Help me get lost in new england
June 9, 2006 12:18 PM   Subscribe

I will be visiting Boston and than (somewhat) extended New England for a couple of weeks. I want to see the city, and I want to see some nature. Help me with some suggestions for my trip!

Next week, I will be in Boston, attending a conference for work. I will be busy with that through early afternoon every day, with the rest of the day to myself to explore. I am a big fan of wandering through unfamiliar cities with not much of a plan so I think I can handle this part fine, but all suggestions for interesting, weird, quirky and perhaps temporal things to try to see are highly welcome. So far, the only must-visit destination I have in mind is the MIT museum. I know that there is a ton of US history sights in Boston, but that's not really my cup of tea.

After Friday next week, I have until next Wednesday all to myself (vacation time). I am going to spend at least one daty of it visiting a frined in Southern New Hampshire. After that, I was thinking of renting a car and going on a small roadtrip to see some of the countryside and wilderness around East coast, go on a day hike or two, maybe rent a bike for a half day for a scenic ride. A cursory look at the map revelaed the acadia national park to be too far of a drive from Boston to be any fun by myself. I was thinking of heading either to White Mountains or Cape Cod. I really don't want to do the tourist driver thing (arrive to viewpoint, take a photo, get in the car and drive off) - I would much rather be on my feet. I will be packing my hiking boots. People of East coast, what do you suggest for me?

posted by blindcarboncopy to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
P.S. I am a huge photography dork. Suggestions for places to take photos of either sunrises or sunsets (or anything else) would be appreciated!
posted by blindcarboncopy at 12:19 PM on June 9, 2006

Cape cod is good. You get beaches, quaint towns, sand dunes, water on both sides. (making for sunrises and sunsets). I don't think you can really go wrong, but we always stayed around Eastham when I was a kid. There's a fairly photogenic lighthouse around there too.
posted by aubilenon at 12:27 PM on June 9, 2006

Be sure to check out these previous threads for ideas - 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
posted by ericb at 12:29 PM on June 9, 2006

Walden Pond in Concord is nice for strolling, swimming; less populated on weekdays, although school is starting to get out for some districts.

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is great if the weather keeps you inside. Worth checking out even if it's nice, IMO.

While you're in southern NH, consider Odiorne Beach -- best tide-pooling around.
posted by theredpen at 12:34 PM on June 9, 2006

Cape Cod is a very special part of the world, and you might be early enough to avoid the largest crowds. Go whale watching from Provincetown, and don't forget to eat at Clem and Ursies.
posted by LarryC at 12:34 PM on June 9, 2006

If you head to the White Mountains I suggest you hike Tuckerman's Ravine or other AMC trails. You can start your hike at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, (Route 16, Gorham, NH 03581). Other White Mountain day trips/trails.

If you head to the Cape, check out the Cape Cod National Sea Shore. Also consider heading to Provincetown, rent a bike and cycle through the National Sea Shore dunes. P-town is 125 miles from Boston (two-hour drive in light traffic; longer on summer weekends).
posted by ericb at 12:37 PM on June 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Search AskMe for New England travel threads. I can think of at least two in the last year, both of which had great tips for the area you're looking for.
posted by Miko at 12:38 PM on June 9, 2006

Go whale watching from Provincetown, and don't forget to eat at Clem and Ursies

Seconded. and Clem & Ursies.
posted by ericb at 12:39 PM on June 9, 2006

The Glass Flowers exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History is weird and quirky and pretty much one of a kind. Good for taking photos. My friend Andrea maintains the Free Stuff to do in Boston calendar which can be sort of a serendipitous way of seeing what's going on.
posted by jessamyn at 12:40 PM on June 9, 2006

In Boston go on the Duck Tour.
Cape Cod's a bit of a way, but is lovely.
Fisherman's Wharf in Provincetown.
Kittery (The Trading Post [] There used to be Outlet shops there).
posted by Dub at 12:46 PM on June 9, 2006

Be sure to hit the North Shore and its quaint old seaside towns with old-fashioned architecture and gorgeous sea-side landscapes.
posted by gregb1007 at 1:03 PM on June 9, 2006

Bring an umbrella. We're a little flooded out these days.

It could work out both ways for you -- on one hand, the crowds are down, but on the other there might be some places closed due to weather and you might find yourself faced with unexpected road detours.
posted by briank at 1:06 PM on June 9, 2006

What everybody said.

Couple of things to remeber: while the "T" is the best way around town, it doesn't run all night, so plan accordingly. Also, if you need to get beyond the immediate suburbs serviced by the "T" you'll pretty much need a car - but driving in Boston isn't for the faint of heart (its not like Rome or even London really, but nobody seems to drive with the same set of rules) and the roads seem to change every few days with the construction that continues to go on (down in frequency from every day changes a couple of years ago, but still unpleasant enough that you can't really trust any directions).

The Cape & Islands are great and crowds won't be too bad prior to the 4th of July. Try this to get to P'town without a car. You can probably rent a bike on either end.

If you'd prefer the mountains over the seacoast, definitely head into New Hampshire. I like Jackson and the Mt Washington area (close to North Conway shops & restaurants). I think the Appalachian Mountain Club still rents cabins / tent platforms if you're into that.

Have fun!
posted by dragonbay at 1:08 PM on June 9, 2006

I live right next to Newburyport, MA, voted 2005's most beautiful city in America (with 15-20k inhabitants). It's a pretty great place because...
  • It's right on the sea shore with a nice boardwalk.
  • There are all sorts of beautiful colonial homes, especially lining Main St.
  • There's Maudsley State Park for some low-altitude nature hiking.
  • There are plenty of tours of the city/the houses if you want to go that route.
  • It has an excellent downtown of quaint brick shops.
It's right off 95 before you get to New Hampshire. But, of course, if you can do Cape Cod, that's the number 1 spot.
posted by themadjuggler at 2:13 PM on June 9, 2006

For nature stuff, please see and their sanctuaries. Something for all nature lovers in the New England area!
posted by airgirl at 2:15 PM on June 9, 2006

Seconding the Harvard Museum of Natural History - it has a wonderful Victorian feel. If you have a car while you're in the Boston area, I would visit Ponkapoag pond (google for more info) - it has a really interesting boardwalk that runs through a swamp into the center of the pond. It's probably my favorite hike within 20 minutes of Boston.
posted by pombe at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2006

Take a self guided tour of Boston's more notorius sites...The building where the Brinks robbery took place, the alley where the Cocoanut Grove nightclub used to be, On the way to The 99 restaurant in Charlestown where a mob hit took place you can stroll past the site of the great molasses flood of 1919, pass through whats left of the Combat Zone on your way to Chinatown... look here for more

Don't forget to count the Smoots when you're near MIT
posted by Gungho at 4:12 PM on June 9, 2006

Near Walden Pond are The Audubon Society's Drumlin Farm and the DeCordova Museum, both in Lincoln. The museum has an outdoor sculpture park that's free a lot of the time (see the link). The Museum Store always has a bunch of nifty, quirky stuff for sale.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:40 PM on June 9, 2006

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