Want to go out of Boston for a day? Looking for top destinations to travel to? Here is the list of the best day trips from Boston.
While Bostonians have a lot to do in the metropolis, heading out for the day every once in a while allows you to enjoy the many attractions that are just a stone’s throw away from the city.
If you want to sit by the beach, Cape Cod is just 70 miles away and can be reached via a bus or a ferry. Those who enjoy history will have a wonderful time in Salem, which is about an hour’s drive away.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island, a little over an hour’s drive away, is the hub of early 20th-century architecture. Needless to say, you can plan all sorts of day trips from Boston, owing to the city’s convenient location in the New England region.
In this guide, we list the best family day trips from Boston, along with one-day ventures for couples and solo travelers.
Regardless of your taste, you’ll find the perfect adventure for yourself in this guide.
Table of Contents
- See all of Boston First!
- Boston Pass Comparisons
- Best Day Trips From Boston
- Salem, Massachusetts
- One of the Best Boston Day Trips: Newburyport, Massachusetts
- Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire
- Wachusett Mountain, Massachusetts
- Newport, Rhode Island
- Cape Cod National Seashore
- Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
- Castle Hill
- Gloucester, Massachusetts
- Aeronaut Brewery
- Take the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard
- Dune’s Edge Campground
- Visit the historic sites of Lexington and Concord
- New York City, New York
- Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
- Providence, Rhode Island
- White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
- Old Sturbridge Village
- Portland, Maine
- New Bedford Whaling Museum
- Norman Rockwell Museum
- Portsmouth, New Hampshire
- Peabody Essex Museum
- Niagara Falls
- Why you should do day trips from Boston?
- What are some of the best day trips from Boston?
See all of Boston First!
Boston is one of the most incredible and important foundational cities in the entire United States (I mean, you knew that already, otherwise you wouldn’t be visiting or planning a trip!). Before you embark outside the city limits to see what there is to see, make sure you see the best attractions in Boston first.
Oooh, but it’s too expensive!
Nonsense! You just gotta get your hands on a pass to help you save on entry fees and even public transport. Check out what’s available and see all this amazing city has to offer before heading out!
Boston Pass Comparisons
Best Day Trips From Boston
As discussed earlier, the location of Boston makes it a convenient distance from many national attractions, including national parks, museums, art galleries, historic houses, and much more.
If you have an American Express card, make sure to put your points to use during your trips.
Day trips to Salem from Boston are very popular among people who want to get home before nightfall.
The city’s folklore about witches and their persecution never ceases to be enticing. Apart from this, Salem also has a lot of other attractions.
The Peabody Essex Museum showcases the original documents of the witch trials from centuries ago. You can even see a copy of Malleus Maleficarum, a guide for witch hunters.
The historic downtown area was home to the Salem Witch Trials and also features historic homes and historic buildings. Plus, Salem is just a short drive from downtown Boston.
If you want to get the most out of the city in a day, hop on the Salem Trolley. It goes through the Old Burying Point, Witch Dungeon Museum, House of the Seven Gables, and the Salem Witch Museum.
You can also ride the trolley at night when it converts into Tales & Tombstones Trolley, revisiting the historical murderers. If you love binge-watching horror movies, this ride will be perfect for you.
If it’s too late to go back home after the ride, book an Airbnb in the city.
Oh, and did we mention that the Halloween-favorite Hocus Pocus was filmed in the city?
None of the day trips to Salem from Boston are complete without visiting the film locations, such as the school and Allison’s House. There are plenty of great haunted hotels in Salem if you are up for the overnight challenge of hauntings.
See Related: Boston CityPASS Review
One of the Best Boston Day Trips: Newburyport, Massachusetts
Newburyport is another beach-side town north of Boston. Unlike Rockport and Gloucester which attract crowds, Newburyport remains an overlooked gem in our list of best day trips.
