Massachusetts - Nature and Scientific Wonders | Travel | Smithsonian

Massachusetts - Nature and Scientific Wonders

Massachusetts - Nature and Scientific Wonders

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Four brilliant seasons and geography that ranges from impressive mountains to miles of sandy beach offer something for just about everyone. Nature’s majesty abounds in Massachusetts.

Beaches
With more than 15000 miles of coastline—not to mention the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard—Massachusetts is a beach-lover’s paradise. A 140-year-old law ensures public access to every inch of shore.

Wachusett Mountain
Algonquin for the "Great Hill," Wachusett is one of the highest mountains in Massachusetts, 2,006 feet above sea level at its peak, and a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding. From the summit, you can glimpse Boston to the east.

Oceanographic Institution (Woods Hole)
Founded in 1930, WHOI is the world’s largest nonprofit oceanographic center. Its research vessels ply waters all over the world. In 1985, Institute scientists discovered the remains of the RMS Titanic. Visitors to the Ocean Science Exhibit Center can dive into an interactive exhibit on whales and dolphins, or step inside a full-size model of the deep-submersible craft Alvin to watch footage taken at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. The town of Woods Hole offers many charming restaurants and small galleries, as well as ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard.

Whale Watching
Boats set sail daily from marinas up and down the coast, but the whale feeding grounds are closest to Gloucester. Witness these majestic creatures as they plunge through the chilly Atlantic waters. If you’re lucky, you’ll glimpse a humpback breaching the surface or flapping its mighty tail.

Plum Island
Birders flock to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge near Salem to view migrating shore birds.

Walden Pond
Made famous by Henry David Thoreau who lived here for two years and wrote "Walden, or, Life in the Woods," Walden Pond was formed by retreating glaciers some 10,000 years ago. Today, the Commonwealth manages the Walden Pond State Reservation. The site is popular among swimmers in the summer and hikers and Thoreau fans year round.

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