wright . It’s the only Wright house open to the public in New England.

Manchester also has a premiere contemporary arts gallery, the Gallery of the New Hampshire Art Institute. It’s multi-functional, serving as an art center, lecture hall, and performance theater. On display you’ll find a diverse mix of traditional and modern art forms, from photography to installation art.

pretty street in Mystic Connecticut

18. Mystic Connecticut (2 Hour Drive)

Mystic is calm and exquisite, a charming waterfront town set on the shores of the Mystic River. It’s quaint downtown is filled with boutiques, galleries, and eateries.

On Main Street, you’ll find Mystic Pizza , made famous by a kitschy 1980s movie. Mystic’s main landmark is Bascule Bridge, the most photographed bridge in Connecticut and a perfect spot for river views.

Mystic Seaport is Connecticut’s #1 attraction, an example of “living history.” It covers 19 acres along the Mystic River.

There are indoor and outdoor exhibits, including four vessels that are National Historic Landmarks. You can climb aboard or peruse the recreated village.

historic center of Newburyport in Massachusetts

19. Newburyport Massachusetts (1 Hour Drive)

First settled in 1635, Newburyport is an immaculate seaside town. It has a classic New England feel — with red brick streets, lobster shacks, and cobbled lanes. Plus, “the Port” is only 35 miles from Boston, making it the perfect day trip or weekend getaway.

State Street is the heart of Newburyport. You’ll find an eclectic treasure trove of shops — clothing boutiques, bookstores, cafes, and vintage shops. The Firehouse Center for the Arts is Newburyport’s cultural hotspot, offering concerts, musicals, and plays.

When you tire of shopping, surf and sand lovers can hit the beach. Plum Island is only a 20 minute drive from Newburyport.

Plum Island has beautiful and beloved sandy beaches and dunes. And it’s home to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, a hidden gem sanctuary with prime bird watching opportunities.

boston massachusetts day trips

20. Newport Rhode Island (1.5 Hour Drive)

Just two hours south of Boston lies the tony coastal town of Newport. Founded in 1639, Newport is a treasure trove of historic European-style mansions set against ocean views.

Think the Gilded Age’s Astors, Vanderbilts, and Kennedys — families who built the first palatial mansions in the US. Newport is a fancy place.

Most of the mansions are on Bellevue Avenue and a few are on the waterfront. Built by Cornelius Vanderbilt, Breakers Mansion is Rhode Island’s #1 attraction. It’s located on the scenic 3.5 mile Newport Cliff Walk .

If you’d like to tour the magnificent mansions of Newport, this is an excellent day tour from Boston .

Castle Hill Lighthouse

The Newport Art Museum is the core of the creative community. The Artists’ Open Space serves up local and regional shows year round.

There’s a dozen commercial galleries in town as well. Island Art is the best, noted for its contemporary pieces.

On the performance arts side, Newport really excels. It offers up everything from Shakespeare plays in Queen Ann Square to musical festivals dedicated to jazz, classical, and folk music in July and August. There’s also the Newport Fine Arts Festival in September.

Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge Massachusetts

21. Old Sturbridge Village Massachusetts (1 Hour Drive)

Old Sturbridge Village is a living history museum located in Sturbridge Massachusetts. The museum recreates life in rural New England as it was during the 1790s through 1830s. 

There’s a working farm with heritage breed animals, historic buildings, and horse drawn sleighs. Costumed historians are very engaging and will regale you with historic tales.

You can walk the village and meet the skilled craftsmen who still practice their trade. You can also take a wagon ride. The Village offers several events throughout the year — Winter Photo Walk, Sunday Brunch, and Dinner in a Country Village.

sunset in Ogunquit Maine

22. Ogunquit Maine (1:30 Hour Drive)

Feeling like a beach day? Nestled along the coast, tiny Ogunquit has been a resort village since the 19th century.

The word Ogunquit translates to “beautiful place by the sea.” You can see why immediately. Ogunquit is like a mini Provincetown. 

The town is a popular summer beach destination in New England, and I came here often as a child. Ogunquit has two beautiful long beaches, Ogunquit Beach and Footbridge Beach. Footbridge is the quieter of the two beaches.

Ogunquit is most renowned for its coastal path, the Marginal Way . It’s a paved 3 mile seaside stroll, starting at Ogunquit Beach and meandering to Perkins Cove.

Perkins Cove is a tiny artisans village, filled with sea-weathered buildings, where you’ll find some art galleries and seafood eateries.

Smith College in Northampton

23. Northampton (2 Hour Drive)

Just under 2 hours from Boston, the rural town of Northampton is a cultural nerve center in New England. It’s a pretty town, ringed by 5 colleges and college museums.

Grand mansions line tree-shaded streets. The beautiful Main Street is filled with with shops, art galleries, bookshops, etc.

In downtown Northampton, there are more than a dozen visual arts venues. The Northampton Center for the Arts offers poetry readings, film screenings, and concerts. The Calvin Theater is the premiere concert venue, hosing major touring music and comedy acts.

Mount Holyoke College

Four of the five colleges near Northampton offer theater and visual arts. Smack in the middle of Northampton is Smith College. Its beautiful  Smith College Museum of Art  just received a $35 million makeover. The museum offers a year round series of art lectures, contemporary art exhibitions, and films.

Just down the road is  Mount Holyoke College Art Museum . It offers contemporary and traditional exhibitions year round.

You can also admire contemporary work at Amherst’s Mead Art Museum or check out national and international exhibits at Amherst’s University Gallery.

Northampton has a good foodie scene too, with both great pizzerias and haute cuisine. There are two dairies nearby, so the town’s cheese and ice cream options are among the best in New England.

the pretty town of Peterborough

24. Peterborough New Hampshire (1:30 Hour Drive)

Peterborough is a charming New Hampshire hamlet set along the Contoocook River. Peterborough is rich in art and culture, with a charming downtown centered on Depot Square. Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning play,  Our Town , was based on Peterborough.

Peterborough has two theater groups and a renowned artist colony, The MacDowell Colony. The colony is the oldest artist’s retreat in the US, hosting many exhibitions. 

In 1997, it was awarded the National Medal of Arts. Peterborough is also known for its antique shops and galleries.

Nature lovers can head to Miller State Park , which has several trails (and a road) leading to the summit of Mount Monadnock. Edward MacDowell Lake has trails as well, in addition to a beach and boat ramp.

Plimoth Plantation

25. Plymouth (45 minutes)

Situated at the mouth of Cape Cod Bay, Plymouth is a historical haven for Boston day trippers. The town was the very first permanent settlement by Europeans north of Virginia. Today, it’s a thriving small town with a lovely historic district, perfect for history buffs.

After parking, first head to the  Mayflower II . It’s is a full scale replica of the original 17th century Mayflower.

The Mayflower is famous as the ship that brought pilgrims to the US in 1620. You can even take a tour of the ship itself, which is docked in Plymouth Harbor

Gurnet Lighthouse

Also, to learn the pilgrims’ tale, stop in the state’s oldest museum,  Pilgrim Hall . There, you’ll find an unmatched collection of ancient artifacts and possessions of the pilgrims. Afterwards, you’ll get to wander around historic  Howland House  and visit the 18th century Court House.

If you want to really step back in time, head to  Plimoth Plantation . It’s a living museum that aims to explore the daily lives of the Colonial Americans. The village has been carefully recreated, with thatched roofs and giant open fireplaces.

The actors in the museum are in period costume and never step out of character. You can watch them performing 17th century tasks including building, gardening, and military exercises.

cityscape of Portland

26. Portland Maine (1:45 Hour Drive)

 Located on a peninsula jutting into Casco Bay, Portland is a rare metropolis in a state filled with small hamlets. It’s a hip and laid back place that almost seems too cool for one of  New England’s most beautiful towns . Portland is a great day trip from Boston for foodies.

Portland has myriad cultural offerings and is a bastion of historical preservation. The restored Old Port is a warren of cobbled streets with a movie set feel. This area is filled with vibrant Victorian buildings and buzzing farm to table eateries.

Start on Commericial Street, the main drag, and work your way inward. The Old Port is known for its cobblestone streets, 19th century brick buildings, and fishing piers. It’s also a hive of activity.

street in the Old Port

In downtown Portland, there’s a thriving art school, infusing the city streets with creative types. And there are 24 commercial art galleries.

Opened in 1983, Portland’s crown jewel and premiere art destination is the  Portland Museum of Art , an architectural masterpiece designed by I.M. Pei of  Louvre  fame. Its innovative architecture allowed curators to redefine the art viewing experience.

Restaurants and coffee bars are filled with visual art. In June, the revived downtown hosts the Old Port Festival, described as “part freak show, part art festival, part fashion parade.”

Commerical Street in the Old Port

Portland is also a hot spot for restaurants, coffee shops, and entertainment. Did I mention breweries? Beer lovers will be happy to know that Portland has 18 breweries all its own. It’s the Craft Bew Capital of America.

If you want to delve more deeply into Portland’s foodie culture, there are some awesome tours.

This tour takes you on a culinary walking tour of the Old Port and this tour lets you feast on seafood in the Old Port. If you’re a fan of craft beer, this tour gives you a taste of Portland’s amazing brew pubs.

beautiful Portsmouth NH

27. Portsmouth New Hampshire (1 Hour + Drive)

The New Hampshire town of Portsmouth has also made an appearance on Forbe’s list of America’s Prettiest Towns. Portsmouth is a small town in southern New Hampshire along the Piscataqua River. 

Portsmouth is a great Boston day trip destination for art lovers and foodies. It’s known for its upscale farm to table eateries and art galleries.

Portsmouth’s funky downtown is adorable, with activity centered on Market Square. You’ll find classic white steepled churches, rustic brick shops, and sidewalk cafes. Portsmouth Book & Bar combines books, coffee, and live events.

gardens in Prescott Park

History lovers should check out the Strawbery Banke Museum . It’s a 10 acre outdoor museum featuring period gardens, preserved historic buildings and detailing the story of how the Portsmouth settlement was founded. 

There are 39 historic buildings dating from 1695 to 1820. The Goodwin Mansion is the most impressive.

Prescott Park is a waterfront park near Strawberry Banke, which is great place to picnic. Enjoy the gardens and the Prescott Park Arts Festival, featuring concerts and foodie events.

in 2017, Travel & Leisure called Portsmouth the “Christmas Capital of North America.” It’s a wonderful New England Christmas destination. “Vintage Christmas” is a month long celebration kicking off December 1. A trolley does a loop of the downtown and a candlelight stroll is held on weekends.

Here’s my guide to the best things to do in Portsmouth in one day .

cityscape of Providence

28. Providence Rhode Island (1 Hour Drive)

Nicknamed the “cooler city” by GQ, Providence is one of the  best towns on the East Coast . Providence is home to an Ivy League college, design schools, and a culinary institute. 

The city is a hodgepodge. It combines big city sophistication with small town charm. It has a vibrant local culture, celebrated restaurants, and sparkling waterfront parks. Providence is full of historic Yankee monuments, but also has a young and funky vibe.

Providence is an easy day trip from  Boston , less than an hour away. But this little jewel box of a city is often overlooked by travelers and definitely underrated. So much the better for its admiring visitors.

aerial view of College Hill and Brown University

Be sure to explore Providence’s Little Italy on Federal Hill. Then, head to the East Side to encounter Providence’s Colonial past. Benefit Street is a bucolic 1.2 mile walk that’s an architectural showcase.

You’ll see some of the most beautiful Federal era architecture in the United States. You’ll also find the lovely campus of Brown University.

And you can’t leave Providence without visiting the fabulous  Rhode Island School of Design Museum . A major cultural institution in the United States, RISD houses over 100,000 works. It’s one of the best small museums in the world .

READ: 1 Day Itinerary For Providence

Provincetown Beach in Cape Cod

29. Provincetown Massachusetts (2 Hour Drive Or Ferry)

Do you want to combine a day at the beach with great art? head to Provincetown. The pretty town is tucked away on the far end of Cape Cod.

It’s been attracting artists and creative types for more than a century. Eugene O’Neill wrote his first play here. Modern art luminaries like Helen Frankenthaler, Marsden Hartley, and Hans Hofmann had studios here.

Nowadays, there are 60 art galleries scattered down Provincetown’s picturesque streets. It’s the perfect place for art lovers on the East Coast.

The town’s premiere art venue is the Provincetown Art Association and Museum on Commercial Street. The museum highlights local and New England artists with single artist and themed shows.

entry to the Macmillan Wharf in Provincetown.

The Schoolhouse Center for Art & Design is home to several galleries as well. The Silas-Kenyon Gallery focuses on contemporary art. If you like vintage photography, head to the Driskel Gallery.

The big ticket art festivals you should have on your radar are the Spring Arts Showcase Weekend in May and the Fall Arts Festival in September and October. There’s also an International Film Festival in June.

Don’t forget to eat some lobster, preferably at the Lobster Pot . You can go wine tasting at  Truro Vineyards  or sip craft beers at the  Provincetown Brewing Company .

If you visit Provincetown in the summer, you could spend hours in traffic at the Sagamore Bridge if you drive. But you can also take the Providence Ferry . The fast ferry runs direct from Boston to Provincetown from mid-May through mid-October. It’s only 95 minutes each way.

Rockport Massachusetts, a beautiful seaside town that's a great day trip from Boston

30. Rockport Massachusetts (55 Minute Drive)

I f a stunning seaside town is on your Boston day trip agenda, head to Rockport. This little town is on Cape Ann, the “other” cape in northeast Massachusetts. There’s a reason why North Shore residents treasure Rockport as a lovely weekend getaway.

There are plenty of things to do in Rockport. Stroll around and admire all the fishing boats and painted cottages. Check out the shops and art galleries on Bearskin Neck, a cute area perched on the edge of town.

Sample some fudge at Rockport Fudgery , eat lobster rolls, relax on the beaches, or take a walk along the rocky coastline at  Halibut Point State Park . You can even go on a  Cape Ann whale watch .

Concord Point in Rye

31. Rye New Hampshire (1:10 Hour Drive)

Another good beach option is Rye. The picturesque town of Rye is home to the best beach on the 18 mile long New Hampshire shoreline.

First settled in 1623 on Odiorne Point, Rye is the birthplace of New Hampshire. Rye is largely undeveloped because it’s subject to strict zoning laws.

Rye is a serene contrast to the more frenzied Hampton Beach down the road. In Rye, the tide is small and rolling. It’s a perfect place for a beginner surfer.

You can also take a scenic drive down Route 1A past Millionaire’s Row and ogle at Rye’s breathing early 20th century mansions.

historic center of Salem

32. Salem Massachusetts (45 Minute Drive)

Even if you haven’t traveled in Massachusetts , you’ve probably heard of Salem. Known as the “Witch City,” Salem is a beautiful seaside town and an easy day trip from Boston.

In Salem, you can learn about Salem’s creepy past as the “witch capital” of the United States. Salem embraces its notorious past, when the infamous 17th century Witch Trials defined the town.

Salem is replete with whimsical magic shops, all things haunted horror, and ghostly tour options. Many of Salem’s top attractions are devoted to its witchy history. This means that the best time to visit Salem in during Halloween.

Salem is also famous for its beautiful 17th century Colonial and Georgian architecture and delicious seafood. Essex Street is the historic cobblestoned district, with the original brick  Old Town Hall .

boston massachusetts day trips

Old Town Hall dates from 1816. The second floor still stands as a public hall and the first floor is used as a public art space.

If you’re a literary fan, you should visit the  House of the Seven Gables . Built in 1668, it’s one of the oldest Colonial mansions still standing in the United States. Nathaniel Hawthorne immortalized the house in his 1851 novel of the same name.

Inside, you’ll find a recreation of the secret staircase from the novel. The house where Nathaniel Hawthorne was born is also on the property.

Click here to buy ferry tickets to Salem.

There are some excellent guided tours in Salem. If you’re a history buff and want to take a witchcraft trials walking tour, this is an excellent guide . If you’re staying overnight in Salem, you can also take this haunted history nighttime tour or this ghosts of Salem walking tour .

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Park

33. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Park (30 Minute Drive)

Want to view some of the most massive animals on the planet? The  Stellwagen Bank National Marine Park  is one of the best whale watching spots in the entire world. It’s a wild ocean destination not far from Boston, just 37 miles away.

The sancturay has an extremely productive and diverse environment, which encourages a wide mix of marine wildlife.

Each summer, around 50 recognized humpbacks return. You can also spot dolphins and seals. There are plenty of whale spotting tours available in the area departing from Gloucester or Provincetown. Click  here  for a list of boat tour operators.

pretty lane in Stockbridge

34. Stockbridge Massachusetts (2 Hour Drive)

Stockbridge is the quintessential New England town. It’s one of my favorite day trips from Boston.

Stockbridge was settled in 1734 by British missionaries. It’s blessed with simple charm and a fabulous line up of cultural attractions.

Three of the greatest American artists and authors called Stockbridge their home — Edna St. Vincent Millay, Herman Melville, and Norman Rockwell. One of America’s greatest treasures is the  Norman Rockwell Museum .

Rockwell was one of the greatest artists and illustrators in American history. Stockbridge was Rockwell’s long time residence and what he called his “best studio yet.”

the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge

You can also visit  Chesterwood , the home of Daniel Chester. It’s a 1920s Colonial Revival house.

It comes complete with the soaring studio of the legendary sculptor and landscape architect. Chester created the statue of President Lincoln seated in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., and you’ll see plaster models in the museum.

Every summer, Stockbridge (along with Lenox) hosts the Tanglewood Music Festival. It’s a series of concerts across all musical disciplines.

Stockbridge is also home to one of the Berkshires Gilded Age “cottages,”  Naumkeag . You can tour this quirky 44 room mansion designed by Stanford White, a famed starchitect of the time.

the Cog Railway in the White Mountains

 35. White Mountains, New Hampshire (2 Hour Drive)

It’s a hike to get to the White Mountains from Boston. But it’s worth the long drive to spend a day immersed in nature.

The White Mountains are New Hampshire’s premiere attraction. It’s the best day trip from Boston for fall foliage .

The White Mountains are incredibly beautiful, with plenty of natural wonders. They’ve long attracted vacationers, photographers, and adventurous hikers and skiiers. Mount Washington is the Northeast USA’s peak of superlatives. 

The sinuous Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains is the granddaddy of New England drives. It’s a scenic 35 mile stretch of highway. You’ll be dazzled by the incredibly unspoiled scenic views along the way.

boston massachusetts day trips

There a few pullouts for trailheads, providing great photo and hiking opportunities. Continue east until you hit the Rocky Gorge Parking Lot. Here, you can take a walk along the Swift River and get views of the beautiful Falls Pond.

 In Crawford Notch State Park , you can explore the backroads and revel in the beautiful fall colors. If you’d like to do some hiking, there are 35 hiking trails of varying difficulty.

Don’t leave without experiencing the  Mt Washington Cog Railway . It’s a historic train ride up to the summit of Mt. Washington. The mountain is the tallest one in the northeastern United States at 6,289 feet.

Aside from driving around soaking up the scenery, you can explore the cute downtown of North Conway, relax at  White Lake  in Tamworth, do a canopy tour at  Bretton Woods , go on a  waterfall hunt  near Conway. 

cityscape of Worcester

36. Worcester (1 Hour Drive)

Right in the heart of Massachusetts, Worcester is one of the best day trips from Boston. Worcester is the second largest city in Massachusetts after Boston. It’s just an hour away from Beantown.

Once in Worcester, take a gander through the huge exhibitions at the  Worcester Art Museum . You can easily spend a good few hours inside. The museum has works of Impressionism, Roman mosaics on the Renaissance Court floor, medieval armor, and Paul Revere’s silver collection.

Be sure to visit the  Bancroft Tower . On the National Register of Historical Places, it’s been around in Worcester since 1900. This fantasy medieval castle was built on a whim to honor a US Navy pioneer. It’s a miniaturized castle in the middle of a park.

At night, you can take in a theater or music performance at the elegant Hanover Inn, Mechanics Hall, or Tuckerman Hall.

Chatham Massachusetts

I hop you’ve enjoyed my guide to the best day trips from Boston. You may enjoy these other New England travel guides:

  • 3 day itinerary for Boston
  • 1 day in Hanover New Hampshire
  • 35 Landmarks in Boston
  • 10 day itinerary for New Hampshire
  • Berkshires Road Trip Destinations
  • Hidden Gem Towns on the East Coast
  • 10 day itinerary for coastal Maine
  • 7-10 day itinerary for Vermont
  • One week itinerary for southern New England
  • Fall foliage road trip in New England

If you’d like to take some day trips from Boston, pin it for later.

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4 thoughts on “35+ Amazing Day Trips From Boston Massachusetts”

Nice collection of day trips, but with the review of Salem, MA I can’t believe you left off both the Peabody Essex Museum (one of the best art and culture museums in New England) and no mention of any of the NPS sites and all the maritime history this city has.

I know the Peabody Essex Museum is amazing. I’ve written about it in my Salem article and in my article on the best museums in New England. I will add something here. But with a round up post, you can only write so much for each town.

This was definitely a trip down memory lane. I lived in New England for 23yrs and visited many of these destinations. You certainly did a great job on the history. I especially enjoyed the colorful pictures. I am drooling over just the thought of the lobster rolls on the Maine and New Hampshire coast.

I would love a lobster roll right now!

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Last Updated on July 4, 2023 by Leslie Livingston

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Day Trips From Boston

The 13 Best Day Trips from Boston

boston massachusetts day trips

Boston is a historic city with plenty of things to do and places to see, but there’s also lots more to explore outside the city limits. Whether you’re heading north to the mountains to ski or taking the ferry to Cape Cod’s Provincetown , there are day trips to take in every direction. Read on for our recommendations, all within driving distance and some you can even access by public transportation.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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Portsmouth is a historic coastal New Hampshire city that may be small in size but is full of character and popular restaurants. Have drinks along the docks on Bow Street as the sun sets at Pocos , Martingale Wharf or the Old Ferry Landing . For a seafood dinner with a view, try Surf , also on Bow Street. And for a casual yet tasty breakfast, you can’t go wrong with Colby’s .

Those visiting Portsmouth will enjoy walking around Prescott Park and learning about the history of Portsmouth at the Strawbery Banke Museum . Make sure you reserve some time for walking around the downtown area and popping into shops along the way. This city is growing year-by-year, with hotels and condos being built up as it grows in popularity.

Getting There: Portsmouth is about an hour and a half from Boston and the best way to get there is by car. If you don’t have a car, you can also take the C&J Bus Line.

Travel Tip: Pack a beach chair and drive down Route 1A to take in the Seacoast’s beaches. One of the first destinations you’ll come across in Rye is Ordiorne State Park , where you can walk around along the ocean. Eventually, you’ll get to Hampton Beach before you cross back over into Massachusetts.

Boston Area Beaches

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On a hot summer day, or even when the sun is shining in the spring or fall, there are plenty of beaches in the Boston area to spend a day relaxing at.

On your way back from Portsmouth, drive south along the ocean until you reach the beaches in Rye, or continue on to the popular Hampton Beach strip, where there’s a big beach and plenty of restaurants. Just over the Massachusetts border is Salisbury Beach, another day trip spot just over an hour north of Boston. Other beautiful beaches on Boston’s North Shore include Wingaersheek and Good Harbor Beaches in Gloucester , Plum Island Beach in Newburyport, Crane Beach in Ipswich, Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea and Revere Beach in Revere.

The South Shore’s beaches are equally as beautiful, with one of the closest options being Wollaston Beach in Quincy, and then many others including Duxbury Beach in Duxbury and Nantasket Beach in Hull. Of course, you can continue south to Cape Cod for plenty more beaches to choose from.

Getting There: Most of these beaches are only accessible by car and the furthest options listed are a maximum of 1.5 hours away, depending on traffic and where you are coming from. If you prefer public transportation , you can get to Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea and Revere Beach in Revere by the Commuter Rail and MBTA Blue Line, respectively.

Travel Tip: If you want to hit the beach but aren’t the type to stay from sunrise to sunset, try one of the beaches on New Hampshire’s Seacoast and then plan to stop explore Portsmouth before or after. The same applies to Plum Island and Newburyport. 

Newburyport, Massachusetts

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Newburyport is another coastal town, which feels similar to downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire in many ways. It was settled back in 1635 but has of course modernized over the years. Newburyport is most popular during the summer months given its location and nearby beaches, including Plum Island . But Newburyport is an ideal day trip from Boston at any time of year, as there are quite a few shops to stop by, restaurants to eat at and scenery to take in.

Getting There: Most people drive to Newburyport from Boston, as it’s under an hour and right off exit 56 on I-95 North. You can also take the Newburyport/Rockland Commuter Rail line from North Station.

Travel Tip: While you’re in Newburyport, drive over to Plum Island to spend some time at the beach, no matter what time of year. 

Provincetown, Massachusetts

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Located at the very tip of Cape Cod is Provincetown (also known as “P-Town”), best known as a gay resort community, but also a beautiful place to visit for a day, weekend or more. While driving to the end of the Cape may not seem like a day trip, it’s easy to get there via a 90-minute ferry through Bay State Cruise Company.

Provincetown is surrounded by water on three sides with several beaches to enjoy. Both during the day and in the evening, check out the downtown area’s restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and more.

If you're not able to make it to Provincetown, there are plenty of Cape Cod towns within a shorter driving range.

Getting There: Take the 90-minute Bay State Cruise Company ferry from Boston, which is the fastest way to get there. The ferry operates daily from mid-May to mid-October, with trips leaving Boston three times a day. If you prefer to drive through the Cape, it will take you over two hours, but typically longer, as the roads are oftentimes single-lane and traffic can be bad.

Travel Tip: You’ll find fresh lobster rolls all over Provincetown, but be sure to stop by The Canteen , which serves both hot and cold options.

Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts

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Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are two islands off the coast of Massachusetts, both of which are popular tourist destinations, especially during the summer months. Both are doable for day trips, especially Martha’s Vineyard, as it’s a bit shorter of a ferry ride. Both islands are quiet during the winter months, so plan your visit from Spring through Fall.

Vineyard Haven in Martha’s Vineyard, where the ferry drops you off, is full of shops and restaurants. You can also head to nearby Oak Bluffs, where you’ll find the 318 colorful Gingerbread Cottages at Wesleyan Grove off of Circuit Street. If you bring your bike or car along, you can explore the island’s beaches and other downtown areas as well.

Nantucket has different coastal vibe than Martha’s Vineyard and is also smaller in size. Here you’ll find cobblestone streets downtown and picture-worthy homes covered in hydrangeas all over the island. Of course, there are beautiful beaches around the island, along with food, galleries and boutiques. Stop by Cisco Brewers for a taste of local beer, which has become more and more popular throughout New England. And have a drink made with Nantucket’s Triple Eight Blueberry Vodka at one of the bars downtown.

Getting There: Martha’s Vineyard is a 45-minute ferry ride via the Steamship Authority from Woods Hole, which takes you to Vineyard Haven. The fast ferry to Nantucket is through Hy-Line Cruises , takes an hour and leaves from Hyannis. There are slower ferry options available, but these are the most efficient for a day trip. Keep in mind that Hyannis and Woods Hole are both on Cape Cod, so you’ll need to leave time for traffic if you’re traveling during peak hours. Both islands can also be accessed by plane from Boston’s Logan International Airport .

Travel Tip: You can choose to bring a car onto the ferry, but it’s recommended that you make plans for that in advance. That, coupled with the cost, is the reason many people choose to take a bike or get around Martha’s Vineyard through the Vineyard Transit Authority.

Providence, Rhode Island

About an hour drive south from Boston is the city of Providence, Rhode Island, also known as the “Creative Capital.” This city has become a popular tourist spot over the years, with popular attractions including WaterFire , a series of over 80 bonfires along downtown Providence’s three rivers, or the annual Halloween Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular or the Faces of the Rainforest exhibit at the Roger Williams Park Zoo . From November through March, head to the Providence Rink for Ice Bumper Cars .

Providence also has a foodie scene, with chefs coming from Rhode Island’s Johnson & Wales opening restaurants within the city, such as Oberlin , a seafood-focused small plates and tapas concept. If you’re looking for Italian, head to Federal Hill , the Little Italy of Providence. The Dorrance is another reputable spot, located within a former bank and serving globally-inspired New England cuisine. And while you’re in town, stop by PVDonuts for delicious and unique brioche donuts in fun flavors like fruit pebbles, butterscotch crunch and brown butter brownie.

Popular Providence hotels include The Dean , built around the city’s history and culture, and the Providence Biltmore , a historic property designed by the architects of New York’s Grand Central Terminal, and the Hotel Providence , another centrally located option that’s great for all types of travelers.

Getting There: Providence is an hour drive from Boston. You can also get there by train , including the Amtrak and MBTA Commuter Rail on the Providence-Stoughton line, both leaving from Boston’s South Station.

Travel Tip: For the best pizza in town, try no-frills Caserta Pizza , also known for their “Wimpy Skimpy,” a spinach pie stuffed with black olives, cheese & pepperoni.

Newport, Rhode Island

 Forty 1° North

Newport, Rhode Island is another coastal town within driving distance from Boston. Here you’ll find the makings of a perfect day trip, from the Gilded Age mansions and beaches, to walking along the famous Cliff Walk. Visitors also enjoy exploring the Brick Market Place , a downtown are with more than 25 shops and eateries. If anyone you’re traveling with is into cars, check out the Newport Car Museum , located in nearby Portsmouth.

Favorite Newport restaurants include The White Horse Tavern, America’s oldest tavern, Winner Winner , Scarpetta Newport , The Black Pearl and Mission Burger . If you plan on staying overnight, top-rated hotels and resorts include The Vanderbilt, Forty 1° North , Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina and The Chanler at Cliff Walk . Many of these hotels

Getting There: Newport is an hour and a half drive from Boston and car is the easiest way to get there.

Travel Tip: Even if you’re not staying overnight, many of the top hotels are also great spots to grab drinks with a view if you’re in town for just the day. Head over to Forty 1° North and order your favorite cocktail as you look out on the water.

Nashoba Valley Winery & Other Vineyards

 Nashoba Valley Winery

New England may not have a full-blown wine country, but there are several family-owned vineyards that make for great day trips, with at least one option nearby no matter where you are staying. From Boston, your best bet is the Nashoba Valley Winery , where you can sample the vineyard’s wines and also pick your own peaches, nectarines and apples when they are in season and enjoy farm-to-table food at J’s Restaurant.

Another Massachusetts option is Furnace Brook Winery in the Berkshires, about 2.5 hours away from Boston. An hour north of the city, there’s South Hampton, New Hampshire’s Jewell Towne Vineyards. In Rhode Island, try Verde Vineyards or Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard . As you head into Connecticut, follow the Connecticut Wine Trail and try the Lost Acres Vineyard in North Granby, Arrigoni Winery in Portland and Sharpe Hill Vineyard in Pomfret.

Getting There: The Nashoba Valley Winery is around an hour drive from Boston in Bolton, Massachusetts.

Travel Tip: If you plan on visiting several vineyards and wineries in one day, make sure you have a designated driver or look for transportation services, such as limos or tours to take you from one spot to another.

