Massachusetts is one of the most exciting places to visit in New England, where you’ll meet at the crossroads of history and culture. It has something for everyone from the major cities like Boston to the charming harbor towns on Martha’s Vineyard.
There are tons of things to do in Massachusetts that let you truly experience the best that it has to offer. Visit Boston to witness the landmarks along the Freedom Trail to see the journey to American Independence. Or head to the coast to witness the picturesque lighthouses characteristic of New England.
From the pristine beaches of Cape cod to the scenic ferry ride en route to Nantucket, it’s the perfect New England experience.
It’s hard to know what to do in Massachusetts, regardless of if it’s your first visit or a seasoned traveler, so we’ve picked out the best Massachusetts attractions that you’ll definitely want to include on your itinerary.
So, whether you’re interested in exploring the outdoors, immersing in the rich culture, or learning about history, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s take a look at the top tourist attractions in Massachusetts.
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Retrace the steps of history along the Freedom Trail in Boston. This historic trail walks through the events of the American Revolution, using sites around town to tell the story.
Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile long urban trail that begins at Boston Commons, the oldest public park in America, and ends at Bunker Hill Monument, used to commemorate the site of the war’s first battle.
The trail includes 16 sites, each revealing more information about the war, including the hall that sparked the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s home, and the decommissioned USS Constitution.
Tourists can take a self-guided tour to walk through each of the sites. The trail includes museums, churches, parks, and former meeting houses, each open to the public. Some of the buildings date back as far as the early 1700s.
Over four million people experience the Freedom Trail every year, making it one of the top things to do in Massachusetts.
Address: Freedom Trail, Boston, MA
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Boston
Shopping in Faneuil Hall Marketplace is an experience like none other and a must-visit if you’re new in town. This bustling complex houses over 100 stores for shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a complex consisting of four historic buildings, the oldest been built in the 1700s. Shop the different stores in each building or hang out on the promenade to people-watch and window shop.
Quincy Market is one of three retail buildings where you’ll find national big-box retailers next to local vendors selling crafts made by local artisans. It’s an excellent place to find clothing, home goods, merchandise, and souvenirs.
The fourth building in the complex is all about food. It’s where you’ll find restaurants serving up any kind of food you can think of.
A highlight of the promenade is the free entertainment from the street performers. It’s common to see a group stop to watch juggling, acrobatics, and other talents.
Address: 4 S Market St, Boston, MA 02109
A grandfather of American Illustration, Norman Rockwell’s legacy is preserved through the Norman Rockwell Museum. The museum holds the largest collections of original works by the famed American painter.
Visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum is one of the top Massachusetts attractions located in Stockbridge. It lets you see the works from one of the country’s most celebrated artists who perfectly captured American culture and everyday life.
The museum is an ample space with ten galleries. You can see many paintings and drawings. Other galleries feature rotating exhibitions. The museum grounds also include artwork in the outdoor sculpture garden and Rockwell’s original studio that was relocated from his home.
Art lovers will have a fantastic time in the Norman Rockwell Museum. Be sure to check the calendar when you visit to see if you’ll have a chance to catch one of the gallery talks or lectures.
Address: 9 Glendale Rd, Stockbridge, MA 01262
Extending for 40 miles along the cape cod coast, Cape Cod National Seashore has the best beaches in New England. The pristine beach conditions make it one of the best places to visit in Massachusetts for enjoying the outdoors.
Cape Cod National Seashore was established in 1961, protecting the region for its natural beauty, cultural, and historical significance. It covers more than 43,000-acres where you’ll have six beaches, hiking and biking trails, sightseeing, and much more.
When the weather is nice, Cape Cod National Seashore becomes a go-to beach destination, with Nauset Light Beach, Marconi Beach, and Race Point Beach being excellent options. You’ll love the soft sands lined with dunes that slope gently into the refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Stop by the visitor center for insight on the best beaches based on the weather conditions, directions to the nearest trail, or to point you in the direction of the nearest lighthouses.
Address: Cape Cod, MA
One thing you’re sure to see a lot of in Boston is sports gear. It’s a major sports town, where spotting a fan dawning a Red Sox hat is just as typical as hearing the Boston accent.
Fenway Park is home to the 9x World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox has played at Fenway Park since 1912, where it's created countless legendary MLB sports moments. There are plenty of ways to experience Fenway Park.
You’d be in luck to travel during baseball season because you’ll get a chance to see the Red Sox in action in front of nearly 38,000 fans. Arrive early to enjoy tailgating at the many restaurants and bars near the stadium.
