Looking for short day trips from Boston? You’re in the right place.

Boston is the London of America: it’s politically important and culturally significant with an academic vibe that borders on artsy.

Whether you’re moving to the area, or have an extra day in the city, everything in New England is so close together it’s possible to take some really great adventures out of Boston.

Here are my favorites from when I lived in New England during college.

10 Short Day Trips from Boston

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Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts

Miles from Boston: Lexington 15, Concord 20

Short Day Trips from Boston on Every Short Day Trips from Boston on Every Budget

Both towns are significant to American political history in that many key events during our fight to secure independence from Great Britain occurred in these once sleepy little towns.

Lexington even has the honor of being the “official” birthplace of the Revolutionary War, as the famous shot heard ’round the world was allegedly fired on Lexington Green…although there’s some fun debate as to whether or not that’s true.

You’ll have to visit and decide for yourself!

Salem, Massachusetts

Miles from Boston: 25 

Short Day Trips from Boston on Every Budget

Salem is spooky all year round! While most people choose to visit Salem during October, the history of the Witch Trials, as well as the maritime history, is worth a visit no matter the season.

I was pleasantly surprised by just how quaint and relaxing this seaside town is.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Miles from Boston: 70ish, depending on the town you visit.

Short Day Trips from Boston on Every Budget

Cape Cod (locally pronounced as Cape Cahd) is a great place to go for the seaside, quaint cabins in the woods, and cranberry bogs. It’s also where the Kennedy family compound is, so if you’re one of the brave souls who is willing to socialize with them, see if you can score an invite to one of their bonfires.

My friends and I stopped by a nearby beach to get a look at the house, but when I called my mom about it, she about came through the phone to set me straight. “Don’t you ever get into any sort of transportation with a Kennedy boy, Emily. It’ll be the last thing you do.”

Moms. Always looking out for you.

Western Mass

Miles from Boston: 90ish, depending on the town you visit.

Things to do in Western Mass Mount Holyoke

Mount Holyoke College

Step aside Boston, Western Mass is the true educational hub of Massachusetts.

Yes, it’s where I went to college, so I am extremely biased, but the number of things to do in the area still make it worth the trip. Emily Dickinson grew up in Amherst, so you can visit her house, and if you like to relive the simpler days of your childhood, the Eric Carle Museum is for you.

The five colleges in the area (Mount Holyoke, Smith, Amherst, Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) also usually have a full calendar of academic and cultural events to choose from.

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Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts

Miles from Boston: 60

Short Day Trips from Boston on Every Budget

I’m a sucker for historic houses. When studying history, we learn so much about politics, war, geography, and the like that it’s just so refreshing for me to just be in a home.

I LOVE seeing how people’s day to day lives were. How they ate. What they wore. How they did their laundry. What kinds of toys the kids had. I feel like visiting historic houses humanizes the past, so Sturbridge Village was a dream come true for me because as the name suggests, it’s not just a historic house, but an entire village dedicated to 1830’s New England.

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Miles from Boston: 40

Short Day Trips from Boston on Every Budget

Seeing Plymouth Rock is actually anticlimactic AF, givin that’s tiny and I’m pretty sure the rock on display isn’t actually the rock the pilgrims landed on, nor in the same vicinity at all, but oh well.

It’s still cool to see the town of Plimouth Plantation, a living history museum where you can learn about the early days of American Colonialism and the Native Americans who lived in the area before the English arrived.

Newport, Rhode Island

Miles from Boston: 72

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

Newport is one of the best short day trips from Boston to take because of its famous Gilded Age mansions. Early buisness magnates like the Vanderbilts vanderbuilt (lols) palatial homes on the Atlantic seashore that are the ultimate #HouseHunterGoals.

It’s easy to spend a day exploring and envisioning yourself as a member of the elite.

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Watch Hill, Rhode Island

Miles from Boston: 98

Things To Do in Watch Hill RI

While the Robber Barons hid out in Newport, Watch Hill, Rhode Island is where the modern day rich and famous go for a little seaside fun. Most notably, this quaint seaside village is home to country superstar Taylor Swift’s summer cottage.

