20 Cities In Massachusetts

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Massachusetts is a beautiful and geographically diverse state in the USA, with modern cities, historical towns and hamlets, towering mountains, dense forests and beautiful stretches of coastline. Massachusetts is one of the USA’s original 13 states and is the site where the famous ship The Mayflower landed. From here, the pilgrims began to build settlements and set out further inland to explore. Plymouth, one of the first settlements built by the pilgrims, was the site of the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

The state is famous for its apples, and if you are visiting in autumn, apple picking is a great family activity to get involved in. Try an apple cider doughnut or enjoy a warming glass of mulled apple juice to immerse yourself in the season. Another famous snack food from the state is the chocolate chip cookie. Ruth Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies in Whitman during the 1930s, and since then, the cookie has become popular worldwide and is the official state cookie of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts towns and cities are filled with history, from the Boston Tea Party to the tragic Salem Witch Trials, there is something to uncover wherever you go. Massachusetts is an important state for higher education and is the home to the oldest university in the USA, Harvard. The campus often holds open days where access to some of the older and most important buildings can be visited. Here are 20 towns and cities in Massachusetts you should explore.

Cities In Massachusetts

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20 Massachusetts Cities To Visit

1- Boston

Downtown Boston aerial view
Boston tops the list of largest cities in Massachusetts by population.

There are so many attractions in Boston, Massachusetts’ state capital, that you’ll need way more than a day to take it all in.

Boston is famous as the site of the Boston Tea Party and this history can be explored at Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

Board a replica tea ship and uncover what life was like during the founding of America.

Take the time to wander along the Freedom Trail and follow the markers to some of the key locations from the founding of America, or explore the quaint cobblestoned Acorn Street before relaxing with a coffee and apple doughnut at a local cafe.

Top tour: Boston Duck Boat Sightseeing City Tour And Cruise.

2- Cambridge

Aerial View Of Cambridge
Cambridge is one of the best cities to live in Massachusetts.

Cambridge is on the opposite bank of the Charles River from Boston and is tightly packed with museums, historical architecture and knowledge.

Harvard University is in Cambridge and is a beautiful place to explore during your visit.

Guided tours are available and are led by current students who share their knowledge of the university’s history and buildings.

There are excellent museums in Cambridge, including the Museum of Science and the MIT Museum, which both celebrate scientific discoveries and technological advancements throughout history and where they may go in the future.

Top tour: Harvard University Campus Guided Walking Tour.

3- Worcester

dusk over the city skyline of worcester
Worcester is one of the Massachusetts cities that takes its name from a place in England.

Worcester is the state’s second-largest city and like many towns and cities in the state, it takes its name from a city in the United Kingdom.

When in Worcester, spend some time marvelling at the 35,000 works of art displayed at the Worcester Museum of Art.

Inside the museum are exhibitions of historical works and more contemporary pieces from across the globe.

A beautiful building to visit in Worcester is the Mechanics Hall.

The Mechanics Association built the hall in 1857 in the Renaissance Revival Style as a training centre, however, today, it is one of the most influential concert halls and arts venues in the state.

4- Springfield

Springfield Massachusetts City Skyline Early Morning across the river
Springfield is one of the cities in Massachusetts that has produced innovations, like basketball, the USA’s first Armory and the first American-made automobile.

On the banks of the Connecticut River is the beautiful Massachusetts city of Springfield.

Springfield is the home of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, where basketball fans can discover the game’s humble origins and see memorabilia from some of the biggest names in basketball history.

Springfield is a great city to visit with kids, filled with interactive museums such as the Springfield Science Museum, which includes its magical animal centre and Dinosaur Hall.

To get out into the fresh air, let children play and run around, or go for a stroll and picnic, Forest Park is a beautiful green escape inside the city.

5- Lowell

Boott Cotton Mills' brown brick building reflected in a canal
One of the cities in Massachusetts with an interesting background, Lowell was the first city to use telephone numbers (in 1880).

Lowell is a typical New England-style city, with rich red bricks, plenty of leafy trees and an all-round cosy vibe.

Bookworms may want to search for and explore Kerouac Park, named after former Springfield resident and writer Jack Kerouac.

Lowell was once an important textiles centre in the state, and this history has been preserved at several museums, including the Bott Cotton Mills Museum and New England Quilt Museum.

There are plenty of exciting and delicious places to eat and drink in Lowell, including many that specialise in local seafood.

If you fancy a fish supper, visit Fishbones, one of the city’s top seafood restaurants.