Originally a shipping port Newburytown has a well-maintained historic center that dates back centuries. The old church lies beside large park areas, and luxury shops and restaurants are expanding by the dozen.
While a modern city, it retains much of the New England coast charm of its past. You can easily spend a day exploring the Newburyport waterfront, parks, and shops.
The town is also home to a number of festivals throughout the year, making it a great destination for a weekend getaway. So if you’re looking for a charming seaside escape, be sure to add Newburyport to your list.
A short distance to the city center of Newburyport is Plum Island, a popular attraction nearby.
Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire
A visit to Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire constitutes one of the best day ski trips from Boston. The region has 66 trails with some of the best grooming and snowmaking experiences on the east coast.
Since it’s just two hours away, you can make it a skiing road trip experience with kids.
With 230 acres of the trail area, Mount Sunapee has something for beginners, intermediates, and pros. In fact, there’s a designated beginner slope where you can practice skiing if you’re not yet skilled at it.
If the skiing tires you out or you just want to give it another go the next day, book a hotel from Kayak and rest the night away.
This makes for a lovely weekend getaway during the winter where you can enjoy all the best that New England has to offer during a ski trip.
Wachusett Mountain, Massachusetts
Speaking of ski resorts near Boston, a visit to Wachusett Mountain makes one of the best day ski trips from Boston.
For one, it’s just an hour away, and you can even take the train. Secondly, there’s a designated bus that will take you to the base lodge of the Mountain.
Here, you’ll find 25 trails, divided according to the experience level. Plus, there’s a separate area for newbies. Since the trails stay open for up to 10 pm, you can even go there after work to enjoy skiing.
Moreover, Wachusett Mountain also has a huge selection of rental equipment, such as snowshoes, telemark skis, advanced boots, and snowboards.
Before you leave, make sure to take a picture of the Boston skyline from the summit, as that’s one of the highlights of this location.
Newport, Rhode Island
About a hundred years ago, the wealthy from New York came to Newport to spend the summers and built the most marvelously extravagant mansions for themselves.
Today, these summer residences serve as tourist attractions that you must visit when planning family day trips from Boston. If you’re in the mood for a walk with a view, the Cliff Walk is the best place to spend your afternoon.
It’s a 3.5-mile walk spanning the city’s shoreline. Plus, you’ll have a view of some of the most exorbitant mansions in the region. For lunch, come to Thames Street, where you can also shop and enjoy a refreshing dining scene.
If you enjoy architecture and history, the Breakers Mansion is a must-visit when in Newport.
It’s among the most famous homes in America, being a Renaissance-style residence used by the Vanderbilt family for their summer stay in the city.
See Related: Do You Need a Car in Boston?
At a little over three hours’ drive away from Boston, Vermont is a picturesque location to enjoy a full day.
To start your day trip to Vermont from Boston, head over to Lake Champlain. It has one of its tips in Canada and the other in Vermont.
Besides the scenic beauty, the lake is also in proximity to historical attractions and wildlife. The lake is a habitat for 318 bird species and 81 fish species. Meanwhile, some claim to have seen a serpent-like animal in the lake, which is nicknamed Champy by the locals.
For those of you who’re always on the hunt for the best ski resorts near Boston, Stowe should be the ideal place for the day. You can visit the Vermont Ski Museum on your day trip to Vermont from Boston, which is one of the most prestigious attractions in the town.
Meanwhile, the Stowe Mountain Resort is among the best ski resorts near Boston for people who want to have the best ski trips from Boston involving other recreational activities too.
Some options include biking through on the Stowe Recreation Path or visiting the Shelburne Museum to explore America’s traditional fine art and folk.
See Related: Route 100 Vermont Road Trip
Cape Cod National Seashore
While skiing near Boston is a prime way to enjoy the snow and terrain, a day trip to Cape Cod allows you to enjoy the beach while going on bike trails and marveling at the wildlife.
