Boston’s location in the heart of the New England region of the Northeast makes it a good base for exploring some of America’s most cherished historic sites and attractions. The Pilgrims landed just south of Boston at Plymouth, and the first shots of the Revolution were fired just a few miles to the west. Salem, on the north coast of Boston, was America’s busiest Chinese trading port.
But there are more than just historical attractions for tourists to enjoy. The long beaches of Cape Cod, the islands and coasts of Maine and New Hampshire are within easy reach. So are the dazzling high society mansions of Newport’s Gilded Age. Old Sturbridge Village is an open-air museum of restored homes, farms, and shops that bring early 19th-century New England to life. Whether you’re into historic homes, art museums, ships, whales, living history, or shopping, you’ll find it in this list of the top-rated day trips from Boston.
1 Lexington and Concord: First Shots of the Revolution
A beloved statue of a Minuteman marks Lexington Green, where the first shots in the American Revolutionary War were fired on April 19, 1775. The first real battle of the Revolution took place in nearby Concord, where members of the colonial militia turned British soldiers on North Bridge, foiling their attempted raid on colonial arms and munitions in Concord. You can visit the restored 1710 Buckman Tavern in Lexington where the militiamen met, 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 the Minute Man National Historical Park.
Concord has more than its Revolutionary War history. It was home to some of the brightest lights in nineteenth-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 associated with them such as Alcott’s Orchard House, Walden Pond and Author’s Ridge in the beautiful surroundings . Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
The literary and revolutionary histories are explored in Concord Museum’s collections and exhibits, along with Native American artifacts and furnishings from the 17th to 19th centuries. You can drive along the historic Battle Road between visits to Lexington Green and Concord’s Old North Bridge on the 4.5-Hour American History Tour: Cambridge, Lexington, and Concord Day Trip from Boston. Traveling by comfortable coach from your Boston hotel, you’ll be accompanied by an expert guide, who can point out the homes of the famous writers and other important landmarks you’ll pass.
It was once a more important port than Boston and the center of the prosperous China Trade in America. Salem retains much of its 18th- and 19th-century architecture, with entire neighborhoods of imposing homes built for successful merchants and sea captains. Also preserved are memories of its grim early history as the scene of the Salem Witch Trials. Several of the finest homes are open for tours, furnished with generations of fine antiques and decorative arts from the Far East. These are 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 showcases the work of famed builder Samuel McIntire. The 1727 Crowninshield-Bentley House and the 1684 John Ward House are part of the remarkable Peabody Essex Museum, whose art and historical collections highlight maritime subjects, Chinese trade, and Asian art.
Among the 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 visit. The only building directly associated 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, and two historic homes.
Learn about the witch trials from a guide as you visit the Salem Witch Museum, and visit the House of the Seven Gables and other landmarks on a Salem Witch City day trip from Boston. On this seven-hour tour, you’ll also visit Abbott Hall, a history museum in the coastal town of Marblehead, and have free time to explore Salem’s historic Pickering Wharf. The Salem Maritime National Historic Site includes the docks, a replica sailing ship, the Customs House, warehouses, exhibits, and two historic homes. Learn about the witch trials from a guide as you visit the Salem Witch Museum, and visit the House of the Seven Gables and other landmarks on a Salem Witch City day trip from Boston.
On this seven-hour tour, you’ll also visit Abbott Hall, a history museum in the coastal town of Marblehead, and have free time to explore Salem’s historic Pickering Wharf. The Salem Maritime National Historic Site includes the docks, a replica sailing ship, the Customs House, warehouses, exhibits, and two historic homes. Learn about the witch trials from a guide as you visit the Salem Witch Museum, and visit the House of the Seven Gables and other landmarks on a Salem Witch City day trip from Boston. On this seven-hour tour, you’ll also visit Abbott Hall, a history museum in the coastal town of Marblehead, and have free time to explore Salem’s historic Pickering Wharf.
Learn about the witch trials from a guide as you visit the Salem Witch Museum, and visit the House of the Seven Gables and other landmarks on a Salem Witch City day trip from Boston. On this seven-hour tour, you’ll also visit Abbott Hall, a history museum in the coastal town of Marblehead, and have free time to explore Salem’s historic Pickering Wharf. Learn about the witch trials from a guide as you visit the Salem Witch Museum, and visit the House of the Seven Gables and other landmarks on a Salem Witch City day trip from Boston. On this seven-hour tour, you’ll also visit Abbott Hall, a history museum in the coastal town of Marblehead, and have free time to explore Salem’s historic Pickering Wharf.
