Find family, history, & cultural activities from Boston to Berkshires, indoors and out
Find great, fun things to do and fresh places to explore in the Bay State for every age and taste, from antique shopping to rock climbing to slithering through a water park. Check attractions' websites for updates to scheduling and other details, especially for activities affected by weather.
Every region, from the historic homes and gardens of the Berkshires to the beaches of Cape Cod offers memorable adventures for the whole family. Plan a getaway to the cultural and historic sites of Boston and spring for a luxury hotel or waterfront lodging in this “Athens of America.”
Route 2 (Mohawk Trail)
Charlemont, MA, 01339
So many amazing activities at this adventure center for all skill levels
If you have ever wanted to try zip lining, or whitewater rafting or stand-up paddle-boarding, the place to launch your adventure is Zoar Outdoor in the Berkshires. It’s also the place for experienced folks, with whitewater rapids up to level IV and a three-hour zip lining canopy tour that reaches heights of 50 feet. Zoar also offers stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, easy river floats and, at its center in Wilmington, Vt., snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and mountain biking. Experienced instructors and guides are ready to assist or teach people at every skill level, and the equipment they use is first-rate. Kayaks and paddleboards, for example, are stable enough for first-time users. Lodging options include Hawk Mountain Lodge, 11 cabin tents, five tent sites – and a yurt.
66 Thunder Mountain Road
Charlemont, MA, 01339
Featured by USA Today as one of the Top Ten Zip Lines of the United States!
Berkshire East is New England's largest zip destination with three tours to choose from. The Base Tour is our introductory course… give zipping a try! Then move on to fabulous views of the valley on the Mountain Top Tour. Mountain Top zipping is a great family experience and summer memory.
Ready for tour number three? The Valley Jump is fun to the extreme. You will love it. Two 1/2 long mile zips, approaching 200' off the ground. This tour has been featured in the Washington Post.
Come, fly above the tree tops!
149 Pond Street
Stoneham, MA, 02180
A century’s old great place to visit
This popular century old year round attraction sits on 26 acres and is home to exotic animals from around the world. You’ll meet “Major” the Polar bear and an arctic fox, bald eagle, black bear, lynx and reindeer in Yukon Creek. There’s Boston’s only white-cheeked gibbon exhibit featuring monkeys, lynxes, snow leopards, Mexican gray wolves, river otters, and the capybara. There’s, flamingos, tamarins, sloths and Meerkat in Windows to the Wild. See jaguars, cougars, coati and falcon at the Treasures of the Sierra Madre exhibit. The Safari Grill offers kid friendly food and you’ll find gifts and souvenirs at the Peacock Place Gift Shop. Opening Thanksgiving evening is Zoolights that runs through the end of the year.
61 Market Street, Unit 1C
Lowell, MA, 01852
Great things await in the Greater Merrimack Valley
There’s no end in sight to the great things waiting for you just 30 minutes north and west of Boston In the scenic and vibrant Greater Merrimack Valley. A singular leisure and business travel destination the valley offers charming towns and cities each with their own unique flavor, not-to-miss attractions and activities, and a history dating from the very beginnings of the nation. There’s fun to be found in fairs and festivals, sightseeing adventures, shopping, sports and entertainment; things to learn in museums, educational tours and programs; and health benefits to savor in spas and retreats. Get out into the Valley’s state and national parks, watch a concert, hold a meeting, shoot a film. You can do it all here.
College of the Holy Cross - 1 College Street
Worcester, MA, 01610
A gallery with a mission
As a college art gallery, the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery’s mission is to promote the intellectual and cultural life of the College of the Holy Cross and greater community by exploring the fundamental intellectual, cultural, spiritual and aesthetic issues encountered through the visual arts. Through a series of exhibitions throughout the academic year, enhanced by receptions, guest lectures, readings, and students’ presentations, you’ll always find something of interest. Current exhibition information and hours of operation can be found on the gallery’s website.
Quincy Chamber of Commerce - 1400 Hancock Street, Suite 1A
Quincy, MA, 02169
Coastal city a must for history buffs, fun-seekers
Whether you love history, nature or just plain fun, there is plenty to see and do in Quincy. The Stone Library at Adams National Historical Park houses the Bible given to John Quincy Adams by the Amistad slaves. Tour the house there where four generations of Adamses lived. At Blue Hills Reservation, explore 125 miles of trails or go rock-climbing or skiing. See 400 flags flutter at Flags for Vets Island, honor the nation’s history at Christ Church Burial Ground, have a seaside day at one of 11 beaches, enjoy dining with a view at Marina Bay, play a round of golf at one of three courses or learn about quarrying, early railroading, shipbuilding or early grist mills in this great historic city.
Lenox, MA, 01240
Endless adventure and recreation in a Berkshires vacation
The Berkshire Hills has it all. And you can have it too at this magnificent and secluded resort set on a picturesque 223 acre estate. Your home away from home can be a one or two bedroom condominium with master bathroom and Jacuzzi, a fully equipped kitchen, fireplace, living and dining areas, sleeper sofa, television, stereo, DVD player and a deck overlooking the pond. Right outside your door are gas barbecue grills, tennis, shuffleboard, bocce courts, a playground, indoor and outdoor pools, exercise room with hot tub and sauna, rowboats and canoes, trails for walking and cross country skiing. Within a short drive, enjoy Berkshire’s history, art, music, old inns and taverns, great food and shopping. Breathtaking mountain scenery included.
Visitor Center - 134 Court Street
Plymouth, MA, 02360
Where will your visit begin?
