Exploring Massachusetts: Sightseeing in the Bay State
By Kimberly Graf. Published on January 2, 2020
Massachusetts is one of America's founding states. It is home to Cape Cod, Salem, and Boston. Colonial tea parties aside, it was also home to a variety of native people in and before Colonial Times. Each of our recommended road trips highlights one of those features.
The Mohawk Trail is a 38-mile stretch of roadway between North Adams and Greenfield. This road was once an ancient Mohawk footpath between the river valleys of the Hudson and Connecticut rivers. It has since been paved as one of the first scenic highways in the country. Today, it's a short, calming drive through some of the most gorgeous greenery in America.
We're starting in North Adams. There's a historic downtown district here, and if you come during autumn they hold a Fall Foliage Festival in the town square. It's a charming little town for sure. Head east on Route 2 for four miles and you'll reach Hairpin Turn. This is a famous enough place along the trail to have a restaurant and parking lot – not to mention a gorgeous view that stretches across multiple states.
The next stop on the Mohawk Trail is in Florida, Massachusetts. Ironically, this is the coldest town in Massachusetts due to its elevation. This is the jumping-off point of many trails and overlooks, including some that are fairly long and definitely rewarding. As you leave Florida, you'll encounter Mohawk Trail State Forest. There are many opportunities for outdoor recreation here, including camping and picnicking areas.
The next stop is Shelburne Falls. It's a small village with many historic attributes. The most popular location here is the Bridge of Flowers. From April to October, this bridge is decorated with amazing floral displays. It's a nice little walk over a former trolley bridge. This town is culturally and naturally charged, full of small, no-fuss attractions.
An eighteen minute drive passed Shelburne Falls takes you to Greenfield. You'll pass through the town of Shelburne on the way. Greenfield is the last stop on the Mohawk Trail. One of the most popular attractions here is the Old Greenfield Village, an authentic New England village from 1895. This place is decked out with all original artifacts of the time. It's a pretty amazing thing to check out.
This old Mohawk foot trail has now become one of the most popular drives in Massachusetts. Take your time going through this Route. The entire length of the route is about 38 miles, or an hour, without stops.
Massachusetts is steeped in Colonial history. From the place the Mayflower landed to the famous burning of supposed 'witches', this tour takes you through all the most important sights.
We'll start, appropriately enough, with Plymouth, Massachusetts. There are so many things to do here in associating with the landing of the Mayflower. You can visit the Plimoth Plantation, a Pilgrim Village circa 1627. Included here is a full-scale recreation of the Mayflower, called Mayflower II. You can go to the monument at Plymouth Rock, as well as visit memorials and museums all over the town.
When you're finished exploring all of the pilgrim-themed attractions here, head up to Boston. It's about 40 miles north of Plymouth, and there are so many incredible attractions here! For just colonial attractions, there's the Paul Revere House, the Old State House, and USS Constitution, all museums and exhibits surrounding the Revolutionary War era. The Granary Burying Ground is the cemetery where Paul Revere and Samuel Adams are buried, among others. There are walking tours along this route daily, with characters in costume. It's the Boston spot for history buffs!
You may even choose to spend a few days in Boston, exploring the famous town. When you're finished, you can head up to Salem, similarly famous for an entirely different reason. It's only about 37 minutes away. Here is the site of the execution of twenty women by hanging after a witchcraft craze swept the Puritan communities here.
There are a lot of spooky tours here, as you probably guessed. Stay a night and experience some of the amazingly-performed witchy tours they offer. Otherwise, you can tour some of the original buildings. The Pioneer Village is a working museum representing life in Salem in 1630. They also have a Heritage Trail connecting all the major sites in Salem . You could get lost in the culture here!
This road trip is 1 hour and 27 minutes long, or 63 miles. With so much to do and so many sites and tours to take, though, you could stretch this into a week-long vacation very easily.
Massachusetts is a slice of beautiful New England countryside, decorated by history and the birth of our nation. It's easy to understand why the colonists fell in love with this land and fought so hard to keep it. These road trips are just a starting point! Carve your own path through this amazing state and make your own adventure!