And by cottage, I mean multi-million dollar mansion. It’s where she hosts her annual star-studded 4th of July party, so if you’re keen to meet a celebrity, that’s a good time to pop down.

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Portland and Freeport, Maine

Miles from Boston: Portland 112 / Freeport 123

Short Day Trips from Boston on Every Budget

Quintessential Maine: LL Bean Boots, lobster, and lighthouses. All things that are very easy to come by in Portland and Freeport.

Maine is one of the best short day trips from Boston to take because where else can you pose with a giant boot AND eat fresh lobster all in the same day? As you’re sitting on the waterfront with new Bean Boots on your feet, and lobster butter on your fingers, the state’s tourism slogan will never feel truer.

Maine: the way life should be.

Mystic, Connecticut

Miles from Boston: 100

Short Day Trips from Boston on Every Budget

I tend to travel to places because Julia Roberts once ate pizza there.

For example, I ate at the Pizzeria di Michele in Naples, Italy because of Eat, Pray, Love and Mystic Pizza in Mystic, Connecticut…for the movie, you guessed it, Mystic Pizza.

Be sure to watch the 1988 coming-of-age classic before heading down for your day of fun. The Mystic Aquarium even has Beluga Whales — making it one of the best short day trips from Boston.

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Short Day Trips from Boston on Every Budget

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Looking for things to do in Watch Hill RI?

This idyllic ocean-front village is only about a two hour drive from Boston and a three hour drive from New York City (depending on traffic), making it the ideal place for a summer getaway.

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Things To Do in Watch Hill RI

Napatree Point

The soft sand and the warm sun also make it a favorite destination for celebrity spottings…which is the reason I went. I wanted to meet Taylor Swift. It didn’t happen, but that’s okay, because she’s not the only cool thing about the town!

Here are a few of my favorite things to do:

Top 3 Things To Do in Watch Hill RI

Things To Do in Watch Hill RI

Napatree Point

 

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Swimming & Sunning

Things To Do in Watch Hill RI

One of the best things to do in Watch Hill RI is simply to enjoy the beach all day. The sand on Watch Hill’s Napatree Point is one of the softest, whitest beaches on the planet and the grassy dunes leading up to the water look straight out of a Nicholas Sparks movie.

It’s easy to see why the area is a favorite getaway for the rich and famous, but luckily you don’t have to pay millions of dollars for an ocean-front home to enjoy it…just for parking.

The water is calm, clear and shark-free (for the most part). While coastal Rhode Island does have its fair share of sharks, they tend to congregate far offshore, in deeper waters, making them the constant companion of fishermen, not swimmers. Don’t believe me? Here you go.

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Visit Taylor Swift

Things To Do in Watch Hill RI

Taylor didn’t want any visitors when we drove past..

Taylor Swift’s home in Watch Hill RI is the location of her famous 4th of July parties, so if you’d like to totally and completely, 100% accidentally run into a celebrity, that’s a good time to be in the area.

When Taylor was dating Tom Hiddleston, her Watch Hill estate was also where THIS notorious photo was taken of the couple…the photo that sparked 1,000 memes.

So, if you are looking for things to do in Watch Hill RI, especially during the summer, keep your eyes peeled for Taylor and her friends, including Blake Lively, the Hadid sisters, Ruby Rose, and more.

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Shopping

Things To Do in Watch Hill RI

The boat I’d buy if I live in Watch Hill.

Whether you’re looking for an ice cream cone to beat the summer heat, a new Alex and Ani bracelet, or some salmon shorts (but only if your dad’s a lawyer) there are cute stores on Watch Hill’s historic main street with exactly what you’re looking for.

There’s even a vintage carousel available for rides. When I visited, there were groups of young adults riding it, the glee evident on their sunburned faces, so don’t feel like you need to borrow your little cousin so it looks like you have a reason to ride. Just go for it!

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Things To Do in Watch Hill RI

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Thinking of taking some Rhode Island Day Trips? The ornate, historic mansions that dot the Ocean State’s coast are a great place to start. But which Newport Mansion should you visit?

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Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

Can you guess where in Newport this is?

