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Things to Do in Massachusetts - page 4

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Vilna Shul
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This historic structure was built in 1919 to serve as an Orthodox synagogue for Jews who immigrated to Boston from Lithuania. And while neither the building’s architecture nor its history is noteworthy, Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture, is widely-recognized as Beantown’s most iconic Jewish landmark, as it is one of the only remaining synagogues in the city’s downtown that was built by immigrants.

Travelers can take guided tours of this historic building and learn from locals about the rich history of Vilna Shul. It is also possible to tour the cultural center, community center and in-house museum of this Beacon Hill building alone. Visitors who want to get a deeper sense of Boston’s Jewish roots can visit Vilna Shul as part of a Jewish history and cultural tour that makes stops at other key landmarks like the Holocaust Memorial and West End House.

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Rowes Wharf

The city of Boston has long had close ties to the water, and one of the modern developments along the waterfront is Rowes Wharf, built on a historic battery.

Rowes Wharf was built in 1987, and the most visible parts of the development are the massive Boston Harbor Hotel and the arch-covered passageway through the hotel that feeds onto Boston Harbor. There are restaurants, bars and shops, and during the summer a floating stage just off the shore is set up for concerts and movies. The wharf is also a hub for water transport, including water taxis to and from Logan Airport.

The first construction in this area was in the 1660s when South Battery was built to protect the city. John Rowe bought the property a little more than 100 years later, building the first Rowes Wharf. By the 20th century, the wharf had become run down enough that it required a major overhaul.

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Provincetown

The lively cultural hub of Cape Cod and among New England’s most beloved beach resorts, Provincetown’s popularity belies its small size and remote location. Perched at the tip of the Cape Cod peninsula and reachable by land or sea from nearby Boston, the affectionately nicknamed ‘P-Town’ is the ultimate bohemian retreat, renowned for its eclectic nightlife, numerous art galleries and thriving LGBT scene.

Long a favored summer retreat for artists and writers, the creative Mecca is also home to 30 miles of sandy coastline, with pristine beaches, calm swimming areas and waters ideal for fishing or whale watching cruises. Spend time exploring the myriad of shops, bars and restaurants along the central Commercial Street, take a scenic stroll along the picturesque MacMillan Pier or enjoy a catamaran cruise around landmarks like Plymouth Rock, before hitting the bars to experience Provincetown’s legendary nightlife.

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Six Flags New England
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Like most Six Flags parks, Six Flags New England is a combination theme and water park that’s billed as the "Thrill Capital of New England." When the short summer months heat up in the northeast, it’s a welcome oasis for visitors, and located just a mile from the Connecticut border, it’s a popular destination for Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents.

The big draw at any Six Flags park is, of course, the thrill rides. The crown jewel, BATMAN: The Dark Knight, takes visitors on a 55-mile-per-hour blast up to 12-story heights and drops more than 110 feet in a matter of seconds. In the summer months, visitors flock from hundreds of miles to enjoy Six Flags’ incredible Hurricane Harbor, a water park that offers everything from relaxing pools and meandering lazy river rides to high speed water slides and group rafting adventures.

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Salem Wax Museum

Salem Wax Museum offers a chance to walk through the history of Salem. The museum features 50 lifelike wax figures made in London, depicting pivotal figures and scenes from the history of this coastal city.

The Salem Wax Museum includes exhibits surrounding the founding of Salem in 1626, the Salem Witch Hunt and Salem Witch Trials of 1692, as well as the maritime merchant trade and New England piracy of the 18th century. Visitors will get to see such notable figures as the author Nathanial Hawthorne, Tituba, the accused “witch” who sparked the 1692 hysteria, and Colonel John Hawthorne, who presided over the trials.

Aside from the wax galleries, there is an interactive area where you can learn nautical knot tying, do a grave rubbing on a headstone recreated from Salem’s Charter Street Burying Point, and experience what the accused witches went through during their detention during the Witch Hysteria by being locked in a life-size recreated cell.

During October, the Salem Wax Museum is the centerpiece of the Haunted Neighborhood, which also includes the Salem Witch Village and other attractions.

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Otis House
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The Otis House is a museum and mansion, the last surviving one, in Bowdoin Square. This West End property was named for Harrison Gray Otis, a Federalist lawyer and politician. There are actually three Harris Gray Otis Houses in Boston, all of which were built by the noted architect Charles Bulfinch. The first, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1796 and was inspired by a William Bingham house from Philadelphia. Owned by the Historic New England organization, this one now operates as a museum.

The house is a look into the lavish lifestyle of Otis and his wife Sally. Otis made his fortune developing Beacon Hill, was a representative in Congress and then later became mayor of Boston. The home’s design is reflective of the Federal style, which Bulfinch introduced to Boston.

Otis House is three stories, in five bays. The entrance seen today was added after 1801, which has a Palladian window above and a lunette above that. The third floor has ceilings that are just over six feet tall. The floor plan of the home is Colonial fashion, which the characteristic two rooms on either side of the central hallway.

