The climate in Massachusetts is classed as humid, with cold winters and warm summers. The climate of Boston is representative of the state, and there is frequent rain. In the winter there may be frost, even in coastal areas because of the prevailing winds.
Because of the colder winters, there is plenty of indoor activity. You will find that Massachusetts has more than its fair share of interesting art galleries and museums.
1. The Freedom Trail
This is a 2.5-mile trail which will lead you through various areas of Boston. It was decided in 1951 to construct a trail linking many local landmarks. This is a very popular walking trail, with over 40,000 people walking it every year.
You will pass things like the Old State House, Paul Revere House, and the Old South Meeting House, to name a few.
Depending on how fast you walk, and how often you stop, this may take you a full day.
2. Bunker Hill Monument
This monument was erected to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill. This was one of the first battles between Britain and the Patriot Forces and took place in June 1775.
The obelisk is 221-foot high and the granite came from Quincy. You may note that there are 294 steps to the top, should you want to climb it.
Right next to the Monument you will find some late 19th century houses, and here you can see a statue of the fallen hero. Dr Joseph Warren.
Allow yourself a day for this, as across the road there is a museum you may also visit.
3. USS Constitution
This ship is one of the oldest commissioned naval vessels which still floats. It was launched in 1797, one of six, and built in Boston, at the north end.
You may know the ship for her role in the war of 1812, and also remember her nickname of ‘Old Ironsides’.
You can see the ship free of charge and take the guided tour (also free) on any day of the year. You will find the ship berthed at Pier 1 in the Navy Yard.
4. Fenway Park
If you love baseball, then this should be on your list to see! You will find it in Boston, near Kenmore Square. This is the oldest ballpark in the MLB. The arena also hosts soccer, concerts, and hockey games, so be sure to check what is upcoming.
If you want to see a game, then you should book in advance.
5. Essex Shipbuilding Museum
You will find this museum in Essex. It houses historical displays about the history of wooden shipbuilding in that area. A notable point is that Essex built more wooden fishing boats than anywhere else in the USA.
You will be able to see some intricate ship models, as well as half hulls, antique building tools, and many interesting photos.
Allow yourself at least a half day to see this.
6. Plimoth Plantation
This plantation is in Plymouth, and it is a replica of the original settlement in the Plymouth Colony from the 17th century.
The recreations are based on historical documents and period paintings, with ongoing research and excavations carried on site.
Kids will find that this is a really fun way to learn about earlier times.
You will find that guides are dressed in period costume, and even speak in character, so you may have to speak slowly when you ask a question and listen carefully to the answer!
7. Harvard University
Harvard is the oldest university in the USA and has gained an international reputation for its top class academic research and study facilities. You will find it in Cambridge.
You can take a free tour of the facility as long as you are guided by a current student at the university.
Spend a little time in Harvard Square as there are plenty of coffee shops and book stores. Additionally, you will find several excellent museums on campus which you can visit.
8. Pilgrim Monument
You will find this monument in Provincetown. It was built between 1907 and 1910 and commemorates the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620. This is also where the signing of the Mayflower compact took place.
The monument is very popular with tourists who come to climb it. The view from the top is spectacular. You can see the town below.
If you are there at Christmas, you can enjoy the lights which are hung from top to bottom and are lit in November.
9. Boston Harbour
This harbour was used in the Colonial period as a shipping port. It was only renovated and made into a harbour in the 20th century.
There is a great walk named Harbour Walk, which is filled with beaches, parks, and many small cafes along the waterfront.
One of the most popular sections to be walked runs from South Boston to Charlestown. Here you will be able to see the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.
Allow yourself most of the day to enjoy the walk and the shops along the way.
10. Battleship Cove
This war museum is in Fall River and features the largest collection of WWII vessels in the world. You will also find the battleship USS Massachusetts here.
Allow yourself a full day to look around the area, there is a snack shop where you can get lunch.
Be sure to wear sturdy shoes as there is a lot of climbing up and down of ladders to get inside the ship.
11. Boston Common
This park marks the start of the Freedom Trail and is also the oldest park in the USA. There are many beautiful green spaces where you can take a picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery.
Look out for the historic burial ground, along with several other monuments.
If you see this in winter, you may be able to ice skate, but the spring is the best time when the park is at its best.
Be sure to check out the adjoining public garden, as this is the oldest botanical garden in the country.
12. Harvard Museum of Natural History
You will find this museum in the University of Howard. The collections comprise exhibits from the University herbaria, the Comparative Zoology, and the Mineralogy museum.
One admission fee will give you access to this museum, as well as the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, making it an inexpensive day out.
13. New England Aquarium
You will find this aquarium in Boston. There are over 20,000 marine animals for you to look at.
Look for the Caribbean sharks and turtles, as well as many crabs, which the kids can touch in the ‘Edge of the Sea’ tank.
