Things to Do in Massachusetts From A to Z
Massachusetts is full of resources and places to explore for families of all sizes and ages. While I have written about a variety of specific activities, like what to do after dark or places to go around town, here is a list of activities and destinations from A-Z!
A – Art Galleries. The most notable is the Museum of Fine Art in Boston and the new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston’s Waterfront District. But taking a stroll down the quaint streets of Boston’s South End, will lead you to art shops and antique stores. With the little cafes that you will encounter along the way, a stop for a scone and cappuccino will add to the sophistication factor. And don’t forget to check out the SoWa Open Market during the summer.
B – Boston Common. Once a cow pasture, it is now a fun place to hang out on a sunny day. Take stroll through the Public Garden, ride on the Swan Boats or splash in the fountains, (skate on the Frog Pond in the winter), or stop by a street vendor for a hot dog and find a bench to enjoy the great pastime of people watching.
C – Cape Cod. Whether it is the beaches or the clams, Cape Cod is a destination for residents and visitors alike. Take a bike ride along the Cape Cod Canal. A 8 mile path that winds along the canal, which separates the mainland from the Cape. Benches are at regular intervals for rest and relaxation and there are picnic facilities too.
D-Drive-Ins. While Massachusetts used to have a dozen of drive-in movie theaters, there are a couple that still remain open and are worth experiencing!
E – Emerald Necklace. Of course, it is not a real necklace, but it got its name because of its shape. It is made up of 10 different parks and is about seven miles long. It is perfect for a bike ride or walk. Take time to stop at the Arnold Arborteum or Jamaica Pond.
F – Farms. There are a variety of fantastic farms all around Massachusetts; Natick Organic Farm, Belkin Lookout Farm or Verrill Farm, to name a few, with a variety of activities and events throughout the year. In the fall, many of the farms are big destinations for one of Massachusetts’ most notable autumn activities: apple picking! But don’t forget about the great farmers markets at a variety town commons during the spring and summer too.
G-Curious George. Boston is home to the world’s only Curious George store. There are books, toys and clothes – all themed of course, and there are free story times too. It is a must see, even it is just for the one-of-a-kind factor.
H-Historic Places. This state is ripe with history. Start off in 1620 and visit Plimoth Plantation and the Mayflower. Travel to north to Salem and experience life in the late 1600s. Follow the trail from Boston to Lexington & Concord to get a feel of history in the 18th century. Then keeping going west to reenact life in the 1800s at Old Sturbridge Village.
I-Islands. Everyone knows of the famous Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket off the coast of mainland Massachusetts. But the Boston Harbor Islands are often overlooked and often easier and cheaper to get to from many places. There are a lot of fun events throughout the year, and it is a great place to see the Boston skyline.
J-Jacobs Hill. These two miles of trails track the ridgeline of Jacobs Hill, and you can see amazing views of Tully Mountain, Mount Grace, the Berkshire Hills, and a variety of mini-waterfalls. While a stunning hike all year-long, it is especially spectacular during the fall foliage season.
K-Kites. There are several great places to fly a kite, but these are actually KONE club (Kites Over New England) tested and kiter-approved locations in Massachusetts: Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA, Danehy Park at Fresh Pond, Cambridge, MA, Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester, MA, Millenium Park, West Roxbury, MA, Nahant Beach, Lynn, MA, Nantasket Beach, Hull, MA, Pope John Paul II Park, Dorchester, MA, Race Point Beach, Provincetown, MA, Revere Beach, Revere, MA, and Salisbury Beach, Salisbury, MA.
L-Land-Ho! Which is what a sailor shouts when announcing sight of land. You can do it too on your way back from one of the many Whale Watching Tours that Massachusetts has to offer. Check out Cape Ann Whale Watch,Newburyport Whale Watch and Atlantic Yankee Whale Watch & Deep Sea Fishing on the North Shore. In Boston, don’t miss Mass Bay Lines Whale Watch and the New England Aquarium Whale Watch. Drive South of Boston, and hop onto one of Capt. John Boats. Keep driving over the Bourne or Sagamore Bridge to Cape Cod and have fun on either the Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruisers or Sheerwater Excursions. For a special kid boat adventure, don’t miss a pirate-themed excursion in Plymouth, MA.
