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Massachusetts [1] is a state in the New England region of the United States of America. Massachusetts is known as "The Bay State" because of its the three large bays which dominate and shape the coastline. Massachusetts Bay in the Greater Boston and Cape Ann area and Cape Cod Bay, which shapes Cape Cod against the Atlantic Ocean, are on the eastern shore. Buzzards Bay, on the south coast, is the other large bay.


From East to West:


There are 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The 10 largest cities are:

Other destinations


Massachusetts is an excellent travel destination, noted for many of its historical sites as well as diverse regional flavors. The eastern Massachusetts Bay area of the state from Gloucester to Plymouth is very metropolitan, with Boston at its hub. Here you can find great cooking, fresh seafood, and an intense concentration of colleges and universities.

To the south of Boston is Cape Cod, a tremendously popular vacation spot and home to the Kennedy family, one of America's more influential political families. West of Boston you'll find the Blackstone Valley National Corridor, a vast expanse of rolling hills and small towns, as well as some of the most unique vineyards in the East Coast.

To the far west, you'll find more rural areas, the Berkshire mountains, the Appalachian Trail, and excellent skiing. Massachusetts has a lot to offer the prospective traveller!


Massachusetts is one of the oldest states in America, dating back to the foundation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1620. The name Massachusetts comes from Algonquian Indian words that mean the great mountain, an apparent reference to the tallest of the Blue Hills, a recreation area south of the town of Milton.

Massachusetts is a state of firsts - the first public school (Boston Latin School), the first public library (Boston Public Library), the first American university (Harvard), the first public beach (Revere Beach), and the home of the Boston Massacre, the event that set off the American Revolutionary War, with the "shot heard 'round the world" in Concord at the Old North Bridge.

Massachusetts also has its dark side, the Salem Witch Trials being one of the most significant black spots on the state's history.


Massachusetts today is a blend of old and new. In Eastern Massachusetts you can walk the 3.5 mile Freedom Trail in Boston to see more than 20 historical sites, then hop over to Cambridge and see some of the world's most advanced biotechnology, not to mention the legendary Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the gold standard for technical education in the United States. The state as a whole is a blend of rural and urban, from Boston and suburbs in the East, to the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires in the West.

Get in

By plane

The easiest way to get into Massachusetts is through Logan International Airport in Boston. Other regional airports include Manchester, New Hampshire, Warwick, Rhode Island and Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

More information on New England's regional airports can be found at Fly New England.

By train

Boston is the northern terminus of the Northeast Corridor, the most heavily trafficked rail route in the country, and one of the few routes serviced by Amtrak with a high frequency of service. Trains from New York reach Boston in about 3.5 hours; trains from Washington take about twice as long. The faster Acela trains shave about an hour off those journeys, and although they cost more, they generally present a more enjoyable trip. You can reach the eastern portion of the state from Boston's South Station by taking the MBTA commuter rail.

Central and Western Massachusetts are also served by Amtrak, although less frequently. Typically train journeys from New York to Springfield or Worcester require a change at New Haven, Connecticut.

Though easily accessible by train, it is frequently cheaper and almost always faster to fly to Massachusetts than take the train, if traveling from Pennsylvania or further away (however, traveling on the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago and all points in between is often less than $100).

By car

Massachusetts has several large interstates that serve it, including:

  • I-90, the Massachusetts Turnpike
  • I-93
  • I-91
  • I-84
  • I-95
  • I-290
  • I-395
  • I-495
  • I-195

Other important non-interstate highways in Massachusetts include: U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route/State Route 3, and State Routes 2, 9, and 24.

Use SmarTraveler to determine traffic conditions in the Metro Boston area.

By bus

A number of bus companies run a Boston-New York route, from the nationally-known Greyhound to a variety of small, low-cost "Chinatown bus" carriers.

  • Fung Wah Bus [2] low-cost bus between New York City and Boston's Chinatown.
  • LimoLiner [3] luxury bus transportation offering professionals business services between New York City and Boston.

Get around

On foot

A portion of the Appalacian trail runs through the state.

By bicycle

There are a number of "rail trails" - converted rail road lines - throughout the state that have been paved for pedestrian and bicycle travel.

By car

I-90 (also called the Massachusetts Turnpike, or simply the Mass Pike) is the major East-West route across the state. Rt 2 is a more northern equivalent, though there are sections through town centers with traffic lights.

By bus

  • Peter Pan / Greyhound runs busses to most towns in Massachusetts.

By train

Amtrak goes to major cities.

Within Boston the subway line is called the T, and there are commuter rails (purple on the maps) that go to surrounding suburbs and cities including Framingham and Worcester.


  • More than 170 art, history and sporting museums, including excellent colonial "living history" museums:
  • Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth,
  • Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, and
  • Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield.
  • Over 50 theatres and performing arts centers. Cape Cod, Rockport and Gloucester have thriving artist colonies and numerous galleries.
  • Numerous historical sites and monuments as Massachusetts played a central role in the American Revolution. Minuteman National Historical Park in Concord gives a taste of what times were like when America was born.


  • Bicycling, [4]. There are many routes and bikepaths throughout Massachusetts. The Claire Saltonstall bikeway traverses a marked route from Boston to Cape Cod on some less-travelled roads. Minuteman Bikeway[5] from Cambridge to Bedford is one of the more outstanding bike paths.
  • Fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing

Mass Wildlife maintains an excellent site[6] showing access points and maps of wildlife areas as well as regulations, permits and fees. Saltwater fishing does not require a license (shellfishing usually does), but there are regulations under the authority of the State Division of Marine Fisheries[7]. Local regulations may also apply in regards to shellfishing or taking of herring.

  • Bay Circuit Trail, [8] a 200 mile network of interconnected trails extending from Plum Island, Newburyport in the North to Kingston Bay in the South. Currently about 150 miles are completed and accessible.




The minimum age for purchasing alcoholic beverages is 21. No one is permitted to serve alcohol to a person under 21 years of age unless they are parent or spouse of that person.

Stay safe

Get out

Popular escape routes tend to be to the north to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont whether for hiking, foliage viewing, skiing or just to enjoy a more relaxed, rural setting.

This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!