The capital of Massachusetts isn’t somewhere you necessarily think you’ll have to take a day trip from, and it’s true – Boston has tons to do in the city center. There is a rich history, art museums, and even the famous Harvard University. But considering its prime location on the east coast, it would be an absolute crime to visit and not indulge in some trips from Boston. The wider Boston surrounds are well connected by trains and even better connected by highways and back roads. So book a train ticket or rent a car and get going on a day trip.
Top Day Trips from Boston
Whether you want fresh seafood or to tackle the East Bay Bike Path, these top-day trips from Boston are sure to keep you ticking over throughout your stay. In this guide, we’ll cover Boston’s best day trip options – including day trips you can reach by car and train to keep things accessible for everyone. Let’s get started.
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Below are some of the top day trip tours from Boston. Don’t forget to plan ahead when visiting Boston!
Top Day Trip Activities and Tours from Boston:
1. Plum Island
Plum Island is a lovely day trip from Boston in the summer months. The barrier island is just over an hour’s drive on a bad traffic day and gets its name from the wild plum shrubs that grow along its shores. It also earned the title ‘plum’ from the characteristic purple sand that occurs during low tide thanks to pinkish-tinted garnet crystals mixed in with the sand.
As a day trip, it’s one of the most enjoyable places for a beach day – although visitors should remember that there are no on-duty lifeguards. It might not be the Boston day trip for swimming if you aren’t confident in the water and visiting with a group of strong swimmers.
Plum Island is only 11 miles long, so you could walk the whole island if you really wanted to. Otherwise, stick to organized hiking trails like the Hellcat Marsh Loop Trail, which cuts through the Parker River National Wildlife Reserve. Plum Island wormed its way onto our guide because of its quiet beach vibe and many nature-immersive experiences. It isn’t as busy as the seaside towns, so perfect if you just want to beach bum for one of your Boston day trips.
Speaking of beach days, Provincetown is one of those busier seaside towns we recommend. When you want a day trip to somewhere busy and entertainment-filled, Provincetown is where to head. The New England town is right at the tip of Cape Cod and is famous for its arts, food, and pilgrim history. In 1620, Provincetown was actually the site of the Mayflower’s landing, commemorated by the Pilgrim Monument today.
However, it’s not all history; its beaches are the cherry on top. Race Point Beach is the most popular spot for sunbathing in Provincetown – so allow time to visit when you head on this day trip from Boston.
Provincetown is friendly, eclectic, and ideal for an impactful addition to our top Boston day trips. You can drive to Provincetown in around 2 hours, passing little coastal town hotspots like Plymouth and Sandwich en route. Alternatively, use public transport to reach the World Trade Center Pier and catch the ferry in approximately a 2-hour total trip. This is an excellent way to sneakily glimpse Boston from the water.
3. Peabody Essex Museum
Art lovers, prepare to be blown away by this one. Peabody Essex Museum is easily one of the top art galleries you can visit from or in Boston. And this museum is just a short drive (45 minutes) from central Boston – so easily squeezed into a busy itinerary. If you don’t have a car, you also have public transport options with multiple bus lines connecting the two.
The glitzy modern art museum is renowned for its American and Asian art. It has a rather bizarre collection of artifacts and displays. Be prepared for full-room displays and plenty of head-tilting art pieces. A considerable section is dedicated to the Salem witches, a famous story in the museum’s town of over 20 women who were put to death over baseless allegations of witchery.
If you visit the Peabody Essex Museum, you can easily visit the Salem Witch Museum while you are there. Salem is small but mighty, with quite a few high-quality attractions, so don’t hesitate to bulk your visit to this gallery into a full-day affair. We had to add it to this itinerary because of the witch element to its displays and the glitzy, comprehensive showcasing of such a vast display of quality art. This museum also makes a great rainy-day trip from Boston. Day trips aren’t just for sunny days.
4. Road Trip to Portland, Maine
Driving to Portland from Boston takes less than a few hours – approximately 2 hours and 1 minute. But instead of rushing up to Portland and back, make a day trip out of the drive and treat it as a single-day road trip. We suggest driving through the beautiful Middlesex Fells Reservation, detouring slightly to stop by Salem and see all the witch history, stopping for lunch at Portsmouth, and then spending a couple of hours soaking up Maine in scenic Portland.
In Portland, you could ride the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad, visit the Portland Museum of Art, or the International Cryptozoology Museum. The last one is enjoyable, with many fictional characters exhibits like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.