Enjoy simple meals such as lobster rolls smothered in mayo and lemon juice, or elevate your dining experience with Nantucket scallops served with a refreshing pomegranate risotto.

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6- Brockton

Brockton is a short drive from Massachusetts’ capital city Boston and is a great place to visit when in the state.

Pay a visit to the Fuller Craft Museum, a museum set in leafy surroundings dedicated to contemporary New England crafts.

Inside the museum, you will find a beautifully curated collection of crafts from artists nationwide, including examples of ceramics and woodworking.

For the best pizza in the city, order a crisp pan pizza from Cape Cod Cafe Pizza, which has been serving hungry residents since the 1940s.

7- New Bedford

Commercial Fishing Boats on the water
New Bedford is one of the best cities in Massachusetts known for its fishing port.

New Bedford has long been associated with whaling and inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Uncover more about New Bedford’s whaling heritage at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park (book your tickets here and skip the line), spanning 13 blocks of landmarks, important buildings and historical sites all linked to the whaling industry.

Spending time in a port city is a great way to enjoy fresh seafood and shellfish.

The city is also rich in Portuguese heritage, so stop by a Portuguese-American restaurant for salted codfish, a rich stew made from a range of fish and shellfish, or traditional grilled sardines, all using locally caught fish.

8- Quincy

Quincy is an important historical city in Massachusetts and was once home to former presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

Immerse yourself in history and nature at the Adams National Historical Park, inside which are the preserved homes of both former presidents, beautiful foothills and lush green gardens to explore.

Wander the 2.3-mile (4.83 kilometres) long Wollaston Beach for some of the best views of Quincy Bay and out towards Boston.

Continue your exploration of the bay and the city’s history and visit the United States Naval Shipbuilding Museum, the former shipyard where U.S. Navy battleships were once constructed.

Top tour: Boston to Plymouth Day-Trip including Quincy, Plimoth Patuxet and Mayflower II.

9- Lynn

Sunrise Over Lynn Beach
Lynn is one of the cities in Massachusetts with some beautiful beaches.

Lynn is another of Massachusetts’ beautiful Oceanside cities and is filled with historical architecture, a trendy downtown district and plenty of parks for picnicking.

Get outdoors in Lynn Woods which, despite its city location, offers a tranquil escape packed with native wildlife.

Over 100 species of birds live in Lynn Woodlands, including owls and hawks.

See the surrounding areas by scaling High Rock Tower, set inside High Rock Park.

The Olmsted Brothers designed the 85ft (25.91m) high tower in 1907 and set it inside rolling parkland, with incredible views towards the Atlantic Ocean.

10- Fall River

A popular thing to do in Fall River is to uncover the history surrounding 230 Second Street, commonly known as the Lizzie Borden House.

In 1892, Lizzie Borden was accused of murdering her father and stepmother brutally in their home.

Today the house is a museum, bed and breakfast, and ghost tour location.

Continue exploring the history of Fall River at Battleship Cove and the Fall River Maritime Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of ships that saw action in World War II.

11- Newton

Newton is known as Massachusetts’ Garden City as it is formed of 13 small villages surrounded by trees and parkland.

Spend some time in Newton Centre, the city’s largest area, for excellent shopping and dining experiences.

One way to explore the city’s unique layout is by canoeing or kayaking along the Charles River.

As you gently row down the river, you will pass dense forests, picturesque homes, boat houses and launches.

Spend time in the great outdoors in Hammond Pond Reservation, a great expanse of green space close to Boston College filled with walking trails and opportunities for rock climbing.

12- Amherst

Amherst is a typically picturesque New England city that is highly popular in autumn as the leaves turn red and gold for its cosy Gilmore Girls vibe.

If you enjoy classic literature, visit the Emily Dickinson Museum and explore with a tour guide to discover more about the poet and her time growing up in the city.

The museum regularly hosts poetry reading evenings and events featuring poetry from Emily Dickinson and other local poets.

If natural history is more appealing, the Beneski Museum of Natural History is filled with fossils, dinosaur bones and exhibitions on space.

13- Northampton

Northampton is well known across Massachusetts for its coffee, and an afternoon on the Northampton Coffee Shop Food Tour is perfect for exploring the best coffee shops, bakeries and more.

Enjoy a quiet hour or two admiring the famous works of art at Smith College Museum of Art, inside which are housed Monet’s and Picassos.

The Botanic Garden of Smith College is a great place to visit in Northampton to relax surrounded by nature and immerse yourself in botanical knowledge.

