Located in Massachusetts, Boston is the gateway to New England.
While the city is a perfect blend of charm and history, what’s most exciting is its accessibility to nearby towns.
Many New England towns are connected to Boston by public transport and are immensely walking friendly.
Whether you hope to immerse yourself in art and culture, go on hiking trails, relax on a quiet beach, visit historical sites, or indulge in local delicacies, these easy-to-reach towns from Boston will not disappoint!
Here are some exciting suggestions for day trips from Boston that you must include in your bucket list.
Best Day Trips from Boston
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Castle Island, MASSACHUSETTS
Boston to Castle Island Drive Time: 13 minutes
If you’re looking for an easy to get to family-friendly day trip idea from Boston, look no further than Castle Island.
Located at the tip of South Boston, the island is connected to the mainland by a small strip of land and offers fantastic views of the Boston Harbor. You could either drive or walk to the island from the city. Parking on this 22-acre island is free.
Start your day with a visit to Fort Independence, a former fortified military site built during the 1600s. Free 30-minute guided tours are offered on summer and fall weekends between 12-3 pm.
On a sunny day, the best way to experience the vibe of Castle Island is through a picnic. Bring a blanket, lunch, and settle down to watch the airplanes flying in and out of Logan airport.
You could also take a walk to enjoy the beautiful shoreline or watch the sunset over the calm waters. Bring a jacket as evenings can get chilly. The island also has a playground, a beach area, and Sullivan’s, a snack shack.
Boston to Concord Drive Time: 33 minutes
Located only twenty-five minutes outside of Boston, Concord, MA is a historical town seeped in art, culture offering plenty of outdoor spaces.
Whether you’re interested in hiking and tranquil spots or are a museum buff, Concord is sure to transport you to a distinct world.
Walden Pond, where the former cabin of writer Henry David Thoreau is situated, has put Concord on the global map.
Today, the pond is a peaceful sanctuary surrounded by trees and hiking trails. It is also a popular spot for summer picnics and leaf-peeping in the fall.
The months of June-August are a good time to indulge in activities like swimming, kayaking, or paddleboarding at Walden Pond. Parking is $8/vehicle for MA residents.
Did you know that there is a National Historical Park within driving distance from Boston?
The Minute Man National Historical Park includes the landscape that became the field of the first battle in the American Revolution. Between spring-fall, guided ranger walks are available for visitors each year.
The five-mile Battle Road Trail is a hiking trail that connects historical sites from Lexington to Concord and overlaps farms, forests, and wetlands.
While you are in the area, stop at the North Bridge, a quiet historical site of great significance. It is the location where the first shots of the Revolution were fired.
What’s common between Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau? They’ve all lived in Concord at some point.
If you’re a literary lover, pick between The Orchard House, The Wayside, The Old Manse, and the Ralph Waldo Emerson House and go on a guided tour.
Better yet, take a private immersive tour to some of Concord’s best historical and literary spots with a knowledgeable guide. The tour includes entry to all author homes.
Round up your day with a farm-to-table meal at Woods Hill Table or 80 Thoreau. Both restaurants offer creative New American fare that you can’t go wrong with!
Boston to Salem Drive Time: 35 minutes
Just 16 miles north of Boston, Salem transports visitors to a world of history, beautiful architecture, indulging eateries, and family-friendly activities. You can reach this walkable town through the commuter rail from North Station or take the Salem Ferry from Long Wharf.
Salem is known as the “Witch City” and has an exciting vibe in October around Halloween. To learn about the history of the Salem witch trials of 1692, visit the Salem Witch Museum.
If you enjoy walking, join this guided walking tour of Salem with a local historian. The tour covers the town’s top architectural and spooky sites and is ideal for first time visitors.
The exceptionally curated collections inside Peabody Essex Museum deserve a slice of your time in Salem. There are collections on the maritime history of US, Asian art, fashion, and even the famed Salem Witch Trials. The museum also has an engaging play area for kids.