With all these stops on the first part of your journey, allow around 6 hours for the first leg to thoroughly enjoy each stop. Then, your return journey should be about 2 hours unless you stop anywhere pretty for sunset and dinner. The north shore residents are lucky to have such historic towns and beautiful views on their doorstep, so ensure you get a good taste of this incredible stretch.
5. Salem Witch Museum
Salem Witch Museum is one of the most fascinating day trip ideas from Boston, and even better, it is also one of the most feasible. It is just an hour from Boston by car or a 45-minute direct train ride from North Station. The museum takes you back to 1692 when the Salem Witch Trials were fully flowing. Over 200 women stood trial for false claims of witchery, and 19 were convicted and given a death-by-hanging sentence.
The ordeal was catastrophic and considered one of the most tragic events in history. You can relive the experience with life-size mannequins and trial scenes at the museum. You can browse through informative exhibits to learn more about the women prosecuted and about attitudes and examples of witchcraft today.
The Salem Witch Museum might not be the first thing that pops into your head when you think of a lovely weekend getaway. However, as a day trip from Boston, it highlights a massively important section of history.
6. Woods Hole
Woods Hole is at the very end of Cape Cod. In fact, it seems closer to the islands than the mainland, despite being on the main peninsula. The tiny village was once a central whaling point, and you can still enjoy a more ethical version of coastal living by walking past the marina and enjoying the waterfront promenade.
There is a lot of science-based entertainment to be had in this village, too; just stop by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Ocean Science Discovery Center. This science museum even has Titanic recovery exhibits. And you can take advantage of the daily summer of Woods Hole that departs from the Woods Hole Historical Museum.
Woods Hole is roughly a two-hour drive from Boston. For us, the main draw is its total science and marine focus. But remember that the driving route down to Woods Hole passes Plymouth or Blue Hills Reservation – depending on your route.
7. North Conway
North Conway is one of the furthest day trips from Boston, taking 2 hours and 50 minutes to reach by car. So why bother? What grip does this little forest town hold on so many visitors? North Conway is a hot spot for hiking, skiing, and waterfalls. The tiny village has more hiking trails and outdoor adventures in a 10-mile radius than most towns do combined. Head up to North Conway early in the morning to have a full day enjoying its sublime locale before heading back after dinner. It is a full day, but definitely worthwhile.
Must-visits in North Conway include Diana’s Baths Cascade and Echo Lake State Park. The water attractions here are stunning and a great early morning activity. If it is ski season, you could also spend a full day on the slopes. While catching some beautiful views on a time limit, the Conway Scenic Railroad is your best shot.
The 19th-century steam train whisks you around some of the prettiest scenery in North Conway in traditional dining cars. The outdoor adventure in North Conway is unbeatable, so we had to add it to this guide.
8. The House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables may sound familiar to any literature fans. The novel was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1851 and was a major hit. And in Salem (we are starting to think that everything good is in Salem), you can visit the actual house that inspired the novel.
The House of the Seven Gables is now an up-and-running not-for-profit museum dedicated to the author, his life, and his novel. The house itself dates back to 1668 but was restored in 1910, kept in keeping with as many period elements and features as possible. Located overlooking the water, it is a beautiful spot full of history and worth visiting.
The House of the Seven Gables is an hour away from Boston by car or an hour by train from North Station. If you catch the train, be prepared for a 25-minute walk to the actual museum from the station.
Nantucket is an island more isolated than Martha’s Vineyard and located just a little further offshore. For an adventurous day trip, look no further. The island has a little town center with those cobbled streets that you adore despite yourself. The whole thing has that quaint allure and ruggedness from its geographical isolation. In short, Nantucket is an island worth day-tripping and a beautiful example of the Cape Cod region.
Nantucket’s main highlights are its waterfront cottages and traditional buildings in the main town. You can also beach hop and jump between lighthouses, reveling in the fewer tourists than you’d find on the mainland or busier islands. It has a return ferry service that perfectly lines up with enough hours on the island to sightsee.
Besides, it is more a place to experience than tick off loads of specific things. The ferry is an hour long, and it takes around 2 hours to reach Hyannis Terminal by train from South Station, Boston. Bring a good book and some anti-motion sickness tablets, just in case.
10. New Bedford
New Bedford is one of the top day trips from Boston. With limited time, you can take this trip one of two ways: an opportunity to learn about maritime history or taste loads of delicious seafood. In an ideal world, we’d suggest staying a full day and ticking off both, but if that isn’t an option, get ready to pick one.
