Boston is a destination full of history, delicious food, and fun, but with so many amazing things to do nearby, you’re going to want to get out of the city and explore. Here are some of the best day trips from Boston to complete your trip!
Best Day Trips from Boston
Visit Historic Salem
Historic Salem, just 25 miles northeast of Boston, makes an ideal day trip for history fans, art lovers, or anyone who enjoys the Halloween season!
Famous for its 1692 witch trials, today the Witch City offers historic house tours, walking tours, and a variety of museums, along with plenty of shopping and dining opportunities.
Must-see attractions in Salem include the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch House, and the fabled House of the Seven Gables. Step back in time at Pioneer Village to experience Salem life in the 1630s. Another option is to the Salem Night Tour to hear creepy legends.
Salem is also home to the Peabody Essex Museum, one of the top art museums in the US. Enjoy their vast collection from around the world, including 1.3 million pieces of Asian art.
The sea air will pique your appetite, so be sure to sample some of the best restaurants in town. Ledger serves a well-curated, upscale dinner menu, or indulge in their brunch if you visit on a Sunday.
Lobster Shanty in funky Artists Row is perfect for lunch. Enjoy a lobster roll (or a Lobstertini cocktail!) on their patio overlooking picturesque Derby Square.
The most popular time to visit Salem is always October, for the annual Haunted Happenings celebration. If you’d rather avoid the crowds, go in the summer, or in November after all the revelers have left.
You can reach Salem easily in about 35-45 minutes from Boston by car. Or take the commuter rail from North Station. There is also a high-speed ferry from Long Wharf, or even an MTA bus from Haymarket Square.
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Best Day Trips from Boston: Drive the Kancamagus Highway
One of the best day trips from Boston is driving the Kancamagus Highway. The Kancamagus Highway is a scenic drive spanning 34-miles across the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It is considered one of the most beautiful foliage drives in the world. It offers the perfect opportunity to get out of the city and be in nature!
The Kancamagus Highway can begin in Lincoln or Conway. I suggest starting the drive in Lincoln and ending in Conway. Lincoln is a 2-hour drive from Boston and has many breakfast diners, such as Flapjacks and White Mountain Bagel Co, to fuel up at before spending the day driving through the White Mountains. The Kancamagus Highway does not have any businesses, so I highly recommend packing lunch and snacks before beginning the drive. Once the drive ends in Conway, I suggest having a delicious dinner at Wicked Fresh Craft Burgers or Muddy Moose Restaurant before making the 2.5-hour drive back to Boston.
Although the drive on the Kancamagus Highway only takes an hour, I highly recommend spending a full day exploring everything it has to offer. If you want even more information check out this self-guided driving audio tour. Here are the best things to do and see:
- Hancock Overlook
- Pemigewasset Overlook
- CL Graham Wangan Overlook
- Sugar Hill Scenic Vista
- Sawyer Pond Trail
- Sabbaday Falls
- Champney Falls
- Rocky Gorge
- Albany Covered Bridge
- Boulder Loop Trail
- Hedgehog Mountain Trail
The best time to drive the Kancamagus Highway is in the fall to view the beautiful foliage, but it offers stunning views in every season, making it the perfect day trip from Boston year-round!
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Six Flags New England
Six Flags New England is a wonderful theme park located in Agawam, Massachusetts, just a few minutes from the Connecticut border. It makes for one of the best day trips from Boston, as it is just under 2 hours by car taking I90 West.
With thrill rides for adventure seekers, milder family rides, and gentle rides for younger ones, Six Flags New England has something for everyone. In terms of food, guests can bring their own into the park or buy from one of the many concessionaires scattered throughout the park.
Most people visit during the summer months, as that is when school is out and the adjacent water park is open, which is included with admission. Don’t let the crowds deter you though, as it can still be a fun-filled day, despite the wait times.
For those looking to visit during late September and October, there is an extra element of fun as Six Flags transforms the park with Halloween decorations. Their annual Fright Fest After Dark is a unique way to celebrate the holiday and enjoy a good scare in one of the many scream zones located around the park. Once the temperatures drop, Six Flags New England is open on the weekends to celebrate the holiday season with Santa visits, hot chocolate, and fun activities for the kids.
The theme park does close from January through mid-April. Regardless of the season, you choose to visit, Six Flags New England has plenty to do for all within an easy drive from Boston.
Read More: 3 Day Boston Itinerary
Best Day Trips from Boston: Fort Williams Park and Portland, Maine
Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is less than two hours’ drive up north from Boston and it’s a great place for seeing historical landmarks, spending time at the park, and doing some short hikes on
the rocky shoreline.
Fort Williams Park is where the famous Portland Head Light is standing, and it is indeed a very impressive lighthouse. Completed in 1791, it is the oldest lighthouse in Maine and had an important part in the history of the area. Initially, it was used to help ships avoid the rocky shores on their way to Portland Harbor, and later also had a significant role during the Civil War. The museum next to the beautiful white lighthouse tells more about its history.