3 Plimoth Plantation
The December 1620 landing of a group of English religious dissidents made Plymouth the first permanent European settlement in New England. Today, a living history museum takes you back to that time in an utterly authentic reappraisal of their lives, dress, beliefs, and even language. Plimoth Plantation takes on costumed interpreters with 17th century persona to recreate the Pilgrims’ everyday experiences of raising food, building houses, cooking and military training, using tools and methods authentic in the 17th century. Hobbamock’s Homesite, a re-creation of a Wampanoag village, depicts Native American life and culture at that time.
In Plymouth, stop to see Plymouth Rock and the 1640 Sparrow House, Plymouth’s oldest surviving wooden house. At the Pilgrim Hall Museum, you can see pilgrim furniture and artifacts, including Myles Standish’s sword, remains of a wooden ship that in 1626 and Governor Bradford’s bible. Combine the historic sights of Plymouth with a visit to Cape Cod on the small-group day trip to Plymouth and Cape Cod from Boston. The tour includes entrance fees to Plimoth Plantation and the Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich, one of Cape Cod’s most charming towns. There are also stops at Plymouth Rock and the imposing National Monument to the Ancestors, and free time to explore or shop in Plymouth.
Adres: 137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, Massachusetts
Official site: www.plimoth.org
4 Newport, Rhode Island
In the early 1900s, New York’s super-rich retreated to Newport for the summer, where they competed to see who could build the largest and most lavish 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 have been used by various people as inspiration for their own splurges. Don’t plan on sucking through all of these in one day – they’re huge, and two is the limit for most tourists; after that you have visual overload.
The largest and most beautiful mansion is The Breakers, a 70-room Italian Renaissance mansion with a three-story dining room. Mrs. Vanderbilt took no chances in being part of the time. Modeled after an 18th-century French chateau, The Elms is furnished with French antiques from the same period and has beautiful grounds with marble pavilions, fountains and a sunken garden. Marble House has an opulent parlor clad in kilos of gold leaf and a fabulous Chinese tea house.
Less flashy 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 part of the famous Cliff Walk to see these mansions from the shore side. You can tour the most lavish of these—The Breakers and Marble House—on the Newport Mansions and Waterfront Sightseeing from Boston, traveling by air-conditioned coach with a guide who offers perspectives on Newport’s history, culture, and architecture. There will be time to stroll along the Newport waterfront before returning to Boston.
5 Cape Cod
Southeast of Boston, Cape Cod reaches out into the Atlantic Ocean in a long, thin crescent surrounded by white-sand beaches. The part closest to the town is dotted with pleasant villages such as Sandwich, the oldest on the cape, where, a short distance from the long dune beach, you will find historic sites such as the three-century-old Dexter Grist Mill and the impressive collections of Sandwich Glass Museum. In the lively harbor of Hyannis, where you can visit a memorial to John F. Kennedy, whose family stays here in the summer, take a scenic cruise on Lewis Bay for views of the south coast. Falmouth, also on the south coast, is where you can catch a ferry to the island of Martha’s Vineyard.
While a day trip from Cape Cod won’t be long enough to reach vibrant Provincetown, at the very tip of the cape, you can take a ferry there directly from Boston. The miles of dunes and long white beaches of the Outer Cape, as this section is known, are protected as the Cape Cod National Seashore. You can get a good sampling of the cape’s highlights on the Cape Cod Summer Day Trip from Boston, a nine-hour guided tour that takes you to pretty Sandwich to visit the Sandwich Glass Museum and watch a glass-blowing demonstration. There’s time in Hyannis Port to visit the JFK Memorial and do some waterfront shopping, and a cruise adds unparalleled coastal views from the water.
6 Martha’s Vineyard
From Falmouth, on the south coast of Cape Cod, the Island Queen Ferry travels across Vineyard Sound to Oak Bluffs, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. You don’t need a car to explore this beautiful island: just hop on and off the convenient transit bus to see lighthouses, Aquinnah Cliffs, Edgartown’s historic art galleries, the gingerbread houses at Oak Bluffs, or spend a day at the beach to bring.
