Editors' Picks: 20 of the Best Things to Do in Massachusetts!

Massachusetts is, essentially, where America began. From the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock to the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s ride and more, the state is a key player in our history.

For that, it’s one of the most popular states to explore. You can walk the Freedom Trail and trace the rumblings of a new republic or take a break at the refreshing seashore of Cape Cod.

Dive into the dark period of the Salem witch trials, or ride a Swan Boat in Boston’s public gardens. There are so many interesting, engaging things to do in the Bay State – here are 20 of our favorites.

1. "Thar she blows!"

The World Wildlife Fund lists Massachusetts as one of the best spots for whale watching in the world. Whether off of Cape Cod or in the waters just north of Boston, you're pretty much guaranteed a great show, starting in the spring. That's when the major migrations begin.

2. Check out the Running of the Lambs

Old Sturbridge Village is one of the most-visited spots in the state, and springtime is an extra-special time. In May, the sheep on this historic farm get their annual "haircuts" and visitors can get an up-close look at the entire textile process, from shearing to knitting the hand-spun wool.

3. Experience the Gilded Age

Author Edith Wharton's Lenox home, The Mount, transports you back to the era that inspired books like "The Age of Innocence." The mansion and gardens are beautifully maintained, and the tour is considered one of the best in the state.

4. Visit the Arnold Arboretum

These beautiful public gardens, originated and maintained by Harvard, are one of the most beloved treasures in Boston. Stroll or bike along the wide paths and observe Mother Nature as she wakes from her winter sleep. The lilacs and cherry blossoms are stunning.

5. Meet an American icon

Norman Rockwell is one of our most beloved artists. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge (his hometown for the last 25 years of his life) showcases a huge amount of his work, along with his library, personal items and more.

6. Join the Revolution

Boston is home to some defining moments in American history, the Boston Tea Party, and the Boston Massacre among them. The Freedom Trail is another way to explore those days. As we celebrate our independence in July, it's worth a visit to these various sites to remember just what pushed the Founders into being so fed up.

7. Hitch a ride on a swan

The Swan Boats, inspired by the opera Lohengrin in which a knight crosses a river to save a princess, have been a thing since 1877. Climb aboard for a cool, serene paddleboat trip through the lagoon in Boston's Public Garden.

8. Hit up Tanglewood

Every summer, Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox hosts a series of concerts ranging from symphonic to jazz to pop music. It's considered one of the premier music events in the world.

9. Visit the Cape

Cape Cod National Seashore is 40,000 acres of gorgeous protected beach and dunes. Locals appreciate the fact that the beaches aren't that crowded, there are ample (clean) restrooms and parking spaces. It makes for great walking, splashing, sunning or dolphin-watching.

10. Stroll Commercial Street in P-Town

Provincetown (or "P-Town" as the locals call it) is a quaint town at the tip of the Cape. Commercial Street features tons of fun shops, crafts, art, restaurants and more. Great for people-watching as you scarf down some saltwater taffy.

11. Paddle around the fall foliage

No doubt about it: the "leaf-peeping" in Massachusetts is pretty spectacular. See it from the water on a canoe tour that takes you through the woodlands in the central part of the state.

12. Get spooky in Salem

Around Halloween, the home of the notorious 1692 witch trials does a booming business in ghost walks, witch history and many otherworldly activities. Bring your broomstick.

13. Visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library

This is one of the most fascinating presidential libraries in the country. It's a wonderful retrospective of one of Massachusetts' favorite sons, his life before and during his tragically short term as our 35th president.

14. Honor the Pilgrims

Thanksgiving is a time when we recall the first feast the Pilgrims had after leaving England for the New World. So visit Plimoth (not a typo) Plantation to get a sense of what life was like in those early colonial times. It includes a full-scale replica of the Mayflower too.

15. Pay your respects at Mount Auburn Cemetery

This 19th century cemetery in Cambridge is the final resting place for many notables including Buckminster Fuller, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes. It's peaceful, interesting and beautifully landscaped. Autumn is considered one of the best times to experience it.

16. Meet Moby Dick

During the 19th century, New Bedford was among the most important whaling ports in the world. The ship the Essex set sail from here - and its destruction inspired the story of "Moby Dick." The New Bedford Whaling Museum offers a fascinating look at an industry that helped build America.

17. Ski the Berkshires

These mountains located in western Massachusetts, attract skiers, snowshoers, tubers and snowboarders from all around. Although there are numerous spots to indulge in winter sports, Jiminy Peak in Hancock is the largest ski resort in southern New England.

18. Skate at Fenway Park

The iconic Boston ballpark freezes over in winter, allowing for ice skating, sledding, hockey and more atop its legendary grounds. The Red Sox approve.

19. Go antiquing...on an epic scale

Get out of the cold at the Cambridge Antique Market. It has five floors to explore (and over 150 dealers). From jewelry and vintage clothes, to collectibles and small furniture pieces, you won't be disappointed.

20. Light up at Yankee Candle Village

You've seen their wares in a mall near you - but you haven't experienced anything like this. Nestled amidst fairy-tale displays and interactive candle-making exhibits in South Deerfield are nearly half a million candles in over 200 different scents. It's impossible to leave without at least one.

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