M-Museums. From the Children’s Museum in Boston, Easton, Mashpee and Acton, to more grown up museums like the Museum of Science, there are dozens to explore all around Massachusetts from ships to art, and basketball to native americana.
N-Newbury Street. A great destination for fine shopping and dining. Just steps from the Boston Common, you can find everything from hip chain retailers, sophisticated spas, trendy restaurants, and one-of-a-kind shops. A favorite stop is JP Licks for some fantastic ice cream.
O-Oceans. Since a majority of Massachusetts’ border is on the ocean, take the time to explore the amazing beaches from Cape Ann to Cape Cod. To find out which beaches have food, to which ones have parking, check out this website for details.
P-Painting. There is a new place called Palettes, in a little Metrowest town called Natick. Opened in 2012, it was the creation of three local artists who wanted a space where anyone, regardless of artistic talent, could paint. Whether it is a ladies night out, or family paint afternoon, each class is structured around a painting theme led by a local artist. At the end of the event, you walk out with your own artistic creation.
Q-Quaint Streets of Beacon Hill. Now home to little restaurants, boutiques and antique stores, the historic charm of Beacon Hill is not to be missed. While many want the hustle and bustle of Newbury Street, this area is fascinating beyond the brick walkways and gas lanterns, and an official tour will leave you with a deeper understanding of this elite but small neighborhood in Boston.
R-Rose F. Kennedy Greenway is a result of the infamous Boston Big Dig. It opened in 2008, and now is known for its gardens, tree-lined plazas, and fountains where kids splash and play. It is a fun stroll on a sunny Boston day. Stop by the New England Aquarium along the way, or have lunch at one of the small restaurants that continue to open in this new area of Boston.
S-Sports. With four teams in the past decade winning national championships, Beantown is known for its sports teams. But take the time to see a game on the local level. Whether a Boston College football game, a Lowell Spinners baseball game or a Cape Cod Baseball League playoff game. Tickets and concessions are a lot more affordable, but just as fun.
T-Theaters. Boston’s Theatre District is a mini-Broadway in Boston. Fantastic shows, musical, plays and performances are constantly taking the stage. For more kid-friendly venues, see my post here.
U-Universities. Massachusetts has over 80 private colleges and Universities which makes it three times more concentrated than the U.S. average. So whether is a stroll on landscaped grounds, free classes for adults and kids or a resource for babysitters, it is definitely worth checking out the nearest college or university near you to see what activities and events they offer to the community.
V-Veggies. One of the most popular and historic places to get fresh produce is Boston’s Haymarket Square. It is open throughout the year on Fridays and Saturdays. Busting with flying cucumbers, fresh corn, seasonable fruit, it has been a destination for vegetables and fruit since 1830.
W-Wine Country. It is little known fact that Massachusetts in a rising star in the world of wine. From east to west, north to south, there are over 20 wineries in Massachusetts. Find one near you and spend a quiet afternoon sipping concoctions made from local grapes.
X-The Southeast Expressway. Otherwise known as the Xpress Way. In and of itself, it is just a straight shot into Boston from the South Shore, but about halfway between Braintree and Boston, there is infamous Rainbow Tank; a liquefied natural gas tank wrapped with orange, red, yellow, blue and purple. It was originally painted during the Vietnam War and the artist called it an expression of peace. Whether planned or not, many claim to see images of world leaders, enemies and even cartoons within the design of the rainbow.
Y-Charlestown Naval Yard. It was an active naval yard until the 1970s when it closed and became a part of Boston’s National Historical Parks. The National Park Service now maintains the ship yard, including the USS Constitution, and is open for tours.
Z-Zoos. Whether its the Stone Zoo, Franklin Park Zoo or the Southwick Zoo, they are all fantastic and are a must-do – even though they may be last on this list!
Enjoy exploring all that Massachusetts has to offer – from A-Z!