Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
This jewel of a museum is housed in a 15th-century Venetian-style palace surrounding a verdant courtyard. Works by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Degas, Titian and others share the space with the best in decorative and contemporary arts. The museum also features concerts every Sunday, September through May.
A living museum near present-day Plymouth, Plimoth Plantation interprets the colonial village as it was in 1627, seven years after the Mayflower’s arrival. At the Wampanoag Homesite, learn about the culture of the Wampanoag, who have lived in southeastern New England for more than 12,000 years. Climb aboard the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the famous ship. And at the Nye Barn, take a gander at heritage breeds of livestock from around the world, including Kerry cattle, and Arapawa Island goats.
Old Sturbridge Village
Experience life in an 1830s New England village at this interpretive outdoor museum in central Massachusetts. Visitors can tour more than 40 original buildings and 200 acres of grounds, all meticulously maintained to recreate early American village life.
Whaling Museum (New Bedford)
"Moby Dick" fans take note. In 1907, the Old Dartmouth Historical Society founded the whaling museum to tell the story of whaling and of New Bedford, once the whaling capital of the world. The museum holds an extensive collection of artifacts and documents of the whaling industry and features contemporary exhibits on whales and human interaction with the sea mammals.
Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
These two venerable institutions have shaped the city of Cambridge and together offer a vacation’s worth of sightseeing. Of Harvard’s many respected museums, the Fogg Art Museum, with it collection of European and American painting, prints and photography is a popular favorite. And Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted is a wonderful place to spend a sunny morning or afternoon. For the more science and technology-minded, the MIT Museum offers exhibits on robotics, holography and more.
Kennedy Library and Museum
The presidency of John F. Kennedy lasted only 1,000 days but left an indelible mark on American history and culture. This stunning museum is the official repository for all things Camelot.
(Salem) More than 150 people were arrested and imprisoned during the witch-hunt that led to the infamous witch trials of 1692 and 1693. Of them, 29 were convicted and 19 hanged. Others died in prison. Learn about this dramatic moment in American history and enjoy the present charms of this picturesque New England town. To see both Salem and Boston in one day, hop aboard the Nathaniel Bowditch, which offers eight round-trips daily between the two cities.
National Historical Park (Lowell)
The exhibits and grounds here chronicle the shift from farm to factory, the rise of female and immigrant labor, as well as the industrial technology that fueled these changes. Housed in the restored former textile mill of the Boott Manufacturing Company, the park’s Boott Cotton Mills Museum features a 1920's weave room whose 88 power-looms generate a deafening clatter (ear plugs provided). Find out what it was like to be a ";Mill Girl" at the heart of the United State’s industrial revolution. Nearby is a cluster of lively art museums and galleries, including the New England Quilt Museum and the Revolving Museum.
Built in 1716, it was the first lighthouse in North America and is the only one in the U.S. that has not been automated. The second-oldest lighthouse is on Martha’s Vineyard.
Built as a gift to the city of Boston in 1742 by Peter Fanueil, the city’s richest merchant, the hall served as a central market as well as a platform for political and social change. Colonists first protested the Sugar Act here in 1764, establishing the doctrine of no taxation without representation. Samuel Adams rallied Bostonians to independence from Britain, George Washington celebrated the first birthday of the new nation, and Susan B. Anthony spoke out for civil rights, all at Fanueil Hall. In 1826, the hall was expanded to include Quincy Market. Today, shops and restaurants fill the bustling site, which attracts 18 million visitors a year.