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MASSACHUSETTS TRAVEL GUIDE

USS Constitution Museum in Boston, Massachusetts Minute Man National Historic Park in Lincoln,Massachusetts Cape Cod National Seashore

Welcome to the bigroads.com travel guide to Massachusetts! Hopefully this page helps provide some inspiration and tips to help you plan your next trip to Massachusetts.

Take note that I build and maintain this website as both a hobby and public service. I take joy in performing travel research and sharing my experiences and adventures. I do not make any profit from this website, and you will see no ads on it. Your constructive feedback about this site and its content is encouraged. Please email me if you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons


OVERVIEW



Massachusetts offers incredible variety to travelers. The state is full of historical attractions, including colonial/pilgrim, Revolutionary War, and Salem Witch Trial museums and other sites. Boston is its capital, and the city is one of the most walkable in the U.S. There are two upscale islands off of the southern coastline that cater to the wealthy: Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island. Massachusetts also has many fine beaches, including those found in Cape Cod and those situated north and south of Boston.

5-STAR ATTRACTIONS IN MASSACHUSETTS



Here is my opinionated list of 5-star attractions in Massachusetts. I believe each of these attractions should be on your Massachusetts bucket list since they are all noteworthy from a national perspective:

Western Massachusetts (including Great Barrington, Pittsfield, North Adams, and the rest of the Berkshires)
Ashuwillticook Rail Trail - the finest rail trail in western MA; 12.7 miles through the towns of Cheshire, Lanesborough and Adams; 100% paved
ATV/ORV-ing in Pittsfield State Forest - one of the best places in the state to go ATV/ORV-ing
Bash Bish Falls, Mt. Washington - the most dramatic waterfall in Massachusetts; hike to it from Taconic State Park in New York
Berkshire East Canopy Tours, Charlemont - excellent aerial adventure park
Campbell Falls, Campbell Falls State Park, New Marlborough - one of the best waterfalls in the state; located very close to the MA/CT line
Clark Art Institute, Williamstown - one of the best art museums in New England
Downtown Lenox - plenty of boutique shops and restaurants
Downtown Stockbridge / Red Lion Inn - one of the quaintest areas in the state; the Red Lion Inn has a famous long porch to relax on
Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield - one of several excellent living history museum in MA
Mass MoCa, North Adams - one of the best contemporary art museums in the U.S.
Jacob's Pillow, Becket - beautiful outdoor performing arts theatre
Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway (US-2) - the top scenic drive in the state; covers the area from Greenfield west to North Adams
Mount Greylock State Reservation / Mt. Greylock - beautiful views and excellent hiking; you can drive to the top in season; the MA highpoint
Mountain biking the Thunder Mountain Bike Park, Charlemont - some of the best mountain biking in the state
Natural Bridge State Park, North Adams - contains the only natural white marble arch in North America; also has a beautiful white marble dam
Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge - features 500+ of Norman's original paintings and drawings of everyday life
Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Lenox - beautiful nature park with excellent hiking trails
Race Brook Falls, Sheffield - moderately difficult hike to up to five sets of impressive waterfalls; you can continue hiking up to scenic views
Ramblewild, Lanesborough - amazing aerial adventure park / high-ropes course
Tannery Falls, Savoy Mountain State Forest, Lenox - gorgeous towering waterfall when it's flowing well
Tanglewood, Lenox - fantastic indoor and outdoor concert/orchestra venue
Whitewater rafting the Deerfield River - Crab Apple Whitewater is the premium guide that runs this fun river

Central Massachusetts (including Springfield and Worcester)
Big E, Springfield - one of the biggest and best country fairs in the U.S.; typically held in mid-to-late September
Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne - beautiful bridge loaded with flowers; several boutique shops and the Glacial Potholes are nearby
Brimfield Antique Show, Brimfield - one of the best antique shows in the country; occurs 3x per year (May, July, September)
Davis Farmland, Sterling - agricultural theme park with live animals, giant corn maze, and more
Downtown Northampton - historic downtown area loaded with shops and great restaurants
Indian Ranch, Webster - intimate outdoor lakeside music/concert venue
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield - large museum focusing on basketball history
Nashua River Rail Trail - one of the best paved rail trails in Massachusetts; 12.5 miles each way with limited road crossings
Norwottuck Rail Trail - an excellent paved rail trail that you be connected with other rail trails (e.g. Manhan Rail Trail)
Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge - one of several excellent living history museum in MA; costumed interpreters in rural New England
Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, Sutton - geologic wonder with fun rock scrambling and small boulder caves to explore; kids love it!
Six Flags New England, Agawam - the biggest and best roller coaster park in Massachusetts; also has a water park
Treehouse Brewery, Charlton - one of the most famous breweries in the U.S.

