The Best Massachusetts Attractions – Things To Do
The state of Massachusetts is one of the original Thirteen Colonies and served as the landing ground for the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. The state was named after the Massachusetts tribe by English explorer John Smith. The name roughly translates to “near the great hill” or “large hill.”
Massachusetts is one of four states to hold the official title of “Commonwealth.” Commonly known as “The Bay State,” Massachusetts has a long and diverse history. It is known for its decisive role in the American Industrial Revolution.
Similarly, the state of Massachusetts is known for its role in furthering American art, culture, and science. Did you know Massachusetts is credited with inventing the sports of basketball and volleyball? Not only this, but it is also famous for its roles in the abolitionist and transcendentalist movements. Today, Massachusetts is famous for its educational institutions, such as Harvard and MIT, and famous actors like Matt Damon and Uma Thurman.
Best Massachusetts Attractions and Activities
Things To Do in Massachusetts by City
Since it’s a big place, choosing attractions can be a hassle. Don’t worry and keep on reading because we’re going to take you on a cyber ride to visit the best attractions in Massachusetts.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Visiting Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is one of the most fun things to do in Massachusetts. It boasts one of the most comprehensive and extensive art collections in the world!
Opened originally in Copley Square in 1876 with no more than 5600 works of art, the museum relocated in 1909 to Huntington Avenue. Since then, its collection has soared, nearly encompassing 500,000 works of art!
One of the best attractions in Massachusetts, the museum hosts more than a million people each year. You can find works from different eras and genres. They can range from ancient Egyptian to contemporary works, interactive educational programs, and even special exhibitions.
You’ll also find masterpieces from renowned artists, such as Picasso, Rembrandt, and John Singleton Copley. Even more interesting is the fact the museum keeps on growing.
Back in 2010, the museum celebrated the opening of the Art of Americas wing. The special wing is dedicated to displaying American artworks from ancient as well as modern times. Similarly, specific galleries for the European, Asian, and African continents also opened up back in 2013. If you’re a history buff and love art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts will be one of the best attractions in Massachusetts for you. We also suggest allocating at least 4 hours to explore the museum. It would be ample time for your first visit!
The Boston Common is a central public park dating back to 1634 and is the oldest city park in the history of the United States. The common has been host to countless historical events, militia gatherings, and public hangings. It has certainly evolved over time. Here’s a little history recap.
The British Redcoats made it their site for encampment in 1768 and stayed there for nearly eight years! Later on, it was visited by legendary figures, such as John Adams, General Lafayette, and George Washington himself, to celebrate America’s independence. The Common served as the site for anti-slavery meetings and recruitment for the Civil War in the 1860s. In the 20th century, it was used by Charles Lindbergh for promoting commercial aviation. Numerous civil rights and anti-war rallies were also held at the Common.
Today, it is one of the best attractions in Massachusetts and attracts locals, visitors, and tourists worldwide! Here’s a little fun historical fact; the Friends of the Public Garden NGO was founded in 1970 to protect and preserve the Boston Common because of its rich historical and cultural importance!
Visit the Fenway Park
The iconic Fenway Park is a baseball stadium in the city of Boston and has been home to the Red Sox ever since it first opened back in 1912. It is also the world’s oldest major league baseball stadium. The stadium is also Boston’s only MLB franchise since 1953. Fenway Park remains closely tied to Boston and is adored by locals and baseball fans alike. If you’re in love with baseball, visiting this historical icon should be one of the most fun things to do in Massachusetts.
The administration even allows for tours of the stadium grounds. You might enjoy seeing Pesky’s Pole, named in honor of the former Red Sox shortstop who once hit a home run that curled around the right-field foul pole on one of these tours.
Another interesting spot that receives a lot of attention is the famous red seat in the right-field bleachers. The exact location is in Section 42, Row 21. Seat 21 is the lone red seat in the right-field bleachers and signifies Ted Williams’ home run, the longest ever in the history of Fenway Park. Another popular attraction is the famous Green Monster seating area over the leftfield. The 37-foot-tall area has a seating capacity of an astounding 38,000 people!
