As much as I love my home city of Boston, MA, getting out of the city is always welcome. Luckily there are TONS of fun day trips from Boston available.
Check out these 35 delightful day trips from Boston for ideas on what you can do when you want to explore the rest of New England.
Be a kid for a day at Six Flags New England – 1 hour 40 min
Known as Riverside Amusement Park during my childhood, Six Flags New England is a large theme park that sits along the Connecticut River in Agawam, MA.
Six Flags New England boasts 12 roller coasters and a huge water park. There are also several live shows, a dance party, and Looney Tunes characters and Gotham City villains meet-and-greets.
Sail to the Boston Harbor Islands
While some of the Harbor Islands are technically still part of Boston proper, it’s very much out of the city life, so I just had to include it as a day trip from Boston!
Ferry service to the islands is available at the dock next to the New England Aquarium from late Spring to mid Fall.
Fares are reasonable, ranging from free to less than $20, depending on whether you’re an adult, student, member of the military, and so on.
Make your way to Georges Island to visit Fort Warren, a Civil War era fortress open to the public.
Or perhaps head to Brewster Island to tour the oldest lighthouse in the US.
Hiking, fishing, bird watching, and relaxing on the beach are popular activities for a day trip to the Boston Harbor Islands.
A few of the Boston Harbor Islands also offer camping (note: NOT glamping or modern camping!).
Spend a quiet day at Walden Pond in Concord, MA – 30 min
For an enjoyable, quiet day in nature, take a short drive out to Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord, MA.
American transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau famously spent 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days in a tiny cabin on Walden Pond and wrote a book about it: Walden.
Today, you can relax on the pond’s shore, go boating on the pond, and visit a replica of Thoreau’s cabin
Visit Lizzie Borden’s house in Fall River, MA – 1 hour
Fans of true life crime stories should hit up Fall River, MA, home of alleged murderer, Lizzie Borden.
Legend has it that Lizzie murdered her father and stepmother with an axe, but famously got away with it.
You can stay in the house where it all happened, as it now serves as a museum and bed and breakfast.
Catch a New England Patriots game – 40 min
Boston is NUTS for sports, especially when it comes to the King of Boston, Tom Brady, and his minions, the New England Patriots.
The New England Patriots play at Gillette Stadium, located out in Foxboro, MA.
Do yourself a favor and make it to at least one game if you’re here during NFL football season, which takes place between September and December.
To see when the next game is, check out the New England Patriots schedule.
Not a football fan? Right next to Gillette Stadium is Patriot Place, which is packed with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.
The fun also includes Splitsville Luxury Lanes bowling, Howl at the Moon piano bar, and a TopGolf Swing Suite.
Shop the outlets in Freeport, ME – 2 hours
Freeport has outlet shops set amid a quaint New England backdrop.
It is also home to the flagship store for preppy outdoor brand, L.L. Bean, maker of the uber popular duck boot gracing every New Englander’s feet in the colder months.
Visit the Rocky Neck Art Colony in Gloucester, MA – 50 min
Most people know Gloucester as a big fishing town, as it’s home to the reality show Wicked Tuna, as well as the inspiration for the movie The Perfect Storm, starring Mark Wahlberg and George Clooney.
Gloucester is an excellent day trip from Boston for families with many options for kid-friendly activities, such as whale watching, beach walks, an aquarium (Maritime Gloucester), and a medieval castle (Hammond Castle).
Gloucester is also home to the oldest art colony in the USA.
Yep, true story! The Rocky Neck Art Colony was established in the mid-1800s and is still kicking today.
The quirky and quaint colony is located on a peninsula and is full of art galleries, several restaurants, and a theater.
Spend a leisurely day at Hampton Beach, NH – 1 hour
New Hampshire doesn’t have much coastline, but what little exists is a popular spot for day trips from Boston. Hampton Beach, in particular, is the most popular.
Aside from the obvious benefits (sand, sun & water), Hampton Beach holds 2 popular events each year, the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival and the Hampton Beach Sand Sculpture Competition.
Hampton Beach also has a fireworks display every Wednesday evening during the Summer months.
Explore the great outdoors at Mount Tom State Reservation – 1 hour 40 min
During my more youthful years (aka my childhood), Mount Tom in Holyoke, MA, was a local place to go skiing when you were too lazy to drive to Vermont.
These days the ski resort is permanently closed, but the broader area, Mount Tom State Reservation, is still a popular place for cross country skiing, hiking, and mountain biking.
Mount Tom State Reservation also includes a playground, picnic tables, grills, and covered pavilions.
Have some family-friendly fun at Lake Winnipesaukee, NH – 2 hours
Lake Winnipesaukee is a popular vacation and day trip destination for families.
