20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Massachusetts

Jul 22, 2021

In 2014, Massachusetts was named as one of the top ten states in which to retire by CNBC, thanks largely to its abundant nature and proximity to New York City. Though it isn't far from all the well-known sights of the east coast, the picturesque New England countryside still offers something special.

This handsome state with its dramatic peaks and lakes certainly has much to offer, from the historic sites of Boston, historic towns like Salem, and the charming New England architecture of Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. However, visitors to Massachusetts aren't simply coming here for history - they're also here for their warm and welcoming people, delicious food, and excellent selection of outdoor activities.

Massachusetts has a range of natural sights too, including forests of pine and hardwood, snowy mountains, lakes and ponds, and waterfalls. From popular tourist spots like Boston to quieter backwaters, there's something for everyone in Massachusetts, making this state a perfect retirement destination. Discover more of this beautiful state with our guide to the best places to visit in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts State House

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Massachusetts State House: en.wikipedia.org

Standing 135 feet (41 meters) tall and surrounding two acres of stately columns and massive columns, it's no wonder that this building has been described as the world's greatest statehouse. The roof is supported by 114 Corinthian columns fashioned from a single 300-ton piece of marble, is the most ornate in the world, and weighs 40 tons. The new State House, as it's called, was built in 1891-1893 to replace the Old State House, which was built in 1803. With a crown dome topping its 180 feet (55 meters), this symbol of America's past continues to play an important role in the nation's capital. Several buildings are open to the public, including the lofty Senate and House of Representatives chambers. The modern visitors' center provides excellent exhibits and interactive displays. Exhibits in the Rotunda of the Boston National Bank from the 1870s detail the evolution of America's state, city, and national governments, as well as the history of the bank, from which the Rotunda was constructed. The Embassy of Japan in the Northeast exhibits the formal vestments and national artifacts of the G7 leaders, which Japan sent to the President's residence to represent Japan's official diplomatic mission. The first floor of the visitors' center has shops and restaurants. There is also a special events area that lets visitors enjoy the city's cultural events.

Boston Common

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Boston Common: en.wikipedia.org

Boston Common is a delightful public park in the center of Boston. Covering 100 acres, it offers a total of 21 attractions in one place. In addition to Green Street and Frog Pond, there is the Green Museum of the Americas, the Emerson Hall and Library of Speech and Theater, and the Boston Public Garden with its flowerbeds and fountains. It is also home to the massive Latin American Cemetery, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, the African Burial Ground National Monument, and the Paul Revere Mall. There is a great deal to see and do in Boston Common.

Old North Church

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Old North Church: en.wikipedia.org

Inspired by the fanatical Puritans of 1630s Massachusetts, Old North Church in Boston was constructed by Puritans who were originally from Old England. Standing at the centre of the square formed by the intersection of Boston's North Church and State Street, the small church with its ancient wood beams, is the oldest surviving wooden building in New England. It has been restored to its former glory and is open to visitors year-round.

Museum of Fine Arts

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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: en.wikipedia.org

Possibly America's finest art museum, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) houses a collection of about 46,000 works of art and is a major venue for both modern and classic art. The MFA is one of three major art museums in Boston, the other two being the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Science. Besides its holdings of works by Italian Renaissance and classical artists like Botticelli and Raphael, the museum is especially well known for its collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, mostly French and mostly French artists such as Manet, Degas, Monet, and Pissarro. Exhibitions on the second floor change every two months and feature both modern and classic art; the museum has three large public galleries as well as a smaller gallery in the basement of the main building that is open to the public. The museum is located within the Gardner museum, another Boston cultural gem.