Mountains of Massachusetts and New Hampshire

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Speaking of Nashoba Valley, this destination is not only home to one of the best vineyards near Boston, but Nashoba Valley Ski Area is also a great winter destination for skiing and tubing if you’re into these activities but not long drives. Other places to ski in Massachusetts include Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton and Ski Bradford in Haverhill.

As you head into New Hampshire , popular ski resorts and mountains include Waterville Valley Resort , Loon Mountain , Gunstock , Cannon and more. Another option, Bretton Woods , is not only a ski resort, but also home to the beautiful Omni Mount Washington Resort , which has plenty to do for both skiers and those who prefer après skiing activities. 

Getting There: Nashoba Valley Ski Area is less than an hour from Boston by car, and other Massachusetts ski destinations range between 40 minutes to a little over an hour. Most of the drivable New Hampshire mountains are just over two hours away from Boston.

Travel Tip: To make your ski trip even easier, try Liftopia Experiences , a service that will take you on trips from Boston such as skiing at Crotched Mountain or snow tubing at Ski Ward and to a local brewery. Outdoor retailer REI also offers classes and activities, such as a store to slopes shuttle  that takes you to Stratton Mountain.

Lincoln, New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s White Mountains is where you’ll find the town of Lincoln, where Loon Mountain is located. But that’s not all Lincoln has to offer. During the winter months, the Ice Castles are a picturesque destination to visit. You can also go ice skating at The Rink at RiverWalk Resort , which was transformed from a 167,000 gallon swimming pool that’s available for guests in the summer. While you’re at the RiverWalk Resort, take a sleigh ride, go snowmobiling or taste wine at the Seven Birches Winery , which is right on the property.

Getting There: Lincoln is about two hours from Boston without traffic and your best bet for getting there is by car.

Travel Tip: Beware of traveling north from Boston during the winter months on Friday afternoons and evenings, as it’s likely you’ll run into traffic leaving the city as locals get out of work and head to the mountains. 

Plymouth, Massachusetts

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One of the best spas in the Boston area is located south of the city in Plymouth at the Mirbeau Inn & Spa . There’s more than just great massages and facials here – there’s a heated foot pool surrounded by lounge chairs to relax in, as well as an outdoor jacuzzi to enjoy while you sip champagne from the bar.

While you’re in Plymouth, take a walk along the water and check out the iconic Plymouth Rock and Pilgrim Hall Museum , America’s oldest, continuously operated, public museum filled with artifacts that came to our country with the Pilgrims. Then head 3 miles down the road to the Plimouth Plantation museum.

Nearby in Carver, the kids will enjoy the Edaville Family Theme Park , which is particularly fun around the holidays with their Christmas Festival of Lights. 

With Plymouth being on the water, there’s plenty of fresh seafood and outdoor dining, with restaurant favorites including Woods Seafood , Rye Tavern , East Bay Grille and Cabby Shack .

Getting There: The easiest way to get to Plymouth is via car, which will take about an hour. There is also a Commuter Rail stop in Plymouth if you prefer public transportation.

Travel Tip: While the Plymouth Rock is certainly a Massachusetts landmark, don’t be surprised when it’s nothing substantial when you see the remains in person. There is still plenty to see and do in Plymouth though!

Portland, Maine

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Portland, Maine may sound far away from Boston, but at two and a half hours away, it’s still doable for a day or weekend trip. This coastal downtown area has developed quite the foodie scene and it’s also a great spot to take in New England’s fall foliage season . Top restaurants include Fore Street , Central Provisions , Duckfat , Eventide Oyster Co. and Holy Donut . If you’re into beer, go for a tasting at Shipyard Brewing Company .

You can spend an entire weekend walking around downtown Portland and popping into shops, restaurants and bars. But another fun activity when the weather is nice to take the short ferry over to Peaks Island , where you can rent bikes or golf carts to cruise around the island and take in the coastal views.

Getting There: Portland is about two and a half hours away from Boston by car. Another option is to take Amtrak’s Downeaster from North Station in Boston to Portland, which takes about the same amount of time.

Travel Tip: Fore Street won a 2018 TripSavvy Editors’ Choice Award as one of the Best Iconic Restaurants & Fine Dining . This restaurant books up far in advance, but they reserve spots for walk-ins. The trick is to put your name in right when they open at 5:30 p.m.

Wrentham, Massachusetts

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

Just south of the city are the  Wrentham Village Premium Outlets , a shopping plaza where both locals and tourists go to get lots of shopping done at once, especially around the holidays. As New England’s largest outdoor shopping center, you’ll find everything from Off Saks and Tory Burch, to Vineyard Vines and the Nike Factory Store.

Getting There: The Wrentham Village Premium Outlets are located just 35 miles south of Boston, right off exit 15 on I-495. The best way to get there is by car.

Travel Tip: Bring your AAA card if you have one. When you get there, show it at the visitor center to get a coupon book that will give you even more discounts than you get at the outlets. 

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14 Top-Rated Day Trips from Boston

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers Updated Jul 26, 2022 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Boston's location in the heart of the northeast's New England region makes it a good base for day trips to some of America's most cherished historic sites and attractions. The Pilgrims landed just south of Boston in Plymouth, and the first shots of the Revolution were fired just a few miles to the west. Salem, on Boston's North Shore, was America's busiest China Trade port.

But there's more than just historic attractions for tourists to enjoy. Plan a day trip from Boston to the long beaches of Cape Cod , the islands, and the Maine and New Hampshire coasts. Also within easy reach are the dazzling mansions of Newport's Gilded Age high society.

Old Sturbridge Village is an open-air museum of restored homes, farms, and shops that bring the early-1800s New England to life. Whether you like historic houses, art museums, ships, whales, living history, or shopping, you'll find it in this list of the top day trips from Boston.

1. Lexington and Concord: First Shots of the Revolution

3. plimoth patuxet museums (formerly plimoth plantation), 4. newport, rhode island, 5. cape cod, 6. martha's vineyard, 7. newburyport and plum island, 8. new england coast, 9. shopping & seafood in portland, maine, 10. old sturbridge village, 11. whale watch at stellwagen bank national marine sanctuary, 12. portsmouth historic houses and strawbery banke, 13. fall foliage in new hampshire's white mountains, 14. shopping at wrentham outlets, map of day trips from boston.

Minuteman on Lexington Green

A well-loved statue of a Minuteman marks Lexington Green, where the first shots in America's War of Independence were fired on April 19, 1775. The first real battle of the Revolution took place in nearby Concord, where colonial militia members repulsed the British soldiers at North Bridge, foiling their attempted raid on colonial arms and munitions stored in Concord.

In Lexington, you can visit the restored 1710 Buckman Tavern, where the militia gathered, then follow Battle Road, the route of the British (who were harassed by Minutemen firing from behind stone walls) to North Bridge. The route and bridge are part of Minute Man National Historical Park , and you can ride or walk along the historic Battle Road between visits to Lexington Green and Concord's Old North Bridge.

Concord has more than its Revolutionary War history. It was home to some of the brightest lights in 19th-century American literature and philosophy, known as the transcendentalists. This remarkable group included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, William Ellery Channing, and Henry David Thoreau, and you can visit their homes, as well as places connected with them, such as Alcott's Orchard House, Walden Pond, and Author's Ridge in the beautiful Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

The literary and Revolutionary histories are explored in the collections and exhibits of Concord Museum, along with Native American artifacts and 17th- to 19th-century furniture. Walden Pond , where Henry David Thoreau lived in a cabin and wrote some of his best-known works, is now a park.

Salem

Once a more important port than Boston, and center of America' prosperous China Trade, Salem retains much of its 18th- and 19th-century architecture, with entire neighborhoods of imposing homes that were built for successful merchants and sea captains. Retained, too, are memories of its grimmer early history as the scene of the Salem Witch Trials.

Several of the finest homes are open to tour, furnished with generations of fine antiques and with decorative arts brought from the Far East. This is perhaps New England's finest assemblages of historic homes from this period.

The Phillips House preserves five generations of one family's heritage; the Hawkes House and Derby House are part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site , and the interior of the 1804 Gardner-Pingree House shows the work of the famous builder Samuel McIntire.

The 1727 Crowninshield-Bentley House and the 1684 John Ward House are part of the outstanding Peabody Essex Museum , whose art and historical collections highlight maritime subjects, the China Trade, and Asian arts. Among its treasures is a fully furnished original 18th-century house from China's Huizhou region.

Perhaps Salem's best known historic home is the House of the Seven Gables , made famous by the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose Salem home you can also tour. The only building directly connected with the witch trials is the 1642 Witch House, home of the presiding Judge Jonathan Corwin.

The Salem Maritime National Historic Site includes the docks, a replica sailing ship, the Customs House, warehouses, exhibits, the historic Pickering Wharf, and two historic homes. The fastest and most convenient way to get to Salem from Boston is on the Boston to Salem High Speed Ferry , which departs Boston's Long Wharf and arrives in Salem within a few steps of the House of the Seven Gables.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Salem & Cape Ann

Plimoth Plantation

The landing of a group of English religious dissidents in December of 1620 made Plymouth the first permanent European settlement in New England. Today, a living history museum takes you back to that time in a painstakingly authentic recreation of their life, dress, beliefs, and even language.

In the 17th-Century English Village at Plimoth Patuxet Museums, costumed interpreters assume 17th-century persona to re-create the Pilgrims' daily experiences of raising food, building homes, cooking, and military training, using tools and methods authentic to the 17th century.

Historic Patuxet , a re-creation of a Wampanoag village, demonstrates the lives and culture of Native Americans at the time. Here, the interpreters do not assume a historic persona, but are all either Wampanoag or from other Native Nations and speak from a modern perspective about their peoples' history and culture.

While in Plymouth, stop to see Plymouth Rock and the 1640 Sparrow House, Plymouth's oldest surviving wooden house. At Pilgrim Hall Museum , you can see Pilgrim furniture and artifacts, including Myles Standish's sword, remains of a wooden ship that wrecked in 1626, and Governor Bradford's bible.

Visit the historic attractions of Plymouth on the Boston to Plymouth Small Group Day-Trip with Plimoth Patuxet & Mayflower II . The tour includes entrance fees to Plimoth Plantation and to Mayflower II, stops at Plymouth Rock and the imposing National Monument to the Forefathers, and free time to sightsee or shop in Plymouth.

Address: 137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Official site: www.plimoth.org

Newport, Rhode Island

In the early 20th century, New York's super wealthy decamped for the summer to Newport, where they vied with one another to see who could build the biggest and most extravagant mansion. Many of those palatial summer residences are open today, either preserved or restored to their glittering glory.

Look for echoes of the Grand Trianon and other European royal palaces, which several used as inspiration for their own excesses. Don't plan to whiz through all of these in one day - they are huge, and two is the limit for most tourists; after that you're on visual overload.

The largest and showiest mansion is The Breakers , a 70-room Italian Renaissance pile with a three-story dining room; Mrs Vanderbilt took no chances of being outspent. The Elms , patterned after an 18th-century French château, is furnished in French antiques from the same period and has beautiful grounds featuring marble pavilions, fountains, and a sunken garden.

Marble House has an opulent salon, lined with pounds of gold leaf, and a fanciful Chinese Tea House. Less ostentatious and more livable, but no less grand, is Doris Duke's Rough Point, where her art collection is displayed. Follow Bellevue Avenue to see the public faces, then at least a part of the famous Cliff Walk to see these mansions from the shore side.

You can tour two of the most opulent of these - The Breakers and The Elms - on the Boston to Newport Small-Group Day Trip with Breakers & Elms Mansion , traveling by air-conditioned coach with a guide who will add perspectives about Newport's history, culture, and architecture. There is time to stroll along Newport's waterfront for shopping before returning to Boston.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Newport, Rhode Island

Cape Cod

Southeast of Boston, Cape Cod reaches into the Atlantic in a long, thin crescent lined by white-sand beaches. The part nearest to the city is dotted with cozy villages like Sandwich, the cape's oldest, within easy reach of a long dune-backed beach. Here, you'll find historic sites like the three-centuries-old Dexter Grist Mill and the impressive collections of Sandwich Glass Museum, where you can watch a glassblowing demonstration.

In lively Hyannis Port, where you can visit a memorial to John F. Kennedy whose family summered here, take a scenic cruise on Lewis Bay for views of the south coast. Falmouth, also on the southern shore, is where you can catch a ferry to the island of Martha's Vineyard.

Although a day's driving tour of Cape Cod isn't long enough to reach lively Provincetown, at the far tip of the cape, you can go there directly from Boston on the Boston to Provincetown & Cape Cod High Speed Ferry , which leaves from Long Wharf and speeds you to MacMillan Pier, in the heart of Provincetown. The miles of dunes and long white beaches of the "Outer Cape," as this part is called, is protected as the Cape Cod National Seashore .

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cape Cod & the Islands

Martha's Vineyard

From Falmouth, on the south coast of Cape Cod, the Island Queen Ferry sails across Vineyard Sound to Oak Bluffs, on the island of Martha's Vineyard. You won't need a car to explore this beautiful island: just hop on and off the handy transit bus to see lighthouses, Aquinnah Cliffs, historic Edgartown's art galleries, the gingerbread cottages at Oak Bluffs, or to spend a day at the beach.

You probably won't be able to see all six of The Vineyard's towns in a day, but you can visit the two largest, and perhaps even take the cute little ferry to Chappaquiddick Island. Along with touring the interior of one of the Victorian cottages in Oak Bluffs, take a ride on the Flying Horses Carousel. For a glimpse of life through the island's 400-year history, visit the 1672 Vincent House in the former whaling port of Edgartown.

A Day Trip to Martha's Vineyard from Boston takes you by coach to the town of Falmouth, where you'll board the ferry to the island. Here, you'll have six hours to explore on your own, plenty of time to hop the transit bus and see the highlights, using the island discount card that's included with the tour.

Read More: From Boston to Martha's Vineyard: Best Ways to Get There

Aerial view of Newburyport

About 35 miles north of Boston, Newburyport's history as a prosperous maritime port shows in its beautiful Federal homes. See how people lived in that era on a tour of the Cushing House , now the Museum of Old Newbury, and its period gardens.

This and most of the downtown is part of the Newburyport Historic District , which includes 10 distinct listed neighborhoods. You could spend a day just admiring the architecture of these beautifully preserved buildings. To learn more about the seaport's history, stop at the Custom House Maritime Museum .

Stay into the evening to enjoy a performance at the Firehouse Center for the Arts or a film at The Screening Room , an arthouse theater. In the summer, spend a few hours at the beach on Newburyport's Plum Island . In any season it's a lovely place to walk along boardwalk trails through the dunes and seaside forest of the island's the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge .

Cape Neddick Lighthouse

The beaches and rocky headlands of the New Hampshire and southern Maine coast are a scenic day trip from Boston. Depending on the number of stops, you can easily reach as far north as historic Kennebunkport or the classic old-time beach town of Old Orchard, both in Maine. On the way, you'll pass another of New England's classic resorts, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, and pass through the historic seaport of Portsmouth.

Along the shore, which includes the Massachusetts beaches at Plum Island and Salisbury and wildlife-filled wetlands and tidal marshes, you can see stately turn-of-the-century summer "cottages." Maine's iconic Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick is a highlight, as are the sea captains' homes in Kennebunkport, where you should spend some time in the boutiques and art galleries. Kennebunkport is a good place to visit to sample fresh Maine seafood at a waterside restaurant.

Fishing boats in Portland, Maine

Portland is only a two-hour drive, or Amtrak's DownEaster schedule from Boston gives you seven hours to savor a seafood lunch or early dinner at a waterfront restaurant and an afternoon of browsing in the boutiques and galleries in Portland's historic downtown. Within a few steps of the busy fishing harbor, you'll find plenty of restaurants, and shops specializing in Maine products.

Edgecomb Potters create pottery inspired by the sea and mountains; Lisa-Marie's Made in Maine carries jewelry, art, and specialty foods; and Maine Craft Portland in the historic Mechanics Hall showcases local talent. At Sea Bags Factory Store on Custom House Wharf, you can watch as skilled artisans recycle sea-worn sails into smart totes and bags.

Or spend your time in this portside city visiting the excellent Portland Museum of Art or in the extraordinary rooms of the Victoria Mansion , one of America's most important 19 th -century historic homes.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Portland, Maine

Wood mill at Old Sturbridge Village

More than 40 historic buildings form the open-air museum at Old Sturbridge Village - gracious homes of the well-to-do, rustic farmhouses, a parsonage, village store, tavern, and workshops where tinsmiths, blacksmiths, printers, potters, and coopers demonstrate their crafts.

Along with touring the houses, where you'll find costumed interpreters cooking in fireplaces, tending their gardens, spinning, sewing, and doing needlework, you can watch logs become boards in a water-driven sawmill and take part in activities.

A working farm grows period vegetables and herbs, and the farmyard is alive with animals that have been back-bred for authenticity. The large herb garden is especially interesting as it grows many of the plants that were used in everyday life at the time, for flavoring, medicines, cosmetics, and dying wool.

Address: 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, Massachusetts

Official site: https://www.osv.org/

Humpback Whale

The Stellwagen Bank, an underwater plateau in the Atlantic off the Massachusetts coast, has one of the world's most biologically productive ocean environments, which makes it one of the best places to study and spot whales. Sightings are so frequent that some whale-watch cruises come with a guarantee of a free trip if no whales appear. Most commonly observed are female humpback whales that return to these waters, which are especially rich in food, to teach their young to hunt.

In addition to the humpback whales, there is a good chance of seeing other whale species, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, harbor porpoise, seals, and other marine life. Researchers from the Whale Center of New England accompany the three-hour Boston Whale Watching Cruise to explain the whales' habits and habitat and discuss their conservation status and scientific tracking methods.

Official site: https://stellwagen.noaa.gov/

Strawbery Banke Museum

As one of New England's early settlements and later as a major colonial port, Portsmouth became prosperous from trade and shipping. The Portsmouth Harbor Trail will lead you past more than 70 historical sites and several fine colonial homes that are open to visitors. Each of these houses has a unique history, illustrated by its furnishings and collections, some of which are America's premier examples.

The 1716 Warner House has the first example of Queen Anne furniture known in America, and the 1785 Governor John Langdon House is best known for its ornate woodwork and period furniture. The 1758 John Paul Jones House is where the Revolutionary War captain lived while in Portsmouth.

The first settlers in 1623 called their new home Strawbery Banke, and today, the ten-acre Strawbery Banke Museum preserves houses from four centuries of the old Puddle Dock neighborhood beside the harbor. Some are preserved to show their construction and the process of restoration, others are furnished to represent a period in their history, others are "inhabited" by costumed interpreters who tell their stories through demonstrations and daily activities.

Together the houses show life at various periods and of the different ethnic groups who lived here. You can see a neighborhood market from the World War II era, watch as authentic Gundalow boats are built, stroll in period gardens, and tour the elegant home of a former governor.

Address: 454 Court Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Official site: www.strawberybanke.org

Fall colors in New Hampshire's White Mountains

Thanks to Interstate-93, you can drive from the Boston area directly into the heart of New Hampshire's rugged White Mountains. Because much of New Hampshire's forest land - protected by the White Mountain National Forest, is hardwoods, the foliage is spectacular, with the bright reds and oranges of maple, yellow birch leaves, and all shades in between. And unlike many other foliage destinations, these are interspersed with dark green pine and fir trees, which set off the brilliant foliage with striking contrasts.

Several of the mountains, including Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the northeast, have tramways, gondolas, even a train to the summits for even more sweeping views. These mountaintop rides are the region's prime tourist attractions, as is the drive over the Kancamagus Pass on the Kancamagus Highway , a winding route that reaches the highest elevation of any public road in the northeast.

The ski town of North Conway is the region's commercial hub, with cute boutiques and renowned outlet stores, as well as restaurants and resorts, if you decide to stay longer.

To see the highlights, you can travel by air-conditioned coach on the Boston to New Hampshire Fall Foliage White Mountains Day Trip, with pickup at your hotel. The full-day tour travels over the Kancamagus Pass, with photo stops, and stops in North Conway, where you'll have time to enjoy shopping and lunch along the attractive main street.

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

Ardent shoppers will find it hard to resist the lure of 170 outlet stores in one place. That's what you'll find at Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, about 45 minutes south of Boston. Nearly all the stores are outlets of major name brands, including high-end brands such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Brooks Brothers, and Burberry.

In the stores, shoppers find deeply discounted prices on brand-name clothing, housewares, shoes, electronics, jewelry, accessories, decor, and gifts. Look for Banana Republic, GUESS, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, HugoBoss, Bloomingdale's, Le Creuset, Saks OFF Fifth, and more. Shoppers who arrive by tour bus usually get complimentary VIP coupon books for even greater discounts.

Address: 1 Premium Outlet Blvd, Wrentham, Massachusetts

Official site: http://premiumoutlets.com/outlet/wrentham-village

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8 of the best day trips from Boston

Mara Vorhees

May 23, 2023 • 6 min read

boston massachusetts day trips

From the beaches of Cape Cod to the historic museums in Plymouth, here are the best day trips from Boston © Cavan Images / Julia Cumes / Getty Images

Boston is rich with historic sites, artistic venues, swanky restaurants and outdoor adventure, and if you want to keep exploring, there’s even more to discover in the areas surrounding the city.

Battle sites, beaches, colonial landmarks, creative outposts and of course seafood – plenty of seafood! – are all within striking distance of Boston and mostly accessible by train, boat, bicycle and bus.

From Salem to Cape Cod, here are the best day trips from Boston.

1. Take the ferry to Provincetown, Cape Cod

Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes

At the outer tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown offers many delights for one little town – a collection of glorious beaches and bike trails through the dunes along the Cape Cod National Seashore , a vibrant artist community with galleries lined along Commercial St and a dynamic LGBTIQ+ scene. Another bonus: top-notch restaurants, such as Canteen , serving lobster rolls and crab paninis.

How to get to Provincetown from Boston: Provincetown is about 115 miles southeast of Boston. If you’re just coming for the day, the best way to get here is by ferry, operated by Boston Harbor Cruises (from Long Wharf) or Bay State Cruise Co (from the Seaport District).

Two people stand on a wooden bridge over a river in parkland

2. Witness history at Minute Man National Historical Park

Travel time: 35 minutes

See where the Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775, when colonial Minutemen stood up to the British Regulars who had marched out from Boston to confiscate their weapons. The two sides faced off first on the village green in Lexington (now called Battle Green ), and then near the North Bridge in Concord.

The National Historical Park includes the battle site at the North Bridge , as well as the route the soldiers followed (now called Battle Road ). Walking trails weave through the picturesque New England countryside past two informative visitor centers and a handful of historic buildings, where you can see ranger talks and musket demonstrations. Stop for a snack at Via Lago Café in Lexington or the Concord Cheese Shop in Concord.

How to get to Minute Man National Historical Park from Boston:  It's easiest to drive, but it's possible to take public transport. From South Station in Boston, MBTA commuter trains go to Concord. From the train depot, it’s 1.5 miles to the North Bridge Visitor Center, but you’ll need a vehicle to explore Battle Road. Ambitious travelers can cycle from Cambridge to Lexington on the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway (7 miles) and then continue to Concord via Battle Road (7 miles).

3. Remember the victims of the witch trials in Salem

Travel time: 1 hour

Salem has a rich but checkered history, from the colony’s tragic persecution of so-called witches in the 17th century to the town’s heyday as a maritime center in the 18th century. A score of sites recall the former, including a moving Witch Trials Memorial in honor of the victims.

Visitors can learn more about the area's rich sailing tradition at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site , which incorporates a handful of 18th-century buildings along Derby Wharf. Salem’s uncontested treasure is the Peabody Essex Museum , a wonderful collection of art and artifacts amassed from maritime trade. Stop at  Gulu-Gulu Cafe  when you need to recharge.

How to get to Salem from Boston: MBTA commuter trains run hourly from North Station to Salem. You can also take a pleasant ferry ride from Long Wharf, operated by Boston Harbor Cruises.

A village of small wooden houses by the sea with tourists wandering among them

4. Learn about the Pilgrims in Plymouth

In 1620, a hardy band of Pilgrims set up the first permanent European settlement in New England at Plymouth. Visit the replica Mayflower II to imagine what their journey across the ocean might have been like. Afterward, head to  Plimoth Patuxet Museums  to experience what life in the settlement was like for the Pilgrims and the Native people who have lived there for more than 10,000 years.

Both sites are historically accurate "living" museums, with costumed actors portraying actual historical figures. You'll find plenty of places to stop for lunch along Plymouth’s main drag, such as  KKatie’s Burger Bar .

How to get to Plymouth from Boston:  MBTA commuter trains travel from South Station in Boston.

5. Admire the architecture in Providence

Providence , the capital of Rhode Island , is like Boston’s smaller sibling, with attractive walkable neighborhoods, elegant 18th-century architecture , dynamic and artsy student populations , and its own leafy Ivy League campus .

There's a lot going on here food-wise as well, some of it due to the presence of a world-class culinary school (Johnson & Wale), which means there’s a good meal just around the corner. Try Julian’s for lunch or brunch. On summer nights, the riverside Waterplace Park comes alive with street performers, art vendors, food trucks and dancing flames at  WaterFire , a non-profit arts organization.

How to get to Providence from Boston: MBTA commuter trains run from South Station to Providence. Amtrak trains are more expensive and slightly quicker.

A clear ocean dotted with people enjoying a sunny day on the beach

6. Head to Cape Ann for seafood, beaches and whale watching

Travel time: 1 hour by car, 2 hours 30 minutes by public transportation

Welcome to "the other Cape," located along the North Shore of Massachusetts. The heart and soul of Cape Ann is Gloucester, a gritty fishing town with a thriving art colony at Rocky Neck and whale-watching cruises out to Stellwagen Bank .

Gloucester’s quaint, touristy counterpart is Rockport, with Motif No 1 on full display and souvenir shops lined up along Bearskin Neck. The rest of Cape Ann is a patchwork of beautiful coastal beaches and interior walking trails. Get your seafood fix at Causeway Restaurant in Gloucester or Roy Moore Lobster Co in Rockport.

How to get to Cape Ann from Boston: The MBTA commuter rail runs from North Station to both Gloucester and Rockport. The Cape Ann Transportation Authority operates five bus routes to beaches and villages around Cape Ann.

7. Swim, hike and explore at Boston Harbor Islands

Travel time: 50 minutes

Some 34 islands are scattered about Boston Harbor, comprising a unique state park that’s an easy jaunt from the city. Take your pick from Georges Island , site of Civil War-era Fort Warren, or Spectacle Island , with a supervised swimming beach and a rewarding lookout.

You can go farther afield to more remote islands that offer trail walking, bird-watching, fishing and swimming. Both Georges and Spectacle have good snack shacks, but there is no food or water on the outer islands. Packing a picnic is recommended.

How to get to Boston Harbor Islands from Boston: Boston Harbor Cruises offers seasonal ferry service from Long Wharf to Georges and Spectacle Islands, where another boat service runs to the outer islands.

8. Escape commercialism at Martha's Vineyard

Travel time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Bathed in unique beauty, Martha's Vineyard attracts wide-eyed day-trippers, celebrity second-home owners and urbanites seeking a restful getaway. The 15,000 year-round residents include many artists, musicians and back-to-nature types.

Just 7 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard remains untouched by the kind of rampant commercialism found on the mainland – there's not a single chain restaurant or cookie-cutter motel in sight. Instead you'll find cozy inns, chef-driven restaurants and a bounty of green farms and grand beaches. Enjoy fine dining in gentrified Edgartown or hit the cotton candy and carousel scene in Oak Bluffs.

How to get to Martha's Vineyard from Boston: It's about a 90-minute drive from Boston to Woods Hole. From there, the car ferry to Martha's Vineyard takes around 45 minutes.

This article was first published Aug 21, 2019 and updated May 23, 2023.

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Boston   Travel Guide

boston massachusetts day trips

30 Top-Rated Things to Do in Boston

As Massachusetts' capital and the birthplace of the American Revolution, there's no shortage of historical sites for travelers to explore within Boston's city limits (and beyond). There's even a Boston Tea Party Museum on the harbor

  • All Things To Do
  • 1-Day Itinerary
  • 2-Day Itinerary
  • 3-Day Itinerary

boston massachusetts day trips

Freedom Trail Freedom Trail free

Stretching 2½ miles, the Freedom Trail weaves past 16 of the city's most historic sites, including Faneuil Hall Marketplace , the Paul Revere House and Old North Church . Taking in all of the trail's attractions requires at least half a day (and some comfortable walking shoes), but you can easily plot points of interest before you begin your jaunt from Boston Common .

Though most visitors agree the trail is easy to navigate on your own, some recommend a guided tour or downloading an app to tell you about the sites. (You'll find a handful of apps available for Apple and Android devices.) If you have a Go Boston Card, standard guided tours given by the Freedom Trail Foundation are covered by your pass.

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Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Every Friday and Saturday, Haymarket (one America's oldest open-air markets) pops up adjacent to Faneuil Hall. In order to navigate this often-chaotic scene successfully make sure to bring small bills, leave bulky bags at the hotel and keep it moving on the sidewalk. - Jill LeGrow

Four buildings – Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market – constitute Faneuil Hall Marketplace, with the oldest being Faneuil Hall. Built in 1742 and now a stop on the Freedom Trail , Faneuil Hall has had a long and important history in Massachusetts politics. Samuel Adams once stood here to push for resistance against the British, and abolitionists and suffragists have stood on their soapboxes here. In fact, this is where colonists famously challenged the Stamp Act of 1764 by proclaiming, "no taxation without representation." From those illustrious days, the marketplace has expanded to include more than 100 shops and restaurants.

boston massachusetts day trips

Boston Public Garden Boston Public Garden free

Though the Boston Public Garden sits right next to Boston Common , the two are quite different. The public garden is newer (established in 1837) and holds the distinction of being America's first public botanical garden. Flowers and trees are beautifully organized and kept in quality condition throughout. You can see the colorful arrangements and exotic trees from the 6-acre pond as you glide along the water in a Swan Boat. Additionally, the park houses two of Boston's most iconic statues: Make Way for Ducklings (a bronze sculpture of a duck and her eight ducklings) and a sculpture of George Washington (which shows America's first president riding on a horse).

Visitors looking to relax after sightseeing will enjoy the Boston Public Garden. Parkgoers say you'll find plenty of shade beneath the park's trees, which comes in handy on hot summer days. Plus, you'll likely spot some ducks and geese swimming around the lagoon. And if you have a few dollars, visitors recommend taking a 15-minute ride on a Swan Boat. The large paddle boats cost $4.50 to ride (or $3 for kids ages 2 to 15 and $4 for seniors); travelers with Go Boston Cards ride for free. Swan Boats are usually available between mid-April and Labor Day.

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Popular Tours

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North End North End free

Chances are you'll end up in the North End at least once during your visit to Boston. It's steeped in the city's rich history as it holds the title of Boston's oldest neighborhood and houses three attractions on the Freedom Trail . What makes this neighborhood a top point of interest, however, is its Italian culture: The North End is considered Boston's Little Italy.

