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20 Cool Day Trips From Boston

Cultural attractions and amusement parks are among the best day trips from Boston. Here are some of our favorites.

day trips from boston

Period actors recreate working in a general store for visitors in Old Sturbridge Village, MA.

(Photo: 1. Shutterstock EC / Jeff Schultes / Shutterstock.com)

Boston is a great place for day trips. The city is loaded with great restaurants and memorable attractions.

If you’re looking to get away from the city, however, there are also plenty of options for day trips from Boston.

A variety of amusement parks, museums and historic sites are within just a few hours of the city, offering something to pique just about anyone’s interest.

Here are some options.

Historic sites

The Breakers
44 Ochre Point Ave., Newport, R.I.
Time from Boston: About two hours, without traffic

Newport is a popular day trip from Boston and the Breakers is one of the city’s popular mansions offering visitors trips to the Gilded Age. The 70-room Italian-inspired structure was built in the late 19th century. While you’re in town, check out the city’s other mansions including Marble House, the Elms and Rosecliff.

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Hancock Shaker Village
1843 West Housatonic St., Pittsfield, Mass.
Time from Boston: About two and a half hours, without traffic

The Shakers were a religious group that flourished in the mid 19th century. The Hancock community was one of several nationwide. Today, the 750-acre village is a living history museum with 20 buildings and costumed interpreters that connect visitors with the story of the Shakers. Check out farm and garden tours, musical performances and laundry demonstrations.

The House of the Seven Gables
115 Derby St., Salem, Mass.
Time from Boston: About 40 minutes, without traffic

Also known as the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, The House of the Seven Gables is the oldest wooden mansion in New England. It was built in 1668, and visitors can explore it via guided tour. You can also check out Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace and a few seaside gardens overlooking Salem Harbor. Visit the Peabody Essex Museum while you’re on your day trip from Boston. It’s the country’s oldest continuously operated museum. Its collection spans American art and architecture, maritime art and Asian art, among other pieces, in addition to hands-on activities and performance spaces.

Old Sturbridge Village
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, Mass.
Time from Boston: About one hour and 15 minutes, without traffic

Old Sturbridge Village recreates early 19th-century life with more than 40 historic building spanning about 200 acres. See a sawmill in action, take a horse-drawn stagecoach ride and enjoy milking and musket firing demonstrations.

Plimoth Plantation
137 Warren Ave., Plymouth, Mass.
Time from Boston: About 50 minutes, without traffic

Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum that tells the stories of 17th century English settlers and members of the Wampanoag tribe. See a reproduced gristmill, a Native American village and a craft center. The Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the famous ship, has long been a popular exhibit at the museum, but it’s receiving a full restoration and won’t be back until 2019.

Strawbery Banke Museum
14 Hancock St., Portsmouth, N.H.
Time from Boston: About an hour and five minutes, without traffic

Strawbery Banke Museum has more than three dozen historic structures and several gardens that showcase life from the mid-17th through mid-20th centuries. Costumed interpreters representing shop owners, gardeners and immigrants help visitors immerse themselves in the experience.

day trips from boston

Six Flags New England Joker coaster (Dick Clintsman)

Amusement and water parks

Six Flags New England
1623 Main St., Agawam, Mass.
Time from Boston: About one hour, 45 minutes, without traffic

The coaster capital of New England is always adding new attractions, and always a good option for day trips from Boston. In 2017, the park introduced The Joker, a 4-D free fly coaster with two beyond-vertical drops. It complements some of the park’s long-popular thrill rides, like the heart-pumping Superman: The Ride or the Mind Eraser. In the summer, cool off with slides, pools and kids’ play areas at Hurricane Harbor Water Park, and, in the fall, stop by for spooktacular fun during Fright Fest.

Canobie Lake Park
85 North Policy Street, Salem, N.H.
Time from Boston: 45 minutes, without traffic

Canobie Lake Park is home to more than 85 rides, attractions and live shows. Enjoy carnival and arcade games like the ring toss, then try puzzle rooms introduced in 2017.

CoCo Key Water Park
50 Ferncroft Road, Danvers, Mass.
Time from Boston: 45 minutes, without traffic

Don’t let the chance of rain ruin your day at the water park. Instead, head to CoCo Key. The indoor water park is geared toward visitors ages 2 to 12 with attractions like an adventure river and body and raft slides. Guests can choose day passes or opt for overnight packages.

Edaville USA
5 Pine Street, Carver, Mass.
Time from Boston: One hour, without traffic

Edaville USA is a lot more than the fabulous holiday train ride that earned it notoriety. The park has a variety of rides for young visitors, and character visits on select dates. Its latest claim to fame is Thomas Land, an 11-and-a-half-acre area with Thomas & Friends themed attractions. Be sure to check out Dino Land as well, a walking trail with nearly two dozen life-size animatronic dinosaurs.

Lake Compounce
186 Enterprise Drive, Bristol, Conn.
Time from Boston: Two hours, without traffic

Lake Compounce celebrated its 171st season in 2017. This classic day-trip amusement park combines traditional attractions like bumper cars and a carousel with roller coasters and a free fall. Crocodile Cove has several water attractions perfect for a hot day, including a wave pool, a lazy river and a play area.