We have a variety of activities on land or on the water. The Atlantic Ocean itself is our playground! Trips such as whale watches, lobster excursions and pirate adventures are popular with visitors both young and not quite as young. Our beaches and parks offer families a place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Enjoy great seafood, fairs, festivals, the arts, a distillery, a winery or a brewery. Ride a narrow gauge train ride through acres of cranberry bogs at Edaville USA. Experience living history at Plimoth Plantation, depicting life in Plymouth in 1627. Please call 1.800.USA.1620, or visit our website to learn more about these activities and others to prepare for your trip to Plymouth.
50 Walkers Brook Drive
Reading, MA, 01867
Exciting indoor ropes course adventure in Reading
Jordan’s BeanStalk™ Adventure Ropes Course in Reading Massachusetts, gets you moving from one activity to the next to test your agility and balance. Make your way across this one-of-a-kind sky ropes course and head up 12 or 24 feet onto zig zag beams, crisscross angled rope ladders, and spaghetti hand lines. Walk the plank at 24 feet then travel out on a 6 inch standalone beam, pivot and return. Enjoy two levels of challenging ropes course, 30 exciting activities and for young adventurers, there’s BeanSprout™, a specially designed course for children 2-7. Adventurers must be at least 48" tall or 42" if accompanied by a chaperone. Groups of 10 or more paying on the same transaction receive a 10% discount.
40 Doaks Lane
Marblehead, MA, 01945
Harbor fun on the water all summer long
Kayak and Standup Paddle Board FUN for the whole family at Boston's North Shore hidden gem Little Harbor Boathouse! Just 15 miles north of Boston, spend the day at our pristine beach, paddle around Little Harbor Islands and Marblehead Harbor and stroll our historic seaside village shops & cafes. Choose from pedal, paddle and sail Hobie Kayaks (singles & tandems) and Standup Paddle Boards. Hourly rentals and Groups of up to 50 paddlers are welcome. Summer Adventure Program (ages 8-14), Guided Tours and Kayak Fishing Guides. Helping people have unforgettable on-water experiences is what we’re all about.
One Franklin Park Road
Boston, MA, 02121
Meet the animal kingdom in Boston’s largest park
There is not a drop in the excitement at this magnificent Zoo no matter your age. Part of Boston’s famed Emerald Necklace, this 72 acre natural setting is Boston’s largest park and home to wildlife from around the world. Three exhibit areas including the Tropical Forest, the Kalahari Kingdom and the Giraffe Savannah offer lions, zebras, giraffes, lowland gorillas, lemurs, pygmy hippos and other fine beasts. The Aussie Aviary, open seasonally, features a free-flight, interactive bird adventure. You’ll find programs and classes for families and school groups and facilities for birthday parties and corporate events. The southwestern-themed Giddy-Up Grill and Kalahari Kitchen serves great food and snacks. Franklin Park Zoo is open year-round except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
1090 Main Street
Williamstown, MA, 01267
Williams Inn places you amidst wonderful things to do in the Berkshires
The Williams Inn on the campus of Williams College offers a cozy and well-serviced home base for your explorations of the Berkshires of Massachusetts – among the most beautiful and culturally rich places in all of New England. The campus wears the classic images of ivy and old stonework, and the inn embraces classic Colonial architecture with comforts like fireplaces, tavern dining, sauna, hot tubs, and heated pool. Stepping out, you can enjoy art treasures at the nearby Clark Institute and professional theater at the Williamstown Theatre Festival (in summer). Fans of outdoor life are near Stone Hill Trail, endowed with views of Vermont mountains, and the scenic drive up Mount Greylock. Doing business with the college? Stay here but slip away for unforgettable Berkshire explorations.
200 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA, 02115
Explore an Amazing World
This beautiful library and museum, originally built for the Christian Science Publishing Society, has become an historic landmark in Boston’s Back Bay celebrating the life of Mary Baker Eddy. Born in rustic Bow, NH in 1821, Eddy lived an extraordinary life as founder of the Christian Science movement and whose work lives on through the Christian Science Monitor and in reading rooms across the globe. You’ll find books, documents, photographs, and exhibits as well as the Mapparium, a three-dimensional perspective of the world of 1935 and a symbol of the global outreach of The Christian Science Monitor. A World of Ideas illustrates how ideas cross time and geography to change the world. Activities include special events, webcasts, and children’s programs.
231 River Street
North Adams, MA, 01247
MassMoCA and more in quaint and quirky North Adams
Visit the world renowned Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and stay across the street at this lodging in restored Victorian row houses. You’ll enjoy the relaxed, cozy atmosphere and quirky and colorful spirit within. Architectural framings and angles vary. Individual decors give a distinct personality to every space. No two rooms are alike and the comforts are everywhere from lofts and/or spiral staircases, separate living rooms, working fireplaces, to private slate floored baths with Jacuzzi, claw foot tubs, and separate shower stalls. There’s complimentary continental breakfast, a heated outdoor pool, fitness center and lobby bar. The museum highlights the northern Berkshire’s arts and crafts scene while quaint, walkable North Adams offers great shopping, restaurants, galleries and more.
247 Stockbridge Road (Route 7)
Great Barrington, MA, 01230
Make this heart-of-the-Berkshires hotel your base camp for endless adventure
Oh, the places you’ll go in the Berkshires – and all from your comfy, affordable room at the Monument Mountain Motel in Great Barrington. Hike up the hotel’s namesake and gaze in awe at the unending colors of autumn; in winter, ski with the kids at the Butternut Ski Area; take a summer tour or watch an open rehearsal at Tanglewood; stroll along the Housatonic River boardwalk. Don’t miss the concerts at the Guthrie Center and Foundation, inspiration for “Alice’s Restaurant,” or the latest installations at the prestigious Clarke Art Institute. Get in the holiday spirit in picture-postcard Stockbridge, go antiquing in the area’s numerous quintessential New England towns (or celebrate the spirit of those towns at the Norman Rockwell Museum).