There are many towns surrounding the lake, located in central New Hampshire, but Gilford and Laconia are probably the easiest to get to from Boston for a day trip.
Aside from the typical beach and lake activities, there are tons of family friendly activities available, such as go-karting, zip lining, a tie dye activity shop, and the NH Motor Speedway.
Hit the beach (with minimal traffic) in Ipswich, MA – 1 hour
Want to hit the beach but don’t want to deal with Boston-area traffic? Crane Beach is where you want to go.
Take the MBTA Commuter Rail Newburyport line to Ipswich, then hop on board the Ipswich Essex Explorer to Crane Beach.
Getting to Crane Beach without a car is super convenient, not to mention cheap!
And who doesn’t like enjoying an adult beverage or two to cool down? No driving = safe to drink (responsibly, of course!).
Snag some great deals at the outlets in Kittery, ME – 1 hour
Growing up, I spent a lot of my school vacations in Bar Harbor, Maine.
The Kittery Outlets are located on the border of Maine and Massachusetts, so we’d often stop off on our way home to do some shopping.
The outlets are not in a single complex, which can be annoying since that makes it less walkable, but they are at least congregated to the same area.
Nonetheless, The Kittery Outlets always has good deals, so it’s worth the stop.
A few popular shops and outlets in Kittery include:
- Calvin Klein
- J.Crew Factory & Crew Cuts
- Kate Spade New York
- Lululemon athletica
- Nike Factory Store
For a complete list of shops, outlets, and restaurants in Kittery, check out this link.
Browse spectacular art outdoors at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum – 30 min
I have a special place in my heart for sculpture gardens. Sculpture gardens combine my love of weird art and the outdoors, after all.
One of the best sculpture parks near Boston is the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA, with over 60 sculptures spread out over 30 acres of beautiful grounds. The museum itself holds over 3400 works of art.
The sculptures and artwork at the deCordova Sculpture Park rotate out, so chances are high that repeat visits will be a new experience each time.
Spend a day a Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA – 45 min
Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea is one of my favorite beaches in Massachusetts.
The sand at this super family-friendly beach squeaks when you walk on it, hence its name!
Although it is a public beach, it is not free to visit during the Summer season (mid-June through Labor Day) . A single day visit costs $7 and a “season pass” is available for $20.
Kick back at Foxwoods Casino – 1 hour 40 min
Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, CT, is known for its nightlife options, but also has a softer side with a spa and a golf course.
The variety of activities available at Foxwoods makes it a great destination for group day trips from Boston for celebrations such as bachelorette parties or girls’ getaways.
Oh and before I forget – they have their own outlet mall. An entire outlet mall! Who doesn’t love shopping at a discount?
Learn more about the US Revolutionary War at Minute Man National Park – 30 min
If you are interested in studying the Revolutionary War, head to Concord or Lexington, MA. Both towns, along with Lincoln, MA, are home to Minute Man National Historical Park.
Minute Man National Historical Park is a nationally protected park that includes the site of the Battle of Lexington.
You can also walk the 5-mile Battle Road Trail between Concord and Lexington. I recommend visiting between Spring and Fall to take advantage of the living history program to help learn the story of this important site of the Revolutionary War.
Also of interest in Concord are the tombs of many famous authors, such as Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. All of these authors are buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord.
You can also visit The Wayside, which was once home to Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne, at separate times.
Interested in more military history travel? Check out these destinations, all in the USA.
Go bird watching at Plum Island’s Parker River National Wildlife Refuge – 1 hour
Plum Island is a small island off the coast of Newburyport, MA on the north shore area of metro Boston. Located on Plum Island is the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, over 4600 acres of conservation land.
Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is a popular spot for birdwatching. Over 300 species of birds can be found there, such as piping plovers, saltmarsh sparrows, and blue herons.
As this is a national wildlife refuge, it is part of the US National Park network and your America the Beautiful Pass can be used for admission.
Otherwise, admission is $5 per car or $2 per bicycle. Season passes that cover entry for only the refuge are available for $20.
Tour historic mansions in Newport, RI – 1 hour 30 min
Newport is a small town on the coast of Rhode Island. It is well-known for its historic mansions, many of which are open to the public for tours. They are absolutely astounding!
It also has several nice beaches, though some are quite loud thanks to the day clubs at a few of the on-shore bars. So if you’re looking for a beach day, I recommend other areas in New England if the club scene is not for you.
Chill out in Northampton, MA – 1 hour 45 min
Northampton is a funky town in western Massachusetts known for its arts scene, as well as its thriving LGBT community.
It is home to the Northampton Independent Film Festival, the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum, multiple art galleries, and indie music halls.
While you’re there, be sure to stop by Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, my favorite New England-based candy shop. I recommend the chocolate covered Oreos and chocolate covered fresh fruit (if they have ’em!).
Have some fun in the Sun in Old Orchard Beach, ME – 1 hour 40 min
Old Orchard Beach is on the southern coast of Maine. It’s a popular spot for a beach day trip outside of Massachusetts.
The beaches in Old Orchard Beach can be quite busy during the summer, but there are lots of fun activities nearby, like mini golf and a small theme park.
Learn about the Wampanoag Native Americans and the 1st non-native colony in the US at Plimouth Plantation – 50 min
Plymouth is home to the first colony of non-native settlers of the US. In Plymouth, you can visit a variety of historically significant buildings and museums.
One such spot is Plimoth Plantation, a reenactment village of the US first non-native colony. You can also visit the Mayflower II, a replica of the original ship that carried the non-native settlers, as well as Plymouth Rock, the alleged spot where the Mayflower landed.
New in 2019 is the Wampanoag Homesite, a living history experience that provides the Native American counterpart to Plimoth Plantation.
ALL of the people that reenact at the Wampanoag Homesite are Native American (though not all specifically of the Wampanoag).
Not only can you learn about Wampanoag life in the past, you can also learn about native life in the current age. It’s a great, and long overdue, addition to Plimoth Plantation.
Fill your belly in Portland, ME – 1 hour 45 min
Portland, ME has a thriving food scene that is well worth a visit. It’s doable in a day trip, but definitely makes for a great weekend getaway or even a longer trip.
One place you have to hit up at least once is The Holy Donut, which specializes in donuts made from potatoes. Yes, potatoes.
The Holy Donut has 2 locations in Portland and 1 in Scarborough, ME.
OTTO Pizza is another favorite of mine. They have a pizza made with mashed potatoes (I swear I eat more than potatoes!), scallions, and bacon that is to die for.
Another delicious combo OTTO Pizza serves up has butternut squash, ricotta, and cranberries. It’s like an American Thanksgiving dinner on a pizza. YUM!
For something a little more formal than pizza and donuts, check out Central Provisions. I’m a sucker for tapas because it’s a great way to try multiple dishes.
Central Provisions definitely knocks it out of the park with their tapas menu, which includes delicious ingredients like raw oysters, roasted peaches, and suckling pig (not all together, obviously).
Fill your belly some more in Portsmouth, NH – 1 hour
Portsmouth, NH is another small New England coastal town with a bustling food scene.
Pop on over to Portsmouth Book & Bar for a new novel and a coffee or craft beer. Hungry? They have food too!
For food-baby worthy comfort food, check out Cure. Cure’s menu is filled with classic dishes with a fancy twist. Think mac n cheese with lobster or pork chops with a honey-chipotle glaze.
Another interesting twist? The kitchen at Cure is open, so you can watch the executive chef and her team cook up a storm.
Take a quick ski trip to Wachusett Mountain – 1 hour 15 min
If you’re jonesing to go skiing but don’t want to deal with the long drive to the ski resorts in Vermont, take a day trip to Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, MA.
Wachusett offers both day and night trails, and can create their own snow, so there’s no need to wait for a decent snowstorm to hit it up.
The best part? You can take the MBTA commuter rail Fitchburg line to get to Wachusett Mountain!
During the ski season, Wachusett Mountain also provides a free shuttle to the ski area on the weekends.
During the warmer months, Wachusett Mountain hosts a handful of fun events, such as a kids day camp, a food truck festival, and 2 craft beer festivals.
Head south for a nice change of pace in Providence, RI – 1 hour
Providence, RI can be reached by car, MBTA, or coach bus. It has a growing foodie scene, as well as a fun arts scene.
Providence is well known for its waterfront entertainment and social district.
During the summer months, WaterFire Providence organizes tons of events, music, vendors, a fire sculpture installation, and more.
Lastly, Providence is also home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. So stop by to meet Andy Roddick, not at all guaranteed.
Ok, but really, if you’re tennis fan, stop by to check out all the fun historical artifacts, as well as their immaculate indoor and outdoor (grass!) tennis courts.
Anything goes in Provincetown, MA
While Provincetown is part of Cape Cod, it deserves its own section. I couldn’t leave you hanging without telling you more about this adorable town.
Provincetown is so lovely that my paternal grandparents made it their home for many years, up until their passing.
Located at the tip of the Cape, P-town, as it is affectionately called, is a summer haven for the LGBT community. It also has a robust Portuguese community (read: mouthwatering fooooood).
Provincetown is full of tasty seafood restaurants, funky coffee shops, ice cream bars, locally owned gift shops, and beautiful art galleries.