The home’s interior showcases many aspects of the Otis’ life, from the social and business aspects to understanding the role servants played in the home. The restoration was meticulous and required a lot of historical and scientific research.

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Old Sturbridge Village
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Old Sturbridge Village is an outdoor living-history museum in central Massachusetts that showcases rural New England life in the 1830s. With antique buildings, working farms, and exhibitions across rolling grounds, the village is brought to life by costumed interpreters and artisans, providing an immersive journey back in time.

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Boston Theater District

Sandwiched between Boston Common and Chinatown, the Boston Theater District is known for its many historical theaters, as well as restaurants and nightspots catering to theatergoers. People have flocked to this area since the 19th century to enjoy everything from opera and dramas to dance, concerts, and comedy performances.

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Willard Brook State Forest

Just an hour’s drive from Boston, you’ll find the beautiful New England grove of Willard Brook State Forest. Escape the busyness of Boston in less than an hour, and discover the rugged New England beauty the area is famous for. The Willard Brook State Forest is over 2,500 acres of classic New England forest, surrounded by babbling brooks, creeks and streams, which makes for an absolutely spectacular fall showcase come October. June, however, is when the mountain laurel blooms, and when the snow falls, visitors enjoy miles of cross-country ski opportunities. Others come year-round simply to enjoy the serene escape provided by this wooded wonderland.

With over 19 campsites, a group Yurt, numerous swimming and fishing opportunities, miles of hiking, mountain biking and horse trails, this is a popular escape for those in the Boston area looking to get out and explore the softer side of nature.

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Gibson House Museum
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This popular historical attraction located in the heart of the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston is home to four floors of furniture, artifacts and decor that date back to the 1800s. Visitors can explore this popular attraction on guided tours that detail the life and times and the famous Gibson Family. The home is essentially untouched, making it the perfect place to see how early aristocratic Americans lived.

Travelers can venture through the formal dining room and learn about the Italian Renaissance style that’s evident throughout the home. The brownstone and red brick façade was designed by the iconic architect Edward Clarke Cabot and remains one of the city’s most pristine nods to a long gone era of a life gilded in family heirlooms and European style.

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More Things to Do in Massachusetts

Salem Witch Village

Salem Witch Village

Separate the myths from the facts while learning all about the history of witchcraft through the ages, with a visit to the Salem Witch Village. Tours are led by practicing witches. The village also features an indoor maze and eclectic gift shop.

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Cornelia Carey Sanctuary (The Knob)

Cornelia Carey Sanctuary (The Knob)

The Cornelia Carey Sanctuary—known to locals as The Knob—is a salt pond and bird sanctuary tucked away on a quiet peninsula on the coast of Massachusetts’ Quissett Harbor. This picturesque land preserve offers travelers the perfect escape from crowds typical of the Cape, thanks to a scenic network of hiking trails and walking paths. Visitors can wander through marshlands, forests and rocky shorelines where dozens of species of birds perch among the trees.

Locals suggest packing a swimsuit (in addition to the requisite camera) since the calm waters that greet travelers at the end of winding hiking trails are perfect for taking a dip. Scenic viewpoints and quiet overlooks offer ideal stops for relaxing picnic lunches and quiet sunsets, making Cornelia Carey Sanctuary the perfect place to spend a day at the Cape.

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Mapparium

Mapparium

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Gain a new perspective on world geography at the Mapparium. Situated inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library, this hidden gem is a 3-story stained-glass globe that offers a 3-dimensional view of the world in 1935. An audiovisual show and an exhibition of artifacts and documents complete the experience.

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Sandwich Glass Museum

Sandwich Glass Museum

Detailing the long history of glassmaking in Sandwich, Massachusetts, the Sandwich Glass Museum allows visitors to explore locally made glass on display and see artisans blowing glass by hand in the workshop. It’s a must-visit for anyone interested in glassmaking or the town’s history.

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The Old Manse

The Old Manse

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The cornerstone of Concord’s historic attractions was the town’s political and social center throughout the 19th century, and boasts an impressive list of former guests. Now preserved as a National Historic Landmark, the Old Manse was originally built in 1770, for Reverend William Emerson, and stands adjacent to Concord’s Old North Bridge, where on April 19th 1775, it bore witness to the start of the American War of Independence, as Minutemen fired the infamous shot ‘heard around the world’.

The history of the Old Manse isn’t only political though; the landmark building also has a rich literary heritage, home to both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and serving as a meeting ground for other Transcendentalists, including Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau and Margaret Fuller. Today, visitors can explore the well-preserved Georgian residence, where they can admire the original furnishings, spot writings from Nathanial & Sophia Hawthorne etched onto the window panes, and look out over the fabled North Bridge, before wandering through the vegetable gardens and orchards.