While Italians weren't the first to settle in this area (English settlers arrived first then European Jews, African Americans and Irish immigrants), their cultural influence on the North End withstood the test of time. Today, you'll find all kinds of Italian food from classic pizza pies served at the popular Regina Pizzeria to Sicilian-style seafood, such as black linguine (made with squid ink) and calamari meatballs at The Daily Catch . For dinner, try Mamma Maria for fine dining, Giacomo's for its affordable, made-in-house pasta or Bricco , which sources its meats and bread from its own meat and bread shop, located right next door. If you’re only interested in pizza, hit up Galleria Umberto for delectable solo slices or Antico Forno for its full-size, wood-fired pies. Prezza is known for its extensive wine list, boasting hundreds of wine labels to choose from. For dessert, make sure to pick up a cannoli at Mike's Pastry or Modern Pastry , or tiramisu at the 24-hour Bova's Bakery .

boston massachusetts day trips

Museum of Fine Arts Museum of Fine Arts

If you want to make the most out of the Museum of Fine Arts, one of the most comprehensive art institutions in the country, then you'll need to spend a good chunk of your day here. The museum is home to one of the best art collections in the world, including the celebrated Art of the Americas wing. Inside this sprawling collection, you'll encounter galleries showcasing iconic pieces from indigenous cultures in North, South and Central America to works by contemporary artists like Edward Hopper.

You'll also find an impressive collection of Asian art here, plus works from Monet, Renoir, Manet and Rembrandt on display. And in special temporary exhibits, you can admire masterpieces from Black artists like Diedrick Brackens and Picasso, among others.

boston massachusetts day trips

Boston Common Boston Common free

The grounds of Boston Common started as a cow pasture in the mid-1600s. It was also used for Puritan punishments, like whipping, and even for hangings. In 1768, the area was transformed into a British camp. After the Revolutionary War, the park became a popular locale for public speeches and rallies. Now, the Common is best known because of its status as the oldest public park in the country. You'll also find a variety of activities and events – including theater and musical performances and free fitness classes – hosted here throughout the year. If you plan to traverse the Freedom Trail , you'll start the walk here at Boston Common.

Though some visitors say you won't find much to do in this park, Boston Common is great for picnics or a leisurely stroll. Travelers also mention that this site is a wonderful spot to take young children. In addition to ample running room on the park's green space, kids can play at the Tadpole Playground or Frog Pond. Frog Pond offers a spray pool during the warmer months and an ice skating rink in the winter. Some visitors do note that the park tends to draw Boston's homeless population, particularly at night.

boston massachusetts day trips

Best Boston Tours

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Boston Tours

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boston massachusetts day trips

Fenway Park Fenway Park

U.S. News Insider Tip: If you want to watch a Sox game without a ticket, head to the Bleacher Bar on Lansdowne Street. Located beneath the bleachers of Fenway, the best tables are positioned directly in front of the huge garage window that overlook centerfield. – Jill LeGrow

Fans of America's favorite pastime won't want to miss a game at Fenway Park. Home to the Boston Red Sox, this stadium has been the site of home runs, stolen bases and grounders since 1912. Regardless of whether or not you're a diehard Red Sox fan, you should try to catch a game and admire the ballpark's original architecture. Must-see features of the park include Pesky's Pole – the right field foul pole named after former Red Sox player Johnny Pesky – and the 37-foot-tall "Green Monster" wall in left field.

boston massachusetts day trips

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

After Isabella Stewart Gardner's husband died in 1898, the art enthusiast carried out their plan to buy land in Boston's Fenway area and open a museum to display her impressive collection of Italian art. The museum, which was fashioned after the Palazzo Barbaro in Venice , was completed in 1901, at which point Gardner moved in to the fourth floor and began installing her collection. Today, you can visit this Boston museum to get your fill of the Italian masters, such as Raphael and Titian. The building also showcases a cache of beautiful furniture, photographs, sculpture and rare books straight from Europe. The museum's New Wing, designed by Renzo Piano, includes a glass atrium, greenhouses and landscaped gardens.

The art isn't the only interesting thing here: the museum is also the site of the single largest property theft on Earth. In the wee hours of March 18, 1990, two thieves made their way into the museum disguised as police. The duo stole 13 works, including pieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet. Today, the museum has empty frames on the walls as placeholders until the art returns to the museum. As you may have guessed, the crime has not been solved and the works haven't been recovered. The museum is even offering a sizable reward ($10 million) for information leading to the art. 

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Boston Public Library Boston Public Library free

A library isn't always all about books. The main branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, which opened in 1895, is so much more, according to recent visitors who call the architecture "beautiful" and a “must-see.” Walking into the Renaissance Revival building is akin to visiting a museum. On Dartmouth Street, two immense stone lions sculpted by Louis Saint-Gaudens stand guard by the main entrance. Inside, Bates Hall, the library's main reference reading room, is a 218-foot-long room with a barrel-arch ceiling soaring 50 feet high.

Visitors can take a free tour and learn all about the murals found throughout the library, including John Singer Sargent's series on the "Triumph of Religion." Other murals include works by French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, who depicted eight library-centric disciplines in "The Muses of Inspiration," and Edwin Austin Abbey's "The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail."

boston massachusetts day trips

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

A must for any history buffs or fans of our nation's 35th president, this excellent library and museum details the life of President John F. Kennedy. Exhibits include his presidential papers; masses of Kennedy memorabilia, including re-creations of his desk in the Oval Office and of the television studio in which he debated Richard M. Nixon in the 1960 election; and artifacts from the U.S. space program. There's permanent display on the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis plus plenty of other artifacts and information about Kennedy's life and presidency. The building itself is quite striking and was designed by architect I. M. Pei.

Museumgoers say that while the museum is off the beaten path (it sits about 5 miles south of downtown on Columbia Point), it is well worth the trek thanks to the exhibits and staff. However, some wish the exhibits had a more detailed explanation of Kennedy and events during his life. The views from the museum are amazing, add some visitors.

boston massachusetts day trips

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

If you want to get outdoors in the greater Boston area, consider hopping a ferry (which operates from mid-May through mid-October) to the Boston Harbor Islands. This collection of 34 islands located in the Massachusetts Bay boasts plenty of things to do and see including historic sites, hiking trails, beaches, wildlife and much more. Popular islands include Spectacle, Georges and Peddocks, though ferries also go to Lovells, Grape, Bumpkin and Thompson.

The 114-acre Spectacle Island is a great option for those looking to hike. Here, you'll find 5 miles of trails, including one which leads to the harbor's highest hill, offering incredible views of Boston's skyline. If you’re looking for a place where you can sink your toes into the sand, head to Lovells Island. Here, you’ll find secluded shorelines as well as tide pools (when it's low tide, a whopping 71 acres are added to the island's land mass). Meanwhile, history lovers will enjoy a trip to Georges Island. Georges Island is home to Fort Warren, which the U.S. government used for patrolling and training Union troops as well as housing Confederate prisoners during Civil War times. Peddocks Island, one of the largest of the Boston Harbor Islands, offers a little bit of everything. This island is considered a prime camping spot and features scenic hiking trails that pass through coastal forests, headlands connected by tombolos and the biggest beach of any island. You'll also find a little bit of history thanks to Fort Andrews and a restored chapel from World War II.

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Newbury Street Newbury Street free

Located in the Back Bay along eight blocks between Massachusetts Avenue and Arlington Street, Newbury Street is home to gorgeous 19th century brownstones. It's also Boston's premiere destination for dining and shopping. Newbury Street has been called one of the most expensive streets in the world, thanks in large part to the significant cluster of expensive shops on the lower end (by numbered address) nearest Arlington Street.

Starting at the higher end, by Massachusetts Avenue, you'll find more budget-friendly retailers like TJ Maxx and Forever 21, as well longtime local favorites Newbury Comics and Trident Booksellers. In fact, Newbury Comics' opening in 1978 was the catalyst that began the transformation of Newbury Street from a heavily upper-class retail destination to a hipper, trendier spot for everyone.

boston massachusetts day trips

Samuel Adams Brewery Samuel Adams Brewery

Despite its location outside of city center, visiting the Samuel Adams Brewery is a popular stop for beer lovers. This brewery location acts as Samuel Adams' testing facility for new and specialty brews, which patrons can try. You can also take a guided tour of the facility to learn more about the brewing process.

Whether you're a local or a tourist, odds are you'll enjoy a visit to this brewery. Visitors say the staff is knowledgeable, but note there can be long entry lines.

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boston massachusetts day trips

Cambridge Cambridge free

Cambridge, which sits about 3 miles northwest of Boston's city center, is home to both Harvard University and MIT , but there's more to see in Cambridge than just the schools themselves. The city features an impressive array of cultural institutions that feature collections and exhibitions ranging from fine art to technological innovations.

The Harvard Art Museums , which include the Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum and Arthur M. Sackler Museum, house a wide range of periods, styles and mediums within its walls. Here, you’ll find a mix of modern photography, 13th century sculpture, paintings from legends like Georgia O’Keeffe, Picasso and Jackson Pollock, and much more. If you prefer history, head to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology , which boasts exhibits exploring everything from ancient Latin American cultures to the evolution of American eating habits and tableware to the lives of Native Americans. If science is more your speed, head to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to view dinosaur fossils, rare minerals and animal specimens from New England to Asia.

boston massachusetts day trips

Beacon Hill Beacon Hill free

Beacon Hill is arguably Boston's most beautiful neighborhood. Located north of Boston Common , Beacon Hill is awash with quaint, cobblestone-lined alleyways, corners dotted with gas street lamps, stately townhouses affixed with bay view windows and vibrant, flower-filled window boxes. It's Beacon Hill's incredible style, a stunning mix of Federal and Greek revival architecture, that make this neighborhood an attraction in and of itself. And recent visitors couldn't agree more.

Travelers who venture to Beacon Hill are charmed by its beauty and say that it's the perfect place to take a long stroll and wander around. While here, make sure to make your way to noteworthy spots including the picturesque Louisburg Square and Acorn Street, the latter of which is one of the most photographed places in Boston. After, head down Charles Street, where you'll find restaurants, shops and bars. Fans of the TV show "Cheers" will want to walk down Beacon Street to find the bar that inspired the program.

boston massachusetts day trips

Old North Church Old North Church

Most people who know anything about American history have heard of Paul Revere's famous midnight ride, when he rode through town to warn people about the arrival of British troops. Before heading off to Lexington, Revere gave orders at Old North Church. Robert Newman – the church's sexton – and Captain John Pulling Jr. – the church's vestryman – then climbed the steeple and held two lanterns as a signal that the British were indeed coming, but by sea.

The church itself, which is officially named Christ Church, is filled with beautiful relics from the past, including North America's oldest set of change ringing bells and chandeliers brought in from England in the early 1700s. The pews have a long history as well; Pew No. 54 was reserved for Paul Revere's son.

boston massachusetts day trips

Boston Children's Museum Boston Children's Museum

With a giant milk bottle structure at the front of the building, it's hard to miss the Boston Children's Museum. Here, hands-on exhibits present a fun and engaging way for kids to learn about various sciences, culture, art and health and wellness, among other subjects. Among the museum's standout exhibits are "Construction Zone," where little ones can learn about and play with kid-sized construction equipment, "The Common," where kids play with color, games and music, and "Japanese House" – a 100-year-old authentic Japanese house reconstructed in Boston by Japanese carpenters.

Museumgoers praise the variety of engaging exhibits tailored to kids within different age groups and can't recommend it enough. Others warn the museum gets crowded, especially in the summer.

boston massachusetts day trips

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway free

Boston is packed with cool outdoor spaces, but this nearly 1½-mile-long series of parks and gardens offers more than most. The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway was established to link Boston's diverse neighborhoods through a series of lawns, parks and walkways that occupy a former highway tunnel. Since opening in 2008, visitors have flocked to this sprawling green space to enjoy temporary public art displays, bubbling fountains, numerous food vendors and a carousel. Plus, the park offers free weekly events, including food and art festivals, summer concert performances and seasonal fitness classes.

Many previous visitors said the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway not only offers a much-needed respite from the city, but also an easy way to explore Boston with kids during the warmer months. And, in many sections of the Greenway, you're never more than a few steps away from the Freedom Trail .

boston massachusetts day trips

Tour of Historic Fenway Park, America's Most Beloved Ballpark

(1983 reviews)

from $ 33.34

The Revolutionary Story Epic Small Group Walking Tour of Boston

The Revolutionary Story Epic Small Group Walking Tour of Boston

(1355 reviews)

from $ 76.00

Boston Small-Group Walking Food Tour With Tastings

Boston Small-Group Walking Food Tour With Tastings

(710 reviews)

from $ 115.00

boston massachusetts day trips

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

This hands-on museum offers an entertaining look at one of Boston's pivotal moments. You can toss (fake) tea overboard, climb around replica ships and converse with period actors about Colonial issues. Exhibits at the museum, which is located on Griffin's Wharf (close to where the actual Tea Party occurred on Dec. 16, 1773) include 3D holograms, talking portraits and the Robinson Tea Chest, an authentic tea chest from the Boston Tea Party. Two of the three ships have been recreated, the Beaver and the Eleanor, which are fun to explore. The film "Let It Begin Here" depicts the events that immediately preceded the American Revolution. You can also grab a cup of tea or a snack in Abigail's Tea Room, which has one of the best views of the harbor around.

Visitors love the interactive nature of the museum and tossing tea overboard, saying their time there was entertaining for all ages. They also add that the guides are informative and stay in character.

boston massachusetts day trips

Museum of Science Museum of Science

If you're traveling with young ones in tow, be sure to swing by the Museum of Science. Here, kids can learn about astronomy, earth sciences and anatomy, not to mention participate in some fun interactive exhibits. Budding scientists can examine the Arctic in "Arctic Adventure: Exploring with Technology" exhibit or play on swings to learn about physics in "Science in the Park." The museum also features the Charles Hayden Planetarium, where you can indulge your inner astronaut during shows. Meanwhile, at the Mugar Omni Theater, you'll feel like you're actually in the IMAX film thanks to its cutting-edge sound technology and five-story-high projection screen.

Although the museum is very kid-focused, past visitors said that young-at-heart adults and even teens will get a kick out of the museum's engaging displays and shows. Though most travelers spend about half a day exploring the museum, you could easily allocate an entire day to this attraction. Also, remember that separate tickets (which cost extra) are needed for some museum features, such as IMAX films, planetarium shows and the Garden Walk and Insect Zoo.

boston massachusetts day trips

Boston Duck Tours Boston Duck Tours

Wander Boston for a couple of hours and you're sure to see a Duck Tour quacking its way through the streets (and waterways). These "Truck Duck" vehicles recreate the look of a DUKW truck used by the U.S. military during World War II and transport tourists all over the city by land and water. The tours drive past a number of landmark sites including the Old State House, Newbury Street , Prudential Tower, Public Garden and the Swan Boats, and Copley Square (home to the Boston Public Library ). Once launched into the water, you'll cruise down the Charles River checking out MIT, the Longfellow Bridge, as well as the Esplanade and the Hatch Shell. 

Besides giving tours around the city, Boston Duck Tour boats have been used in all of the victory parades since 2002 for the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins (the city's major teams for football, baseball, basketball and hockey, respectively). What started off simply as a way to roll the Patriots through downtown Boston for a Superbowl celebration has turned into a much-loved tradition that continues today.

boston massachusetts day trips

Boston Symphony Orchestra Boston Symphony Orchestra

Even if you're not a classical music aficionado, you can't miss attending one of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's world-renowned performances at Symphony Hall. The BSO began performing in 1881. Today, the symphony performs everything from family shows to traditional concerts and Boston Pops – a lively performance filled with singing and a variety of music. The BSO performs at Symphony Hall from September through April, then heads to Tanglewood (which is about 130 miles west of Boston) in the summer.

Past spectators not only praised the world-class talent, but also noted the impressive acoustics of Symphony Hall as a main selling point for attending future concerts. If you can't score tickets to an orchestra performance, consider taking a free tour of Symphony Hall. Tours, which are offered in the fall, winter and spring, provide information about the property, as well as insight into the orchestra's musicians and conductors.

boston massachusetts day trips

New England Holocaust Memorial New England Holocaust Memorial free

Gaze up at the six 54-foot glass towers that comprise the New England Holocaust Memorial, and you're bound to be awestruck. Dedicated in 1995, each haunting tower is etched with numbers. The 6 million numbers represent the Holocaust's victims, while the towers represent the six major death camps. There is also a granite path covered in quotes from survivors that leads visitors inside the towers.

Recent visitors described walking through the columns as an emotionally charged and unforgettable experience. The monument's location next to Faneuil Hall Marketplace makes it very accessible while walking the Freedom Trail .

boston massachusetts day trips

Boston Signature Dinner Cruise

(204 reviews)

from $ 116.66

Boston Harbor Sunset Cruise

Boston Harbor Sunset Cruise

(335 reviews)

from $ 48.00

Sightseeing Day Sail around Boston Harbor

Sightseeing Day Sail around Boston Harbor

(261 reviews)

from $ 58.45

boston massachusetts day trips

Paul Revere House Paul Revere House

For a glimpse of what life was like in the late 1700s, head to Paul Revere's former residence in the North End . The house, which is situated on the Freedom Trail , offers insight into how homes looked in Revere's time (it's even filled with period pieces, including fine silver). Inside, history fans can admire the building's sweeping beams, spacious fireplaces and some original furnishings owned by the Revere family.

If you like American history, travelers say you'll enjoy seeing the Paul Revere House. This house is small, though, so don't allot more than an hour to tour the property. Docents are friendly and knowledgeable.

boston massachusetts day trips

Massachusetts State House Massachusetts State House free

The golden-domed Massachusetts State House is an important building for many reasons and is one of the stops on the Freedom Trail . The land it sits on was originally used as John Hancock’s cow pasture. It was designed by Charles Bulfinch and completed in 1798 and the cornerstone was laid by Samuel Adams in 1795. A copper dome was installed by Paul Revere in 1802 (later covered in gold). Nowadays, senators, state representatives and the governor conduct the Commonwealth's business here.

Free tours are offered by docents who explain the building's history and discuss the important art and architecture within. Make sure to look for the Sacred Cod in the House of Representatives Chamber. The almost 5-foot wooden cod symbolizes the importance of the salt cod industry to the area.

boston massachusetts day trips

New England Aquarium New England Aquarium

Your kids will find plenty to love at the New England Aquarium, starting with the Atlantic harbor seals that hang out just beyond the ticket booth. Inside, you'll find thousands of marine critters to study, and at the center: the Giant Ocean Tank. This four-story tank includes a coral reef habitat that houses more than 1,000 underwater creatures including green sea turtles, eels and barracuda. In other parts of the aquarium, you'll find exhibits dedicated to penguins, sea jellies and seadragons, plus a six-story high projection movie screen with digital surround sound, where you can watch films about sea creatures and more. And don't forget to check out the Shark and Ray Touch Tank, which allows visitors to graze sharks and rays as they swim by.

While some visitors bemoan the aquarium's compact size (which, in turn, made for thick crowds), many appreciate the attraction's variety of animals. Several travelers also recommend watching a penguin or seal feeding.

boston massachusetts day trips

USS Constitution USS Constitution free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Every July 4th, the USS Constitution takes her annual "turnaround" sail in Boston Harbor. The particular sail is the only one open to the public and the US Navy holds a lottery with the lucky winners getting to board "Old Ironsides." – Jill LeGrow

History lovers, boat enthusiasts and military aficionados alike can't miss the chance to board the USS Constitution. Docked at the Boston National Historical Park in Charlestown, this historic vessel is the world's oldest commissioned warship still operational today. It is helmed by United States Navy sailors, who also serve as the ship's guides. The ship's accompanying museums displays nearly 2,000 artifacts related to the ship's history.

boston massachusetts day trips

Bunker Hill Monument Bunker Hill Monument free

Bunker Hill Monument is part of the Boston National Historical Park and a stop on the Freedom Trail . The first major battle of the American Revolution took place on Breed's Hill in June 1775, though originally it was supposed to take place on nearby Bunker Hill. Names aside, the British won the battle but fared worse than their American foes. The British sacrificed about nearly half of their 2,400 men; American casualties were between 300 and 500 out of an army of 1,400 to 1,800 soldiers. Construction of the monument started in 1827 and was completed in 1842. The 221-foot granite obelisk offers fabulous views from its observatory, though you have to work for it by climbing 294 steps to the top.

Start your visit at the Bunker Hill Museum, located across the street. Exhibits explain the Battle of Bunker Hill, the construction of the monument, and the history of Charlestown. Free tickets are required to climb the monument and you can also pick them up at the museum. Visitors enjoy the museum and say the monument is awe-inspiring and the grounds beautiful.

boston massachusetts day trips

Harvard University Campus Guided Walking Tour

(2153 reviews)

from $ 23.00

Boston: North End to Freedom Trail - Food & History Walking Tour

Boston: North End to Freedom Trail - Food & History Walking Tour

(1337 reviews)

from $ 111.15

Boston Day Tour by Ferry: Salem Witch Trials Past to Present

Boston Day Tour by Ferry: Salem Witch Trials Past to Present

(34 reviews)

boston massachusetts day trips

View Boston View Boston

U.S. News Insider Tip: To save some cash on your sightseeing, pick up a Boston CityPass which allows you to visit up to four attractions (such as the Museum of Science , New England Aquarium , Boston Harbor City Cruise and View Boston) for one discounted price. – Jill LeGrow

Replacing the iconic Top of the Hub restaurant and Skywalk Observatory that closed in 2020, View Boston opened in June 2023 to offer 360 panoramic views of Boston from atop the 52nd floor of the Prudential Center. Taking over the top three floors of the Prudential Center, View Boston includes an observatory, a wraparound roof deck and indoor/outdoor cocktail bar called Stratus, and a floor with interactive exhibits such as a projection-mapped 3D model of Boston. There's also Beacon, a bistro offering seasonal beverages and food.

boston massachusetts day trips

The Mapparium The Mapparium

Located at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, this three-story, stained glass globe never fails to elicit wonder. Designed by the architect of the Christian Science Publishing Society building, Chester Lindsay Churchill, the globe depicts the world as it was in 1935.

The "How Do You See the World" experience includes the globe; the "Our World: Mapping Progress," which highlights humanity's achievements since 1935; and "Points of Progress," where you can learn about significant events in human rights, scientific advances, exploration, and other fields. A 10-minute audio narration features clips from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jane Goodall, Wangari Maathai (a Kenyan Nobel laureate) and others. One of the coolest features of the globe is that it is a "whispering gallery." Stand at one end of the gallery while a friend stands at the other. Whisper something to them and they will be the only one to hear it.

boston massachusetts day trips

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boston massachusetts day trips

12+ Best Day Trips from Boston

Adventurous Kate contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

What are the best day trips from Boston? Have I got the post for you! Boston is a brilliantly situated city, surrounded by seaside towns, cool beaches, and natural wonders. Whether you’re staying in downtown Boston or out in the suburbs, whether you’re traveling with kids or on your own, there’s so much to see throughout Massachusetts and beyond.

And if there’s anything I know like the back of my hand, it’s Boston day trips — the ones that are worth it (Newburyport! Providence! Portland!), and the ones that are bad ideas.

Planning your trip to Boston last minute?

Boston is very popular and books up quickly year-round. Book ahead to avoid disappointment!

🦞 Top Day Trips from Boston:

  • Salem in a Day from Boston: Witches Tour (My top recommendation!)
  • Martha’s Vineyard Day Trip from Boston (LONG trip, but great place)
  • Boston to Newport, RI Day Trip (Elegant mansions!)

🛌  Top-Rated Hotels in Buenos Aires:

  • The Liberty Hotel (Former jail and super trendy!)
  • Boston Park Plaza (Super nice and not too $$)
  • Oasis Guest House (Great budget option)

🚗 Renting a car in Boston? Find deals on car rental rates here.

I grew up 20 minutes outside Boston — Reading, specifically — and spent several years living in Boston as an adult. Today, I spend much of the year in the Boston area with my family. I feel very lucky to be from New England, which is filled with fabulous places to visit, from my beloved Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Provincetown, the funky tip of Cape Cod.

While most of these Boston day trips require a car, several of them can be done with public transportation. Read on to see which day trips from Boston are best for you.

I would like to acknowledge and honor the Massa-adchu-es-et (Massachusett), Pawtucket, Pokanoket, Wôpanâak (Wampanoag), Nauset, Pentucket, Abenaki/Abénaquis, Wabanaki and Mohican people, the Indigenous stewards and traditional owners of the unceded land now known as the Greater Boston area.

This post was last updated in March 2024.

Table of Contents

A group of people in hoodies sitting at a bar with a big sign reading "Maine Craft Distilling"

Best Day Trips from Boston

There are lots of day trips from Boston — but which ones are best? It all depends on what you’re looking for as a traveler.

My top three Boston day trips are the seaside town of Newburyport ; Provincetown , the funky tip of Cape Cod; and one of my favorite small cities, Portsmouth, New Hampshire .

North of Boston, I recommend Crane’s Beach in Ipswich . South of Boston, I recommend Duxbury Beach in Duxbury .

If you want to do a day trip from Boston on public transportation, I recommend the seaside town of Newburyport by train, the foodie city of Portland, Maine , by train, and the fun Cape Cod town of Provincetown by ferry.

Check out the deCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln , spend the day in York, Maine , or have a fun beach day in Duxbury .

In winter many smaller towns in New England are virtually closed down. I would bundle up and visit another busy, active city like Portland, Maine or Providence, Rhode Island .

There’s a lot to consider, so here are my four big tips:

Tip #1: Don’t go overboard with history-oriented day trips if you’re not into history.

Yep, we’ve got a lot of wonderful historic sites in New England, and most travel writers tend to disproportionally play them up, but not everyone is up for doing historic day trip after historic day trip. I know I’m not.

Tip #2: Don’t just visit other cities.

Portland, Portsmouth, and Providence are great, but if you’re in Boston, you’re already in a city, and you shouldn’t miss out on the other side of New England: small towns and areas of natural beauty.

Tip #3: Keep your destinations within a two-hour drive.

If not, you’ll be spending a huge chunk of your day driving. Each destination I’m listing here is within a two-hour drive of Boston, with the occasional exception noted.

Tip #4: Make sure you have the right train station.

Boston has two main train stations: North Station and South Station. Trains to northern destinations depart from North Station; trains to southern destinations depart from South Station. There is also Back Bay Station, which is the first stop after South Station, so if you’re staying around Back Bay, you can just hop on the train there. Buses depart from South Station Bus Terminal.

A small street in Newburyport, Massachusetts, with brick roads, cobblestone sidewalks, and boutiques including a bakery with an "Eat Cake" sign in a brick building.

Newburyport, Massachusetts

If you’re looking for quintessential New England seaside towns, Newburyport is one of my absolute favorites. This is small town New England at its best. Located north of Boston on a convenient commuter rail line, Newbury has a lovely waterfront, a beautiful downtown area with lots of fun shops, and easy access to the beach and wildlife at Plum Island.

Best things to do in Newburyport: This is a nice town for just walking around, and I encourage you to go in without too big of an agenda. Walk along the waterfront, browse the treasures at Oldies Marketplace , visit the Custom House Maritime Museum or Cushing House (the Museum of Old Newbury) , or even go on a food tour with Taste Newburyport .

Plum Island, a barrier island along the coast, is technically split between the towns of Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley, and Ipswich. You can stake out a nice spot on the beach — but Plum Island really excels at wildlife. Check out the bird life at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge , go kayaking, ride your bike along the trails, and enjoy the atmosphere.

There are plenty of dining options in Newburyport, but if you want a really local spot, head to The Grog . There’s nowhere else I go in town. This hole-in-the-wall pub has dollar oysters (you need to ask for them!), lots of interesting beers on tap, and delicious appetizers, including a nice chowder.

How to get from Boston to Newburyport: Newburyport is about a 45-minute drive from Boston. The train from Boston (North Station) to Newburyport takes one hour. If you’re heading to Plum Island, you’ll want to have a car.

boston massachusetts day trips

Provincetown, Massachusetts

If you’re looking for a summertime day trip that combines a nice beach and an active town, both classic New England style and modern hotspot, Provincetown is the perfect choice! P-Town, a popular summer destination and legendary LGBTQ summer getaway, is at the very tip of Cape Cod.

Normally, I don’t recommend doing a day trip to Cape Cod during the summer because you’ll inevitably be sitting in hours of traffic at the Sagamore Bridge. But Provincetown is the one exception — because you take the ferry! The fast ferry runs direct from Boston to Provincetown from mid-May through mid-October, and it only takes 95 minutes each way. You can check the ferry schedule here.

In Provincetown, you can have a beach day or an exploration day — or a little bit of both!

Best things to do in Provincetown: Enjoy relaxing at Racepoint Beach, check out the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum (the only permanent exhibition that tells the story of the Pilgrims’ arrival from the point of view of the Wampanoag), explore the shops and galleries on Commercial Street, go wine tasting at Truro Vineyards (just south of Provincetown in North Truro), try beers at the Provincetown Brewing Company , see a Zoe Lewis show .

See the full list of things to do in Provincetown here .

If you’re going to eat, check out The Lobster Pot — check out their Portuguese soup with red beans, kale, linguica, and chorizo, featured by Anthony Bourdain on Parts Unknown . Southeast Massachusetts is home to a big Portuguese community, so take advantage!

How to get from Boston to Provincetown: The fast ferry takes 95 minutes and departs from the World Trade Center in Boston’s Seaport District. That’s the only way I’d recommend doing a day trip, as the drive to Provincetown takes 2.5 hours without factoring in the bottleneck at the Sagamore Bridge.

Want more? See my full Provincetown guide here!

A row of four colorful gingerbread houses in a wooded area in Martha's Vineyard.

Martha’s Vineyard

Is it possible to do a day trip from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard? Yes, it is, but it’s best done as a tour from Boston . Honestly, I highly recommend staying at least overnight, or for a few days, but if all you have is a day, you can absolutely make it happen.

I absolutely love Martha’s Vineyard and especially love exploring it by car. Just keep in mind that if you visit during the summer months, there can be a TON of traffic heading down the Cape. I would not do this from Friday through Sunday during the summer months.

Best things to do in Martha’s Vineyard: Start in the beautiful town of Oak Bluffs and visit all the colorful gingerbread houses, followed by a spin on the carousel. If you don’t have a car, I recommend renting a bike and riding down to Edgartown , which is SUCH a beautiful town. From Edgartown you can take the Chappy Ferry to Chappaquiddick Island , which is perfect to explore by bike.

And if you have time in the evening, I highly recommend checking out the stunning Aquinnah Cliffs and/or Moshup Beach, my favorite beach in Martha’s Vineyard, late in the afternoon, followed by sunset in the fishing village of Menemsha. And another lovely town to explore is Vineyard Haven , with lots of cute shops and the Black Dog.

How to get from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard: If you’re doing a day trip from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard, I strongly suggest you book this tour . With limited time, it will be far easier if you have professionals taking you directly.

Otherwise, you can drive to Woods Hole on Cape Cod (80 minutes, but longer during the summer), and take the Steamship Authority ferry to either Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard (one hour). This ferry allows cars.

boston massachusetts day trips

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth is one of my favorite places to take people visiting New England for the first time. It simultaneously has the feeling of a small town and a medium-sized city, all perched on New Hampshire’s brief sliver of coastline, a stone’s throw from Maine. It has a funky, almost bohemian feel in some parts. Throw in fresh seafood and surprisingly few tourists and you’ve got a great spot for a day trip from Boston.

