There’s more to a Massachusetts summer than gorgeous beaches, incredible seafood, and awesome outdoor activities – but those will do just fine in a pinch. Check out this list of great ideas for summer fun in the Bay State. Some are classic activities that never get old, and some are bound to become your new favorites.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Hop on a genuine paddleboat and cruise the harbor in style.
The Pilgrim Belle is an authentic Mississippi-style paddle wheeler operating out of Plymouth harbor. You’ll get to see sights like Clark’s Island, Gurnet Point Lighthouse, and Plymouth Beach from the comfort of this amazing ship. They offer Sunday brunches on board, too!
2. Go antiquing!
There are sooooo many places across the state where you can find incredible deals on amazing antiques and retro odds and ends. Try the Brimfield Antiques Fair or Hobart Village Antique Mall in West Townsend.
3. Explore Mohawk Trail in western Mass.
This awesome scenic road combines a little bit of everything: beautiful natural scenery, great shopping, fantastic food spots, and a classic New England feel. With over 63 miles of unsurpassed splendor and 50,000 acres of state parks and forests, you’ll definitely have plenty to do and see.
4. Grab a box of fried deliciousness at the Clam Box in Ipswich.
You know you’ve been waiting all winter for a taste of delicious fresh fried seafood. Go ahead and indulge at this Massachusetts landmark.
5. Step back in time at the Drover’s Roast at the Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield.
This outdoor feast is held twice a year on June 19 and September 11. The event features hand-rubbed prime ribs of beef that are slathered with an age-old recipe of spices and roasted for hours over a huge fire pit. Watch the staff make fritters and chowder over open fires, enjoy an assortment of baked goods and freshly baked shortcakes topped with real whipped cream. There are also horse-drawn wagon rides, live entertainment, and demonstrations of period crafts.
6. Play golf on the Village Green in Natick.
This is a slightly hokey but incredibly unique miniature gold course that has a historical theme. The putting greens are peppered with places like Faneuil Hall, Old North Church and the Old State House. If mini golf isn’t your thing, there’s also a pretty cool arcade. The best part? This course is not in a main tourist area, so you’ll have the greens to yourself.
7. Stop to smell the roses at Arnold Arboretum.
This place features stunning greenery and vibrant blooms all through the summer. Arnold Arboretum is easily walkable and a perfect place to get some great shots of friends and family against the verdant foliage.
8. Go on an epic whale watch.
Some classic activities aren’t just for tourists. If you haven’t been on a whale watch since that one elementary school field trip, now’s the time to head out to sea once more. You can usually score sweet deals on tickets through your local library, chamber of commerce, or even a bit of online deal hunting. It’s a great way to enjoy a day on the water without renting a boat or committing to an all-day excursion on the islands. Hyannis Harbor or Gloucester Harbor are both great spots from which to cast off.
9. Head to Tanglewood for the perfect summer day in the Berkshires.
The Boston Symphony brings their talents to Tanglewood every summer, often featuring world-class performers from around the globe. If classical music isn’t your thing, Tanglewood also plays host to acts like James Taylor and A Prairie Home Companion. You can bring your own food and drink for a picnic and take in the sweet sounds and sights of summer.
10. Catch a movie at the drive-in.
Even after a long day at the beach, you might not be ready to head indoors. Check out your local drive-in with your friends and make some memories. Wellfleet Drive-in Theatre features a dairy bar and grill, while Mendon Twin Drive-in near Worcester offers a 1950s-style diner and single-ticket admission to two shows!
11. Hang out on the beach at night for a taste of twilight excitement.
Contrary to what you might expect, many beaches around Massachusetts do operate after-hours and are open to the public in the evening. And now you don’t even need to sneak out of the house! Yirrell Beach in Winthrop is a great place to watch planes take off from Logan Airport, and Revere Beach frequently hosts outdoor movies and events during the twilight hours.
12. Head to the zoo and make some animal friends.
There are quite a few amazing zoos in Massachusetts, so you should definitely make a visit to one of them part of your summer bucket list. Head over to Southwick’s Zoo for a day at the largest zoo in New England. They have a 35-acre Deer Forest where you can pet and feed Eurasian Fallow deer!
13. Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston.
If you didn’t do this as a school kid, now’s the time. It’s a great way to learn a ton about the history of our capital city and the American Revolution without buying an admission ticket to a museum. Save that cash for a few ice cream cones to keep you company on the trail.
14. Watch a show at the hatch shell, Boston.
This is a perfect way to relax in the sun while still taking in a bit of culture. Catch one of the incredible day-time shows, and stick around one of their summer movie night features.