Newport Mansions: The Best Rhode Island Day Trips

This itinerary assumes that you need to make the drive to Newport and you only plan to spend the day exploring, rather than staying overnight. In order to appreciate the mansions before closing time, I’ve picked the two I visited on the recommendation of one of my best friends, a Massachusetts native who grew up making frequent visits to the area.

The Breakers and Marble House.

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

The front of The Breakers.

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

The entrance to Marble House.

I ate lunch in between visiting The Breakers and Marble House, but if you’d like to skip eating, or simply scarf down a sandwich in your car, it is possible to comfortably visit three Newport Mansions in one day. I’d recommend Rosecliff for your third stop.

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The Breakers Newport, RI

Address: 44 Ochre Point Ave, Newport, RI 02840

Hours: 9:00AM – 5:00PM (6:00PM during the summer), 7 days a week. Closed for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and special events.

Admission: Adults $18 or $29 for 2-house combo ticket / Kids 6-17 $8.00 or $9.00 for combo / Kids under 6 are free. 

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

Start your journey at The Breakers and plan to spend about two to three hours here.

The Breakers is the iconic home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a man who I assume to be richer than God. When he purchased just the grounds for his home in 1885, it cost him $450,000. That’s $12.3 million today. The cost of the final project was $7 million, equivalent to over $150 million today. Chump change, I know.

Simply put: just existing in the same moment as The Breakers is electric.

As I walked into the Great Hall, I felt like a princess. I could almost see the Robber Barons in their top hats and women in golden ballgowns swirling around me. I was in awe of the excess.

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

The Great Hall.

My friend Siobhan kept joking that we should pretend we were on House Hunters. “It’s a little out of budget, but the view is great,” she joked, as we stood on the Upper Loggia, a semi-enclosed porch that faces the Atlantic. The walls are painted marble. I laughed, but secretly wondered what it would really be like to be this rich.

“It would have been nice to spend the summer here,” I said as we continued our tour. “Especially coming from dirty, crowded New York City.”

“Oh, they didn’t even spend the entire summer here,” Siobhan said. “Maybe only a few weeks a year.”

I nearly had the wind knocked out me and had to stop walking, staring in shock at the limestone walls and sets of chandeliers.

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

The Upper Logia.

This house, this 125,339 square foot house, was only used a few weeks a year? I wanted to be annoyed, but I only felt impressed. And envious.

After we finished our audio tour of The Breakers, Siobhan and I spent some time exploring the grounds and gardens, which were equally lovely.

It was a sunny day, a small breeze rolling in off the ocean. As I sat in the sun and closed my eyes, it’s almost as if I could hear the Vanderbilts and their staff milling about…like I was a guest there all that time ago.

Rhode Island day trips are truly magical.

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

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Marble House Newport, RI

Address: 596 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840

Hours: 10:00AM – 5:00PM, 7 days a week. Closed for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and special events.

Admission: Adults $17.50  or $29 for 2-house combo ticket / Kids 6-17 $8.00 or $9.00 for combo / Kids under 6 are free. 

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

After a quick lunch in town, continue one of the best Rhode Island day trips by visiting Marble House. Plan to spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours here.

Walking into Marble House feels like walking onto a movie set. Fitting, since the 1974 Great Gastby was partially filmed on site. It’s also where Alva Vanderbilt decided to take care of business.

“No woman should marry a man until all of us have won the right to vote. Should you need help, pray to God. I’m sure SHE will help you.” – Alva Vanderbilt.

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

I was thrilled to stand on the steps of Marble House and even got a little misty-eyed thinking about how 100 years ago women couldn’t even vote and now our first female president is probably out there right now, angry and ready to fight back to get this show on the road. Although the suffragettes of the original moment weren’t fighting for voting rights for all, I can still respect the progress they made.

Each year on August 18th, I watch Iron Jawed Angels to “celebrate” the passing of the 19th Amendment.

My great grandmothers were born without the right to vote. My paternal grandmother was born two months after the 19th Amendment passed, making the realization of such an obvious right frustratingly recent.

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

Feeling right at home.