Visiting the park is a fun way to start a tour of one of the most popular states in America. Even if you’re not into baseball, you could still take some memorable pictures of the iconic historical stadium and learn about its fascinating history on the famous tours!
Minute Man National Historical Park
Located in Middlesex County, the Minute Man National Historical Park marks the site for the opening battle of the American Revolution. It not only honors those first battles but is also home to several battle sites, such as Lexington and Concord. Moreover, it marks the route the British marched over that initiated the Revolutionary War. The national park is one of the most iconic and best attractions in Massachusetts and spans a staggering 970 acres of land.
The National Park Service takes care of the historical park, which was established in 1959. It includes the famous Battle Road Trail that covers 5 miles of land. Other famous locations include the 18th century restored Hartwell Tavern, the monument at Paul Revere’s capture site, and the North Bridge, which was the site of the battle between the Colonies and the British.
If you’re interested in American history, the Minute Man National Historical Park promises one of the most fascinating experiences the state of Massachusetts has to offer.
Walk the Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail is an important path that signifies the history of the United States. It is undoubtedly one of the key places to visit in the state of Massachusetts.
The Freedom Trail is a 3-mile long path that winds through some of the most important historical locations, ranging from museums and churches to burying grounds. In total, it passes a total of 16 locations that are marked with red bricks and medallions.
Also, the trail starts from the Boston Common in downtown Boston and winds through North End to the Navy Yard in Charlestown. Walking along the trail can take a little over 90 minutes, during which you’ll witness Massachusetts’s crucial role in American history.
Martha’s Vineyard is a famous island just south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It is one of the most renowned places in the state and is famous for its pristine beaches. Among its 19 beaches, some are open for public use, while others are reserved specifically for the residents and summer visitors.
The island is ranked 57 on America’s list of biggest islands and is dubbed the Hollywood East for being a popular summertime destination. Even former U.S President Barrack Obama rented a 7-bedroom home on the island back in 2019!
Moreover, the island is only accessible by air or by ferry, but it is well worth visiting. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the magical sunsets and the natural scenery. You will also be met by beautiful wild areas, magnificent lighthouses, and even modern malls and dining areas! Don’t miss the gingerbread houses in Oak Bluffs. Based on carpenter gothic architecture, the cottages are a treat to look at. The area also has an iconic carousel!
If that wasn’t enough, in addition to the 300 carpenter gothic cottages, Oak Bluffs even has a fascinating Cottage Museum for tourists! Visiting Martha’s Vineyard will be one of the most memorable and fun things to do in Massachusetts.
Cape Cod National Seashore
Visiting this national wonder is described as one of the most romantic things to do in America. So, if you’re going on a trip with your other half, be sure to visit the Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts. It is a national park that was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy and encompasses 43,607 acres of land!
In addition to protecting the coast, the National Seashore is also home to more than 500 miles of beautiful beaches along the coast of Cape Cod. You can explore the whole coast in all its natural and unspoiled glory.
Cape Cod National Seashore has countless options when it comes to spending time with your loved one. The magical getaway has options including dining areas and restaurants, nightlife options, conservations spots, and even peaceful areas for those looking to spend a quiet and relaxing weekend.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Filled with over 2500 unique artifacts and artworks, this three-story museum in Boston narrates the story of Isabella Stewart Gardner herself. Losing her child to pneumonia, followed by discovering her infertility, left Isabella depressed and traumatized, and she decided to isolate and seclude herself. After many unsuccessful attempts, Isabella’s husband finally managed to get her to go on a trip to Europe, and that is where she found the will to live again. Isabella fell in love with unique and strange artworks and objects, which she collected from all the locations she visited.
When she returned to America, Isabella built the Fenway Court to store all the artwork, which was now an assortment of works from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. In 1903, the house was finally opened to the public.
Visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum is going to be a fun and unique experience. With artifacts ranging from sculptures, tapestries, and manuscripts, to paintings from all over the world, this famous museum is definitely one of the best attractions in Massachusetts.
