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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The entire town of Newport, Rhode Island looks like it walked straight of out a storybook. The water is so crisply blue I briefly wondered if it had been dyed. The sun, warm and bright, felt heavenly, not hellish. The famous Newport Mansions dotting the coast were the perfect final touch.

Luckily, the best photo spots in Newport, Rhode Island and the most interesting things to do in the area go hand and hand. If you have one day, one hour, or one week in this sometimes sleepy, sometimes sultry seaside town, here’s where you should visit:

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Gilded Age Mansion: The Breakers

Built in the 1890’s by the filthy rich Cornelius Vanderbilt II, The Breakers became a National Historic Landmark in 1994. The 125,339 square foot house is the closest thing you can get to a royal palace in America, as its over 70 rooms are crafted with only the finest marble and limestone.

It’s hard to imagine that it would not only belong to just one family, but that they wouldn’t even spend an entire month there each year because they owned so many other ornate homes. On top of everything, Cornelius Vanderbilt II wasn’t even the richest of the bunch. His grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt I was worth over $215 billion in today’s money.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is only worth $121 billion. Bill Gates is worth $91 billion.

So yeah. The Vanderbilts were rich.

Former Vanderbilt Home: Marble House

Marble House is one of the best photo spots in Newport, Rhode Island simply because of the history here.

Alva Vanderbilt was one of the original suffragettes and often held rallies calling for women’s rights on the front steps. When you visit, it’s hard not to close your eyes and imagine the commotion of it all unfolding around you.

The cool, marble exterior also sharply contrasts with the foliage and skyline, transforming Marble House from a simple structure into a striking statement. I can only imagine this was done entirely on purpose.

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"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. ✌🏻✌🏻I was thrilled to stand on the steps of #marblehouse where #votesforwomen became the rallying cry for ladies who had had enough (unfortunately they weren't fighting for all their sisters…hello #intersectionality) but I 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.🇺🇸🇺🇸 ••TELL ME: do you enjoy political history? Have you ever visited a place for that reason?

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The Ida Lewis Yacht Club

Speeding over the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge on our way to visit the Newport Mansions, my friend Siobhan and I noticed the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and made sure to circle around on our way home to explore it.

After spending the day in the “old money” part of Newport, learning about the Gilded Age legends who once called the area home, it was rather grounding to be in a place where modern Newport, the Sailing Capital of the World, thrived.

Back in my mother’s BC years (before children) she raced sailboats out of Cedar Point Yacht Club in Connecticut, so I also took interest in Ida Lewis for what it could tell me about my mother.

Any of the Local Beaches

The best photo spots in Newport, Rhode Island are anywhere along the water, as the town is colloquially known as the city by the sea.

Like I mentioned, the water is too blue. The sun is perfectly warm. If you listen hard enough, over the sweet sound of the birds chirping, you might even heard the hallelujah chorus.

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The Best Photo Spots in Newport, Rhode Island

 

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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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