Massachusetts has a rich variety of sites that appeal to visitors. Best known perhaps are its many sites of great significance to the colonial and Revolutionary periods of American history. In the summer, the coastal area and the nearby islands draw thousands of people to its beaches. Boston itself has all the urban amenities one would expect from a classic American big city, from the arts, to fine restaurants, sporting events and museums.
If you are planning a trip to Massachusetts, here are just a few destinations you might want to consider:
* Fenway Park, Boston
Just nosing out Wrigley Field in Chicago by two years, Fenway is the oldest of the current Major League Baseball ballparks, having opened in 1912. Not just an old structure, but a uniquely quirky shaped structure with its famed “Green Monster”-the bizarrely high but bizarrely shallow left field wall-Fenway is a terrific place to enjoy a ball game and soak in the atmosphere. Even if you don’t go to a game, behind the scenes tours of the stadium are available.
* Freedom Trail, Boston
There are few cities as important as Boston in American history. The Freedom Trail is a self-guided walking tour of historically significant sites, two and a half miles if you walk the whole route, starting at the oldest public park in the country Boston Common, and ending in neighboring Charlestown at the Bunker Hill Monument.
The Trail includes a total of sixteen marked stops, including the centuries old Granary Burial Ground where Paul Revere is interred, the original 1635 site of the Boston Latin School which was the first public school in America, the Old South Meetinghouse where the Boston Tea Party was planned, and the house Paul Revere lived in from 1770 to 1800 which is the oldest surviving building in downtown Boston. Thirteen of the sixteen are totally free; three you can see free from the outside but must pay a small fee to tour the interior.
* Sam Adams Brewery, Boston
The name Sam Adams is nowadays probably associated more with beer than with the Founding Father and brother of our second President.
Located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, the Sam Adams Brewery offers guided tours every day but Sunday, taking you behind the scenes of the brewmaking process, and, yes, there are plenty of free samples.
There is no admission charge, beyond a suggested $2 donation that goes to charity.
Also in Boston, if you want to make it an all-booze themed day, why not stop by the former Bull & Finch Pub in the Beacon Hill District, now renamed Cheers after the television show it inspired?
* Harvard University, Cambridge
Ask the typical American what is the greatest university in the country, and aside from their own alma mater, the most common answer is likely to be Harvard. In fact, it would get more than its share of votes as the greatest university in the world.
Founded in 1638, Harvard is by a wide margin the oldest academic institution of higher learning in the Americas.
In addition to the usual college tours for potential incoming undergraduate and graduate students, Harvard offers free guided historical walking tours of its campus for visitors.
* Buckman Tavern, Lexington
Buckman Tavern on Bedford Street on Lexington Common is the location where the Minutemen met on April 19,1775 to await the arrival of British troops, the subsequent shots between the two marking the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
Restored in the 1920s by the Lexington Historical Society, the Tavern with its period furnishings looks very much as it would have looked on that fateful day. Tours are available, displaying such items as the actual front door from that day, with a bullet hole caused by a British musket ball.
Lexington is located just a half hour northwest of Boston.
* Martha’s Vineyard
Since the 1800s Martha’s Vineyard has had the reputation as the summer retreat for the “beautiful people” (or rich people anyway) of New England. Located to the south of Cape Cod, it is the largest island on the East Coast that is not connected to the mainland by tunnel or bridge. (Access is by ferry or plane.) With a year-round population of 15,000, and a summer population that can reach five times that, Martha’s Vineyard truly is a seasonal destination.
Enjoy wine tasting, biking, canoeing, sailing, windsurfing, and more during your time on the island.
With a cost of living 60% higher than the national average, and housing costs close to double the national average, to some extent it lives up to its reputation as a playground for the rich. But it is not impossible to enjoy Martha’s Vineyard without spending a fortune. Lodging ranges from the sky high to the tolerable. The same is true of restaurants. And certainly one can enjoy swimming, relaxing in the sun on one of the island’s picturesque New England beaches, or strolling through its quaint towns window shopping and people watching, and spend little or nothing.
* Plymouth Rock, Plymouth
Plymouth Rock is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States, as the 1620 landing site of William Bradford and the “Pilgrims” of the Mayflower. Probably more legend than history (the first written reference to the rock is well over a century after the Mayflower‘s arrival), the Rock is still a classic bit of Americana.
Over the years the Rock has been moved several times, and in fact has been split apart, with different parts of the Rock ending up in different places. The largest chunk today is at Pilgrim Memorial State Park, managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. From late May through Thanksgiving, park staff are present to provide information and answer questions about the Rock and area history.
* Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge
Located just off the Massachusetts Turnpike in south central Massachusetts, Old Sturbridge Village is a complex of indoor and outdoor museums set in a recreated 1830s New England village. The attractions and special events are too numerous to list in full, but they include Revolutionary War battle reenactments, gardening lectures, arts and crafts demonstrations, farm animals, fife and drum performances, agricultural exhibits, a day camp for children, stagecoach rides, ice harvesting demonstrations, and maple sugaring demonstrations. Clearly plenty for visitors of all ages.
* Worcester Art Museum, Worcester
At the outskirts of the Boston metropolitan area, about forty miles west of downtown Boston, Worcester is roughly tied with Providence, Rhode Island for the second most populous city in the New England states.
One of the main attractions in Worcester is the Worcester Art Museum, which houses over 35,000 works of art. Among the many highlights, the Museum’s exhibits include works by Cezanne, Gauguin, El Greco, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Renoir, and Van Gogh, as well as Asian and Greco-Roman art from the ancient world. The Museum also puts on classes for both adults and children.
The Worcester Art Museum is closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and major holidays. Admission is just $10 for adults, $8 for college students and seniors, and free for visitors 17 and under. There is a special Saturday morning bloc of time from 10 AM to noon where the admission charge is waived for everyone.
With these and many other attractions, Massachusetts will be an appealing destination for almost any traveler.
“Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.” BostonUSA.com.
“Massachusetts: It’s All Here.” MassVacation.com.
“Massachusetts Tourism.” MassachusettsBeautiful.com.