Northeastern Massachusetts (including the North Shore and Cape Ann)
Babson Boulders, Dogtown, Gloucester - take a hike to hunt for large boulders with inscribed words (e.g. "Never Try / Never Win")
Bearskin Neck, Rockport - tourist area with boutique shops, restaurants, and great seaside/fishing village photo ops
Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery, Salem - monster museum
Crane Beach / Crane Estate, Ipswich - one of northern Massachusetts' best beaches; parking is limited and may require permits
Downtown Newburyport - historic waterfront area with many restaurants and shops; access to Clipper City Rail Trail (paved bike path)
Downtown Salem - historic area with shops, restaurants, and bars
Encore Boston Harbor, Everett - upscale casino that is one of the best in the U.S. outside of Las Vegas; easily the best casino in MA
Fishermen's Memorial Monument, Gloucester - famous fisherman statue along the Gloucester coastline; walk to nearby Stage Fort Park
Fried clam restaurants of Ipswich and Essex - the best place on earth to eat fried clams; there are several great fried clam shops in the area
Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester - one of northern Massachusetts' best beaches; good surfing; parking is limited and may require permits
Halibut Point State Park, Rockport - nice walking paths with ocean and quarry views; parking is limited
Hammond Castle Museum, Gloucester - beautiful castle with guided and self-guided tours
House of Seven Gables, Salem - guided tours of a 1668 colonial mansion made famous by a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel
Jordan's Furniture, Reading - giant furniture store with several family-friendly attractions (IMAX theatre, ropes course, ice cream shop, etc.)
Mountain biking Lynn Woods Reservation - some of the best mountain biking in the state
Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Plum Island - excellent birding opportunities and miles of undeveloped beaches (warning: rip currents)
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem - excellent American, Asian, and Maritime art museum
Russell Farm, Ipswich - excellent apple-picking farm with cider donuts and apple cider
Stage Fort Park, Gloucester - beautiful seaside park with rock scrambling, open fields, a small beach, and a children's playground
Whale-watching tours from Gloucester - one of the top places on the East Coast to go whale-watching
Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester - one of northern Massachusetts' best beaches; parking is limited and may require permits

Boston, the Boston Suburbs, and the Metro West region
Adams National Historical Park, Quincy - historic home of U.S. presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams
Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Boston - oldest public arboretum in North America; walking and cycling trails with lots of tree types
Blue Man Group, Boston - famous art/music performance show that performs in only a few venues across the U.S.
Boston Children's Museum, Boston - one of the best children's museum in New England, and the best in Massachusetts
Boston Duck Tours, Boston - excellent guided tours of Boston; drives on Boston's streets and floats as a boat in the Charles River
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area - series of remote islands off the coast of Boston; my favorite island is George's Island
Boston National Historic Park, Boston - includes the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") and the Bunker Hill Monument
Boston Public Garden, Boston - Boston's most famous and beautiful public space; adjacent to Boston Common; Swan boat rides
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston  - world-famous symphony orchestra performances at Symphony Hall
Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Boston - historical museum and site of famous British rebellion event
Bunker Hill Monument, Charlestown - 220-foot granite tower at the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill; scenic views if you climb to the top
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln - outdoor sculpture park with hiking trails
Fanueil Hall / Quincy Market, Boston - high-tourist area with tons of shops, restaurants, and street performers
Fenway Park, Boston - cherished historic baseball park; home of the Boston Red Sox
Freedom Trail, Boston - 2.5 mile long walking path to more than a dozen historic sites and museums; a Boston "must do"
Gillette Stadium, Foxboro - home of the New England Patriots and the New England Revolution; also holds various summer concerts
Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge - excellent natural history museum with art, fossils, gems, and more
Harvard University, Cambridge - ivy league college with beautiful buildings and grounds
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston - great art museum with a gorgeous courtyard garden
John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum & Library, Boston - large museum covering topics related to the 35th president of the U.S.
Minute Man National Historical Park - various American Revolutionary War historical sites; historic walking trails
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - one of the finest art museums in the U.S.
Museum of Science, Boston - arguably the best science museum in New England
Newbury Street & Back Bay, Boston - famed shopping district with many chain and boutique stores; several great restaurants
North End, Boston - famous Italian neighborhood with excellent food; one of the best Italian districts in the U.S.; try the cannolis!
Samuel Adams Brewery, Boston - great brewery tours, plus a tasting room and gift shop
Walden Pond State Reservation, Concord - beautiful kettle hole pond; Henry David Thoreau historic sites; hiking trails encircle the pond
Whale-watching tours from Boston - one of the top places on the East Coast to go whale-watching

