History lies thick on the ground in the towns surrounding Boston—from Pilgrims to pirates, witches to whalers, the American Revolution to the Industrial Revolution. The sights outside the city are at least as interesting as those on Boston’s Freedom Trail. When you’re ready to trade history lessons for beach fun, Cape Cod to the south and the North Shore to the northeast entice sand-and-sun seekers.
Rich in more than history, the areas surrounding Boston also allow visitors to retrace the steps of famous writers, bask in the outdoors, and browse shops in funky artist communities. The haunts of literary luminaries of every generation lurk throughout Massachusetts. Head to Concord to visit the place where Henry David Thoreau wrote his prophetic Walden and where Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women brightened a grim time during the Civil War. Relive Nathaniel Hawthorne’s vision of Puritan-era Salem. Stop in Lowell to see where Jack Kerouac lived before going On the Road.
The seaside towns of Massachusetts were built before the Revolution, during the heyday of American shipping. Ipswich’s First Period homes (there are more here than anywhere else in the nation) and Newburyport’s majestic Federal Style mansions, grand old houses, and bustling waterfronts evoke a bygone world of clipper ships, robust fishermen, and sturdy sailors.
In a more contemporary vein, Boston and its suburbs have become a major destination for food and wine lovers. Internationally acclaimed chefs, including Barbara Lynch, Frank McClelland, and Ming Tsai, draw thousands of devoted, discerning foodies to their restaurants each year. The state’s extensive system of parks, protected forests, beaches, and nature preserves satisfies everyone from the avid hiker to the beach bum.