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As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston is teeming with culture and history. In the past, it’s been known as the Athens of America, and you’ll find museums, libraries, and galleries aplenty too. It’s no surprise that two of the most prestigious centres of learning in the US (if not the world) are here!
With everything to explore in Boston, you’ll not be short of things to do. However, you may feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city after a few days. And it’d be a shame not to, nearby there are plenty of historical towns and natural wonders to discover. But which should you visit?
That’s where we come in. Our team of expert travel writers have put together this list of the best day trips from Boston. We’re confident that there’s something in there which suits your budget, travel style, and interests.
So, let’s jump straight in and explore the best day trips from Boston!
Table of Contents
This place is huge, and it can be tricky deciding on the best place to stay in Boston. Do you want to be in the historical and traditional Beacon Hill? Perhaps you want to sample the delicious American-Italian cuisine of North End. If you’re planning to take in a Red Sox game, then Fenway-Kenmore is the area for you! We’ve selected three of the best hotels in Boston, so take a look and see which one suits your taste and budget!
If you’re looking for the best budget hotel in Boston, you can’t do much better than this! Comfortable and clean rooms await you, as does a ping pong table for when you want to kick back and relax. The good news about this hotel is if you’re travelling solo or on a budget, you can reserve a bed in one of the dormitories. A great way to save money and meet other travellers!
Not sure where to say? We’ve put together a list of Downtown Boston’s best hotels!
This three star hotel is an excellent place if you want to splash out but don’t want to go too far overboard! And you’ll be pleased to know that after a busy day of sightseeing (whether in Boston or on a day trip) you can spend the evening relaxing those aching muscles in the indoor pool or hot tub! A complimentary hot breakfast is yours every morning, at no extra cost!
Boston is Big! You have to decide in which part you’ll stay, which is why we created our Boston neighborhood guide!
Set in Beacon Hill, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Boston, this five star offering is the best luxury hotel in Boston. All rooms come with a view, whether that’s the garden, the city, or the river! If you want to keep busy, you can take advantage of the restaurant, the bar, or pump some iron in the gym. All of that before retiring to your comfortable room!
Best Day Trip from Boston – Cape Cod
Best Day Trip from Boston by Train – Plymouth and the Plimoth Plantation
Best Romantic Day Trip from Boston for Couples – Martha’s Vineyard
Best Day Trip from Boston with Kids – Old Sturbridge Village
At 2 hours away by public transport, or an hour and a half by road, you can see one of the jewels of the Northeastern United States: Cape Cod. Although the best day trip from Boston isn’t enough time to see the whole of the Cape, you can enjoy some of its most important sites.
One of the highlights is the oldest village on the Cape, Sandwich. Choose between visiting the Heritage Museum and Gardens, the Sandwich Glass Museum, and some great beaches while in town.
If you have time, you’ll want to do a cruise in Cape Cod. The scenic and picturesque bay is the perfect place to disconnect from the stress of the real world!
Insider tip – Use our expert guide to see when the best time to visit Boston is!
The Plimoth Plantation looks like a mis-spelling of Plymouth, but trust us we’ve double-checked! Plymouth was the first European settlement in the whole of the United States, so this place is overflowing with history.
The best place to learn about that is at the Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum which will drag you back to the 17th century when the first boats docked on US soil! Costumed interpreters will show you exactly what life, dress, and even a different language was like back in the day. The town of Plymouth is worth some time too – don’t forget to check out Sparrow House. It’s the oldest surviving wooden house in town!
It’s only 50 minutes on a commuter train to get here, so this is right up there with the best day trips from Boston by train!
Planning a trip? See our list of the best things to see in Boston!
Salem is known above all else for the witch trials, and although that’s an important part of the town’s history, there’s a lot more to it than that. In just over half an hour, a commuter train will take you to this fascinating town, and you can see exactly what we mean.
You wouldn’t know it now, but this peaceful port town was once a more important port than Boston! It was in fact, the centre of America’s China Trade. You can see that reflected in the Peabody Essex Museum, which boasts a fully furnished 18th century Chinese house from the Huizhou region of China.
In among the 18th and 19th century architecture, you do of course have to visit the Salem Witch Trials Museum. You can also take guided tours of the town from a modern-day witch! Salem is easily another of the best day trips from Boston by train.
Cross the state lines from Massachusetts to Rhode Island for our next best day trip from Boston. Yes, that’s right, you’ll be enjoying the opulence and grandeur of ‘America’s First Resort’, Newport!
Back in the early years of the 1900s, this is where the super-rich from New York picked as their weekend escapes. At this time, they competed to see who could have the biggest, most bombastic mansion. Although the mansions aren’t used as summer homes anymore, many of them have been restored to their former pomp. And you can visit them!
Some are modelled on French chateaus, some have Chinese tea rooms, while some just have fabulous collections of art. After all this opulence, head to Newport’s humbler waterfront. It’s a great place to pick up some souvenirs!
Provincetown is on the northern tip of Cape Cod, but there are a few reasons we haven’t just lumped it in with a day trip to the Cape itself. First of all, it’s quite far, so it’s not the sort of place you want to just spend an hour or two walking around.
The city is steeped in history, being the point where the Mayflower first landed back in 1620. The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum will be able to tell you all you needed to know and more about this! It’s a top spot for foodies and art lovers too, with some great restaurants and galleries around.
If you’re visiting in spring, summer, or fall, make sure you check out the Waterfire Program. It takes place in the lovely and relaxing Waterplace Park.
Europeans first landed in the United States as far back as 1620, but it wasn’t until more than 150 years later that the country became independent. And it’s Concord and Lexington where the first shots of that struggle for independence were fired!