Portsmouth is on a lovely stretch of waterfront, just across the water from Kittery, Maine , so it pairs well with the south coast of Maine. I often pair a day trip to Portsmouth with a visit to The Maine Diner in nearby Wells, Maine, one of my favorite restaurants on the planet.

Best things to do in Portsmouth: Portsmouth, like Newburyport, is the kind of destination that lends itself to walking around and exploring. Browse the Portsmouth Book & Bar bookstore while enjoying a coffee or beer, explore the shops on Market Square, check out the Strawbery Banke Museum and its historic homes, take a self-guided tour of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire , try some beers at the Portsmouth Brewery , and walk across the bridge into Maine (fun if you’ve never walked into another state before!).

As for where to eat, there are tons of spots! My favorite is The Friendly Toast , a joyful diner-like spot serving up creative dishes. River House is a great spot for dining right on the water. Portsmouth Brewery has a great menu of American comfort classics.

How to get from Boston to Portsmouth: Portsmouth is about an hourlong drive from Boston. There are also buses that take an hour and 20 minutes from South Station Bus Terminal.

See more on my sister site, New Hampshire Way:

  • 27 Fun Things to Do in Portsmouth, NH
  • Best Portsmouth NH Restaurants
  • Best Bars in Portsmouth, NH
  • Best Portsmouth, NH Hotels and B&Bs

Fishing boats docked in a smooth harbor in front of waterfront homes in Ogunquit, Maine. In the background are trees just starting to turn red and yellow.

South Coast of Maine

Ever wanted to visit Maine? You can absolutely do that on a day trip from Boston! Maine’s south coast is closer to Boston than you’d think. (So close, in fact, that some people refer to the south coast as “North Massachusetts.” Hehe.) Even so, you’ll see that Maine has a personality all its own, where life is slower, houses are brighter, and relationships are strong.

Ideally, I recommend visiting a few destinations in a single day trip. Morning in Kennebunkport, late lunch at the Maine Diner in Wells, and an afternoon and evening in Ogunquit would be lovely! Here are destinations in southern Maine worth visiting, from north to south:

Kennebunkport — Most famous for its longtime summer residents, George and Barbara Bush, Kennebunkport is one of the classic beauties of southern Maine. The town is beautiful on its own; it’s also home to Gooch’s Beach, a few nice museums, food tours , and trolley tours .

Wells — Home to a lovely stretch of beach and one of my favorite restaurants on the planet, The Maine Diner . They make the best seafood chowder IN THE WORLD, a fantastic lobster pie, a hot lobster roll with butter, blueberry pie, and a dish my friends and I swear we’re going to order someday, the Clam-o-Rama. Everything here is good, even if you don’t eat seafood.

Ogunquit — An artsy, colorful village and popular LGBTQ vacation spot, home to nice beaches and a rocky cove, Ogunquit is one of the most photogenic spots in a very photogenic state. Come here to enjoy the beach, hang out at the bars, explore the shops, or catch a show at the Ogunquit Playhouse. You can see my full guide to Ogunquit here.

York — Home to a large, calm beach, a picture-perfect lighthouse, a carnival-like fun park, and one of the coolest candy stores around, York makes an especially good choice for families with young kids. It’s good for a brief drop-in or a lazy day away. You can see my full guide on York, Maine here .

Kittery — At the southern edge of Maine, Kittery is most famous for its outlet shopping and pretty waterfront. It’s right next door to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, so these destinations pair well together. You can see my full guide to Kittery here.

Portland, Maine, is just north of Kennebunkport but it’s more of a standalone destination. See more on that below .

How to get from Boston to Maine: Kennebunkport is about a 90-minute drive from Boston; the other towns are closer. This is one Boston day trip I recommend doing by car as there are lots of small towns to see and the public transport connections aren’t the best.

Read More: My Guide to Ogunquit, Maine

boston massachusetts day trips

Salem, Massachusetts

The city of witches. The city of history. The city that welcomed my 12-year-old great-grandfather when he arrived on a boat from Sicily at age 12, alone. Salem is a very popular day trip from Boston, especially for people looking for historic and/or educational day trips. And the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 have led to a community of witches, Wiccans, and those interested in the occult today, making it a strange blend with the maritime history!

I’ve written a full guide to visiting Salem if you’d like more in-depth information!

I think Salem is worth visiting if you’re really into history or you’re visiting during October, when Haunted Happenings brings a full month of celebrations. And Halloween night in Salem is a TON of fun! Beyond that, I would go with somewhere else on this list. On the North Shore, Newburyport and Rockport are much nicer. Even Marblehead, next door to Salem, is nicer.

Best Things to Do in Salem: Check out the Salem Witch Museum , visit the House of the Seven Gables , get a tarot or palm reading , visit the Peabody Essex Museum , go on a ghost tour .

How to get from Boston to Salem: If you want a guided tour, I highly recommend this Salem day trip from Boston from Walks . Salem is about 30 minutes from Boston, either by driving or by train from North Station. You can also get there by ferry on Boston Harbor Cruises. Check the ferry schedule here.

25 Spooky, Historic Things to Do in Salem, Massachusetts

boston massachusetts day trips

Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts

Yes, the shot heard ’round the world was first fired from Lexington and Concord, starting the American Revolution. Massachusetts bleeds Revolutionary War history, and Lexington and Concord are great towns to explore that time period — as well as literary history. These towns were home to Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and more.

If you’re into history of this time period — or craving a break from Boston’s crowds and skyscrapers — Lexington and Concord, two historic towns side by side, make a lovely Boston day trip.

Best things to do in Lexington and Concord: Check out Walden Pond , a natural escape where Thoreau wrote Walden ; dive into American Revolution history at Minuteman Historic Park ; see Louisa May Alcott’s home at Orchard House ; tour the Battle Green , where the shot heard ’round the world was fired; check out Lexington’s historic buildings like Buckman Tavern and Hancock-Clarke House.

For food, continue the historic theme at Concord’s Colonial Inn , which dates back to 1716 and has two restaurants serving classic Yankee dishes alongside more modern offerings.

How to get from Boston to Lexington: Lexington is about a 20-minute drive from Boston; there are public transportation connections that take closer to an hour. I recommend doing Lexington and Concord by car because the attractions are pretty spread out.

boston massachusetts day trips

Rockport, Massachusetts

If you’re looking for a visually stunning small seaside town in Massachusetts, you’re going to love Rockport . This little town on Cape Ann, the “other” cape in northeast Massachusetts, makes a beautiful day trip. There’s a reason why North Shore residents treasure Rockport as a lovely weekend getaway.

My favorite fun fact about Rockport is that it was the filming location for Sandra Bullock and Betty White’s small Alaskan village in the movie The Proposal ! Seriously! It’s worth watching before you go to Rockport. Bearskin Neck, a tiny neighborhood of shops perched on the edge of town, could surprisingly look like a fishing village anywhere.

Best things to do in Rockport: Photograph all the fishing boats and painted cottages; check out the shops and art galleries on Bearskin Neck, sample all the fudges of Rockport Fudgery , relax on the beaches, take a walk along the rocky coastline at Halibut Point State Park , go on a Cape Ann whale watch . Also, don’t overlook Gloucester, the town next door and a short drive away!

As for where to eat in Rockport, the quintessential experience is getting a lobster roll at Roy Moore Lobster Co . and eat it while looking over the water. Alternatively, head to the Azorean Restaurant and Bar in nearby Gloucester to enjoy flavors of Portugal’s Atlantic archipelago.

How to get from Boston to Rockport: Rockport is about a 50-minute drive from Boston. You can also take the train from Boston (North Station) to Manchester (50 minutes) and from there take the connecting shuttle to Rockport (28 minutes).

Read More: 27 Fun Things To Do in Rockport, MA

boston massachusetts day trips

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport may be another seaside New England town — but this one is a hell of a lot fancier. Newport is famous for its mansions, sailing, and history as one of the see-and-be-seen destinations among the American elite. During the Gilded Age, Newport became THE summer destination of America’s greatest thinkers, with a party scene to match.

But is a destination for famous rich people in the 1900s worth visiting today? Absolutely. Newport today has lots of historical sites to explore, but at its heart it’s a modern city. You come here for beaches and breweries, donut shops and Instagrammable cliff walks. And, of course, mansions that make you want to sing, “My God, this house is freakin’ sweet!”

Best things to do in Newport: Go on the Cliff Walk , a 3.5-mile journey along the coastline, passing some of the biggest mansions; visit The Breakers , the most insane mansion in all of Newport; chill out on the beaches; try beers at Newport Brewing Company or wines at Newport Vineyards ; explore the (much smaller!) colonial-era homes of The Point; visit the Newport Art Museum ; watch the sunset over Naragansett Bay.

For eating, Jo’s American Bistro does a fabulous lobster carbonara and features a $20.95 prix fixe menu Sunday to Thursday — great value if you’re doing a day trip from Boston during the week.

How to get from Boston to Newport: Newport is about a 1.5-hour drive from Boston. I highly recommend this day trip from Boston , which includes transportation and the mansions.

There is a bus departing South Station that takes 2.5 hours. You can also take the train from South Station to Providence, then a bus to Newport, but I think that’s too much of a hassle for a day trip.

boston massachusetts day trips

White Mountains, New Hampshire

If you’re looking for a fall foliage day trip from Boston, the White Mountains are my top recommendation. This is one of the most gorgeous fall getaways in New England, but most outsiders haven’t even heard of it. But it also makes a great trip in late spring or summer, with tons of great outdoor activities.

(If you’re visiting the White Mountains for fall colors, keep in mind that the White Mountains are further north and at a higher altitude than Boston, so the leaves change earlier. Peak foliage tends to be the first week of October. See more on that in my Best Time to Visit Boston post.)

I grew up camping in the White Mountains every summer — specifically, at White Lake State Park in Tamworth. If you want to go chill out at a lake for a day, this is a great spot! It gets busy on summer weekends but it’s mostly quiet the rest of the time.

Note that the White Mountains are the only day trip I recommend that is more than two hours from Boston. If you’re up for a BIG day in beautiful nature, I think it’s worth it. If that’s a bit far for you for a day trip, consider staying overnight.

Best things to do in the White Mountains: Explore the cute downtown of North Conway ( Zebs General Store is a must), drive the Kancamagus Highway and explore the stops, hike through the Flume Gorge or Lost River Gorge , do a canopy tour at Alpine Adventures , take the Mount Washington Cog Railway up Mount Washington. Or just drive around, listening to music and admiring the scenery.

How to get from Boston to the White Mountains: North Conway is about a 2.5-hour drive from Boston; Lincoln is about a two-hour drive (and literally right on route 93). Though there are some buses to North Conway, this is one day trip that is best done by car.

  • 30 Unforgettable Things to Do in the White Mountains
  • 31 Fun Things to Do in North Conway, NH
  • Hiking the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire
  • Complete Guide to Driving the Kancamagus Highway, NH

A street with boutiques on it in Portland, Maine, old-fashioned gas lamps on the street.

Portland, Maine

It’s far more than just “the other Portland” — Portland, Maine, is one of the emerging foodie destinations of the United States. If you love cities but feel like Boston is a bit overwhelming and large, Portland might be more your speed! Especially if you love to taste the local libations. It’s the best of a small city and a fishing village, all rolled into one.

My friends and I decided to plan our friend’s bachelorette in Portland on a whim — none of us were too familiar with the city. It turned out to be a fabulous idea and became one of our favorite getaways. You can read about that trip here.

Best things to do in Portland, Maine: Go mead tasting at Maine Meadworks , spirit tasting at Maine Craft Distilling , and kombucha tasting at Urban Farm Fermentory ; check out the Portland Head Light lighthouse; explore the Old Port, downtown Portland’s quirky shops and boutiques; go on a lobstering tour by boat; visit the Portland Museum of Art ; go on a Portland food tour.

As for where to eat in Portland — well, you’ve got plenty of choices. I especially recommend Duckfat for sandwiches and fries and the Holy Donut for potato donuts (trust me, they’re great). If you’re looking for a truly special dinner, Fore Street serves hyper-local fine cuisine and serves especially good seafood. Book early.

How to get from Boston to Portland: Portland is a 1-hour and 45-minute drive from Boston. There are also trains (two hours, departing from North Station) and buses (2.5 hours, departing from South Station Bus Terminal).

boston massachusetts day trips

Providence, Rhode Island

Yet another fabulous New England city in a smaller package — one with a distinctive artistic flair. Providence, home to the Rhode Island School of Design, is a great place to visit and an underrated gem of New England. Sure, it’s got history, pretty neighborhoods, interesting restaurants and some memorable celebrations. But it stays firmly under the radar — and likes it that way.

If you’re visiting Providence in the summer, see if you can time your visit to see Waterfire , a festival in downtown Providence where artistic fire installations erupt over the water and local businesses open for celebration. This takes place several times during the summer months, so double-check the datess before you go!

Best things to do in Providence: Visit the RISD Museum , the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design; fall in love with the Providence Athenaeum , a stunning library straight out of Beauty and the Beast ; go on a Providence brewery crawl ( see a map of local breweries here ); go Italian food-hopping in the Federal Hill neighborhood; take a long walk through Roger Williams Park, the largest and best maintained park in town.

Food-wise, don’t forget to try Rhode Island-style calamari and coffee milk (yes, it’s like chocolate milk, but with coffee-flavored syrup), my two Rhode Island favorites! If you want to go fancy, I recommend Persimmon ; if you want to go funky, I recommend the Peruvian and Bolivian Los Andes ; if you want to go cheap and fun, go for Korean food at Den Den .

How to get from Boston to Providence: Providence is about an hour’s drive from Boston, but the train from South Station takes closer to 38 minutes. There are also hourlong buses from South Station Bus Terminal.

boston massachusetts day trips

Cape Cod, Massachusetts*

Should you do a day trip from Boston to Cape Cod — or down the Cape, as we Bostonians say? I actually don’t recommend doing so during the summer months.

Cape Cod is a summer destination, for obvious reasons. It’s all about beaches and ice cream stands and bike rides. And it is best explored by car, giving you the freedom to explore small towns at your own pace.

But what other guides don’t tell you is that summer traffic bottlenecks up at the Sagamore Bridge, which could add hours to your trip in either direction. It’s one of Boston’s dirty secrets. Do you want to be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic twice in a single day?

If you’re going to do a day trip to Cape Cod during the summer, I recommend the aforementioned day trip to Provincetown by boat. That’s a nice, traffic-free journey from Boston that won’t slice hours off your trip.

If you’re visiting more in the off-season — say, May through early June, or September or October — a Cape Cod day trip is much more doable, but know that it won’t be in full summer mode.

Best things to do in Cape Cod: The Cape is another place that lends itself to wandering and seeing what you find. Go find your perfect piece of beach on the Cape Cod National Seashore ; go on a catamaran sailing trip , rent a bike and head down the Cape Cod Rail Trail , catch a Cape Cod Baseball League game, see a movie at the Wellfleet Drive-In , check out the Sandwich Glass Museum .

Food-wise, why not try out some fabulous Wellfleet oysters right at the source? Check out The Impudent Oyster in Chatham, The Wicked Oyster in Wellfleet, and The Naked Oyster in Hyannis.

How to Get from Boston to Cape Cod: Hyannis is about a 1.5-hour drive from Boston if there’s no bridge traffic. There is also a two-hour, 20-minute train to Hyannis from South Station; it also stops at Buzzards Bay and Bourne.

boston massachusetts day trips

Beach Day Trips From Boston

If you’re looking for a fun beach day trip, and somewhere nicer than Boston’s T-accessible beaches like Revere Beach or Carson Beach, consider taking a day trip to one of the NICE ones!

You don’t even have to go down the Cape — there are a lot of nice beaches on the North Shore (north of Boston) and the South Shore (south of Boston). Here are some worth considering:

Best Beaches North of Boston

Here they are, from south to north:

Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea — A gorgeous beach with “singing” sand that’s also accessible by train from Boston! No car necessary! (It’s about a half-mile walk from the station to the beach.)

Crane’s Beach in Ipswich — One of the most beloved beaches in New England, long and expansive with soft sand.

Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester — One of my high school favorites, with fabulously clear water (by New England standards, at least) at low tide and lots of big rocks to climb.

Salisbury Beach in Salisbury — A long, endless-seaming beach with big waves, right next to the New Hampshire border.

Best Beaches South of Boston

Here they are, north to south:

Nantasket Beach in Hull — A narrow beach on a wispy peninsula near Boston Harbor, a really good choice if you want to pair your beach day with a lively boardwalk-type atmosphere.

Duxbury Beach in Duxbury — One of the most solid all-around beach options in the area, and if you’re there, you might as well try their trademark oysters!

Horseneck Beach State Reservation in Westport — Buzzards Bay is one of the big Massachusetts secrets — it’s the Cape, but before the Sagamore Bridge, so no bottleneck to get there! Soft white sand greets you here.

boston massachusetts day trips

Museum Day Trips From Boston

Yes, Boston has some of the best museums in the United States — but there are plenty of excellent museums outside the city, too! Here are some of the notable ones that I recommend doing as a day trip from Boston:

New England Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts — This is a surprisingly lovely museum that isn’t so much about hunting whales as about the entire seafaring industry over several centuries. (And a spectacular wedding venue! I was a bridesmaid in a wedding here.)

Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts — One of my personal favorite museums in Massachusetts, this museum is a monument to the quintessential New England illustrations and journey to activism of Norman Rockwell.

Plimoth Patuxet Museums in Plymouth, Massachusetts — Formerly Plimouth Plantation, this historic site brings to life Plymouth Colony and the Indigenous peoples who called this area home. (Nearby Plymouth Rock is often cited as the most underwhelming site in Massachusetts, so be prepared for that.)

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts — If you’re a basketball fan in the least, come down to where basketball was invented! This museum has a massive collection of memorabilia.

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts — A really fun place to visit on a nice day, deCordova is the largest sculpture park in New England, featuring giant works of art over 30 acres.

Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts — A living museum that brings the late 1800s to life, costumed historians showing you what life was like more than 100 years ago.

Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts — Whether you do the full Salem day trip or not, PEM is one of the hidden gems on the North Shore, with a lovely collection of global art, as well as local treasures.

boston massachusetts day trips

Shopping Day Trips from Boston

Are you here to do some serious shopping? You’ve got options. A lot of people from Massachusetts customarily head to New Hampshire to make big purchases, as there’s no sales tax there. The Mall of New Hampshire and the Mall in Rockingham Park are popular for this reason. (The people at the Apple Store in Nashua practically know me by name at this point.)

But there are some destinations near Boston that work as day trips or half-day trips on their own.

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets — The Wrentham Outlets usually get all the attention, thanks to their high-end shops. Here you have designer outlets like Armani, Gucci, and Ferragamo as well as more mainstream outlets like Gap, Express, and Adidas.

Kittery Outlets — In Maine’s southernmost town, next door to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, this small outlets collection includes primarily mainstream shops like Nike, Ann Taylor, and Lululemon, with cool additions like Le Creuset. Not quite a standalone destination but it pairs well with a trip to Portsmouth or southern Maine.

Merrimack Premium Outlets — These outlets in Merrimack, New Hampshire, have the bonus of no sales tax! Mainstream stores include Bath and Body Works, J. Crew, Kate Spade, the Disney Store, and more.

An old-fashioned yellow house with dark green shutters and a large porch set among trees at the end of a driveway in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Boston Day Trips to Avoid

Do not take a day trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. Not only is it WAY up north, way beyond a doable day trip, it also books out several months in advance. My suggestion? Plan a longer road trip up to Acadia and back.

Do not take a day trip to Burlington, Vermont. I love that little city, but it’s four hours away. If you go, go for the weekend, not a day trip.

Do not take a day trip to the Berkshires. Some people do it, but I think it’s a bit too far, with the POSSIBLE exception of Stockbridge , which is 2.5 hours by car and right off the Mass. Pike. Other destinations like North Adams, Williamstown, and Great Barrington are much further.

The Berkshires are wonderful — but it’s much better if you stay for a few days, or overnight. Be sure to check out my ultimate travel guide to the Berkshires , which will help you plan an awesome trip!

Do not plan a Connecticut casino day trip unless you know what you’re in for. Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods brand themselves as sexy resorts — but I find them depressing, smoky, and the furthest thing from sexy. If you’re expecting the party vibes of Las Vegas, you’ll be disappointed.

And be especially careful about planning trips in the winter. Some of these destinations get very quiet — especially the small seaside towns. And if it’s going to snow, don’t go anywhere ! You don’t want to be caught up in a nor’easter when you’re far from home.

Best of Boston:

  • What NOT to Do in Boston
  • Where to Stay in Boston: Best Neighborhoods & Hotels
  • 40+ Fun Things to Do in Boston at Night
  • Best Time to Visit Boston
  • 24 Interesting Things to Do in Cambridge, Mass.
  • 21 Best Museums in Boston

Cape Cod & the Islands:

  • Which of the Towns of Cape Cod is Best for You?
  • 24 Fab Things to Do in Cape Cod
  • 22 Fabulous Things to Do in Provincetown, MA
  • Which Of The 6 Martha’s Vineyard Towns Is Best For You?
  • A Guide to Oak Bluffs, MA — Home of the Gingerbread Houses
  • A Guide to Edgartown, MA — Prettiest Martha’s Vineyard Town
  • A Guide to Vineyard Haven, MA — Authentic Town on Martha’s Vineyard

Western Massachusetts:

  • 33 Best Things to Do in the Berkshires
  • Best Towns in the Berkshires, Massachusetts
  • 24 Cool Things to Do in Lenox, MA
  • 12 Fun Things to Do in Stockbridge, MA

North Shore:

  • 27 Fun Things to Do in Rockport, Mass.
  • 25 Spooky, Haunted Things to Do in Salem, Mass.

boston massachusetts day trips

Have you been to Boston? Do you have any day trip recommendations? Share away!

Frost + Sun

37 Delightful Day Trips from Boston, MA

By Author Meg Frost

Posted on Last updated: November 19, 2023

Categories Massachusetts , United States of America (USA)

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Closeup photo of colorful buoys hanging on the side of a weathered cottage. Text overlay in the middle reads

As much as I love my home city of Boston, MA, getting out of the city is always welcome. Luckily there are TONS of fun day trips from Boston available.

Check out these 37 delightful day trips from Boston for ideas on what you can do when you want to explore the rest of New England.

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

A man and woman kayaking off the coast of one of the Boston Harbor islands.

Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park is comprised of over 30 islands and peninsulas.

While some of the islands are technically still part of Boston proper, it’s very much a step out of the city life, so I had to include it as a day trip from Boston!

Make your way to Georges Island to visit Fort Warren, a Civil War era fortress open to the public.

Or perhaps head to Brewster Island to tour the oldest lighthouse in the US.

Hiking, nature walks, boating, fishing, bird watching, and relaxing on the beach are popular activities for a day trip to Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park.

A few of the islands also offer camping (note: NOT glamping or modern camping!).

Ferry service to most islands is available at the dock next to the New England Aquarium from late Spring to mid Fall.

Fares are reasonable, ranging from free to less than $20, depending on whether you’re an adult, student, member of the military, and so on.

For more information about ferry service, check out the BHI website .

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

Location : 51 Sandy Pond Rd, Lincoln, MA Phone : (781) 259-8355

View of a sculpture on the grounds of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA.

I have a special place in my heart for sculpture gardens because they combine my love of weird art and the great outdoors.

One of the best sculpture parks near Boston is the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, with more than 60 sculptures spread out over 30 acres. The museum itself holds over 3400 works of art.

The sculptures and artwork at the deCordova Sculpture Park rotate out, so chances are high that repeat visits will be a new experience each time.

Forest Park in Springfield, MA

A massive holiday light display at Forest Park in Springfield, MA. The sign reads

Forest Park , one of the largest city parks in the US, is another fun place to hangout.

There are several playgrounds, a public pool, sports fields, a rose garden, duck ponds, easy hiking trails, and more.

During the Winter holiday season, Forest Park is transformed into Bright Nights , a nighttime drive-thru attraction with lights displays depicting pop culture figures, winter scenery, local companies, and pop culture icons.

Foxwoods Casino & Resort

Location : 350 Trolley Line Blvd, Mashantucket, CT Phone : 1-800-FOXWOODS

Foxwoods Casino is known for its nightlife options, but also has a softer side with a spa and a golf course.

The variety of activities available at Foxwoods makes it a great destination for group day trips from Boston for celebrations such as bachelorette parties or girls’ getaways.

Oh and before I forget – they have their own outlet mall. An entire outlet mall! Who doesn’t love shopping at a discount?

Freeport, Maine

Freeport has outlet shops set amid a quaint New England backdrop about 2 hours north of Boston.

It is also home to the flagship store for preppy outdoor brand, L.L. Bean, maker of the über popular duck boot gracing every New Englander’s feet in the colder months.

Gillette Stadium & Patriot Place

Location : 1 Patriot Pl, Foxborough, MA Phone : (508) 543-8200

Photo of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts packed with spectators.

Boston is NUTS for sports, especially when it comes to the New England Patriots, who play at Gillette Stadium.

Do yourself a favor and make it to at least one game if you’re here during NFL football season, which takes place between September and December. To see when the next game is, check out the New England Patriots schedule .

Not a football fan? Right next to Gillette Stadium is Patriot Place, which is packed with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.

The fun also includes Splitsville Luxury Lanes bowling, Howl at the Moon piano bar, and a TopGolf Swing Suite.

Hampton Beach, NH

Photo of a family with 2 children walking toward the ocean at Hampton Beach, NH, one of many fun beaches available on a day trip from Boston.

New Hampshire doesn’t have much coastline, but what little exists is a popular spot for day trips from Boston. Hampton Beach, about 1 hour north, is the most popular.

Aside from the obvious benefits (sand, sun & water), Hampton Beach holds 2 popular events each year, the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival and the Hampton Beach Sand Sculpture Competition.

Hampton Beach also has a fireworks display every Wednesday evening during the Summer months.

Crane Beach

People setting up a clambake on Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA.

Want to hit the beach but don’t want to deal with Boston-area traffic? Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA is easily accessible by public transport.

Take the MBTA Commuter Rail Newburyport line to Ipswich, then hop on board the Ipswich Essex Explorer shuttle to Crane Beach.

Getting to Crane Beach without a car is super convenient, not to mention cheap!

The Kittery Outlets

Growing up, I spent a lot of my school vacations in Bar Harbor, Maine.

The Kittery Outlets are located on the border of Maine and Massachusetts, so we’d often stop off on our way home to do some shopping.

The outlets are not in a single complex, which can be annoying since that makes it less walkable, but they are at least congregated to the same area.

Nonetheless, The Kittery Outlets always has good deals, so it’s worth the stop.

A few popular shops and outlets in Kittery include:

  • Calvin Klein
  • J.Crew Factory & Crew Cuts
  • Kate Spade New York
  • Lululemon athletica
  • Nike Factory Store

For a complete list of shops, outlets, and restaurants in Kittery, check out this link .

Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Photo of a lake shore hotel reflecting in the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

Lake Winnipesaukee is a popular vacation and day trip destination for families.

There are many towns surrounding the lake, located in central New Hampshire, but Gilford and Laconia are probably the easiest to get to from Boston.

Aside from the typical beach and lake recreation, there are tons of family-friendly activities available, such as go-karting, zip lining, a tie dye activity shop, and the NH Motor Speedway.

You might like : The Ultimate Guide to New Hampshire in the Fall

Lizzie Borden’s House

Location : 230 Second St, Fall River, MA Phone : (508) 675-7333

Closeup of infamously alleged murderer Lizzie Borden's home.

Fans of true life crime stories should hit up Fall River, MA, home of alleged murderer, Lizzie Borden.

Legend has it that Lizzie murdered her father and stepmother with an axe, but famously got away with it.

You can stay in the house where it all happened, as it now serves as a museum and bed and breakfast . Fall River is about 1 hour outside of Boston.

Singing Beach

Location : 121 Beach St, Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA Phone : (978) 526-2019

Photo of Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA during sunset.

Singing Beach is a super family-friendly beach with sand that squeaks when you walk on it, hence its name. It is one of my favorite beaches in Massachusetts.

Accessing the beach can be a bit tricky, but works as follows:

During peak season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), parking is very limited for non-residents. In fact until about mid-June, non-residents can’t park in the official lot at all!

From mid-June through the end of peak season, non-residents can park in the official lot for $30 during the weekdays, except on holidays.

Non-residents can always park nearby the train station, where spots are sold by the local Boy Scouts for $25. That said, you still need to pay to enter the beach, which is $10 daily or $35 for a season pass. People over the age of 65 are free.

Prices based on 2023 rates .

Martha’s Vineyard, MA

Photo of blue and purple hydrangeas in full bloom with gazebo in the background on Martha's Vineyard.

Originally called Noepe by the Wampanoag indigenous people, this small island off the coast of Cape Cod is known today as a beach vacation destination.

If you’re coming from the Boston area, you can turn it into a day trip, though! Pop over for the day to lounge at one of the beaches, explore the small shops, and get homemade ice cream.

Martha’s Vineyard can be accessed by ferry or plane. You can find more info in my post about getting from Boston to Cape Cod and the islands.

Minute Man National Park

People walking on a path in the Concord, MA section of Minute Man National Historical Park with orange, yellow, and green trees along the landscape.

If you are interested in studying the Revolutionary War, head to Concord or Lexington, MA. Both towns, along with Lincoln, MA, are home to Minute Man National Historical Park .

Minute Man National Historical Park is a nationally protected park that includes the site of the Battle of Lexington.

You can also walk the 5-mile Battle Road Trail between Concord and Lexington. I recommend visiting between Spring and Fall to take advantage of the living history program to help learn the story of this important site of the Revolutionary War.

Also of interest in Concord are the tombs of many famous authors, such as Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. All of these authors are buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord.

You can also visit The Wayside , which was once home to Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne, at separate times.

Interested in more military history travel? Check out these destinations , all in the USA.

MGM Springfield

Location : 1 MGM Way, Springfield, MA Phone : (413) 273-5000

Tap at MGM Springfield, a brewery and bowling spot.

In 2018, MGM opened its newest casino resort, MGM Springfield .

MGM Springfield is home to a casino, venue hall, bars, restaurants, bowling lanes, and a luxury movie theater. It also has a nice hotel attached, so you can make a weekend trip out of it!

Mohegan Sun Casino

Location : 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd, Uncasville, CT Phone : (888) 226-7711

Mohegan Sun is often rated by many as the top casino in the US. While I’m not a frequent traveler to casinos, I can definitely see why it tops many peoples’ list.

Mohegan Sun is known for its amazing entertainment schedule, with concerts featuring popular acts, a comedy club, and theater shows, such as Cirque du Soleil.

They also have a golf course, 2 arcades (including 1 for kids under 12), an indoor go kart track, and a trampoline park.

If that’s not all, they also own a WNBA team, the Connecticut Sun, which plays at their own sports arena. Connecticut’s professional lacrosse team, the Black Wolves, also plays at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Another reason to love Mohegan Sun is its variety of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shops.