Visitors can also find guided stadium tours of Fenway Park. These daily tours take you around the entire stadium while learning about its history.
Address: 4 Yawkey Way, Boston, MA 02215
Climb aboard the Nantucket Ferry at Hyannis Harbor in Cape Cod to journey to one of the top vacation spots in Massachusetts: Nantucket. This summer getaway destination is an island located 30-miles off the coast of the mainland,
Nantucket is a charming island that will give you authentic New England vibes. The historic colonial houses and seaside ports give the island a small-town feel.
The best time to visit is during the summer when families return to their vacation homes and fill up the beach for sunbathing and swimming.
Explore town to find lots of boutiques for shopping and local eats. When you’re finished in town, explore some of the island’s attractions, like the numerous lighthouses for picturesque scenery perched on the coast or a visit to the Whaling Museum to see the full-sized whale skeleton hanging from above. And you can’t miss the sunset at Madaket Beach.
Address: Nantucket, MA
Joining the local community for an outdoor concert at Tanglewood will be one of your favorite memories about your trip to Massachusetts.
It’s a premier music venue experience where you’ll have world-class talent and a pleasant environment to enjoy it in.
There is always something happening down at Tanglewood. During the summer, it’s home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra that plays an annual concert series.
It also has events spotlighting local musicians or major touring artists. And you can’t forget about the summer music festivals that people travel hundreds of miles just to experience at Tanglewood.
Tanglewood is a historic music venue built in 1938 in Lenox. The unique design gives it a dual-setting indoors and outdoors to accommodate the large crowds it attracts to its shows.
But don't worry if you get a seat in the back, the sound system is impressive, and the big screen lets you see up ahead.
Address: 297 West St, Lenox, MA 01240
The Plimoth Patuxet Museums immerses visitors into life during the first English settlement in the new world. Travel back in time at this living museum, where you’ll have a myriad of things to do, from learning to play.
English colonists first arrived at the New World at a location nearby the museum site, which consists of multiple venues. Take a walk through the Plimoth Plantation to peek into life during the 17th century in a recreated village.
You’ll see actors dressed in colonial costumes that enjoy telling you about their daily life, and you’ll even get to lend a hand!
Join in on immersive activities like getting your hands dirty on the farm or learn how to make household products in the kitchen. Then, after mastering drill commands from the colonial sergeant, join the fun colonial games.
The site also includes visits to the recreated Mayflower II, which brought the original pilgrims to the New World.
Address: 137 Warren Ave, Plymouth, MA 02360
Visiting Old Sturbridge Village will be one of the most immersive Massachusetts attractions you’ll get to experience.
The village is a 200-acres living museum consisting of over 40 buildings and populated with actors playing roles in the village.
This village takes visitors through life in the 1800s for rural life in New England. The village presents strikingly accurate details in the style of the home to the farms to the shops.
Walk inside any of the buildings to meet the colonists working there who’ll tell about their trade as a blacksmith, farmer, etc.
Get around like the locals and go for a horse-drawn carriage ride, where you’ll see an overview of the village in a guided tour.
Be sure to check the calendar to see the schedule for daily performances or other events hosted in the village.
Address: 1 Old Sturbridge Village Rd, Sturbridge, MA 01566
Learn about the historical events of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials at the Salem Witch Museum. It’s one of the most interesting tourist attractions in Massachusetts that explore witchcraft in the past and present.
Salem Witch Museum was established in a former church that creates the perfect ambiance for learning about witches. The dimly lit exhibits make a dramatic presentation of actual documents preserved from the trials.
One of the best parts about the Salem Witch Museum is seeing the life-sized stage sets. The museum immerses you into 17th Century Salem with life-sized figures and live reenactments of the events.
Visitors can tour the museum to learn interesting facts about the trials and the truth behind the accusations. There is also an exhibition about modern-day witchcraft.
Address: 19 1/2 N Washington Square, Salem, MA 01970
Ranked as the 14th largest art museum in the world, you can’t visit Boston without stopping by the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).
It’s one of the best things to do in Massachusetts, where you’ll get to see art masterpieces from around the world.
MFA welcomes over one million people annually. It has more than 100 galleries that display nearly half a million works of art. You’ll see original pieces from Van Gogh, Monet, J. M. W. Turner, and European masters.
The exhibitions are filled with impressive paintings, sculptures, drawings, and decorative arts that make it worthwhile to see it all if you have time.
You can easily spend hours at the MFA and still barely scratch the surface of all the artwork in its collection.
Address: 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
Also Read: 20 Best Art Museums in the USA
After more than 220 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) remains one of the must-visit Massachusetts attractions.
