Attractions

Most of the top tourist attractions in Massachusetts intertwine with the state's history. Puritan pilgrims established the first New England colony in Plymouth in 1620, ushering in a new era for America. Continuing throughout the years, the witch trials in the town of Salem remains notorious for the witch trials of 1692.

Boston led the charge into the fight for freedom that became the American Revolution, and Massachusetts was the first state to abolish slavery in 1783. Massachusetts is also the proud home of Harvard, the oldest university in the country, as well as many other distinguished centres of learning, and boasts truly world-class museums and galleries to enshrine its treasures.

Sightseeing in Massachusetts mainly appeals to culture vultures and those with scholarly interests, but there is nothing dowdy about the state. Massachusetts has a reputation for embracing the finer things in life and has long been a playground for the wealthy and refined.

Beyond the stately old neighbourhoods of Boston, the beaches of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket have become enclaves for stylish vacationers, and the forested hills of the Berkshires have long been the preferred retreat of many New Yorkers and Bostonians.

One of the state's major attractions is the annual display of brilliant fall foliage, making autumn the best time to visit scenic Massachusetts. Those wanting to see the foliage at its most dramatic should drive The Mohawk Trail which winds through the northern Berkshire Mountains taking in some of the state's most beautiful scenery.

Martha's Vineyard photo

Martha's Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard is a favourite summer destination for New England's wealthy elite. Tourism is the main economy, boosted by celebrity regulars like actress Sharon Stone and the Cl…

Martha's Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard is a favourite summer destination for New England's wealthy elite. Tourism is the main economy, boosted by celebrity regulars like actress Sharon Stone and the Clinton family. Martha's Vineyard is far less developed than Cape Cod, but more sophisticated than neighbouring Nantucket Island. Holidays here are dominated by simple pleasures such as the weekly farmers' market, and walks on the miles of coastal pathways. Although it is a peaceful place, Martha's Vineyard does host many events in the summer months, which keeps things lively; however, the influx of people in summer raises prices and makes things less serene so that some travellers prefer to visit off-season. Visiting outside of the busy summer period (June to August) also increases the chance that some of the private beaches in the area will be open to the public. The six towns of Martha's Vineyard have distinct characters. Upmarket Vineyard Haven is the island's main port, receiving ferries as well as private yachts. The fun centre of Oak Bluffs is home to the old Flying Horses Carousel, pizza takeaways, and ice-cream parlours which cater to the young and carefree. The graceful Edgartown has quaint inns, historic whaling captains' homes and stylish boutiques lining the narrow streets, and is the island's oldest settlement.

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