Hailed as one of the finest and most enjoyable bike trails in the region, the Cape Cod Rail Trail is perfect for spending the day. The 22-mile trail takes you through the ecosystems of the Lower Cape.
Another place to explore in the region is the Cape Cod National Seashore, which was designated a national park by President John F. Kennedy.
Today, you can go there to sit on one of the many beaches, including the Marconi Beach, Nauset Beach, and Herring Cove beaches.
If you can drive to Provincetown, make sure to visit the Pilgrim Monument, which is a 10-mile climb to the top.
Apart from satisfying your history-living soul, this will also allow you to take a splendid picture of the Provincetown skyline from above.
The town of Provincetown, which is located on the tip of Cape Cod, features a long sandy beach, Race Point Beach, that attracts thousands of tourists each year. Race Point Beach is frequently included on the country’s list of top beaches.
You will not be upset if you make this trip into a full-fledged weekend getaway.
See Related: Best & Fun Things to do on Nantucket Island
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Being the most productive biological ocean environment in the world, the Stellwagen Marine Sanctuary is an ideal place for whale watching.
Don’t worry; you won’t end up wasting your whole day at the sanctuary without a whale in sight. Some cruises in the region guarantee you a free trip if you don’t see a while – that’s how common the sightings are.
You’ll most probably see a female humpback as these whales come back to the waters to teach the young ones how to hunt. Furthermore, you’ll also spot other species, such as the harbor porpoise, white-sided dolphins, and seals.
If you love to go on family day trips from Boston every few months, whale watching should definitely be on your list.
Keep your cameras ready while you’re there.
See Related: Best Tours in Boston
Castle Hill on Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts, is a beautiful waterfront property that is famous for its stunning landscape and is located about an hour away from Boston.
The Castle Hill estate was originally purchased by Richard T. Crane in 1909 as an investment, and the house that stands on the top of Castle Hill today was built by renowned architect David Alder.
The 59-room house offers tours for groups of up to 10 people each time throughout the summer. The estate is also known for its beautiful gardens, which were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Castle Hill is a popular destination for travelers who are looking for a unique and romantic experience.
During the tour, visitors may see many species of animals, including hawks, deer, foxes, and turkeys. The hotel offers a public toilet as well as a snack bar. Guests who prefer staying overnight may book rooms at Castle Hill Inn.
Gloucester is a town with an incredibly gritty vibe, and it’s one of America’s largest fishing villages. The town is full of scents, but it’s still an attraction for local people and tourists alike.
When you arrive in Gloucester during the summer, you’ll be drawn immediately to the beaches where you can also watch all the fishing boats pass by on a summer’s day.
Good Bay and Wingaersheek Beach are two popular beaches, but they’re more for families with young kids because of the smaller waves. Good Harbor is my favorite beach on the Northside.
It has an island that you can walk on when the tide is low. Gloucester is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a different kind of vacation. There’s plenty to do and see, and you’ll definitely get a sense of the town’s unique character in a quintessential New England town environment.
Based in Somerville, Aeronaut Brewery is among the best breweries near Boston as it’s a hub of community and entertainment. Along with beer, the brewery also offers nightly events, such as dance takeovers and live music.
It was started by MIT graduates, who leveraged the science of beer making to plan their business back in 2013. Today, you can enjoy regularly rotating beer drafts at their brewery and make a day trip out of it with friends or family.
Also, while you’re in Somerville, you can also go to the Winter Hill Brewing, which is another one of the best breweries near Boston. In the morning, the brewery turns into a coffee shop that serves espresso drinks and Counter Culture Coffee brews.
You can also get a breakfast sandwich with your coffee.
Take the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard
If you’re looking for a day trip from Boston that offers beautiful beaches, great seafood, and plenty of relaxation, taking a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard is a great option. The island is only about an hour away by ferry, and once you arrive, you’ll find plenty of activities to keep you busy.
These different towns on Martha’s Vineyard will help you make the most of your day trip excursion:
- Edgartown: This area of Martha’s Vineyard is known for its beautiful beaches, and it’s also home to the island’s only golf course.