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Hard Rock Café Boston

Hard Rock Café Boston

The Hard Rock Café Boston has been providing good food and music in Boston’s Faneuil Hall entertainment district since its debut in 2003. Faneuil Hall is Boston’s premier entertainment district, close to popular sites such as Paul Revere’s house, the New England Holocaust Museum, and the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Be sure to enjoy the Hard Rock’s signature food offerings, found at cafes around the globe. The cafes feature classic American fare, for which prix-fixe options are also available.

The Hard Rock Café in Boston has over 16,000-square feet of space, with 514 seats in the restaurant area. The Cavern Club features live music and holds special events.

Like other Hard Rock Cafes around the world, the Hard Rock Café Boston features music memorabilia on the walls. Be sure to tour the restaurant and see the unique guitars, platinum records, and more.

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Burial Hill

Burial Hill

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Burial Hill is a historic cemetery in Plymouth, Mass., that dates back to the 1620s, making it one of the oldest remaining cemeteries in America. It sits atop a beautiful hill with views of Plymouth Harbor and is an ideal spot to relax and contemplate the last few centuries of American history.

Many notable historic figures are buried here, including Mary Allerton, the last surviving Mayflower passenger; Plymouth colony governor William Bradford; and Squanto, a Native American guide who played a critical role in the Pilgrims’ survival after arriving in North America. None of the original wooden gravestones remain, but stone markers have been used here since the mid-17th century, many of which still mark the final resting places of the country’s original settlers. The last burial occurred in 1957, and the land has remained frozen in time since.

As a bonus, history buffs will appreciate that the cemetery is situated off of what was originally First Street. Created in 1602, this street is notable in its own right, as there are claims that it is the oldest continuously inhabited street of the 13 colonies.

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Cheers Beacon Hill (Bull & Finch Pub)

Cheers Beacon Hill (Bull & Finch Pub)

Boston’s Cheers Beacon Hill (formerly the Bull & Finch Pub) is a mandatory pilgrimage for fans of the popular television showCheers, which was inspired by this authentic neighborhood watering hole. Although the bar’s interior differs from its famous TV alter ego, you’ll find the same friendly atmosphere, good pub grub, and frothy pints of beer.

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Battle Road Trail

Battle Road Trail

Running for 5 miles along the length of the Minute Man National Historic Park, the fabled Battle Road Trail follows the path of the notorious Battle of Lexington and Concord, the clash between British troops and the Colonial Minute Men that marked the start of the American Revolutionary War.

Walking or cycling the Battle Road Trail takes visitors on a journey through the fateful events of April 19, 1775, passing the farmlands, woods and dirt tracks that served as battle fields and ambush points throughout the battles, as well as key historic sites. The signposted route includes markers and information boards that tell the history of each location, and highlights include the Hartwell Tavern, the 18th-century house of Captain William Smith, John Meriam’s colonial home, and the site of Paul Revere’s capture, as well as strategic sites like Bloody Angle, Parker’s Revenge and Fiske Hill.

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Lexington

Lexington

Known as the “birthplace of American liberty,” Lexington, Massachusetts, is where the first shot of the American Revolutionary War was fired on April 19, 1775. Nowadays, you can retrace history at sites around town, and enjoy a rich artistic, cultural, and culinary scene.

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MIT Museum

MIT Museum

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Founded in 1971, the MIT Museum is home to a wide array of exhibits showcasing the intersection of science, technology, and art, from artificial intelligence and holography to robotics. The museum offers rotating exhibitions on STEAM-based topics, demonstrations by faculty and students, workshops, and hands-on activities.

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Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

Sometimes the best of a place is featured by its shopping, and Boston is as cosmopolitan a city as the next, so one might expect premium shopping while visiting. Some of us, however, also are on the look out for a deal, and if that’s the case, then turn your sights toward Wrentham Village Premium Outlets®. This premium outlet shopping mall has some of the best names in fashion at amazing prices.

Featuring designer name outlets is part of the attraction, but what sets Wrentham Village apart is its abundant diversity – jewelry, accessories, housewares, gift and specialty items, and a widely-loved food court make this shopping experience. Find Brooks Brothers, Adidas, Coach, Cole Haan, DKNY, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th and more here at Wrentham Village.

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Kendall Square

Kendall Square

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Kendall Square has served as a transit hub for travelers venturing between Boston and Cambridge for centuries: In 1793, it provided the first direct wagon route between these cities. Today tech firms and offshoots of nearby MIT call Kendall Square home, and travelers will find plenty of accommodations, restaurants, and shopping here.

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Mary Baker Eddy Library

Mary Baker Eddy Library

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Named for one of New England's most influential 19th-century residents, the Mary Baker Eddy Library is a library and museum housed a neoclassical building in Boston's beautiful Back Bay area. The top draw for visitors is typically Mapparium—a multi-story stained-glass globe depicting the world in 1935—which is featured on guided tours.

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