But due to the lack of intersectionality in the original suffragette movement, many of my peers’ mothers (!!) were born without the right to vote. Many of my peers’ votes are still being suppressed. As we draw nearer and nearer to the amendment’s centennial, please remember that the fight for voting rights is far from over.

You can watch the movie here. And see a timeline of American voting rights here.

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You Choose: Rosecliff, Dinner, or the Beach

Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

Depending on what time it is after your tour through Marble House, you might have time to visit one more of the Newport Mansions (I’d recommend Rosecliff), have a nice dinner in town, or even head down to the beach for the sunset. Whatever you choose, your day at the mansions is sure to be the first of many Rhode Island day trips.

It’s hard to stay away.

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Rhode Island Day Trips: Which Newport Mansion Should I Visit

 

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Looking for things to do in Western Mass?

I spent four years in the Pioneer Valley as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College and consider the area to be my second home. I became an adult in Massachusetts and sneak back every chance I get, as half of my heart (and most of my friends) still live there.

Things To Do in Western Mass eric carle

Eric Carle Museum, October 2012.

Top 10 Budget-Friendly Things To Do in Western Mass

These were my favorite things to do in area when I was an undergraduate. I hope you have as much fun as I did!

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Emily Dickinson Museum

280 Main St, Amherst, MA 01002

Things To Do in Western Mass emily dickinson

Mural of Emily near the museum, October 2012.

The Emily Dickinson Museum is one of the main draws in the area and one of the most interesting things to do in Western Mass. Before visiting, I’d only heard snippets of Emily’s history while memorizing her poems in elementary school. Wasn’t she a reclusive spinster who wore a wedding dress for most of her life?

Absolutely not.

As it’s based in her former home, the museum does an excellent job of humanizing Emily’s eccentric story. You leave feeling like you knew her, often with her poems etched on your heart.

Mount Holyoke College Tour

50 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075

Things to do in Western Mass Mount Holyoke

Back where I belong, February 2018.

I’ve only included this on the list because I’m an alumna and Mount Holyoke is the best thing that has ever happened to me. If you are looking for things to do in Western Mass, it’s likely you’re in the area for a college tour, so be sure not to miss the best of the bunch.

Emily Dickinson even attended for 10 months, so we can definitly claim her.

Wondering about other inspiring alums? Prepare to be amazed.

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Eric Carle Museum

125 W Bay Rd, Amherst, MA 01002

Things To Do in Western Mass eric carle

Eric Carle Museum, February 2018.

While time travel is still technically impossible, you can get pretty darn close to reliving your childhood with a visit to the Eric Carle Museum. My sister and I first visited while I was an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke in 2012. We started our tour in the museum’s screening room to watch Knuffle Bunny, an animated version of the children’s book by Mo Willems.

It’s about a girl named Trixie who travels to the Netherlands to visit her Grandparents and forgets her beloved bunny on the plane. Trixie learns important lessons about loss and maturity through her distress and my sister and I, thinking about our childhood lovies, sobbed.

Things To Do in Western Mass eric carle

My sister working on her masterpiece, October 2012. Peep mine as well. It’s still on the fridge.

The museum also has a craft studio you could spend hours in, a library brimming with the best in children’s literature, and galleries that are equal parts nostalgic and inspirational. I make it a point to visit each time I’m in the area.

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Yankee Candle Village

25 Greenfield Road South Deerfield, MA 01373

Things to do in Western Mass Yankee Candle

Big on puns. September 2014.

There are two bad things about Yankee Candle Village:

  • It smells like a bakery, flower shop, and your grandmother’s house all at once.
  • It’s much like a Target in that you go in for one thing and come out two hours later $50,000 in debt.

However, there are two good things about Yankee Candle Village:

  • It smells like a bakery, flower shop, and your grandmother’s house all at once.
  • It’s much like a Target in that you go in for one thing and come out two hours later $50,000 in debt.
Things to do in Western Mass Yankee Candle

Doin’ a line, February 2018.

My favorite part (besides smelling the candles and getting to write a letter to Santa) is the life-size Bavarian Village, where it’s Christmas all year round. Be sure to stick around for the snowfall!