Southeastern Massachusetts (including Cape Cod)
Art's Dune Tours, Provincetown - guided off-road driving experience on Cape Cod
Battleship Cove, Fall River - self-guided tours of several historic military ships; one of the best military ship museums in the U.S.
Cape Cod National Seashore - series of beautiful beaches and towering sand dunes
Cape Cod Canal Rail Trail - excellent paved rail trail on both sides of the Cape Cod Canal; 7 miles one-way on one side, 6.5 miles on the other
Cape Cod Rail Trail - the best rail trail in Massachusetts; 25-miles one way and 100% paved
Commercial Street, Provincetown - gay-friendly pedestrian zone loaded with shops and restaurants
Edaville Family Theme Park, Carver - the best young child theme park in Massachusetts; Thomas the Tank is the big star
Mendon Drive-In, Mendon - one of last remaining drive-in movie theaters in New England
Nickerson State Park - large state park with excellent fishing, hiking, biking, and camping; the bike paths connect with the Cape Cod Rail Trail
New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford - largest whaling-focused museum in the U.S.
Nobska Point Lighthouse, Woods Hole - one of Massachusetts' most famous lighthouses
Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum, Provincetown - climb a 252-foot monument for awesome views of Provincetown and Cape Cod
Plimoth Patuxet Museums, Plymouth - one of several excellent living history museum in Massachusetts
Province Lands Bike Trail in Provincetown - 6.6 mile paved loop at the northern tip of Cape Cod
Race Point Beach, Provincetown - one of the best beaches on Cape Cod
Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth - 10.7 mile paved path that ends in Woods Hole in Falmouth
Water Wizz of Cape Cod, East Wareham - largest outdoor water park in southern New England
Wellfleet Drive-In Theater, Wellfleet - one of last remaining drive-in movie theaters in New England
Whale-watching tours from Provincetown - one of the top places on the East Coast to go whale-watching

The Islands
Aquinnah Cliffs / Gay Head Cliffs, Martha's Vineyard - colorful clay cliffs; amazing sunsets
Cisco Brewers, Nantucket - famous brewery on Nantucket Island
Martha's Vineyard (island) - one of two upscale island destinations in Massachusetts; tons of boutique shops and restaurants, and fine lodging
Nantucket (island) - one of two upscale island destinations in Massachusetts; tons of boutique shops and restaurants, and fine lodging
Whaling Museum, Nantucket - exhibits on the history of the whaling industry

There are also several coastal towns and cities in Massachusetts that have deep-sea fishing guide companies. Some examples include Boston, Gloucester, and Truro. A quick Google search will reveal a number of boating/fishing charters. There are too many for me to attempt to list them here.

Are you aware of any other 5-star attractions in Massachusetts? If so, please email me at gparsons66@hotmail.com.

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN MASSACHUSETTS



Are you short on time or struggling to choose something to do or see in Massachusetts? Here are my selections for the top 10 attractions or experiences in Massachusetts, in no particular order:

Tour the historic city of Boston, one of the most walkable cities in the U.S.
Spend a week enjoying the beaches, towns, and other attractions of Cape Cod
Take a ferry to visit the upscale islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket
Explore the museums, nature parks, and quaint small towns of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts
Attend the Big E in Springfield, one of the largest country fairs in the U.S. (typically held in mid-to-late September)
Try some fried claims and other great seafood in the towns of Ipswich and Essex
Go antiquing at the Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield (3x per year)
Visit the outstanding Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
Cycle the 25-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail
Catch a ballgame at Fenway Park in Boston

If I could pick only one place to visit in Massachusetts, I would choose Boston. It is one of America's best cities to visit and explore. There are many historical sites and public parks. It's also one of the most walkable cities in the U.S.

BEST TOWNS & CITIES TO VISIT IN MASSACHUSETTS



These towns and cities in Massachusetts are generally regarded as the most interesting to travelers:

Western Massachusetts (including the Berkshires)
Great Barrington - boutique shops and good restaurants; access to the Appalachian Trail; close to Bash Bish Falls (the best waterfall in MA)
Lenox - boutique shops; close to several spa/retreat-style resorts; Tanglewood events are outstanding (orchestras/concerts)
Stockbridge - historic architecture; boutique shops; Norman Rockwell history; stay or eat at the Red Lion Inn

Central Massachusetts

Northampton - historic buildings; many boutique shops and fantastic restaurants; access to two excellent rail trails nearby

Eastern Massachusetts (including Boston, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket)
Boston - colonial/revolutionary history; historic buildings; Fenway Park; one of U.S.'s most walkable cities
Cambridge - home of Harvard University & MIT; many boutique shops, art galleries, and ethnic restaurants; lively nightlife; historic sites
Chatham - beaches; boutique shops; Chatham Lighthouse; gateway to Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
Edgartown - island culture/lifestyle on Martha's Vineyard (island); white-clapboard colonial homes; boutique shops
Falmouth - boutique shops; Shining Sea Bikeway (rail trail); gateway to Martha's Vineyard (island); Nobska Lighthouse
Nantucket - Nantucket Island; boutique shops; bicycling; cobblestone streets; beaches; whaling history
Newburyport - boutique shops in coastal city; harbor views; sculptures along Clipper City Rail Trail; maritime history
Oak Bluffs - upscale culture/lifestyle on Martha's Vineyard (island); boutique shops; "gingerbread" houses
Plymouth - boutique shops on coastal town; Plymouth Rock; colonial/pilgrim history; Plimoth Patuxet Museum
Provincetown - beaches; whale-watching; boutique shops; art galleries; drag shows; gay-friendly; nearby beaches
Rockport - boutique shops; artist colony; photographic harbor; Halibut Point State Park
Salem - famous for witch history; has a lively downtown area; several excellent museums; October is packed with Halloween events

North Adams and Shelburne Falls are also worth a visit. North Adams can serve as a good base camp for exploring the northwestern Berkshires. Shelburne Falls is very small, with only a few shops and restaurants to compliment their famous flower bridge and glacial potholes.

My favorite city in Massachusetts is Boston - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 3-4 nights here
My favorite small town in Massachusetts is Provincetown - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 1-2 nights here

If you want to visit Boston for the first time and you have four days to spend, I would recommend trying to tackle as many of these as possible:
Catch a Red Sox game at Fenway Park
Walk the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail and visit the museums and historical sites along the way (e.g. USS Constitution Museum, Paul Revere House)
Go shopping in Back Bay (e.g. Boylston Street, Newbury Street, Prudential Mall, etc.)
Visit the Museum of Fine Arts
Stroll the West End and the Greenway
Eat some Italian food in the North End
Consider taking a guided tour of the city with Boston Duck Tours
Take some photographs of the streets and alleyways of Beacon Hill
Walk through the Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden

Both Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard islands are worth at least 2-3 nights each for a first time visitor. There's plenty of things to do, see, and eat on those islands, especially from May through October. If you want to take your vehicle there, make reservations well in advance.

Visiting Salem during the Halloween madness that occurs there throughout October is fun, but it's an absolute zoo. There are people everywhere and getting in and out of the city can sometimes take hours.

Click here if you'd like to see a complete list of towns and cities that I find interesting across the entire U.S.

WHAT IS MASSACHUSETTS FAMOUS FOR?



Here are some things that Massachusetts is famous or well-known for:

art museums
colonial history / pilgrims
cranberries
fishing
gay rights
healthcare institutions
higher education (e.g. universities & colleges)
islands
living history museums
national historic parks
professional sports
Revolutionary War history
whale watching tours
witches / witch trials

Click here if you'd like to learn what other U.S. states are famous for.