Santa’s Village
528 Presidential Highway, Jefferson, N.H.
Time from Boston: About three hours, without traffic

Santa’s Village has an obvious holiday tilt, but don’t let that discourage you from making it one of your day trips from Boston in summer or fall. Enjoy family friendly rides, shows and, in the summer, the HoHoH20 Water Park with slides and a splash pad. Feed some of Santa’s reindeer and meet the big guy himself.

Story Land
850 NH-16, Glen, N.H.
Time from Boston: About three hours, without traffic

Located in the scenic White Mountains, Story Land is a bucket list destination for families with young children and great for day trips from Boston. Rides geared toward kids between the ages of 2 and 12 complement fun shows, games and character visits. Cinderella, for example, celebrates every day at the park with an appearance before closing.

Museums

The Clark
225 South St., Williamstown, Mass.
Time from Boston: About three hours, without traffic

Not far from Massachusetts’ borders with Vermont and New York, the Clark offers guests a look at beauty through art and nature, a unique offering among day trips from Boston. Its collection includes European and American paintings, sculptures, photographs and other items from the Renaissance to the early 20th century. Visitors can also enjoy about 140 acres of manicured lawns and nature trails highlighting the scenic Berkshires.

Heritage Museums and Gardens
67 Grove St., Sandwich, Mass.
Time from Boston: About one hour and five minutes

Heritage Museums and Gardens combines the best of a few worlds. Guests can walk amid beautiful gardens displaying flowers, trees and shrubs, check out American folk art, ride a vintage carousel and get up close with antique American automobiles. Stop by Hidden Hollow, a play area for children, or explore the treetops with the Adventure Park at Heritage.

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, Mass.
Time from Boston: About two hours and 45 minutes, without traffic

You’ve never visited a place like Mass MoCA. The enormous facility, which consists of more than two dozen, 19th-century factories spread among 16 acres, houses a wide, ever-changing variety of contemporary art. In 2017, the museum celebrated completion of a renovation project that added 130,000 square feet of renovated space.

Mount Washington Observatory
2779 White Mountain Highway, North Conway, N.H.
Time from Boston: About three hours, without traffic

This might be a bit one of the longest day trips from Boston, but it’s worth an overnight. Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast, and it’s home to some of the world’s wildest weather. Learn about it at Extreme Mount Washington, an educational, hands-on exhibit in a mountaintop visitor center. You can reach the summit by foot (if you’re up for it), by car or the Mount Washington Cog Railway.

Mystic Seaport
75 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic, Conn.
Time from Boston: About two hours, without traffic

Mystic Seaport is a maritime museum dedicated to highlighting America’s seafaring history. It spans 19 acres and, along with a shipyard and a recreated village, it includes the oldest commercial ship in existence, one of more than 500 historic vessels among the museum’s 2 million artifacts. Mystic Aquarium is just a short walk away.

New Bedford Whaling Museum
18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, Mass.
Time from Boston: About one hour and 10 minutes, without traffic

“Moby Dick” may not exist were it not for Herman Melville’s time in New Bedford. The fact you can visit New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park should illustrate how integral whaling is to the city’s history. The museum is part of the park, and it’s dedicated to telling the story of mankind’s interaction with whales. If you make this one of your day trips from Boston, you’ll be able to check out whale skeletons, a scrimshaw collection and much more.

RISD Museum
20 North Main St., Providence, R.I.
Time from Boston: About one hour, without traffic

It’s no surprise that one of the nation’s best design schools has an awesome museum. The RISD Museum houses about 100,000 objects ranging from ancient art to textiles to decorative arts to prints, drawings and photographs. Admission is free on Sundays and from 5 to 9 p.m. the third Thursday of every month.

What are your favorite day trips from Boston? Tell us in the comments.

Comments
  • Karen C.

    Here are a few other great suggestions: The National Yiddish Book Center, 1021 West Street, Amherst, MA 01002, Tel. 413-256-4900. A wonderful cultural center focused on preserving Yiddish language books and film with over a million volumes. They show films, hold concerts, internships, have a gift shop – it’s a fabulously interesting place! While you’re in that neighborhood, check out the amazing Emily Dickinson Museum, 280 Main Street, Amherst, MA 01002, Tel. 413-542-8161. A superb place to visit with in-depth tours of Emily Dickinson’s home, her brother’s house next door. The tours are conducted by incredibly knowledgeable guides. If you like poetry and/or history, this is a wonderful place to visit. Finally, you should visit The Museum of Russian Icons, 203 Union Street, Clinton, MA 01510, Tel. 978-598-5000. This museum houses one of the largest collections of Russian icons in the world. There is a permanent collection, but there are also visiting collections, art classes, a gift shop, and a Russian Tea Room! A truly lovely place to visit.

    • Hi Karen!
      Those all sound amazing! The Emily Dickinson Museum has been on my to-visit list for years. Thanks for all the wonderful info. 😉

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