It’s a source of pride for Bostonians that everything in our city is conveniently located within walking distance. But after a while, all that closeness can get a bit confining. Fortunately, if you do decide to escape the city for the day, there are points of interest to visit in every direction.
Located in the peaceful, wooded Berkshire Mountains, Lenox is best known to Bostonians as the home of Tanglewood (pictured right), the scenic al fresco concert venue that hosts the Boston Symphony Orchestra during the summer months. For more outdoor fun visit the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, which hosts Pleasant Valley Day, a celebration of nature for all ages, on June 24. Lenox is also home to The Mount, the expansive estate and gardens of author Edith Wharton, as well as the Frelighuyen Morris House and Studio, a hidden gem of a museum filled with Cubist art by painters including Miró and Picasso.
Approximate driving time: 2.5 hours. Driving directions: Take Mass Pike West to Exit 2, take a right off exit ramp to Rte. 20 West. Other options: Bonanza/Peter Pan bus lines (617-526-1801, departing from South Station). Amtrak (multiple departure points in Boston, 800-USA-RAIL) service to Pittsfield, just 10 minutes from Lenox.
Although it’s no longer a textile-production hub filled with mill girls, Lowell still draws young people from miles around due to its hip art and music scene. Each weekend, the Lowell Summer Music Series (pictured right) offers outdoor concerts, with upcoming performers including Joan Osbourne (June 29) and Buckwheat Zydeco (June 30). And many are surprised to learn of Lowell’s position as a mini-museum mecca—home to the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, the American Textile Museum and the culturally diverse Revolving Museum.
Approximate driving time: 40 minutes. Driving directions: Take Mass Pike West to Rte. 495 North to Exit 35C, or Rte.3 North to 30B. Other options: MBTA Commuter Rail trains from Boston’s North Station.
With its vast stretches of beach and charming small-town atmosphere, it’s easy to see why this little island is a favorite summer getaway for countless celebrities, including the Clintons, Bill Gates and Carly Simon. “The Vineyard” is also home to several historic lighthouses (Gay Head Light is pictured, right), as well as the Flying Horses Carousel, the oldest operating carousel in America. Come dusk, make your way to the Menemsha fishing village—the seaside area where Stephen Spielberg shot most of Jaws—for the best sunset viewing on the island.
Approximate driving time: 1 hour, 40 minutes to ferry. Island Queen ferry service (from Falmouth, 508-548-4800) takes 35 minutes. The Steamship Authority (from Woods Hole, 508-477-8600) takes 45 minutes. Numerous other ferry services are available. Plymouth & Brockton (508-746-0378, departing from Logan Airport and South Station) and Bonanza/Peter Pan bus lines travel from Boston to ferry departure points, as do Amtrak trains.
Although it may be the smallest state in the union, Rhode Island is home to some of the most expansive estates you’ll ever see. Many of Newport’s mansions even invite visitors to tour their grounds, including the Italian villa-style Chepstow, the High Victorian Chateau-sur-Mer and Belcourt Castle, which is filled with an impressive collection of art and antiques. When it comes to culture, people who live in mansions don’t fool around. For those who would prefer an outdoor event, The Newport International Polo Series hosts matches on June 23 & 30.
Approximate driving time: 1.5 hours. Driving directions: Take Rte. 95 South to Rte. 24 South to Rte. 114 South. Other options: Bonanza/Peter Pan bus lines serve Newport. Amtrak trains go to Kingston, which is 15 miles west of Newport.
From history buffs to beach bums, Plymouth has a little something for everyone. The city is chockfull of historical museums that commemorate the Pilgrims’ 1620 landing on Plymouth’s shores. (And yes, Plymouth Rock is still there to mark the spot.) Don’t miss Plimoth Plantation, where you can immerse yourself in a Pilgrim community from 1627 and explore the Mayflower II (pictured right), a replica of the ship that brought colonists to America. When you’ve had your fill of history, try soaking up the sun at one of the area’s many beaches, including White Horse Beach, Nelson Beach and Plymouth Beach. And juice lovers can check out Ocean Spray Cranberry World, a salute to the tiny, tart berry.
Approximate driving time: 50 minutes. Driving directions: Rte. 3 South. Other options: Bus service from Plymouth & Brockton bus lines, MBTA Commuter Rail from South Station.
Once thought of as a distant territory populated by moose and trees, Maine is now hipper and more accessible than many realize. The city of Portland is home to the Sea Dogs—the Red Sox’ AA affiliate—as well as a burgeoning nightlife scene and a trendy shopping district. With more than 120 outlet stores, Kittery is a bargain hunter’s fantasy. And after all that partying and shopping, the gorgeous coastal village of Kennebunkport (pictured right, where the Bush clan chills in the summer) is the perfect place to unwind, whether you choose the secluded Goose Rocks Beach or the expansive Kennebunk Beach.
Approximate driving time: 1–2 hours. Driving directions: Take Rte. 1 North to 95 North. Other options: Greyhound buses (800-231-2222,) to Portland, departing from South Station; Amtrak’s Downeaster, offering rail service from North Station to Portland and beyond (visit www.thedowneaster.com for more information).
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