- Oak Bluffs: Oak Bluffs is a popular spot for visitors, as it’s home to several hotels and bed and breakfasts. The town also has a number of restaurants and shops.
- South Beach: South Beach is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing.
- Vineyard Haven: Vineyard Haven is the island’s ferry port, so it’s a convenient place to start your day trip. The town also has several restaurants and shops.
If you are hearing out to Martha’s Vineyard, make sure that you pack plenty of sunscreens, beach towels, and a change of clothes if you want to enjoy an evening dinner.
Dune’s Edge Campground
If you’re in Cape Cod and want to explore the region a little bit more, the Dune’s Edge is one of the best campgrounds near Boston.
It’s no Marriot when it comes to convenience and ambiance. But the campsite’s proximity to the Cape Cod National Seashore is a sight you shouldn’t miss.
For forty miles, there’s a stretch of beautiful landscape. It includes outdoor recreational spaces, beaches, ponds, marshes, and wildlife habitats.
The camping season lasts from May to October, offering a long timeline to plan your trip to the campgrounds near Boston. While you’re there, book a tour with Art’s Dune Tours. They provide an up-close experience of the beaches in the region.
You can also visit Commercial Street. It has a number of souvenir shops, art galleries, and restaurants to blow away the big city Bostonian smoke.
On the other hand, if you’re searching for campgrounds near Boston that are less than an hour’s drive away, opt for the Waterfront Camp. It’s only 10 miles from the city.
See Related: Best Road Trip Books for Kids
Visit the historic sites of Lexington and Concord
If you’re looking for a great day trip from Boston, you should visit the historic sites of Lexington and Concord. Both towns are located just a short drive from the city, and they offer a wealth of historical attractions to explore.
Lexington is home to the Minute Man National Historical Park, which commemorates the opening battle of the war. It’s a significant location of revolutionary war history that you need to see. You can also tour the Buckman Tavern, which was an important meeting place for the colonists during the lead-up to the war.
Concord, meanwhile, is where you’ll find sites like the Old North Bridge and the Concord Museum. The Old North Bridge is where the “shot heard round the world” was fired and the Concord Museum tells the story of the battle that took place there.
If you want to pay homage to Concord’s famous authors such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, visit Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Both towns make for a great day trip from Boston and are sure to educate and entertain visitors of all ages.
New York City, New York
How could we miss New York when talking about the best day trips from Boston?
Although it’s three and an hour away from Boston, New York’s irresistible appeal makes the drive or the train worthwhile.
When on a one-day trip from Boston to NYC, there’s a lot you can do. For instance, if you’re with your partner or children, catch a movie at the Sidewalk Cinema in East Williamsburg.
If it’s your first time in the city, go see the Statue of Liberty in the spirit of being a tourist. Take the free Staten Island Ferry to get a close look at lady liberty.
To get an up-top view of the city, you can go to the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock. Apart from these common attractions, New York is also known for housing over 80 museums.
It’s hard to choose one museum to visit during your one-day trip from Boston to NYC, with options like the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Sex. Art lovers can also fulfill their life-long wish of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
To get in some scenic views, go for a walk in Central Park. Just a heads-up that it’s much bigger than it looks in movies. It would be helpful to take a map along if you don’t want to get lost in its winding paths.
Sure enough, when you go to NYC, you can’t miss the Theatre District. Here, you can go to the Shubert Alley, a famous alley that has two historical playhouses.
Moreover, don’t forget to take in the blinding moving signs of Times Square. Who knows, you might end up experiencing a live mob?
Anyway, there’s only so much that you can fit in your one-day trip from Boston to NYC. If you’d like to explore the Big Apple more, book a hotel from Kayak to spend the night in a city that never sleeps.
