The best daytrips from Boston

After a few exhausting days of exploring all the unique historical sites (The Freedom Trail is iconic!) and admiring the gorgeous architecture around the city of Boston, you may be ready to escape the city for a day or 2. Fortunately, there are plenty of interesting day trips which all offer a refreshing break from the city traffic, congestion, and crowds. Featured below are a few of my favorite daytrips from Boston, all located within an easy 1-1.5 hour max drive. Each of these featured destinations offer a great mix of historical attractions and scenic beauty, along with great local dining options and ample recreational opportunities.

1. Plymouth, MA

Mayflower replica in Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Distance: 40 miles
  • Highlight: Site of the 1st Pilgrims settlement in 1620
  • Best for: History buffs

Top Attractions:

  • Burial Hill (est. 1638)
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Mayflower replica
  • Whale watching cruises
  • Plymouth Night Tour – Ghost tours with a historical touch
  • Myles Standish State Forest – 13 miles of hiking & 15 miles of biking trails
  • PIlgrim Hall Museum

Plymouth is a gorgeous coastal town located about 40 minutes south of Boston. The town holds much historical significance, making it a great day trip for history buffs. Along with being the site of the first Pilgrim settlement, it is home to one of the oldest cemeteries (Burial Hill) and the oldest continuously inhabited street (Leyden St.) in the US. Pilgrim Memorial State Park along the waterfront is home to numerous historical sites including Plymouth Rock and a Mayflower replica. More historical monuments can be enjoyed via a self-guided tour with the 81 foot tall National Monument to Our Forefathers (the world’s largest solid granite monument) being the standout.

Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts
Plymouth Rock
Historic Burial Hill in Plymouth MA
Burial Hill
National Monument to our Forefathers in Boston, Massachusetts
The world’s tallest solid granite monument

Other activities to enjoy in this beautiful coastal city include dining al fresco along the waterfront (I recommend Mamma Mias and Carmen Cafe Nicole), whale watching (Captain Johns offers guaranteed sightings), enjoying seafood (Wood’s is great!), strolling around the Plymouth Museum of Art, hiking at Myles Standish State Park (the largest recreation area in Southeast MA), and taking a ghost tour (the Plymouth Night Tour is awesome and includes the use of real ghost hunting equipment).

Whale watching in Plymouth, Massachusetts
Whale watching!
Bike riding at Myles Standish State Forest in Southeast Massachusetts
Biking at Myles Standish
The beautiful Plymouth waterfront
The gorgeous waterfront

Plymouth offers much to do for history buffs and nature lovers, thus making it one of the top day trip destinations from Boston.

2. Providence, RI

Rhode Island State House in Providence, RI
  • Distance: 51 miles
  • Highlight: Capital of Rhode Island
  • Best for: Foodies & architecture buffs

Top Attractions:

  • Federal Hill neighborhood (Little Italy)
  • Roger Williams Park Zoo
  • East Bay Bike Path
  • Rhode Island State House (free tours offered)
  • Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art
  • Benefit Street – One of the largest collections of Colonial homes
  • Providence Place Mall – Largest mall in the State
  • The Providence Rink (seasonal skating)
  • Blackstone Blvd. – Gorgeous walking path near Brown Univ.

Providence, the capital city of Rhode Island, is an easy day trip from Boston and offers much to do. From a tour of the capitol building, to a self-guided stroll down historic Benefit St. (a mile of beautiful 18th and 19th century Colonial homes), there’s much to do here for history buffs. For the foodies, Federal Hill (aka Little Italy) rivals Boston’s North End. Andino’s is a great local old-school Italian joint serving wonderful pasta dishes.