Harvard and MIT
Home to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, Cambridge is a city in the Middlesex County of Massachusetts. It is part of Boston’s Metropolitan Area, located just across the Charles River from Boston.
Visiting Harvard will be one of the most fun things to do in Massachusetts. It is America’s oldest institute of higher education and was founded in 1963, only 16 years after the Pilgrims first landed at Plymouth. The campus is free for touring purposes and centered in the
Right next to Harvard Square are the spectacular Harvard Art Museums. Designed by the famous Renzo Piano, the Harvard Art Museums basically consist of three separate museums: the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis. Moving farther along the campus, you will also find the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the Botanical Museum, and the
Similarly, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also boasts magnificent collections of art. The 150-acre campus doubles as an open-air art gallery and is decorated with beautiful sculptures made by the likes of Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, and Auguste Rodin.
You can also use the campus map as you make your way across MIT to discover the history of the aesthetically designed buildings and their architects, who are some of the biggest names in modern, contemporary, and post-modern architecture!
House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables is a famous colonial-era mansion in Salem, Massachusetts. It was made famous by the author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel – the one with the same name. 7gables describes it as “Salem’s premier historic site.” It is situated on the Salem Harbor and was built in 1668.
Also known as the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, it is famous for its unique architectural style, including numerous gables, chimneys, and an overall dark look. Philanthropist Caroline Emmerton purchased the mansion in 1908 and founded a museum after restoring the house for future generations. Efforts to preserve the mansion also served to provide funding for immigrant settlement programs.
Moreover, you can book a tour to learn about the history of the mansion, the work and life of author Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the background of Salem. The mansion even has a secret passage! The House of the Seven Gables is one of the best attractions in Massachusetts and has also been tied to spooky stories for over 100 years! If you’re into scary stuff, we suggest visiting Salem!
The Lizzie Borden House
This self-proclaimed bed and breakfast is also one for fans of horrific and macabre tales. The Lizzie Borden House is located in Fall River and used to be the home of Andrew and Abby Borden and their children. Lizzie Borden, their youngest daughter, was the prime suspect when the parents were found murdered by a hatchet.
Although Lizzie was acquitted in the trials that followed, the house has become infamous in the world of ghost-hunters, and many believe it to be haunted! Now, it serves as a bed and breakfast and a public museum. Inside the house, you’ll find a bizarre recreation of the crime scene, strange memorabilia from the fated night, and the rooms of Lizzie Borden and her parents.
You can even book a room for the night, but do that at your own discretion! Reports say the building is notorious for being haunted, especially the rooms of Lizzie and her folks!
Attractions Worth Mentioning
While our list of the best attractions in Massachusetts comes to an end, we’re not nearly done mentioning all the attractions. Some names worth mentioning include the following places:
- Forest Hills Cemetery: a Victorian-era graveyard listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Clark Art Institute: an art museum that doubles as a research center for higher learning.
- The Norman Rockwell Museum: a museum showcasing famous artist Norman Rockwell’s art collection.
- Faneuil Hall: a famous site of revolutionary protests and a common marketplace for 18th-century traders. The renovated version includes a market on the lowest floor and an Artillery Museum on the top floor.
- Plimoth Plantation: a living museum that offers a look into life during the colonial era!
- The Witch House of Salem: house belonging to one of the judges during the infamous Salem Witch Trials.
To recap, Massachusetts is one of the most popular states in America. The land has a rich history of culture and traditions and is home to some of the most unique and memorable attractions in the whole country. We hope you like reading our list of best attractions in Massachusetts and decide to visit the beautiful state one day. If it wasn’t on your bucket list before, we hope it is now!
Remember, exploring and going out into the world is a fun way to learn. Make sure to interact with the locals who will help you have an authentic experience and might let you in on the details regarding the iconic history of the state of Massachusetts. It is the most populous out of the six New England states, and you might know by now that it’s bustling with diversity and culture. So, it doesn’t matter what your definition of fun is because when you finally decide to take a vacation, you’ll find many fun things to do in Massachusetts!