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Full of Wonder in Boston: Where Old Meets New

A gateway city to Massachusetts and New England, state capital Boston is known as “America’s walking city.” The Freedom Trail traces sites that played a key role in the American Revolution, and the Black Heritage Trail features places important to the 19th-century Black community. The Museum of African American History, with sites in Boston and Nantucket, is New England’s largest museum dedicated to preserving Black Americans’ contributions. Ride the Swan Boats in the Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in the USA, and marvel at major exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art. See art installations in the Seaport District, a trendy and innovative neighborhood by the Fan Pier and Fort Point Channel. Marquees light up the Theater District, and Newbury Street bustles with galleries, sidewalk cafes and boutiques. Funky Cambridge is just across the Charles River, home to MIT, Harvard University and Harvard Square’s restaurants, shops and bookstores.

 

Historic Places and Authentic Cuisine near Boston

North of Boston, Lowell National Historical Park showcases the city’s textile industry heritage. Salem is the site of the 17th-century witch trials, and its Peabody Essex Museum includes extraordinary art collections and landmarks. Delve into maritime traditions in Newburyport, Rockport, Marblehead and Gloucester, the USA’s oldest seaport. Drive the 144-kilometer Essex Coastal Scenic Byway for its ocean views and 12 lighthouses. Check out film locations of big-screen movies such as “Little Women” and “Manchester by the Sea.” Waterfront restaurants serve lobster rolls, fried clams and daily fresh catches. South of Boston, Plimoth Patuxet is one of Massachusetts’ four living history museums. Learn about the arrival of the pilgrims and the native Wampanoag people and other indigenous communities. New Bedford, an international whaling center, inspired Herman Melville to write “Moby-Dick.” It's home to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, dedicated to the science and behavior of whales. Westport Rivers Vineyard is a top stop on the region’s wine and cheese trail. Any trip south of Boston must include a cranberry bog tour, especially during fall harvest. Massachusetts is the oldest cranberry growing region in the USA, and the cranberry is the official state berry.

 

Coastal Escapes: Stunning Beaches and Charming Islands

Cape Cod National Seashore offers nearly 18,000 hectares of coastline with dunes, forests, marshes and ponds to explore via bike paths, swimming and surfing. At the tip of Cape Cod is Provincetown, a creative, welcoming community. The Provincetown Art Association and Museum reflects the town’s roots as the USA’s oldest continuous art colony. Ferries to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard leave from several Cape ports. Nantucket features distinctive architecture, whaling history and magnificent beaches. Martha’s Vineyard’s Wampanoag history, clay cliffs, lighthouses and charming communities provide much to enjoy on foot and by bicycle.

 

Central and Western Massachusetts: Arts, Entertainment and Nature

In central Massachusetts, Old Sturbridge Village depicts life in New England in the early 19th century via programs, activities and celebrations. In mountainous western Massachusetts, go on thrilling white-water rafting trips and soar through the treetops on zip lines. Take a drive along the Mohawk Trail, one of the first scenic roads in New England. For culture, attend concerts at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and international dance performances at Jacob’s Pillow. See large-scale art in North Adams at MASS MoCA, the USA’s largest contemporary art museum.

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Fun Fact

Hoop Hall at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts
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In 1891, basketball was invented by Dr. John Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts. Today, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame showcases memorabilia, tributes to great players and interactive experiences.

Photo: Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Touring a colorful Massachusetts cranberry bog
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The cranberry is the official berry of Massachusetts, the oldest cranberry growing region in the USA and the second-largest producer of cranberries in the country.

Photo: J. Greg Hinson

Stata Center at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Massachusetts is home to the USA’s first university, Harvard, and now boasts more than 110 universities and colleges, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Berklee College of Music and Amherst College.

Photo: Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Must see places

A marker along the Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts

Freedom Trail

Stroll a 4-kilometer route through Boston’s streets to see 16 sites related to the American Revolution, among them Boston Common, the Paul Revere House, USS Constitution historic warship, burying grounds, Old State House and Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Interior of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Join more than 1 million people a year who visit this Boston museum, which was founded in 1870. See nearly 500,000 items from all periods and cultures. It’s considered one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world. Newer wings are dedicated to American and contemporary art.

A whale breaching in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Go on an ocean safari and see whales, dolphins, seabirds and other marine wildlife in this internationally recognized 2,180-square-kilometer sanctuary off the Massachusetts coast. Start in Gloucester, Boston, Woods Hole, Brewster or Provincetown. The statewide Massachusetts Whale Trail also features more than 40 experiences connected to whales, from whale-watching tours to magnificent captain’s houses, museums and historic sites.

Exterior of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Norman Rockwell Museum

Best known for his poignant, humorous and quintessentially American scenes, the illustrator created more than 4,000 pieces. This Stockbridge museum has the world’s largest collection of original Norman Rockwell art.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

This waterfront Boston museum in a 4-hectare park is dedicated to the life, leadership and legacy of John F. Kennedy. The Massachusetts native was the 35th president of the USA, serving from 1961 to 1963.

Plimoth Patuxet

Plimoth Patuxet

This living history site captures the story of Plymouth Colony, as well as the historic Wampanoag homeland. Explore major exhibits and interact with interpreters at the Patuxet homesite, 17th-century English village, Mayflower II ship and the Plimoth Grist Mill.

Fall foliage and historic buildings at Old Sturbridge Village in central Massachusests
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Old Sturbridge Village

In central Massachusetts, another living history attraction shows what life was like in an 1830s rural New England settlement. Expect to see a costumed historians, antiques, water-powered mills and farm animals, as well as pottery, weaving and blacksmithing demonstrations.

The idyllic setting of Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, Massachusetts
James Higgins

Minute Man National Historical Park

Discover battlefields and historic buildings and travel back to April 19, 1775. Go to the North Bridge over the Concord River to see where the first Revolutionary War battle between colonists and the British took place. Explore nearby Concord and Lexington, including Walden Pond and the homes of literary figures Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldon Emerson and Louisa May Alcott.

Baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Fenway Park

Boston was home to the 1903 World Series, the first modern World Series to be played in Major League Baseball. Today, you can tour or catch a game at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox and the oldest MLB baseball stadium in the USA.

Cellist at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts
Stu Rosner/Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Tanglewood

The site of the country’s premier summer music festivals, Tanglewood is located in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of Lenox and Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It’s been the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937.

Explore Massachusetts destinations

Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
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Explore Massachusetts destinations
The Sandwich Boardwalk in Cape Cod, Massachusetts
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Experience Massachusetts

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Browsing the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts