Thanks to its location on the coast of Massachusetts, Boston is the ideal starting point for several excursions. The most popular is the one leading to the Big Apple but it is not the only one. Rhode Island and Maine are just a few miles away and can be easily reached by car, public transportation or an organized tour.
1. New York, New York!
The Big Apple needs no introduction. Its fame goes beyond the American borders and even those who have never been there know its monuments. If you have booked a flight to the Massachusetts metropolis, you can take the opportunity to visit Manhattan, Brooklyn and Ellis Island.
Although they are on the same coast, they are separated by more than 300 kilometers but, if you wake up very early, you can make a day trip and return to Boston at night.
However, in my opinion, it is preferable to stay at least one night. If this is your case, I recommend you to read the post that explains what to see in New York in two days.
- How to get there: the most comfortable option is the Acela high speed train which takes about 4 hours to get to Manhattan Penn Station. You can also opt for a Greyhound bus which can take between 4.5 and 6 hours.
- Price: A train ticket costs approximately $60. The bus is a bit more expensive, the average price is around $70 (round trip for both options).
2. Escape to Newport, the pearl of New England
This Rhode Island town is known for its splendid mansions. Between 1920 and 1930, wealthy Americans escaped the cities to this stretch of coastline. There are several excursions departing daily from Boston to tour these historic homes.
Among the most beautiful are The Breakers (a splendid Italian Renaissance-style villa), Rosecliff (inspired by the Palace of Versailles) and the Marble House, a jewel of Beaux Arts architecture.
- How to get there: I recommend booking a tour from Boston. It usually lasts about 10 hours and has the explanations of an expert guide.
- Transportation: usually by bus
- Price: more or less 100 €.
3. Admire Cape Cod's pristine beaches
The Cape Cod Peninsula juts out into the Atlantic and features endless sandy beaches adorned with lighthouses and seaside villages. The first English settlers landed here in 1620 and built Provincetown. Interestingly, what was once the city of the Pilgrim Fathers is now a popular destination for the LGBT community.
If you are traveling to Boston in the summer and want to escape the heat of the metropolis, I recommend booking a hotel or tourist accommodation well in advance. Cape Cod is a popular vacation destination, especially for nature lovers and bike trails.
The peninsula is crisscrossed by 114 miles of trails, the best known of which is the Cape Cod Rail Trail that follows the route of an old disused railroad. You will find on site dozens of agencies that rent both mountain bikes and road bikes.
- How to get there: the cheapest option is the Peter Pan bus that reaches the peninsula in just over an hour. Alternatively, you can take a Boston Harbor Cruises ferry to Provincetown in 90 minutes or the Cape Flyer train which takes about 2 hours. You can also opt for an organized excursion. They usually last about 11 hours and cost about 140 €.
- Price: the cheapest is the train which can cost around 35 $/40 $. The bus is usually around $60 while the ferry can cost up to $100.
4. Explore the island of Martha's Vineyard
A few miles south of Boston, just a few miles off the coast of Rhode Island, lies the most exclusive island in the United States. It is home to Obama's summer residence and is known for its lush nature. Perhaps its most famous postcard is the large sandy beaches and cliffs of Aquinnah.
It can be visited all year round although the best seasons are spring and summer. The best way to visit is by choosing an organized tour from Boston.
You will have enough time to explore the island and its six towns: Aquinnah, Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, West Tisbury and Chilmark. If you are traveling with children, I recommend taking them to Island Alpaca, a farm where they can interact with these cute animals.
- How to get there: If you want to get the most out of your excursion, I recommend booking a tour from Boston. They usually include a bus and ferry. However, if you want to get there on your own, I recommend reading the post about transfers to Martha's Vineyard from Boston.
- Price: the cost of the tours is usually around 100 €.
5. Climb the White Mountains mountain range
In northern New Hampshire, bordering Maine and Vermont, rises a mountain range of extraordinary beauty. Its perimeter features waterfalls, glacier-carved gorges, pristine wilderness, zip lines and ski resorts, making it a destination for any season of the year.
In my opinion, if you visit Boston in the fall, I recommend making your way to the White Mountains. The chromatic scale of the forests is simply wonderful and there are dozens of viewpoints. To guide you, I recommend using Foliage Tracker, a website that indicates the best scenic spots according to the month of the year.
- How to get there: The most comfortable way is an organized tour. For a little more than 120 € you will travel to New Hampshire in an air-conditioned van. You will see breathtaking scenery and eat in a charming mountain village. An expert guide is available at all times. You can also rent a car. From Boston, just follow Interstate 93. The drive takes about 2.5 hours. If you don't feel like renting a car, you can opt for a Concord Coach Lines bus to Conway, Berlin or Plymouth.
- Price: A round-trip bus ride ranges from $45 to $70.
6. Travel back to the 19th century at Old Sturbridge Village
Traveling to Boston with children? Then I recommend taking them to an original and interactive museum. Old Sturbridge Village is a village that spans 200 acres and hosts craft workshops, farm animals to interact with and other activities.
The special feature is that all the staff wear the costumes worn in 1830. You can enter a school, the blacksmith's cellar, discover how fabrics are made, produce candles and much more. Being an open-air museum, it is not open all year round. Usually you can visit it from April to October.
- How to get there: the interactive museum is located in Sturbridge, a town of 10,000 souls in Worcester County. To visit it you must necessarily rent a car and drive along Interstate 90. The trip takes a little over an hour.
- Price: a standard ticket costs $28. Children under 3 years old are free, children up to 17 years old pay $14, while those over 55 years old pay $26.
7. Sail the ocean for a whale watching tour
Between April and October, the whales head towards the North Pole to escape the heat. On their journey, they cross the stretch of ocean in front of Boston, making the city the ideal starting point to enjoy the spectacle of the pods.
In addition, a few miles off the coast is the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, a protected area that hosts whales, cod, tuna and large schools of herring.
If you visit Boston in the summer, I recommend booking a whale watching tour. One popular option is on the Boston Aquarium's whale watching vessel. The boats are designed for the task and depart from Central Wharf, the city's financial district.
Departures are usually daily and are divided into two shifts: one in the morning and the second in the early afternoon. The cruises last between 3 and 4 hours and usually provide for groups of about 20 people.
- How to get there: the pier is located near the aquarium. To get there you just need to take the subway (blue line, Aquarium stop).
- Price: between $60 and $70
8. Reach Portland, the largest city in Maine
Are you a fan of Stephen King's novels? Then this city will ring a bell. The famous writer was born here and most of his stories are set in the state of Maine. Portland is the most important city both economically and culturally and is definitely worth a visit.
Any route in Portland should start in the old harbor area which is characterized by the typical red brick buildings. In this area are concentrated restaurants specializing in lobsters (a specialty of Maine), bars and trendy boutiques like Rough & Tumble (famous for handmade handbags) and Aristelle (a must to buy underwear).
Casco Bay Lines ferries depart from here, connecting the mainland with nearby Peaks Island. In just over 20 minutes you'll arrive at a dreamy island dotted with charming cottages and World War II bunkers. To enjoy its charms, I recommend renting a bike or golf cart.
- How to get there: there are guided tours that allow you to visit Portland in one day. You will leave Boston in the morning and return before dinner. You can also opt for a route that includes Portland and other nearby towns(Acadia National Park, York, etc.). If you have a rental car, you can reach Portland in just under two hours via Interstate 95. Alternatively, you can take the train ( Amtrak Downeaster provides connections between the two cities) or the bus ( Concord Coach Lines).
- Price: the train has an approximate cost of $ 48 while the price of a bus is around $ 40.
9. Visit Salem, the city of witches
This town in Essex County is world famous for the witch trials that took place in the 17th century. Much of its tourist offerings revolve around this; the Witch Dungeon Museum (a dramatization of the famous trial) and the Witch House (the house of the judge who conducted the investigations) attest to this.
If you visit Boston in October, Salem should be a must-see. On Halloween the city is filled with pumpkins, ghosts, witch parades and other terrifying characters. For a typical taste, I recommend booking a table at Turner's Seafood (43 Church Street).
- How to get there: the most scenic option is a ferry. Boston Harbor Cruises boats connect the two locations and the trip takes less than 1 hour. Unfortunately, the ship operates only in spring and summer. In the other months you will have to take a Boston Express bus. In this case, the trip takes just over 30 minutes.
- Price: if you choose the train you will have to pay about $45. The bus is more economical as the cost is just over $20.
10. Spend a day shopping at Wrentham Village
The United States is an ideal shopping destination: they have many outlets where the big brands have considerably lower prices. You will find almost exclusively clothes and accessories of the "wrong" season but I assure you that it is worth it.
- How to get there: if you don't have a rental car, you can get there with a combined train and cab ride. You can take the train from Back Bay Station, Boston and get off at Mansfield (Providence/Stoughton line). Once there, you can simply take a cab to the outlet. The ride takes about 45 minutes.
- Price: to take this route you will have to pay about $40.
Duration of the excursions from Boston
It depends on the option chosen. There are half-day tours and excursions that could be extended for one or two nights. For example, if you like green landscapes and the view of the ocean, I recommend you to book a hotel room. For more information I recommend reading the post on how to get to New Hampshire and the article detailing how to get to Cape Cod from Boston.