372 Main Street
Great Barrington, MA, 01230
No boring moments during your comfortable stay in the Berkshires
Think of the Berkshire Days Inn, a comfortable hotel that is but a brief walk from historic downtown Great Barrington, as Point A. Points B through Z are all the nearby activities you can choose from. Go antiquing through quaint Berkshire towns, ski at Catamount, stroll through the Berkshire Botanical Garden, the Hancock Shaker Village or along the fascinating Housatonic River Walk. Marvel at MASSMoca or the Gilded Age Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, admire the offerings at the Norman Rockwell Museum or Clarke Art Institute or take in some exceptional theater at Shakespeare & Co. or the Barrington Stage Company. Catch a concert at Tanglewood. With hundreds of restaurants and shops to choose from, there will be no boring moments during your time in the Berkshires.
Come play in the sweet mountain air this winter
Less than three hours from New York City and Boston, the Berkshires offer culture and adventure year round. In winter, though, it is the crystal-clear blue skies, snow-topped mountains and fields calling out for ski and snowshoe tracks that make us an ideal vacation destination. So, too, are leisurely visits to our first-class museums, meals at our many gourmet restaurants or simply finding the perfect fireplace to relax in front of at one of our cozy New England bed and breakfast. Journey here as a couple or pack up the entire family, get out & about in the Berkshires. Whether you choose to spend your time indoors or out, the Berkshire region is a welcome respite in the winter. To learn more visit us at berkshires.org or find us on Facebook at Visit the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.
30 Main Street
Stockbridge, MA, 01262
Make the Red Lion Inn your headquarters for Berkshire memories
There is everything to like about a visit to Stockbridge, MA. There’s two plus centuries of America’s history. Here’s the adopted home of Norman Rockwell not far from his celebrated museum. The studios and creations of famed artists, musicians, and authors are within easy reach. The outdoors offers hiking, biking, skiing, water sports and more. In short, there is something for everyone. The Red Lion Inn has it too. Rooms with complimentary WIFI, air conditioning, cable television, and cozy plush bathrobes. There’s great food rooted in the region’s traditions. Enjoy the fitness room, the partners spa, a heated outdoor pool, a porch with rocking chairs, a gift shop, nightly entertainment at the Lion’s Den, and a very curious lobby cat.
45 Hull Shore Drive
Hull, MA, 02045
Great seaside fun just south of Boston
Just minutes from Boston on the waterfront in Hull is this charming and fun filled resort that’s perfect for a quick getaway or longer stay. Set on a 3-mile stretch of sandy white beach you’ll enjoy spectacular sunrises and views of three of Boston's historic lighthouses. You’re at the gateway to historic Plymouth and Cape Cod, and to many of New England's most popular tourist attractions and historic sites. Full service amenities include an indoor pool and fitness club, an on-site restaurant, and an oceanfront conference center for meetings, celebrations and special events. With walking distance are a variety of fine and casual restaurants, eclectic shops and boutiques.
598 Assembly Row
Somerville, MA, 02145
Build a fun day at Legoland Discovery Center
This magical place offers a 4D cinema, Kingdom Quest laser ride, Merlin’s Apprentice, 10 LEGO build & play zones and much more. Discover the city of Boston in miniature in MINILAND®. Plan a one-of-a-kind school trip to support the National Curriculum. Groups of 10 or more get special pricing on tickets. Hold a LEGO themed birthday party. Learn building tips from the Master Model Builder Workshops. Relax in the cafe with its selection of healthy food options where annual pass members receive a 20% discount on all purchases. The amazing LEGO Retail Shop is packed with the latest LEGO® products plus exclusive limited edition items. Stay nearby at any one of Legoland’s hotel partners.
55 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA, 01609
Discover a great museum in central Massachusetts
This central Massachusetts museum is considered one of the finest mid-sized museums in the country. Follow history’s path through 50 centuries of the world’s antiquities, paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, decorative arts, arms and armor. There’s an exciting arms and armor demonstration, Art Carts, and interactive programs for children and families. WAM features a 37,500-piece collection including works by Cassatt, Gauguin, Goya, Monet, Sargent and Homer. You’ll find floor mosaics from the ancient city of Antioch, a medieval Chapter House and cutting-edge contemporary art. Exhibits change regularly showcasing masterworks, gems and important works on loan. Enjoy lunch in the Museum Café and unique gifts in the museum shop. For exhibition and program schedules, check the museum website.
65 Main Street
Watertown, MA, 02472
Explore three millenia of rich culture and history
You don’t have to be Armenian to find something fascinating at this premier destination for student groups, families and tourists. Discover the rich culture and 3,000-year history of this resilient people by exploring galleries that hold ancient artifacts and textiles, as well as exhibits celebrating Armenian art and artists. Permanent displays include the photography of Yousuf Karsh (containing his iconic portraits of Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, and many others), along with an exhibition on the history and effects of the Armenian Genocide. Click on our link above to plan your visit and learn more.
50 Ferncroft Road
Danvers, MA, 01923
The Largest Indoor Water Park in New England!
Make a splash with the family at the largest indoor water park in Massachusetts. A tropical indoor paradise where it’s always 84 degrees and open every day for every kid of every age. There are water slides, a lazy river, a splash pad and dip-in-the- theater arcade, private, cozy cabanas and lots more where they came from. Hold one of a kind birthday parties, group swims, or even buy out the whole park for a day. Then enjoy a night at the Doubletree Hotel Boston North Shore adjacent to the Park with luxurious bedding and jumbo pillows, flat screen television, on-demand movies and premium cable channels. Look for Coco Key Discounts and packages that include overnight accommodations, water resort access, and breakfast in the family-friendly TradeWinds Restaurant.
