When you visit Boston, one of the perks is the amazing day trips that are possible to other areas of New England. I am a Florida girl, but Boston and New England are my second home. I spent years exploring the ins and outs of New England and these are some of the best day trips from Boston!
These destinations are some of my favorite and make for a scenic road trip and or perfect day trip. Read on to learn more on what to do, where to go, and the perfect spot to eat in each location!
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Boston is a great city with its’ famed history, food scene, and entertainment. But there are some great day trips to see by car, train or even boat depending on the season. While Boston is one of the most walkable cities, they have the T and commuter rails to explore the area further or if you have a car there are even more options. Most are within an hour of Boston, while the last 3 are 2 hours away if you have more time. Pin this article for later so you do not forget the best day trips from Boston.
- New Bedford
- Lexington/Concord/Walden Pond
- Pourtsmouth, New Hampshire
Salem and Rockport – By car or train
Both Salem and Rockport are accessible by car or train from Boston.
Salem just 25 miles north of Boston is famous for many things, most notably the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, the Witch House, and the House of Seven Gables of Nathaniel Hawthorne fame. This is a colorful waterfront town with a long history and several museums to visit. If you love art, there is also The Peabody Essex Museum. Where to eat? Sea Level Oyster Bar has a great view and equally delicious food. (94 Wharf St.) If you don’t get spooked easily, head out on a ghost tour!
Rockport is a cute seaside town of fewer than 7,000 people at the tip of the Cape Ann Peninsula about 40 miles northeast of Boston. The town has cute cottages and tiny little shops dating back in time and is a historic fishing village. This is a great place to have lunch. It is close to Gloucester MA, a large fishing city, where scenes from the movie The Perfect Storm were shot. Plus, when you get to Rockport you can enjoy my favorite cafe with an amazing view: Bean and Leaf Cafe, right next door to a 45-year-old ice cream shop “The Ice Cream Store”. This is a perfect place to relax and take in the coastal breeze.
Provincetown, Massachusetts -By Boat (Seasonal) or Car
During the summer months, you can take a ferry to go to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod and avoid all the Cape traffic (that takes substantially longer). This is where the Pilgrims first came ashore and is a quaint Cape Cod escape near the National Seashore with cute cottages, restaurants, and shops. P-town as they call it is also a popular artist community. grab a lobster roll and enjoy strolling along the main drag. It’s a great escape for the day. Grab yummy Cape lobster at The Lobster Pot and check out the tip of Massachusetts at Race Point Lighthouse. Also, this is one of the best places to celebrate Pride Month in June.
Plymouth – By Car or Train to nearby Kingston
Many have heard of Plymouth MA, a great coastal town, and the First Settlement of the Pilgrims. Perhaps you remember this from history class. It is about 40 miles southeast of Boston and Plymouth is a good day trip. Although the train goes near Kingston, a car is the best way to visit. Come to Plymouth to experience The Mayflower II, a full-size replica of the original Mayflower that brought the Pilgrims to this spot in 1620. Next to the Mayflower II, you have Pilgrim Rock, a boulder in Pilgrim Memorial State Park and this is where they reportedly first stepped ashore in the area. There is so much to see in the area or enjoy the waterfront. Others come here to go for a whale watch or deep-sea fishing.
New Bedford, Massachusetts – By Car
Historic New Bedford is 59 miles southeast of Boston (in an area known as the Southcoast) and the former Whaling Capital of the World in the 19th Century. Herman Melville lived here for a time and he wrote the novel, Moby Dick. You can visit the famous Whaling Museum and Seamen’s Bethel a historic chapel. Come visit the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park and take a tour. Notably, Fredrick Douglas moved his family here for 3 years in 1839. To this day, New Bedford is a top fishing port for the USA and the food is “wicked” good. Even Martha Stewart approves when she visited my favorite Portuguese Antonio’s Restaurant. Many also come to New Bedford to take a fast ferry to the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
Lexington/Concord and Walden Pond, Massachusetts – By Car
For history buffs and writers, the area of Lexington and Concord are great to visit. It is only 20 miles from Boston. Perhaps you remember learning about the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. This historic area has national parks, including Minute Man National Park. The area is home to the saying “the shot heard round the world”.
Many famous artists lived in Concord including Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Jane Austin, and Nathaniel Hawthorne as well as others. The Orchard House is one of the most visited author’s homes in New England, here you can see where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women.
You can visit many of their homes or see some of their final resting places at Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Getting a little peckish head to Haute Cafe, a cute bakery and coffee shop tucked away in Concord. Another area favorite is visiting or taking a walk or hike at Walden Pond where Henry David Thoreau lived in a cabin for two years and served as the foundation for his work. This area is a welcome retreat from busy Boston.
Newport, Rhode Island – By Car
Newport is approximately 71 miles southeast of Boston and is home to many opulent 1800’s mansions including the Vanderbilt’s Breakers Mansion. The Gilded Mansions trolley tour is a great way to get around while learning some history as well. Stop by Easton Beach for a swim. Leave there and take a 3.5-mile walk on the Cliff Walk, where you can walk along the coast and see the mansions. My favorite picture opportunity is at the Forty Steps. Ocean Drive is also a shoreline drive along the southern coast where you can view more mansions and rocky coastlines. I recommend this drive right before sunset and catch the last rays of day at Brenton Point State Park.
Closer to town you can see the historic International Tennis Hall of Fame. Visit the main street in Newport to find waterfront restaurants, shops, and places like Banister Wharf. Banister Wharf is where you can eat, shop, or take a cruise on a sailing yacht. There are so many places like Fort Adam or various festivals, like the Jazz and Folk Festivals. Last, the area has its share of lighthouses for lighthouse enthusiasts. It’s a stylish area for all to see. Before you leave grab a bite at The Black Pearl Restaurant known for having some of the freshest and best clam chowder.
Providence, Rhode Island – By Car or Train
Providence is the capital city of Rhode Island and about an hour by commuter rail (51 miles) south of Boston. It’s always great to see another capital city. And Providence is one to see. It is home to Brown University on the Eastside, as well as Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Check out Enoteca Umberto Restaurant for some classic and authentic Italian food. The historic Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence is widely known for its Italian-American residents that largely came in the late 1900s and the large selection of great Italian restaurants. Stroll down Atwells Avenue and go to DePasquale Square and have an espresso and have some great dessert after dinner. If you are in town during the season, see the famous WaterFire, a fire sculpture installation along the canals in Downtown Providence. There are so many great restaurants in Providence, I recommend a food tour.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire- By Car in about a 1hr 30 minutes
Did you know there is a port city in New Hampshire? Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a historic and quaint New England town. This used to be the most important port in Colonial America. Head to the well-preserved mercantile blocks and explore the boutiques and restaurants on Market Street. A great way to explore the historic harbor, islands, and more is by bike. There is a great cycling tour that explores Portsmouth, New Hampshire that is the perfect way to get active on your day trip! When you are in Portsmouth, NH you cannot leave before trying some inventive seafood dishes at Surf Seafood Restaurant. This is a great waterfront dining experience.
What would be on your list for best day trips from Boston, Massachusetts?
There is so much to see and do in not only Boston but also the surrounding area. This is just a glimpse of some of my favorite day trips from Boston. The list could go on, but where would you go. If someone had to ask me my favorite out of all these amazing days trips from Boston, it would have to be the drive from Boston to Provincetown. The beautiful Cape Cod towns along the way and scenic drive is an adventure in itself.