My top pick is Connecticut’s favorite pizza establishment, Frank Pepe’s, which serves the most amazing pizza with super fresh ingredients!

Mount Tom State Reservation

Location : 125 Reservation Rd, Holyoke, MA Phone : (413) 534-1186

Landscape view of Mount Tom State Reservation in Holyoke, MA

During my childhood, Mount Tom was a local place to go skiing when you were too lazy to drive to Vermont.

These days the ski resort is permanently closed, but the broader area, Mount Tom State Reservation, is still a popular place for cross country skiing, hiking, and mountain biking.

Mount Tom State Reservation also includes a playground, picnic tables, grills, and covered pavilions.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Location : 100 Hall of Fame Ave, Springfield, MA Phone : (877) 446-6752

A young boy measures his wingspan against a basketball player at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA.

Did you know that basketball was invented in Springfield, MA?

Yep, it totally was! James Naismith, a Canadian teacher, invented it while teaching in this small New England city in western Massachusetts.

Given the history, the biggest year-round attraction in Springfield is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame , located right off of Interstate 91.

Nearby are a variety of restaurants, as well as several hotels if you’d like to stay the night.

Newport, RI

The Breakers mansion in Newport, RI, as pictured here, is one of many mansions you can tour on a day trip from Boston, MA.

Newport is a small town on the coast of Rhode Island. It is well-known for its historic mansions, many of which are open to the public for a guided tour. They are absolutely astounding!

It also has several nice beaches, though some are quite loud thanks to the day clubs at a few of the on-shore bars. So if you’re looking for a beach day, I recommend other areas in New England if the club scene is not for you.

Northampton, MA

Closeup of a light pole in Northampton, MA with a flower basket, American flag, and a red flag with

Northampton is a funky town in western Massachusetts known for its arts scene, as well as its thriving LGBT community.

It is home to the Northampton Independent Film Festival , the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum , multiple art galleries, and indie music halls.

While you’re there, be sure to stop by Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium , my favorite New England-based candy shop. I recommend the chocolate covered Oreos and chocolate covered fresh fruit (if they have ’em!).

Old Orchard Beach, ME

Photo of Old Orchard Beach, Maine during sunrise with the boardwalk in the background.

Old Orchard Beach is coastal town in southern Maine that is a popular spot for a beach day trip outside of Massachusetts.

The beaches in Old Orchard Beach can be quite busy during the summer, but there are lots of fun activities nearby, like Pirates Cove Adventure mini golf and a small amusement park.

Old Sturbridge Village

An elderly couple talks to a historian with 2 oxen at Old Sturbridge Village during the Fall season.

Sturbridge, MA is a teeny tiny town in Massachusetts, but it is a place I visited many times growing up.

This is thanks to Old Sturbridge Village , a living history museum that depicts life in New England in the 1830s.

At Old Sturbridge Village, you can see replicas of homes, businesses, churches, and even a farm from the early 1800s.

Live demonstrations are another highlight at Old Sturbridge Village. Demonstrations include shoemaking, cabinet making, printing, musket firing, and much more.

Lastly, Old Sturbridge Village has several pretty nature trails for exploring. River boat horse-drawn carriage rides are also available.

Plimouth Patuxet Museums

Location : 137 Warrent Ave, Plymouth, MA Phone : (508) 746-1622

Photo of the Mayflower II ship replica sailing in the ocean.

Previously known as Plimoth Plantation, Plimoth Patuxet Museums is a Smithsonian-affiliated collection of living history museums that depict indigenous and early colonial life.

The museums include:

  • 17th Century Craft Center
  • 17th Century English Village
  • Historic Patuxet
  • Mayflower II
  • Plimoth Grist Mill

At the 17th-Century Craft Center , you can learn about herbal remedies and crafts, such as pottery, from the early settlements.

The 17th-Century English Village is a recreation of Plymouth Colony that includes live actors who immerse you into the times.

Historic Patuxet is where you can learn about the indigenous people of the area, most notably the Wompanoag peoples. You can see a wetu , or house, canoe-making and cooking demonstrations, and more.

Mayflower II is a life-sized replica of the ship carrying English settlers in the 1600s. The replica was built in 1957, but restored in 2020. It was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2020.

Lastly, the Plimoth Grist Mill is a reconstruction of the original mill the Plymouth settlers used all the way back in 1636. The mill is still used today to create cornmeal, flour, grits, and other grains.

Admission is grouped into 3 options: Plimoth Patuxet (Craft Center, English Village, and Historic Patuxet), Mayflower II, and Plimoth Grist Mill.

A variety of ticket combos are available, so it is best to visit the Plimoth Patuxet Museums website for ticket info, including pricing.

NOTE : The Plimoth Patuxet Museums are closed during the winter season.

Plum Island’s Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Closeup of a piping plover chick standing on sand.

Plum Island is a small island off the coast of Newburyport, MA on the north shore area of metro Boston. Located on Plum Island is the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, over 4600 acres of conservation land.

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is a popular spot for birdwatching. Over 300 species of birds can be found there, such as piping plovers, saltmarsh sparrows, and blue herons.

As this is a national wildlife refuge, it is part of the US National Park network and your America the Beautiful Pass can be used for admission.

Otherwise, admission is $5 per car or $2 per bicycle. Season passes that cover entry for only the refuge are available for $20.

Portland, ME

Photo of seaport in Portland, ME.

Portland, ME has a thriving food scene that is well worth a visit. It’s doable in a day trip, but definitely makes for a great weekend getaway or even a longer trip.

One place you have to hit up at least once is The Holy Donut , which specializes in donuts made from potatoes. Yes, potatoes.

OTTO Pizza is another favorite of mine. They have a pizza made with mashed potatoes ( I swear I eat more than potatoes! ), scallions, and bacon that is to die for .

Another delicious combo OTTO Pizza serves up has butternut squash, ricotta, and cranberries. It’s like an American Thanksgiving dinner on a pizza. YUM!

For something a little more formal than pizza and donuts, check out Central Provisions . I’m a sucker for tapas because it’s a great way to try multiple dishes.

Central Provisions definitely knocks it out of the park with their tapas menu, which includes delicious ingredients like raw oysters, roasted peaches, and suckling pig ( not all together, obviously ).

Portsmouth, NH

Portsmouth, NH is another small New England coastal town with a bustling food scene.

Pop on over to Portsmouth Book & Bar for a new novel and a coffee or craft beer. Hungry? They have food too!

For food-baby worthy comfort food, check out Cure . Cure’s menu is filled with classic dishes with a fancy twist. Think mac n cheese with lobster or pork chops with a honey-chipotle glaze.

Another interesting twist? The kitchen at Cure is open, so you can watch the executive chef and her team cook up a storm.

Providence, RI

A scene from College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, just one of many cute spots to see on a day trip from Boston.

Providence, RI can be reached by car, MBTA, or coach bus. It has a growing foodie scene, as well as a fun arts scene.

Providence is well known for its waterfront entertainment and social district.

During the summer months, WaterFire Providence organizes tons of events, music, vendors, a fire sculpture installation, and more.

Lastly, Providence is also home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. So stop by to meet Andy Roddick, not at all guaranteed .

Ok, but really, if you’re tennis fan, stop by to check out all the fun historical artifacts, as well as their immaculate indoor and outdoor (grass!) tennis courts.

Provincetown, MA

Landscape view of rocky coastline and a small cottage in Provincetown with a rainbow cascading behind the cottage.

While Provincetown is part of Cape Cod, it deserves its own section. I couldn’t leave you hanging without telling you more about this adorable town.

Provincetown is so lovely that my paternal grandparents made it their home for many years, up until their passing.

Located at the tip of the Cape, P-town, as it is affectionately called, is a summer haven for the LGBT community. It also has a robust Portuguese community (read: mouthwatering fooooood).

Provincetown is full of tasty seafood restaurants, funky coffee shops, ice cream bars, locally owned gift shops, and beautiful art galleries.

And given its shore location, there are plenty of beaches for fun in the sun. Lastly, P-town is a prime spot for whale watching, as well.

If you’re looking for more things to do while in Provincetown, check out my post on things to do in Cape Cod .

Rocky Neck Art Colony

Location : 6 Wonson St, Gloucester, MA Phone : (978) 515-7004

Sailboats off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Most people know Gloucester as a big fishing town, as it’s home to the reality show Wicked Tuna , as well as the inspiration for the movie The Perfect Storm .

Gloucester is an excellent day trip about 50 minutes north of Boston.

It’s great for families with many options for kid-friendly activities, such as whale watching, beach walks, an aquarium (Maritime Gloucester), and a medieval castle (Hammond Castle).

Gloucester, and the surrounding Cape Ann area, is also home to the oldest art colony in the USA. Yep, true story!

The Rocky Neck Art Colony was established in the mid-1800s and is still kicking today.

The quirky and quaint colony is located on a peninsula and is full of art galleries, several restaurants, and a theater.

View of Washington Street in Salem, MA during dusk with white lights on bare trees and a American flag hanging from a brick building.

Salem, MA is one of my favorite towns in all of Massachusetts. It’s a small suburb north of Boston, but it’s a ton of fun.

This quaint coastal town is full of fun shops (including those of the supernatural variety), museums, historical sites, and restaurants.

It’s also home to the famed House of Seven Gables, which you can learn more about in my post about the best things to do in Salem .

Lastly, Salem, along with nearby Danvers, is the site of the Salem Witch Trials. So naturally Salem is home to one badass month-long Halloween party. Just go!

Check out my itinerary for an October Weekend in Salem if you need ideas on how to make your trip the best.

Six Flags New England

Location : 1623 Main St, Agawam, MA Phone : (413) 786-9300

Closeup of people riding the Bizarro roller coaster at Six Flags New England.

Previously known as Riverside Amusement Park during my childhood, Six Flags New England is a large theme park that sits along the Connecticut River.

Six Flags New England boasts 12 roller coasters and a huge water park. There are also several live shows, a dance party, and Looney Tunes characters and Gotham City villains meet-and-greets.

Six Flags New England is about 1 hour and 40 minutes southwest of Boston.

Springfield Museums

Location : 21 Edwards St, Springfield, MA Phone : (413) 263-6800

Photo of a Cat in the Hat statue at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, MA.

Tucked away in Western Massachusetts is Springfield Museums , a collection of 5 museums that surround a sculpture garden:

  • The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum
  • Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden
  • George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum
  • Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History
  • Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts
  • Springfield Science Museum

Tickets include admission to all 5 museums. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden is free to visit.

Admission costs $25 for adults and $13 for kids 3-17. Kids under 3 and Springfield residents are free! Special pricing is also available for adults over 60 years and college students ($16.50).

Wachusett Mountain

Location : 499 Mountain Rd, Princeton, MA Phone : (978) 464-2300

Woman snowboarding down Wachusett Mountain, wearing a light green coat and black ski pants.

If you’re jonesing to go skiing but don’t want to deal with the long drive to the ski resorts in Vermont, take a day trip to Wachusett Mountain .

Wachusett offers both day and night trails, and can create their own snow, so there’s no need to wait for a decent snowstorm to hit it up.

The best part? You can take the MBTA commuter rail Fitchburg line to get to Wachusett Mountain!

During the ski season, Wachusett Mountain also provides a free shuttle to the ski area on the weekends.

During the warmer months, Wachusett Mountain hosts a handful of fun events, such as a kids day camp, a food truck festival, and 2 craft beer festivals.

Walden Pond

Location : 915 Walden St, Concord, MA Phone : (978) 369-3254

Landscape view of Walden Pond in Concord, MA during the Fall season with red, yellow and green trees in the background.

For an enjoyable, quiet day in nature, take a short drive out to Walden Pond State Reservation .

American transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau famously spent 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days in a tiny cabin on Walden Pond and wrote a book about it: Walden .

Today, you can relax on the pond’s shore, go boating on the pond, and visit a replica of Thoreau’s cabin. Concord is about 30 minutes outside of Boston.

Wellfleet, MA

Crowds surrounding a table full of wellfleet oysters at the Wellfleet OysterFest.

Wellfleet is known for its eponymous oysters, one of the most popular types of oysters unique to the east coast US.

Stop by The Wicked Oyster or one of the many seafood restaurants in town for a taste of these famous oysters.

Wellfleet is located in the Outer Cape, so if you’re not up for making the trek out there just for oysters, combine it with a day trip to another fun Outer Cape town, Provincetown, MA.

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

Location : 1 Premium Outlet Blvd, Wrentham Phone : (508) 384-0600

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is a popular outlet mall in Massachusetts. It can be a bit confusing to get to from Boston, so don’t rely on Google Maps to get there. I’m sure you can guess how I know.

Aside from that, the store selection is pretty good, so it’s still worth the trip out from Boston. Popular stores at the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets include:

  • Marc Jacobs
  • Ted Baker London
  • Vineyard Vines

For a full list of shops at this outlet, check out the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets stores list .

Yankee Candle Village

Location : 25 Greenfield Rd, South Deerfield Phone : (877) 636-7707

Photo of a red barn-like building at Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield, MA.

Located in South Deerfield, Yankee Candle Village makes for a fun day trip from Boston.

Yankee Candle Village includes a super New England-y collection of shops, such as The Candle Emporium, a General Store, the Fudge Shop, and Local Fare.

There’s also a Christmas shop open year round that is jam-packed, top-to-bottom, with all things Christmas.

Aside from shopping, you can make your own candles or customize premade ones.

The also have Powder Hollow Brewery (originally started in my hometown of Enfield, CT!) and Hillside Pizza Café on site.

What are your favorite day trips from Boston?

So next time you visit Boston, which day trips will you work into your itinerary? Be sure to let me know below in the comments!

Next up, check out more of my favorite Boston and New England area travel guides:

  • A Local’s Guide to The Big E: New England’s Best Fair
  • The Best Things to Do in Massachusetts in the Fall
  • Best Festivals and Events in Boston, MA
  • The Best Food Festivals in Boston, MA

About the author

Photo of travel blogger Meg Frost, of Frost + Sun, in Havana, Cuba.

Meg Frost is a Boston-based travel blogger that helps people embrace technology to make vacation planning and traveling wicked easy, affordable, and fun.

She holds an M.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University and B.S. in Communication & American Studies from University of Miami.

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This post was originally published on August 17, 2017. It was last updated on December 26, 2022.

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365 Traveler

23 Best Day Trips From Boston You’ve Got To Take

Boston may be a thriving and vibrant city to live or visit, but a little escape is always lovely. Whether you want to visit within Massachusetts or head into Maine, Rhode Island, or Connecticut, you can see some of the best parts of New England on a day trip. 

Filled with history, culture, and glorious fun, see somewhere that has a completely different vibe than Boston. Whether you sit and relax on coastal beaches, walk around charming towns, pop into unique shops, or eat delicious seafood by the ocean, get away from Bostonian life and breathe in a new hot spot. 

Here are 23 amazing day trips from Boston that we know you’ll love.

MASSACHUSETTS 

23 BEST DAY TRIPS FROM BOSTON YOU'VE GOT TO TAKE

PLIMOTH PATUXET MUSEUMS (FORMERLY PLIMOTH PLANTATION)

Take a trip through a living history museum and find out about one of America’s founding areas when you visit the Pilmoth Patuxet Museums in Plymouth, MA. Wander through authentic villages and understand the Plymouth Colony and this Indigenous homeland. 

With over 400 years of history to be told, understand the native people who previously lived here and how the Pilgrims settled. See inside the homes in the village, learn the secrets of Plimoth Grist Mill, and come aboard the Mayflower II.

This engaging and educational experience is not only memorable, but gives you an insight on how life once was for different communities. Get crafty, pick some of your own veggies, and thoroughly enjoy this immersive experience. 

Read More: 13 FUN THINGS TO DO IN PLYMOUTH MA YOU’LL LOVE

STELLWAGEN BANK NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY

See one of the most spectacular creatures in the ocean through an amazing whale watching experience at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary . This sanctuary is just 25 miles east of Boston, and within that area you will see an abundance of wildlife that will completely transform you.

Watch as whales breach and feed in their pods and listen to the crew who describe each encounter with such purpose and excitement. See unique whale tales with individual markings, and pinpoint your favorite whale to make the experience more special. 

LEXINGTON AND CONCORD

Easily take a day trip to Lexington and Concord by car, bus, train, or bike and discover small towns filled with historic sites and Revolutionary War history. These Massachusetts towns were originally settled in the 17th century, and the battles of Lexington and Concord kicked off the Revolutionary War in 1775.

Better understand the works of legendary author Henry David Thoreau by visiting Walden Pond in Concord. After a visit here, you’ll understand the love of nature he showed in his writings.

Go biking along Minuteman Bikeway in Lexington and find the historic Battle Green, with plenty of original homes, and a visitor center that’s worth a visit. Don’t miss picking up a sweet dessert at Rancatore’s ice cream shop!

Pack your swimsuit and sunglasses and head to the Cape! From Memorial Day through Labor Day watch as Cape Cod comes alive with tourists and locals, ready for fun, laughter, and sun! Visit gorgeous little towns, support local artists, and dine at delicious restaurants with beautiful views. 

Have a picturesque beach day on Nauset Beach, where you can sit under the warm summer sun, listen to waves crash, play fun beach games, and grab lunch at one of the many delicious and tasty food trucks. If you’re around on a Monday night, make sure to check out the Nauset Beach Concert Series.

If you’re in the market for dramatic coastlines, head to Newcomb Hollow and stop at the famous Beachcomber for lunch and cocktails. Make your way into the small and lovely town of Wellfleet, and try a fresh and local Wellfleet oyster. Oh shucks, you’re going to have a blast in Cape Cod!

Read More: 28 THINGS TO DO IN CAPE COD YOU JUST CAN’T MISS

Get ready to be dazzled by the beauty, history, and prestige that is Cambridge . Home to one of the most esteemed universities in the United States, Harvard, there’s plenty to see here.

With a large population of students, this picturesque town has a youthful feel and a lively energy. Take a stroll through Harvard’s campus, admire the buildings, visit one or all of the Harvard Art Museums, or see the historic exhibits at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

Grab a coffee and relax at Harvard Yard before continuing your tour to the historic center of Cambridge at Harvard Square. 

Pop into the Harvard Book Store for some memorable and classic books to remember your trip. Test out fresh and new restaurants, and admire the Charles River and city skyline, before getting a quick Uber or train ride back to Boston. 

With a laid back atmosphere and captivating views, Cape Ann is a wonderful retreat when you’re craving small crowds, fresh air, and a bit of peace and quiet. Cape Ann is made up of  four communities — Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Gloucester, and Essex — with each offering something different and appealing. 

Located just 30 miles north of Boston, this stretch of Massachusetts coastline is known for its beauty, delicious restaurants, classic New England-style homes, beaches, antique shops, and so much more.

Whether you’re looking for amazing shopping, fresh seafood, or days on the water — you’ll find it all on Cape Ann.

It’s all just a bunch of Hocus Pocus! –Max, Hocus Pocus

While Salem is a very popular destination for tourists around Halloween, it’s known for a lot more than just famous movies and old town charm. With witch trials dating back to the 1690’s, Salem has a fascinating history that makes it truly iconic. 

Walk the streets of Salem and visit the House of the Seven Gables, which was made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne, or see other historical sites around the town. With great restaurants, a spooky atmosphere, and plenty to uncover, Salem is definitely worth the trip.

Read More: 20 WITCHY THINGS TO DO IN SALEM MA YOU’LL LOVE

SALISBURY AND PLUM ISLAND

If you’re looking for pristine beaches, small crowds, and close proximity to Boston, Salisbury and Plum Island is your ideal destination. Salisbury is known as a family-friendly spot, and Plum Island’s barrier beach gives off the ultimate vacation vibes.

With a newly built boardwalk built on parts of Salisbury Beach , make time to visit the local shops and restaurants found along the boardwalk. If you’re day tripping with children, I recommend stopping into Joe’s Playland, where children will play classic arcade games, and the adults may want to play too!

Pack your coolers with sandwiches and cold drinks and spend the day on Plum Island, swimming in the ocean and seeing wild nature all around you. This place will have you wanting to stay longer than a day!

OLD STURBRIDGE VILLAGE

Take a trip into the past and find yourself at a recreated New England village when you visit Old Sturbridge Village . Get up close to some loving farm animals and see craftsmen at work in authentic buildings and structures at this village, located just over an hour away from Boston.

Ask questions of the docents dressed in traditional costumes, wander through original buildings, and discover more about New England living along the way. A visit here makes for one of the best day trips from Boston.

NORTHAMPTON

If you want to see rolling hills and lush forests in Massachusetts, set your sights on the Western Mass. The picturesque city of Northampton is a great place to visit.

Visit the local farmers market for fresh produce, grab a coffee, or visit one of the locally owned shops. Northampton is about a 2-hour drive from Boston, and this creative and artistic area is recognized widely as the Happy Valley. I suggest going to the Tunnel Bar while in town for cool cocktails!

MARTHA’S VINEYARD

If you’re in the mood for an island getaway, Martha’s Vineyard will do the trick. With more than 20 beaches, waterfront dining, and three gorgeous towns, discover why MV is loved so much on your day trip. 

Arrive on the Vineyard in style by ferry, and get your footing before starting your exploration. Rent bikes to see more of the island and make sure to pedal past the Gingerbread cottages in Oaks Bluff. Keep going to West Chop Light, where if you climb to the top, you will have outstanding views of the water.

Don’t forget to play in the water! From relaxing on the beach, to trying surfing and paddle boarding, Martha’s Vineyard has plenty of beach activities for everyone to enjoy. Go for a sail, stroll through the town looking into art galleries, enjoy shopping, and make sure to grab a scoop of delicious ice cream along the way. You’ll never regret a visit to this picturesque spot.

Read More: 36 PHENOMENAL THINGS TO DO IN MARTHA’S VINEYARD

STOCKBRIDGE

In Stockbridge, MA , you’ll find amazing views of the Berkshires and so much more.

With rolling hills and a sweet Main Street, it’s time to celebrate this town that encapsulates Western New England living. Breathe in the fresh air of the Berkshires.

Get ready to be amazed at the magnificent Norman Rockwell Museum! With original paintings and illustrations, you’ll be completely enthralled with art that tells a story. From his own work to his artist studio, get a feel for the world Rockwell was portraying, and see the impacts on the world today. 

PROVINCETOWN

Hit the high seas on your ferry ride to Provincetown . This LGBTQ+ town is vibrant, free, and can’t wait to see you! Surrounded by stunning coasts, choose either the ocean or bayside beaches for a fun day in the sun.

Stop by numerous galleries on Commercial Street, and make sure to reserve a table at the delicious Lobster Pot for a meal overlooking the harbor. Go whale watching, charter your own boat, or simply watch as seals cruise through the harbor looking for a little snack. 

With colorful, quirky, and out-there shops lining the roads, have a laugh in one of the friendliest towns in Massachusetts. Check out PTOWN for many different festivals, or simply fall in love with this creative and happy town. 

CASTLE ISLAND PARK

If you’re just in Boston for a few days and don’t have a car to go off exploring, it’s time to set your sights on Castle Island Park . Explore the Harbor Walk and enjoy amazing views in all directions. I highly suggest taking a guided tour to learn a bit more about this interesting spot. 

Climb Fort Independence and understand the role it played in the War of 1812 and how its location saved the day. From playing games in the park to watching the planes land at Boston Logan Airport, Castle Island is a great place to visit, and makes for an easy day trip from Boston.

The town of Essex is rich in heritage and has strong roots to ship building, making this beautiful coastal town an ideal day trip escape from Boston. Listen to waves rocking the boats in the harbor and try wine tasting with a bit of Massachusetts flair. 

See Essex from the water when you book a boat tour through Essex River Cruises and Charters, where you’ll find marshes, tall grasses, and wildlife all around you. If you are interested in seeing more wildlife while in Essex, I recommend popping over to Crane Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll see many bird species and little critters. 

With small museums and galleries placed around town, take your time meandering through collections and exhibits that have a strong focus on ships and American folk art.

MAINE 

23 Best Day Trips From Boston You’ve Got To Take

OGUNQUIT 

Head to the quiet beach town of Ogunquit, Maine , where you’ll find stunning beaches, and a serene atmosphere that will send you into total relaxation mode. Walk the sandy shores and set yourself up for a day under a beach umbrella, jumping in the waves, and soaking up the sun!

With a strong focus on the arts, Ogunquit’s art community works with local artists throughout town in galleries and at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. Watch a show at the Playhouse Summer Theater and pop in local shops for a lovely souvenir.

Read More: 11 REALLY AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN OGUNQUIT MAINE

PORTLAND ME

Portland, Maine has some real treats up its sleeve! Enjoy a classic New England experience with a lobster bake, sit by the rocky cliffs with a lobster roll in hand, or try something diverse at one of its Mediterranean or Asian restaurants. 

With its creative arts district, which is home to the Portland Museum of Art and many small galleries, it’s time to marvel at art and browse. Go for late night walks along the old ports and see locals enjoy life in Portland. 

Just a 2 hour drive from Boston, this easy and fun adventure will let you see another vibrant New England city. Wander along the cobblestone streets and stop by a brewery or beer garden for afternoon fun! 

Read More: 20 OUTSTANDING THINGS TO DO IN PORTLAND MAINE

KENNEBUNKPORT

Let loose in this lovely seaside town in Maine. From leisurely walks along Gooch’s Beach to swimming in the cool ocean, Kennebunkport is the perfect daytime getaway. From whale watching adventures to simply riding intown trolleys, this New England town is spectacular. 

You can’t go to Maine and not have lobster, and Kennebunkport has some of the best lobster rolls around! From taking a food tour, to simply sitting outside and enjoying a rich and buttery lobster roll, get ready to eat some delicious food. 

You’ll find plenty to do in this charming coastal town — watch comedy shows, try flights of beer at cool breweries, or make a quick visit to Goat Island Lighthouse. Whether you’re traveling solo or planning a day trip with friends, Kennebunkport should be your next spot! 

CONNECTICUT 

23 Best Day Trips From Boston You’ve Got To Take

Walk through the seaport village of Mystic, CT and prepare to witness authentic boats and small town shops that will have you jumping for joy. Head into the Seaport Museum and see maritime history through the years with ships, folk art, and artifacts on display. 

See creatures of the sea at the Mystic Aquarium, where you’ll find penguins, seals, and colorful fish. Go shopping at local shops, and dine at the Shipwrights Daughter for a classic Connecticut meal and experience. 

Read More: 29 GREAT THINGS TO DO IN MYSTIC CT YOU CAN’T MISS

Book lovers will love taking a day trip to the Connecticut city of Hartford , where they can tour the homes of Mark Twain and other great novelists too. Wander through the rooms of Mark Twain’s home, and see the home Twain lived in with his family from 1874 to 1891. Twain wrote some of his most important works during the years he lived there.

The kids will love a visit to the Connecticut Science Center, where they can have a hands-on science experience and take part in DIY activities. Tour the Connecticut State Building and get a full history of the state and city. Catch the first bloom at Elizabeth Park Rose Garden or enjoy a picnic at Riverside Park. Hartford is a great town to visit.

Read More: 18 FUN THINGS TO DO IN HARTFORD CT YOU CAN’T MISS

RHODE ISLAND

23 Best Day Trips From Boston You’ve Got To Take

Providence, Rhode Island is a city with a huge culinary scene. Enjoy fresh seafood, visit the Italian neighborhood for pastas you’ll adore, and treat yourself to pastries and coffee at the local shops.

See the animals at Roger Williams Zoo, catch the WaterFire Festival at Waterplace Park and Riverwalk, or tour the museum at the Rhode Island School of Design. Tie up your laces for a “Mile of History,” and see why this creative city is perfect for a day trip from Boston.

Read More: 13 THINGS TO DO IN PROVIDENCE RI YOU’LL LOVE

While most people visit Newport for its fabulous beaches, there is so much more to see and explore. Go for a 3.5-mile-long trek along the Cliff Walk, where you’ll find some of the world’s most renowned mansions and see some extraordinary views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Take a guided tour of two of the exquisite Gilded Age Mansions. Head into the Breakers to see how some of the wealthiest families in America once lived.

Dine on the water with fresh seafood and watch as boats cruise by at Bowen’s Wharf. With a joyous and upbeat atmosphere, walk around the wharf, stopping into shops and enjoying delicious eateries along the way.

Read More: 13 THINGS TO DO IN NEWPORT RI EVERYONE WILL LOVE

The town of Bristol, RI will be a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of Boston. This easygoing and scenic town is known as one of America’s most patriotic towns, so plan a visit here around the 4th of July for a celebration you won’t forget.

Go for a tour at Blithewood Mansion, where you’ll find natural beauty in the gardens and endless history within the walls of this intriguing home. Bring or rent bikes for a leisurely pedal on the East Bay Bike Path, before taking a break at Beehive Cafe with an iced coffee and treat. 

With loads of community spirit and friendly locals, Bristol is ideal for those wanting a quick escape to recharge before heading back to the city.

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO MASSACHUSETTS

  • YOUR MASSACHUSETTS VACATION
  • NANTUCKET:  20 Fun Things To Do In Nantucket You Can’t Miss
  • MARTHA’S VINEYARD:  36 Phenomenal Things To Do In Martha’s Vineyard
  • SALEM:  20 Witchy Things To Do In Salem MA You’ll Love
  • CAPE COD:  28 Things To Do In Cape Cod You Just Can’t Miss

WHERE TO STAY IN BOSTON

23 Best Day Trips From Boston You’ve Got To Take

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New England Wanderlust

Connecticut , Maine , Massachusetts , New Hampshire , New York , Rhode Island , Vermont  ·  March 30, 2022

34 Awesome Road Trips From Boston & Best Itineraries (2024)

Boston is an amazing starting point for adventures all over New England and the Northeast. With so many options to visit tons of nearby coastal towns, exciting cities and plenty of quaint, charming villages, there are endless possibilities for road trips from Boston. And since I’ve been road-tripping and traveling all over the Northeast for over 10 years now, I know all the destinations that are worth your time.

This list includes destinations that are all individually under 6 hours from Boston, and if you’re looking for road trip itineraries that combine destinations from this list, be sure to scroll to the end for suggested itineraries to make the most of your road trip!

boston massachusetts day trips

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Best Road Trips From Boston

For this list, I’ve broken down the destinations into four categories: Coastal, City, Charming Towns and Luxury Getaways. For each destination, I’ve also included the time it takes to get there from Boston, highlights of the best things to do, what to expect once there, and nearby things to do.

Coastal Road Trip Destinations From Boston

1. plymouth, ma.

Distance From Boston: 40-50 minutes

If you’re looking for a quick, easy getaway from city life in Boston, a little road trip to Plymouth is a fun way to do that. While the town is known for its history dating back to the early 1600s, they are also lots of outdoor activities, parks and beaches, and combine that with a small-town feel, Plymouth makes for a lovely little escape from Boston.