And given its shore location, there are plenty of beaches for fun in the sun. Lastly, P-town is a prime spot for whale watching, as well.
If you’re looking for more things to do while in Provincetown, check out my post on things to do in Cape Cod.
Get spooked out in Salem, MA – 40 min
Salem, MA is one of my favorite towns in all of Massachusetts. It’s a small suburb of Boston, but it’s a ton of fun.
This quaint coastal town is full of fun shops (including those of the supernatural variety), museums, historical sites, and restaurants.
Salem, along with nearby Danvers, is the site of the Salem Witch Trials. So naturally Salem is home to one badass month-long Halloween party. Just go!
Check out my itinerary for an October Weekend in Salem if you need ideas on how to make your trip the best.
Day trips from Boston to Springfield, MA – 1 hour 30 min
Springfield is a small city not far from where I grew up. To be honest, it was nothing exciting growing up, or so I thought.
In recent years, there has been a lot of activity to revamp the city into a travel destination.
So to make up for my childhood indifference for this great city, check out these 4 fun things to do in Springfield, MA.
Hit up the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Did you know that basketball was invented in Springfield, MA? Yep, it totally was! James Naismith, a Canadian teacher, invented it while teaching in Springfield.
Anyway, it should be no surprise that the biggest year-round attraction in Springfield is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, located right off of Interstate 91.
Play at one of the largest city parks in the US
Forest Park, one of the largest city parks in the US, is another fun place to hangout. There are several playgrounds, a public pool, sports fields, a rose garden, duck ponds, easy hiking trails, and more.
During the Winter holiday season, Forest Park is transformed into Bright Nights, a nighttime drive-thru attraction with lights displays depicting pop culture figures, winter scenery, local companies, and pop culture icons.
Introduce your little kid(s) to The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss
In 2017, The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum opened and is proving popular with families that have small kids.
As one would expect, it is full of fun and quirky interactive exhibits that will keep kids occupied and happy.
Drop a dollar or 2,000 at MGM Springfield
Lastly, in 2018, MGM opened its newest casino resort, MGM Springfield.
MGM Springfield is home to a casino, venue hall, bars, restaurants, and a luxury movie theater.
Learn about 1800s New England at Old Sturbridge Village – 1 hour
Sturbridge, MA is a teeny tiny town in Massachusetts, but it is a place I visited many times growing up.
This is thanks to Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum that depicts life in New England in the 1830s.
At Old Sturbridge Village, you can see replicas of homes, businesses, churches, and even a farm from the early 1800s.
Live demonstrations are another highlight at Old Sturbridge Village. Demonstrations include shoemaking, cabinet making, printing, musket firing, and much more.
Lastly, Old Sturbridge Village has several pretty nature trails for exploring. River boat horse-drawn carriage rides are also available.
Catch a concert at Mohegan Sun Casino – 1 hour 50 min
Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT, is often rated by many as the #1 casino in the US.
While I’m not a frequent traveler to casinos, I can definitely see why. Mohegan Sun is known for its amazing entertainment schedule, with acts like Ed Sheeran and DJ Khaled in recent months.
They also own a WNBA team, the Connecticut Sun, which plays at their own sports arena. Connecticut’s professional lacrosse team, the Black Wolves, also plays at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
A third reason to love Mohegan Sun is its variety of restaurants. My top pick is Connecticut’s favorite pizza establishment, Frank Pepe’s, which serves the most amazing pizza with super fresh ingredients.
Slurp the best oysters you’ll ever have in Wellfleet, MA – 1 hour 50 min
Wellfleet is known for its eponymous oysters, one of the most popular types of oysters unique to the east coast US.
Stop by The Wicked Oyster or one of Wellfleet’s many seafood restaurants for a taste of these famous oysters.
Wellfleet is located in the Outer Cape, so if you’re not up for heading out to Wellfleet just for oysters, combine it with a day trip to another fun Outer Cape town, Provincetown, MA.
Shop til you drop in Wrentham, MA – 40 min
Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is a popular outlet mall in Massachusetts. It can be a bit confusing to get to from Boston, so don’t rely on Google Maps to get there. I’m sure you can guess how I know.
Aside from that, the store selection is pretty good, so it’s still worth the trip out from Boston. Stores at the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets include:
- Disney Outlet
- Lucky Brand
- Ted Baker London
- Vineyard Vines
For a full list of shops at this outlet, check out the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets stores list.
What are your favorite day trips from Boston?
So next time you visit Boston, which day trips will you work into your itinerary? Be sure to let me know below in the comments!
P.S. If you’re looking for more ideas on what to do while you’re here, check out my post on the best things to do in Boston.
This post was originally published on August 17, 2017. It was most recently updated on June 5, 2019.