The Massachusetts shoreline is dotted with beaches, some, like Revere Beach, even serviced by the MBTA. Beaches on the outer arm of the Cape and north of the Cape tend to have colder water than beaches on the south coast of the Cape, on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and lining Long Island Sound, which are brushed by fringes of the Gulf Stream. It's difficult to choose the Perfect Beach because tastes and uses vary, but we recommend Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA, near the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border. This 2.5-mile beach features beautiful dunes, warm(ish) water and adequate parking. Other beaches are also recommended. For those looking to do more than just enjoy the sun and sand at the beach there are other choices.
The Cape and Islands
Cape Cod is Boston's summer vacation spot. It offers a wide variety of attractions. From quaint, historic old towns like Sandwich, founded in 1638, or charming, gray-shingled Chatham, to the Cape Cod National Seashore, with its 40 miles of ocean beaches, dunes, salt marshes and pine barrens, to free-living, freethinking Provincetown at the tip of the Cape. There is a ferry to Provincetown from Boston.
Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard are reached by ferry from Woods Hole or Hyannis on the Cape. Nantucket Town is historic and charming, with cobblestone streets and 18th century homes. Outside the town one finds an otherworldly landscape of ponds, thickets, moors and heath. There are 80 miles of gorgeous beaches, great biking trails and the village of Siaconset ('Sconset) with its privet hedges and rose-covered trellises. Martha's Vineyard is more varied and more Victorian, but also charming.
Rockport and Cape Ann
Cape Ann, on the North Shore of Boston, extends from the classic fishing port of Gloucester around to the quaint English-like village of Annisquam. It includes Rockport, a charming artist's colony, and the bizarre Hammond Castle.
Lying between Salem and Cape Ann, Marblehead was one of the earliest and richest settlements in America. This charming early Colonial era town with narrow streets has over 300 pre-Revolutionary War homes and overlooks a spectacular harbor filled with boats. Called the Yachting Capital of America, Marblehead was the birthplace of the American Navy and retains its sailing focus.
Berkshires and Tanglewood
The Berkshires refers to the area around Lenox and Stockbridge in the western portion of Massachusetts. It is a region of green hills, quaint New England villages, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
A beautiful New England town in the mountainous heart of the northern Berkshires, Williamstown is home to two extraordinary art museums the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and the Williams College Museum of Art and the renowned Williamstown Theatre Festival, arguably America's premier summer theater. The exceptional collection of impressionist paintings alone makes the Clark worth a visit.
Canobie Lake Park lies just over the New Hampshire border and is a beautiful, old-time (105-years old), family-oriented park that is especially appropriate for preschoolers to preteens. Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT is another excellent family-oriented park. Six Flags Amusement Park is the big-coaster-type park, near Springfield, MA, that is more oriented to teens and adults. Six Flags also has an excellent water park, but the closest big water parks are Water Country in Portsmouth, NH and Water Wizz, in Wareham, MA. Water Country is especially good and not that far. For kids in the winter, Coco Key in Danvers and Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg are indoor waterparks.