Best things to do in Plymouth:

  • Plimoth Patuxet Museum is a living replica of the original pilgrim colony settlement. If you’re a history buff, this is a must-see. You can even climb aboard the Mayflower II, an exact replica of the ship that brought the pilgrims to Plymouth.
  • Plymouth Long Beach is a 3-mile long stretch of public beach that’s perfect for getting out by the water.
  • Plymouth Farmer’s Market is held every Thursday from May through October, and was Yankee Magazine editor’s pick for best Farmer’s Market in 2018.
  • Brewster Gardens is a tranquil, waterfront park that’s sure to invite lots of relaxation.
  • Walk around the charming downtown to visit the shops and restaurants,
  • Pop into Dirty Water Distillery for an artisanal spirits tasting.
  • Go on a whale watch tour with Captain John’s Boat Tours .
  • Spend the day getting pampered at Mirbeau Resort & Spa , and even stay for lunch or dinner, or the night for the ultimate day of relaxation.

Click here to book your stay at Mirbeau Resort & Spa!

Psst! I have an entire post on visiting Plymouth, MA , if you need more ideas!

2. Cape Cod, MA

Distance From Boston: 1-2.5 hours, depending on where you to choose to go on Cape Cod.

Cape Cod is the ultimate beach road trip from Boston

With over 500 miles of shoreline to explore, Cape Cod is the ultimate beach road trip from Boston because you can get there in about 2 hours and feel like you’re in a whole other world. There are 15 towns in Cape Cod to choose from for your visit, and more beaches than anyone can count. Fill your days being ocean-side, exploring beautiful little coastal towns, eating fresh seafood and taking in amazing sunsets.

Best Things To Do on Cape Cod :

  • Visit The Cape Cod National Seashore
  • Explore Chatham’s downtown
  • Visit Provincetown and the Pilgrim Monument
  • For more on the best things to do on the Cape, click the link below for my detailed travel guide.

You may also enjoy:

  • Can’t Miss Things To Do When Visiting Cape Cod For The First Time
  • Best Things To Do On Cape Cod For Adults
  • Best Towns To Stay In On Cape Cod
  • What To Pack For Cape Cod
  • Unique Things To Do On Cape Cod

3. Nantucket, MA

Distance From Boston: 2-3 hours, which includes time to park at the ferry terminal, and ride the ferry.

Nantucket Island is just off the coast of Cape Cod, and can easily be combined with the Cape for a road trip from Boston.

Nantucket is a gorgeous island off the coast of Cape Cod bursting with charm and natural beauty. A day trip to Nantucket is common while visiting Cape Cod, but staying overnight for a night or two would be the best way to make the most of your road trip from Boston. This is a great island to explore if you’re looking for stunning beaches and a beautiful downtown area.

To get to Nantucket, you’ll need to take the ferry from Hyannis on Cape Cod. From there, you can choose between Hyline Cruises or Steamship Authority to get to Nantucket.

Best Things To Do on Nantucket:

  • Explore the shops and restaurants in the main town.
  • Visit Brant Point Lighthouse.
  • Rent a moped to explore the local beaches and towns.
  • For more amazing things to do on Nantucket, click the link below for my detail travel guide on a Nantucket day trip.
  • The Best Nantucket Day Trip Travel Guide
  • How Many Days Do You Need On Nantucket + Suggested Itineraries
  • How To Visit All The Nantucket Lighthouses

4. Martha’s Vineyard, MA

The cliffs in Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard are absolutely stunning, and shouldn't be missed when visiting.

Martha’s Vineyard is the other island off the coast of Cape Cod, and it’s more popular as an overnight destination, versus a day trip because it’s bigger. Comprised of 6 beautiful towns, Martha’s Vineyard is home to beautiful beaches, quaint Main Streets for shopping and dramatic cliff-lined shores.

To get to Martha’s Vineyard, you’ll need to take a ferry from either Woods Hole or Hyannis (both terminals located on Cape Cod). There is no benefit to picking one over the other, and it’s best to just pick whichever location is more convenient for you (usually it’s Hyannis for most people).

Best Things To Do on Martha’s Vineyard:

  • Gingerbread Cottages in Oak Bluffs
  • Edgartown downtown and lighthouse
  • Aquinnah Cliffs and Gay Head Lighthouse
  • South/Katama Beach
  • For more information on visiting Martha’s Vineyard, click the link below for my guide on deciding between Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard for a day trip.

You may also find these Martha’s Vineyard posts helpful:

  • Is Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard Better For A Day Trip?
  • The Ultimate Martha’s Vineyard Day Trip Guide
  • How To See Martha’s Vineyard Without A Car

5. Marblehead, MA

Distance From Boston: 40-50 minutes.

Sunrise at Castle Hill is a wonderful thing to experience in Marblehead, MA.

Marblehead is an adorable little coastal town along the North Shore of Massachusetts, and a very quick road trip from Boston. This is the place to come if you’re looking for historical homes, small-town charm, great seafood, dramatic, rocky coastline and options for beaches.

Best Things To Do in Marblehead, MA:

  • Marblehead Lighthouse & Chandler Hovey Park
  • Self-guided historical home walking tour.
  • Take in the views at Castle Hill Rock.
  • For more information on the best things to do in Marblehead, click the link before for my detailed travel guide.

Click here to read even more awesome things to do in Marblehead!

6. Salem, MA

Distance From Boston: 30-40 minutes.

Salem makes for a great road trip from Boston year-round, not just in October. Be sure to visit the Sail Loft in the Historic Maritimes Park.

Salem is another little coastal town along the North Shore of Massachusetts, and is known for being the premier New England destination for all things spooky. While visiting Salem in October is definitely a bucket list-worthy goal, it’s actually a really wonderful town to visit all year round. It’s very walkable with a variety of things to do, and makes for a great day trip, or a weekend getaway.

Best Things To Do in Salem, MA:

  • Winter Harbor Park and Lighthouse
  • Salem Witch Trials Memorial
  • Salem Maritimes National Historic Site
  • Essex Street Pedestrian Mall
  • House of Seven Gables
  • Peabody Essex Museum

Psst! I have some helpful guides including planning the perfect Salem, MA day trip , and the best time to visit Salem if you need more information 😉

7. Rockport, MA

Distance From Boston: 50-60 minutes.

Motif 1 in Rockport, MA is the most painted building in the country.

Rockport is one of my favorite coastal towns in all of New England. It has so much character, wonderful shops and restaurants, and really invites you to slow down a bit to take it all in. It’s a small town, and can be done in a day, but a weekend here would be a very relaxing road trip from Boston.

Best Things To Do in Rockport, MA:

  • Visit Motif 1, the most painted building in New England, if not the country!
  • Go for a scenic walk or hike at Halibut Point State Park.
  • Meander through the shops on Bear Skin Neck.
  • For more things to do in Rockport and the North Shore region, click the links below for my detailed travel guides.

Click here for more amazing things to do in Rockport!

Click here to read my travel guide on the best things to do on Cape Ann!

8. Newburyport, MA

There's charm at every corner of Newburport's downtown.

Newburyport is a delightful little coastal town in Massachusetts that has a very traditional New England feel with beautiful homes at every turn, and an adorable little downtown area and waterfront park. Newburyport is also home to Plum Island, which is a gorgeous part of town with amazing beaches and wildlife sanctuaries.

Best Things To Do in Newburyport, MA:

  • Visit Oldies Marketplace to look for antiques and treasures.
  • Meander the streets of downtown to explore the beautiful storefronts.
  • Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront park.
  • Pack a picnic or take a nature walk at Maudslay State Park , which has over 500 acres to explore.
  • Head out on the open waters with Yankee Clipper Tours , and cruise around the Merrimack River and Newburyport Harbor.
  • Drive over to Plum Island to visit Plums Island Beach, buy some handmade soaps at Plum Island Soap Co. , and walk the stunning nature trails at the Parker River National Wildlife Refugee .

Click here to read my full guide to visiting Newburyport & Plum Island!

9. Block Island, RI

Distance From Boston: 3-3.5 hours, which includes time to park at the ferry terminal, and ride the ferry.

Block Island is a beautiful island off the coast of Rhode Island with gorgeous beaches, walking trails, water activities, salt marshes, great restaurants and is overall a wonderful place to relax while appreciating the outdoors. This actually might be one of my top underdog suggestions for a weekend getaway from Boston.

It actually reminds me a bit of Prince Edward Island, so if you’re looking to live out your Anne of Green Gables dreams, but can’t make it to Canada, this is a great place to do that. There’s even a lovely hotel on the island called Avonlea.

To get to the island, you’ll need to drive to the Pt. Judith ferry terminal in Rhode Island. For more information on the ferry, click here .

Best Things To Do on Block Island, RI:

  • Take in the views at Mohegan Bluffs.
  • Rent a moped to explore the entire island.
  • Spend some time swimming at Mansion Beach.
  • Visit the island’s two lighthouses.
  • Have lunch with a water view at The Oar .

Click here to read all my tips for taking a Block Island day trip!

10. Newport, RI

Distance From Boston: 1.5 hours, but always anticipate extra traffic crossing the Newport bridge.

Goat Island Lighthouse is a fun place to visiting when in Newport, RI.

Newport is a stunning coastal city in Rhode Island that’s the perfect destination for sailing, shopping, dining and being by the water. Even though it’s technically a city, I wanted to include it in the coastal destinations group because it definitely feels more like a resort waterfront town than a city.

With so many things to do, you could easily spend a weekend here, but Newport will also work for a day trip.

Best Things To Do in Newport, RI:

  • Walk along Cliff Walk for amazing coastal views.
  • Visit Bowen’s Wharf for shopping and dining.
  • Grab a lobster roll at the Newport Lobster Shack .
  • Walk over to Goat Island to see the lighthouse and take in views of the Newport Bridge.
  • Sail around Narrangansett Bay with Sightsailing of Newport .
  • Visit the unique shops along Thames Street.
  • Grab lunch and cocktails at The Lawn at Castle Hill Inn , overlooking the water. Better yet, book an overnight stay for the ultimate Newport experience!

Click here to book your stay at The Castle Hill Inn in Newport .

Click here to read all my tips for taking a Newport, RI day trip!

Click here to read about all the best things to do in Newport, RI in the winter!

11. Mystic, CT

Distance From Boston: 1.5 hours

This adorable little town sits along Mystic River, and has an awesome mix of preserved maritimes history, small-town charm and nature. While Mystic is mostly visited for its quaint, waterfront downtown, it’s also home to parts of two bordering towns, Stonington and Groton, giving you opportunity to explore a few different coastal Connecticut destinations during your visit.

Best Things To Do in Mystic, CT:

  • See penguins, beluga whales, sharks and sea lions at the Mystic Aquarium .
  • Learn all about maritimes history at the Mystic Seaport Museum and Village , which is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, Maritimes museums in the country.
  • Hit the trails at Bluff Point State Park.
  • Take a sunset or moonlit cruise with Poet’s Lounge Sailing Charters .
  • Grab a warm lobster roll, which originated in CT, at Ford’s Lobster in nearby Noank.

Click here to read about all the best things to do in Mystic, CT!

12. The Hamptons, NY

Distance From Boston: 5.5 hours if driving the whole way, 6 hours if you drive to New London, CT to take the ferry.

The beaches in the Hamptons are one of the best things to do when visiting during a road trip from Boston.

The Hamptons needs no introduction, as it’s become a famous summer destination in New York thanks to many celebrities calling it a secondary home. Sitting along the Long Island sound, you can expect gorgeous beaches, amazing shopping and restaurants, specialty food markets and farmer’s markets, wineries and plenty of opportunity for rest and relaxation.

The Best Things To Do in The Hamptons:

  • Have a beach day and watch the surfers at Coopers Beach in Southampton.
  • Go vineyard hopping, and taste some of the local wines. Channing Daughters Winery and Wölffer Estates are two great options.
  • Take in the views at Montauk Lighthouse.
  • Enjoy an afternoon of rest and restoration at the Montauk Salt Caves .
  • Have some amazing and fresh seafood at Bostwick’s Chowder House in East Hampton.
  • Rent a bike and ride along Gin Lane in Southampton for incredible views of the ocean, and to see some amazing houses.

13. Ogunquit, ME

Distance From Boston: 1 hour and 15 minutes

It's worth taking a road trip from Boston just to visit Marginal Way in Ogunquit, ME.

One of my favorite beach towns in all of New England is Ogunquit, which is one of the best places to visit in Maine in the summer , but it’s really fun in spring and fall, too. Offering both dramatic and rocky coastline that Maine is famous for, as well as a long, sandy beach that’s perfect for swimming, you’ll get the best of both worlds here. Ogunquit’s town is entirely walkable, so once you drive in, you’ll be able to leave your car behind and get almost everywhere by foot. There’s an amazing downtown scene with plenty of shops and restaurants, and you’re never that far from Ogunquit Beach.

Best Things To Do in Ogunquit, ME:

  • Walk along Marginal Way, where you’ll get the most amazing views of the rocky coastline.
  • Visit Perkins Cove to enjoy its charming shops and restaurants.
  • Spend plenty of time at Ogunquit Beach, one of the best beaches in Maine.
  • For more information on things to do in Ogunquit, click the link below for my detailed travel guide.

Click here to read about more amazing things to do in Ogunquit!

14. Kennebunkport, ME

Distance From Boston: 1 hour and 25 minutes

Just a short distance from Ogunquit is Kennebunkport, so these two destinations could easily be combined, and both are worth your time. Kennebunkport is full of character, and can be visited as either a day trip, or a weekend getaway, from Boston. Offering both beaches and a wonderful downtown scene, this is a great place to relax, unwind and enjoy being by the water.

Best Things To Do in Kennebunkport, ME:

  • Visit Gooch’s Beach for a walk along the shore, or go for a swim.
  • Have an authentic lobsterman experience with Rugosa Lobster Tours .
  • Walk around the downtown and Dock Square shops.
  • Grab an artisanal ice cream cone at Rococo Ice Cream .
  • Have some craft cocktails and beer at Batson River Brewing and Distillery .
  • Walk along Parson’s Way for amazing views of the dramatic coastline.
  • Grab fresh seafood takeout from The Clam Shack .

Click here to see why Kennebunkport is one of the best Christmas towns in New England!

15. Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park

Distance From Boston: 4 hours and 45 minutes

Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor is one of the best road trips from Boston you can take.

One of the absolute best places to visit in all of Maine is Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, and this will make an epic road trip from Boston. Bar Harbor is the adjacent town to Acadia, and where most people stay when visiting the park. Bar Harbor is a fun destination on its own because it’s full of character, and has great restaurants, and a beautiful harbor-side walking path and park.

Acadia National Park is one of the top destinations in all of New England, providing over 120 miles of hiking trails, and countless opportunities to take in some of the best and most incredible coastline views in the entire Northeast. In my opinion, this is one of the best roads trips from Boston you can take.

Best Things To Do in Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park:

  • Walk along the Ocean Path trail inside Acadia, which is a flat, easy path along Shore Road that provides the most payoff for minimal effort when it comes to the most famous views in the park.
  • Have lunch and popovers at Jordan Pond House inside Acadia, which offers views of the lawn and Jordan Pond.
  • Drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain inside Acadia for sunrise or sunset.
  • Explore Bar Harbor’s downtown.
  • Take a leisurely walk along Shore Path in Bar Harbor for the best views of the harbor.
  • Visit Bass Harbor Lighthouse inside Acadia.

Tip : You’ll need to purchase a park pass to enter any attractions inside Acadia National Park. Park passes can be purchased online in advance by clicking here .

Psst! I have some posts on Acadia that you may find helpful, including my Acadia National Park Itinerary , and the Best Time To Visit Acadia National Park .

Luxury Road Trip Destinations From Boston

These destinations don’t have to be all about luxury, but since it’s nice to treat yourself every now and then, I wanted to include a few of my favorite luxury resorts that are easy road trips from Boston. If all you’re looking for is a little R&R and some serious pampering without having to leave the resort grounds, these are amazing places to visit.

16. Cliff House in Cape Neddick, ME

If you’re looking for the ultimate coastal Maine getaway to fully relax and recharge, then Cliff House will be the perfect road trip from Boston for you. This oceanfront resort sits atop 70 acres of cliffs, and offers incredible amenities that will allow you fully emerse yourself in Maine’s natural beauty without having to go far. Almost every square foot of this property has an ocean view, so there’s no way you can be stressed during your visit.

What To Expect During Your Stay At Cliff House:

  • Beautifully-appointed rooms with a private terrace, and your choice of partial or full ocean views. Some rooms are also ocean-front.
  • Complimentary coffee, tea and water stations on each floor.
  • A full-service spa.
  • Three oceanfront restaurants and a coffee cafe.
  • Manicured gardens and pathways for relaxing walks.
  • Two outdoor pools, two indoor pools and a hot tub.
  • On-site shopping.

Click here to book your stay at Cliff House!

17. Ocean House in Westerly, RI

Distance From Boston: 1 hour and 45 minutes

For one of the very best luxury experiences in all of New England, Ocean House in Westerly, RI is a truly amazing destination. With the entire properly overlooking the Block Island Sound, it’s guaranteed you’ll be able to relax during your stay. Travel + Leisure has even named Ocean House as one of the top 100 hotels in the entire world.

What To Expect During Your Stay At Ocean House:

  • Freshly designed and elegant coastal New England rooms and suites.
  • Complimentary use of the hotels Mercedes-Benz convertibles for self-guided tours.
  • Complimentary activities within the resort, such as daily yoga and cooking classes.
  • Valet parking included in your room rate.
  • Four on-site restaurants, and lobster dinners on the lawn during the summer.
  • An on-site spa.
  • Beautifully manicured lawns with yard games.
  • Complimentary refreshments throughout the day.

Click here to book your stay at the Ocean House!

18. Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY

Distance From Boston: 3 hours and 45 minutes

If you’re looking for the ultimate road trip from Boston that combines hiking in the mountains with total relaxation, then Mohonk Mountain House is perfect for you. Located in the small college town of New Paltz, Mohonk Mountain House is right in the heart of the Hudson Valley of New York, and is surrounded by 40,000 acres of forest.

Overviews of the resort have been used in the Amazon Prime series Upload , and has long been rumored to be the inspiration behind Stephen King’s The Shining . But don’t let that scare you away! That only thing that will actually scare you once here is how amazing the views are.

If an overnight stay doesn’t work with your plans, guests can also purchase a day pass to the resort grounds, which allows you access to the hiking trails. This is a great way to enjoy the scenery without committing to an overnight stay.

What To Expect During Your Stay At Mohonk Mountain House:

  • Traditionally-decorated rooms and suites that overlook the mountains. Most rooms also come with private balconies and rocking chairs.
  • Lake Mohonk on the resort grounds.
  • An all-inclusive stay where breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, as well as all outdoor activities such as kayaks, row boats and canoes, are all included in the room rate.
  • 85 miles of hiking trails right outside your door.
  • Farm-to-table dining.
  • Benches and chairs situated all over the resort grounds for moments of rest, and to clear your mind.

Click here to book your stay at Mohonk Mountain House!

Click here to read my detailed review of a Mohonk Mountain House Day Pass!

19. Mirbeau Spa in Rhinebeck, NY

Distance From Boston: 3 hours and 10 minutes

Mirbeau has a few locations throughout the Northeast, but my favorite of them all is in Rhinebeck, NY, a beautiful little town in the Hudson Valley. This particular Mirbeau Spa is one of the newer additions to their family, and is decorated in a modern, Parisian style, which makes it feel like a unique destination.

The spas at Mirbeau are really amazing. I’ve personally had massages and treatments at different locations, and they’ve always been consistent in quality (and, of course, relaxation). Guests are invited to walk around in robes, including at lunch, and the on-site hotel allows you to continue your relaxation journey into the evening for the perfect overnight stay.

What To Expect During Your Stay At Mirbeau in Rhinebeck, NY:

  • A serene, calm spa atmosphere throughout the entire grounds.
  • A relaxation room, aqua terrace and steam facility within the spa.
  • Different spa packages to customize your stay that include dining options to make your visit stress-free.
  • Luxurious and Parisian-inspired accommodations with options including in-room fireplaces and soaking tubs.

Click here to book your stay at Mirbeau in Rhinbeck!

Charming Small Town Road Trip Destinations From Boston

If you’re looking to visit some of the most charming towns in New England and New York for your road trip, I’ve got your covered! Here are the most adorable little towns to visit that make awesome road trips from Boston.

20. Saratoga Springs, NY

Distance From Boston: 3 hours and 15 minutes

While technically a city, Saratoga Springs’ historic downtown feels very much like a quaint village. Located in Upstate, NY and known for its horse racing track season, this destination has so much more to offer including a wonderful Main Street for shopping and dining, gorgeous parks, beautiful and historic architecture and live entertainment.

Best Things To Do in Saratoga Springs, NY:

  • Walk around the grounds of Saratoga Spa State Park, which is a National Historic Landmark. You can enjoy a round of golf at an 18-hole championship course, have a picnic by the reflecting pool and admire the architecture of the Hall of Springs.
  • July – Labor Day, visit the Race Track , and even try your hand at placing bets on the winner!
  • Stroll through Congress Park, and find the mineral springs to taste the local water.
  • Enjoy a healing bath at the Roosevelt Baths & Spa . The spa staff is trained on how to draw the perfect bath at just the right temperature, and the minerals in the waters have been said to have health benefits such as reducing sinus congestion and arthritis symptoms.
  • Take in a live show at SPAC , one of the the country’s most renowned outdoor concert venues.
  • Walk up and down Broadway, downtown’s main street, to visit the local shops and restaurants.
  • Grab delicious cocktails with lunch or dinner at Morrissey’s Lounge & Bistro inside the famed Adelphi Hotel. Better yet, book an overnight stay at this Gilded Age-era boutique hotel, located in the heart of Saratoga’s downtown.

Click here to book your stay at the Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga Springs!

21. Skaneateles, NY

Distance From Boston: 5 hours and 20 minutes

Skaneateles is a lakeside town in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate, NY, and is a wonderful place to visit, especially in the Summer. With Skaneateles Lake right in the heart of downtown, and an adorable Main Street with really nice shops and restaurants, the quaintness of the town is perfect for rest and relaxation, but also offers plenty to do to keep from ever being bored.

Best Things To Do in Skaneateles, NY:

  • Walk around Main Street to visit the boutiques.
  • Sit and admire the views of the lake from the town’s many waterfront areas.
  • Visit Anyela’s Vineyards to enjoy a tasting, or sip on a glass of wine and take in the peaceful views of the vineyards.
  • Head out onto the lake for a boat tour.
  • Grab dinner and drinks at the Sherwood Inn , located right in the heart of town, and just across the street from the lake.
  • Spend the day getting pampered at Mirbeau Inn & Spa , the original Mirbeau location, which is home to a Monet-inspired garden and bridge.

Click here to book your stay at Mirbeau Inn & Spa in Skaneateles!

Click here to read more suggestions on the best things to do in Skaneateles, NY!

22. Lake Placid, NY

Distance From Boston: 5 hours

Ice skating on Mirror Lake is one of the best things to do in Lake Placid in the winter during your road trip from Boston.

Known for hosting two Olympic games, Lake Placid in the Adirondack region of Upstate NY has so much more to offer (although, the Olympic sites are definitely worth visiting!). I personally love visiting Lake Placid in the winter because the alpine-inspired town really seems to come alive with apres-ski vibes, but it’s really a great destination all year round. While in Lake Placid, you’ll be surrounded by mountains and fresh air, and feel like you’ve truly escaped from every day life.

Best Things To Do in Lake Placid, NY:

  • Walk around Mirror Lake, located in the heart of Lake Placid’s downtown.
  • In the winter, enjoy skiing at Whiteface Mountain , and ice skating and a Toboggan Chute on Mirror Lake.
  • Enjoy the miles of hiking trails in the nearby mountains.
  • Walk around the alpine-inspired downtown village to visit the quaint shops.
  • In the summer, go for a swim in Mirror Lake from the public beach area.
  • Visit the Olympic sites, including the ski jump, ice arena and the Lake Placid Olympic Museum .
  • Walk around High Falls Gorge, a 22-acre nature park with waterfalls.
  • Grab drinks and lunch or dinner at The Cottage, a restaurant at Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa that sits right on Mirror Lake. Better yet, book an overnight stay, and also enjoy the on-site spa for the ultimate Lake Placid getaway!

Click here to book your stay at the Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa in Lake Placid .

Click here to read my post on all the best things to do in Lake Placid in the fall!

23. Hudson, NY

Distance From Boston: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Located in the Hudson Valley of New York, Hudson is known as being incredibly charming, and one of the best destinations for antiquing in the area. This is a great little town to visit if you’re looking to relax, enjoy a small-town atmosphere and see where the day takes you. Hudson is also a great destination if you’re looking to explore the entire Hudson Valley region.

Best Things To Do in Hudson, NY:

  • Antiquing! There are countless antique shops in Hudson, and you’ll definitely want to check out The Antique Warehouse , which has over 300,000 sq. feet of treasures.
  • Stroll down Warren Street, where most of the storefronts can be found.
  • Take a boat cruise along the Hudson River with Hudson Cruises , which offers tours to the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, and even murder mystery cruises!
  • The Hudson Farmer’s Market is regarded as one of the best in the region, and is open every Saturday in-season, and also has a winter location February-April.
  • Tour the local art galleries.
  • Go for a nature walk in the Greenport Conservation Area, which is home to over 7 miles of trails, and is walkable from downtown Hudson.

Click here to read my post on the best things to do in Upstate New York in the fall!

24. Manchester, VT

This small little town in Southern Vermont is the perfect place to disconnect and relax. As you cross the New York/Vermont border, you’ll begin to see the tall mountains all around you, and instantly feel more at peace. In fact, you’ll be able to see the surrounding mountains from everywhere in downtown Manchester. And with everything to do from shopping and dining to hiking and nature walks, you’re sure to find something that everyone in your group will enjoy.

Best Things To Do in Manchester, VT:

  • Hike or drive up Mt. Equinox, the tallest mountain in the Taconic Range, and enjoy the incredible views from above.
  • Browse through Northshire Bookstore , an amazing independent bookstore that’s been in business since 1976. Here, you’ll find new and used books, a wonderful children’s section, and unique Vermont-inspired gifts and souvenirs.
  • Visit Hildene , the Lincoln family estate, where visitors can tour the gardens, walking trails, farm land and indoor exhibits, and enjoy sweeping views of the Vermont countryside.
  • Rent a tube at Vermont River Runners and take a relaxing water tube ride along the Battenkill River, which is perfect for a warm summer day.
  • Grab a sandwich as big as your head at Zoey’s Deli . I also love their homemade chips!
  • Hike the Lye Brook Falls trails to visit a beautiful waterfall. The trailhead is a short 5-minute drive from town center.
  • Go for a dip in the Dorset Marble Quarry for a unique swimming experience!
  • After your swim, visit the Dorset Union Store , a quintessential Vermont country store.

Click here for an awesome Vermont covered bridges tour itinerary!

25. Woodstock, VT

Distance From Boston: 2.5 hours

Of all the Vermont towns on this list, I think Woodstock might be my favorite. I love them all, but there’s something about Woodstock that just screams New England charm, and perfectly balances being a town that caters to tourists, while not losing any of the local character. It’s one of those idyllic towns you’ll daydream about moving to.

Best Things To Do in Woodstock, VT:

  • Walk through the truly adorable village and enjoy the local shops and coffee cafes.
  • Head over to the Woodstock Middle Covered Bridge, located right in the village, for a picture-perfect Vermont moment.
  • Get your hands muddy with a pottery workshop at Farmhouse Pottery .
  • Drive to nearby Quechee and visit the Simon Pearce Restaurant & Mill , and take in a live glass-blowing demonstration, as well as lunch overlooking the gorge.
  • Head over to Quechee Gorge Village after Simon Pearce for some antiquing.
  • Visit Billings Farm & Museum to tour a working dairy farm, gardens and orchards, and see live demonstrations. The grounds here are truly spectacular!
  • Hike Mount Tom for stunning views of Woodstock from above.
  • Best Places To Stay In Vermont In The Fall
  • Best Things To Do In Woodstock, VT
  • Best Winter Getaways In New England

26. Stowe, VT

Distance From Boston: 3 hours and 20 minutes

Stowe is an adorable little village in Northern Vermont that I love to visit, and it always puts a smile on my face. Even though it’s a well-known ski destination in the winter months, it’s a great little place to visit year-round will lots of outdoor activities and perfect Vermont scenery all over, including some beautiful covered bridges.

Best Things To Do in Stowe, VT:

  • Hike Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont, or drive the auto road to the summit.
  • See if you believe in ghosts at Emily’s Covered Bridge. Legend says it’s haunted by a girl who hung herself on the bridge after her boyfriend never came to meet her.
  • Walk the Stowe Recreation Path, a 5.5-mile long paved path that goes through beautiful scenery throughout the village. The path can be accessed from several locations in the village.
  • Connect to the Quiet Path along the Rec Path, which is reserved for walkers only (meaning, no bikes wizzing by you). It meanders through parts of Mayo Farm, and is a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
  • Go hiking at Smuggler’s Notch State Park.
  • Visit the nearby Ben & Jerry’s Factory for a tour.
  • Explore Sterling Falls Gorge.
  • In the winter, hit the slopes at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort.
  • Pick up some chocolates from Lake Champlain Chocolates.
  • Best Things To Do In Stowe, VT
  • Best Stops To Make When Driving From Boston to Stowe, VT
  • Best Things To Do In Vermont In The Winter

27. Greenwich, CT

Distance From Boston: 3 hours

Greenwich is an absolutely beautiful town that sits right on the border of New York, and also very accessible to Manhattan. I love coming to this idyllic little town when I want a day of relaxing, shopping, dining, being outside, visiting the beach and enjoying the gorgeous scenery.

Best Things To Do in Greenwich, CT:

  • Shop the stores along Greenwich Avenue.
  • Enjoy a serene walk through the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens in nearby Purchase, NY.
  • Meander through Montgomery Pinetum, a public park that’s very relaxing, and also has beautiful ponds, nature trails and gardens with an educational center and greenhouse.
  • Head to the Lobster Bin for an amazing lobster roll on-the-go.
  • Spend some time at the beaches along Greenwich Point Park.
  • Admire the architecture of the historic district buildings.

28. Jackson, NH

Let’s head to the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire! One of the best towns to stay in is Jackson, where you’ll find a lovely downtown and Main Street, an iconic red covered bridge, and endless opportunities to explore the White Mountains region, including lots of hiking and outdoor activities. While it’s most popular during the winter for skiing, and the fall for foliage season, Jackson can be enjoyed year-round.

Best Things To Do in Jackson, NH:

  • Visit Honeymoon Bridge, the town’s famous red covered bridge.
  • Drive to the summit of Mount Washington, the highest peak in New England.
  • Hike the Glen Ellis Falls Trail.
  • Explore the downtown shops and restaurants.
  • In the winter, go skiing at Black Mountain. In the summer, the mountain offers horseback riding and lots of hiking trails.

You may also like: The best things to do in New England in the fall!

City Life Road Trip Destinations From Boston

Even though you’re road-tripping from a city already, it’s still exciting to explore a new one. There are quite a few cities that make for amazing road trips from Boston, and many of them can be combined with other destinations from this list to offer the best of city life, and coastal or small-town living.

29. Portsmouth, NH

Distance From Boston: 1 hour

Portsmouth, NH's harborwalk is a great thing to do when visiting the city.