Hancock Shaker Village

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Hancock Shaker Village: en.wikipedia.org

Nestled among the rivers and ponds of Westborough, Massachusetts, Hancock Shaker Village (formerly Hancock Shaker Village Historic State Park) is America's best-preserved complex of Shaker houses. Surrounded by nine buildings on 110 acres of lawns, the Shaker Village is home to about 160 people, including Shakers who remain as members of the religious order that was founded in New England in 1747. More than 800 Shakers—men, women and children—lived here, learning to make pottery, weave fabrics, fashion simple yet ornate garments, maintain gardens and make furniture. The Shakers' longevity can be attributed in part to their position as one of the early Christian sects that turned toward agrarian life. They were among the first to organize communal living in the United States and, although they were the first U.S. community to abandon farming for a strict celibate lifestyle, their retreat from society is regarded as the beginning of the American Revolution. Frequent public bus services bring visitors to the village, while the grounds are open daily during summer. The first Shaker village in the country, Hancock Shaker Village is located just a short walk from the town of Westborough, about five miles from Worcester, Massachusetts.

Cape Cod National Seashore

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Cape Cod National Seashore: en.wikipedia.org

Cape Cod National Seashore is the largest National Seashore and is an ideal area for people who like to get outdoors and enjoy nature. This Unesco World Heritage site offers two spectacular hikes through salt marsh, rocky outcrops, and dense forest. The Black Cap Coastal Trail begins at the beach at Yarmouth Port and leads to a half-mile long trail above the old Kennedy Airport landfill. Along the way you'll pass a state park, the Assawompset Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, and Yarmouth Fort State Park. A 40-mile hike will take you through forests, past kettle ponds and salt marshes, and past great views and bird-filled meadows.

Fenway Park

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Fenway Park: en.wikipedia.org

Fenway Park is the most famous and traditional of America's baseball stadiums. The park, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, has hosted more than 25,000 major league games and has played a role in over 300 World Series, among them Jackie Robinson's first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. A good number of famous athletes, including Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, and George Sisler, have called Fenway Park home and many records have been set at the park over the years. There are two main entrances to Fenway Park. One is at the intersection of Yawkey Way and Brookline Avenue and the other is at Yawkey Way and Lansdowne Street.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

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Faneuil Hall: en.wikipedia.org

This open-air center for historical, artistic, culinary and retail interests dates back to 1739 and is the largest open-air public market in the United States. Described as Boston's heart and soul, Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a shopper's heaven, covering 12 acres, with more than 400 stores of all kinds. One of the largest contiguous covered shopping centers in the world, Faneuil Hall Marketplace houses Macy's and other top names. Some of the attractions in Boston include a variety of historic museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the American Antiquarian Society, which displays more than 10,000 books on the Colonial and Revolutionary history of the United States. Boston is also home to Harvard University, the world's oldest continuously functioning university, and MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is home to more than 3,000 students. Just outside of Boston are a number of beautiful resorts and beaches, while the city's largest water park, Johnny D's, is about 60 miles away. Boston is served by numerous airlines and receives a vast number of international and domestic visitors.

The Freedom Trail

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Freedom Trail: en.wikipedia.org

The Freedom Trail runs a stretch of the former carriage road connecting Boston's historic center with Lexington and Concord. A series of nineteen outdoor markers identified with large stone posts provide information about the history of the area along the five-mile trail. Many of the old homes and buildings along this historic roadway are now tourist attractions, including the Old Granary, the Old State House, and the Old West Church, which has the largest pulpit in the United States. You can find these historic sites on the Freedom Trail during the day, but they are best visited in the late afternoon as you can feel the centuries of history by walking along this historic roadway. In addition to exploring the historic sites on the Freedom Trail, you can also take a city tour from Boston's historic center. Some of the best-known points of interest on the Freedom Trail include the Old South Church, built in 1755 and the site of Paul Revere's famous ride; the Old North Church, with the red-painted steeple so beloved of artists; and the Hancock Tower, which symbolizes the freedom of Americans after the revolution.