In the fall season, take a walk around Salem Commons to capture the beauty of leaves changing color. Round up your day trip with a meal and sweet treats. The town has several delis, pizza, sandwich shops, and bakeries to satisfy your cravings.
Boston to Manchester-by-the-Sea Drive Time: 38 minutes
A charming seaside town on Cape Ann, north of Boston, Manchester-by-the-sea makes for an easy outdoorsy day trip getaway from Boston.
Singing Beach, one of the most stunning soft sand beaches on the north shore, is one of the best reasons to visit Manchester-by-the-Sea, even in the winters. This dog-friendly beach is a great spot to catch waves, do yoga, or relax in the summer. It is also close to public transport.
For spectacular ocean views, head to Coolidge Reservation and take a walk on their 2-mile trail through the woods to reach a grand lawn and cliffs overlooking the ocean. This is a great spot to catch the sunset!
The waterfront Masconomo Park overlooks the picturesque Manchester Harbor. It has a playground, benches, and a baseball field and is ideal for family picnics.
For a tasty bite full of local flavors head to one of the local seafood restaurants.
Boston to Marblehead Drive Time: 38 minutes
Located 35 minutes north of Boston, the seaside town of Marblehead is a delight for anyone who enjoys history and walking.
Begin your day by exploring over 300 colonial homes built in the early 1600s. Grab this walking tour map and set off on your self-guided tour of historic Marblehead.
Established in 1644, Fort Sewall was built to protect Marblehead’s fishing ships against invaders.
Today, it is a public park, and families can walk, relax and soak in wonderful views of the harbor from this site. The fort’s bunkers and underground chambers have been preserved and there are telescopes for viewing.
For even more active exploration, rent a boat, or even better, walk over shallow waters during low tide to Crowninshield Island on the Marblehead Harbor.
This 5-acre island has walking trails, a lawn for family picnics, and tidal pools full of sea creatures.
The beautiful Devereux Beach has all the amenities you need for a quick oceanside escape – a playground, picnic tables, snack shack, and restrooms.
Fancy a meal? The Landing, a seafood restaurant by the harbor, dishes out an array of local specialties, from clam chowder to mussels!
Round up your day trip with a quick stop at FL Woods, a 1938 nautical store that sells stylish American-made clothing with a distinct New England character.
Boston to Ipswich Drive Time: 42 minutes
Surrounded by rural landscapes, farms, beaches, and a grand museum, Ipswich, a coastal New England town, makes for a solid day trip north of Boston!
Crane Beach, a spectacular four-mile white sand beach is the town’s biggest attraction, and rightly so.
Take a refreshing plunge in the ocean or walk through five miles of dunes and hiking trails accessible from the beach. All amenities are available on the beach.
In the afternoon, lose yourself in the magnificent gardens of the historic Castle Hill on Crane Estate.
There are trails, fountains, sculptures scattered throughout the property. Plan for at least 2 hours on the estate, and reserve tickets for your visit in advance.
A visit to a local farm or craft brewery is the perfect way to compliment any day trip in New England!
Russel Orchards is a working farm in Ipswich, known for its hard ciders, fruit wines, and cider donuts.
Appleton Farms, one of the oldest working farms in Massachusetts, is among the most beautiful places in Ipswich.
The farm is a great place to bring the entire family. You could plan a picnic, hike trails, soak in autumn colors, join a guided tour or sign up for a farm program!
Boston to Duxbury Drive Time: 43 minutes
Beach hoppers who wish to avoid the traffic to Cape Cod or the North Shore head to Duxbury, located an hour south of Boston.
This upscale, historic town has access to 7.5 miles of beautiful, clean beach and you’d cross a wooden bridge in your car to get to it!
The Duxbury Beach is a family-friendly spot, with a beach shack, changing rooms, and parking on site. Parking is $20/non-residents, at the end of the beach. Bring water shoes though, as there are some rocks on the beach.
Devote some time in the afternoon for retail therapy. Duxbury has some interesting independent gift shops and boutiques that are worth your time.