5 Water Street
Fall River, MA, 02721
A day out you won’t forget
In 1964, the citizens of Massachusetts, including over 6000 school children, banded together to save the battleship USS Massachusetts from being scrapped, and bring her to the waterfront of historic Fall River on June 12, 1965. During her dedication, the battleship’s historic significance was further recognized as she was made the official World War II Memorial for the Commonwealth and opened as a public museum. Over the years, she has been joined by the destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., the submarine Lionfish, PT 617 and PT 796, and the Soviet built missile corvette Hiddensee to form the largest collection of historic naval ships in the world, America’s Fleet Museum at Battleship Cove. Today, Battleship Cove stands as one of the region’s most popular attractions.
Historic Shore Street
Falmouth, MA, 02541
An old-fashioned Cape Cod vacation like your grandparents remember
If you want to experience Cape Cod the way your grandparents remember it, the place to stay is ShoreWay Acres Inn in Falmouth. We're family owned and family run. The main part of our inn is an historic sea captain's home, built in 1806 and located in downtown Falmouth. That means we're within walking distance to everything -- the beach, the village, bird sanctuary, day spas, shops, galleries, museums, churches, trolley stop, library, and more than twenty restaurants, pubs, and sidewalk cafes. With short notice we can prepare a traditional Cape Cod clam bake -- with lobster, steamers, corn on the cob, and watermelon -- or a cook out, with hot dogs, hamburgers, and BBQ chicken. These meals are served on the lawn, so it's come as you are. Bare feet and bathing suits are fine.
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, off Route 20
Sturbridge, MA, 01566
A trip to historic, authentic and tasty
One of Massachusetts’ 50 great things to do has 50 great things all its own to enjoy when you arrive at this celebrated living history destination, one of the nation’s largest. Settle in at the Old Sturbridge Inn or Reeder Family Lodges. Savor authentic New England cuisine, cozy rooms and fireplaces, and delicious sweets from Ye Old Bake Shoppe. Then step into the 18th century and watch and participate in what people did then. Costumed interpreters will guide your visit on foot, on a stagecoach or standing beside a potter’s wheel or the blacksmith’s forge, or meeting with farmers and their animals at work. The 19th century is here, too, in 40 antique homes, buildings and water-powered mills in this most scenic town. Open year-round. Seasonal hours may vary.
15 Arlington Street
Boston, MA, 02116
Rooftop Sunday Brunch with spectacular views of the Public Garden and Boston
Enjoy traditional breakfast preparations, contemporary New England cuisine, and Indian specialties, alongside a bounty of dessert items made in-house by our talented pastry team.
Every Sunday, April-November, with seatings from 10:30am - 2pm. Reservations suggested.
Route 28 on Pleasant Bay
Chatham, MA, 02633
Tots to teens to Moms and Dad’s will find something to make their day
The family friendly resort features tennis, eighteen holes of championship golf, two beaches and two magnificent pools. Private cabanas offer views of Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and all the relaxing extras. The Annual Cape Cod Jazz Festival, free and open to the public, has a lineup of the region’s hottest jazz artists and is one of the most anticipated events of the summer. The Children's Center offers educational, fun and whimsical programming for children 2-12. The kids will love the high tech amenities, a nautical themed playground with a "tot lot" for the youngest children and "children's area" for those over five. During the summer there is an aquatic playground as well as Drive-In Movie Family Fun Night, Teen Gaming Night, tennis, swimming and sailing lessons.
1098 Fall River Avenue
Seekonk, MA, 02771
Experience the wildest Go Kart action at this state of the art facility offering competitive fun at an affordable price. Challenge family and friends on more than 60 arcade games including Guitar Hero, Ski Ball, Air Hockey and Dance Dance Revolution. The Family Track, the longest in New England, features tunnels, hairpin curves and straight-aways and new two-seater go-karts. Little guys and gals get in on the action with the new Rookie Track, with the Kiddy Track and Beginner Track just ahead. Bump and bounce your buddies in bumper cars and boats and finish the day off with a friendly game on the adventure mini golf course.
Real Pirate History and the Loot to Go With It
The Whydah Pirate Museum
, opening June 2016 at 674 MA-28 in West Yarmouth
, is a 12,000-square-foot treasure house, so to speak, of pirate history and pirate lore. The brand-new interactive science museum welcomes people to see, touch, and handle authenticated pirate treasure, discovered in 1984 off the coast of Wellfleet. The Whydah was a fully-rigged British ship that traveled between Africa, the Caribbean, and Great Britain. In 1717, it was captured by the pirate Samuel Bellamy and used over the next year to board 53 vessels, collecting their riches and treasures. During a storm off the coast of Wellfleet the Whydah ship sunk in 1717. The Whydah Pirate Museum provides an interactive and fun learning experience for children and adults. Open daily.
Contra Dance at the Tip of Cape Cod
Come and join the contra dance
, happening the third Friday of every month, at different locations around the Outer Cape, like Wellfleet and nearby towns. If you can walk you can dance, or alternately, sit on the sidelines and just enjoy the music. You don’t need to bring a dance partner; everyone mixes around the group. There is a community potluck beforehand at 6:30 p.m. and dancing starts at 7:30 p.m. Contra dancing is the old time dance of New England; music – performed by live musicians -- is exuberant reels and jigs from the traditional repertoires of the British Isles, Canada and America. Everyone is welcome, including children. This is an alcohol-free event.
Old-Time General Store is a Cape Cod Favorite
The Brewster Store
on Route 6A in Brewster
was built as a church in 1852 and converted to a general store in 1866. It has served residents and visitors to Cape Cod for more than 140 years. The Brewster Store features a broad assortment of merchandise: coffee, pastries and morning newspapers, penny candy, t-shirts and sweatshirts, toys, lamp parts, kitchen gadgets, original Coke in glass bottles, books, greeting cards and many unusual gifts. Put a quarter in the old nickelodeon to hear an old time tune, enjoy the roasted peanuts, or just sit on the benches and watch the world go by. Phone: 508-896-3744.