This charming little city is just a short drive from Boston, and definitely feels more like a town than a city. Portsmouth is a port-side city with a gorgeous downtown filled with quaint shops and boutiques, and is known as being a huge foodie destination. This is a great city to visit if you’re looking for a lot of character, and lots of options when it comes to being outside, dining and shopping.

Best Things To Do in Portsmouth, NH:

  • Grab some fresh and delicious pastries from Elephantine Bakery , and be sure to enjoy them just outside the cafe in the most adorable little courtyard.
  • Shop the boutiques in downtown Portsmouth.
  • Walk along Prescott Park, which has over 10 acres of waterfront gardens and paths, and is home to live entertainment in the summer months.
  • Take a dip in the water at Great Island Common Park.
  • Go brewery hopping, as Portsmouth is home to five breweries.
  • Enjoy a drink at the Book & Bar , a combined bookstore, cafe and bar.
  • Head out onto the water with Portsmouth Harbor Cruises .
  • Visit Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

30. Providence, RI

Providence, RI sits along Providence River, and makes for a wonderful road trip from Boston.

Providence is the capital of Rhode Island, and also home to famed schools Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. It’s also a really fun city to be a tourist! With Providence River running through the city, you still have opportunities to feel like you’re connected to nature, and with tons of restaurants, shops, nightlife and history, this destination makes for an amazing road trip from Boston.

Best Things To Do in Providence, RI:

  • Visit The Arcade , the country’s very first shopping mall designed with Greek revival architecture, and now home to some awesome boutiques and art galleries.
  • Visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo , which is the third oldest zoo in the country, where guests can feed giraffes and other farm animals, and see over 160 different species while visiting. You can also jump on the Explore and Soar ride, which is a fun zip ride and train excursion through the forests.
  • Enjoy a leisurely walk along the Providence Riverwalk.
  • During the summer, experience WaterFire, where braziers are set with bonfires in the middle of the river.
  • Take in the exhibits at the RISD Museum of Art.
  • Take a Venetian gondola ride along the river at Waterplace Park.
  • Do a self-guided historical walking tour along Benefit Street to see some of the city’s most historic houses and buildings.
  • Take a boat tour along the Providence River.

Click here to read my post on the best day trips from Providence!

31. Portland, ME

Portland Head Lighthouse is a must-see during your road trip from Boston.

Portland is an exciting waterfront city in Maine that sits on a peninsula along Casco Bay, and provides the best of both worlds as far as being a city destination that’s also coastal. With things to do outdoors along the dramatic coastline, to an amazing restaurant and food scene, Portland has a little something for everyone during your road trip from Boston.

Best Things To Do in Portland, ME:

  • Portland Head Lighthouse is a must! It’s the most famous lighthouse in Maine, and one of the most iconic in all of New England. Nearby, you can also visit Spring Point Ledge Light and Bug Light, and do a mini lighthouse tour without leaving the city!
  • Visit one of my favorite breweries in New England, Bissell Brothers . They also get bonus points for being close to the waterfront at Thompson’s Point.
  • Meander around Old Port to see the city’s fishing industry come to life.
  • Walk along the lively waterfront scene on Commercial Street for shopping, dining and water views.
  • Tour the open waters on a beautiful Schooner tour with Portland Schooner . They also invite you to pack a picnic with beer and wine to enhance your experience.
  • Tour the Portland Arts District, which is filled with art galleries, museums and theaters.
  • Take a culinary tour of the city and learn the very best places to eat, led by a local. Click the link below to book your tour, or learn more info.

Click here to book your walking culinary tour in Portland!

You may also like:

  • Best Boston Hotels Near The Aquarium
  • Best Stops To Make Driving From Boston To Portland, Maine
  • Best Day Trips From Portland, Maine
  • Best Breweries In Portland, Maine
  • Best Things To Do In New England For Your Bucket List

32. New York City

Distance From Boston: 3 hours and 45 minutes (but always allow extra time for traffic)

Be sure to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and take in views from a distance at Pebble Beach.

New York City needs no introduction, and if you’ve never been to the city that never sleeps, this is an absolute must if you’re looking into road trips from Boston. Below is a list of my absolute favorite things to do when I visit NYC, which includes the best things to do for first-time visitors.

The Best Things To Do in New York City:

  • Walk the Brooklyn Bridge and visit DUMBO for sweeping views of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
  • Get bagels at Brooklyn Bagel (the best in the city).
  • Visit Central park, and be sure to stop at Bow Bridge, Belvedere Castle and The Mall walkway.
  • Grab a slice of pizza at Joe’s (150 E 14th St.)
  • Explore the MET Museum and Cloisters.
  • Take the Staten Island Ferry for views of the Statue of Liberty (this is free and way better than the official tours, which are super crowded!).
  • See a broadway show.
  • It’s touristy, but I love going to the top of the Empire State Building.
  • Walk around the West Village for amazing streets and brownstones.

33. Burlington, VT

Church Street in Burlington, VT is a must-see if you decide to road trip here from Boston.

Burlington is a small and beautiful city in Northern Vermont that sits along Lake Champlain, and is wonderfully diverse, exuberant and also very relaxing. This is a great destination if you’re looking for a small-town feel set in a bigger city, waterfront and outdoor activities, an art scene and plenty of amazing restaurants.

Best Things To Do in Burlington, VT:

  • Walk around Church Street, a pedestrian-only area lined with unique shops and restaurants.
  • Stroll around the waterfront to admire the views of Lake Champlain, as well as the Burlington Breakwater Lighthouse.
  • Bike the Burlington Bike Path, a beautiful path along the lake that’s over 7 miles long.
  • Go kayaking or stand up paddleboarding on the lake.
  • Head to nearby Shelburne to tour Shelburne Farms , one of my favorite things to do in all of Vermont! There are tons of hiking and walking trails through the 1400-acre picturesque grounds, and you can stop to sample their homemade cheeses and baked goods along the way.
  • Take in the art scene on the South End, which is loaded with galleries and shops.
  • Get a taste for the local brews with a Sip of Burlington Beer Tour. Join a small group for dinner, and learn from a local brew expert as you taste all the different beers that are brewed nearby. Click the link below to learn more, or book your tour.

Click here to book your Beer of Burlington experience!

34. Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia is a great city destination when planning a road trip in the Northeast.

Last but most definitely not least on our round-up of the best road trips from Boston, is the city of Brothery Love, Philadelphia. Philly is Pennsylvania’s largest city, and is deeply rooted in history, but there are all kinds of things to do from exciting nightlife and amazing food to parks and waterfront activities.

Best Things To Do in Philadelphia, PA:

  • Run up the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and snap a picture with the Rocky statue. A bit touristy, but if you’re a fan of the movie, you gotta go for it.
  • Speaking of the Philadelphia Museum of Art , after your Rocky moment, be sure to visit. They have an amazing American art collection, as well as works by famed impressionists Renoir, Degas and Monet.
  • Tour Independence Hall, regarded as the birthplace of the United States, and where the Declaration of Independence was debated by our Founding Fathers.
  • Venture just outside the city to visit Longwood Gardens, an expansive garden oasis filled with both indoor and outdoor gardens and, and beautifully designed grounds.
  • Grab a Philly cheesesteak at Woodrow’s Sandwich Shop .
  • Stroll along the Delaware Riverfront to explore Cherry Street and Race Street Piers, and take in amazing views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
  • Hop on a BYOB trolley tour of the city, hosted by hilarious guides that share historic and entertaining information, and take you to some of the top sites in the city. Click the link below to learn more, or book your tour.

Click here to book your Historically Hilarious Trolley Tour in Philadelphia!

Road Trip Itinerary Options

If you’re looking to combine towns from this list into longer roads trips, or are wondering which towns are close enough to combine together to maximize your time and cover the most ground, I’ve got you covered! Below you’ll find suggested itineraries with different routes you can take while planning the best road trips from Boston.

Option 1: Massachusetts North Shore Road Trip From Boston

A map of the North Shore route from Boston.

For this route, you’ll head north from Boston and visit the following destinations:

  • Newburyport & Plum Island
  • Portsmouth, NH

Days Needed For This Route: 2-4 . If you’re looking for an easy road trip from Boston with lots of options, this is an awesome route to take. You can do it in as little as 2 days for a weekend trip, or add on two additional days to take your time and explore each town.

Option 2: Cape Cod & The Islands Road Trip From Boston

A map of the Cape Cod road trip from Boston route.

For this route, you’ll head south from Boston and visit the following destinations:

  • Martha’s Vineyard

Days Needed For This Route: 7-8 days. Because this route requires ferries from Cape Cod to the islands, and with Cape Cod being a larger region to explore, I recommend a week.

If you have less time, the islands could be done as day trips, and you could attempt this route in about 5 days . If you have 10 days, I would suggest spending one night in Plymouth, 5 days on Cape Cod, two nights on Nantucket and two nights on Martha’s Vineyard for the ultimate Cape Cod road trip.

Option 3: Boston To Bar Harbor Road Trip

A map of the route from Boston to Bar Harbor.

This route will take you up the coast of Maine and stop in these destinations:

  • Newburyport, MA
  • Ogunquit, ME
  • Kennebunkport, ME
  • Portland, ME
  • Bar Harbor, ME

Days Needed For This Route: 7-10 days. I suggest this much time because your final destination, Bar Harbor, is home to Acadia National Park, and there’s so much to see and do just in the park. And each stop along the way is a very worthy destination to spend at least one night in.

If you’re very short on time, you can do this route in 4 nights with this itinerary:

  • On your way to Ogunquit, pass through Newburyport and spend 2-3 hours there. Arrive in Ogunquit late afternoon to spend the night.
  • The next day, spend the morning in Ogunquit, and then drive to Kennebunkport to spend about 3 hours exploring there. Drive to Portland, and spend the night.
  • The next day, spend your morning in Portland, and then drive to Bar Harbor to arrive by mid-afternoon. Spend 2 nights in Bar Harbor.
  • Drive back to Boston.

I have a detailed Boston To Bar Harbor, Maine Road Trip Itinerary if you’d like more help with planning!

Option 4: Vermont Road Trip From Boston

A map of the Vermont road trip from Boston route.

For this route, you’ll head northwest of Boston, and drive through the best towns in Vermont from this list. You’ll cover these destinations:

  • Manchester, VT
  • Woodstock, VT
  • Burlington, VT

Note : This route isn’t as direct as the other routes, and will include 6.5 hours of driving time to get from Boston to Burlington, stopping at the other destinations along the way. But then you can drive direct from Burlington to Boston on your way home, which will only take 3.5 hours.

Days Needed For This Route: 3-5 days . This could easily be a long weekend itinerary if you don’t stop in each town overnight, and just visit Manchester and Stowe for a few hours each. You could, of course, take your time, and do up to 5 nights for this itinerary.

Option 5: Rhode Island & Coastal Connecticut Road Trip From Boston

A map of the coastal Rhode Island road trip from Boston route.

This route will take you southwest from Boston, and you’ll visit these destinations:

  • Providence, RI
  • Newport, RI
  • Block Island, RI
  • Westerly, RI

Days Needed For This Route: 3-6 days . This is another itinerary you could also do in a weekend if you only spend a few hours in Mystic, as a day trip from Newport, and skip going to Block Island. To visit all these destinations, you’ll need about 5 days, but 6 would be ideal to not feel rushed.

Tip : If you wanted to extend your road trip further along this route, there is a ferry that leaves from New London, CT, and goes to the Hamptons!

Option 6: Boston To New York City & The Hamptons Road Trip

A map of the route from Boston to New York City and the Hamptons.

This route will take you to these destinations:

  • Rhinebeck, NY
  • New Paltz, NY
  • New York City
  • The Hamptons
  • Optional add-on: Philadelphia, PA

Note : The route from Boston to The Hamptons, while making all the stops in the Hudson Valley in-between, is not direct, and will take about 7.5 hours without stops, so I highly suggest you stop overnight in at least one of the towns to break up your drive. If you wanted to visit Philadelphia, this would be the route you would want to add that destination to, as you will have to drive through NYC to get there.

Days Needed For This Route: 1 week. To do this route in 7 days, I would suggest spending a few hours each in Hudson and Rhinebeck, then spend the night in New Paltz (splurging at Mohonk Mountain House is definitely worth it!). Then drive to NYC the next day, and spend 3 nights there. Then drive to The Hamptons, and spend 3 nights. If you want to add Philadelphia, you’ll want to add an extra night or two.

If you’re short on time and want to do this route in fewer days, I would suggest spending a night in the Hudson Valley (same as above), spend 3 nights in NYC, but include a day trip to The Hamptons. Or, if The Hamptons is of more interest to you, you could spend one night in NYC, and spend a night or two in The Hamptons. And then drive back to Boston.

The other option is to drive direct from Boston to New York City, and leave out the Hudson Valley towns entirely. On that route, your focus would be New York City and The Hamptons.

What Towns Are 1 Hour From Boston?

Plymouth, Salem, Rockport, Newburyport are all within an hour from Boston, and make for wonderful road trips or day trips from Boston.

Towns not mentioned on this list that are also an hour or less from Boston that are perfect for a road trip are Scituate, Gloucester, Manchester-By-The-Sea and Essex, all of which are located in Massachusetts.

What Cities Are 6 Hours From Boston?

New York City, Portsmouth, NH, Philadelphia, PA, Portland, ME, Burlington, VT and Providence, RI are all within 6 hours or less from Boston, and are all included on this list as amazing road trips from Boston.

Is Boston Close To Niagara Falls?

Boston is over 7 hours from Niagara Falls, and for that reason, didn’t make this list of road trips. But if you have extra time, it could be added to a road trip itinerary for Skaneateles, NY and the finger lakes region.

  • 7-Day New England Road Trip Itinerary
  • The Perfect New England Fall Road Trip
  • Boston In The Fall: Fun Things To Do!
  • The Best New England Gifts and Souvenirs to Look For During Your Trip
  • 60+ Things To Do In Vermont
  • Summer In New England: Best Places To Go & Things To Do!
  • Incredible New England Resorts & Spas
  • Best Time To Visit New England

That’s A Wrap On The Best Road Trips From Boston

As you can see, Boston is really an incredible gateway to all of the Northeast, making it easy to take lots of different road trips. Whether you want to explore the coast of Massachusetts and Maine, go cute-town-hopping through Vermont or visit as many cities as you can, you’re now ready to plan which of these road trips from Boston is perfect for you.

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

21 Best Day Trips from Boston in 2024

Written By: The Planet D

United States

Updated On: June 11, 2024

The capital of Massachusetts isn’t somewhere you necessarily think you’ll have to take a day trip from, and it’s true – Boston has tons to do in the city center. There is a rich history, art museums, and even the famous Harvard University. But considering its prime location on the east coast, it would be an absolute crime to visit and not indulge in some trips from Boston. The wider Boston surrounds are well connected by trains and even better connected by highways and back roads. So book a train ticket or rent a car and get going on a day trip.

Table of Contents

Top Day Trips from Boston

Top Day Trips from Boston

Whether you want fresh seafood or to tackle the East Bay Bike Path, these top-day trips from Boston are sure to keep you ticking over throughout your stay. In this guide, we’ll cover Boston’s best day trip options – including day trips you can reach by car and train to keep things accessible for everyone. Let’s get started.

Planning Your Trip To Boston Right Now?

Below are some of the top day trip tours from Boston. Don’t forget to plan ahead when  visiting Boston!

Top Day Trip Activities and Tours from Boston:

  • Martha’s Vineyard Day Trip with Optional Island Tour from Boston (Most Popular Day Trip from Boston)
  • Boston to New Hampshire Fall Foliage White Mountains Day Trip (Our Favorite Day Trip)
  • Boston to Plymouth Day-Trip including Quincy, Plimoth Patuxet and Mayflower II (Likely to Sell Out)
  • Martha’s Vineyard Daytrip from Boston with Round-Trip Ferry & Island Tour Option (Best Deal)

1. Plum Island

Best Day Trips From Boston Plum Island

  • 1 Hour From Boston

Plum Island is a lovely day trip from Boston in the summer months. The barrier island is just over an hour’s drive on a bad traffic day and gets its name from the wild plum shrubs that grow along its shores. It also earned the title ‘plum’ from the characteristic purple sand that occurs during low tide thanks to pinkish-tinted garnet crystals mixed in with the sand.

As a day trip, it’s one of the most enjoyable places for a beach day – although visitors should remember that there are no on-duty lifeguards. It might not be the Boston day trip for swimming if you aren’t confident in the water and visiting with a group of strong swimmers.

Plum Island is only 11 miles long, so you could walk the whole island if you really wanted to. Otherwise, stick to organized hiking trails like the Hellcat Marsh Loop Trail, which cuts through the Parker River National Wildlife Reserve. Plum Island wormed its way onto our guide because of its quiet beach vibe and many nature-immersive experiences. It isn’t as busy as the seaside towns, so perfect if you just want to beach bum for one of your Boston day trips.

2. Provincetown

Best Day Trips from Boston Provincetown

  • 2 Hours From Boston

Speaking of beach days, Provincetown is one of those busier seaside towns we recommend. When you want a day trip to somewhere busy and entertainment-filled, Provincetown is where to head. The New England town is right at the tip of Cape Cod and is famous for its arts, food, and pilgrim history. In 1620, Provincetown was actually the site of the Mayflower’s landing, commemorated by the Pilgrim Monument today.

However, it’s not all history; its beaches are the cherry on top. Race Point Beach is the most popular spot for sunbathing in Provincetown – so allow time to visit when you head on this day trip from Boston.

Provincetown is friendly, eclectic, and ideal for an impactful addition to our top Boston day trips. You can drive to Provincetown in around 2 hours, passing little coastal town hotspots like Plymouth and Sandwich en route. Alternatively, use public transport to reach the World Trade Center Pier and catch the ferry in approximately a 2-hour total trip. This is an excellent way to sneakily glimpse Boston from the water.

3. Peabody Essex Museum

Best Day Trips From Boston Peabody Essex Museum

  • 45 Minutes From Boston

Art lovers, prepare to be blown away by this one. Peabody Essex Museum is easily one of the top art galleries you can visit from or in Boston. And this museum is just a short drive (45 minutes) from central Boston – so easily squeezed into a busy itinerary. If you don’t have a car, you also have public transport options with multiple bus lines connecting the two.

The glitzy modern art museum is renowned for its American and Asian art. It has a rather bizarre collection of artifacts and displays. Be prepared for full-room displays and plenty of head-tilting art pieces. A considerable section is dedicated to the Salem witches, a famous story in the museum’s town of over 20 women who were put to death over baseless allegations of witchery.

If you visit the Peabody Essex Museum, you can easily visit the Salem Witch Museum while you are there. Salem is small but mighty, with quite a few high-quality attractions, so don’t hesitate to bulk your visit to this gallery into a full-day affair. We had to add it to this itinerary because of the witch element to its displays and the glitzy, comprehensive showcasing of such a vast display of quality art. This museum also makes a great rainy-day trip from Boston. Day trips aren’t just for sunny days.

4. Road Trip to Portland, Maine

Best Day Trips from Boston Portland Maine

  • 2 hours from Boston

Driving to Portland from Boston takes less than a few hours – approximately 2 hours and 1 minute. But instead of rushing up to Portland and back, make a day trip out of the drive and treat it as a single-day road trip. We suggest driving through the beautiful Middlesex Fells Reservation, detouring slightly to stop by Salem and see all the witch history, stopping for lunch at Portsmouth, and then spending a couple of hours soaking up Maine in scenic Portland.

In Portland, you could ride the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad, visit the Portland Museum of Art, or the International Cryptozoology Museum. The last one is enjoyable, with many fictional characters exhibits like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

With all these stops on the first part of your journey, allow around 6 hours for the first leg to thoroughly enjoy each stop. Then, your return journey should be about 2 hours unless you stop anywhere pretty for sunset and dinner. The north shore residents are lucky to have such historic towns and beautiful views on their doorstep, so ensure you get a good taste of this incredible stretch.

5. Salem Witch Museum

Best Day Trips from Boston Salem Witch Museum

  • 1 hour from Boston

Salem Witch Museum is one of the most fascinating day trip ideas from Boston, and even better, it is also one of the most feasible. It is just an hour from Boston by car or a 45-minute direct train ride from North Station. The museum takes you back to 1692 when the Salem Witch Trials were fully flowing. Over 200 women stood trial for false claims of witchery, and 19 were convicted and given a death-by-hanging sentence.

The ordeal was catastrophic and considered one of the most tragic events in history. You can relive the experience with life-size mannequins and trial scenes at the museum. You can browse through informative exhibits to learn more about the women prosecuted and about attitudes and examples of witchcraft today.

The Salem Witch Museum might not be the first thing that pops into your head when you think of a lovely weekend getaway. However, as a day trip from Boston, it highlights a massively important section of history.

6. Woods Hole

Best Day Trips From Boston Woods Hole

Woods Hole is at the very end of Cape Cod. In fact, it seems closer to the islands than the mainland, despite being on the main peninsula. The tiny village was once a central whaling point, and you can still enjoy a more ethical version of coastal living by walking past the marina and enjoying the waterfront promenade.

There is a lot of science-based entertainment to be had in this village, too; just stop by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Ocean Science Discovery Center. This science museum even has Titanic recovery exhibits. And you can take advantage of the daily summer of Woods Hole that departs from the Woods Hole Historical Museum.

Woods Hole is roughly a two-hour drive from Boston. For us, the main draw is its total science and marine focus. But remember that the driving route down to Woods Hole passes Plymouth or Blue Hills Reservation – depending on your route.

7. North Conway

Best Day Trips From Boston North Conway

  • 3 hours from Boston

North Conway is one of the furthest day trips from Boston, taking 2 hours and 50 minutes to reach by car. So why bother? What grip does this little forest town hold on so many visitors? North Conway is a hot spot for hiking, skiing, and waterfalls. The tiny village has more hiking trails and outdoor adventures in a 10-mile radius than most towns do combined. Head up to North Conway early in the morning to have a full day enjoying its sublime locale before heading back after dinner. It is a full day, but definitely worthwhile.

Best Day Trips From Boston North Conway2

Must-visits in North Conway include Diana’s Baths Cascade and Echo Lake State Park. The water attractions here are stunning and a great early morning activity. If it is ski season, you could also spend a full day on the slopes. While catching some beautiful views on a time limit, the Conway Scenic Railroad is your best shot.

The 19th-century steam train whisks you around some of the prettiest scenery in North Conway in traditional dining cars. The outdoor adventure in North Conway is unbeatable, so we had to add it to this guide.

8. The House of the Seven Gables

Best Day Trips from Boston House of the Seven Gables Salem

The House of the Seven Gables  may sound familiar to any literature fans. The novel was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1851 and was a major hit. And in Salem (we are starting to think that everything good is in Salem), you can visit the actual house that inspired the novel.

The House of the Seven Gables is now an up-and-running not-for-profit museum dedicated to the author, his life, and his novel. The house itself dates back to 1668 but was restored in 1910, kept in keeping with as many period elements and features as possible. Located overlooking the water, it is a beautiful spot full of history and worth visiting.

The House of the Seven Gables is an hour away from Boston by car or an hour by train from North Station. If you catch the train, be prepared for a 25-minute walk to the actual museum from the station.

9. Nantucket

Best Day Trips From Boston Nantucket

Nantucket is an island more isolated than Martha’s Vineyard and located just a little further offshore. For an adventurous day trip, look no further. The island has a little town center with those cobbled streets that you adore despite yourself. The whole thing has that quaint allure and ruggedness from its geographical isolation. In short, Nantucket is an island worth day-tripping and a beautiful example of the Cape Cod region.

Best Day Trips from Boston Nantucket Island Sailing

Nantucket’s main highlights are its waterfront cottages and traditional buildings in the main town. You can also beach hop and jump between lighthouses, reveling in the fewer tourists than you’d find on the mainland or busier islands. It has a return ferry service that perfectly lines up with enough hours on the island to sightsee.

Besides, it is more a place to experience than tick off loads of specific things. The ferry is an hour long, and it takes around 2 hours to reach Hyannis Terminal by train from South Station, Boston. Bring a good book and some anti-motion sickness tablets, just in case.

10. New Bedford

Best Day Trips From Boston New Bedford

  • 1.5 hours from Boston

New Bedford is one of the top day trips from Boston. With limited time, you can take this trip one of two ways: an opportunity to learn about maritime history or taste loads of delicious seafood. In an ideal world, we’d suggest staying a full day and ticking off both, but if that isn’t an option, get ready to pick one.

First things first, though, New Bedford is located on the south coast, just outside of Providence and Rhode Island. The city was founded by English Quakers and, since then, has entirely revolved around the fishing industry, which should be easy to tell from all the fishing boats in its harbor.

Best Day Trips From Boston New Bedford2

You can stop by (or jump between) the main wharf area and all the seafood retailers just south of the wharves, off MacArthur’s Drive. There are plenty of high-brow seafood restaurants, like The Black Whale and Merrill’s on the Waterfront.

So you can always book in for a sunset dining experience there, as many tables also come with waterfront views. Otherwise, head to the New Bedford Whaling Museum to keep things educational. This somewhat tragic museum tells the story of the global whaling industry. It provides excellent insight into the toils of these beautiful mammals.

New Bedford is just 1.5 hours from Boston or 3 hours by public transport. It is an easy day trip to organize – whichever way you plan it. And if you drive, then you’ll cut straight through Blue Hills Reservation which is a huge plus.

11. Concord

Best Day Trips From Boston Concord

  • 40 minutes from Boston

Concord is far more than just a picturesque town. Out of all the small towns in Massachusetts, this spot is one of the ultimate day trip options you could choose from in Boston. Concord is famed for its revolutionary war history, and you can visit the Old North Bridge and Old Hill Burial Ground.

Old North Bridge is particularly famous and is the replica of the 1775 bridge where the first shots of the American Revolution were unleashed. Any history buffs should really prioritize a trip to Concord. Honestly, there is so much history here that it feels like the world revolved around Concord for a long time.

Best Day Trips From Boston Concord2

As if all that American history wasn’t enough of a draw, Concord also caters to a slightly different crowd – literature fans. The town is home to Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, where  Little Women  was written and set. You can now take tours around the house, a fully functioning museum commemorating the author and her work.

Ready for the really exciting part? Concord is only a 40-minute drive from Boston. And from North Station, you can also take a direct train in just 40 minutes. So Concord is one of the most public transport-friendly options for Boston day trips.

12. Polar Caves Park

Polar Caves Park does not have polar bears. Instead, it cops its name from the glacial caves formed in the park during the Ice Age – polar bears live near glaciers, get it? There are nine caves in total, and you scramble between them using a mixture of metal ladders and step contraptions and a bit of a squeeze here and there.

Exploring caves that date back to the last Ice Age is really exciting. Polar Caves Park is the sort of place that you can encourage children to enjoy but also get value out of as an adult. The caves are also linked by little wooden trails, which is a nice touch and provides stunning forest views.

Polar Caves Park is approximately an hour and 50 minutes from Boston by car. Getting to Polar Caves Park is a total breeze if you rent a car. You can also stop at brilliant places en route, like Canobie Lake Park, a fun theme park with rollercoasters and water rides. A day trip to Polar Caves Park is easily combined with other attractions to break up the travel time – so don’t let the drive time put you off. Polar Caves Park is one of the most unique day trips you can take from Boston.

13. Old Sturbridge Village

Best Day Trips From Boston Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village is another living museum for your itinerary. The 1830s recreation is a settlement by design but an absolute time capsule by effect. The attention to detail is sublime, and you walk through the ‘village’ to meet costumed actors who’ll stop and chat with you about what they’re doing.

The sawmill and blacksmith actors even give demonstrations. Get ready for an incredibly immersive museum experience. You can wander in and out of historic buildings, admiring all the fine details – even down to clothes and table cutlery. For us, Old Sturbridge Village is easily one of the top things to do near Boston. The attention to detail, as we said, is second to none.

Best Day Trips From Boston Old Sturbridge Village2

The museum is just an hour’s drive from Boston, so a feasible addition to your trip. You could squeeze Old Sturbridge Village into a 5-6 hour slot. We suggest allowing as much time as possible to spend at the museum because there are loads to get involved with, like activities and rides. It is something you want to take your time with. And, if you wanted, you could incorporate it with a stop in Worcester, the nearest major city to Boston.

14. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Best Day Trips From Boston White Mountain National Forest

White Mountain National Forest spans over 800,000 acres of preserved forestland, which is quite challenging to even begin to picture the scale of. The forest has mountain views and historic sites scattered through its midst, so it combines hiking trails and attractions to sightsee. If you are lucky, you may even spot black bears and moose.

In summer, White Mountain National Forest is an absolute haven for hikers; in winter, ski season takes over. In this sense, it is one of the most seasonally versatile day trips from Boston. In summer, we suggest heading to the forest for its hiking trails for a day of walking and picnicking. While in winter, we propose an exhilarating skiing day trip from Boston. Take your pick – or let your visit dates decide for you.

White Mountain National Forest is just under a 2-hour drive from Boston, so not a massive distance to drive for a day trip. You’ll cut through Concord too, which makes the perfect stopover point to celebrate being halfway.

15. Martha’s Vineyard

Best Day Trips from Boston Martha's Vineyard

Fancy drinking some wine? We hate to break it to you, but Martha’s Vineyard is not what you thought it would be. Instead of wine tastings, a Martha’s Vineyard day trip involves wildlife sanctuaries, marshlands, and plenty of beaches. It is a day out for a rural, remote experience of New England island living.

The British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold named the island after his daughter, so you have him to thank for the whacky name. You can reach Martha’s Vineyard by car from Boston and then a quick ferry crossing. It’s one of the most adventurous places to make a day trip because of the ferry element and island status.

Best Day Trips from Boston Martha's Vineyard Lighthouse

Top things to do on Martha’s Vineyard include visiting the gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs, kicking back on the beach, and admiring the views from Aquinnah Cliffs. The island has three main towns: Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, and Vineyard Haven, all highly walkable.

But otherwise, if you bring your car on the ferry, you can drive around all the best spots. The Flying Horses Carousel, Aquinnah Cliffs Overlook, and Polly Hill Arboretum are significant attractions. Put it this way, you’ll have plenty to do when you aren’t enjoying the most remote sections of Martha’s Vineyard.

16. Jamestown

Best Day Trips From Boston Jamestown

Jamestown is the sort of New England charm you hope to find. The cobblestone streets give off that quintessential New England town allure and demand you to stop and take photographs if you are social media-inclined. Regarding day trips from Boston, Jamestown is a prime candidate if you like aesthetic destinations. And at just a 1.5-hour drive from Boston or a 2 hours 20-minute public transport trip from South Station, you are onto a winner logistically.

Best Day Trips From Boston Jamestown-Powhatan

Of course, it isn’t all quintessential aesthetics and cutesy cobblestones. Jamestown has a dark history. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement and a site of a famous 1622 massacre in which nearly a third of the English population was killed. The systematic seizure of Powhatan lands prompted the killings, and Opechancanough led a deadly series of attacks on the settlement.

When you visit Jamestown, you can visit numerous historic buildings and landmarks that tribute English and Powhatan history. Powhatan Indian Village and James Fort are the two most visited. The fact that there is so much history just over an hour from Boston really stands out, and Jamestown’s close links to early American history and the tragedies of New England are the main reasons we are featuring it.