NATIONAL PARKS IN MASSACHUSETTS



There are currently no national parks, national monuments, or national forests in Massachusetts. However, there are many other federally-managed parks and properties, including:

National Recreation Areas
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area - I highly recommend taking a boat trip to explore Fort Warren on George's Island

National Historical Parks / Other National Parks
Adams National Historical Park
Appalachian National Scenic Trail - 90 miles of this 2,200 mile trail is in MA
Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
Boston National Historical Park
Boston African American National Historic Site
Cape Cod National Seashore - has some of the best beaches in the northern U.S.
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site
John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site
Lowell National Historical Park
Minute Man National Historical Park
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
New England National Scenic Trail
Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
Springfield Armory National Historic Site
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail

For more information on Massachusetts's national parks, visit the Massachusetts page of the National Park Service. For an overview of all U.S. national parks, click here.

STATE PARKS IN MASSACHUSETTS



Massachusetts has more than 100 state parks. Many would agree that these represent Massachusetts's finest state parks:

Flagship / Premier State Parks:
Bash Bish Falls State Park, Mt. Washington - hike to the most dramatic waterfall in Massachusetts; start your hike in Taconic State Park in NY
Mount Greylock State Reservation - highpoint of Massachusetts; excellent hiking, backpacking, and backcountry skiing trails; lodge on top
Natural Bridge State Park, North Adams - contains the only natural white marble arch in North America; beautiful white marble dam
Nickerson State Park, Brewster - outstanding camping, fishing, and biking paths; connects to the finest rail trail in MA (Cape Cod Rail Trail)
Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, Sutton - towering cliffs and small caves; children (6+ is recommended) will have an amazing time here

Other Notable State Parks:
Halibut Point State Park, Rockport - views of quarries and a rocky coastline
Middlesex Fells Reservation - huge nature park near Boston; over 100 miles of trails, several of which offer views of the city
Mount Everett State Reservation - good hiking and backpacking in the Berkshires
Mount Holyoke Range State Park - great hiking trails and scenic views in central Massachusetts
Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation - great hiking trails and scenic views in central Massachusetts
Wachusett Mountain State Reservation - great hiking trails and scenic views in central Massachusetts

My favorite state park in Massachusetts is Mount Greylock State Reservation. The park has the best hiking trails and scenic views in the state, including those from Mt. Greylock the state highpoint. You can drive to the summit in season, and there's a rustic lodge for overnight stays too. If you enjoy backpacking, there are several campsites and shelters you can use. The park also has the best backcountry ski trails in the state.

For camping, I don't think anything beats Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod. The state park has more than 400 campsites and also some yurts available for rental. There is 8-miles of paved biking trails, and they connect to the 25-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail (the best rail trail in Massachusetts). The park also has extensive hiking trails, including hikes to remote ponds where you can fish. This is my favorite base camp for exploring Cape Cod (and a heck of a lot cheaper than any other lodging on the normally expensive Cape Cod. Make reservations for this state park as soon as they go on sale each year.

To see my list of the top 100 state parks in the country, click here.

BEST WATERFALLS IN MASSACHUSETTS



Massachusetts has more than 75 natural waterfalls. Here are some of the best waterfalls in Massachusetts:

Bash Bish Falls - located in Bash Bish Falls State Park in Mt. Washington
Campbell Falls - located in Campbell Falls State Park in New Marlborough.
Chapel Falls - located in the Chapel Brook Reservation in Ashfield
Doane's Falls - located in the Doane's Falls Reservation in Royalston
Goldmine Brook Falls - located in Chester-Blandford State Forest in Chester
Race Brook Falls - located in Mt. Everett State Reservation in Sheffield
Tannery Falls - located in Savoy Mountain State Forest in Savoy
The Cascade - located in North Adams
Twin Cascades - located in Florida
Wahconah Falls - located in Wahconah Falls State Park in Dalton

For a listing of all known waterfalls in Massachusetts, visit the World Waterfall Database or the New England Waterfalls website.

BEST SCENIC DRIVES IN MASSACHUSETTS



There are three excellent scenic drives in Massachusetts:

Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway / US-2 - from Greenfield to North Adams
Mount Greylock Scenic Byway - drive up to the summit of Mt. Greylock, the highpoint of Massachusetts (open seasonally)
Route 6A and Route 6 on Cape Cod

My favorite scenic drive in Massachusetts is the Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway (US-2). There are great scenic views, a dramatic hairpin turn, and access to many attractions en route. This route starts in Greenfield and heads west to North Adams.