Gropius House is a Landmark of Bauhaus Style
Curbed.com, a commentator on architecture, calls Gropius House
, at 68 Baker Bridge Road in Lincoln
, one of the two dozen best house museums in the United States. It was designed and built by Walter Gropius, founder of the design school known as the Bauhaus, and one of the most influential architects of the twentieth century. He designed Gropius House while was teaching architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. In Bauhaus style, the house and its landscape exemplify maximum efficiency and simplicity. This National Historic Landmark is open to the public all year, but hours vary by season.
Join In and Get Out
Bring a group and join the latest in team building exercises, the escape room! Head to RoomEscapers
-- in one hour or less, solve mysteries, search for clues, find answers to riddles and puzzles that will lead you out the door! In this creative way to build teamwork by clever strategizing, you’ll forget the clock and get caught up in the fun! With two themes to choose from, a modern-day tech startup time machine and a voodoo-haunted pirate bar to the tune of Captain Jack Sparrow, the stories come to life with you as the detective! Recommended for ages 14 and up. Children age 6-14 should be accompanied by an adult. Phone: 857-900-9144
Private Poet on Display in Amherst
Emily Dickinson was a loner, a recluse and a rogue female
poet who is said to have spent much of her life hiding out at home. At the
Emily Dickinson Museum
in Amherst, Massachusetts, Dickinson enthusiasts can tour that home, and the landscaped grounds that
inspired so much of her poetry. Visitors can take a guided walk through the
house and learn all about the poet’s idiosyncrasies, 19th Century architecture,
and the Dickinson family drama. See the room where the prolific poet wrote her masterpieces and
learn why, 1,800 poems later, her life and work have generated more than a
century of scholarly debate. Phone: 413-542-8161.
Botanical Garden Offers Herbal Beauty Year-Round
Plant lovers can find a place of peaceful, studious beauty at the Botanic Garden of Smith College
on College Lane in Northampton. The garden includes thousands of plants, of course, under glass in the Lyman Conservatory and outdoors in various not-so-secret gardens. There is also a collection of dried plants. There are 60,000 pressed specimens available for research in the Herbarium. The public is invited to explore the campus arboretum and specialty gardens. Open daily, year-round. Phone: 413-585-2740.
Shutterbugs Get Guidance to Great Boston Images
Here's a peach of an idea: a guided walking tour that takes amateur photographers to the primo spots for taking pictures in Boston, complete with insider tips. The experts of the PhotoWalks
tours offer creative photography tips and interesting commentary about Boston and the many ways to capture it photographically. Each photo tour is designed for people of all ages and skill levels. The tours include Beacon Hill, a showplace of Old Boston and a neighborhood rich in history; Back Bay, centered around Copley Square; Freedom Trail and the North End, with many Colonial-ear sites; the Public Garden; and the Waterfront, the busiest port in America for hundreds of years. 617-851-2273.
Plum Island Is a Peach
is an 11-mile long barrier Island off the shore ofNewburyport
miles of public beaches and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, home to over 800 species of birds, plants and animals. Sandy Point State Reservation
on the southern tip of Plum Island is a wonderful place to swim or explore the life of the tide pools (kids love this!). the Audubon Society's Joppa Flats Education Center
is located on Plum Island Turnpike on your way to the island. Find chances to join bird watching tours and other educational programs for adults or the whole family. Join a kayaking excursion with Plum Island Kayak
See Boston From the Top of the Prudential Tower
You’ve enjoyed seeing Boston up close; now try the view from a distance. The public may visit the Prudential Tower (“the Pru”) at 800 Boylston Street and ascend 52 floors to visit the Top of the Hub and the Skywalk Observatory
. Open daily, but hours vary by season (check website). The fee is $11 to $16, based on age, and it includes an audio tour and entry into the Dreams of Freedom Museum, which tell the story of immigration in Boston. But call ahead because the skywalk closes for special events and bad weather.
Country Store Fuels Your Day in Plymouth
A visit to Bramhall's Country Store
at 2 Sandwich Road in the Chiltonville section of Plymouth
will immerse you just as deeply in a traditional New England experience as will the store’s next-door neighbor, Plimouth Plantation, The 1750s-period saltbox structure houses a family business founded in 1828 by the present owner’s great-great-great-great grandfather. Let’s think of our gtaste buds: the store serves a New England triumvirate: lobster rolls, local corn, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, along with local produce, smoothies, and other treats. Perfect for fueling the family on a Plymouth getaway. 508-746-1844.
A highlight of natural beauty on Martha’s Vineyard is Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge
on Chappaquiddick Island
, adjacent to Martha's Vineyard. Chappaquiddick Island’s eastern edge is a barrier beach that extends for seven miles, passing the Cape Poge Lighthouse to the Gut. The refuge offers 14 miles of beachfront and oversand vehicle and walking trails. Facilities include picnic tables, bike rack, restrooms, which are open May 30 to October 30. Tours include a natural history tour, a wildlife kayak or canoe tour, a fishing discovery tour, and Cape Poge Lighthouse tour. Open year-round, daily, with an entrance fee May 30 to October 15. Phone: 508-627-8390.
Thoreauly Antiques Preserves History One Artifact at a Time
The home of Minute Man National Historical Park and many New England literary giants, Concord
is an uber-historic place.. Thoreauly Antiques
– its name a nod to Henry David -- at 25 Walden Street is crammed with unusual antiques from early America, Europe and beyond. Only 16 dealers present their collections here, and the dealers’ names on the website testify to their willingness to stand behind their choices. (Open daily; 978-371-0100) Browse awhile and then enjoy a gracious lunch or dinner at Concord’s Colonial Inn,
welcoming guests since Colonial times.