First things first, though, New Bedford is located on the south coast, just outside of Providence and Rhode Island. The city was founded by English Quakers and, since then, has entirely revolved around the fishing industry, which should be easy to tell from all the fishing boats in its harbor.
You can stop by (or jump between) the main wharf area and all the seafood retailers just south of the wharves, off MacArthur’s Drive. There are plenty of high-brow seafood restaurants, like The Black Whale and Merrill’s on the Waterfront.
So you can always book in for a sunset dining experience there, as many tables also come with waterfront views. Otherwise, head to the New Bedford Whaling Museum to keep things educational. This somewhat tragic museum tells the story of the global whaling industry. It provides excellent insight into the toils of these beautiful mammals.
New Bedford is just 1.5 hours from Boston or 3 hours by public transport. It is an easy day trip to organize – whichever way you plan it. And if you drive, then you’ll cut straight through Blue Hills Reservation which is a huge plus.
Concord is far more than just a picturesque town. Out of all the small towns in Massachusetts, this spot is one of the ultimate day trip options you could choose from in Boston. Concord is famed for its revolutionary war history, and you can visit the Old North Bridge and Old Hill Burial Ground.
Old North Bridge is particularly famous and is the replica of the 1775 bridge where the first shots of the American Revolution were unleashed. Any history buffs should really prioritize a trip to Concord. Honestly, there is so much history here that it feels like the world revolved around Concord for a long time.
As if all that American history wasn’t enough of a draw, Concord also caters to a slightly different crowd – literature fans. The town is home to Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, where Little Women was written and set. You can now take tours around the house, a fully functioning museum commemorating the author and her work.
Ready for the really exciting part? Concord is only a 40-minute drive from Boston. And from North Station, you can also take a direct train in just 40 minutes. So Concord is one of the most public transport-friendly options for Boston day trips.
12. Polar Caves Park
Polar Caves Park does not have polar bears. Instead, it cops its name from the glacial caves formed in the park during the Ice Age – polar bears live near glaciers, get it? There are nine caves in total, and you scramble between them using a mixture of metal ladders and step contraptions and a bit of a squeeze here and there.
Exploring caves that date back to the last Ice Age is really exciting. Polar Caves Park is the sort of place that you can encourage children to enjoy but also get value out of as an adult. The caves are also linked by little wooden trails, which is a nice touch and provides stunning forest views.
Polar Caves Park is approximately an hour and 50 minutes from Boston by car. Getting to Polar Caves Park is a total breeze if you rent a car. You can also stop at brilliant places en route, like Canobie Lake Park, a fun theme park with rollercoasters and water rides. A day trip to Polar Caves Park is easily combined with other attractions to break up the travel time – so don’t let the drive time put you off. Polar Caves Park is one of the most unique day trips you can take from Boston.
13. Old Sturbridge Village
Old Sturbridge Village is another living museum for your itinerary. The 1830s recreation is a settlement by design but an absolute time capsule by effect. The attention to detail is sublime, and you walk through the ‘village’ to meet costumed actors who’ll stop and chat with you about what they’re doing.
The sawmill and blacksmith actors even give demonstrations. Get ready for an incredibly immersive museum experience. You can wander in and out of historic buildings, admiring all the fine details – even down to clothes and table cutlery. For us, Old Sturbridge Village is easily one of the top things to do near Boston. The attention to detail, as we said, is second to none.
The museum is just an hour’s drive from Boston, so a feasible addition to your trip. You could squeeze Old Sturbridge Village into a 5-6 hour slot. We suggest allowing as much time as possible to spend at the museum because there are loads to get involved with, like activities and rides. It is something you want to take your time with. And, if you wanted, you could incorporate it with a stop in Worcester, the nearest major city to Boston.
14. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
White Mountain National Forest spans over 800,000 acres of preserved forestland, which is quite challenging to even begin to picture the scale of. The forest has mountain views and historic sites scattered through its midst, so it combines hiking trails and attractions to sightsee. If you are lucky, you may even spot black bears and moose.
In summer, White Mountain National Forest is an absolute haven for hikers; in winter, ski season takes over. In this sense, it is one of the most seasonally versatile day trips from Boston. In summer, we suggest heading to the forest for its hiking trails for a day of walking and picnicking. While in winter, we propose an exhilarating skiing day trip from Boston. Take your pick – or let your visit dates decide for you.
