Series: Boston

17 Best Day Trips from Boston to Unwind

Posted on Jun 9, 2020

As the capital of Massachusetts, Boston is known for everything from Fenway Park, to the Boston Marathon, to its famous baked beans and cream pies.

Although the activities abound in Boston, sometimes it’s fun to get out and about and explore the surrounding area with a Boston day trip. Not only is the area filled with natural treasures and endless hiking, but it’s also rich with cultural heritage, museums, and top-notch dining.

If you’re heading out of town and looking for the best day trips from Boston to help you unwind, scratch your travel itch with our list of things to do and see in downtown Boston. Whether you’re on the quest for boutique shopping, whale watching, or stretches of sandy beaches, there’s a day trip or weekend getaway in this list for every type of traveler.

1. Cape Cod National Seashore

Located about 70 miles away, Cape Cod National Seashore is a scenic day trip from Boston. Explore 40 miles of sandy beaches, marshes, and ponds. You can also visit the lighthouses and cranberry bogs or take a hike or canoe tour with a park ranger. Whatever you choose to do, the seashore offers endless opportunities for adventure. This Boston day is an opportunity to explore beautiful beaches at the cape and scenic hiking trail paths.

2. Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport is a charming coastal town in southern Maine. Whether you’re looking for weekend getaways from Boston or day trips, you can reach this town in just an hour and a half. Spend the afternoon at Goose Rocks Beach, a few miles from the center of town, then stroll through the boutiques and local craft shops at Dock Square. If you’re looking for a fancy dinner once your day is through, The White Barn offers a unique 5-star culinary experience. This area is perfect for a Boston day trip where delicious food is on the agenda. Several restaurants are known for their lobster roll dishes.

3. The Butterfly Place

Filled with regional and tropical butterflies, birds, and koi fish, The Butterfly Place in Westford, Massachusetts is one of the most whimsical day trips from Boston. Spend the afternoon at this indoor garden and bask in the beauty of hundreds of free-flying butterflies. You can even bring a Butterfly Hatching Kit back to Boston, so you can hatch and release your own live butterfly or moth.

4. Portsmouth

Portsmouth, New Hampshire is the perfect place to shop, dine, and soak up the feeling of a historic seaport. Take a sunset cruise on the water or spend the evening at the theater. Outdoor activities like sailing, biking, hiking, fishing, and whale watching abound, making this one of the best weekend trips from Boston. Viewing historic sites and going on a whale watching tour is a great way to spend your time in town.

5. Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village is an 1830s New England Living History Museum. If you’re on the hunt for an educational day trip from Boston, bring the family and see what life was like in rural New England during the late 1700s and early 1800s. See historians at work on the farm, in trade shops, and in their New England homes. You can even turn it into a full weekend getaway and book a room at The Old Sturbridge Inn & Reeder Family Lodges. The historic sites found around town make for an educational and fun trip. Taking a walking tour of Old Sturbridge Village on this Boston day trip.

6. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island is filled with beachside walking trails, several hiking trail choices, mansions, and endless options for dining. This New England Port Town is about an hour and a half drive from Boston and has plenty of things to do and see. Explore the dramatic architecture or see a show at the historic Jane Pickens Theatre. Before you head back to Boston, grab a seafood dinner and a scoop of ice cream for dessert.

7. Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard is an iconic Massachusetts Island and New England summer colony. From bike rides to meeting the island’s alpacas, this day trip from Boston promises fun activities on the waters of Nantucket Sound. Visit the island’s oldest colonial settlement, Edgartown, where Main Street abounds with artistic and flavor-filled food. You can also spend the afternoon at Menemsha, the small fishing village where the harbor in ‘Jaws’ was filmed. Don't forget to check out Farm.Field.Sea, a seasonal pop-up featuring local farmers and chefs.

8. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is an underwater plateau at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay. Just 25 miles from Boston, this 842-square-mile sanctuary is known as a wonderful whale watching site. There're more than a dozen companies that visit the sanctuary May through October, so if you’re interested in a whale-watching excursion, you shouldn’t have a problem lining one up.

