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Visiting Massachusetts Travel and Vacation Guide - Restaurants, Shopping, Attractions, Where to Stay

The famous Motif #1 Red Fish Shack in Rockport, Massachusetts.
The famous Motif #1 Red Fish Shack in Rockport, Mass.

Welcome to Massachusetts, affectionately known as "The Bay State"! Massachusetts has it all when it comes to top-of-the-list United States travel. Whether it's swimming in a Cape Cod ocean, hiking in the Berkshires, visiting the "Hub of the Universe" known as Boston, taking a nice country drive through the Quabbin Reservoir area, or visiting the great little towns and villages with a deep sense of history, one could live in Massachusetts a lifetime and not get to experience every special aspect of this special state. Oh, and let's not forget all the great seafood restaurants (including "lobstah" and "chowdah," of course!), the countless family-friendly attractions and wonderful local mom and pop and outlet shopping opportunities. For a small state, Massachusetts surely jam packs an astonishing amount of things for the visitor to see and do.

If you are an experienced Massachusetts traveler or future first-time visitor, we have many excellent trip suggestions as well as oceans of detailed, local online storytelling to share with you now.. Enjoy visiting Massachusetts!

Featured Massachusetts Road Trip Stories and Photos

Massachusetts Vacation and Day Trip Blog Posts

More ideas on things to do in the Bay State from The Thrifty New England Traveler and New England Travel and Food Photo blogs

Visiting Massachusetts and The Memories Instantly Made

A few personal thoughts of Massachusetts from the publisher of VisitingNewEngland

Horseneck Beach, Westport, Mass.
Horseneck Beach, Westport, Mass.

by Eric Hurwitz

Although one of the smaller states in New England, Massachusetts is packed with many things to do for the tourist, perfect for repeated vacations. The most obvious starting point is Boston. From the European leanings of Newbury Street to the festive shops and restaurants at Fanueil Hall, Boston is truly the "Hub of the Universe." With over 40 academic institutions, the magnificent Boston Common with masterful flower gardens, fine harbor views, world class restaurants, the Italian-flavored North End, some fascinating museums, the historic Freedom Trail, and a compact layout tailor made for walking, Boston deserves an extended visit.

Boston Public Garden in Boston, Mass.

Boston Public Garden.

Cape Cod is a famous tourist destination, now more built for year-round enjoyment -- why deny yourself to its charm just one or two seasons of the year? Cape Cod has three distinct personalities -- the commercial-laden miniature golf, motels, hotels, candle shop mania on sectors of Route 28 in and around Hyannis; the salt-air, tree-lined Route 6A hugging the ocean with its captain's homes, fine New England restaurants and charming bed and breakfasts; and the barren, expansive beaches found at the Cape Cod National Seashore Park in towns like Eastham, Truro and Welfleet. What that means is there are so many things to do for everyone within this famed 70 mile stretch. 

Chatham, Mass. (Cape Cod)

Chatham, a beautiful Cape Cod town.

For those who say Cape Cod isn't what it used to be, trip-back-in-time towns like Yarmouthport, Chatham and Brewster give us the vision of true Cape Cod. For those who say Cape Cod is too boring, Hyannis, Falmouth and Yarmouth offer endless retail and nightlife possibilities. The bottom line is that there are sandy, warm water (for New England) beaches, enough so that you can find your own spot, enjoy the glorious moment, and start your trip planning to this famed vacation land And that certainly includes the picturesque and often pristine environs of the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket with plenty of shops, restaurants and open spaces.

Nantucket, a beautiful island in Massachusetts.


The Berkshire Hills make for another top-notch Massachusetts tourist destination. With over 90 lakes and 90,000 acres of recreational land (golf, skiing, parks, etc.) within 45 miles north to south, the Berkshire Hills are a favorite amongst Bostonians and New Yorkers. Home of the famed Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, Mass., the Berkshires appeal to vacationers with its rolling hills, farmland, all-American, Norman Rockwell-type Main Streets (Stockbridge, Great Barrington, North Adams, West Stockbridge, Lee to name a few). North Adams, in particular, has enjoyed a wonderful turnaround, going from dumpy factory town to a charming tourist destination with interesting shops set to beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Mount Greylock serves as the region's official mountain, actually being the highest point in Massachusetts at 3,491 feet. At Mt. Greylock, the dramatic and rather scary Hairpin Turn affords views of Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire. The Berkshire may not have the spectacular mountains of the nearby Green Mountains, of Vermont, but what it does have is true vacation appeal, courtesy of the lovely, gentle, unspoiled towns.