Boston Harbor

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Boston Harbor: en.wikipedia.org

Battling Manhattan and New York City's Central Park as the nation's oldest city, Boston Harbor is built on five islands. Located on the harbor on the Massachusetts side of Boston, and filled with beautiful parks, one of which is Boston Common. What's Boston Harbor without a trip to City Hall? It's Boston's hub of government and politics, and its oldest city hall. In fact, City Hall is quite well known to be the largest cupola and dome building in North America. Boston is also well-known for its architecture and historical significance, particularly for the revolutionary heritage. It's built on hills and Beacon Hill which is visible from a long distance away. It is also has a rich history of baseball and American sport, a recent renaissance of art and a booming business in the technology industry. What a great place to visit!

City Hall

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City Hall (Cambridge, Massachusetts): en.wikipedia.org

Built in 1795, this red-brick and white-brick structure is the highest-profile public building in America's first major city. While few of its interior details remain, the façade stands like a warning against the kinds of political corruption that helped to deliver the Puritans their (temporary) stranglehold over Massachusetts in the mid-17th century. Venture inside to find the Clark Memorial Gallery, which contains Massachusetts historical exhibits including a high-relief sculpture of Sam Adams and Paul Revere as well as portraits of Washington, Jefferson, and other prominent figures.

Cape Cod

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Cape Cod: en.wikipedia.org

The most widely recognized destination in New England is Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the town of Provincetown, as seen on the cover of almost any travel guide in the USA. In addition to the historic towns of Provincetown, Truro and Wellfleet, you'll find a bevy of beautiful beaches, including some of the most iconic in the nation: The Silver Beach, Silver Sands, West Dennis, Race Point, Chatham, and the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps best of all, however, is the Cape's hiking opportunities. Walk along ancient dunes in a National Park, explore sea caves and shipwrecks in a state park, or go farther north to join a trail in some of the most pristine wildlands in the country.

Franklin Park

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Franklin, Massachusetts: en.wikipedia.org

Located in the heart of Boston's Back Bay is Franklin Park. The historic, 19th-century reservoir, which straddles a section of the Charles River, is one of the city's best-kept secrets. Open to the public, the park also offers a wealth of botanical, historical and cultural features. Surrounding the park is a variety of buildings that can be visited, including the beautiful Scott Art Museum, housing the city's art collection. Further down the same street is the public Art at the Carriage House, a contemporary art gallery dedicated to modern and contemporary art, displaying work from prominent artists from around the globe.

U.S.A.

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United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts: en.wikipedia.org

Boston is a major U.S. city and one of the top tourist destinations in the country, with many famous sights, restaurants, and hotels. Visitors flock here for the American experience – the main attractions include Harvard Square, home of the iconic Boston Public Library and famous Harvard University, the Freedom Trail, the historic North End, the New England Aquarium, and New England's best college town, the tiny, chic Cambridge, which hosts many universities.

Copley Square

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Copley Square: en.wikipedia.org

Boston's Copley Square is the largest public square in the United States, and by far the largest in New England. In 1838, the Town of Boston voted to provide a public square, and the land was chosen for its central location and beauty. Centered on a splendid specimen of a giant white oak, the square was laid out in a majestic fashion. The park is home to an urban forest of trees and a spacious museum, the Boston Public Library. A visit to Copley Square can be just about anything from shopping at its upscale shopping districts, like Beacon Hill and the Back Bay, to seeing one of Boston's numerous parades, such as the August Fourth or the Boston Pops Fourth of July Fireworks, to watching a performance at the impressive Boston Opera House. The City of Boston is home to one of the country's oldest maritime museums, which covers everything from Boston history to the history of the whaleboat. The Whaling Museum contains an array of real-life artifacts from the age of whaling, as well as a whale skeleton and wall of displays. It is also the home of the city's oldest park, the Boston Common. The Common is a highly popular location for people walking, skating, horseback riding, running, jogging, skateboarding, and many more things.

