Massachusetts is a small state. Its size, 10,554 square miles, makes it the perfect setting for unending day trips. From the state capitol of Boston, you can head out to countless attractions, beaches and parks. In a day, you can take in some history, revel in nature or explore the state and its heritage on a myriad of tours. I am a lifelong resident of Massachusetts. Check out my five picks for the best day trips from Boston.
1. Plimoth Plantation – The story of Massachusetts Plymoth Colony comes to life via a pragmatic learning platform. Through extensive research, Plimoth Plantation recreates community life in the 1600s between the Wampanoag People and Colonial English. The plantation experience is educational, but also a great day of hands-on fun for any age.
Visitors Information: The plantation is open seven days a week, March through November, from 9 a.m. to 5 and 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the online ticket booth for just Plimoth Plantation or Plimoth Plantation’s Mayflower II, or in a combination for both locations. Follow this link for driving directions. Address: 137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, MA 02360. General Inquiries: (508) 746-1622
Important Tips: Visitors to Plimoth Plantation are asked not to wear historical costumes of any kind. It is vital to note that pets are not allowed on Museum sites, and there is no holding place available for pets. Jogging strollers are recommended because of the plantation’s rough terrain. Spring is generally the least crowded time to visit Plimoth Plantation. Additional tips are available at the plantation website.
2. Higgins Armory Museum – For history buffs and the curious as well, Higgins Armory Museum is the ultimate place to indulge in an unbelievable display of arms and armor. Housed in a Gothic four-story castle setting, visitors can study the largest collection of medieval and Renaissance armor in the Western Hemisphere.
The mega collection of arms and armor evolved from an extravagant private collection belonging to John Woodman Higgins. Higgins built the Museum and opened it to the public in 1931. The European portion of the collection alone has some 3,000 armors and components.
Visitors Information: The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hours on Sunday are noon to 4 p.m. Check the website to see when the Museum is also open on select Mondays. Tickets for children age 4 to 16 are $7. The cost for an adult is $10. You can buy tickets at the door. Audio tour rentals are $2. Follow this link for driving directions. Address: 100 Barber Avenue, Worcester, MA 01606. General Inquiries: (508) 853-6015
Important Tips: The Museum is accessible to visitors with mobility, hearing, and visual impairments. Wheelchair accessibility parking is available next to the Museum. Each floor of the Museum is reachable by elevators. Higgins Armory Museum has free parking. If you have an interest in a unique party idea, the Museum offers birthday party packages for children.
3. Cape Ann’s Wingaersheek Beach – Growing up, I spent a great deal of time on Massachusetts’ North Shore. My grandfather lived on the ocean in historic Ipswich. To this day, my favorite ocean haunt is Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester. As great beaches go, Wingaersheek is a cut above first rate.
Whether you are looking for a restful day alone or want to bring a slew of kids to the beach for the day, you cannot go wrong with Wingaersheek. It is plenty spacious and the sand is premium. There is a concession stand, restrooms, and a shower as well.
Visitors Information: Located off Exit 13 on Route 128, Wingaersheek Beach is open seven days a week. The only downside to visiting this beach is the high cost of parking. Weekday parking is $20. Saturday and Sunday it creeps up to $25. Follow this link for driving directions. Address: Atlantic Avenue, Gloucester, MA 01930
Important Tips: Because it is such a gorgeous beach, the parking lot at Wingaersheek fills up quickly. Weekdays in early summer are a bit quieter. Weekends are busy all the time. Get there early. There is an overflow parking area, but it is quite a long walk from there to the beach; especially if you have a lot of beach gear to carry. Any trash you generate during your stay must be carried out with you when you leave. Dogs are not allowed on the beach.
4. Wolf Hollow – If you are looking for a day trip out of the ordinary, consider wolves. Wolf Hollow is fully licensed by Massachusetts and the federal government as a non-profit organization. Its mission is preservation of the wolf in the wild and educating the public about this preservation. Visitors to Wolf Hollow get to meet the resident pack of British Colombian timber wolves. You will learn how the wolves function as a family and how important wolves are to the environment.
Visitors Information: Wolf Hollow is open weekends only, weather permitting. Ticket sales begin at 1 p.m. with a once a day structured lecture beginning at 1:30. Adult tickets are $7.50 and senior citizens are $5. Tickets for children 3 to 17 are $5. Follow this link for driving directions. Address: 114 Essex Road, Ipswich, MA 01938. Telephone: (978) 356-0216
Important Tips: If it is raining out, Wolf Hollow is closed. New England’s coastal heat and humidity may result in Wolf Hollow being closed, too. It is best to call ahead to be sure Wolf Hollow will be open the day you plan to visit. You can also inquire whether Wolf Hollow is suitable for small children. Learn about volunteer opportunities at Wolf Hollow.
5. Yankee Candle – A visit to Yankee Candle in South Deerfield, Massachusetts is a great day trip from Boston. There are plenty of interactive things for kids to do. They even get the opportunity to make wax hands and jar candles. How fun is that! Yankee Candle is a really big place. You easily can spend hours there checking out the Bavarian Christmas Village and Nutcracker Castle, never mind the thousands of candles. It is quite an adventure.
Visitors Information: Yankee Candle is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The only exception is Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, when it closes at 5 p.m. Yankee Candle is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Follow this link for driving directions. Address: 25 Greenfield Road, South Deerfield, MA 01373. Telephone: 1-877-636-7707
Important Tips: A visit to Yankee Candle is fun any time of the year. However, if you want to take in some gorgeous foliage along the Mohawk Trail, plan on going in September or October. Yankee Candle is 90,000 square feet. You will do a lot of walking. There are places to rest, though. You should bring along an umbrella stroller for small children.