White Mountain National Forest is just under a 2-hour drive from Boston, so not a massive distance to drive for a day trip. You’ll cut through Concord too, which makes the perfect stopover point to celebrate being halfway.
15. Martha’s Vineyard
Fancy drinking some wine? We hate to break it to you, but Martha’s Vineyard is not what you thought it would be. Instead of wine tastings, a Martha’s Vineyard day trip involves wildlife sanctuaries, marshlands, and plenty of beaches. It is a day out for a rural, remote experience of New England island living.
The British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold named the island after his daughter, so you have him to thank for the whacky name. You can reach Martha’s Vineyard by car from Boston and then a quick ferry crossing. It’s one of the most adventurous places to make a day trip because of the ferry element and island status.
Top things to do on Martha’s Vineyard include visiting the gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs, kicking back on the beach, and admiring the views from Aquinnah Cliffs. The island has three main towns: Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, and Vineyard Haven, all highly walkable.
But otherwise, if you bring your car on the ferry, you can drive around all the best spots. The Flying Horses Carousel, Aquinnah Cliffs Overlook, and Polly Hill Arboretum are significant attractions. Put it this way, you’ll have plenty to do when you aren’t enjoying the most remote sections of Martha’s Vineyard.
Jamestown is the sort of New England charm you hope to find. The cobblestone streets give off that quintessential New England town allure and demand you to stop and take photographs if you are social media-inclined. Regarding day trips from Boston, Jamestown is a prime candidate if you like aesthetic destinations. And at just a 1.5-hour drive from Boston or a 2 hours 20-minute public transport trip from South Station, you are onto a winner logistically.
Of course, it isn’t all quintessential aesthetics and cutesy cobblestones. Jamestown has a dark history. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement and a site of a famous 1622 massacre in which nearly a third of the English population was killed. The systematic seizure of Powhatan lands prompted the killings, and Opechancanough led a deadly series of attacks on the settlement.
When you visit Jamestown, you can visit numerous historic buildings and landmarks that tribute English and Powhatan history. Powhatan Indian Village and James Fort are the two most visited. The fact that there is so much history just over an hour from Boston really stands out, and Jamestown’s close links to early American history and the tragedies of New England are the main reasons we are featuring it.
17. Cycle the East Bay Bike Path
The East Bay Bike Path is the best day trip you can take from Boston if you want to go cycling. The 14.5-mile bike path might shadow the rocky coastline between Providence and Bristol. However, the route itself is paved and super easy to navigate. While the distance requires a bit of mental grit, the East Bay Bike Path is technically easy and beginner-friendly. So whether you are an established road biker or just fancy the challenge, this bike path can swing both ways.
The bike path passes through 8 different parks, a bridge, and countless waterfronts. It is a really exciting and diverse way to embrace coastal living, and really eco-friendly as well. Not only does it have rapidly changing scenery, but it also has tons of eating and drinking options en route – to the point where people have started to organize food tours.
You could stop at Narragansett Brewery, the Box East Bay, or the Sowams Cider Works Company, just to name a few. Allow around 3 hours for a return trip with a short, 15-minute break or a full day if you plan to stop lots along the way.
18. Wrentham Village Premium Outlets
Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is the largest outlet shopping spot in New England, and the best part is that it’s set outdoors, so you can enjoy the sun while you shop. The outlet store has over 160 brands and competitively lines up to 65% discounts. It’s the perfect place to snag a bargain and only a 50-minute drive from Boston – what more could you want? Of the over 160 brands it features, you’ll find Gucci, Adidas, Versace, Burberry, and more. It has a luxury spin, but you’ll find some high-street brands, so don’t let that put you off.
Wrentham Village Premium Outlets made our list because of its huge discounts and exciting shopping experiences. Shopping in Boston is fun, but saving money and having all the best brands in one convenient space is tons more fun. You can treat yourself to new apparel, shoes, or even jewelry.
19. Newport, New Hampshire
Newport is one of the top day trips from Boston. In just 1.5 hours by car of a few hours by public transportation, you can easily skip over to Newport as a day trip from Boston. Newport is a city set right on the edge of Aquidneck Island on Rhode Island. It is well-known for the America’s Cup, a worldwide famous annual sailing regatta, that was once held continuously in the city.
Newport is the perfect place to embrace coastal living in a trendier way than you’ll find in the seaside town alternatives. Picture luxe yachts in a glossy harbor and a clifftop trail (straightforwardly named the Cliff Walk) that passes Gilded Age mansion after mansion. If you want a trendy place to enjoy the ocean or have an affinity for sailing, then Newport is the day trip for you.