After a day exploring this beautiful Massachusetts city, enjoy a delicious slice of sweet or savoury pie from Florence Pie Bar.

Pies on the menu include classics such as apple and chocolate cream to unique blends such as pork, kale and kimchi hand pies.

14- Salem

Old Galleon and timber building in salem port
Salem is one of the most intriguing cities in Massachusetts for its witchcraft history.

Salem is perhaps the most well-known Massachusetts city due to its dark history surrounding witchcraft and persecution.

Learn about the area’s fascinating history at the Salem Witch Museum and Jonathan Corwin House or the Witch House.

Both venues share the grim history of Salem’s witch trials, from how they began as rumours to witch hunts, unfair trials, and the deaths of many women and men.

One of the most important buildings in Salem is The House of Seven Gables, a colonial mansion that rose to notoriety when Nathaniel Hawthorne, an American author, titled one of his most famous novels after the house.

Explore the mansion on a guided tour and learn more about its former occupants, the Turner family, and its links to American literature.

Top tour: History and Hauntings of Salem Guided Walking Tour.

15- Somerville

For the best dining, drinking and cultural opportunities in the city, head to Davis Square for a wide range of independent restaurants, from traditional American diners to poke bars and authentic pizzerias.

Mystic River State Reservation is a popular spot for locals, whatever the time of day, with many running, grabbing a bite to eat on their lunch breaks, or walking their dogs.

Enjoy a quiet and peaceful stroll along the river before heading to Sylvester Baxter Riverfront Park for its art trail or to Blessing of the Bay Park for a peaceful moment under the shade of trees.

16- Pittsfield

Pittsfield is a picturesque Massachusetts town surrounded by the Berkshire Hills and the Taconic Range.

The city has lost many things, including museums, historical sites and excellent restaurants.

Tour Herman Melville’s Arrowhead, the home where he penned some of his most influential novels, including Moby-Dick and The Confidence Man.

For a more action-packed day, scale the heights of Bousquet Mountain and take to its snow-packed slopes on a skiing, snow tubing or snowboarding adventure.

Pittsfield has an excellent range of green spaces, including the Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary, where beavers, river otters and black bears can be seen, and the picturesque and historical Springside Park.

17- Leominster

Leominster is famous for its local hero, Johnny Appleseed, and each year a festival is held in the famous travelling apple farmer’s honour.

Explore the historic orchards of Leominster at George Hill Orchards, where during summer and fall, visitors can pick their apples, blueberries and peaches.

Leominster is a city surrounded by greenery, and its state forest, spanning 4246 acres, is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature.

Within the forest are many trails, hiking paths, lakes and reservoirs where fishing and kayaking are possible.

18- Lawrence

Start your day right with a delicious pastry from Fisichelli’s Pastry Shop, a traditional family-ran Italian cafe with a range of Italian cookies and cakes.

Spend your day exploring the history and culture of the city at its range of museums and art galleries.

Lawrence Heritage State Park tells the history of the city’s industrial heritage in textiles manufacturing.

The Artworks Essex Art Centre is an excellent art museum with rotating exhibitions focusing on local artists and ceramicists and has an on-site pottery workshop that holds regular classes.

Towns in Massachusetts

19- Lexington

Lexington is one of many important New England locations with its history woven into the founding of the USA.

Follow this history from its beginnings at Lexington Battle Green, where the first battle of the American Civil War occurred, and today is seen as the birthplace of American Liberty.

Continue uncovering the history of Lexington and the union’s founding at Buckman Tavern and its American Revolution museum.

Other historic sites tied to the American Revolution in Lexington are the Hancock-Clarke House, where John Hancock, the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence, grew up, and Munroe Tavern, the former British headquarters and field hospital.

20- Provincetown

Provincetown aerial view of beach, bay and buildings
Provincetown is a charming town in Massachusetts where you can enjoy sand and sun.

Located in the beautiful Cape Cod region lies Provincetown, a beautiful, traditional and action-packed town not far from Boston. You can get there by high-speed ferry.

The shores around Provincetown are a haven for wildlife and perfect for a spot of nature watching.

Spot seals from Race Point Beach as you wander along its dune-lined shores, and keep your eyes peeled for more sea creatures, such as whales and a wide variety of sea birds.

If relaxing on the sands under the warm summer sun is your preferred beach day, grab a deck chair or blanket and enjoy the golden sands and lapping waves.

After spending time by the sea, head into the town and visit Commercial Street, Provincetown’s best destination for art, with more than 40 museums and galleries displaying art from across the town and state.

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.