New England Aquarium

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New England Aquarium: en.wikipedia.org

America's oldest aquarium is part of Boston's New England Aquarium and Science Center, where you can check out more than 400 different exhibits, from a glass-enclosed shark tank to a giant whale tank to a touch tank that allows visitors to touch stingrays and horseshoe crabs. Children can enjoy hands-on activities to teach them about the ocean and watch the penguin show. The facility also has a coffee shop and a cafeteria. Other facilities include a life-sized replica of an octopus and a giant shark that you can see through glass. The aquarium has a second, smaller facility on Long Island, which opened in 2007.

Boston

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Boston: en.wikipedia.org

Famous for its universities and colleges, cosmopolitan arts scene and sporting events, and the city's interesting colonial history, Boston is home to more than 600,000 people and is a fascinating place to visit. The "Mother of American Cities" was founded by Puritans in 1630 as a Massachusetts Bay colony and is located in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. It is the third largest city in the United States. (The term Boston is used to refer to the city and the surrounding metropolitan area; Boston proper is also referred to as Boston, Massachusetts, or simply Boston.) Things to see and do in Boston include tours of the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, and the Boston Freedom Trail, which features 16 historic buildings where famous American historical events occurred. There's also the art-filled museum on the campus of Harvard University, and a series of beautiful parks and gardens, including Franklin Park, Beacon Hill, and the Boston Common. Sports fans can catch the Boston Red Sox, the New England Patriots, and the Boston Celtics, all of whom play in the city. See them play at the TD Banknorth Garden, Gillette Stadium, or the Fleet Center. It's also possible to see both the Boston Bruins and the New England Revolution play, or take in a Yankee or Red Sox game.

Read more 👉  Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Boston

Central Square

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Central Square, Cambridge: en.wikipedia.org

Central Square is an area of the city of Springfield located in the northeast section of Massachusetts. Much of the Central Square was actually an old mill site, and then a large tract of land was acquired by the state. It was then sold to people who wanted to make their own town center. The next few decades saw the area be split into small neighborhoods and shops and finally, the 1980's saw the installation of Central Square as an official downtown area. Main Street is the principal east-west thoroughfare, with shops and services, while half a block north is State Street, which is where people live and work. Many of the buildings, now converted to homes, show off a funky mix of modern and traditional styles. With the Springfield Statehouse at its heart, the square's main attraction is the court house and jail (built in 1846), designed by French-born architect Thomas L. Hastings. The circular New England-style building is topped by an elaborate clock and a golden dome. At the center of the structure is the "Great Tree of Justice", which was made from 5,000 pieces of wood and cut by hand. It took five years for the tree to be carved and nearly two more to be installed. The words "Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" are carved above the center of the dome.

Martha's Vineyard

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Martha's Vineyard: en.wikipedia.org

American summer vacation begins on Martha's Vineyard, a 30-mile-long barrier island that lies off the coast of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and boasts the highest concentration of grand and opulent estates in the area. There are beaches in every direction, scenic and popular. Easily accessible by car, the island also offers more demanding activities, such as golf and sailing. Guests at the island's select hotels and resorts enjoy access to the island's finest dining, spa treatments, and recreational options. Each of the island's many hotels has a unique atmosphere; many offer guests a chance to sample the famous island seafood and view a slice of Vineyard history. To reach the island, you can take either a car or ferry from Nantucket.

Boston Common and Public Garden

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Boston Public Garden: en.wikipedia.org

A tour of Boston Common and Public Garden brings out the child in all of us. Children enjoy strolling through the 52-acre park dotted with sculptures by great artists including Picasso and cast of iron Bulfinch trolleys. If you're up to it, take the family to the soaring gold-domed, but slightly modern, Museum of Fine Arts, with its collection of European paintings, including the world's largest Vermeer, Girl With a Pearl Earring, which is bigger than any in the Louvre. For a family souvenir, consider a one-of-a-kind children's book or doll created from cast iron chiseled by John Flagg, the park's most famous sculptor.