The Boston area is so rich in history, natural beauty, and culture that there is almost certainly something new to explore for every family, including those who have lived in the city their whole lives. Today, we’ve curated a list of favorite attractions. Whether you’re interested in exploring nature, visiting historic sites, or simply getting out and enjoying the beautiful weather, this list has something for everyone.
Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, New Hampshire
Located approximately ninety minutes from Boston, Gunstock Mountain Resort is best known as a ski resort, but it is every bit as beautiful in the summer. Summer activities include a mountain roller coaster, scenic lift rides, aerial treetop adventures, zipline tours, e-bike tours, off-road segway tours, hiking, biking, and fishing. Gunstock Mountain Resort is currently open Friday through Monday. There’s plenty to see and do, so if you have time, you may wish to stay over the weekend at the resort’s 290-site campground.
TreeTop Adventures in Canton, Massachusetts
TreeTop Adventures is a highly-rated high ropes and obstacle course located about forty minutes south of Boston. The park offers 10 unique trails varying in difficulty. Courses are designed for children ages seven and up and include obstacles such as tight ropes, rolling logs, bridges, ladders, zip-lines, and more. Night climbing with magical outdoor lighting is also available on Friday and Saturday nights through October.
Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts
When you live in Boston, you don’t have to look far to find historically important sites to visit. One of these sites, which was designated a National Historic Landmark, is Walden Pond, which inspired some of the most important works of transcendentalist philosopher and writer Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau is famously quoted as writing, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Bostonians can share in this experience about which Thoreau wrote by visiting Walden Pond, walking in the author’s footsteps, and seeing where he lived and wrote works that are still studied widely.
Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts
Less than five minutes away from Walden Pond is the Gropius House, a historic home museum that was the private family residence of Walter Gropius, a modernist architect often grouped with Frank Lloyd Wright and other famous architects like Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. In fact, many recognize Walter Gropius as the pioneer of modern style, and his truly stunning home is a joy to behold. Walter Gropius brought back the design-build model, founded Bauhaus, the German Design School, and taught architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. You can learn more about this famous architect’s legacy here.
Plimoth Patuxet Museums in Plymouth, Massachusetts
Yet another historic day trip near Boston is the Plimoth Patuxet Museums. The entire family will enjoy this interactive experience where the 17th-century settlement of the Plymouth Colony comes to life. Visitors get to speak with and observe trained first-person actors and actresses who speak, dress, and conduct themselves as if they are part of the original English colony known as “the Pilgrims.” You will be immersed in the lifestyle of the year 1627 and have the opportunity to participate in daily tasks like planting seeds, cooking food, animal husbandry, and also learn about the lives of indigenous people. Tickets are also available for visitors who wish to tour the Mayflower II, a reproduction of the original Mayflower that carried the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620, and to see inside the Plimoth Grist Mill, a working reproduction of the Pilgrims’ water-powered mill.
Sites in Salem, Massachusetts
Just 45 minutes up the coast from Boston, Salem is also a city rich in history. It was founded in 1626 and became an extremely important trading port. While the city is perhaps best known for its Puritan history and the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692, it is also home to The House of the Seven Gables, a destination forever memorialized by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Salem is also the birthplace of the oldest continually operated museum in The United States of America. Founded in 1799 by sea captains, The Peabody Essex Museum preserves maritime history, information about Salem’s Chinese Trade, and Asian arts and culture in general. Visitors have the opportunity to tour Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is completely unique in the U.S.
Amusement and Recreation
Water Country Water Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
With 26 acres of kids’ attractions and rides, as well as shaded cabanas and multiple dining options, Water Country Park in Portsmouth is New England’s largest waterpark. Attractions include Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror, a 300-foot trip down a fully enclosed and totally dark tunnel, The Patriot, a 58-foot high slide drop, New England’s largest wave pool with 700,000 gallons of water, a ¼-mile-long river ride with waterfalls, a pirate’s pool and lagoon, and several other rides and play places for adults and children of all ages.
New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts
The New England Aquarium in Boston is home to thousands of animals. Among its many diverse exhibits, the aquarium features a four-story coral reef where a green sea turtle and hundreds of Caribbean fish live, as well as the East Coast’s largest shark and ray touch tank. Even if you’ve been to the aquarium in the past, you may want to visit again to see its new Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Exhibit.
Once you’ve explored the aquarium, you may enjoy an educational film at the Simons IMAX Theatre. Last but not least, be sure to take advantage of whale watching at the New England Aquarium Whale Watch, which is open through November. Just a short boat ride away, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is one of the world’s most active marine sanctuaries, and New England Aquarium partners with Boston Harbor City Cruises to get you prime whale-watching seats.