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Boston is a great place to visit and it has enough to do to occupy you for days. But it is also a fabulous hub to see every state in New England! Day trips from Boston can take you to beaches, mountains, large cities and rolling hills. In short, Boston is the gateway to your New England adventure. In fact, with our list, you can see every single New England State in a day trip from Boston.
We have lived in New England for the past 20 years, so we have personally done every day trip on this list. Each trip is easily driveable, has enough to do to occupy a day or more, is family friendly, and is a great representation of each state. You could do each of these trips and be able to say you have really visited New England. So get ready to see New England!
Day trips in Massachusetts
While you’re here, visit the home of the 2nd and 5th Presidents of the United States, John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Visitors check into the Adams National Historic Park and are taken by trolley to John Adams birthplace followed by John and Abigail Adams family home (the birthplace of John Quincy). You get off the trolley at each home and have a dedicated tour guide.
The tour focuses on the life of John and Abigail, but you do get some information about John Quincy. The homes are in their original location and have much of the original furniture and art. It truly feels like John Adams could walk down the hall at any moment. The library alone is worth the visit! I have visited countless historic homes, but I would put this as one of my favorites ever.
Plan on 3 hours
11 mile drive from Boston.
Concord and Lexington
Every child who has grown up in the United States knows that the skirmishes in Concord and Lexington began the American revolution. You can visit the Lexington green where the “shot heard round the world” was fired.
In nearby Concord you can visit The Old North Bridge where the colonist fought the English off. Concord also has a rich literary history. Visit the homes of Louisa May Alcott and Ralph Waldo Emerson; walk around Walden pond and learn about the time Henry David Thoreau spent there. (I’ve always found it weird that all these contemporary authors are know by three names. It’s even weirder that you can visit their graves along with that of Nathaniel Hawthorne in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery on Authors’ Ridge.)
Enjoy strolling through the historic downtown. Have lunch at the Colonial Inn or my favorite, Main Street Market.
25 mile drive from Boston.
This is the site of the famous witch trials during Colonial America. 200 puritans were convicted of witchcraft and 20 were executed as witches. This frenzy died down as quickly as it started but became a cautionary tale famous throughout the United States. This colonial town still retains a lot of its colonial charm, and the entire town has embraced their spooky history.
Visit the Witch History Museum, Witch Dungeons, and the Pirate Museum (a favorite with my boys). Also in Salem is the House of Seven Gables of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story.
Be sure to go to a live performance of a Salem witch trial. They are fascinating to watch and help bring history to life.
16 mile drive from Boston.
Cape Ann includes the cities of Rockport, Glouster, Essex, and Manchester by the sea. This part of Massachusetts is known for fishing and shipbuilding. It is the USA’s oldest seaport and is still very much in use today.
Walk through the old fishing town of Rockport and peek into galleries and boutiques. Tour the Sleeper-Mcann house, an enormous mansion perched on the edge of Gloucester harbor. Visit Hammond Castle, a private residence built on a cliff. Enjoy the castle’s museum featuring an enormous pipe organ. Go to the beaches and collect seashells.
If you are a lobster lover, you will find some of the best lobster rolls I have ever eaten at Roy Moore Lobster.
Tip: If you want the feeling of Cape Cod without the long drive, you will really enjoy Cape Ann.
30 mile drive from Boston.
Plymouth Rock and Plimoth Plantation
Visit the site of the Pilgrim’s landing and see the famous rock. Then get ready to be immersed in the world of the Pilgrims at Plimoth Plantation. This recreation of a Pilgrim Village is a great place to see history enacted. The staff dresses as typical villagers and stay in character as they interact with the tourists. They are very well informed and entertaining.
Craft demonstrations and home tours make up most of the attractions. They are definitely geared toward families and children, but I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy an afternoon with the Puritans.
43 mile drive from Boston.
Tip: If you are planning on visiting Cape Cod this is on the way and great to do in conjunction with the cape. Cape Cod is where the Pilgrims actually landed first!
Cape Cod is a truly New England experience. Everyone who lives here has memories of the Cape as a child. It is truly the seaside of the entire region. One of the best things about Cape Cod is the variety of experiences you can have while you’re there.
You can go to the refined and built-up upper cape and have shopping, museums, antiques and more. You can go to the wilder and less developed lower cape and have undisturbed beaches, fish and chip joints, morning fishing boats, and flea markets.
Whichever way you choose, the salt air and breeze will make you feel like you are at your home away from home! For a much closer look at things to do in Cape Cod click here.
60 mile drive from Boston to the bridge to Cape Cod but another 55 mile drive to the very end of the cape.
Stockbridge and the Berkshires
Stockbridge was made famous by Norman Rockwell when he painted the classic picture “Main Street at Christmas.”
This quintessential New England town is set in the midst of the beautiful Berkshire mountains. This area is beloved by artists, outdoor enthusiasts, New Yorkers fleeing the city and music and theater appreciators.
Take a hike in the beautiful mountains, go to Tanglewood and listen to the Boston Pops, tour Hancock Shaker Village, visit the Norman Rockwell Museum, and visit Edith Wharton’s home.
I wrote a long article about the best things to see and do in the Berkshires so click here to read more.
Tip: Make sure to visit the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls on your way to the Berkshires from Boston.
120 mile drive from Boston.
