Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the United States of America. Massachusetts is known as "The Bay State" because of its the three large bays which dominate and shape the coastline. Massachusetts Bay in the Greater Boston and Cape Ann area and Cape Cod Bay, which shapes Cape Cod against the Atlantic Ocean, are on the eastern shore. Buzzards Bay, on the south coast, is the other large bay.
An excellent travel destination as it's noted for many of its historical sites as well as diverse regional flavors. The eastern Massachusetts Bay area of the state from Gloucester to Plymouth is very metropolitan, with Boston at its hub. Here you can find great cooking, fresh seafood, and an intense concentration of colleges and universities. To the south of Boston is Cape Cod, a tremendously popular vacation spot and home to the Kennedy family, one of America's more influential political families. West of Boston you'll find the Blackstone Valley National Corridor, a vast expanse of rolling hills and small towns, as well as some of the most unique vineyards in the East Coast. To the far west, you'll find more rural areas, the Berkshire Hills, the Appalachian Trail, and excellent skiing. Massachusetts has a lot to offer the prospective traveler!
Places of interest are a blend of old and new. In Eastern Massachusetts you can walk the 3.5 mile Freedom Trail in Boston to see more than 20 historical sites, then hop over to Cambridge and see some of the world's most advanced biotechnology, not to mention the legendary Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the gold standard for technical education in the United States. The state as a whole is a blend of rural and urban, from Boston and suburbs in the East, to the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires in the West.
Massachusetts is one of the oldest states in America, dating back to the foundation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1620. The name Massachusetts comes from Algonquian Indian words that mean the great mountain, an apparent reference to the tallest of the Blue Hills, a recreation area south of the town of Milton.
Massachusetts is a state of firsts - the first public school (Boston Latin School), the first public library (Boston Public Library), the first American university (Harvard), the first public beach (Revere Beach), and the home of the Boston Massacre, the event that set off the American Revolutionary War, with the "shot heard 'round the world" in Concord at the Old North Bridge.
Massachusetts also has its dark side, the Salem Witch Trials being one of the most significant black spots on the state's history.
The easiest way to get into Massachusetts is through Logan International Airport in Boston. Other regional airports include Manchester, New Hampshire, Warwick, Rhode Island and Windsor Locks, Connecticut.
More information on New England's regional airports can be found at Fly New England.
Boston is the northern terminus of the Northeast Corridor, the most heavily trafficked rail route in the country, and one of the few routes serviced by Amtrak with a high frequency of service. Trains from New York reach Boston in about 3.5 hours; trains from Washington take about twice as long. The faster Acela trains shave about an hour off those journeys, and although they cost more, they generally present a more enjoyable trip. You can reach the eastern portion of the state from Boston's South Station by taking the MBTA commuter rail.
Central and Western Massachusetts are also served by Amtrak, although less frequently. Typically train journeys from New York to Springfield or Worcester require a change at New Haven, Connecticut.
Though easily accessible by train, it is frequently cheaper and almost always faster to fly to Massachusetts than take the train, if traveling from Pennsylvania or further away (however, traveling on the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago and all points in between is often less than $100).
Massachusetts has several large interstates that serve it, including:
• I-90, the Massachusetts Turnpike
Other important non-interstate highways in Massachusetts include: U.S. Routes 1, 6, and 20; U.S. Route/State Route 3; and State Routes 2, 9, and 24.
Use SmarTraveler to determine traffic conditions in the Metro Boston area.
A number of bus companies run a Boston-New York route, from the nationally-known Greyhound to a variety of small, low-cost "Chinatown bus" carriers.
• Fung Wah Bus low-cost bus between New York City and Boston's Chinatown.
• LimoLiner luxury bus transportation offering professionals business services between New York City and Boston.
Attractions • More than 170 art, history and sporting museums, including excellent colonial "living history" museums
• Harvard University
• Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth
• Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge
• Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield
• New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park and exhibits in Gloucester, Provincetown and Nantucket point to the days when fishing and whaling were a vital industry.
• Over 50 theatres and performing arts centers. Cape Cod, Rockport and Gloucester have thriving artist colonies and numerous galleries.