4th oldest library in the country - Benefit St. in Providence, RI
The 4th oldest library in the country
Shrimp Scampi at Andino's in Providence, RI
Shrimp Scampi at Andino’s

For those more interested in working up a sweat, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Most impressive is the East Bay Bike Path, a 14.5 mile rail trail which runs along the waterfront and features easy access to state parks, great views of the skyline and even a glimpse of a historic lighthouse (Pomham Rocks). If you are willing to take a drive, Narragansett Beach (~half hour away) is so gorgeous. For anyone who loves zoos, The Roger Williams Park Zoo is the best in the region and hosts an amazing Jack O’Lantern festival each Halloween.

Pomham Rocks lighthouse
Pomham Rocks lighthouse
Jack O'Lantern Spectacular at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI
Jack O’Lantern spectacular at the zoo
The beautiful East Bay bike path in Providence, Rhode Island
The beautiful East Bay path

Providence offers a great mix of history, shopping, dining, and outdoor recreation areas, thereby making it a wonderful day trip destination for just about anyone.

3. Fall River, MA

View of Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA
Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA
  • Distance: 51 miles
  • Highlight: Home to the largest collection of US naval ships
  • Best for: History buffs

Top Attractions:

  • Lizzie Borden house – Tours & overnight stays available
  • Battleship Cove
  • Copicut Woods
  • Fall River Heritage State Park – Waterfront park with an antique carousel
  • Freetown-Fall River State Forest – 25+ miles of hiking trails

Fall River is worth a visit if you have any interest in the infamous Lizzie Borden case. Lizzie was tried and acquitted of the grisly murders of both her father and stepmother in 1892. The Borden house is located in Fall River and is now operating as a Bed & Breakfast. Many paranormal researchers have found evidence of ghost activity throughout the years. Zak and the crew of Ghost Adventures even recorded a bit of paranormal activity during their stay here. Whether or not you are brave enough to spend the night, daytime tours are offered. A tour is a great way to learn more about the case and also listen to some spooky ghost stories.

Lizzie Borden House in Fall River
The infamous Lizzie Borden house
Hatchet at the Lizzie Borden house in Fall River, MA
Who remembers the rhyme? Lizzie Borden took an ax…

The other main attraction in Fall River is Battleship Cove, the largest collection of World War II naval vessels. Most notably, it is home to the USS Massachusetts. A self-guided tour is a perfect activity for World War II and history buffs. For those not interested in history, a walk along Fall River Heritage State Park (featuring a ~mile long boardwalk) is a great alternative. The scenery is gorgeous and birdwatching is fantastic. You can also take a ride on one of the country’s oldest carousels and enjoy an ice cream treat. Also, while you are in Fall River, do pick up some authentic pierogies at Patti’s!

USS Massachusetts - Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA
USS Massachusetts
Antique carousel at Fall River Heritage State Park
Antique carousel

4. Cape Cod, MA

Views from Great Beach Hill on the Great Island Trail in Cape Cod
  • Distance: 70 miles
  • Highlight: World-renowned beaches
  • Best for: Beach lovers & anyone seeking relaxation

Top Attractions:

  • Cape Cod Rail Trail – A Rail-to-Trails Hall of Fame recipient
  • Coast Guard Beach
  • Cape Cod Canal Trail
  • Marconi Beach – Whale watching hotspot
  • Pilgrim Monument – Commemorates the first landing of the Pilgrims
  • Race Point Beach – Best sunset destination
  • Commercial Street in Provincetown

Cape Cod, the famous hook shaped peninsula of Massachusetts, has long been a popular summer destination. The Cape is most famous for its’ many beautiful beaches, historic lighthouses, and quaint inns. The most popular tourist destination is Provincetown, aka “P-Town,” which sits at the very tip of Cape Cod. The Pilgrims first landed in Provincetown before settling in Plymouth. Today, you can learn more about their journey and take in great views at the Pilgrim Monument. More attractions on P-Town’s bustling Commercial St. include local cafes, shops, and galleries. Also, the area is known for its’ beautiful beaches. Race Point Beach has been rated the best sunset destination!

