9 Spectacular Must-Do Day Trips From Boston (2023 Guide)

Looking for fun things to do near Boston? Here are some of the best day trips from Boston to experience more than just the city!

There are a plethora of reasons why Boston is so well-loved and frequently visited. From hosting the famous Boston Marathon to its rich history dating to 1630, Boston is a place of wealth and prosperity. 

Considered the birthplace of the American Revolution by many, Boston was the starting destination of the American Revolutionary War when the siege of Boston began in 1775.

As a result, it is one of the most historic cities in the nation, the perfect place for history buffs to learn more about the rich history of America and the city known as the “Cradle of Modern America.” 

Though its historical features lure in many visitors every year, there is more to Boston that makes it such a prevalent travel destination.

People come to taste its famous New England clam chowder, walk its cobblestone streets surrounded by historic architecture, and sit down for a Boston Red Sox ballgame at Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in the United States. 

And only a short trip from lovely Boston are some of the best attractions and unique cities to explore while in town. Give our list of the best day trips from Boston a read to see some of the nation’s most eye-catching sights and enriching activities! 

Check out our ultimate 3 days in Boston itinerary for fun things to do in the city.

The 9 Best Day Trips From Boston

While in Boston, take the time for a day trip to some of the most noteworthy attractions and locations nearby.

Though some of these places are also perfect for full weekend getaways, they can also be done as day trips if you’re short on time or would rather relax at your accommodation in Boston.

From sinking into the New England charm of Rhode Island to hiking one of the United States’ most popular parks at Acadia National Park, our curated list of day trips from Boston is sure to pack on the memories you’ll cherish forever! 

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Rhode Island

  • Distance from Boston: 71 miles/114 km
  • How Long it Takes: 1½ hours

Rhode Island is a popular travel destination with 400+ miles of scenic coastline, fresh seafood, and New England charm. Though known as the Ocean State, Rhode Island is one of the world’s leading jewelry manufacturers. It produces 80% of America’s costume jewelry. 

The state’s allure continues to attract visitors to explore its enchanting villages, scenic hiking trails, and local shops.

Others travel to Rhode Island to taste the official state drink of coffee milk, a delicious combination of sugar, milk, and hot coffee. The drink dates back to the 19th century when Italian immigrants introduced their culture to Rhode Island. 

What Is There To See and Do?

Full of historical sites, impressive art galleries, and local stores and breweries, there are plenty of top things to do in Rhode Island!

Top activities in the state include:

  • The Breakers
  • Rogers Williams Park Zoo
  • Fort Adams State Park
  • Providence Performing Arts Center
  • Walking tour in Downtown Providence

Popular walking and hiking trails:

  • Castle Hill Lighthouse (Newport)
  • Cliff Walk (Newport)
  • Beavertail State Park (Jamestown)
  • Carr’s Pond & Tarbox Pond Trail (Coventry)

Getting There and Away

Take a direct route by train from Boston to Providence on the Amtrak Acela. Bus rides are available at South Station in Boston that head to the Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island. 

Another option, though much more expensive than the others, is grabbing a taxi. A rental car is also a great way to do this day trip!

Best Time Of Year To Visit

Fall is considered the best season to visit Rhode Island to avoid crowds and relish the fantastic fall foliage. During this time, the weather is favorable, expenses are cheaper outside of tourist season, and the crowds are much smaller. 

Providence Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island

Mystic, Connecticut

  • Distance from Boston: 100 miles/160 km
  • How Long it Takes: 2½ Hours

Founded in 1654, this quintessential New England town of Mystic, Connecticut, is one of the most fantastic day trips or weekend trips from Boston!

Mystic features two of Connecticut’s most visited attractions: the Mystic Aquarium and the Mystic Seaport Museum. The Mystic Aquarium is one of two aquariums in the United States that exhibits Steller sea lions. It is the only aquarium with beluga whales in New England.

The Mystic Seaport Museum is the largest maritime museum in the nation, touted for its impressive collection of artifacts of boats and sailing ships. 

What Is There To See and Do?

Mystic is one of Connecticut’s most charming, historic towns. Its downtown area full of historic buildings, museums, and nautical village ambiance was used for the locale of Mystic Pizza, a film featuring Julia Roberts. 

There is a wide selection of activities to enjoy in Mystic, but here are some of the most popular to check out when you visit! 

Top sights include:

  • Mystic Aquarium
  • Olde Mistick Village
  • Mystic Seaport Museum
  • Mystic Museum of Art

Getting There and Away

The best option for getting to Mystic on a day trip from Boston is taking the train to the Mystic Amtrak. The only other option is renting a car and driving yourself.