17. Cycle the East Bay Bike Path

Best Day Trips From Boston East Bay Bike Path

The East Bay Bike Path is the best day trip you can take from Boston if you want to go cycling. The 14.5-mile bike path might shadow the rocky coastline between Providence and Bristol. However, the route itself is paved and super easy to navigate. While the distance requires a bit of mental grit, the East Bay Bike Path is technically easy and beginner-friendly. So whether you are an established road biker or just fancy the challenge, this bike path can swing both ways.

The bike path passes through 8 different parks, a bridge, and countless waterfronts. It is a really exciting and diverse way to embrace coastal living, and really eco-friendly as well. Not only does it have rapidly changing scenery, but it also has tons of eating and drinking options en route – to the point where people have started to organize food tours.

You could stop at Narragansett Brewery, the Box East Bay, or the Sowams Cider Works Company, just to name a few. Allow around 3 hours for a return trip with a short, 15-minute break or a full day if you plan to stop lots along the way.

18. Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

Best Day Trips From Boston Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

  • 50 minutes from Boston

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is the largest outlet shopping spot in New England, and the best part is that it’s set outdoors, so you can enjoy the sun while you shop. The outlet store has over 160 brands and competitively lines up to 65% discounts. It’s the perfect place to snag a bargain and only a 50-minute drive from Boston – what more could you want? Of the over 160 brands it features, you’ll find Gucci, Adidas, Versace, Burberry, and more. It has a luxury spin, but you’ll find some high-street brands, so don’t let that put you off.

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets made our list because of its huge discounts and exciting shopping experiences. Shopping in Boston is fun, but saving money and having all the best brands in one convenient space is tons more fun. You can treat yourself to new apparel, shoes, or even jewelry.

19. Newport, New Hampshire

Best Day Trips From Boston Newport

Newport is one of the top day trips from Boston. In just 1.5 hours by car of a few hours by public transportation, you can easily skip over to Newport as a day trip from Boston. Newport is a city set right on the edge of Aquidneck Island on Rhode Island. It is well-known for the America’s Cup, a worldwide famous annual sailing regatta, that was once held continuously in the city.

Newport is the perfect place to embrace coastal living in a trendier way than you’ll find in the seaside town alternatives. Picture luxe yachts in a glossy harbor and a clifftop trail (straightforwardly named the Cliff Walk) that passes Gilded Age mansion after mansion. If you want a trendy place to enjoy the ocean or have an affinity for sailing, then Newport is the day trip for you.

Best Day Trips From Boston Newport Harbour

Newport, Rhode Island, has plenty of local history, and you can stop by its museums, which include The Breakers – a summer home of the Vanderbilts and a beautiful example of the Gilded Age architecture. True to its sporting core, there’s also the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which was the home of the first-ever US Open Championship in 1881 and is an absolute memorabilia fest. Newport gives off ‘old money’ vibes, and since it is such a short drive from Boston, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t add it to your list.

20. Blue Hills Reservation

Best Day Trips From Boston Blue Hills Reservation

  • 30 minutes from Boston

Blue Hills Reservation is a 7,000-acre park just a 30-minute drive or hour public transport scramble from central Boston. It is the haven of green space that everyone flocks to, especially on a busy day, and we’d recommend visiting for its hiking trails and excellent picnic prospects. There are over 125 miles of hiking trails to get stuck into, including Burma Trail and the Blue Hills Skyline Trail. There is a designated swimming area, too, that opens seasonally, so keep that in mind on a hot day.

Blue Hills Reservation is a stunning state park ideal for a day trip. It is somewhere to dash to and escape the inner-city chaos, with many opportunities to relax amongst nature. As a quick extra recommendation, we suggest heading to the 635ft Great Blue Hill – where you can enjoy views of the Boston cityscape skyline on the horizon.

And it’s also worth mentioning that Blue Hills Reservation is just as beautiful in the fall; in fact, a fall day trip to Blue Hills is one of the best things to do in Boston. Especially when walking around the state park’s lakes and seeing the orange and burnt-red reflections in the water. For us, Blue Hills Reservation is so beautiful that it just had to make our list.

21. Josiah Keith House Living History Museum and Homestead

Best Day Trips from Boston Josiah Keith House

  • 50 minute drive from Boston

Josiah Keith House Living History Museum and Homestead is the oldest house in Easton, Massachusetts. And this is one of the most unusual day trips from Boston. Tours are available by appointment only, so you must ring or email beforehand. Self-guided tours are not an option. Josiah Keith House is a living history museum located just a 50-minute drive from central Boston.

The property dates back to 1717 and has all the original furnishings intact, so you can wander through its rooms, getting a realistic impression of earlier lives in Massachusetts. As a ‘living museum,’ it is still a fully functioning homestead and runs a B&B service. Josiah Keith House is lived in and acts as a functioning time capsule to give visitors a glimpse of 18th-century living.

Visiting Josiah Keith House Museum and Homestead is an absolute breeze by car, so make sure to rent a car if this day trip has caught your eye. It has made our list because it offers an off-the-beaten-track experience (not many people have Josiah Keith House on their Boston itineraries) and a sense of immersive history.

FAQs: Day Trips From Boston

Best Day Trips from Boston FAQ

So, where are you heading first on your day trips from Boston? As you can now clearly see, Boston’s the perfect launchpad for exploring Massachusetts and beyond. But don’t get carried away; hold fire for a second. Before you settle on one day trip idea, though, check out these essential snippets of info.

What towns are 1 hour from Boston?

Bedford, Plymouth, and Bridgewater are all under an hour away from Boston. These towns all make fantastic day trips from Boston.

What cities are 30 minutes from Boston?

No cities are within 30 minutes of Boston, but the closest, Worcester, is around 50 minutes away. And Providence is an hour and 10 minutes away by car.

What cities are 4 hours from Boston?

New York City is around 4 hours from Boston by car – so definitely list that as one of your most ambitious options for a day trip from Boston. Montreal is a little further at 5 hours by car and will involve crossing the Canadian border.

Is Boston worth visiting for a day?

Yes, Boston is absolutely worth visiting for a day because of its thriving arts scene, Boston Tea Party history, and beautiful Charles River Esplanade. With just a day, you should focus on 2-3 attractions in Boston and stay in the Downtown, Waterfront, and Beacon Hill areas.

What are the Best Day Trips from Boston?

Fun day trips from Boston

Day trips from Boston range from wholesome visits to a seaside town to indulgent trips to enjoy fresh seafood and whacky historical attractions like the Salem Witch Museum. You’ll love these day trip ideas. Take a break from the art galleries and inner-city attractions in Boston and spread your wings a little.

Got a little bit longer? You could try one of our more ambitious day trip ideas from Boston or even a two-day getaway. There are many  things to do in New York , which is just a 4-hour drive from Boston. Within two days, you could also venture into Canada to visit Montreal or check out  Niagara Falls  (we’ve got a guide on where to stay in Niagara Falls  here ). As we said, Boston has an ideal location on the east coast – so plan a day trip or an overnight trip wherever possible.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Book Your Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner. We have used them for years and have found that they have the best flight deals.

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor.

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Safety Wing - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Book Your Activities: Looking for walking tours, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more? Then we recommend Get Your Guide.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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boston massachusetts day trips

21 Best Day Trips From Boston, Massachusetts

Here are my favorite day trips from Boston, MA, ranging from cities and charming seaside towns to national parks, state parks, and more!

Because I was born and raised in Massachusetts, I’ve spend much of my life exploring New England .

Though exploring my home didn’t excite me as much as going overseas, I have grown to love and appreciate the beauty and charm of New England.

So I’ve decided to write a post about the best day trips from Boston, MA.

Boston is one of the USA’s most incredible cities. It’s packed with history, architecture, museums, nightlife, and lots of cool attractions .

If you’re visiting Boston and you’d like to escape the city for a day, here are some beautiful day trips from Boston. I’ll also include some fun weekend getaways at the end!

Save money on Boston’s top attractions with the Boston City Pass !

How To Get Around On Day Trips From Boston

I would like to note that public transportation in the US is not great. There are some buses and trains, but having a car is the best way to get around.

Consider renting a car for the day if you want to visit one of these places. You don’t need a car in Boston itself though. Parking is expensive and honestly, Boston is a nightmare to drive around.

But if you want to leave the city and explore more of New England, it’s worth renting a car!

There are also some day trips from Boston without a car such as Salem, York, Plymouth, and Martha’s Vineyard. For these destinations I’ll link to some guided day trips that include transport.

That saves you the hassle of driving and navigating on your own!

girl looking at fall foliage on day trips from boston

What are the best day trips from Boston?

From Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod to some lesser known New England destinations, here are some of the best day trips from Boston!

Whether you want forest, beach, historic villages, or classic New England towns, there is lots to see and do outside the city.

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1. Bolton, MA

  • 40 minutes from Boston

Bolton is a peaceful residential town in Central Massachusetts. This is near where I grew up, and there is actually a lot to do here!

Pick your own apples in autumn at Bolton Spring Farm. Or visit Bolton Orchards for that classic rural New England farm stand. Here you can drink fresh apple cider, grab a homemade sandwich at the deli, or get an ice cream from the cafe.

Or if wine is more your style, head to Nashoba Valley Winery for wine tasting and nibbles outside overlooking the countryside.

ice cream new england

2. Salem, MA

Located a short drive north of Boston, Salem is a historic Massachusetts town made famous by the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s.

A day trip to Salem from Boston allows you to explore the area’s rich maritime history through museums, landmarks, and historic sites around town.

The best way to learn all the fun facts about Salem is on a guided night walking tour ! You can also book a day trip from Boston to Salem via ferry that includes a visit to the Witch Museum. This is one of the best day trips from Boston without a car.

3. York, ME

  • 1 hour from Boston

At just over an hour drive from downtown Boston, York is a beautiful seaside town in Maine.

Here you can enjoy the beach, tour a brewery or distillery, go golfing, and get ice cream or lobster rolls at a local restaurant. Be sure to also check out the iconic Nubble Lighthouse.

Book this highly-rated day trip from Boston that includes the highlights of Maine’s south coast such as York, Kennebunkport, and Ogunquit.

4. Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, MA

Located in Sutton, Massachusetts, Purgatory Chasm is a great place to stretch the legs outside Boston.

Full of huge rock formations, lush forests, and walking trails, this place is perfect for nature lovers and families.

But the rocks can be slippery in snow, rain, or ice, so avoid hiking in winter or wet weather.

Parking is $5 for MA residents and $20 for non residents.

5. Newport, RI

  • 1 hour and 45 minutes from Boston

This charming Rhode Island city is one of the coolest places to visit in New England.

Known for its historic mansions, fun nightlife, cool shops, and beautiful coastline, there is so much to do in Newport.

Check out the unique shops on the historic Thames Street or go on a scenic boat cruise in Narragansett Bay. Stroll along the Cliff Walk or surf at Easton’s Beach.

Check out my full list of the best things to do in Newport here !

thames street in newport rhode island

6. Douglas State Forest, MA

  • 1 hour and 15 minutes from Boston

A beautiful place to escape into nature near Boston is Douglas State Forest .

The state park is open sunrise to sunset, and parking fees are charged between May and October for $9 (MA residents) or $30 (non-residents).

Douglas State Forest offers all sorts of outdoor activities including hiking, swimming, boating, horseback riding, fishing, bird watching, mountain biking, or cross country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.

7. Hampton Beach, NH

One of the best places for a beach day near Boston is Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.

The long strip of golden sand is framed by a lively boardwalk packed with eateries, arcades, souvenir shops, and entertainment venues.

It’s a popular spot for surfing as well, though the water is always freezing cold! You can also go swimming, walking, fishing, exploring, and camping at Hampton Beach State Park .

8. Cape Cod, MA

  • 1-2 hours from Boston

Often referred to ask the “arm of Massachusetts”, Cape Cod is the peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean from the state’s eastern side.

A popular holiday spot and retirement destination for Massachusetts locals, Cape Cod is known for its charming towns, sandy beaches, and laid-back coastal vibe.

Cape Cod is packed with bustling towns like Falmouth, Mashpee, Hyannis, Bourne, Chatham, and Provincetown. Though every corner of the Cape has something special about it.

Flanked on both sides by sand dunes and beaches Cape Cod offers plenty of places to relax on the sand, swim in the sea, bike along the shore, and go on whale watching cruises .

Cape Cod National Seashore is a protected area of coastline where you can explore historic lighthouses, wildlife-filled marshes, and biking trails.

falmouth cape cod beach

9. Old Sturbridge Village, MA

  • 1 hour and 10 minutes from Boston

Whether you’re a history lover or you’re traveling with kids, Old Sturbridge Village is an educational and interactive place to visit near Boston.

Old Sturbridge Village is like a living museum! Wander through the sprawling replica of a rural Massachusetts town from the 1830s and learn what life was like back in the day.

10. Providence, RI

The exciting capital city of Rhode Island is just 1 hour from Boston!

A day trip or even a weekend trip to Providence is well worth it because this city is packed with entertainment and culture.

Visit a museum, explore a local art market, go on a ghost tour , or indulge in the nightlife. I’ve had so many fun experiences in Providence over the years and it’s truly an awesome city.

11. Keene, NH

  • 2 hours from Boston

Keene is a quaint town in southwest New Hampshire that also makes a nice day trip from Boston.

Known for being a college town, Keene has a walkable town center full of classic New England architecture, cute cafes, green spaces, and nice restaurants.

There are also some great hiking trails around Keene, such as Mount Monadnock.

Harry Potter nerds should consider visiting Keene during the last week of July, also known as “Keene Wizarding Week”, when all the local businesses around town have Harry Potter-themed events and decorations!

downtown keene new hampshire, one of the best day trips from boston

12. Plymouth, MA

Plymouth is known for being the arrival point of the pilgrims who came over from England in 1620. It’s where the first European Settlement in New England began, thus playing an important role in US history.

Tourists flock to Plymouth to see the famous Plymouth Rock and the exact replica of the Mayflower II, the ship that the pilgrims arrived on.

Plymouth also has cool museums, gardens, walking trails, forests, and even a winery.

You can book a day trip to Plymouth if you’re looking for day trips from Boston without a car! This includes Boston hotel pick-up, guided tours around the historical sites, and a stop in Quincy (another historic Massachusetts town where 2 US presidents were born).

13. Walden Pond, MA

  • 30 minutes from Boston

Located in Concord, Massachusetts, Walden Pond is one of the easiest day trips from Boston.

Here you can stroll through the peaceful nature, swim in the pond, or try water sports such as kayaking, canoeing, or boating.

Walden Pond became famous when Henry David Thoreau wrote an entire book about the beauty of nature here (the book was titled Walden ).

So if you’re looking to escape the city and really dive into the natural beauty of Massachusetts, Walden Pond is the place to go.

14. Kittery, ME

Kittery is an adorable coastal town located near Maine’s southern border.

With pebbly beaches, cozy seafood restaurants, and unique museums, Kittery has lots to offer day trippers from Boston.

Go bike riding around the historic Fort Foster and eat a Maine lobster at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier. Or shop for local produce at the Kittery Community Market on Sundays.

Go for a chilly ocean swim at Crescent Beach or Seapoint Beach. Kittery has lots of places to get outside and soak in the salty, seaside air!

sunrise on the beach in kittery maine

15. Plum Island, MA

A beautiful barrier island located off the coast of northern Massachusetts, Plum Island is the perfect summer getaway from the city.

It’s about 11 miles long and filled with soft sandy beaches, lobster shacks, and the protected ecosystems of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

Sandy Point State Reservation is also a great place for bird watching, sunbathing, and exploring the peaceful nature.

16. Portland, ME

Portland is a super cool city in Maine that is one of the best day trips from Boston.

This small city has new art galleries, ice cream shops, live music venues, dispensaries, museums, and more popping up all the time.

Grab a brew at Allagash Brewing Company, enjoy the views at the Portland Head Lighthouse, or check out the Portland Museum of Art.

Take your sightseeing to the waters with a scenic cruise , or cover more ground on a historic trolley tour !

More Day Trips From Boston (Better Suited To Weekend Trips)

There are so many amazing places to visit on a weekend trip from Boston, including New York City and Acadia National Park. These are about a 4 hour journey from Boston though, so you probably wouldn’t want to do these as a day trip.

However, here are some more epic locations that could be done as either a day trip or a weekend getaway.

The drive is around 2-3 hours for all of these. So you’d be better off on a weekend trip unless you want to wake up early and smash out lots of driving in one day.

Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights around the US!

17. Martha’s Vineyard, MA

  • 2 hours and 45 minutes from Boston

Martha’s Vineyard is an iconic Massachusetts getaway. It’s a bit of a mission to get there from Boston, which is why it’s better suited to a weekend trip.

Travel by car, bus, or ferry to Wood Hole in Falmouth, Cape Cod. Then catch the ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard.

Or book a convenient day tour from Boston that includes all your transport so you can visit the island without all the hassle.

Once you arrive, spend the day strolling through the little town center, where there are quirky stores, seafood restaurants, fudge shops, and plenty of other cute attractions.

The colorful, intricate, fairytale houses of Oak Bluffs Campground are a highlight of Martha’s Vineyard as well!

18. White Mountains, NH

  • 2.5 hours from Boston

The White Mountains in New Hampshire are a haven for wilderness lovers.

Filled with towering peaks, challenging trails, epic gorges, quaint mountain towns, and more, this located offers a wholesome getaway from the city.

Flume Gorge is a super cool attraction to check out. For those classic New England fall foliage views, visit the White Mountains in October or November!

Read my complete hiking guide to Flume Gorge for more info.

fall foliage in the white mountains on day trips from boston

19. Block Island, RI

  • 3 hours from Boston

This tiny but fun island off the coast of Rhode Island is another top beach destination in New England.

Admire the sand dunes at Mohegan Bluffs, hike along the Clay Head Nature Trail, or admire one of the few adorable lighthouses.

Block Island is also filled with beaches, restaurants, bars, and cozy inns if you want to stay the night.

20. Nantucket, MA

  • 3.5 hours from Boston

Nantucket is another stunning island that you can get to in a few hours from Boston!

You’ll need to get yourself to Hyannis in Cape Cod and then catch the ferry from there. Consider combining Nantucket into a weekend trip to Cape Cod if you want!

Top things to do on Nantucket include strolling the Sconset Bluff Walk, seeing Brant Point Lighthouse, and visiting the Whaling Museum.

And of course, hitting the beach. Sconset Beach, Jetties Beach, Madaket Beach, and Steps Beach are top choices.

21. Lake Winnepesaukee, NH

One of the top destinations for a weekend trip from Boston is Lake Winnepesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire.

Nestled at the foothills of the White Mountains, New England locals flock here in summer for boating, swimming, and enjoying that lazy lake life.

Popular beaches on Lake Winnepesaukee include Weirs Beach, Bartlett Beach, and Allen Albee Beach.

Other highlights of the area include the local museums, riding the Winnepesaukee Scenic Railroad, seeing a movie at the Weird Drive-In Theatre, and playing games at Funspot Arcade .

kayaking on a lake on a day trip from boston

Thanks for reading about my favorite day trips from Boston, MA!

For anyone traveling to the USA, check out my list of 50 budget travel tips to save money. The USA isn’t a very cheap country to travel around!

I also definitely recommend having travel insurance. The healthcare system in the USA is insane, and if something bad happens you may just go bankrupt trying to pay for emergency care out of pocket.

Check out my budget traveler’s guide to travel insurance for more info. Or check out my favorite travel insurance website, Squaremouth Insurance !

You also need a visa to visit the USA! Don’t forget to apply before you arrive.

best day trips from boston

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Celtics fly down to miami day after winning nba finals in boston.

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The Boston Celtics began celebrating the franchise's 18th championship as the final seconds ticked off the clock during Game 5 of the NBA Finals at about 11 p.m. Monday.

Just 13 hours later, Celtics players and coaches were boarding a plane at Hanscom Field airport in Bedford that was bound for Miami.

"Last night, in the Celtics locker room they had written on their whiteboard : 'Flight to Miami at noon. I thought they were joking. No!'" ESPN senior NBA writer Brian Windhorst said Tuesday morning during an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show.

It is unclear why the Celtics are choosing to celebrate their latest title in Miami, but the Florida city is known for its vibrant night life.

The C's could spend two nights in Miami before returning home ahead of their championship parade in Boston, which is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Friday.

Boston Celtics fans cheer the team as they pass by during a parade through downtown Boston, Thursday, June 19, 2008. The team rode in a convoy of amphibious vehicles as part of a rolling rally to celebrate the team's first NBA Championship in 22 years. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Celtics star Jayson Tatum shared photos and videos of him on the plane with the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.

Jayson Tatum aka “Champ” 🏆☘️ (Via @jaytatum0/IG) pic.twitter.com/Oxn5IC5uTz — NBA (@NBA) June 18, 2024

The team's flight from Hanscom Field landed in Miami at about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.

"Wait for the social media content for the next few days while those dudes are partying in Miami," Windhorst said .

By traveling to Miami, the Celtics will be in the home city of one of their biggest rivals in recent seasons. Boston has faced the Miami Heat in the NBA Playoffs in four out of the last five years, including three meetings in the Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics and Heat have split those postseason series, with Boston winning the 2022 conference finals and in the first round this year. Miami won the other two conference finals series in 2020 and 2023.

IMAGES

  1. 35+ Amazing Day Trips From Boston Massachusetts

    boston massachusetts day trips

  2. Best Day Trips from Boston, MA

    boston massachusetts day trips

  3. 10 Day Trips From Boston To Enjoy: Unforgettable Getaways

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  4. 3 Day Boston Itinerary

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  5. 10 Must-Do Day Trips from Boston, Massachusetts

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  6. 20 Best Day Trips from Boston (+ Weekend Trip Options!)

    boston massachusetts day trips

VIDEO

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  2. Driving along I-93 North toward Boston, Massachusetts

  3. Driving in Boston, Massachusetts

  4. Driving from the North End of Boston, Massachusetts to Lincoln, Rhode Island

  5. 5 daily trips, Maine to Boston

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COMMENTS

  1. 16 Best Day Trips from Boston for Locals & Visitors

    6. Provincetown, MA. Creative, sassy P-Town—located only a 90-minute ferry ride from Boston—is an artsy LGBT hotspot. It's got a great mix of galleries, restaurants and nightlife hangouts ...

  2. 19 Fabulous Day Trips from Boston

    Short Day Trips from Boston. These day trips from Boston are around an hour's drive from Boston. Salem, Massachusetts. Witch City, USA, also has a fantastic art museum and Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables. Read on for how to spend a day in Salem. Fall River and New Bedford, Massachusetts

  3. THE 10 BEST Day Trips from Boston (UPDATED 2024)

    Boston is a great travel destination with a lot to do and see, but sometimes you need to get away and explore the surrounding areas. Book the best day trips from Boston, MA directly on Tripadvisor and take the stress out of planning. Read 745,610 traveler reviews and view photos of different trips from Boston to various destinations. Find day trips to take today or this coming weekend. Book ...

  4. 35+ Amazing Day Trips From Boston Massachusetts

    32. Salem Massachusetts (45 Minute Drive) Even if you haven't traveled in Massachusetts, you've probably heard of Salem. Known as the "Witch City," Salem is a beautiful seaside town and an easy day trip from Boston. In Salem, you can learn about Salem's creepy past as the "witch capital" of the United States.

  5. The 13 Best Day Trips from Boston

    Another Massachusetts option is Furnace Brook Winery in the Berkshires, about 2.5 hours away from Boston. An hour north of the city, there's South Hampton, New Hampshire's Jewell Towne Vineyards. In Rhode Island, try Verde Vineyards or Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard.

  6. 20 Best Day Trips from Boston (+ Weekend Trip Options!)

    Lincoln Ice Castles. Location: North Woodstock, New Hampshire. Distance from Boston: 130 miles (1 hour 58 minutes) Ice Castles is an internationally acclaimed attraction found in four cities throughout North America, one of which is ideally situated for a day trip from Boston - Lincoln, NH.

  7. 14 Top-Rated Day Trips from Boston

    Shopping at Wrentham Outlets. Map of Day Trips from Boston. 1. Lexington and Concord: First Shots of the Revolution. Minuteman on Lexington Green. A well-loved statue of a Minuteman marks Lexington Green, where the first shots in America's War of Independence were fired on April 19, 1775.

  8. THE 10 BEST Day Trips from Boston (UPDATED 2024)

    Book the best day trips from Boston, MA directly on Tripadvisor and take the stress out of planning. Read 7,44,873 traveller reviews and view photos of different trips from Boston to various destinations. Find day trips to take today or this coming weekend. Book with confidence with our Low Price Guarantee.

  9. 8 of the best day trips from Boston

    5. Admire the architecture in Providence. Travel time: 35 minutes. Providence, the capital of Rhode Island, is like Boston's smaller sibling, with attractive walkable neighborhoods, elegant 18th-century architecture, dynamic and artsy student populations, and its own leafy Ivy League campus.

  10. 30 Top-Rated Things to Do in Boston

    This collection of 34 islands located in the Massachusetts Bay boasts plenty of things to do and see including historic sites, hiking trails, beaches, wildlife and much more. Popular islands ...

  11. THE TOP 10 Boston Day Trips (w/Prices)

    A: The best Day Trips in Boston according to Viator travelers are: Martha's Vineyard Daytrip from Boston with Round-Trip Ferry & Island Tour Option. Boston to Newport Small-Group Day Trip with Breakers & Marble House Admission. New York City Day Trip from Boston.

  12. 12+ Best Day Trips from Boston

    Book ahead to avoid disappointment! 🦞 Top Day Trips from Boston: Salem in a Day from Boston: Witches Tour (My top recommendation!) Martha's Vineyard Day Trip from Boston (LONG trip, but great place) Boston to Newport, RI Day Trip (Elegant mansions!) 🛌 Top-Rated Hotels in Buenos Aires:

  13. 37 Delightful Day Trips from Boston, MA (Updated for 2024)

    Location: 6 Wonson St, Gloucester, MA. Phone: (978) 515-7004. Most people know Gloucester as a big fishing town, as it's home to the reality show Wicked Tuna, as well as the inspiration for the movie The Perfect Storm. Gloucester is an excellent day trip about 50 minutes north of Boston.

  14. 12 AMAZING Day Trips from Boston (Under a 2hr drive!)

    Extend your trip to 'The Hub' with 12 incredible day trips from Boston Massachusetts that will help you explore more of New England including nearby Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and more. Boston is undoubtedly one of the top places to visit in New England and is packed with history, incredible scenery, charm, and coastal beauty.

  15. 23 Best Day Trips From Boston You've Got To Take

    Boston may be a thriving and vibrant city to live or visit, but a little escape is always lovely. Whether you want to visit within Massachusetts or head into Maine, Rhode Island, or Connecticut, you can see some of the best parts of New England on a day trip.. Filled with history, culture, and glorious fun, see somewhere that has a completely different vibe than Boston.

  16. 19 of the Best Day Trips from Boston by Car or by Train (or Boat!)

    Martha's Vineyard is a dreamy trip from Boston! Spend the day on the island and fill your adventure with tons of ocean activities. There is a wide variety of beaches on Martha's Vineyard so you'll have plenty of options to choose from. The trip should take about 2.5 hours by car and a short ferry.

  17. 34 Awesome Road Trips From Boston & Best Itineraries (2024)

    18. Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY. Distance From Boston: 3 hours and 45 minutes. If you're looking for the ultimate road trip from Boston that combines hiking in the mountains with total relaxation, then Mohonk Mountain House is perfect for you.

  18. 24 Best Day Trips from Boston, Massachusetts

    Go skiing and snowboarding at Wachusett Mountain, Massachusetts. Estimated Drive Time: Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Speaking of ski resorts near Boston, a visit to Wachusett Mountain makes one of the best day ski trips from Boston. For one, it's just an hour away, and you can even take the train.

  19. THE 10 BEST Day Trips from Boston (UPDATED 2024)

    Boston is a great travel destination with a lot to do and see, but sometimes you need to get away and explore the surrounding areas. Book the best day trips from Boston, MA directly on Tripadvisor and take the stress out of planning. Read 744,873 traveller reviews and view photos of different trips from Boston to various destinations. Find day trips to take today or this coming weekend. Book ...

  20. 17 Best Day Trips from Boston, Massachusetts

    15. The Berkshires, Massachusetts (2.5 hours): One of the Best Nature-Filled Day Trips from Boston. If you're willing to drive 5 hours roundtrip in a day (aggressive, but doable), consider adding the Berkshires to your list of day trips from Boston. Known for its stunning scenery, the Berkshires is a must-see for nature lovers.

  21. 21 Best Day Trips from Boston in 2024

    3. Peabody Essex Museum. 45 Minutes From Boston. Art lovers, prepare to be blown away by this one. Peabody Essex Museum is easily one of the top art galleries you can visit from or in Boston. And this museum is just a short drive (45 minutes) from central Boston - so easily squeezed into a busy itinerary.

  22. 21 Best Day Trips From Boston, Massachusetts

    2. Salem, MA. 40 minutes from Boston. Located a short drive north of Boston, Salem is a historic Massachusetts town made famous by the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s. A day trip to Salem from Boston allows you to explore the area's rich maritime history through museums, landmarks, and historic sites around town.

  23. 10 Must-Do Day Trips from Boston, Massachusetts

    Head to the coastal town of Newburyport, MA, for an incredible day trip. Only 35 minutes from Boston, the city of Newburyport has ten historic neighborhoods for travelers to enjoy. The entire downtown area is full of well-preserved historical buildings. Explore Newbury Historic District and wander the streets admiring the architecture or enjoy ...

  24. 10 Day Trips From Boston That Are Worth Packing Up And Leaving ...

    Boston gains most of its popularity from its ranking as the largest city in Massachusetts. The city boasts a population of over 650,000 residents, and there are many outdoor activities for ...

  25. Visiting Boston for the First Time? Here's What To See and Do

    Massachusetts is one of the top whale-watching spots in the world. Admire these majestic animals up close from Boston via boat. Cruise around the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay to spot whales and other marine life with the help of a naturalist guide. The area is a feeding ground for humpback, fin ...

  26. HOHO 24-hour ticket?

    Boston, MA . Hilton Boston Park Plaza. 5,858 Reviews . View Hotel. Boston, MA . Seaport Hotel. 6,797 Reviews . ... Tours and day trips out of Boston without a car; What are your favorite things to do in Boston? ... 2010 Boston Trip reports; Show More . Show less . Boston Destination Experts. alan m. 20,625 forum posts.

  27. Watch: Derrick White tosses duck boat beers to Celtics fans

    On a hot Boston day, Derrick White celebrated Banner 18 by sharing some cold ones with fans along the Celtics parade route. ... Derrick White #9 of the Boston Celtics reacts during the 2024 Boston ...

  28. Celtics fly down to Miami day after winning NBA title in Boston

    Celtics fly down to Miami day after winning NBA Finals in Boston. Share Copy Link. Copy {copyShortcut} to copy Link copied! Updated: 10:32 PM EDT Jun 18, 2024 OH WHAT A DIFFERENCE 24 HOURS MAKES. ...