Check out these NYC guides:
- Best Parks in New York City
- Where to Stay Outside of New York City
- CityPASS New York vs New York Pass
- New York Pass Review
See Related: Next Vacay Review
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Finally, we have something for sports lovers who might be looking for something a little different from skiing near Boston.
The Hall of Fame at the Naismith Memorial has more than three hundred expert players. Plus, it has artifacts and a lot more to appease your love for sports.
Moreover, the memorial holds the honor of being the largest monument of its type since it spans over 40,000 square feet.
You can also buy novelty items from the Fame Store. Items from memorabilia and basket kits are ready to be purchased here.
Providence, Rhode Island
Looking for something different to do on your next trip to New England? Check out Providence, Rhode Island. This beautiful town is home to a small but unique art style.
Providence is a great place to visit and an underrated gem in New England. Yes, there are historical sites, pretty neighborhoods, interesting restaurants, and a number of interesting celebrations.
Despite this, they have kept the news hidden from view for a while. Boston may get all the attention, but Providence is definitely worth a visit.
If you go in the summer to Providence, be sure to visit Waterfire where the works from the art galleries spill over the river when local merchants open.
White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
White Mountain National Forest is one of the best day trips from Boston for autumn foliage. The park offers great outdoor activities in late spring and summer. The White Mountains are farther north in height than Boston, therefore the leaves will change earlier. Peak foliage usually occurs from early October to early November.
White Mountain National Forest is a wonderful place to enjoy the beauty of autumn leaves without the crowds of other popular New England destinations.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful hike through the woods or a challenging climb up one of the many peaks, White Mountain National Forest is the perfect place to enjoy the fall season.
Old Sturbridge Village
Old Sturbridge Village is a living history museum located in Sturbridge, Massachusetts that recreates early nineteenth-century New England life, making it one of the best Boston day trips for families or history buffs.
The Village includes a variety of buildings and activities that would have been present in a typical New England town of the time period.
In addition to historic houses and shops, Old Sturbridge Village also has a sawmill, barns, churches, and even a hotel for visitors who want to stay overnight.
Throughout the year, Old Sturbridge Village hosts special events that focus on different aspects of early nineteenth-century life. Group tours are also available for school groups or other organizations. Admission to Old Sturbridge Village ranges from $14-$28.
Portland might be one of the newest food destinations in the US, but it’s definitely worth a visit – especially if you love local libations. Portland is the perfect combination of small-town and fishing village, with a bustling city feel. Its cobblestone streets, incredible views, and amazing food (who doesn’t like a lobster roll) make it the perfect Boston day trip.
Portland is an excellent weekend getaway and the journey is absolutely worth it here. Portland is known for its fresh seafood, so be sure to check out some of the local seafood shacks.
And don’t forget to enjoy some of the local libations – Portland has some excellent breweries and distilleries. So whether you’re looking for a city break or a peaceful getaway, Portland is the perfect destination.
New Bedford Whaling Museum
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of whaling, a visit to the New Bedford Whaling Museum is a must.
Founded in 1903, the museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts documenting the global whaling industry. Highlights include the world’s largest whale logbook collection, the largest Japanese whale collection, and the largest boat model on display.
The museum also features unique artworks from different parts of the globe. New Bedford was one of the most important whaling ports in America, and the museum does a great job of showcasing this important part of Massachusetts history.
If you’re visiting New Bedford, be sure to add the Whaling Museum to your itinerary.
Norman Rockwell Museum
The Norman Rockwell Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in American art. Norman Rockwell was born in 1894 and began studying art as an adult. He developed his talents at some of the best museums in American art.
The Norman Rockwell Museum is the largest Rockwell collection on earth. It provides educational programs for the whole family, tours, art events, and educational programs.
The museum contains over 100,000 objects that include photos, letters, documents of a business, and more. The Norman Rockwell Museum is a great place to learn about this important American artist.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth has become one of my favorite destinations for visitors from New England for the first time. Portsmouth is a small town with a midsize city, situated within New Hampshire’s short rocky coastline just a stone’s throw from Maine. There’s something funky, almost bohemian, to it.