Visit the Studio for fine gifts, and Three Buoys and a Mermaid for home decor and clothes!
If you’re hungry, many local flavors await. Island Creek Oyster Bar, with its locally picked fresh oysters, is a popular pick. With reservations, you could also join an oyster farm tour on their boat.
The Foodsmith and Wildflower Cafe are popular cafes for brunch.
Boston to Gloucester Drive Time: 45 minutes
For a day trip around Boston that combines history with beach fun, head to the cozy seaside town of Gloucester.
Powdery white sands and high waves make Good Harbor Beach an inviting beach getaway.
In contrast, Wingaersheek Beach has turquoise waters and calm waves and can get very busy in the summers.
Stage Fort Park, a family-friendly waterfront park in Gloucester, offers attractions for all ages. The quiet and calm crescent-shaped Half Moon Beach is perfect for families with little kids as it has shallow waters.
Stage Fort Park also has two beaches, a playground, benches, a dog park, baseball fields, a walking path, and shaded trees.
For phenomenal views of the Boston skyline and the Atlantic Coast, head to Eastern Point Lighthouse.
Museum enthusiasts can stop by at Hammond Castle Museum to see a unique collection of medieval art in a palatial setting.
Looking for an offbeat adventure? Ditch your car and rent an electric bike in Gloucester and zip around!
Boston to Plymouth Drive Time: 46 minutes
Plymouth is the town where the first pilgrims sailing on the Mayflower landed, 400 years ago! Naturally, years of history and culture will be the highlight of your day trip.
Begin your journey back in time with a visit to Plimoth Patuxet Museum, an indoor-outdoor experiential museum that tells the story of interactions between the English and the Natives.
Spend time exploring the 17th century English village, where you can completely immerse yourself in the daily life and activities of the Pilgrims.
Not too far away in Plymouth downtown is the Mayflower II, a replica of the tall ship that first brought the pilgrims to America. Tickets to see the ship are available with entry to the museum.
An interesting way to learn about the history of Plymouth is with a knowledgable guide! Take this hour long guided excursion through downtown Plymouth to gain a new perspective on the past.
Make a stop at the nearby Plimoth Grist Mill, which is also a reproduction of the original 1636 mill. Here, you can taste freshly stone-ground organic cornmeal.
Snap a photo at Plymouth Rock, the original landing site of the Mayflower.
The National Monument to the Forefathers is another must-visit historic site. This exquisite granite statue commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims.
Downtown Plymouth boasts of a plethora of restaurants! From seafood, New American fare, to bakeries and fine dining, the town has it all!
Boston to Rockport Drive Time: 49 minutes
The charming fishing village of Rockport is situated an hour north of Boston and makes for a refreshing getaway on a sunny day.
If you enjoy light hiking trails with ocean views, scenic beauty, and tide pools, head to Halibut Point State Park, which used to be the site of a former granite quarry. Parking rates vary from $5-$20.
Next, head to Bearskin Neck for an afternoon stroll. This stretch of land beside the Rockport Harbor is an internationally known art colony. It is also home to Motif No.1, a red fishing shack most depicted in paintings.
Walk around to see shops selling paintings, jewelry, trinkets, and art galleries featuring works by local artists.
Make a stop at Helmut’s Strudel, a must-visit bakery on Bearskin Neck selling traditional Austrian strudels and ice cream.
Rockport Breakwater, a jetty built with big rocks, is a great spot to see sailboats, Bearskin Neck, and views of the Atlantic Ocean.
For a quick beach fix, dip your toes in the sand at Front Beach, steps away from the restaurants and shops, right in Rockport.
Want to extend your day trip in New England?
These 25 Incredible Weekend Getaways from Boston include some solid ideas!
Plum Island, MASSACHUSETTS
Boston to Plum Island Drive Time: 1 hour
Breathtaking Plum Island, a barrier island located off Newburyport, MA is a favorite day trip getaway for many Bostonians.