Brunch in Northampton

Brunch in Northampton is one of the best things to do in Western Mass. When people say, “This is the future that Liberals want,” I honestly think they’re talking about the pancakes…

The best brunch spots in Northampton, Massachusetts are as follows:

  • Everywhere.

There you go. That’s my comprehensive list. Just go to Northampton for a meal and you’re all set with any choice.

But, if I had to choose, I would sent you for

Waffles at Sylvester’s 

111 Pleasant Street, Northampton, MA 01060

7AM – 3PM, 7 days a week.

Things to do in Western Mass

In the morning, I’m making waffles, February 2018.

or maybe for some

Scrambles at the Green Bean

241 Main Street, Northampton, MA 01060

7AM – 3PM, 7 days a week.

and finally a short drive to Hadley for

Salad at Esselon

99 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035

Hours vary.

Things to do in Western Mass

Lunch with friends, May 2017.

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory

281 Greenfield Rd, South Deerfield, MA 01373

Things to do in Western Mass magic wings

Taking it all in, February 2018.

Magic Wings is what I imagine heaven to be like. And also the uncanny valley. As soon as you walk in, you’re surrounded by movement, even in your peripherals. But because the constant fluttering comes from butterflies, and not bats, bugs, or other beasts, it’s okay.

It’s probably the most peaceful place I’ve been and definite childhood fantasy fulfillment. The only downside was, despite wearing a bright orange shirt and floral perfume, none of the butterflies wanted anything to do with me.

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Skinner State Park

10 Skinner State Park Rd, Hadley, MA 01035

Things To Do in Western Mass Mount Tom

Mountain Day, October 2012.

Mount Holyoke has this amazing tradition called Mountain Day. During the fall semester, sometime between Convocation and the start of October Break, our president wakes up early and declares Mountain Day with 100 chimes of the bell in the clock tower.

Classes and commitments before 5:00PM are cancelled and students are encouraged to climb the mountain in nearby Skinner State Park, where our President is waiting at the summit with ice cream and special Mountain Day hats.

Things To Do in Western Mass Mount Tom

A casual photoshoot at Skinner State Park, May 2017.

Part of the fun of Mountain Day is almost dying on the steep hike to the summit, but if you are simply visiting the area, feel free to drive up to the top. There’s a parking lot and unmatched views of the entire Pioneer Valley.

Wistariahurst Museum

238 Cabot St, Holyoke, MA 01040

Things To Do in Western Mass Wistariahurst

My dad and sister cheesin’ in Wisty’s Music Room, May 2015.

Full disclosure: I interned at Wisty throughout my collegiate career. But really, this only means you should take my recommendation to visit even more seriously!

The museum is the former home of the Skinner Family, led by William Skinner (and later by his daughter, Belle), who made thier fortune in silk manufacturing, and is the embodiment of the area. It’s one of the best things to do in Western Mass because the beautiful home not only weaves the silken story of a family, but of a city. Of entrepreneurship and loss. Of new beginnings and old traditions. Of hope.

Wisty offers both historical tours of the building, as well as cultural events like lectures, concerts, and galas throughout the year.

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Basketball Hall of Fame

1000 Hall of Fame Ave, Springfield, MA 01105

Things to do in Western Mass

The joke here is that I hate basketball, so I never went inside; however, my friends like to tease me because one night, while riding with them on the Interstate 91 (totally sober!) I noticed a glowing orange orb through the clouds.

“Wow, the moon is so bright tonight! It’s so low! Y’all, look!”

Turns out, I made my friend slow down so that we could get a good look at the giant basketball that marks the entrance to the parking lot.

If you like sports, it’s a can’t miss (or so I hear).

Mass MoCa

1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247

things to do in western mass mass moca

If you’re looking for something a little weird, a little cool, and fully awesome, then you should head to Mass MoCa, or the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The collection is breath-taking and is a real contender against the MFA in Boston.

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Bonus: Seasonal Leaf Peeping in Western Mass

Things To Do in Western Mass Mount Holyoke

The Mount Holyoke Campus, Fall 2014. I didn’t edit this at all.

If you’re looking for things to do in Western Mass in the fall, the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires have some of the best leaf-peeping spots in New England!

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Things to do in Western Mass

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