Massachusetts is a beautiful state that everyone should see at least once. It’s full of amazing history, rich culture, and tons of lovely things to see and do. In fact, there’s so much to see and do that planning a trip here can be overwhelming.
This is where our Massachusetts bucket list comes into play. Use this list to your advantage, picking and choosing the things that appeal most to you to create your own travel list for visiting the Bay State.
Once you have the perfect travel bucket list put together, you can plan your trip with confidence, knowing you’ll get to see what is most important to you.
What is a Bucket List?
You may be wondering what a bucket list is. In short, this is a list of the things you’d like to see, do, and experience before you die. The name comes from the term “kick the bucket,” because these are things you want to see and experience before you do just that.
While many people keep a single bucket list for all of their to-dos, we find that such a list gets pretty long. Therefore, we prefer to break our lists down based on location, keeping a travel list for every place we plan to visit.
The list below is our Massachusetts bucket list.
— Bucket List Vacations: Massachusetts’ National Parks —
The first part of our Massachusetts bucket list is dedicated to sites run by the National Parks Service. These sites are always fantastic, and the Massachusetts NPS sites definitely deserve a spot on everyone’s bucket list, especially those who are into history.
Adams National Historical Park
What do you know about President John Adams and his family? Most people know surprisingly little about the second President of the United States. This is too bad because the man actually led a fascinating life and had an amazing family. Both are worth learning about together, something you can do at Adams National Historical Park.
Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
An important power source that pushed America forward into the Age of Industry, Blackstone River is well worth seeing and learning about. Without this river, we wouldn’t be where we are today, and that becomes quite apparent as you wander the grounds of the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park and take in the information presented there.
Boston National Historical Park
Often considered the Cradle of Liberty, Boston has always played an important role in American history. Visit the Boston National Historical Park and learn about the first battle of the American Revolution and just how important the city has been to our country.
Boston African American National Historic Site
In addition to playing an important role in the American Revolution, Boston also helped lead the nation in the early struggle for equal rights. The African American community of this city were leaders in the Abolition Movement, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and much more. Learn their stories at the African American National Historic Site.
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
Whether you prefer exploring an old fort, checking out historic lighthouses, peeking into tide pools, hiking beautiful trails, or going on a relaxing fishing trip, there is something for you at Boston Harbor Island National Recreation Area. Pay the park a visit and enjoy the beauty of the area.
Cape Cod National Seashore
Another beautiful part of the state is Cape Cod National Seashore. This place boasts forty miles of pristine sandy beaches as well as marshes, ponds, and more. Check out wild cranberry bogs, go hunting for old lighthouses, and take in gorgeous views at this amazing NPS site.
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site
Recognized as the founder of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted was a master of his craft. He practiced landscape design for many years and passed his ideals and philosophy onto his sons, who carried on in his stead. Learn about his man at his historic office at the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
It was in his birthplace home that President John F. Kennedy established the foundation that would someday lead him to become president of the United States. Therefore, his mother, Rose Kennedy, decided to recreate that home in order to share her memories of those early years with others.
Visit this recreated home at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site to get a better understanding of this great man.
Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site
A site with a seriously rich history, the Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site is a fascinating place indeed. It was once home to Henry W. Longfellow, a famous poet of the 1800s. Additionally, the house served as Washington’s Headquarters during the Siege of Boston.
Lowell National Historical Park
Lowell National Historical Park stands as a monument to the Industrial Revolution. Lowell’s water-powered textile mills helped move the nation quickly into the Industrial Revolution, changing the way people worked and lived. Clearly, this is an important piece of history and one that is worth learning about.
Minute Man National Historical Park
Experience the spirit of the American Revolution as you read the writings of Concord authors. Step back in time as you explore battlefields and other sites associated with the opening battle of the Revolutionary War. Expand your knowledge of April 19th, 1775 as you walk the grounds of Minute Man National Historical Park.
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
New Bedford is an adorable little seaside town that was considered the capital of the 19th century’s whaling industry. It is also full of other amazing history such as involvement in the Underground Railroad, immigrant history, and important commerce history.
Learn some of these stories at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Another place with plenty of rich history to share is the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Here, visitors can visit historic structures along the waterfront and check out the visitor center for information and exhibits covering over 600 years of New England maritime history.
Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
The sibling park to the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site also has a lot of interesting information to share. Saugus Iron Works is a reconstruction of the first successful and sustained iron works in British North America. It gives visitors a lesson on the history of iron making and even allows guests to try their hand at blacksmithing.
Springfield Armory National Historic Site
Our nation’s first armory, Springfield Armory was the place the US Armed Forces went for innovative firearms for nearly two centuries. Today, the National Parks Service works to commemorate this incredible historic site by preserving the world’s largest historic US military small arms collection.