It’s the oldest art museum in the country, but its recent renovations give it a modern viewing experience.
PEM is located in Salem, where you’ll find an incredible American, Chinese, and Maritime art collection.
See decorative Buddha statues displayed in the galleries, see scale model ships, and even status collected from historic ship bows. In addition, some exhibitions explore Massachusetts’ history through fashion and the Salem Witch Trials.
After browsing the galleries across two floors, head down to grab a bite to eat at the cafeteria to enjoy in the beautiful atrium flooded with natural light.
Check the calendar to see what kind of public programs the museum will host during your visit.
Address: 161 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
Count the number of gables at this beautiful seaside colonial mansion on Salem Harbor to see why it is called the House of the Seven Gables. But the home’s unique architecture is only the beginning of what draws visitors here to make it one of the popular things to see in Massachusetts.
You might recognize the name “The House of the Seven Gables” as a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. His fiction novel was inspired by and set and the house. The book’s success led the home to be renovated and converted into a museum.
Visitors can see many of the original features of the home when it was built in 1668 for Captain John Turner I, head of a wealthy maritime family. However, there are also special features added from the book, such as secret stairways and a “cent-shop.”
Guided tours are available for the museum.
Address: 115 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970
New Bedford is one of the cool places to go in Massachusetts to discover one of the world’s largest 19th-century whaling ports.
Learn why its nickname as The Whaling City is well deserved when you explore inside the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
The New Bedford Whaling Museum preserves the legacy of the local whaling industry.
It displays a collection of over 750,000 objects, archives, photos, and more across multiple buildings. There are 20 galleries that exhibit permanent and temporary exhibitions.
The museum is home to Lagoda, the largest scale model whaling ship in the world that has all the details of an actual ship.
You’ll also get to compare yourself to the size of a whale with real skeletons on display and a model of different organs. Lastly, you’ll learn about the whaling industry around the world.
Address: 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA 02740
Explore the underwater world at the New England Aquarium. Located in Boston, it’s one of the most visited Massachusetts destinations with more than 1.3-million visitors every year.
It’s a destination for all ages to see their favorite marine creatures from a unique perspective.
The New England Aquarium has massive tanks stretching from floor-to-ceiling or wrapping around as a walkthrough tunnel.
Over 20,000 animals are swimming in the tanks, including sharks, sea turtles, rays, penguins, jellyfish, and an abundance of fish species.
Stroll along the spiraling walkway winding around the talk and look overhead as you walk through the tank tunnel to see fish swimming above.
In addition to the tanks, the aquarium offers other experiences. The seasonal whale watching happens from April to November. Also, you can see film screenings with maritime themes at the IMAX Theater.
Address: 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
Also Read: 25 Best Aquariums in the US
Visitors can now play an immersive role in one of the most critical events leading up to the American revolution.
Check out the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museums to become part of the story that rewrote America’s history.
The Boston Tea Party Museum is a floating museum arranged on restored vessels. Guided tours begin with assigning roles for the plot, and you’ll set out as a group to throw tea overboard while touring the ship.
The guides are actors that keep you in character the entire time for an authentic experience of the activities that took place.
Visitors can watch live reenactments of the protest and finish with a sip of tea in the tearoom. The museum is one of the most interactive things to do in Massachusetts.
Address: 306 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
Travelers checking off the state houses from their bucket list will get to witness one of the most stunning capitals in the country, the Massachusetts State House.
It’s hard to miss the brilliant gold dome towering over Beacon Hill in Downtown Boston.
Stop by the Massachusetts State House to enjoy the impressive interior and exterior design. The entire inside is adorned with elaborate detailing, decorative furnishing, art, and more.
Visitors can take a free tour of the capitol building, where they’ll see the halls where Massachusetts laws get made, the hall of flags, and learn about the opulent murals decorating the walls of the rotunda.
The Massachusetts State House is full of history, with many details of the building preserved since it first opened in 1798. It’s now a historic landmark and located along the Freedom Trail.
Address: 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133
Any time is an excellent time to visit Harvard Square, the heartbeat of Cambridge. Located on the prestigious campus of Harvard, it’s a popular place for dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Harvard Square is a triangular-shaped plaza near major crossroads. It’s a destination where the worlds of college students, tourists, business professionals, and trendy locals collide in a lively atmosphere during the daytime and night.
Spend some time walking about the boutique shops along Harvard Square or grab a bite to eat from one of the delicious restaurants.
Be sure to keep your eyes up to see the historic buildings surrounding the square dating back as far as the 1800s.