Start your day with a pleasant stop at the Plum Island lighthouse for scenic vistas.
Here you can spot birds like waterfowls in spring and fall, gulls in the winters, and waders in the summers.
Plum Island Beach attracts families, surfers, dog walkers, and couples alike. It is clean, unique, and has great sunset views.
Parking on the beach can be tricky in the summer, but the beach is fantastic in spring and fall too!
If you’re a bird lover, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is sure to impress you. It features a diverse ecosystem comprising marshes, dunes, cranberry bog, and sandy beaches.
This unique habitat is a safe harbor for over 300 species of birds, insects, amphibians, animals, and fish. It is also an ideal area for walking or biking.
Entry to the refuge is $5, and if you’re unable to park at Plum Island Beach, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge provides access to the ocean as well.
If it’s too cold for the beach, opt to hike the Hellcat Interpretative Trail. This easy one-mile accessible trail on a boardwalk will allow you to observe the marshes, birds, and the ocean!
The nearby town of Newburyport is buzzing with restaurants! Bob’s Lobster is a local favorite worth checking out.
Boston to Sturbridge Drive Time: 1 hour
History comes alive in Sturbridge, making it a true one-of-a-kind day trip destination from Boston.
The 200-acre Old Sturbridge Village museum recreates life in rural New England from the 1800s.
The engaging museum has staff dressed in period outfits and showcases meeting houses, a sawmill, blacksmith shop, print house, a farm, and church. Regular programs are held on-site as well.
If you choose to visit the museum with your family, plan for at least half a day!
Wells State Park makes for another fabulous day trip outing in Sturbridge.
It has several hiking trails of varying difficulties. The Carpenter Rock hike provides stunning views of the park.
Walker Pond, a fishing lake by the Wells State Park is a popular place for kayaking or canoeing in the summer. You will also find opportunities for sighting wildlife by the water bodies.
For extended stays, the state park also offers camping and yurt facilities.
Thinking of making a day trip to Sturbridge in the fall? Save some time for picking apples at the family-run Hyland Orchard and Brewery, which has been in the area since the 1940’s!
Boston to Provincetown: 90 minutes by ferry
A 90-minute ferry from Boston could transport you to Provincetown, a town with a fun vibe at the tip of Cape Cod.
A day trip to P-town, as it is known, can be a refreshing experience. This LGBTQ-friendly town is close to beautiful beaches like Race Point Beach and Herring Cove Beach.
While you’re on Race Point Beach, don’t forget to snap a photo of the Race Point Lighthouse, which is on the beach itself.
If you’re craving a delicious bite, there are several eateries, bars, and cafes on Commercial Street, in the heart of downtown, that offer choices galore.
Don’t forget to end your meal on a sweet note with ice cream from I dream of Gelato!
Keen to burn off those calories after a nice meal? Climb 116 steps atop the 252-foot Pilgrim’s Monument for 360-degree views of P-town!
End your day with a short 1-mile hike on the Beech Forest Trail. This picturesque loop provides incredible birdwatching opportunities, especially in the spring.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Boston to Portsmouth Drive Time: 1 hour
The coastal town of Portsmouth in New Hampshire is a charming getaway from downtown Boston.
The picturesque Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is a photographer favorite and should be among the first stops on your day trip. If you happen to visit on a Sunday afternoon, guided tours are available too.
For an easy family-friendly outing, visit Strawberry Banke Museum, which has recreated historic homes, gardens, and showcases traditional crafts.
For an offbeat adventure, take a self-guided audio tour of the unique research submarines at the USS Albacore Museum.
If the weather permits, the waterfront Prescott Park is a wonderful place for a relaxing stroll. In the summer, the park is also a venue for live concerts and plays.
Downtown Portsmouth is a hub of fantastic eateries! Whether you’re craving Mediterranean, French, American, Mexican or Middle Eastern cuisine – there’s something for you!
