Massachusetts, was named after the Native American population that was indigenous to the region prior to European settlement. Massachusetts was home to the second permanent English settlement in North America in Plymouth, where the Pilgrims landed after their difficult voyage from England.
One of the original 13 English colonies, it can rightfully lay claim as the birthplace of the American Revolution. Most of the early clashes took place in the state – such as the the Boston Massacre (1770) and the Boston Tea Party (1773). The Battles of Lexington and Concord (1775) were the first of the Revolutionary War. The first shots fired by the Patriots at the North Bridge in Concord are remembered in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn” as the “shot heard ’round the world”. Soon after, the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was actually fought on Breeds Hill, proved that the Patriots could hold their own in battle against the British. The breaking of the Siege of Boston in early 1776 gave General Washington his first victory of the Revolution.
While Massachusetts is a relatively small state (44th in the US), it offers a broad range of things to do and see. There are the mountains and rural areas of Central and Western Massachusetts, to the major urban centers in the east and all they have to offer, to the Massachusetts coastline which includes Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket that are know the world over. Anyone traveling to Massachusetts will be rewarded with more to do than time will allow.
A Few of the Things to Do in Massachusetts
- American Revolution Anyone? – One could make a whole vacation just taking in the various sites and attractions connected to the American Revolution. Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston, see the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, visit the Bunker Hill Monument, or visit the Minute Man National Historical Park.
- The Arts – Boston is considered by many to be the arts and culture hub of New England. Take in a play or go to a concert of the Boston Symphony Orchestra or the world-renown Boston Pops.
- Be a Pilgrim – We all learned about the Pilgrims in school. Well in Massachusetts you can see where it all happened. See Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower II, and Plimoth Plantation all in Plymouth; and visit the Pilgrim Monument and Museum in Provincetown commemorating the Pilgrim’s first landing.
- Go to School – Harvard University in Cambridge was the Nation’s first university. One of the major industries in Massachusetts is higher education with the region being home to major institutions such as Amherst, MIT, Boston College, Holy Cross, Brandeis, Tufts, UMass, WPI and many more.
- Go to the Beach – There are wonderful beaches to the North of Boston (North Shore) as well as to the south of Boston (South Shore), but Massachusetts’ most well known and popular summertime destination is Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
- Hoop Anyone? – Basketball was created by Dr. James Naismith in 1891 in Springfield. Named after him, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is also in Springfield.
- Most Famous Marathon – The Boston Marathon is the world’s most famous and oldest annual marathon.
- How About a Duck Tour? – Take a ride on a converted World War II era amphibious truck to get a unique tour of Boston. Boston Duck Tours are a “must do” activity for both locals and tourists. Get a unique view of Boston both from the road and from the Charles River.
- Maritime History Any One? – If you feel like taking in some of the State’s maritime history you may want to visit the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, or the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. if you are looking for maritime history of a more violent sort, you may wish to visit Battleship Cove in Fall River where you can see the Battleship USS Massachustts, the USS Destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., the submarine USS Lionfish, and more.
- Relive Colonial New England – See how the first settlers in Massachusetts lived at Old Sturbridge Village and Plimoth Plantation.
- See the Oldest Major League Ballpark – Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox since its opening in 1912, is the oldest Major League ballpark in the country. It is a must-visit attraction for any baseball fan.
- See the Oldest Warship – The USS Constitution, berthed in the Charlestown Navy Yard, is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. This veteran of the War of 1812 is open for tours – and yes, the crew is active duty US Navy.
- Sports, Sports, and More Sports – Massachusetts, and especially Boston, is well known for its’ fanatic professional sports fans. All major sports are represented in Massachusetts with MLB’s Boston Red Sox, the NBA’s Boston Celtics, the NHL’s Boston Bruins, the NFL’s New England Patriots and Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution. If that is not enough, Massachusetts is also home to minor league and independent baseball teams, as well as professional lacrosse and tennis teams.
- Take a Hike – The Appalachian Trail makes its way through five of the six New England States. Massachusetts has 90.2 miles of the trail stretching from its’ border with Connecticut to its’ border with Vermont for relatively easy to strenuous hiking.
- Take in a Presidential Library – The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library commemorating the life and presidency of the 35th President of the United States is in Boston. Nearby in Brookline, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site preserves his birthplace.
- Wineries – While it is not Napa, Massachusetts is home to over 20 wineries including several well regarded wineries such as the Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery in Westport, and Nashoba Valley Winery, Orchard & Restaurant in Bolton.
Major Cities in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is home to some of New England’s largest cities. These cities offer a wealth of arts, cultural, culinary, and nightlife activities.
- Boston – Boston is the capital of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State’s and New England’s largest city.
- Springfield – Springfield is New England’s fourth largest city and home to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Worcester – Worcester is the second or third largest city in New England (depending on the most current census data) and home to several major colleges and universities including Assumption College, College of the Holy Cross, UMass Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).