Harvard Square is a cultural hub where you’ll have easy access to Harvard Art Museums, theaters, and other venues. Depending on when you visit, you might catch an event or festival happening at the square.
Address: Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138
Sitting atop Bunker Hill, the Bunker Hill Monument is one of the most stunning Massachusetts attractions. The massic obelisk stands as a reminder of one of the most critical turning points in American history.
The Bunker Hill Monument rises over 220-feet above the Boston National Historical Park. It marks the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill, one of the first significant battles to start the American Revolution. This fight for freedom makes it a key landmark along the Freedom Trail.
Visitors can climb 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument for a gorgeous panoramic view of Boston.
Don’t be in such a rush to leave the site because you’ll miss out on being able to relax on the grounds surrounding the monument for a scenic picnic or letting the kids run around and play.
Address: Monument Sq, Charlestown, MA 02129
Touring the Adams National Historical Park is a moving experience as you get to witness the birthplace of two former US Presidents.
John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, called this farm home, which is now recognized as a historical landmark.
The main house on the farm was built in 1788, ultimately expanding nine acres just outside of Boston.
It’s open to the public to tour inside, where you’ll get to see original furnishing, art, silverware, and more. Many say you can still feel the presidential essence of the home.
In addition to the house tour, you can hop on a trolley to navigate between buildings to explore some of the other structures on the farmland.
Be sure to stop by the visitor center, where you can see a short film about the history of the site.
Address: 133 Franklin St, Quincy, MA 02169
The Minute Man National Historical Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Massachusetts, with more than one million visitors.
This historical site lets you see notable sites that led to the American Revolutionary War.
With over 900 acres to explore, Minute Man National Historical Park is home to several early battle sites, including Lexington and Concord.
In addition to walking the battlefields, you’ll see landmarks like the Old North Bridge, where the first shots of the war were fired, the site where Paul Revere was captured, and gravesites for soldiers fighting for either side.
The park also includes non-war-related sites like Wayside, home to authors Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Sidney, and Louisa May Alcott.
Minute Man National Historical Park is an excellent place for leisure as you hike the trails between each of the notable sites.
Address: 250 N Great Rd, Lincoln, MA 01773
There’s nothing better than a New England getaway to Martha’s Vineyard, a small island located off the Massachusetts coast. It’s one of the best places to visit in Massachusetts during the summer.
Even though the population on the island is relatively small, it swells with tourists as the weather gets nicer and people return to their vacation homes and beachfront rentals.
Martha’s Vineyard is known for its pristine beaches where you can swim in the refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean or sunbathe.
After a beach day, spend some time walking the quaint harbor towns full of boutique shops, galleries, and restaurants.
You can go sightseeing at some of the picturesque lighthouses located around the island or check out the famous wineries.
The perfect way to end a day at Martha’s Vineyard is by grabbing an ice cream cone and enjoying a sunset by the pier.
Address: Martha's Vineyard, MA
You’ve likely already seen pictures of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Its flower-filled atrium is one of the most photographed places in Boston and home to a world-class art collection.
A trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is one of the top things to do in Massachusetts for art lovers.
It has an impressive collection established in 1900 as a museum from the personal collection of Isabella Stewart Gardner.
The museum displays various art, such as American, European, and Asia. From the famous paintings hanging in the exhibition halls to the decorative arts, there’s plenty to see inside the museum.
Don’t overlook the stunning building modeled after a 15th century Venetian Palace. The entire atmosphere is designed to give you an incredible art-viewing experience.
Address: 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA 02115
Exploring the Hammond Castle Museum is like walking through the mind of creative genius.
This medieval castle was built by John Hays Hammond, Jr., who used it as his private residence and lab. Now, you can see where the creative ideas came to life.
Hammond Castle Museum was built in 1926 and is now a historical landmark. It was converted into a museum to showcase the unique interior design featuring medieval-inspired furniture, exhibitions, etc.
There are even cool castle-like features like a drawbridge to give it an even more authentic appeal.
Views from the Hammond Castle Museum are one of its best features. It’s located right on the coast at Gloucester, where you feel like you’re transported into a fairytale as soon as you entire inside the castle complex.
Address: 80 Hesperus Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930
You’ll be standing at the highest point in Massachusetts when you reach the top of Mount Greylock.
It’s the tallest mountain in the state and one of the best Massachusetts attractions to check out if you’re looking for an incredible view and hiking experience.
Mount Greylock is the centerpiece of the state reserve, where you’ll have more than 12,5000 acres of a wilderness landscape.