Best Time Of Year To Visit

The recommended time to visit Mystic to avoid the raised costs of tourist season is from March to May. The most expensive time to travel to Mystic is in the summer and fall when tourism to the village is high.

This is also the best time to participate in many of Mystic’s outdoor activities, so if you’re looking to spend your time outdoors, we recommend the fall from September to October when the weather is ideal. 

Read next: The 21 Best Things To Do In Boston, Massachusetts

White Mountain National Forest

  • Distance from Boston: 128 miles/206 km
  • How Long it Takes: 2½ Hours

Part of the northeastern United States in New Hampshire, the White Mountain National Forest is one of two national forests in New England. If you love hiking and nature, this is an epic day trip from Boston to try!

Or if you have more time to spare, it’s the perfect place for a lovely weekend getaway. The undeveloped expanse of land is thriving with hardwood forests, wildlife, and breathtaking alpine lakes and peaks.

The White Mountains, named after its frequently snow-tipped peaks, within the national forest, are home to the highest point in New Hampshire, Mount Washington.  

What Is There To See and Do?

The most popular activities in the White Mountain National Forest are hiking and camping. The untainted flux of nature is the ultimate rejuvenation from the hustle and bustle of city life, making it one of the best day trips from Boston.

Top sights in the White Mountains, New Hampshire:

  • Kancamagus Highway
  • Ice Castles (in the winter)
  • Mount Washington Cog Railway
  • White water rafting
  • Flume Gorge

The best hiking trails include:

  • Elephant Head
  • Boulder Loop
  • Arethusa Falls
  • Mount Willard
  • Mount Washington

Getting There and Away

Driving is the easiest and cheapest way to reach the White Mountains from Boston. The next best option is taking a bus from Boston South Buses to Conway, New Hampshire. From there, hitch a ride on a taxi to the mountains.

As a pretty remote area of New Hampshire, there is no public transportation directly in the mountains. So you’re best off hiring a car for this day trip from Boston.

Best Time Of Year To Visit

People travel from all over to visit White Mountain National Forest year-round. The forest has seasonal activities, including winter sports like snowshoeing and skiing.

Others specifically come in the fall season to hike amongst the trails as the leaves change colors. Most popularly, people visit White Mountain National Forest in the summer. 

White Mountains
The White Mountains have some of New England’s most beautiful scenery!

Watch Hill, Rhode Island

  • Distance (miles/km): 99 miles/156 km
  • How Long it Takes: 2½ Hours

Out of all the places to visit on the East Coast from Boston, Watch Hill, Rhode Island, is one of the most serene and historic destinations.

The village is home to numerous historic sites and attractions. One such attraction is the Flying Horse Carousel, a National Historic Landmark. The carousel is the oldest operating suspended-horse carousel in the nation. 

One of the most iconic landmarks in the village is the Watch Hill Lighthouse. The lighthouse has acted as a nautical beacon since 1745. There’s also the famous historic Ocean House, a luxury hotel brought back to life.

From its location are stunning vistas of the Atlantic, the hotel once having acted as the summer home for distinguished guests in the 1900s. 

What Is There To See and Do?

Among the many historical attractions of Watch Hill are other popular activities to consider. The Napatree Point Conservation Area features some of the state’s rarest habitats. Hiking, spending time at the beach, and birdwatching are popular activities here.

Watch Hill Beach is a favored summertime spot for many looking to soak in the sun’s rays with scenic coastline views. 

Examples of popular things to see include:

  • Watch Hill Lighthouse
  • Ocean House
  • Olympia Tea Room
  • Napatree Point Conservation Area
  • Watch Hill Beach 

Getting There and Away

The most convenient way to reach Watch Hill from Boston is by train to the Westerly Amtrak Station. The only other cost-effective way to head to Watch Hill is by car, as a taxi will be quite costly. 

Best Time Of Year To Visit

We recommend visiting anywhere from June to September to savor Watch Hill’s beauty. The summer will be more touristy and costly, but these months the weather is more comfortable to walk around while enjoying the many unique attractions of the village. 

Heading to the Big Apple next? Here is our 3 days in New York City itinerary!

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

  • Distance from Boston: 91 miles/146 km
  • How Long it Takes: 3 Hours 15 Minutes 

Adored for its natural beauty, Martha’s Vineyard is lush with activities and charm, making it one of Boston’s top weekend getaways. It’s a bit of a long journey to squeeze into a day trip, but if you leave early enough you can easily get back to Boston by the end of the day.