Around the lighthouse, you can walk on the trails along the shoreline and enjoy an amazing view of Casco bay and its islands, as well as the lighthouse from far. The green lawns are perfect for a family picnic or
just relaxation in the sun.
15-20 minutes’ drive from Fort Williams Park take you to the vibrant downtown of Portland. This is where you can enjoy lunch and stroll between galleries, historical statues, stores, and restaurants. I loved the Pizza at Portland Pie Company on 51 York St.
Before you finish the day, do not miss the Eastern Promenade, a lovely park along Casco Bay. It is great for strolling, hanging out, or just passing through with your car, before going back on the highway and heading back home.
One of our family’s favorite day trips from Boston is the historical seaside town of Plymouth, MA. About 45 minutes south from Boston by car – or about an hour on an MBTA train from Boston’s South Station – Plymouth is a beautiful New England town famous for its first visitors who arrived from England known as the Pilgrims.
It is here where you can visit Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrims’ ship, the Mayflower, arrived on November 11, 1620. You can also tour the Mayflower II, a replica of the original 17th century ship.
One of our favorite things to do after seeing these spots is to spend time at Plimoth Patuxet (formerly Plimoth Plantation.) It’s a fascinating step back into history, where you can learn all about the Pilgrims, their journey to America, and what led to the American holiday, Thanksgiving. Plimoth Patuxet is fascinating and educational, as families can explore a Wampanoag Homesite and meet members of the Wampanoag or other Native Nations, who can talk about their ancestors from a modern perspective.
You will also explore a 17th century English Village, a replica of where the Pilgrims lived, and step back into history. Actors portray members of this village and talk about what life was like, engage in conversations from a 17th century perspective, and talk about the first Thanksgiving with their Wampanoag neighbors. Onsite you can enjoy dining, including foods that were common in the 17th century. Plymouth is a wonderful, educational day trip and one of the best things to do with kids on your visit to Boston.
If you’re in Plymouth in the evening take the Ghost and History Night Tour. Explore the historic city streets and head to Plymouth’s oldest cemetery to (hopefully) discover some paranormal activity.
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Best Day Trips from Boston: Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a historic port city located about an hour and a half from Boston, Massachusetts factoring in some traffic. It is a short 65-mile road trip north of Boston but feels like it’s a world away.
The peace and satisfaction that comes with taking in a sunset over the port of Portsmouth, while having dinner at The River House Restaurant is definitely something that needs to be experienced when you visit Portsmouth. If you like to shop, Portsmouth is perfect to shop locally at one of the many local boutiques and shops.
If you want to get out and get active, rent a bike to see this adorable city with ease.
For history lovers, check out the Strawberry Banke Museum, a 10-acre outdoor history museum that shares the 300+ year history of American History. Another great way to see the beautiful scenery of Portsmouth is by a harbor cruise, which has been run by Portsmouth Harbor cruises since 1982.
Everywhere you turn in Portsmouth takes you back into time, and some homes such as Moffatt- Ladd House and Garden are open for visitors to tour. Finally, it is time for some entertainment, and there is no better place to spend the night than at The Music Hall. The Music Hall is the 14th oldest theater in America and hosts musicals, plays, and shows most nights.
After a busy day, there is no better place than Book and Bar Portsmouth for an entertaining meal. This eatery has the look and feels like a book store, but actually serves wine, beer, tea, coffee, and food in a unique environment.
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If you’re in need of a break from the hustle and bustle of Boston, then a day trip to Newport to breath in the fresh ocean air is perfect. Only a 90 minute drive away from Boston is the idyllic seaside town of Newport, Rhode Island. If you’re visiting Boston for a while without a car, you can also take a Peter Pan bus to Newport.
Located on Aquidneck Island, Newport is surrounded by breathtaking beaches and sea cliffs. Take a stroll along the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk to take in the nature of the area (Something that should be on your New England Bucket List!).
There are a few parking areas so you do not have to do the whole thing if you’re short on time. Park near The Breakers, one of the most famous mansions so you can do that when nearby. The mansions of Newport are famous for their history and architecture. If you want to visit The Breakers and get some extra special infomration about the area take the Newport Gilded Age Mansion Trolley Tour, which includeds the entrance fee to The Breakers.
If you’re visiting in the summertime, taking a sailboat out on the water is a true Newport experience. In the spring and fall you can still see sailboats on the water, but in the winter the boats are taken out of the water due to freezing.
Any day trip wouldn’t be complete without delicious food (Or a super fun food tour!)! If you arrive in Newport for breakfast, head to Cru Cafe near the Audobain Museum – the blueberry stuffed french toast is delicious! For lunch, visit the Fifth Element for classic American fare with a New England twist. It wouldn’t be New England without a seafood meal. The Black Pearl is located on Bannister’s Wharf and has views of the harbor – but be sure to make reservations ahead of time!
