Travel

Boston Day Trips You Can Take Without Leaving Your Car

Four scenic drives within an hour of the city, no masks required.


Massachusetts may have begun the slow process of reopening, but not everyone is ready to roll out the beach blanket just yet. Those who prefer to steer clear of summertime crowds for now can always just fire up the GPS, pack a few snacks from home, and try one of these scenic drives, all within an hour from Boston.

windmill point hull

Photo by Spencer Buell

The Drive: Boston to Windmill Point, Hull

The Route: Take in the calm, sparkling waters along the scenic twists and turns of Route 3A, past Abigail Adams State Park and the World’s End hiking trails, then make your way toward Nantasket Beach, gliding by the charming and historical seaside homes of Allerton. From the peninsula’s tip jutting out into Massachusetts Bay, find a place in the rocky, breezy parking area to take in views of Peddocks Island and the sailboats cutting through Hull Gut.

—Spencer Buell

minuteman statue lexington

Minuteman statue on Lexington Battle Green photo via Getty/ jmorse2000

The Drive: Boston to Concord via Battle Road Historic Byway

The Route: It’s hard not to feel patriotic while winding along this scenic route, which marks the beginnings of the Revolutionary War as well as other important moments in American history. Take Massachusetts Avenue north through Arlington and Lexington, then turn onto Route 2A West to drive through Minute Man National Historical Park. There, you can imagine life in the “witness houses” where families of militiamen undoubtedly stayed up late worrying. Continue into Concord and past Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, the setting for the novel and 2019 hit film Little Women, before following 126 South into Lincoln to admire decidedly more modern dwellings from the road—including the family home of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, now a national landmark.

—Jackie Cain

wachusett dam

Photo by liz west via Flickr.com/Creative Commons

The Drive: Boston to Wachusett Dam, Clinton

The Route: Peer out the window as you drive by Walden Pond and the farms and fields along Route 2, then head down I-495 and turn off into Bolton. There, you’ll pass the lush Nashoba Valley winery en route to your final destination: a 200-foot lookout offering stunning views of pristine water ringed by protected land, visible from the parking spots along the shoulder of Boylston Street. While crossing the Sterling Street Bridge, which bisects the reservoir, keep an eye out for the historical Old Stone Church—an abandoned but impressively restored 19th-century structure that’s now draped in a massive American flag—before heading back to the city.

—Spencer Buell

Annisquam Lighthouse Gloucester

Eastern Point Lighthouse in Gloucester photo by Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism via Flickr/Creative Commons

The Drive: Boston to Rockport via Essex Scenic Coastal Byway

The Route: Pick up this famously beautiful 90-mile seaside route in Lynn before winding up the coast toward Marblehead, prime territory for ogling sprawling cliffside homes (because what’s a day drive without house porn?). You’ll then pass through Salem—feel free to take some photos out the window while zooming by the Salem Witch Trials Memorial—on the way to Rockport’s craggy shores. If you have a little extra time on your hands, follow the byway to its terminus near Salisbury Beach. No matter where you end up, finding a perch to watch the waves is all part of the experience.

—Scott Kearnan