Throughout Martha’s Vineyard are a total of five lighthouses that were established to protect ships from the rocky shorelines of the island.

While in town, grab fresh seafood at Larsen’s Fish Market or a seafood-based dish at the numerous restaurants in the area for an exceptional taste of lobster or local Bay scallops. 

What Is There To See and Do?

The island exudes an appealing charm of white picket fences, flower-speckled gardens, and New England-style architecture with historic homes. A stop in here guarantees plenty of homey and memorable activities to enjoy while visiting. 

Fun things to see on the island include:

  • Martha’s Vineyard Museum
  • Joseph Sylvia State Beach
  • Aquinnah Cliffs Overlook
  • East Chop Lighthouse

Getting There and Away

The most affordable way to reach Martha’s Vineyard is by taking the bus from Boston South Buses to New Bedford. You must ride the New Bedford Ferry to Oak Bluffs in Martha’s Vineyard from there. Driving to the ferry is another affordable option to consider. 

There are flights from Boston to the island. However, this option can be a little more inconvenient to maneuver through TSA and be at the airport early, especially if you’re trying to save time for your Martha’s Vineyard day trip. 

The easiest way to get there is on a guided tour that covers all your transport and includes an optional island tour if you want to learn more from a local guide.

Best Time Of Year To Visit

Beautiful year-round, Martha’s Vineyard’s peak tourist season is summer. However, the crowds tend to thin out in the spring and fall, with shorter wait times at stores and restaurants. 

If you decide to stay for a weekend, there are some amazing hotels in Martha’s Vineyard!

Martha's Vineyard
Beautiful, historic homes in Martha’s Vineyard

Plymouth, Massachusetts

  • Distance from Boston: 41 miles/65 km
  • How Long it Takes: 1 Hour

Plymouth was the first permanent colony in Massachusetts, settled in 1620. It was also one of the British’s first successful colonies in North America. If you want to learn about the local history, this is one of the best places for a day trip from Boston.

Commonly known as America’s Hometown, Plymouth is rich in history and culture. It is one of the oldest towns in the nation, teeming with historic sites and attractions.

The Plimoth Patuxet Museum is a reputable living history museum that revives the history of the Plymouth Colony and its indigenous homeland. 

What Is There To See and Do?

One of the top Boston day trips for history buffs, Plymouth is full of historical, family-friendly attractions. And that’s not all! Plymouth prevails with other attractive activities, including the Brewster Gardens.

The maintained garden is set in the heart of Plymouth for a peaceful stroll speckled with memorials and scenic views. To really learn about the history during your exploration, try a self-guided walking tour!

Examples of popular things to see include:

  • Plimoth Patuxet Museums
  • Pilgrim Hall Museum 
  • Brewster Gardens
  • Plymouth Rock
  • National Monument to the Forefathers

Getting There and Away

There are a few accommodating methods of reaching Plymouth from Boston, as it’s just over an hour away. The first is taking the bus from Boston South Buses to Plymouth, and the second is renting a car or taking a taxi.

This guided day trip picks tour-goers up from downtown Boston. On this fun and informative tour, the guide will take passengers to the birthplace of two U.S. Presidents, to Plymouth to see multiple attractions such as the Mayflower II, and to the coastal town of Scituate. 

Best Time Of Year To Visit

Avoid heading to Plymouth in the winter, as the weather is frigid. Unfortunately, this is also the rainy season in Plymouth, including October and November.

For more comfortable temperatures, visit Plymouth anywhere from June to September. The summer will be more crowded and warmer but perfect for exploring the historical town outdoors. 

Looking for more historic US destinations? Check out our guide to Washington DC!

Cape Cod National Seashore

  • Distance from Boston: 93 miles/150 km
  • How Long it Takes: 2 Hours

A serene escape from city life is within a few hours reach from Boston at Cape Cod, the iconic peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic from Massachusetts. 

The Cape Cod National Seashore protects habitats of uplands, marshlands, and more located on the outer islands of Chatham. Many people come to the seashore to bask in its tranquil embrace of scenic coastline, stretch out on the beach, and visit the historic lighthouses. 

What Is There To See and Do?

Cape Cod National Seashore’s Coast Guard Beach is a popular seaside town to visit in the summer for sun tanning and swimming. There are many rewarding hikes to try here, including the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail that maneuvers along a boardwalk surrounded by white cedar and swamplands. 