A wonderful mixture of nature, history, and food makes Newport one of the best destinations on the east coast!
Read More: Bucket List Things to do in New England
Best Day Trips from Boston: Martha’s Vineyard
Need a little break from Boston? Consider a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard. You’ll have to hit the road early to get the most of out of your day, but island life will be well worth it! Drive a little over an hour south to Cape Cod and then take the 35-minute ferry from Falmouth or Woods Hole.
If traffic is a concern, you can also drive to New Bedford, Massachusetts and take the 45-minute ferry ride to the island. Planning is key to make sure your day trip is a success. Don’t forget to factor in traffic, finding parking, and getting to your ferry on time!
Don’t have a car? Or just don’t want to drive? Book this Martha’s Vineyard Day Trip with optional add on Island Tour.
Once you’ve arrived on Martha’s Vineyard, you’ll immediately be greeted by the slower paced charm you’ve been waiting for. Get around easily with the public bus system or rent bicycles for the day to explore the island at your own pace.
Your number one must do? Visit the famous gingerbread houses in Oak Bluffs, officially called Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. Once you’ve seen enough of this adorable area, grab an ice cream cone from Mad Martha’s Ice Cream and check out The Flying Horses, America’s oldest carousel.
There are endless options on how you choose to spend the rest of your day. Visit several of the famous Jaws filming locations, laze on the beach if weather permits, or go lighthouse hunting for some of the island’s five different lighthouses. Get your shopping fix at some of the most unique boutique shops in Edgartown. Feeling hungry? Grab a delicious lunch at Lucky Hanks or Among the Flowers.
If slower paced charm is what you’ve dreaming of, Martha’s Vineyard will surely deliver!
A short drive or train ride from Boston takes you to the beautiful state capital of Rhode Island: Providence. Often overlooked in favor of its more famous neighbors, like Newport, Providence is a gem of a city that is well worth a day trip from Boston or weekend trip.
To get there, we strongly recommend taking the commuter rail. The Providence/Stoughton rail line departs regularly from South Station in Boston and drops you off right in front of the Rhode Island State House (pictured). The trip takes a little less than an hour and is relaxing and inexpensive (especially if you take advantage of the “weekender” discount fares, which are $10 for unlimited rides and frequently available.)
Once you arrive, check out the Rhode Island State House, which is beautiful inside and out, with Neoclassical architecture and original murals and bas reliefs inside and free tours available.
The nearby downtown area is charming to walk around, especially around the riverfront, where the Water Fire festival takes place each summer. This area has several options for walking tours and boat tours. want something extra special and like wine? Vineyard Voyages offers floating wine tasting of local Rhode Island wines!
Providence has an impressive amount of stately architecture and protected historic properties, especially in the College Hill area, home to Ivy League institution Brown University. Spend some time exploring Brown’s beautiful campus, and head over to nearby Rhode Island School of Design for a distinctly different, yet still collegiate, vibe and an excellent museum.
If you’re feeling hungry, Providence has a fantastic food scene to check out. We recommend Mokban Korean Bistro for delicious Korean fare or Providence Coal-Fired Pizza if you’re in the mood for some comfort food.
In the afternoon, don’t miss a visit to Roger Williams Park, a total jewel and a great place to relax and people-watch, or perhaps check out their zoo.
Mount Morgan & Mount Percival Loop Hike
The 5.2-mile Mount Morgan & Mount Percival Loop Hike in New Hampshire is an easy day trip from Boston. The trail is located near Sandwich, New Hampshire, a quaint country town that deserves its own visit.
The recommended route is clockwise—which means climbing Mount
Morgan first and then Mount Percival. Expect crowded parking lots during a weekend climb as spending time in nature is a big draw in this area. The first two miles of the hike is a steady incline with lots of distractions including flowers, moss-draped rocks, and pungent trees. There is a ladder “ascent” to reach Mount Morgan or you can walk around some big boulders.
When you reach the top, expect breathtaking views of blue mountaintops, alpine forests, and Lake Winnipesaukee (the largest lake in New Hampshire). I highly recommend packing a picnic basket (brunch or lunch) because this is a great “peak” moment to spread out, enjoy the view
The second part of the hike involves crossing the ridge to get to Mount Percival. It is about a 0.8-mile trek. After you crawl over rocks and shimmy down on your butt, you will reach the summit (2,212-feet). It feels like you can see the whole state of New Hampshire spread out below.
There is an otherworldly rock sculpture that is ideal for an Instagram post. You then have the choice to hike back to Rt. 113 via cliffs or via caves. The latter is quite difficult especially if you are claustrophobic. This is a great workout.