Portsmouth has positioned in an attractive waterfront area directly from Kittery Maine so this location is a good match with southern Maine. The seafood here is fresh and there are surprisingly few tourists. My favorite restaurant in Portsmouth is Portsmouth Gas Light Co.
They have an extensive menu with something for everyone and the servings are huge! The atmosphere is cozy and perfect for a date night or dinner with friends. If you’re ever in the area and looking for a charming downtown, Portsmouth is definitely worth a visit.
Peabody Essex Museum
Peabody Essex Museum is a museum that has an extensive collection of beautiful objects in various genres. In 1797, the first pilgrimage of art came into North America from the Pacific Ocean India, and elsewhere.
In the early 20th century, PEM was known mainly as a “cabinet of natural and artificial wonders.” It is located in Salem, Massachusetts, and was originally established in 1799. It is affiliated with Phillips Academy and Wesleyan University.
The Peabody Essex Museum houses more than 340,000 books and 22 historic buildings. It has a vast glass-fronted atrium and ample seating to relax and study. Peabody Essex Museum’s collections are particularly strong in Asian export art, American painting and decorative arts, maritime art and history, Native American art, and dramatic arts.
Notable pieces in the collection include examples of ship portraits, furniture, textiles, and paintings by artists including John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, and Frank W. Benson.
Peabody Essex Museum also offers many educational programs for families, school groups, and adults.
If you want to explore Niagara Falls, you’d have to clear your day because it’s a long drive. For the day trips to Niagara Falls from Boston, you’ll have to drive for approximately eight hours. If you set on your journey early in the morning, you can come home before midnight.
It’s ambition but can be done. The other alternative is that you can take a private flightseeing tour or helicopter tour from Boston.
However, if you’re too tired to drive back, find a hotel on Booking and stay the night.
Plus, Amtrak is a train that goes from Boston to Niagara Falls. But there’s only one train a day, so you must plan accordingly.
While the waterfall obviously is the most remarkable attraction in the region, you can do a lot more on your day trip to Niagara Falls from Boston.
For instance, you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon surrounded by nature in the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens & Butterfly Conservatory. If you have more time on your hands, you can also drive to the nearby Inniskillin Winery, which is famous for its icewine.
See Related: Best Road Trips in America
Why you should do day trips from Boston?
Boston is the perfect starting point for days out exploring New England and the surrounding areas. It is also the one place to see spires in one day.
Many local people ask me how I get to Boston for a trip. It’s really easy to narrow down merely a couple of sightseeing ideas in Massachusetts. They were sorted according to their vicinity to the city. Public transportation around Boston will never get you to all of these amazing day trips since some of located on islands, some are in remote areas, and some are even in mountains.
The reasons to take day trips from Boston are many and varied, but here are some of the best:
- To see the fall foliage: New England is famous for its vibrant autumn leaves, and there are few better places to enjoy them than on a drive through the countryside. Keep your eyes peeled for sugar maples, as their leaves turn a particularly stunning shade of red.
- To visit charming small towns: From Cape Cod to the Berkshires, Massachusetts is home to many picturesque small towns worth exploring. Step back in time with a visit to Sandwich on Cape Cod, or explore the lively arts scene in North Adams.
- To experience true New England history: A day trip from Boston is the perfect opportunity to explore some of the region’s most important historical sites. Visit Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrims first settled.
What are some of the best day trips from Boston?
Some of the best Boston day trips include exploring the historic city of Salem, taking a scenic drive along the New England coast, visiting the charming town of Plymouth, or heading to the nearby city of Providence. Whatever you decide to do, you’re sure to have a blast.
- Weekend Getaways in Minnesota
- Tampa Bay Itinerary
- A 5-Day Yellowstone Itinerary
- Best Travel Cooler for Road Trips
- Best Day Trips from Scottsdale
Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.
You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.