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Popular Attractions in Massachusetts
The Bay State has oodles of attractions to keep everyone in the family happy – there are spectacular natural areas, exciting adventures, first-class museums, and intriguing historic sites. There’s something for everyone!
For many visitors, Martha’s Vineyard is the state’s top draw. This Atlantic island just south of Cape Cod has harbor towns, sandy beaches, rolling farmland, and lonely lighthouses. Kids love the Flying Horses Carousel, a landmark attraction which continues to spin today. East Chop Light is on a bluff overlooking the harbor. Nearby, Lambert’s Cove Beach is a well-known stretch of sand. Oak Bluffs Town Beach is another great spot for sand and surf – after a swim, wander into town for ice cream or a beer. Inkwell Beach is a popular strip of sand – there’s a lifeguard here as well as views of the ferry terminal.
Nantucket is every bit as beautiful as Martha’s Vineyard. Learn about the island’s history at the Nantucket Whaling Museum or enjoy the view from Brant Point Light, which was built in 1901. Great Point Light was rebuilt in 1986, while Sankaty Head Light dates to 1850. You can tour the island’s oldest home – the Jethro Coffin House – and make sure to visit the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum – it preserves baskets crafted by local men who were stationed offshore.
The Cape Cod village of Hyannis is where many visitors go to embark on trips to the islands, but it’s a great destination in its own right. The wide Kalmus Park Beach is a lovely expanse of sand, and fans of great Americans can easily spend an afternoon in the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. The Cape Cod Maritime Museum explains the heritage and culture of this part of the state, while fans of America’s favorite pastime will love the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame.
At the tail end of Cape Cod, Provincetown is the site of the Mayflower’s landing in 1620 – today you can visit the Pilgrim Monument or see the historic Race Point Light. Expedition Whydah has artifacts and treasures from a pirate ship and the Provincetown Public Library is set in a historic former church.
Boston is one of America’s best cities, and you can easily spend days here. Slip into a pair of comfortable shoes and walk the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, which visits historic sites that tell the story of the nation’s founding. See a performance of the legendary Boston Pops orchestra at Symphony Hall or watch the town’s beloved Red Sox play at storied Fenway Park. View works by some of the world’s great masters in the Museum of Fine Arts or learn about the wonders of the world in the Museum of Science. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum houses a world-class collection – it has to be seen! Paul Revere launched his famous ride from the Old North Church, and you can visit the Revolutionary War hero’s home at the Paul Revere House. Boston Common is an iconic spot which should not be missed by any visitor to the city – see the Soldiers and Sailors Monument or play a game of tennis on the courts near the Parkman Bandstand. Nearby you can rent a canoe and paddle the Charles River or grab a coffee and stroll across the campus of Harvard.
Salem is famous as the site of the historic witch trials, but today the city has much more to offer. Gaze at regional American art and artifacts at the Peabody Essex Museum or learn about the city’s history at the Salem Witch Museum. Sandy Beach is a great spot to watch sailboats cruise by and Winter Island is a great place for a picnic.
The rural Berkshires are dotted with villages and towns and has been a popular vacation destination for generations. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams is set in a converted factory building and is one of the nation’s largest centers for contemporary visual and performing arts. In Shelburne Falls, the Bridge of Flowers was built in 1907 and is a gorgeous spectacle of color spanning the Deerfield River. Beartown State Forest near Great Barrington sprawls across 10,000 acres and is chock full of bold streams, lush forest, and great hiking trails.
Speaking of hiking, Massachusetts has some great trails to stretch your legs on. The Appalachian Trail crosses much of the western part of the state, linking villages and mountainous forest. Other great hikes can be found at Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, Cape Cod National Seashore, Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, and Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Skiers will find a dozen snow-covered mountains to choose from – try the challenging steeps of Wachusett Mountain or the wide open cruisers of Jiminy Peak.
Ready for some big-time thrills? Six Flags in Agawam is New England’s biggest and most popular theme park – you find dozens of thrill rides, live entertainment, holiday specials, and family-friendly fun. In Wareham, Water Wizz is New England’s largest water park – relax on the lazy river, body surf on Muscle Beach, or slide with the kids at Little Neck Beach. Salem Willows, in Salem, has been a fixture since it first opened in 1858 – today there are two large arcades with batting cages, air hockey, pinball machines, and bumper cars, plus two small beaches.
Oenophiles will find plenty of juice to savor in Massachusetts. Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton specializes in light whites and pinot noir, while Black Birch Vineyard in North Hatfield hosts live music and has a beautiful tasting room. Other wineries worth a visit include Harwick Winery in Hardwick and Turtle Creek Winery in Lincoln.
Pack your bags and start planning your trip – there’s tons to see and do in Massachusetts!
Popular Attractions in Massachusetts
Hancock Shaker Village
As you explore the far west of Massachusetts, head for Pittsfield and check out the Hancock Shaker Village. Now a museum and impressive attraction, the Hancock Shaker Village was once an actual Shaker Village – one of 19 major villages following the Shaker movement. It was established in 1791. The Shaker Religion was founded in England, circa 1747 by Ann Lee.
While the Hancock Shaker Village was primarily focused on dairy farming, they still found a lucrative opportunity to raise and sell garden seeds. You can visit the Hancock Shaker Village and explore the grounds. Enjoy stunning views of the Berkshires on a lively hike, check out the farms and gardens, and you won't want to miss out on the Beatrice O. Chance Gallery – a wonderful display of art.
As you plan your visit to Dedham, the charming and quaint town just south of Boston and a short drive from Sharon, be sure to keep Legacy Place on your list of places to see. An ideal destination for an evening out – or for that matter, a whole day – Legacy Place is the premier dining and entertainment hot spot in MA. There's a 26,000 square foot, 20 lane bowling alley, a top of the line movie theater, and a bevy of fine dining choices.
Kings is the place to check out when you feel like bowling in Dedham. With the 20 lanes, four separate "roller bowling" lanes, two skee ball tables, three full bars, and a regulation shuffle board deck, you'll find all the fun you can ask for at Legacy Place. Take in a picture show at the Showcase Cinema de Lux – have a meal and drink brought right to your seat while you watch a movie premier.
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Head for Bedford Street close to the center of Concord and check out the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Not to be confused with the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York, Concord, MA's Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is home to "Author's Ridge," a location within the cemetery featuring the burial site of a long list of legendary and iconic American authors. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery was established in 1855.
While cemeteries aren't typically a major tourism draw, it's interesting to note at Sleepy Hollow's dedication in 1855, the dedication speech was given by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who would find himself buried at the very same cemetery years later. Other notable Concordians to call Sleepy Hollow their final resting place are Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter, and Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial.