On their way to sailing to Britain’s barely decade old beachhead in the New World, the Mayflower landed here in a broad bay protected by a sand bar peninsula to shelter from a wicked storm. Some of the Puritans remained from the inital shipload in the 1620’s, forming the Massachusetts Bay colony.
It eventually grew to become one of the most influential of the American colonies, as many of the seminal events in the run up to the American Revolution occurred here, such as the reading of the Declaration of Independence from the State House, and the subsequent massacre of unarmed civilians in Boston’s streets that is said to have been the trigger for the Revolutionary War.
In more modern times, this state was home to one of America’s most famous political families, as members of the Kennedy clan have become president (JFK) and were famous and outspoken senators (RFK, Ted Kennedy), while the rest have been active in stumping for various causes, most of them progressive in nature.
This proclivity for liberal ideals have made this state one of the friendliest places in the United States to be a member of the LGBT community, as you will find many attractions not just in Boston, but in the Cape Cod town of Provincetown, which is famed as one of the top gay travel destinations in the USA.
This town and the rest of Cape Cod, and its offshore islands are outstanding getaways for beach lovers, while those that seek urbane attractions will find it hard to pull themselves away from greater Boston. With some the highest concentration of post-secondary institutions in America, Harvard and MIT chief among them, this portion of Massachusetts is a modern, smart and progressive place that manifests itself in an abundance of innovative and/or cheap eateries that cater to the tonnes of young, forward-thinking students, making it consequently a great place for the traveler as well.
From the endless sand bars of the Cape, to the subtly mountainous interior that has the classic New England aesthetic everywhere you look, your time in this attraction-packed but compact state will be filled with activity and excitement at every turn.
What To Do – Culture & History
Boston has a massive wealth of historical attractions, all of which will be addressed in full detail in its upcoming city article. If you are eager to experience everything that Massachusetts as a whole has to offer, and you don’t have a wealth of time available to you, then three attractions will give you the express version of Boston’s historical highlights.
Faneuil Hall is the first of these that you should check out, as it has been the backdrop for many significant oratories throughout the history of the colony and state. While its overall purpose was that of a market (today, it operates as a food market with restaurants and fresh food stalls), it was here where patriots such as Samuel Adams and James Otis implored the masses to support the cause of independence from Great Britain.
Also, the gilded grasshopper atop its weather vane was used as a way to sift out spies during the Revolutionary War (locals knew what it was, its origins, and its makeup, foreign spies had no such knowledge).
Later on in the 18th century, the Old State House, where the colony was governed by official appointed by the crown of England, became the scene where a score of demonstrating colonists railed against imperial control over its affairs and taxation in 1770, eventually inducing the red-coated soldiers to make the grave mistake of firing into the crowd with live ammo, killing several of them.
It was widely believed that this constituted the point of no-return that began the spiral towards all-out war with Britain by revolutionary forces. After the war ended, the building served as the Massachusetts State House for a short time, then as Boston City Hall for 40 years and a commercial building for a similar length of time before being preserved as a museum, as it currently ranks as the oldest public building in the city of Boston.
Moving from land to sea, the oldest ship in the United States Navy is the USS Constitution,which is presently a museum ship moored in the north Boston suburb of Charlestown. Slid out of the dry dock and christened in 1797, this classic tall ship has seen more than 200 years of war, training recruits for service on more modern ships, and in the modern era, teaching people about the Navy’s illustrious past and representing the U.S.A. in tall ship festivals. Today, an on-site museum details its history, the basics of sailing, and its interior when access is available to the ship itself.
While many head to Cape Cod for some badly needed relaxation of the pressures of work life and traffic in Boston, Provincetown is a particularly popular destination. Known as a haven for artists and those that identify as LGBT, this charming town near the tip of the cape is rife with galleries, theatres and exclusive boutiques, giving a very pleasant counterbalance to the beach on days where the weather is unfavourable for sunbathing or swimming.
Canadian James Naismith pioneered a new sport in Springfield, Massachusetts, a game that involved dribbling a ball and aiming at an unguarded, elevated goal. This sport became known as basketball for the peach baskets that were used in the game’s infancy, and since, it has swept the whole of America and the world, as it has low barriers to entry, with little equipment to buy.
As a result of the sport being born here, the James Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was constructed here, which not only honours the achievements of players from the National Basketball Association, but from leagues around the world, making it a place of interest for any avid sports fan.
What To Do – Natural Attractions
With over 60 miles of charming beach towns and wild national seashore to enjoy, Cape Cod is a heavily favoured summer getaway for Bostonians and other New Englanders, often resulting in traffic jams on Friday afternoon heading in and Sunday evening heading out. Despite the hassle getting in, the dunes, sea cliffs, and beaches of the Cape still beckon, and you should go.
When you get sick of the beaches, the aforementioned culture of Provincetown and some of the best amateur baseball in the U.S. will entertain you on off days from the sea shore.
If the Cape Cod scene is much too harried for you, then perhaps taking the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard will be more along the lines of what you are looking for. Home to the summer homes of the area’s wealthy elite, it isn’t just you that has that idea, as people who can afford it has made this much more peaceful place their summer base for years.
When you aren’t trying to spot stars, biking in an ideal way to pass the time here due to this island’s flat nature, and surfers can catch great swells on Martha’s Vineyard’s southern coast.
With some of the most nutrient rich waters in temperate latitudes in the world, and its proximity to migratory routes, the whale watching off the coasts of this state ranks as some of the best in the USA. Many of the best trips leave from Gloucester, a port with a long fishing heritage. The only thing many boats hunt these days are awesome photos of cetacean giants breaching the surface of the ocean and putting on a heck of a show for those that travel out to see these wondrous creations of nature.