City Wine Tours
City Wine Tours
offers guests a chance to spend a day exploring the historic city on a fun guided tour of the best restaurants and wineries. Meet the Wine Ambassadors, viticulture experts who can answer all your wine questions. These tour guides lead groups through the Harvard Square, Back Bay, South End, and North End areas of Boston. Experience samplings of delicious wine and food as you learn about varieties of wine, food pairings, and other fun facts. These half-mile tours are made on foot. Phone: 855-455-8747
Sculpture In the Outdoors
deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum
at 51 Sandy Pond Road in Lincoln
is a significant premier destination for contemporary art and sculpture, a mere 20 miles west of Boston. The vast grounds, covered with lawns and copses of woodlands, are the backdrop to a constantly changing landscape of large-scale, outdoor, modern and contemporary sculpture. Indoor space in the museum building also has exhibit space. The park and museum offer year-round activities, like snowshoe tours, yoga outdoors, nature tours, artist conversations, and screenings. Enjoy revolutionary artistic visions and stretch your muscles outdoors. Phone: 781-259-8355
Pittsfield Hops with Shopping and Browsing Fun
is a lively town centrally located between other stars of the Berkshires, like Stockbridge, Lenox, Williamstown and North Adams. The downtown is a fun place for dining, browsing and shopping (with lots of seasonal festivals and public entertainments). If you need a gift for yourself or anyone else, the options here are delightful: the stylish shop, Circa
, is a place to fine mid-century antiques, and a toothsome selection of vintage clothing and jewelry. Paul Rich and Sons Home Furnishings
has made a name for itself in the town over a long period to time. Shop here for high-quality furniture. And, be sure to investigate Whitney Center for the Arts
, for year-round arts and cultural programs.
In the 19th century, hundreds of ships passed by Nantucket Island each day. Unpredictable storms, dense fog, and strong currents could catch the most experienced sailors off guard. Treacherous shoals and inclement weather led to over 700 shipwrecks near Nantucket, causing the area to be dubbed “a graveyard of the Atlantic.” The Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum
at 158 Polpis Road, Nantucket
, preserves the memory of Islanders who risked their lives to save shipwrecked mariners. The museum takes visitors inside maritime history, featuring over 5,000 objects from famous shipwrecks and lifesaving equipment used to save seafarers in trouble. Open daily, late May through Columbus Day.
Charming Neighborhood With Deep History
The Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, located in the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, is a neighborhood of hundreds of colorful, ornate gingerbread cottages
that are a delight to the eye and great fun to see and photograph. The neighborhood has its roots in the religious revival camp meeting movement of the 1850s. Members of the campground – originally a tent community -- conducted popular Bible meetings where the cottages are now.
It might seem like all your trendy friends are heading off to yoga class these days, but the folks at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
have been doing it and relatged health treatments for more than 30 years. Tucked away in the beautiful Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Kripalu offers a multitude of classes, workshops, and weekend retreats. Different yogic programs focus on writing, creativity, relationships, body detoxification, cooking, dancing, and even snow-shoeing. So whether you’re a long-time yoga practitioner or a dedicated couch-potato, it’s a safe bet that a stop at Kripalu will make you feel peaceful and rejuvenated. Phone: 866-200-5203.
In the Footsteps of Pilgrims
Pilgrim Spring Trail and Small's Swamp Trail
, part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, are easy loop trails about one mile long, accessible off Route 6 at the Pilgrim Heights area sign in North Truro
. The trails wind around a kettle swamp and marsh and offer wonderful views of Pilgrim Lake, sand dunes, the salt meadow, and the Atlantic Ocean. A stone marker identifies the site of the first fresh water the Pilgrims found. Trails are marked with information about local history and nature. This is a fine, easy walk for people of all ages, with views of typical Cape Cod landforms and living creatures.
Layers of History and Quirky Folk Art
Multiple layers of New England history live at Cogswell’s Grant
, 60 Spring Street, in Essex
. It is a coastal farm on the banks of the Essex River, originally a land grant to John Cogswell in 1636. In the 1930s, Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little, art collectors, acquired Cogswell’s Grant and used it during 60 years of collecting American folk art, including portraits, painted furniture, redware, hooked rugs, weathervanes, and decoys. The home is rich in atmosphere and full of strong, quirky character. The property is owned by Historic New England, which hosts events for the family, like kite flying and bird watching. Open to visitors June 1 to October 15, Wednesdays to Sundays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tours on the hour.
Trio of Dance Clubs, by The Bowery Presents Boston
The Bowery Presents Boston
schedules live music at three Boston
-area dance clubs: The Sinclair
on Church Street in Harvard Square, Cambridge
on Tremont Street in Boston
; and Great Scott
on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston
. The clubs are for the young and hearty: seating in the concert halls is non-existent or limited and the action during the shows is in the dance pit. Each club gets high marks for band choices and overall ambiance. Said a reviewer: “It’s never a bad time when you walk up an elaborate split staircase to a rock hall.” The Sinclair serves food that gets generally high grades. Samples of some bands schedule in 2017 include Mipso, Sam Outlaw, Boss Hog, Steep Leans, Adam Ezra, Soul Clap, Andy Shauf.
Book Lovers, Dig In on Nantucket
For some of us, vacation and the beach are the time and place to dig into a great (or silly, or sentimental) book. The little island of Nantucket can solve your book-buying needs year-round at at least two well-used bookstore. Mitchell’s Book Corner
on Main Street is open-year round, and visitors praise its travel section, with lots and lots of titles – fiction, non-fiction, and coffee-table books -- about Nantucket history (508-228-1080). Nantucket Bookworks
at 25 Broad Street gets big huzzahs from visitors who love books. It is near the ferry terminal and visitors say you will find a big selection of new books. It is welcoming to kids, and you can also shop here for board games, cards, calendars and silly gifts (508-228-4000).