Hairpin Turn in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.
Hairpin Turn in the Berkshires.

Massachusetts may have these major vacation destinations, but what really makes this one of New England's best states are the small towns and villages that give this compact state its true flavor. Towns like Petersham, Templeton, Westminster, Rutland, Barre, and West Brookfield in the middle and northern part of the state have no pretension or excessive development, just a lot of nice old homes, village greens and farmland that just goes to show that beyond the Boston suburbs begins the predominant rural character of Massachusetts. Especially nice is Quabbin Reservoir in the center of Massachusetts, where one can find a truly natural setting and capture perfect solitude, save an occasional eagle flying by.

Quabbin Reservoir, Western Massachusetts,
Quabbin Reservoir.

On the more well known end, a stroll through historic Concord, including a peaceful stroll around Walden Pond (Henry David Thoreau's former home), or a day at a beach on the North Shore (Rockport, Gloucester, Ipswich, Manchester-By-The-Sea, Newburyport) are a few more ideas to get your Massachusetts vacation kicking into high gear.

Downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Downtown Newburyport.

Eric Hurwitz, editor and publisher of VisitingNewEnglandWe encourage you to "travel Massachusetts" through our library--at Visiting New, native New Englanders bring you the best in New England vacation planning and travel information with detailed essays, reviews, tips and resources. We hope you enjoy browsing our Massachusetts travel library and hope to see you travel New England soon.

Happy travels,
Eric at VisitingNewEngland

Massachusetts Travel and Vacation Articles from VisitingNewEngland and The Thrifty New England Traveler

Nantasket Beach, Hull, Massachusetts
Nantasket Beach, Hull.

Find great local destinations, attractions at our Best of New England Travel Lists section

The 9 retro road trip wonders in the Bay State

Wicked fun Boston vacation and travel ideas

Book now your 2017 Memorial Day Weekend Cape Cod hotel vacation

Discover great Bay State towns and cities in the Best New England towns and cities article

Experience local family fun things to do in the Best New England Attractions article

Find the best classic diners in the Bay State through the Best Diners in New England book

How to enjoy a  town common

Is there really a better, eat-in-the-rough seafood shack than Woodman's of Essex in Essex?

5 Choice adjectives for Salem

Horseneck Beach in Westport: A Great Family Beach

Where to find the best fried clams

40 reasons to visit Lexington and Concord

Newburyport: one of New England's most beautiful small coastal cities

Hager's Farm in Shelburne commits to almost entirely locally sourced food and drink

The Big E in West Springfield is one of the great state fairs in the northeast

See which apple orchards in the Bay State made the Best of New England list

Visit great local ice cream stands mentioned the Best Ice Cream Stands in New England article

The Best Seafood Restaurants in New England post reveals some amazing Bay State restaurants

Local seafood shacks mentioned in The Best and Biggest Lobster Rolls in New England article

Find out which MA country stores are mentioned in the Best Country Stores in New England story

Recommended amusement and theme parks in the Bay State, New England

Old-fashioned independent movie theaters

Small towns in MA that would look great in a Hallmark movie

Walk the boardwalk, enjoy waterfront dining at Marina Bay in Quincy

Colonial New England spotlight: Historic Deerfield

Jake's in Northampton and North Amherst specialize in 70+ varieties of homemade hash

Nostalgic joys at the Wayside Country Store in Marlborough

A visit to the historic Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley

Downtown Hudson experiences a wonderful transformation

Visiting the Cannoli Counter at Eataly Boston

Love staying at historic inns? Try Concord's Colonial Inn

Rating the best supermarket chains

Cape Codder Resort and Great Wolf Lodge feature indoor water parks, John Carver Inn a theme pool

Fall fun: Big Apple Farm in Wrentham

Simpler times found in downtown Wrentham

Celebrate at Christmas festivals and events in the Bay State

Magical Christmas scene at the Taunton Green Historic District

Festive local Christmas scenes and as a bonus, the best Hallmark Christmas movies ever

Old North Bridge in Concord is a revolutionary travel destination

An unforgettable walk through Concord

Is Franklin one of the best places to live in the USA?

Jake's in Northampton and Amherst specialize in 70 varieties of homemade hash

Fall sunsets, spring rainbow at Willett Pond in Walpole

Small towns treasures discovered in historic Harvard

A section of the Charles River you probably never thought existed

Take a tour of great Boston neighborhoods

New Bedford Whaling Museum offers a whale of a good time

What makes Plymouth America's hometown?