— More Massachusetts Bucket List Experiences —
You will probably want to add a few more things to your Massachusetts bucket list. Not to worry, there are plenty of options. Below are the best sights in the state. Choose from this list and you really can’t go wrong.
Walk the Harvard University Campus
With historic buildings and gorgeous grounds, Harvard University is an excellent place to visit when in the Boston area. Take a stroll on your own or go on a guided tour. Either way, you’re sure to have a wonderful time.
Tour the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
Basketball fans simply must visit the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Here you can check out 40,000 square feet of basketball history, including information on over 300 inductees.
Visit Yankee Candle Village
Do you love Yankee Candle Company? If so, the Yankee Candle Village is a must-see. This place is one of the most visited attractions in Massachusetts, and once you get there you’ll see why. Not only can you shop an enormous selection of candles, you’ll also have the chance to see it snow indoors, make your own candles, visit the candle museum, and more.
Indulge in Boston Cream Pie
Easily the state’s most popular sweet treat, Boston Cream Pie should definitely be enjoyed often while in the state. We recommend going to a few different restaurants so you can try a variety of pies and pick your favorite.
Go on a Whale Watching Tour
Whale watching is an incredible experience, and Massachusetts is the perfect place to do it. The easiest way to make sure you see whales during your visit? Hop on a whale watching tour boat. The folks who run these tours know where the whales like to hang out, so you’ll almost certainly see some of the sea mammals while you’re out.
Stroll the Freedom Trail
Well known as America’s most walkable city, Boston is a great place for a stroll. Where should you walk? We highly recommend exploring the Freedom Trail. This 2.5-mile route guides you to a huge number of incredible historic sites and is perfect for history-lovers.
Check out the Salem Witch Museum
The Salem Witch Trials are a fascinating and unfortunate piece of American history. Learn about this time period, the trials, and more at the Salem Witch Museum. You might want to leave the kids home for this one!
Escape to Martha’s Vineyard
Easily the most popular vacation spot in Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard is a quaint island just off the Cape Cod coast. It features beautiful lighthouses, amazing sandy beaches, and plenty of ways to relax. We highly recommend taking a ferry over and seeing what it’s all about.
Attend a Boston Red Sox Game
Most people know that Boston is big on sports. One of the city’s most well known teams is the Boston Red Sox. Why not see the team play at one of their games? Not only will you enjoy the game, you’ll likely appreciate the antics of the passionate fans as well.
Enjoy a Picnic in Boston Common
A huge, beautiful, historic park in the heart of downtown Boston, the Boston Common is the perfect place to spend a laid-back afternoon. Pack a picnic and enjoy the pretty lakes while you spend time in this famous green space.
Eat a Lobster Roll
No trip to Massachusetts is complete without at least one lobster roll. Seriously, the lobster here is to die for, meaning the lobster roll is simply incredible. You won’t be disappointed in this meal choice, and will likely have it a few times during your visit.
Learn at the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
We mentioned the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site above. However, if you want to learn even more about the man, you might consider a visit to the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. Here you’ll learn about JFK’s personal and professional life, as well as a bit about the history of the Cape Cod area.
Roll Back Time at the Old Sturbridge Village
Ever wish you could take a time machine back to the 1800s? A visit to Old Sturbridge Village might just be the next best thing. This living history museum depicts a rural New England town of the 1830s and is home to more than 40 historic bushings. Explore the buildings, chat with interpreters, and get a feel for what the area might have been like 200 years ago.
Explore Battleship Cove
Home to the largest collection of preserved US Navy ships in the world, Battleship Cove is the place to go if you’re into maritime or Navy history. At this museum, you can learn all about how each ship was used and more.
See Famous Filming Locations
A huge number of TV shows and movies have been filmed in Massachusetts. Make a point of seeing the filming locations for your favorite cinema classics. Some popular ones include the filming locations of Hocus Pocus, The Perfect Storm, and Jaws.
See Plymouth Rock
Okay, so in reality, Plymouth Rock isn’t much to look at. However, considering its historic significance, we feel like it’s something you should see while in the state, however briefly. Besides, the town of Plymouth is adorable and worth checking out while you’re there.
Time Travel at Plimoth Plantation
While you’re in Plymouth, be sure to visit Plimoth Plantation. This is another living history museum. However, this one depicts a Native American camp from the 1600s, as well as a reconstruction of the village founded by the pilgrims who rode over on the Mayflower. The interpreters here know their stuff and never step out of character.
Clearly, the Bay State isn’t going to leave you feeling bored anytime soon. No, the bigger issue will be making everything fit into your trip.
One thing that can help you accomplish all that is on your Massachusetts bucket list is an RV rental. Staying in an RV means you can quickly and easily hop from one part of the state to another, allowing you to see it all in comfort.