Recommend me your best vacation spots near Boston
January 31, 2013 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend me your best vacation spots near Boston for an early 30s couple that likes the outdoors, history, trivia, movies, books, and good Italian food -- and prefers a trip that’s a mix of active and lazy. We’ll be in the area for a about a week around Memorial Day and want to know our options beyond the city itself.
posted by commander biscuit to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you only have a week, you could definitely entertain yourself in Boston for all of it. However, if you really want to get out of town... may I recommend World's End in Hingham, MA as a day trip that would be a beautiful way to spend a sunny day.

If you like history, you should also hit up Minuteman National Historical Park (and if you can, rent and bring bikes!).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:35 AM on January 31, 2013

How about Provincetown and the surrounding area? You can take a ferry from Boston for a day trip or spend a night or two there. There's lots of nice nature walks, historical sites and a couple cute bookstores. Plenty to do if you're feeling outdoorsy, lazy or in the mood for socializing. Not sure how insane it would be about Memorial Day, though.
posted by sonmi at 8:35 AM on January 31, 2013

Outdoors: Cape Cod is 90 minutes by car (probably longer with Memorial Day traffic). Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea has the virtue of being accessible by commuter rail.

For history, books and Italian food, your best bet is going to be staying in the city. All the best Italian food is in the North End. Check out the Harvard Coop and the Brattle Book Shop for books.
posted by ewiar at 8:46 AM on January 31, 2013

Lots of stuff up on the North Shore that would meet your needs, too.

Most of it is accessible by a 30 min - hour long ride on the commuter rail, too.
posted by zizzle at 8:47 AM on January 31, 2013

Do not drive to the Cape during Memorial Day weekend unless you intend to spend more than a day there. Take the ferry or the puddle jump planes from Logan, but don't drive.
posted by zizzle at 8:50 AM on January 31, 2013 [7 favorites]

There's also great Italian food in Providence, RI, should you want to go for an explore south. There's tons of history in Boston, and just walking around Beacon Hill, the Freedom Trail, the North End (Italian food), and the Back Bay will be a happy way to spend days. Provincetown is great on a sunny day, and the ferry is a nice way to do it (although if one of you is prone to seasickness, inquire about the seas).

There are bike rentals in the city through Hubway - consider saving your feet a little by biking around, too. There are also pub trivia games pretty much every night of the week - there is a recurring meetup around the Monday night pub trivia at Tommy Doyle's in Harvard Square you might want to watch out for.

Lastly, the Boston Harbor Islands have tons of history, nature, and chance for lounging on the beach. If you want to get out on the water, it's a great way to "get away" whilst spending very little on boats or other transport.
posted by ldthomps at 8:51 AM on January 31, 2013

....likes the outdoors, history... books...

I'm going to suggest Concord, MA for a couple reasons, but mainly for the love of history and books.

You can see (and not just see, walk through it and they will give you a talk about the live of Louis Alcott, Emerson, Hawthorne, etc. Or go their grave sites and leave a note for your favorite author.

Thoreau's home is gone, but you can hike around Walden pond. You can also canoe in Concord. There is more history than just the authors, but it is an intriguing aspect.
posted by Wolfster at 8:56 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do not drive to the Cape during Memorial Day weekend unless you intend to spend more than a day there. Take the ferry or the puddle jump planes from Logan, but don't drive.

Or take the train from Boston to Hyannis. It starts running in May.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:56 AM on January 31, 2013

I came in here to recommend Provincetown and the Wellfleet/Truro area. You can check out the Wellfleet Drive In theater and I loved the Cape Cod Seashore area. The cliffs were incredible around Marconi Beach. Plenty of bike rental areas too - We spent a lot of time biking the path along the seashore.
posted by jerseygirl at 10:27 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gloucester has a charming little movie theatre that shows foreign/indie films, more independent bookstores per square mile than just about anywhere on the North Shore, beaches, whale watches, and great Italian (and Portuguese) food. If I had to do it all over again I'd buy a condo up there instead of where I live now.
posted by Currer Belfry at 10:32 AM on January 31, 2013

Blue Hills Reservation is a great chance to get outdoors. There are plenty of trails, a small zoo/museum, a pond and a lookout with a great view of the city. Public transit is available.

If you are headed south a stop at Plimoth Plantation could be nice.
posted by Talk To Me Goose at 10:33 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Take the commuter train to Lowell or Salem and go to the museums.
posted by brujita at 4:13 PM on January 31, 2013

Providence has a good and interesting Italian district (Federal Hill), movies (Cable Car Cinema), outdoors (well, RI has kayaking), and a few bookshops in Wayland Square. There are ghost tours as well.

Oh, and Waterfire! That'll probably start up around then. Torches in the river lit at sundown; music, performance art, people actually coming out to interact with each other and their city, etc.
posted by batter_my_heart at 7:04 PM on January 31, 2013

Hampton and Rye Beach NH, eat fried seafood at Petey's.
posted by Abinadab at 10:41 PM on January 31, 2013

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