Newport, Rhode Island, has plenty of local history, and you can stop by its museums, which include The Breakers – a summer home of the Vanderbilts and a beautiful example of the Gilded Age architecture. True to its sporting core, there’s also the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which was the home of the first-ever US Open Championship in 1881 and is an absolute memorabilia fest. Newport gives off ‘old money’ vibes, and since it is such a short drive from Boston, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t add it to your list.
20. Blue Hills Reservation
Blue Hills Reservation is a 7,000-acre park just a 30-minute drive or hour public transport scramble from central Boston. It is the haven of green space that everyone flocks to, especially on a busy day, and we’d recommend visiting for its hiking trails and excellent picnic prospects. There are over 125 miles of hiking trails to get stuck into, including Burma Trail and the Blue Hills Skyline Trail. There is a designated swimming area, too, that opens seasonally, so keep that in mind on a hot day.
Blue Hills Reservation is a stunning state park ideal for a day trip. It is somewhere to dash to and escape the inner-city chaos, with many opportunities to relax amongst nature. As a quick extra recommendation, we suggest heading to the 635ft Great Blue Hill – where you can enjoy views of the Boston cityscape skyline on the horizon.
And it’s also worth mentioning that Blue Hills Reservation is just as beautiful in the fall; in fact, a fall day trip to Blue Hills is one of the best things to do in Boston. Especially when walking around the state park’s lakes and seeing the orange and burnt-red reflections in the water. For us, Blue Hills Reservation is so beautiful that it just had to make our list.
21. Josiah Keith House Living History Museum and Homestead
50 minute drive from Boston
Josiah Keith House Living History Museum and Homestead is the oldest house in Easton, Massachusetts. And this is one of the most unusual day trips from Boston. Tours are available by appointment only, so you must ring or email beforehand. Self-guided tours are not an option. Josiah Keith House is a living history museum located just a 50-minute drive from central Boston.
The property dates back to 1717 and has all the original furnishings intact, so you can wander through its rooms, getting a realistic impression of earlier lives in Massachusetts. As a ‘living museum,’ it is still a fully functioning homestead and runs a B&B service. Josiah Keith House is lived in and acts as a functioning time capsule to give visitors a glimpse of 18th-century living.
Visiting Josiah Keith House Museum and Homestead is an absolute breeze by car, so make sure to rent a car if this day trip has caught your eye. It has made our list because it offers an off-the-beaten-track experience (not many people have Josiah Keith House on their Boston itineraries) and a sense of immersive history.
FAQs: Day Trips From Boston
So, where are you heading first on your day trips from Boston? As you can now clearly see, Boston’s the perfect launchpad for exploring Massachusetts and beyond. But don’t get carried away; hold fire for a second. Before you settle on one day trip idea, though, check out these essential snippets of info.
What towns are 1 hour from Boston?
Bedford, Plymouth, and Bridgewater are all under an hour away from Boston. These towns all make fantastic day trips from Boston.
What cities are 30 minutes from Boston?
No cities are within 30 minutes of Boston, but the closest, Worcester, is around 50 minutes away. And Providence is an hour and 10 minutes away by car.
What cities are 4 hours from Boston?
New York City is around 4 hours from Boston by car – so definitely list that as one of your most ambitious options for a day trip from Boston. Montreal is a little further at 5 hours by car and will involve crossing the Canadian border.
Is Boston worth visiting for a day?
Yes, Boston is absolutely worth visiting for a day because of its thriving arts scene, Boston Tea Party history, and beautiful Charles River Esplanade. With just a day, you should focus on 2-3 attractions in Boston and stay in the Downtown, Waterfront, and Beacon Hill areas.
What are the Best Day Trips from Boston?
Day trips from Boston range from wholesome visits to a seaside town to indulgent trips to enjoy fresh seafood and whacky historical attractions like the Salem Witch Museum. You’ll love these day trip ideas. Take a break from the art galleries and inner-city attractions in Boston and spread your wings a little.
Got a little bit longer? You could try one of our more ambitious day trip ideas from Boston or even a two-day getaway. There are many things to do in New York, which is just a 4-hour drive from Boston. Within two days, you could also venture into Canada to visit Montreal or check out Niagara Falls (we’ve got a guide on where to stay in Niagara Falls here). As we said, Boston has an ideal location on the east coast – so plan a day trip or an overnight trip wherever possible.