The mountain reaches a height of nearly 3,500-feet—its high prominence gives it sweeping views up to 90-miles in the distance on a clear day.
There are two ways to reach to summit: hiking and driving. There are 40 hiking trails in the park, but the trail up Rockwell Road is the most popular since it leads directly to the peak.
However, it’s a moderate-to-difficult hike that can take 1-2-hours, so many people prefer the alternative of the scenic drive to the top.
Address: Adams, MA 01220
Explore the fantastic world of Dr. Seuss at the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. As part of a museum complex, it gives visitors a chance to re-live their favorite childhood stories through characters that come to life.
The sculpture garden features bronze statues modeled after famous characters from Dr. Seuss’s novels, such as the Grinch, Cat in the Hat, and Horton the Elephant.
After exploring the sculpture garden, head inside the Dr. Seuss Museum to browse the fun, interactive exhibitions that even the kids will enjoy.
The entire museum is dedicated to Dr. Seuss, where you'll get to see several exciting objects across multiple floors.
Springfield is the birthplace of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known by his pen name, whose museum is part of the Springfield Museums complex.
Address: 21 Edwards St, Springfield, MA 01103
Hidden within the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston is one of the hidden gems of Massachusetts, the Mapparium. This unique attraction puts you in the center of the world, quite literally.
The Mapparium lets you see the world from the inside out. The scale-model globe measures three stories high and is made from stained glass.
Visitors experience the world by walking on a bridge leading to the core of the Earth. The view of the undistorted world is breathtaking as it’s displayed on an incredible piece of artwork.
One of the best parts about visiting the Mapparium is that it’s free to the public. The library also offers guided tours that walk you through the experience and provide lots of information about how it was made and the meaning behind it.
Feel free to browse the rest of the library as it has several rooms full of interesting archives rarely seen in public.
Address: 200 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115
The eery atmosphere still lurks over what was once the Danvers State Hospital. The historic hospital was once one of the most famous buildings in Massachusetts and a destination for seeking the paranormal.
Danvers State Hospital was a massive complex built in 1871 that held upwards of 600 patients at a time.
It was a specialized hospital focused on mental health patients but quickly grew a reputation as a mental insane asylum.
The hospital became one of the popular tourist attractions in Massachusetts because of the rumors that it was haunted.
There were endless ghost stories about the hospital that made tourists eager to embark on Halloween and ghost tours at night.
Today, much of the hospital was demolished due to being abandoned. However, the building’s front façade remains, and there is also a nearby cemetery used for patients.
Address: 1101 Kirkbride Dr, Danvers, MA 01923
The parallel streams of the Bash Bish Falls make up the tallest waterfall in the state and one of the most beautiful sights to see in Massachusetts.
It’s a must-see with a simple hike to reach it, so it’s an excellent place to go in Massachusetts for all ages.
Bash Bish Falls has multiple drops, with the largest at 59-feet, where a giant boulder splits the waterfall in two. It’s best to see the waterfall during the spring when it flows at full force.
Located on Massachusetts and New York border, Bash Bish Falls can be accessed from either side—many people consider Massachusetts the easier side since it’s a downhill hike.
Park your car and make the three-quarter-mile trek to the falls through the scenic Mount Washington State Forest. Seeing the waterfalls emerging from the trees is the best reward for the hike.
Address: Falls Rd. Mt. Washington State Forest, Mount Washington, MA 01258
Travelers looking for an excellent beach destination should add Singing Beach to the top of their list. The unique beach will truly surprise you as soon as you arrive and make your way towards the ocean.
Singing Beach is located in Essex County, along the Atlantic Coast. It’s a clean public beach popular during the summer when everything is open such as the bathhouse, snack bar, and seasonal lifeguard duty.
Listen as you walk across the sand. The dry sand crunching beneath your feet will make a special “musical” sound, hence the name Singing Beach.
Once the novelty of the singing goes away, it’s time to enjoy the beach, head out into the clear waters to enjoy splashing around in the gently rolling waves. Or layout and enjoy sunbathing since there’s plenty of room to space out, even on its busiest days.
Address: 119 Beach St, Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA 01944
The good news about visiting Massachusetts is that you never have to travel far.
You can find several of the top attractions in Massachusetts in popular areas, such as near Boston or Cape Cod Seashore. It makes it easy to check off several things on your bucket list during your visit.
These top-rated things to do in Massachusetts attract millions of visitors every year. See what makes them so popular and why many people recommend them for an authentic Massachusetts experience.
Now that you've seen the best recommendations let us know in the comments which of these you're excited about seeing in person the next time you visit Massachusetts.