Yo, Ho, Ho and a Beverage of Your Choice
Forget Talk like a Pirate Day. Do you want to sing like a pirate, or a sailor of any description? The USS Constitution Museum at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Charlestown
hosts a Chantey and Maritime Sing
on the third Saturday of every month from 2 to 5 p.m. These monthly gatherings, on the 3rd Sunday of every month, are family friendly and open to anyone who would like to participate. Bring singers; enjoy the museum. 617-426-1812.
Meet Underwater Pacific Life in Boston
Having trouble scheduling a side trip to the Pacific Continental shelf off the coast of Washington? No problem! New England Aquarium at 1 Central Wharf in Boston
has expanded its Olympic Coast exhibit
to display the fascinating plant and animal life of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, an underwater national park that protects 135 miles of shoreline along Washington State. Come watch the activities of invertebrates like hermit crabs, sea stars, sea cucumbers, snails, and anemones. The Olympic Coast is also home to the giant Pacific octopus, the largest known species of octopus. Kids are tickled by some of these wacky-looking critters. 617-973-5200.
You Like Candles? We Got Candles
This is one of New England's most popular destinations, with lots of fun shopping and holiday spirit. Yankee Candle Village
on Routes 5 and 10 in South Deerfield
offers a unique shopping, entertainment, and dining experience. Explore the largest selection of Yankee Candle fragrances and styles. Stroll through the Bavarian Christmas Village, Nutcracker Castle, and Home Store. Enjoy fabulous candle, home décor, and holiday shopping. Savor freshly made fudge and other sweet treats in the Fudge Shop. Dip your own candles and watch history brought to life in the Candlemaking Museum. Open daily. Phone: 877-636-7707.
Essex: Tiny Town Builds Plenty of Ships
A visit to the Essex Shipbuilding Museum
is a wonderful way to be immersed in the shipbuilding culture of Massachusetts. The museum tells the story of a New England village that built more two-masted wooden fishing schooners than any other place in the world. Exhibits are housed in the old Essex Central School House, built in 1835. Features include antique tools, photographs, documents, and exhibits. Tours include video presentations and hands-on activities. A gift shop offers ship plans, maritime gifts. Hours: June-October, Wednesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; at other months, weekends, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 978-768-7541
Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum
The Pilgrim Monument
, a granite obelisk dedicated in 1910, is a visual icon of the Provincetown waterfront, visible from land and sea. The Monument, on High Pole Hill road, commemorates the history of the Mayflower Pilgrims, who landed at Provincetown before moving on to Plymouth. From May through October, visitors can climb to the top for a glorious view of the sweeping curve of the coastline. The adjoining Provincetown Museum
describes the arrival of the Mayflower Pilgrims, the town’s maritime history, the early days of American theater in Provincetown, and the building of the monument. There’s a re-creation of a 19th century sea captain’s parlor at home and his quarters at sea and a scale model of the first theater of the Provincetown Players. 508-487-1310.
Visit a 1636 Working Grist Mill: Pilgrims! Gears! Cornmeal!
So many stories are packed into the reproduction on Town Brook in Plymouth
of the 1636 Plimoth Grist Mill
, built by the Mayflower travelers. People gather at noon on Fridays to see the 2,500-pound stones moved, positioned, and used to grind corn, a huge improvement in the lives of the English newcomers. Kids and adults love to watch the mechanics of the water wheel, gears, stones, and grain hopper. In spring, herring alewives fight the current up the adjacent fish ladder to go upstream. Buy cornmeal and learn about Pilgrim cooking and dining. Gift shop, too! You will remember this visit long after you return to the 21st century. 508-746-1622.
Wet Paint All Winter at Dyer’s
Does life stand still in Provincetown during winter? Summer visitors might think so, but, no, it does not. Many lodgings close down, but Dyer’s Beach House
landed on the brilliant idea of inviting an artist to live and work at the guest house all winter. The artist’s work is displayed in guest rooms and sold at the guest house the following summer. In 2017, come enjoy the work of guest artist Peg Reynolds
. Provincetown has a long history of innovative art. 508-487-2061.
Whaling by Sail in the Tough Old Days
Commercial whaling conveys a very different scent in the 21st century than it did in the 1700s and 1800s when ships went to sea to capture animals that helped producd the cleanest light ever known. New England’s whaling industry ended by about 1900, but the stories of the unbelievable hardy men who went to sea hundreds of years ago still can shiver our timbers. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
, operated by the U.S. Park Service, tells the dramatic story of the old whaling industry in the very streets and buildings where ships departed and sometimes returned after years of chasing the wind around the globe. Stroll the cobblestone streets and see the world’s largest whaling museum, a merchant’s home, a whalemen's chapel, and a 19th-century schooner. Phone: 508-996-4095.
Scones and Clotted Cream
Brits R U.S.
at 16 Armory Street in Northampton
is a dream come true for fans of all things from across the pond.
Featuring a variety of English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish products, from sweet treats to meat pies. Anglophiles are swarming the place for delicious tidbits from the old Empire. The staff is sweet and helpful. Stop in a Christmas for pudding. 413-770-1608
Morgan’s Mansion Hosts Lots of Fun Seasonal Events
Call him a robber baron, but at least J. P. Morgan took care of his kid sister; the mansion built for her in 1893 is a testament to that. Ventfort Hall
is an imposing Jacobean Revival-style mansion with a history dating back to the grandeur and opulence of the Gilded Age. Despite its brush with demolition in the 1980s, today the mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and declared an official project of “Save America’s Treasures.” Visitors can tour the grand estate, peruse the art gallery, or simply enjoy the architecture. Open daily year round. Phone: 413-637-3206.