Pilgrim monument in Provincetown Cape Cod
The Pilgrim monument
Commercial St. in Provincetown
Commercial Street

Cape Cod is also known for its’ many biking and hiking trails. One of my favorite places is the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a 22 mile long biking adventure through dense forests. Cobie’s, one of the top rated clam shacks in New England, can be access from the path which is pretty cool. Great Island Trail is my favorite hike as it leads to an amazing secluded beach. As for the best beaches, Marconi is a fabulous seal & whale watching destination and Coast Guard Beach was referred to as “The Great Beach” by poet and philosopher Henry David thoreau.

Biking the Cape Cod Rail trail
Cape Cod Rail Trail
Marconi beach in Cape Cod
Marconi Beach

Overall, Cape Cod is the most quintessential Massachusetts summer getaway destination. Plan a visit if you seek wonderful beaches and hiking trails in a quiet setting.

5. Blue Hills Reservation

A beautiful fall color hike at Blue Hills Reservation near Boston, Massachusetts
  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Highlight: The largest park near Boston
  • Best for: Hikers and leaf peepers

Top Attractions:

  • Skyline Trail
  • Blue Hills Observatory – One of the oldest active weather stations (est. 1885)
  • Fall foliage chairlift rides
  • Great winter snowshoeing destination
  • Closest downhill skiing to the city (Blue Hills Ski Area)

This natural oasis is located just 15 minutes out of the hustle and bustle of Boston but feels a world’s away. This is the place to go to get lost in nature and enjoy a workout or simply some quiet time minus technology, traffic, and crowds. Here you can enjoy getting back to nature on over 125 miles of rustic hiking trails. From spring kayaking, to summer hiking and mountain biking, to fall leap peeping, to winter snowshoeing, Blue Hills is a fantastic year-round recreation destination.

Blue Hills observatory weather recording station
The oldest weather recording station
Colorful fall foliage at Blue Hills Reservation near Boston, Massachusetts
Colorful fall foliage

The best trail here is also one of the more challenging routes. The Skyline Trail is a moderately intense 3 mile loop adventure where you will enjoy gorgeous views throughout. There are a number of summits to take in the beauty of the Blue Hills including the challenging, but rewarding climb up to Blue Hill (the tallest peak) where you will enjoy a prime vista of Boston’s incredible skyline.

Boston skyline views from Blue Hills reservation
Amazing skyline views!

6. Salem, MA

The Witch House in Salem, MA
  • Distance: 21 miles
  • Highlight: Halloween capital of America
  • Best for: Autumn and Halloween lovers

Top Attractions:

  • Salem witch memorial
  • House of Seven Gables – Tour the 1668 Colonial mansion
  • Witch House – Tour the home of Judge Corwin
  • Mahi Mahi cruises
  • Essex Street (shopping & dining)
  • Old Burying Point cemetery – Resting place of judges of the Witch trials
  • Hocus Pocus filming sites

Salem is often referred to as the Halloween Capital of the World. There’s much to do here for anyone interested in everything spooky & supernatural including a 4D haunted house, ghost tours, historic cemetery tours, ghost tours, and even a horror wax museum featuring all your favorite villains. Come Halloween, there is a party every weekend. Haunted Happenings is a month long celebration dedicated to the otherworldly with special shows, pub crawls, carnivals, and more on the calendar. And for all the Hocus Pocus fans out there, several filming sites from the movie can be explored via self-guided tour.

Fall foliage at Old Burying Point in Salem, MA
Old Burying Point Cemetery
Max and Dani's house from Hocus Pocus, filmed in Salem, Massachusetts
The Dennison’s house from Hocus Pocus

Salem offers much more than just spooky fun. While fall is the best season to visit thanks to the gorgeous foliage and plentiful Halloween activities, anytime of the year really is a great time to visit this enchanting coastal community. First off, there are scenic boat tours to enjoy (Mahi Mahi cruises) and also Essex St. offers endless opportunities for dining and shopping. This historic cobblestone street is lined with local cafes, coffeehouses, museums, and attractions. Events are ongoing. One of my favorite local places to eat is Life Alive, an organic cafe serving healthy wraps and salads.