You can also book a whale watching tour and pay a visit to the Imax theatre to see short films on nature.
Allow yourself a full day here. There is a café where you can get lunch or snacks.
14. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
You will find this in Boston, on Congress Street Bridge. Prepare to meet actors dressed in period costumes, as well as interactive exhibits and authentically restored tea ships.
Abigail’s tea room is well worth a visit when you need to take a break from the excitement, and the gift shop is crammed with delightful things to see and buy.
If you take the guided tour, it will last you about an hour, and is suitable for all ages.
15. See Cape Cod
This beautiful area has a shoreline of about 500 miles of white, sandy beaches. If you enjoy walking along the shore, then this is a perfect spot.
The beaches get busy in the summer months, but you can always find a secluded area. Because the whole coast is protected by the Cape Cod National Seashore you will find it unchanged since the 19th century.
This is a great place to take an RV and stay a few days while you explore the coastline.
16. The Mapparium
This is in fact the new Christian Science Publishing Society Headquarters which was built in 1930. It is a three story ‘inside out’ stained glass globe.
This is a three-dimensional perspective of the world where you can take an audio tour and see how ideas and geography have changes the world.
The library is also a great place to have a look at.
Allow yourself an hour or two to see the globe, although you may stay longer in the library.
17. Martha’s Vineyard
This is a small island just south of Cape Cod and is known for the affluency of the inhabitants. It is the 58th largest island in the USA.
An interesting point here is that the island was home to one of the first deaf communities in the country.
It is only accessible by boat or plane, and you can get either of these on the mainland.
This is somewhere that you will want to spend a day, although it can be expensive.
18. Witch House of Salem
The Salem Witchcraft trials took place from 1692 – 1693, with 185 people being accused of witchcraft. 59 were tried, 31 found guilty, and 19 executed. They were hanged.
The witch house is so named after one of the judges, also a local civic leader, Jonathan Corwin. The Witch House was his home and is now the only building still standing in Salem.
You may take the guided tour of the house, which is a good idea as you will not be on your own in the spooky rooms!
Perhaps this is not suitable for children!
19. Boston Public Library
The library was founded in 1848 and contains over23 million items in all formats such as CD’s, DVD’s, music scores, manuscripts, books, prints and manuscripts.
The library is free to the public, and you can browse around at your leisure. It is the 3rd largest public library in the USA.
There is a coffee shop where you can get a snack during the day.
20. The Old State House
You will find this historic building in Boston, at the intersection of Washington and State Streets.
This is one of the oldest buildings in the USA. It was built in 1713, and until 1798 was the seat of the General Court of Massachusetts.
You will also see this if you follow the Freedom Walk route as it is along the way. Take the guided tour, as you will learn much more than if you walk around by yourself.
21. Waldon Pond
This is found just outside Concord, which is 15 miles northwest of Boston. There are 1.7 miles of beautiful shore, and while it is not the largest or prettiest lake in the USA, it is a delightful place to take a picnic and spend a sunny afternoon.
An interesting point here is that back in the early 19th century when ice was invented, water from this lake was used because it tasted so good.
The lake is perfect for swimming, and has plenty of fauna and flora around it, so allow yourself a full day here to relax.
22. Forest Hills Cemetery
This is a cemetery with a difference, as it comes with a miniature village! The cemetery winds around a beautiful lake which is the perfect combination of man-made and natural structures.
Even the graves are adorned with sculptures and the mausoleums have wonderful architectural details to them.
The village was added in 2006, with each small building being a replica of the home of the person who is buried there.
Look out for the home of Ralph Martin – he was the wagon driver who died in one of the most unusual disasters in the history of Boston, which was the Great Molasses Flood.
It will take you a half day to look around here.
23. The Minute Man National Historic Park
This park indicates the route taken by the British during the American revolution. In the park you will find the North Bridge of Concord, which was the battle site between the Colonies and the British Army.
There is an excellent visitor’s centre where you can learn more about that era, and also see several artefacts from the war.
You will be able to see most of this in a half a day, although you may want to walk around the park, which is delightful.
24. Six Flags New England
You will find this amusement park in Agawam. It dates back to the 19th century and is the first of the parks in this chain, which you will find in several states.
The most notable ride is ‘Superman the Ride’, which has won every award in the Golden Ticket Awards Publication.
If you enjoy roller coasters and rides, then make sure to include this on your list of things to do.
Allow yourself a full day here, the park also offers two-day tickets, so you can return!
This is one of the most interesting shops in Boston! It is also one of the hardest to find.
The shop front is a convenience store on Clearway Street, and on entering you will think it no more than that. However, you need to head for the back of the shop and around the Snapple machine, when you will enter another world entirely.
Whether you are looking for jackets, shirts, or shoes, you will find the latest fashions here. Shelves filled with the most modern in sneakers and shoes, bags, and coats, this will simply blow your mind!