These two towns are easily one of the best day trips from Boston for history buffs. Start off in Lexington by admiring the statue of the Minute Man on the Green. There are a number of other historical sites related to the Revolution, including the Buckman Tavern, and North Bridge. They’re all part of Minute Man Historical Park.
In Concord, there’s a little more to get your teeth into than war and revolution. It’s where some of the most celebrated American authors and philosophers gathered. Some of these include Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women!
Tourist areas in Boston are usually pretty safe, but remember that this is a big city and regular caution should be applied. Try to travel in a group where possible, and don’t get into a situation where you’re alone at night. Also, remain vigilant to petty crime and theft. Areas to avoid are Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury. Luckily, you won’t be missing much in the way of tourist attractions there!
Just like Cape Cod, a single day isn’t really enough to explore the entirety of Martha’s Vineyard. However, that definitely shouldn’t put you off visiting this famous island. The adventure begins before you arrive though, as the journey across Vineyard Sound is certainly one to savour.
There’s a bus which can show you some of the island’s key sights, including the cottages of Oak Bluffs, Aquinnah Cliffs, and the numerous lighthouses. But, if you want to relax on the beach, then who are we to tell you otherwise?!
There are a few towns on Martha’s Vineyard – 6 in all. Realistically, you won’t see all 6 in a day, but it’s perfectly reasonable to check out the top attractions in 2!
What do Nicholas Sarkozy, Vladimir Putin, and Margaret Thatcher all have in common? Yes, that’s right, they’ve all holidayed in Kennebunkport! Also, George W. Bush had a summer home here. If it’s good enough for world leaders, we’re sure that you’ll enjoy it too.
Kennebunkport is a lovely place to walk around. The quaint and charming town centre is packed with locally owned galleries, shops, and restaurants. Pick one of those to sample some of the finest seafood in Maine!
It’s not just Kennebunkport that will sweep you off your feet though. The journey along the New Hampshire and Maine coastlines is pretty spectacular. It’s a great way to see New England!
Learning about a new country’s culture and history is almost always fascinating. However, after a few days, it can feel like mental overload and you’ll want to do something a little more familiar. How about a spot of retail therapy? Okay, well Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is definitely the best day trip from Boston if you love shopping!
With over 170 outlet stores in one place, you’re sure to pick up some bargains. And these aren’t just any old shops! You’ll find some major premium brands at Wrentham Village. Some of the most popular include Calvin Klein, Bloomingdale’s, and Salvatore Ferragamo. You’ll find some heavily discounted goods here, a great way to treat yourself while on vacation!
If you’re travelling as a family, you’ll want a day trip that isn’t too far away and can keep everyone entertained. Let us present you with Old Sturbridge Village, the best day trip from Boston with kids! It’s just an hour away by road, perfect if you have your own transport.
This open-air museum consists of over 40 buildings which represents a New England town of the 1830s. Yep, it’s a little more advanced than the Plimoth Plantation! Set across over 200 acres, you can visit reconstructed homes, schools, and farms just to name a few things. And you’ll be performed by expert historians in period costume!
If all of this isn’t enough, we’re sure that kids especially will love the heritage breed farm animals!
One of the best day trips from Boston for nature lovers, you won’t actually see Stellwagen Bank itself. Why’s that? Because it’s an underwater plateau of the Atlantic Ocean! It also happens to be one of the most biologically productive marine environments in the world.
It’s one of the best places on the East Coast (if not the whole of the USA) to spot marine life. You can expect to see harbour porpoises and dolphins. But the most common and arguably impressive sighting is the humpback whale. Because the waters are so rich in food, mothers often bring their young here to teach them how to hunt.
Several of the whale watching tour companies are so confident that you’ll see whales on your trip, that they offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t see any. They don’t have to refund people often!
New York is many people’s dream holiday destination, so why wouldn’t you go if you have the chance! From Boston, you can easily get there by road, rail, or flight and be back to your hotel in the evening for bed.
We probably don’t need to tell you too much about what to expect from New York. After all, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the Empire State Building have featured in countless movies and TV shows.
In addition to that, you’ve got Broadway matinees, great places to eat, and the chance to shop till you drop. The only problem with this day trip from Boston is that one day might not be enough!
With all of the great day trips from Boston we’ve included so far, you might find yourself getting exhausted if you do too many. That’s not the case here though. Gloucester and Good Harbor Beach is one of the most chilled out trips you can do from Boston.
Chill out on the white sands or go for a paddle in the Sea. When the tide is low, you can even wade all the way out to Salt Island!
If you want to incorporate some water sports into your holiday, you can tick skimboarding and boogie boarding off your bucket list. Gloucester is just an hour away on the train, so you don’t have to come back too far with sand in your shoes!
Niagara Falls, that’s a bit far from Boston, isn’t it?! Well, yes, it is. Unless you take a plane! That cuts the 11-hour public transport journey to just 1 hour. And it’s well worth it to see one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders!
This gargantuan collection of 3 waterfalls straddles the US and Canadian border. It draws in an eye-watering 30 million tourists every year, a number which shows no sign of stopping growing!
To get the best view of the falls, take a ride on the Maid of the Mist, which will get you close to the cascades themselves!
So, that concludes our list of the best day trips from Boston. Whichever way you head from the city, you’ll not have any trouble finding the perfect day trip for you and your travel companions.
Within a stone’s throw of the city, there are beaches, islands to discover, and several historical monuments. If you’re happy to go a little further, you can even discover iconic locations such as New York City and Niagara Falls!
Boston is extremely well connected by road, rail, and flight, so whichever your preferred method of travel, your perfect day trip awaits.
Obviously, there are so many day trips close to Boston that we may have missed a couple off. If you think that’s the case, leave us a message in the comments!
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Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties. When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.