Providence, Rhode Island
Boston to Providence Drive Time: 58 minutes
The capital city of Rhode Island offers a mix of history, cool neighborhoods, culture, and a rich dining scene, making it a compelling day trip destination from Boston.
A gondola ride on the Providence River is an unconventional way to start your day, but we say go for it!
Even better if you can time your visit with the WaterFire festival between May-October and watch the exotic displays from the comfort of your boat.
Next up, immerse yourself in art and history at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. It features over 1000 pieces of artwork, including works of Van Gogh and Monet.
Eager for an outdoor activity? Head to Roger Williams Park for a stroll in their massive gardens or a bike ride.
Providence is an immensely walkable city, and there is an artistic vibe about its neighborhoods.
Walk around and step inside one of the city’s many restaurants. From seafood to handmade pasta – the choices are plenty.
Newport, Rhode Island
Boston to Newport Drive Time: 1 hour 26 minutes
Have you ever taken a coastal walk to admire the Atlantic coast and lavish historical mansions side by side?
That’s how you should begin your day in Newport, Rhode Island. This 3.5-mile walking tour through Gilded Age mansions is a must-do while in the city.
You could also take a tour to see one of these wealthy mansions extensively. The Breakers is among one of the most popular mansions visited by travelers.
Join a Newport Trolley Tour to see the town’s legendary mansions and learn about their past! It’s a great family friendly way to see the town too.
Everyone knows New England for its breweries, but did you know that the Newport area is home to fantastic vineyards too?
Spend your afternoon tasting award-winning wines with a side of delicious charcuterie board at Newport Vineyards. Or, head to the family-owned Greenvale Vineyards for an exclusive tasting experience.
A mini-road trip through Newport’s 10-mile Ocean Drive is a great way to round off your day. Time permitting, stop at Brenton Point State Park for scenic panoramic views of the coast.
Looking for a delicious meal? Downtown Newport has several restaurants and breweries to suit your tastebuds.
Planning a vacation? Check out these places to visit in New England for ideas!
Boston to Ogunquit Drive Time: 1 hour 18 minutes
The coastal town of Ogunquit is a perfect day trip or weekend getaway if you wish to combine scenic beauty with seafood, shopping, and art!
Ogunquit is one of the best places to visit in Maine, whether you are traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family or group!
Perkins Cove, a small fishing village in Ogunquit with restaurants and shops, is a favorite with many New Englanders in the summers.
Here you could join a hands-on lobstering tour from the harbor, or taste fresh seafood in one of the restaurants nearby.
Be sure to get some ice cream from the local shops before moving on to your next adventure!
Ogunquit is one of the most walking-friendly towns in Maine! Marginal Way is a 1.25-mile coastal path that connects Perkins Cove to the Ogunquit town center.
Enjoy the cool breeze, and take several photographs while you walk the scenic Marginal Way along the coast. It is an easy walk and there are benches scattered throughout the trail.
With its soft, white sand, Ogunquit Beach provides one of the best views of the Atlantic Ocean. Backed by dunes, the beach can get very busy in the summers since it is super family-friendly.
Boston to Kennebunkport Drive Time: 1 hour 31 minutes
The quaint town of Kennebunkport is an excellent coastal day trip option from Boston.
Located in southern Maine, this seaside town is a favorite with beach-loving families.
Love a good dog-friendly surfing beach? Pick Gooch’s Beach. Prefer a quiet secluded beach? Fortune’s Rock Beach could be your answer.
If you’re looking for a slightly more cultural activity, take a walking tour through Kennebunk’s Museum in the Streets to look at 25 panels documenting the town’s history.
Families will enjoy visiting the Seashore Trolley Museum, which includes the world’s largest collection of more than 350 mass transit vehicles.
Ann’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, overlooking the ocean is another local attraction to include in your bucket list. This stone chapel has exquisite stained glass windows.
Kennebunkport also has a remarkable dining scene. Reserve a table at Earth at the Hidden Pond or Bandaloop for a unique dining experience.
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