You probably won’t be able to see all six of The Vineyard’s towns in one day, but you can visit the two biggest ones, and maybe even take the cute little ferry to Chappaquiddick Island. Along with touring one of the Victorian cottages in Oak Bluffs, discover the Flying Horses Carousel. For a glimpse into life through the island’s 400-year history, head to the 1672 Vincent House in Edgartown’s former whaling port. A day trip to Martha’s Vineyard from Boston takes you by bus to the town of Falmouth where you board the ferry to the island. Here you’ll have six hours to explore on your own, plenty of time to find the transit bus and see the highlights, using the island discount card included in the tour.
7 Coast of New England
The beaches and rocky headlands of coastal New Hampshire and southern Maine are a scenic day trip from Boston. Depending on the number of stops, you can easily get as far north as historic Kennebunkport or the classic old beach town of Old Orchard, both in Maine. Along the way, you will pass another of New England’s classic resorts, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. Along the coast, which contains Massachusetts beaches on Plum Island and Salisbury and wetlands and tidal marshes teeming with animals, you can see stately turn-of-the-century summer homes. to see. Maine’s iconic Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick; and Sea Captains in Kennebunkport, where you’ll spend some time browsing the boutiques and art galleries and sampling fresh Maine seafood.
8 Old Sturbridge Village
More than 40 historic buildings make up the open-air museum in Old Sturbridge Village – gracious homes of the affluent, rustic farmhouses, a parsonage, village store, tavern and workshops where blacksmiths, blacksmiths, printers, potters and coopers demonstrate their crafts. In addition to touring the houses, where you will see costumed interpreters cooking on fireplaces, tending their gardens, spinning, sewing and needlework, you can watch logs become planks in a sawmill with water and take part in activities. A working farm grows vegetables and herbs, and the farmyard is home to animals that have been bred back for authenticity. The large herb garden is especially interesting as it cultivated many of the plants used in everyday life at the time for seasonings, medicines,
Adres: 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, Massachusetts
Official site: https://www.osv.org/
9 Whale Watch at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
The Stellwagen Bank, an underwater shelf in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Massachusetts, has one of the world’s most biologically productive ocean environments, making it one of the best places to study and watch whales. Sightings are so common that some whale watch cruises offer a guarantee of a free trip if no whales appear. Most common are female humpback whales returning to these waters, which are particularly 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 beluga whales, porpoise, seals and other marine life.
Official Site: https://stellwagen.noaa.gov/visit/whalewatching/wwcompanies.html
10 Historic Homes in Portsmouth and Strawbery Banke
As one of the early New England settlements and later as a major colonial port, Portsmouth grew prosperous from trade and shipping. The Portsmouth Harbor Trail takes you past more than 70 historic sites and several beautiful colonial homes that are open to visitors. Each of these homes has a unique history, exemplified by the furnishings and collections, some of which are America’s most important examples. The 1716 Warner House has the first example of Queen Anne furniture known in America, and the 1785 John Langdon house is best known for its ornate woodwork and period furnishings. In 1758 John Paul Jones House lived the revolutionary war captain when he was in Portsmouth.
The first settlers in 1623 called their new home Strawbery Banke and today the Strawbery Banke Museum preserves four-century houses from the old Puddle Dock neighborhood next to the harbour. Some are preserved to show their construction and the process of restoration, others are decorated to represent a period in their history, others are “inhabited” by costumed interpreters who tell their story through demonstrations and daily activities. Together, the houses show life in different periods and of the different ethnic groups that lived here. You’ll see a World War II-era neighborhood market, watch authentic Gundalow boats being built, stroll through ancient gardens, and tour the elegant home of a former governor.
Adres: 454 Court Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Official site: www.strawberybanke.org
11 Wrentham Outlet Shopping
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. Almost all stores are outlets of well-known brands, including high-end brands such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Brooks Brothers and Burberry. In the stores, shoppers will find heavily discounted prices on designer clothing, homewares, footwear, electronics, jewelry, accessories, decor, and gifts. Search Banana Republic, GUESS, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Barneys New York, Bloomingdale’s, Le Creuset, Saks Fifth Avenue and more. Shoppers arriving by tour bus usually get free VIP coupon books for even higher discounts.
Adres: 1 Premium Outlet Blvd, Wrentham, Massachusetts
Official Site: https://premiumoutlets.com/outlet/wrentham-village