Salem Witch Trials Memorial
Witch Memorial
Fall foliage cruise in Salem, MA
Fall foliage cruise

7. Newport, RI

Ship used in Pirates of the Caribbean in Newport, RI
  • Distance: 72 miles
  • Highlight: Home to the famous Newport Mansions
  • Best for: Luxury travelers

Top Attractions:

  • Cliffwalk – Gorgeous coastal walk alongside the Mansions
  • Newport Mansions – The 19th century summer homes of wealthy NY’ers.
  • Thames St. (shopping & dining)
  • Harbor cruises
  • Jane Pickens historic theater
  • Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge – Birdwatching oasis
  • Second Beach

Newport is the perfect day trip destination for anyone who loves charming coastal cities. There’s much culture and history here and the views are breathtaking. Most famously, Newport is known for the opulent Newport Mansions, the summer “cottages” of the wealthy during the Gilded Age. Today, you can tour many of these homes including the extravagant 125,000 square feet Breakers Mansion – once the summer cottage of the Vanderbilts. For those who don’t want to pay a hefty price tag to see how “the other half” lives you can opt to view the mansions from afar on the lovely Cliffwalk. This 3.5 mile long trail runs alongside the mansions and also offers extraordinary views of the coast.

The Breakers Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island
The Breakers, the largest of the extravagant Mansions
Beautiful Cliffwalk in Newport, Rhode Island
40 Stone Steps on CliffWalk

A Newport harbor cruise is another must-do, especially if you are new to the area. You will learn more about the seaside community’s rich history and take in some outstanding views. Also, be sure to check out all the local restaurants and shops on historic Thames Street – one of the oldest streets in the state. Plenty of great waterfront restaurants and fresh seafood to enjoy (The Lobster Bar is a popular tourist choice for seafood lovers and Mamma Luisa is a wonderful Italian gem). For those looking to escape the crowds, Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge (a birdwatching oasis) and Gooseberry Beach are perfect options.

Castle Hill Lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island
Castle Hill Lighthouse
Ocean View Loop Trail at Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge
Nature at its’ best at Sachuest
Butternut Squash Ravlioli at Mamma Luisa Ristorante in Newport, RI
Fresh ravioli at Mamma Luisa

8. Mohegan Sun

Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut
  • Distance: 105 miles
  • Highlight: One of the largest casinos in the world
  • Best for: Entertainment

Top Attractions:

  • Tuscany – Great Italian food & a lovely waterfall setting
  • The Original Soup Man – The NYC location inspired “the Soup Nazi” on Seinfeld
  • The Poker Room – Best poker room!
  • Mandara Spa
  • The Old Farmer’s Almanac General Store
  • The Lansdowne Irish Pub & Music House – Live music & authentic Irish fare

At 366,000+ square feet, the Mohegan Sun comes in as the second largest casino in the United States. It is also home to one of the largest and nicest poker rooms. Gaming aside, there is much more to do here including dining at over 30 restaurants, shopping, relaxing at the top rated Mandara Spa, and seeing an event at the Mohegan Sun Arena. It is rated one of the top venues in the world and has hosted icons like Billy Joel, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, and The Eagles.

Beautiful art sculpture at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut
Gorgeous Chihuly sculpture
Seafood pot pie at an Lansdowne Irish Pub in the Mohegan Sun
Seafood pot pie at Lansdowne

If you do decide to stay overnight, the rooms are beautiful and modern and many feature views of the gorgeous Thames river. The pools are gorgeous and there are plenty of great on-site restaurants to enjoy. Entertainment includes free music in The Wolf Den, Avalon Nightclub featuring world-class DJs, and Comix Roadhouse. For those not staying overnight, there are plenty of great dining options (Tuscany is a great Italian choice and Lansdowne is an amazing authentic Irish Pub), a great spa, and plenty of shopping to keep you occupied.

Gorgeous Thames River in Connecticut
Gorgeous views of the Thames River from the hotel