9. Norman Rockwell Museum

When it’s a rainy day in the city, plan a day trip from Boston to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. With the world’s largest collection of original Norman Rockwell art, you can spend the whole day meandering through the art museum. Complete with 367 pieces of work, the collection is home to large-scale oil paintings as well as pencil, charcoal, watercolor, and oil sketches and studies.

10. Canton Treetop Adventures

For the adventure enthusiasts in the group, Canton Treetop Adventures is a 30-minute drive from Boston and promises an exciting day out. Take on the obstacle course of rolling logs, bridges, ladders, tight ropes, and zip-lines with difficulty levels ranging from beginning to expert. The area also has a nearby hiking trail perfect for getting in additional exercise and checking out more of Massachusetts.

11. Rockport

40 miles northeast of Boston, just an hour’s drive away, Rockport offers a romantic getaway. This seacoast village on Cape Ann has plenty of beaches, fresh local seafood, and eclectic shops for chocolates, jewelry, and gifts. You can travel to Rockport by train, car, or the sea, but anyway you get here — once you arrive, you’ll feel worlds away.

12. Wompatuck State Park

Just 30 minutes from the city, Wompatuck State Park boasts 3,500 acres of forests, streams, and ponds. If you’re looking for weekend trips from Boston, turn your visit into a camping trip and stay on-site to soak in the beauty of nature. There are fantastic trails for hiking, mountain biking, and exploring the forest. Plus, wildlife abounds — so you might come across everything from a painted turtle to a muskrat to a raccoon.

13. Glendale Falls

One of the longest waterfall runs in Massachusetts, Glendale Falls plunges into the Westfield River for a dramatic scenery. The hike is moderate and strenuous in certain places, though if you’re looking to get out of the city and breathe in the forest air, this is the place to do so. It’s open year-round every day from sunrise to sunset and is an invigorating place to spend the day. Get away from downtown Boston and your typical Boston day with this outdoor experience.

14. Lincoln Ice Castles

For weekend getaways from Boston in the winter, the Lincoln Ice Castles of New Hampshire are an award-winning frozen attraction. Built by professional ice artists using hundreds of thousands of icicles, these stunning castles feature frozen thrones, slides, iced-carved tunnels and more. Grab yourself a cup of some of the hottest and best coffee in Boston and make your way to one of the country’s most stunning winter attractions.

15. Salem

18 miles from Boston, you’ll find Salem, one of the most famous cities in all of Massachusetts. This is the place to venture if you’re searching for day trips from Boston in the autumn season, as it’s filled with spooky, witch-related events. Learn about Salem’s haunting history and the Witch Trials of 1692 with a visit to the Salem Witch Museum.

16. Plimoth Plantation

Founded in 1947, Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum that replicates the original settlement of the Pilgrims. Visiting Plymouth, Massachusetts is one Boston day trip you need to experience. Step back in time and see the actors play their roles in a fully functioning historic village as well as Plymouth rock. If you’re looking for family-friendly weekend trips from Boston, Plimoth Plantation offers a unique and educational experience.

17. Spectacle Island Sea Glass Beach

If you’re a fan of sea glass, then a visit to Spectacle Island Sea Glass Beach in Quincy, Massachusetts is a must. With hiking, swimming, and tons of treasure to be found, you can spend the whole day combing through the sands and waters. In addition to sea glass, you’ll find dishware, toys, old shoes, and teacups. For a quirky day on the water, bring your camera and plan for a long stroll along the sand in the Boston area.

From the forest trails of Wompatuck State Park to the education experience of Plimoth Plantation, we hope this list has you excited about planning your day trips and weekend getaways. For times when you don’t want to travel too far, make sure the check out all the things to do in Boston this weekend — from pop up markets to beer tastings.

If you’re coming to the city and wondering where to stay in Boston, our beautiful, fully furnished apartments and homes are here for you. Whether you need something family-friendly or close to the best coworking spaces Boston has to offer, our rentals have you covered. The Boston area is a great place to experience beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and whale watching while on an invigorating day trip.

With a prime location near city attractions, dining, and Boston event venues, the Zeus team will help you find your home-away-from-home.

From all of us at Zeus, thanks for reading and have fun on your upcoming weekend adventure.

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