Ready to Get Out? Here’s Seven Scenic Day Trips to Escape the City This Summer

Sunscreen? Check. Bug spray? Check. Mask and hand sanitizer? (Sigh.) Check. Now all you have to do is go.

Photo by Nine OK/Getty Images

One thing’s for sure: This isn’t going to be a normal summer. There’ll be no fireworks. No festivals. No concerts. And we’re all going to have to get used to strolling on the beach in a bathing suit and a mask. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside all season and miss out on a wicked-good New England summer—no way. The fresh mountain air, the fried clams and ice cream, and the bracingly cold Atlantic on a hot, humid day are hardly canceled, and the good news is you don’t have to travel far from home to get a taste. Featuring destinations less than two and a half hours from Boston, the following day trips are designed to help you safely get outdoors, whether you’re in the mood to bike up (and down) a mountain, eat a peaceful picnic near the water, or check out a quirky display of vintage rocking horses in a field (yes, that’s really a thing). So, while it may not be a normal summer, there’s never been a better time to load up the car, grab a bottle of Purell, and just drive.

Nasketucket Bay State Reservation / Photo by M.Graca/Buzzards Bay Coalition

South Coast

Approximate Drive Time From Boston: 1 hour

The South Shore and the Cape might hog the summertime spotlight, but the cities and towns surrounding Buzzards Bay shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, they’re packed with just as much coastal beauty and plenty of quirky character to boot, including brand-new public art exhibits and a (possibly) haunted forest to explore.

Blackstone River Greenway / Photo by Milo Bateman/Rail to Trails Conservancy

Central Massachusetts

Approximate Drive Time From Boston: 50 minutes

Looking for new adventures close to home? Venturing beyond 128 has its rewards—namely, mountain-climbing, stargazing, and one very satisfying chili dog. Along the way, you’ll discover remnants of old mill towns that bring the state’s manufacturing history to life.

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge / Photo by Bryan/Flickr


Approximate Drive Time From Boston: 30 minutes

Urban sprawl hasn’t compromised Lincoln’s still-rural character or Concord’s colonial charm, which remains centuries after Paul Revere set out for the town on his famous midnight ride. It also hasn’t compromised the still-quiet natural attractions in both places, from freshwater wetlands teeming with wildlife to recently built rail trails. Get trotting.

Chesterwood / Photo by Kari Giordano/Courtesy of Chesterwood/National Trust for Historic Preservation

The Berkshires

Approximate Drive Time From Boston: 2 hours and 20 minutes

You may not be rolling out the picnic blanket at Tanglewood this summer, but there are still plenty of reasons to head west on the Pike for the day. Among them: idyllic artist-inspired strolls, overflowing gardens, and one seriously hard-core mountain-bike ride.

World’s End / Photo by Peter Marotta/Courtesy of the Trustees

South Shore

Approximate Drive Time From Boston: 35 minutes

Need an excuse to road-trip down to the famous Island Creek Oysters farm for a few shuckable delights? Try getting your steps in with a quiet walk in the woods across from a Duxbury cranberry bog, or pointing your bike toward a leafy trail in Marshfield. Then break out the oyster knife and enjoy the sweet taste of summer on the South Shore.

Cape Cod Rail Trail / Photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Cape Cod

Approximate Drive Time From Boston: 1.2 to 2 hours

You don’t have to check into a weekly rental to enjoy everything the Cape has to offer, from the surf and sand you’ve always loved to rugged but gorgeous trails that veer well off the beaten path. Just load up the car (don’t forget the bathing suits!), cross the Sagamore, and find your
happy place.

Halibut Point State Park / Photo by Michael Prince

North Shore

Approximate Drive Time From Boston: 30 to 45 minutes

Think summer here is all about crowded beaches and greenheads? Think again. There are plenty of quieter moments to be had in the forests and salt marshes from Wenham all the way up to Cape Ann. Some traditions, however, shouldn’t be messed with: No matter where you go, you’ll still want to make a pit stop for Woodman’s legendary fried clams—which somehow taste even better al fresco.

Minuteman statue on Lexington Battle Green photo via Getty/ jmorse2000

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Photo via Getty Images

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