Best colonial-style traditional restaurants

Faneuil Hall is a centerpiece of Boston travel

How to easily book a room at the lowest rate in Boston

Cape Cod summer family attractions

Why Chatham is the best Cape Cod town

New Bedford Whaling District filled with history cobblestone charm

Fairhaven: small town coastal appeal in the fall

Kimball Farm in Westford is not just an ice cream stand -- it's a destination

How to enjoy a vacation in the Berkshires

Gloucester: not your typical coastal vacation destination

The Swan Boats of Boston is a beloved local summer family travel attraction

Explore quaint downtown Walpole

Hidden Hopedale is a small, quaint town with big time history

Montague Bookmill in Montague: hard to find, worth the drive

How a pair of broken eyeglasses led to a new vision of visiting Plainville

Visiting the classic, historic Country Store in Petersham

Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield features charming historic dining and delicious local fare

Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury offers a classic traditional New England dining experience

Classic old-fashioned New England doughnut shop: Country Kitchen Donuts in Walpole

Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield, an oasis in a Boston suburb

What to expect beyond the Leaning Tower of Pizza at Prince Pizzeria in Saugus

Lobster rolls, fried clams plates and roast beef highlight Kelly's Roast Beef at Revere Beach

Regina Pizzeria in the North End of Boston serves incredible brick oven pizza

Quaint North Easton abounds with small town history

The nice feeling of being in Millis

1761 Old Mill in Westminster might just be one of New England's most scenic restaurants

SPoT! in Norwood: bagel shop, old-time soda and candy store under one roof

Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls features hundreds of flowers on a former trolley bridge

West Brookfield offers a wonderfully quaint, small town New England travel experience

Surprise! There's an authentic country store not too far from Boston.

Why do you love Nantucket?

Four town commons perfect for the fall season

See commanding views at the Hairpin Turn in the Berkshires

Salem Willows and FarmCoast mentioned in the 6 Great Hidden Gem New England Travel Destinations article

7 Best Independent bookstores in the Bay State

Exploring Historic Deerfield

Walking through underrated downtown Greenfield

6 easy day trips from Boston to quaint country stores

Halibut Point in Rockport: a spectacular scenic coastal destination

Nuns at Wrentham monastery make, sell handmade chocolates

Wilson's Department Store in Greenfield: one of the last family owned and operated departments stores in the USA

Why you should walk in Williamstown

Traveling on a budget to Plymouth

Take a free tour of the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston

Salem Haunted Happenings: scary good fun in October

Free and inexpensive museum admission in the Boston area

Turner Pond in Walpole offers outdoor pond skating, cozy fireplaced lodge

World's End in Hingham; an amazing coastal walk not too far from Boston

Fall apple picking, year-round country store, apple dumplings highlight Brookfield Orchards in North Brookfield

12 great budget travel ideas for Concord

America's pastime shines at a Cape Cod League Baseball game

Onset Village: a Cape Cod beach town alternative

The five best Cape Cod beaches

Enjoy a Fenway Park tour

Visit Nantucket on a budget

Why the Boston Public Garden should be on your Boston trip planning list

See 4 world class Boston attractions at a huge discount

6 low key things to near near Boston

Cabot's, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in Boston

Family ice skating at the Boston Frog Pond

Tour the Freedom Trail in Boston

Nantasket Beach on a family budget

Bird Park in Walpole is simply beautiful

Funny fiction story...

Read the adventures of Caped Cod, not your average superhero fish

From Cape Cod to the Berkshires, book a room and get a great rate

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Relax and stay for a while: Start with our navigation links and also our articles on the best New England towns and cities, hidden travel destinations, scenic drives, seafood restaurants and lobster shacks, lobster rolls, ice cream stands, and country stores, as well as our New England summer, fall, winter and spring sections. Then take a fun online journey on VisitingNewEngland to read the rest of our articles for your trip planning needs!

VisitingNewEngland's small business commitment to excellence: is a proud, small business based in New England. We love it when one of our articles helps you with your New England vacation and travel trip planning! That's what we are here for: to serve you in the most genuine, helpful way possible.

Old-fashioned New England work ethic: All articles, photos by Eric Hurwitz unless otherwise noted. Eric also manages the site's layout and design, social media, and public affairs.

All this, and blogs too! Also, please check out our authentic, informative and entertaining New England travel blogs with original content: The Thrifty New England Traveler (New England travel ideas on a budget), The New England Travel and Vacation Gazette (more original New England travel articles), and Old School Boston (warm memories of Boston and New England from back in the day).

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