Sturbridge Village is an open air museum in the same vein as Plimoth Plantation, but much bigger. It has been built to represent a typical New England Village in the early 1800’s. 59 building are spread across 200 acres where artisans show visitors how to bake bread in a fire, forge horseshoes, mill lumber, cobble shoes, send letters, spin wool, and throw pottery.
This is one of the best living history museums in New England and is frequented on school field trips by kids from all over the region. This is a great choice of a day trip for families.
Different events go on depending on the time of year, so be sure to check the calendar before you go. Read about visiting Sturbridge Village at Christmas.
Plan on 3-5 hours.
60 mile drive from Boston.
Day Trips to Maine
This seaside town was made famous as the summer home of the Bush family. Lobster boats come and go with their catches, sail boats dock in the marinas, and sunbathers flood Goose Rock Beach. This is one of the best examples of coastal New England.
Take a cruise on a lobster boat, tour a lighthouse, pick wild blueberries, and stroll up and down the charming streets. If it’s a nice day, spend some time at Goose Rock or Arundel beaches.
89 mile drive from Boston.
Portland is a foodie paradise! You will find some of the best restaurants Maine has to offer in Maine’s largest city. The cobblestone streets are flanked by boutiques, restaurants, and businesses and overlook a very busy port. You will be able to find seafood that was caught the day you eat it, pizza, Italian gelato, and so much more.
Enjoy window shopping in Old Port, check out the local music scene, tour Henry Longfellow’s house, and visit the Portland Art museum.
Make sure to check out lighthouses that dot the craggy coastline. Portland Head lighthouse is one of the most beautifully situated.
Tips: If you have a sweet tooth make sure to stop by Holy Donut and Gorgeous Gelato. Both are fabulous!
112 mile drive from Boston.
Day Trips to New Hampshire
This seaside town is very similar in style to Portland, Maine, but smaller and easily walkable. There are restaurants aplenty and lots of opportunities for shopping.
My favorite attraction, however, is the Strawberry Banke Museum. This museum is another living history museum, not unlike Plimoth and Sturbridge, but the time period it covers is the primarily the late 1600’s.
While you are there visit the USS Albacore Museum, a retired submarine. Or if your interests turn more to gardens, visit Prescott Parks formal gardens and enjoy their beautiful rose garden.
60 mile drive from Boston.
Tip: Portsmouth is on your way to Kennebunkport or Portland and you could easily combine it with one of the other towns.
Day Trips to Vermont
When people think about New England they are often only thinking of Vermont. When I think of Vermont, I think of Woodstock. It is the Vermont-iest town I know! Charm oozes out of every building and everyone is so friendly and welcoming.
Visit Sugarbush Farms to see cheese-making and then sample their many varieties of cheddar in a spectacular mountain location. Taste Cabot cheese at their store in the nearby town of Quechee. Stroll through the quaint downtown and stop in FH Gillingham and Sons general store. Go skiing at Suicide Six. Go on a covered bridge tour (there are three in Woodstock alone.).
I know this trip is a little far for a day trip, but it is doable and totally worth the gorgeous drive.
140 mile drive from Boston.
Day trips to Rhode Island
Newport’s history is that of a summer playground for NYC’s wealthy. The Vanderbilts, Rockefellers and the like all built fabulous summer “cottages” in this coastal town. These “cottages” are in fact mansions with square footage in the tens of thousands.
Tour the summer homes of wealthy families from the industrial revolution and marvel at the extravagance of these homes.
I recommend The Breakers if you only have time for one or if you are traveling with small children. (The audio tour has a kids tour that keeps young ones happily looking for things.)
In addition to the home tours, go on the cliff walk for gorgeous views of the Atlantic.
72 mile drive from Boston.
The capitol of Rhode Island has undergone a sort of Renaissance over the past decade. It is the 3rd largest city in New England and was known as a gritty, rough city for many years. But an exploding restaurant scene and massive rebuilding of a fairly abandoned downtown has made Providence a great place to visit.
Visit Roger Williams Park Zoo and enjoy the best zoo in New England. Take a tour of Ivy League college, Brown University, or attend one of their many events. Take a boat tour of Providence’s water ways (most leading through the beautiful downtown). If you go in the summer you can experience Water Fire, a unique art exhibit. 86 braziers are lit and make downtown glow as you stroll along the riverfront or ride down the river.
51 mile drive from Boston.
Day trips to Connecticut
Mystic is another seaport town that was very influential in shipbuilding for the region for hundreds of years. Today Mystic celebrates all things having to do with the sea.
Visit Mystic Aquarium to learn about sea life off the coast of New England. This is my kids favorite attraction in Connecticut! Visit Mystic Aquarium to learn about the shipbuilding history of the region and tour a seafaring village. Old Mistick Village is a recreated shopping town with interesting shops. My favorite is the Scandinavian store. Go to nearby Groton and see the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine and tour two of her compartments.
Get a bite to eat at famous Mystic Pizza. It was the inspiration for the movie Mystic Pizza and happens to have delicious food.
99 mile drive from Boston.
New Haven is famous for being the location of Yale University. But that’s not all it has going for it! It’s the cultural capital of Connecticut and a great mix of old world and modern New England town.
Take a free architectural tour of Yale University, hike the trails of East Rock Park, catch a free concert from Yale’s School of Music, visit one of two free art galleries and get the very best ice cream in the world at Arethusa Creamery.
Don’t miss out on New Haven’s award winning pizza! Visit my favorite, Pepe’s Pizza, and get the world famous white clam pie.
135 mile drive from Boston.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!
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