• Numerous historical sites and monuments as Massachusetts played a central role in the American Revolution. Minuteman National Historical Park in Concord gives a taste of what times were like when America was born.
• Bicycling on the many routes and bike paths throughout Massachusetts. The Claire Saltonstall Bikeway traverses a marked route from Boston to Cape Cod on some less-traveled roads. Minuteman Bikeway from Cambridge to Bedford is one of the more outstanding bike paths.
• Enjoy fishing, hunting and wildlife observation? Mass Wildlife maintains an excellent site showing access points and maps of wildlife areas as well as regulations, permits and fees. Saltwater fishing does not require a license (shell fishing usually does), but there are regulations under the authority of the State Division of Marine Fisheries. Local regulations may also apply in regards to shell fishing or taking of herring.
• Bay Circuit Trail, a 200 mile network of interconnected trails extending from Plum Island, Newburyport in the North to Kingston Bay in the South. Currently about 150 miles are completed and accessible.
• Skiing in one of many ski locations including Blandford, Blue Hills (Canton), Bousquet (Pittsfield), Bradford (Haverhill), Jiminy Peak (Hancock), Nashoba Valley (Westford), Ski Ward (Shrewsbury) and Wachusett Mountain (Princeton).
• Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.
Massachusetts offers numerous lodging options including hundreds of bed & breakfasts, hotels and vacation rentals to choose from across the state.
A large assortment of bed & breakfasts are concentrated in the eastern part of the state where the largest quantity is found in areas such as the city of Boston and in Cape Cod. Whether traveling from the north or south, this part of the state has a wide selection of bed & breakfasts in just about every town. Even if you're not heading to this side of the state, the other parts of Massachusetts also hold a variety of bed & breakfast choices. A great option if you enjoy some friendly hospitality.
Boston holds the majority of the state's hotel and motel selection, although they are found in almost every town. Prices are a little steeper than other lodging options, but you can find bargains if you shop around.
A cheaper lodging option would be to go camping at one of several campgrounds scattered around the state. If you are planning to stay in the city, Boston also offers a handful of hostels for the traveler who is simply looking for a place to sleep.
Vacation Rentals abound in eastern Massachusetts. Unfortunately, they are far and few between in other areas of the state but may be the perfect option if you are planning to stay anywhere on the eastern side. Options include cottages, apartments and full-size homes!
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Humpback whale putting on a display at sunset, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
From East to West:
• Cape Cod and the Islands
• Greater Boston
• North Shore
• South Shore
• Merrimack Valley
• Central Massachusetts • Hampshire
• Pioneer Valley
• Berkshire Hills
A portion of the Appalachian Trail runs through the state.
There are a number of "rail trails" - converted rail road lines - throughout the state that have been paved for pedestrian and bicycle travel.
I-90 (also called the Massachusetts Turnpike, or simply the Mass Pike) is the major East-West route across the state. Rt 2 is a more northern equivalent, though there are sections through town centers with traffic lights.
Peter Pan / Greyhound runs buses to most towns in Massachusetts.
Amtrak goes to major cities.
Within Boston the subway line is called the T, and there are commuter rails (purple on the maps) that go to surrounding suburbs and cities including Framingham and Worcester.
Massachusetts has a humid continental climate, with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. With its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Massachusetts receives a generous amount of precipitation throughout the year, but is slightly wetter during the winter. Summers are warm with average high temperatures in July above 80 °F and overnight lows above 60 ° common throughout the state. Winters are cold, but generally less extreme on the coast with high temperatures in the winter averaging above freezing even in January, although areas further inland are much colder. The state does have extreme temperatures from time to time with 90 °F in the summer and below 0 °F temperatures in the winter not being unusual.
Quick Facts • The Boston Cream doughnut is the official donut of the Commonwealth
• The first subway system in the U.S was built in Boston in 1867.
• In Rockport, you can find a house built entirely of newspaper.
• The Fig Newton was named after the town of Newton.
• The first public park in America was the Boston Common in 1634.
Popular escape routes tend to be to the north to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont whether for hiking, foliage viewing, skiing or just to enjoy a more relaxed, rural setting.
Gingerbread houses in winter, Martha's Vineyard, U.S.A.