Exploring Boston and beyond
Whether you’re into following the Boston baseball scene, genning up on the infamous Salem witch trials or whale watching off Cape Cod; New England offers entertainment, a fascinating history and natural wonders in equal measure. Danny Baggott shared his top ten Massachusetts must-dos.
Whale watching at Stellwagen Bank
Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash
Whale watching is a serious ecotourism industry in eastern Massachusetts, with an estimated one million passengers hitting the ocean for a chance to observe these fantastic creatures. Most visitors head for Stellwagen Bank, an 842-square-mile marine sanctuary located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay; jump aboard a whale-watching vessel and keep your camera poised for the North Atlantic right, humpback and finback whale, all of which use these waters as a feeding ground.
Laid-back Cape Cod
The peninsula of Cape Cod is summer holiday Nirvana for good reason - stretching from arty Provincetown at the northern tip to the scenic seaside village of Woods Hole, at the extreme southwest corner, there’s something for everyone in the Cape: it oozes historic character, boasts miles of pristine coastline, and there are over 50 golf courses to tee off from. And foodies will love its legendary seafood and superlative ice-cream (lobster flavour, anyone?).
The Boston Red Sox
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The renowned Fenway Park - home to the Boston Red Sox since 1912 - has hosted the World Series an impressive ten times, making baseball’s oldest ballpark one of the most well-known sporting venues in the world. Grab tickets for a Red Sox game and soak up the atmosphere or, on non-game days, book a behind-the-scenes guided tour and follow in the footsteps of legends like David Ortiz, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.
The Salem Witch Museum
The Salem Witch Museum examines the infamous Salem witch trials, a series of hearings between 1692 and 1693, which resulted in 14 women and six men being executed for the supposed crime of witchcraft. Visitors can experience the drama and hysteria that surrounded this slice of American history through life-size stage sets complete with a spine-tingling narration, while the second part of the exhibition examines the changing perceptions of witches today.
The New England Aquarium
Photo by StockSnap on Pixabay
Boston’s New England Aquarium sets the aquarium bar high: it’s home to thousands of aquatic animals, from the giant Pacific octopus to lionfish, sea dragons and little blue penguins. This underwater paradise also has an impressive array of exhibits including the Giant Ocean Tank, a four-storey Caribbean reef, and the largest shark and ray touch tank on the east coast. Don’t miss the chance to see astonishing footage of sea creatures at the IMAX theatre.
Ramblewild in Lanesborough
Set in ten acres of New England forest, Ramblewild is the ultimate tree-to-tree adventure park. The focal point is a 15-foot central platform, which is the starting point for eight aerial obstacle courses - four of which cross a ravine. The courses range in ability but, whichever you choose, you’ll be faced with high wires, zip lines, balancing logs, rope ladders, cargo nets and suspended bridges. For those who prefer a slower pace, guided hikes are also on offer.
The 7.5-mile long Duxbury Beach - which runs from Marshfield in the north to Gurnet Point and Saquish in the south - is recognisable by its endless stretch of sand dunes and beach roses. In addition to soaking up the sun and myriad watersports, there’s also ample opportunity to enjoy the area’s marine life, native and migratory birds, and indigenous vegetation. Families will love the Kid’s Corner, which offers fun beach activities.
The Norman Rockwell Museum
The Norman Rockwell Museum - set in leafy surrounds in Stockbridge - showcases the most significant collection of the American artist’s work in the world. Best known for his depiction of US culture in the early 20th-century, particularly the illustrations he created for The Saturday Evening Post over nearly five decades, the museum houses his studio, too, including personal memorabilia and reference materials.
Located south of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard covers an area of 100 square miles, making it the third largest island on the east coast. It’s a magical place to while away a summer’s day with its picture-postcard cottages and lighthouses, well-maintained beaches and vibrant cultural scene - little wonder it’s a beloved holiday hotspot for America’s well-heeled (Obama likes to kick back here). Don’t miss the chance to ride the Flying Horses, the country’s oldest working carousel, constructed in 1876.
The Museum of Fine Arts
Photo by McElspeth on Pixabay
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston - founded in 1870 - is the fourth largest of its kind in the US, containing more than 450,000 works of art. From Egyptian artifacts and Japanese pottery to 14th-century triptychs and works by Andy Warhol, some of the finest pieces in the world are on display here, so you’ll need to plan your visit carefully to make sure you don’t miss anything. Do leave time for the shop, though, which has an astonishing collection of books on art.
Words by Danny Baggott