As the humpback whale’s tail sticks out of the water for the perfect whale-watching photo, it reminds you that you’re not the only one vacationing in Massachusetts. The calm, protected waters of Cape Cod Bay are their ideal place to rest during the summer, between trips to feeding grounds.
Humpback whales, fin whales and North Atlantic right whales are regularly spotted around Cape Cod between April and October.
Once upon a time, this was the whaling capital of the world. The Nantucket Whaling Museum explores the fictionalized stories of the Moby Dick era and the more complicated realities of the whaling industry. But harpoons have long been replaced by cameras, and Nantucket Island is made up of cobblestone lanes, stylishly renovated historic inns and lavish mansions.
Provincetown, where the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watching excursions depart, oscillates between art and celebration. The streets are full of galleries, but there’s an “end of the line, leave it all hanging out” feeling at the eastern end of the bay.
As the whales suggest, however, on Cape Cod you can never be too far from nature. The Cape Cod National Seashore stretches more than 40 miles around the outer edge of the cape. Here, rising dune systems, beautiful surf beaches and forested hiking trails let you go wild in a very different way.
Half an hour north of Boston, Salem is perhaps the most entertaining town in New England. The Peabody Essex Museum offers a top-notch art fix and the Schooner Fame offers sailing boat tours. But elsewhere it’s ghost tours, horror movie museums and all the scary stuff – Salem would happily celebrate Halloween all year round.
Forty miles south of Boston, heritage-rich Plymouth is mythologized as America’s birthplace. This is where the Pilgrims landed in 1620. The Mayflower II – a full-size replica of their ship – is anchored in the Pilgrim Memorial State Park.
In the fall, Massachusetts becomes a carpet of reds, oranges and yellows. There are fabulous trails to explore, but the 37-mile Mohawk Trail from Greenfield to North Adams is tough to navigate. It winds around the mountains of North Berkshire in the west of the state, rushing through valleys, oscillating between riverside roads and forest roads.
However, you don’t have to wait for the leaves to fall to tour the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. The region has a series of taste trails, linking farms, craft breweries and small food producers. You can focus on cider makers one day, cheese and charcuterie the next.
Springfield is a place of pilgrimage for sports fans and lovers of children’s literature. Basketball was invented here, as explained in detail in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. And fantasy author Dr. Seuss was also born in Springfield, and his relentless rhymes come to life in The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss.
America’s Greatest Hits
From sunny Florida to historic Pennsylvania, America’s iconic destinations are endless and its borders are reopening for you.
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