BEST RAIL TRAILS IN MASSACHUSETTS



Here is a list of some of the best rail trails (or similar cycling paths) in Massachusetts:

Western Massachusetts (including the Berkshires)
Ashuwillticook Rail Trail - the best paved rail trail in the Berkshires of western MA; 12.7 miles and 100% paved

Central Massachusetts
Columbia Greenway Rail Trail & Southwick Rail Trail - you can connect this paved trail with the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in CT
Nashua River Rail Trail - quiet and peaceful 12.5 mile paved ride with only a few road crossings
Norwottuck Rail Trail - you can connect this paved trail with the paved Manhan Rail Trail

Eastern Massachusetts (including Boston and Cape Cod)
Cape Cod Canal Rail Trail - paved bike paths on both sides of the Cape Cod Canal; one side is 7-miles each way and the other is 6.5 miles
Cape Cod Rail Trail - outstanding 25-mile paved trail that cuts through a major portion of Cape Cod
Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path - 17-miles of paved paths along the Charles River in and around Boston
Minuteman Bikeway - ride 10.5 miles on a paved trail from Bedford to the Alewife Orange Line T-station in Cambridge
Province Lands Bike Trail in Provincetown - 6.6 mile paved loop at the northern tip of Cape Cod
Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth - 10.7 mile paved path that ends in Woods Hole in Falmouth

Of all the Massachusetts rail trails, the Cape Cod Rail Trail (25.0 miles one-way) is probably my favorite. I like extending this ride on its northern end by using local streets to access some of the best beaches on Cape Cod.

The quietest and most peaceful rail trail ride in Massachusetts is arguably the Nashua River Rail Trail. The trail is 12.5 miles one-way and is it 100% paved. I love this trail because it only has a few road crossings and it never seems crowded.

For detailed information on all known rail trails in Massachusetts, visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.

BEST AMUSEMENT PARKS / THEME PARKS IN MASSACHUSETTS



There are a few notable amusement parks in Massachusetts:

Cape Cod Inflatable Park, West Yarmouth - one of the largest inflatable parks in the U.S.
Davis Farmland, Sterling - agricultural theme park with live animals, giant corn maze, and more
Edaville Family Theme Park, Carver - fantastic for young children!
Six Flags New England, Agawam - largest theme park in Massachusetts
Water Wizz of Cape Cod, East Wareham - largest water park in southern New England

Canobie Lake Park in Salem, NH is also worth noting because it's a great theme park and it's only a few miles from the Massachusetts border.

BEST EVENTS IN MASSACHUSETTS



Massachusetts hosts many special events each year, including:

Big E, Springfield - one of the biggest and best country fairs in the U.S.; typically held in mid-to-late September
Boston Marathon, Boston - one of the premier running events in the world
Boston Pops July 4th Fireworks Spectacular, Boston
Boston Pride Parade & Festival, Boston
Bright Nights at Forest Park, Springfield - large and impressive drive-through holiday lights display (the best in Massachusetts in my opinion)
Brimfield Antique Show, Brimfield - arguably the best major antique show in the country; occurs 3x per year (May, July, September)
Haunted Happenings, Salem - Halloween type events all throughout October
Head of the Charles Regatta, Boston/Cambridge
King Richard's Faire, Carver - billed as the "largest, biggest, and best Renaissance festival in the six states of New England"
Pan Mass Challenge - hugely popular annual charity bike rides
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Boston
Topsfield Fair, Topsfield - the second best country fair in Massachusetts (#1 = The Big E)

BEST MUSEUMS IN MASSACHUSETTS



Massachusetts has many outstanding museums, including some of the best art and historical museums in the country. The best museums in Massachusetts include:

Western Massachusetts (including the Berkshires)
Amazing World of Dr. Suess Museum, Springfield
Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield
Clark Art Institute, Williamstown
Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield
MASS MoCA, North Adams
Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge
Springfield Armory National Historic Site, Springfield

Central Massachusetts
Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester

Eastern Massachusetts (including Boston, Cape Cod, and the Islands)
Adams National Historical Park, Quincy
Battleship Cove, Fall River
Boston Children's Museum, Boston
Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Boston
Hammond Castle Museum, Gloucester
Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge
House of the Seven Gables, Salem
John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum & Library, Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Science, Boston
New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem
Plimoth Patuxet Museums, Plymouth
Whaling Museum, Nantucket
Whydah Pirate Museum, West Yarmouth

BEST DAY HIKES IN MASSACHUSETTS



Massachusetts has hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and there is good hiking to be found all over the state. Here are some of the best day hikes in Massachusetts:

Western Massachusetts (including the Berkshires)
Bash Bish Falls - relatively easy hike from Taconic State Park in New York to Massachusetts' most dramatic waterfall
Monument Mountain - fun hike to scenic views in the southern Berkshires
Mount Greylock State Park trails - the highpoint of Massachusetts; hike to the summit or to one or several of the parks waterfalls
Mount Race & Race Brook Falls - hike uphill to five scenic waterfalls and also lovely views of the Berkshires
Pleasant Valley Sanctuary trails - hiking trails to seasonal waterfalls and scenic views

Central Massachusetts
Mount Holyoke Range State Park trails - some of the best trails and views in Central Massachusetts
Mount Wachusett State Reservation - more than 15 miles of hiking trails; the Harrington Trail has some of the best views in Central MA
Mount Watatic - moderately challenging mountain hike feature open scenic views; one of the best hikes within 90 minutes of Boston
Purgatory Chasm State Reservation trails - fun rock scrambling and boulder caves; very popular with families

Eastern Massachusetts
Blue Hills Reservation trails - close to Boston and offers good views of the city in the distance
Freedom Trail, Boston - 2.5-mile walk within the city of Boston that passes more than a dozen historical sites; the best walking tour in Boston
Great Island Trail - hike to wild and remote beaches on Cape Cod
Halibut Point State Park trails - hike to rocky coastlines and old quarries
Middlesex Fells Reservation trails - close to Boston and offers great views of the city; more than 100 miles of hiking trails
Walden Pond State Reservation trails - walk around the beloved lake where Henry David Thoreau lived for 2+ years; parking lot fills up early!
Ward Reservation - 10+ miles of hiking trails through forests and open fields; scenic views, including the Boston skyline in the distance

The highpoint of Massachusetts is Mt. Greylock (3,489'). You can hike or drive a seasonal road to the summit. The auto road is typically open from late May-late October. Hiking this peak is challenging if you hike from one of its lower hiking trailheads.

BEST BACKPACKING TRIPS IN MASSACHUSETTS



Massachusetts offers several excellent backpacking opportunities. Some of premier backpacking routes in Massachusetts include:

Appalachian Trail - 90 miles from the Connecticut border to the Vermont border; there are several overnight shelters on the trail
Midstate Trail - 92 miles from the Rhode Island border to the New Hampshire border; there are several overnight shelters on the trail
Monroe State Forest
Mount Greylock State Reservation - climb to scenic views, include those from the MA highpoint; here are several overnight shelters on the trail
Mount Washington State Forest
Tully Trail - 22-mile loop with overnight accommodations at the Royalston Falls Shelter; route may be difficult to follow (maintenance is spotty)

CLASSIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN MASSACHUSETTS



Massachusetts offers many excellent outdoor adventures, including these classics:

ATV/ORV-ing Beartown State Forest
ATV/ORV-ing Pittsfield State Forest
Backcountry skiing Mount Greylock - e.g. Thunderbolt Trail
Backcountry skiing Mount Watatic
Backpacking the Appalachian Trail - 90 miles from the CT border to the VT border; several overnight shelters available
Backpacking the Midstate Trail - 92 miles from the RI border to the NH border; several overnight shelters available
Backpacking Mount Greylock State Reservation
Backpacking Mount Washington State Forest
Canoeing/kayaking the Charles River
Canoeing/kayaking the Concord River
Canoeing/kayaking the Ipswich River
Cycling the Ashuwillticook Trail Trail
Cycling the Cape Cod Rail Trail
Cycling the Mass Central Rail Trail
Cycling the Minuteman Bikeway
Cycling the Nashua River Rail Trail
Cycling the Shining Sea Bikeway
Day hiking the Bay Circuit Trail
Day hiking Mt. Greylock
Day hiking Mt. Race / Race Brook Falls
Day hiking Mt. Watatic
Hot air ballooning in Worthington
Ice climbing at Auburn Ice Canyon
Mountain biking Lynn Woods Reservation, Lynn
Mountain biking Thunder Mountain Bike Park, Charlemont
Rock climbing Crow Hill in Leominster State Forest, Leominster
Rock climbing Quincy Quarries, Quincy - a top-roping style climbing hot spot
Sailing the Charles River
Sky diving in Marstons Mills, Orange, or Pepperell
Surfing Cisco Beach on Nantucket Island
Surfing Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester
Whitewater rafting the Deerfield River

SKI RESORTS IN MASSACHUSETTS



There are roughly 10 actively-operating ski/snowboard resorts in Massachusetts, and all of them are small or medium in size when compared to other ski resorts nationally. The two best ski/snowboard resorts in Massachusetts are Berkshire East Mountain Resort and Jiminy Peak, both of which are in western Massachusetts and have 45 trails each.