Cranberry Wine is a Unique Bay State Taste
The family-owned Plymouth Bay Winery
, at 114 Water Street in
, overlooking Plymouth Bay, produces cranberry and other fruit wines. The winery is located in the heart of Plymouth's historic waterfront district, close to the Mayflower II, Plymouth Rock, and other historic attractions and great places to dine. The owners welcome the public for tastings, saying, “There isn't an event or holiday that cranberry wine won't serve as a warm embrace.” Open daily, March 1 to December 31. Free tastings, with no appointment necessary. Phone: 508-746-2100.
Who Loves a Riddle?
Escape from screens and virtual life and lock yourself and a group of friends into Cape Cod’s only escape room, Riddle
, at 61 Market Street in Mashpee
. Riddle offers six different games; players are locked in a room and have 60 minutes to complete a mission by solving a series of puzzles, riddles and connecting clues. Riddle games all have their own theme, and puzzles work with the story line. Spark up your creativity and problem-solving skills to flow through the game. Who’s the brain in your huddle? 508-648-7664.
Dune and Beach Walks Near Provincetown
Never dismiss the Outer Cape as a romantic winter destination. Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet all have a core group of restaurants and bars dishing up warmth and sustenance. You will be looking for both after a vigorous walk onto the Province Lands
, north of Provincetown. On a bright winter day, the views are glorious. Start at the Province Lands Visitor Center on Race Point Road, off Route 6. Walking routes can be adjusted for shorter and longer distances, with wonderful views of the Province Lands, Race Point Lighthouse, the Coast Guard Station, and more.
Walking Tours at Tower Hill Botanic Garden
Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston
hosts great special events and exhibits at all time of the year, but you can come for walks and tours held every weekend. A walking garden tour
, included in the cost of admission, happens every Sunday at 2 p.m. See highlights like camellias in the Limonaia and subtropical plants in the Orangerie, and the beauty of bark and berries in the Winter Garden. Learn about the history of the Worcester County Horticultural Society and learn about the future plans for the garden. Also, the garden welcomes people to bring their dogs to wander the dog walking trail
on weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
We Take the Name “Emporium” Seriously
has a fun downtown center bookended by the art museum, MASS MoCA, and the Berkshire hills. Among the distinctive shops on the Main Street – where you are likely to enjoy browsing and to find a perfect tidbit for yourself or a friend, is Berkshire Emporium & Antiques
, a mammoth shop of two floors and several rooms, at 59 Main Street. This attractive shop is stocked with local products, antiques, and specialty gifts. No need to take a long break at meal time; within the emporium, you can buy edibles off the shelf or visit Luma's Muffin & Mug café, serving sweet and savory crepes made to order, and delicious coffee, all within the store. 413-664-4032.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace: Much More Than Shopping
You know Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston
as the ever-fascinating place to browse for all kinds of cool souvenirs and interesting food and even to take in some sidewalk entertainment. But the Marketplace also hosts tons
of other activities
: storytelling, Dominoes at Dusk, chess, Zumba, movies, body building, swing dances, salsa night, Rockout & Workout, line dancing. Dozens of ways to work out your mind and body, on a rotating schedule. Come explore!
Marblehead Imagery in Ceramic Art
You will find a unique art space and a place to buy a perfect memento of your Marblehead
trip at Hestia Creations
, off the main thoroughfares at 13 Hawkes Street in Marblehead. Hestia artists build handmade and custom-designed commemorative gifts and home décor accessories. Popular items are the VillageScape building miniatures, showing buildings in Boston, Salem, Marblehead or Swampscott, and AmeriScape ornaments. Also popular are ceramic items, Nativity sets, and Judaica. Ceramic pieces can be personalized for a special gift for important occasions in the lives of family members and friends. See artists at work
. Open daily except Sundays. 781-639-2727
Delicious Bites of Far Away in Northampton and Amherst
In the sister college towns of Northampton and Amherst, several intriguing eating places opened or expanded in 2016. Falafel fix at Pita Pockets
and gourmet doughnuts at Glazed
are now available in both towns. The Northampton Nourish Juice Bar opened the full-service Nourish Wellness Café
, serving juices and smoothies and a signature Wellness Bowls. Foreign food choices in Amherst also now include Lebanese cuisine at Malek Shawarma
and food of Nepal, India, and Bhutan at Himalayan Friends Corner.
Lyman Greenhouses Bring the Outdoors Indoors
Here’s a fast and accessible treatment for the winter blahs: a visit to the Lyman Estate Greenhouses
on Lyman Street in Waltham
The complex consists of an 1804 grape house, 1820 camellia house, 1840 orchid house, and a 1930 sales greenhouse. At any time of year a visit to these picturesque greenhouses is a treat. Rare orchids covered with exotic flowers bloom throughout the year. The horticultural staff offers advice and assistance. The gift shop sells historical gardening books, brass sundials, sachets, orchid accessories, pottery, rustic twig furniture, and more. Open year-round, but days vary by season. Guided tours on first Wednesdays. 781-891-1985.
See Deerfield Through 19th Century Artist’s Eyes
In a place with such natural beauty as Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley region, it is reasonable that painters have worked there to re-create the countryside on canvas. A painter from the 19th century named James Well Champney worked in Deerfield
and much of his work now graces the walls of the Deerfield Inn
and its bright, airy Champney’s Restaurant & Tavern. Deerfield Inn is among the several New England lodgings lucky to show original art, often by local artists. A visit to his historic town and inn, or a meal of fresh-cooked New England dishes at Champney’s puts you in the middle of a 19th-century vision of this unique place.