10 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways from Boston
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Boston is an amazing city filled with culture, art, and more history than almost any other place in the United States, but sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Within a few hours' drive, tourists can reach a wide variety of destinations. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventure, fantastic beaches, or great food, all are within easy reach. Explore the best places to visit with our list of the top-rated weekend getaways from Boston.
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1 Portland, Maine
Portland has undergone a renaissance of late and has become a hot spot as a getaway from Boston. New restaurants are opening, and their chefs are winning awards. With that in mind, it's a particularly popular spot for those looking for a foodie destination.
Keep in mind, however, that this coastal town goes a lot deeper, and depending on your interests, Portland has a little something for everyone.
Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of a multitude of water sports. Hiking surrounds the area. Art lovers should head to the Portland Museum of Art, where an impressive number of artworks from both local and international artists are on display. Another must-see is the Victoria Mansion, an 1800s-era mansion with a remarkable period interior.
The historic "Old Port" is a cobbled-street neighborhood on the waterfront, with plenty of shops and restaurants, many housed in repurposed warehouses.
Outside the city center, excursions to the Casco Bay Islands or Cape Elizabeth are worthy of additional time. For an overnight stay, good value can be found at the Holiday Inn Portland by the Bay, which offers free Wi-Fi and a pool. Directly on the waterfront is the Portland Harbor Hotel, a boutique property with luxury amenities.
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2 Provincetown, Massachusetts
Provincetown, MA is located at the tip of Cape Cod and makes a great year-round getaway destination. The best months to head here are July and August, when the water is warm and the town is bustling, but keep in mind, they are also the most crowded. Unusual shops and galleries fill the streets.
After you've had enough of the sun, surf and beautiful beaches, no trip is complete without a stop at the Pilgrim Monument, which marks the landing of the pilgrims in 1620.
For those looking for some adventure, kayaking and paddleboarding are available for rent. Provincetown is about two hours from Boston, but in the summer months, it could take a few more to reach your destination. Leave the crowds behind; a better bet is the seasonal ferry, only one hour from Boston harbor. For your weekend stay, the Lands End Inn offers luxurious accommodations with majestic views of the Atlantic and beaches. Additional Provincetown accommodations can be found at the Cape Colony Inn, boasting an above-ground pool among its many amenities.
3 Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Martha's Vineyard is the perfect getaway to leave the hustle and bustle of Beantown behind. This island has long been a prized vacation spot for Boston's elite and others just wanting to get away, recharge, or enjoy a romantic couples retreat. While you are here, rent a bicycle so you can explore the island at your leisure. On the southwestern tip of the island is Aquinnah Cliffs, a popular tourist spot, where you can see the impressive clay cliffs. From the top, you can view the Gay Head Light or the Elizabeth Islands. For animal lovers, head to Island Alpaca, where you can meet one of the friendly Huacaya alpacas and tour the beautiful farm. The main draw to Martha's Vineyard is the beach, so be sure to enjoy the ocean, sand, and sunshine on your trip.
Martha's Vineyard is a few hours from Boston, but well worth the drive. If you want to bring your car, make sure to have a ferry reservation. You can also reach it via plane. Centrally located in Edgartown, the Vineyard Square Hotel and Suites is a boutique property with modern décor and seaside charm.
4 Nantucket, Massachusetts
Thirty-six miles out to sea, there is an island off Cape Cod that is committed to preserving it's past while moving into the future. Rose-covered cottages, cobblestone streets, and white picket fences are the norm. Many of the roads are not paved, and a good portion of the island is devoted to conservation land.
Although Nantucket is known for its beaches, culture and history play a big role in the social scene here. The remoteness and simple beauty just adds to the abundance of charm.
For just a weekend visit, leave your car at home and rent a bicycle to get around and see the island's beauty. There are many spots to do so right off the ferries. Stop by the Brandt Point Lighthouse or one of the many pristine beaches like Ladies or Jetties Beach. A large selection of restaurants offers many choices, but on summer weekends, make sure to have a reservation. You could also load up on the amazing bounty of seafood or readily prepared sandwiches at Bartlett Farm and have a picnic on the beach.
The easiest way to get to Nantucket would be to fly from Boston via Cape Air, or you can drive to Hyannis and take the ferry over. It will take a few hours either way, so this trek is best made on a long weekend. Most hotels on Nantucket are located in town. The Veranda House along with the historical Jared Coffin House are centrally located and within walking distance to the harbor and a wide selection of restaurants in all price ranges.
5 Block Island, Rhode Island
Located just off the coast of mainland Rhode Island and Long Island, New York, this nine-square-mile island is only accessed by ferry from the mainland. Getting here from Boston is easy. Take the hour-and-a-half drive to Kingston and then hop on the Block Island ferry, which takes approximately 15 minutes port to port. Once you get here, rent a moped or bike and explore the 17-mile perimeter of sandy beaches. Even though this island is small, it's filled with dozens of specialty shops, art galleries, and more. Those who love nature will enjoy the Clayhead Nature Trail, Rodman's Hollow, and Settlers Rock. The Block Island Maritime Institute is a fun stop, and you may learn something about the diverse marine life in this area. If you are looking for a little more adventure, try a fishing excursion with Block Island Fishworks. National Hotel, within walking distance from the ferry docks, is the epitome of a classic Victorian-styled hotel. The large structure has a front porch made for rocking chairs and binoculars. Breakfast is included in your stay.
6 Berkshires, Massachusetts
Not everyone is looking to plan a getaway to the coastline. For those who want to escape Boston and head back to nature, the Berkshires are the getaway for you. Located in the western part of Massachusetts, this area offers a lot as a weekend getaway - quaint towns, great food, and peace and quiet. Depending on your mood, you can enjoy relaxation and take a class at the world famous Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health or indulge your inner adventurer white water rafting or with high-flying action ziplining through the trees.
History buffs will particularly love this area as it's home to places like Historic Deerfield and museums like the Norman Rockwell Museum and Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum. Farm to table has taken up residence here with plenty of great restaurants taking advantage of the artisan food suppliers and makers in the area. In the heart of the Berkshires, the chic Hotel on North is a loft-style boutique hotel, with modern conveniences, exposed brick, and high ceilings. Located in Lee, the Black Swan Inn Berkshires is a lakefront property with balcony rooms overlooking the water.
7 Providence, Rhode Island
About an hour's drive from Boston is Providence. This small city is busting at the seams with charm and a rich history. Check out some of their beautiful architecture, from the historic homes that line Benefit Street to the dome of the State House, which is the fourth-largest self-supporting marble dome in the world. If you are an art lover, the Rhode Island School of Design has an impressive body of work on display. More than 90,000 pieces of art are here for your viewing. Take in a show at the Providence Performing Arts Center. Those traveling with family may want to take in one of the many kid-friendly venues like the Roger Williams Park Zoo. With so many things to do, Providence will hit every item on your weekend getaway bucket list. Providence Marriott Downtown has a resort-type atmosphere and a great outdoor pool. It's also one of the few places in town to offer free parking. In the heart of downtown, The Dean Hotel has been tastefully restored to reflect its past and is convenient to the Convention Center.
8 Newport, Rhode Island
Another Rhode Island gem is Newport. For those of you craving a luxurious couples getaway, this is it. Tour the opulent mansions that once housed the summer homes of some of this country's richest families; think Vanderbilt. Be sure to check out The Breakers, The Isaac Bell House, and The Elms. If you are a history buff, a stop at Fort Adams or the National Museum of American Illustration will be top on your list. On a nice day, the Cliff Walk, with the ocean on one side and the mansions on the other, is wonderful. After a busy day of exploring, grab a bite to eat or enjoy some retail therapy at the waterfront or Thames Street. Getting to Newport from Boston will take you less than two hours without traffic.
An elegant stay reflecting the Gilded Age can be found steps from the Cliff Walk at the The Chanler at Cliff Walk. For a fabulous stay across a small inlet near the harbor, select Gurney's Newport Resort and Marina. The in-house restaurant has some of the best views in town.
9 Kennebunkport, Maine
For those leaving Boston and wanting to head north, Kennebunkport, Maine offers a nice reprieve from citylife. Two hours' drive from Boston up Route 95 is Kennebunkport, Maine. Unlike most of Maine's rocky coastline, Kennebunkport has nice sandy beaches waiting to welcome visitors.
One of the best ways to see Kennebunkport and learn about its rich history is the Intown Trolley Tour. You'll get a full rundown of the notable attractions, from the Bush compound to the Spouting Rock and a local monastery.
Head out of town to enjoy the sights of the lighthouses like the Wood Island Light or Boon Island Light. There are five lights within a 20-mile radius, although some are privately owned and not available to tour, they still make a great photo op. Before you leave, head to Dock Square. There you will find your fill of unique boutiques, restaurants, and galleries. The town does a good job of incorporating festivals into the shoulder seasons, making the Kennebunks a good year-round destination. The Nonantum Resort offers plenty of additional activities on their menu, family fun, and an on-site lighthouse. The Rhumb Line Resort offers great value with an in-ground pool and free breakfast and Wi-Fi.
10 Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Just a few hours, but a world away from Boston, Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a big draw for Bostonians looking for a weekend getaway destination. Many people flock here each summer to enjoy the beaches and parks, but also the charm of this historic seaport. While you are there, take a leisurely stroll around Prescott Park or Celia Thaxter's Garden to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Learn more about the area and its history with a visit to the Strawbery Banke Museum. Here, actors reenact what it was like in the waterfront neighborhoods hundreds of years ago. For those loving the arts, check out a concert at the Music Hall, a historic 895-seat theater, which produces concerts and stage productions. Convenience and free parking are two benefits that make the Hampton Inn Portsmouth Central hotel a good-value choice for the area. Those looking for a New England bed-and-breakfast experience will find the Sailmaker's House a great choice.