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One of the best things about Boston is its proximity to a wealth of New England attractions – all very different, but all within a short drive. The most famous are the Cape Cod peninsula and the islands known simply as "The Vineyard" (Martha’s Vineyard) and Nantucket. A less-touristy and more laid-back beach vibe is found north of the city in towns like Marblehead and Gloucester; the North Shore, as it's known, is also home to Salem, infamous for its witch trials. Finally, mountain lovers go farther afield to the greenery and cultural delights of the Berkshires. The most famous town here is Lenox, home to Tanglewood, the summer outpost of the Boston Pops.

Day Trips from Boston

Cape Cod

Mile after mile of sandy beaches, seafood prepared any way you like it, and an array of activities from golf to biking to clamming are all part of the fun on “the Cape.” Towns like Hyannis and Chatham are lined with iconic gray-shingle houses and classic resorts, while lesbian- and gay-friendly Provincetown (see separate entry) offers an eclectic mix of arts, theater, dining, and people watching. Since high season means huge crowds and horrific traffic, consider visiting during the calmer shoulder seasons (Apr.–May and Sept.–Oct.).

60 miles from Boston, MA, 508-362-3225,
Tags: beach | family | gay and lesbian | kayaking | sailing | surfing | theater | outdoors | day trip | wildlife | whale watching


Located on Cape Ann, Gloucester may be the nation's oldest seaport, but it's still going strong. Fishermen and fresh seafood abound. Even though Gloucester (definitely ask a local for a lesson in pronouncing this name) was immortalized on the big screen in the 2000 film The Perfect Storm, it hasn't turned into a fishing theme park. It's the real deal.

35 miles from Boston, MA,
Tags: family | kayaking | sailing | surfing | seafood | historic | theater | day trip | gallery | whale watching


The beautiful Berkshire Mountains are Massachusetts’ culture hub outside of Boston; its premier town, Lenox, is home to Tanglewood, the summer stage of the Boston Pops, as well as a fair number of B&Bs. If you have your sights set on Tanglewood, buy tickets far in advance. Best bet for a memorable concert: Skip the seats in favor of a picnic-ready spot on the lawn.

130 miles from Boston, MA, 413-743-4500,
Tags: family | golf | hiking | theater | culture | day trip | performing arts

Minute Man National Historical Park

On April 19, 1775, the American Revolution began in the area around the park, near Concord, MA. Minute Man pays homage to the men who lost their lives fighting the Redcoats. From guided tours to reenactments of the battles, it all comes alive here; it’s the perfect add-on for a history-focused family visit to Boston.

17 miles west of Boston, Massachusetts, 978-369-6993,
Tags: family | historic | day trip | national park

Old Sturbridge Village

Are your kids grousing about their chores again? A day at Old Sturbridge Village will cure them of it (while they're having fun). The living-history village puts your family smack dab in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Kids under eight will be fascinated by the hands-on Samson's Children's Museum.

60 miles southwest of Boston, Massachusetts,
Tags: family | historic | day trip | museum

Plimouth Plantation

If your family can't get enough living history, then roll on back to 1627 at this reproduction Pilgrim village, which also features a Wampanoag home site. For the full early 17th-century experience, consider paying a visit in the fall when the village hosts "Eat Like a Pilgrim" and "1627 Harvest Dinner" meals.

60 miles south of Boston, Massachusetts, 508-746-1622,
Tags: family | historic | day trip


The northeastern tip of Cape Cod is home to a lively lesbian and gay community, a vibrant art and theater scene, whale-watching tours galore, and spectacular beaches. Best of all, you can get there by ferry from Boston. If you want to stay longer than a day, make sure you book a room before you head out; the town is typically mobbed.

120 miles east of Boston, MA,
Tags: beach | gay and lesbian | editor pick | theater | culture | day trip | gay | gallery


If you’ve even a mild interest in witchcraft, the site of the infamous 1692 witch trials is not to be missed. While there's quite a bit of hokey tourist stuff around Salem these days (fortune teller, anyone?), there's a lot of history to take in and plenty of great photo-ops. If crowds (and creepy decorations) don't scare you, visit during Halloween when the city really goes all out. 

16 miles north of Boston, MA, 877-SALEM-MA,
Tags: family | history | day trip | museum

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