Top activities here include:

  • Salt Pond Visitor Center
  • America’s National Parks store
  • Coast Guard Beach

Examples of popular walking trails:

  • Nauset Marsh Trail
  • Doane Trail
  • Buttonbush Trail
  • Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail 

Getting There and Away

To get to the Cape Cod National Seashore from Boston, take the ferry from the World Trade Center Pier to the MacMillan Pier in Provincetown, Massachusetts. From there, hail a taxi for a twenty-minute trip to the seashore.

A more convenient option is to drive to avoid switchovers and extended layover times. This Cape Cod and Provincetown private day tour departs from Boston Harbor. Tour Goers are led by a local guide to learn about the area’s history with opportunities to shop from local shops. 

Best Time Of Year To Visit

If you’re looking for a rejuvenating escape surrounded by the beauty of untamed nature, we recommend visiting Cape Cod National Seashore in the summer.

Savor the sun’s embrace on your skin, but expect a crowd, as the area can get busy. If you want to experience fewer crowds during your visit, the spring and fall are ideal. 

Cape Cod
Cape Cod is one of the best beach getaways in Massachusetts!

Washington, Connecticut

  • Distance from Boston: 150 miles/242 km
  • How Long it Takes: 3 Hours

The small town of Washington, Connecticut, is a day trip worth taking from Boston, especially for art lovers!

Washington has a vibrant cultural and social scene surrounded by a stunning backdrop of the Berkshire Mountains and rolling hills backdrop.

Writers, artists, and musicians travel to Washington for inspiration, while others come to present their skills at one of the many different zones, such as the refined art galleries. 

What Is There To See and Do?

The Hollister House Garden is a classic garden nestled on the grounds of a historic English manor. The manor was built in 1770 and is a prominent example of Georgian architecture. The garden is a stunning presentation of the class and elegance of life back in the day. 

Another popular option to consider when in Washington is the Hopkins Vineyard. The heritage farm offers a breathtaking setting overlooking Lake Waramaug. The vineyard produces award-winning wines that can be tried in the tasting room or after a tour of the prosperous vineyard. 

Examples of popular things to see include:

  • Hollister House Garden
  • Hopkins Vineyard
  • Steep Rock Preserve
  • Hidden Valley Preserve
  • Hickory Stick Bookshop

Getting There and Away

The cheapest option for getting to Washington from Boston is public transportation. Take the bus from South Station to Union Station. From there, take the bus at Bushnell Park to Waterbury RR Station. Once you reach this station, hail a taxi to Washington. 

The most accommodating transportation alternatives are to drive or take the train from Boston to New Haven and then grab a taxi to Washington.  

Best Time Of Year To Visit

July is the hottest month in Washington, Connecticut, so if you’re looking to stay out of the heat, this isn’t the month to travel to this small town. Instead, we recommend visiting in late spring, May, June, and September for more comfortable weather. 

Read next: The Perfect 3 Days in Washington DC Itinerary

Acadia National Park

  • Distance from Boston: 280 miles/451 km
  • How Long it Takes: 4 Hours 40 Minutes

Renowned for its breathtaking fall foliage season, Acadia National Park is a unique destination that will be a magical day trip from Boston!

Located in Maine, the park was the first to be established east of the Mississippi River. It stretches from Maine to encompass half of Mount Desert Island, the largest island off the coast of Maine.

As a result, Acadia is one of the first locations to see the sun in the United States at the cusp of each day. 

What Is There To See and Do?

Acadia National Park is a breathtaking place of natural wonder waiting to be adventured for one of the best day trips from Boston!

Take your pick of scenic drives winding along the coast and through lush forests. Then, go hiking through the park called the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast.”

There are so many fun things to do in the nation’s fifth most-visited national park, which welcomes millions of visitors annually.

Top things to see in the park:

  • Bass Harbor Head Light Station
  • Cadillac Mountain
  • Bubble Rock
  • Jordan Pond

Popular trails to hike:

  • Precipice Trail
  • Gorham Mountain Trail
  • Ocean Path Trail

Getting There and Away

The cheapest and most convenient method of reaching Acadia National Park from Boston is by car. The other options, by bus or train, would require too much time to access the park within a day. 

Best Time Of Year To Visit

Though Acadia National Park is more known as the perfect fall season spot, it’s also great for visiting other times of the year.

During the winter, the park is a winter wonderland blanketed in snow. As a result, it’s a popular spot for winter sports, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing.

Acadia National Park
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore one of America’s best national parks!

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About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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