New York and the northern New England states (VT, NH, ME) all have significantly larger ski/snowboard resorts than Massachusetts does.

MASSACHUSETTS TRAVEL TIPS



For offbeat and unique Massachusetts attractions, visit one or both of these amazing websites: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

Boston.com wrote a great article in 2017 that highlighted 200 things to do in Massachusetts.

UNIQUE / SPECIALTY FOODS TO TRY IN MASSACHUSETTS



Here are some unique / specialty foods to try while you are in Massachusetts:

beach pizza
boston creme pie
fried clams
indian pudding
lobster / lobster rolls
new england clam chowder
roast beef sandwiches

For a list of unique foods and mom-and-pop type eateries and restaurants in Massachusetts (or any other U.S. state), visit the Roadfood.com website.
For a list of unique foods to try in each of the 50 U.S. states, click here.
For a list of the top-rated beers to try in Massachusetts (or any other U.S. state), visit the Beer Advocate website.

OTHER KEY MASSACHUSETTS INFORMATION



Capital = Boston
Major airports = Boston; some travelers will fly into Hartford, CT, Manchester, NH or Providence, RI and then drive into Massachusetts
Largest cities = Boston (687,257), Worcester (211,612), Springfield (156,503), Cambridge (121,051), Lowell (117,362)
Primary U.S. interstates = I-84, I-90, I-91, I-93, I-95
State highpoint = Mount Greylock (3,489'); you can hike (difficult) or drive a seasonal road to the summit
Professional sports teams = Boston Celtics (NBA), Boston Red Sox (MLB), Boston Bruins (NHL), New England Patriots (NFL)

Take note that in general this travel guide intentionally excluded restaurants, lodging/hotels, breweries, wineries/vineyards, and certain other types of attractions (like arcades, ax-throwing, bowling alleys, and escape rooms). These types of places tend to come and go, and keeping up with that would be too challenging. I encourage you to use Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other travel sites that have reader reviews to find the latest and greatest places that I haven't covered here.


Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts
Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts

Bash Bish Falls in the southwestern corner of Massachusetts
Bash Bish Falls in the southwestern corner of Massachusetts

Crane Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts
Crane Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts

Bartholomew's Cobble in Sheffield, Massachusetts
Hulbert's Hill within the Bartholomew's Cobble Reservation in Sheffield, Massachusetts

Cape Cod National Seashore
one of many fine beaches on the Cape Cod National Seashore

one of the Babson Boulders in Glouchester, Massachusetts
one of the Babson Boulders in Gloucester, Massachusetts

Mount Watatic summit, Massachusetts
Mount Watatic summit, Massachusetts

Minute Man National Historical Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts
Minute Man National Historical Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts

USS Constitution Museum in Boston, Massachusetts
USS Constitution in Boston, Massachusetts

USS Constitution Museum in Boston, Massachusetts
USS Constitution Museum in Boston, Massachusetts

Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts
bronze marker on the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts

North End district of Boston, Massachusetts
North End district of Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Public Market in Boston, Massachusetts
Boston Public Market in Boston, Massachusetts

Norwottuck Rail Trail in central Massachusetts
Norwottuck Rail Trail in central Massachusetts

Bancroft Castle in Groton, Massachusetts
Bancroft Castle in Groton, Massachusetts

views from the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth, Massachusetts
views from the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth, Massachusetts

Sankaty Head Light on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts
Sankaty Head Light on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

tower on Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts
stone tower on top of Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts

views from Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation in South Deerfield, Massachusetts
views from the top of the Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation in South Deerfield, Massachusetts

tower in Lynn Woods Reservation in Lynn, Massachusetts
stone tower in Lynn Woods Reservation in Lynn, Massachusetts

the Giant Slide at the Big E fair in Springfield, Massachusetts
the Giant Slide at the Big E fair in Springfield, Massachusetts

MORE U.S. STATE TRAVEL GUIDES



Did you enjoy this travel guide? If so, here are links to more U.S. state travel guides:

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