Bye-Bye Beantown: 5 weekend escapes from Boston

December 28, 2015                 3m read time
Barbie Carpenter


Whether you want to splash in the surf, hike with a llama(!) in the Berkshires, or cross the border for an international getaway, your options abound when you’re heading out of Beantown. Read on for our five favorite weekend getaways.

1. Head South to the Shore

Downtown Newport in Rhode Island, south of Boston Jenna Rose Robbins

Downtown Newport in Rhode Island, south of Boston

Jenna Rose Robbins

 

Rhode Island might be the nation’s smallest state, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on fun. Drive one and a half hours south to Newport, Rhode Island, a waterfront community and popular yachting destination. Test out your sea legs with America's Cup Charters, home to the world’s largest fleet of America's Cup Winners. Or explore the Atlantic coastline on horseback with Newport Equestrian. On the most popular tour, you and your trusty steed will gallop down Second Beach and see the stately, Gothic Saint George’s Castle towering over the coastline.

Newport’s rich history—the city was once a colony founded on religious freedom—means you’ll wine and dine in colonial abodes, once the homes of the who’s who of Newport. Stroll down Broadway, where you’ll discover many local dining options. If you choose Malt, a gastropub on Broadway serving up tapas selections, save room for dessert. The Malt Bomb, blending chocolate mousse cake with malt ice cream, might be your favorite part of the trip.

2. Get Coastal at Cape Cod

Cape Cod, southeast of Boston  Katherine Hala

Cape Cod, southeast of Boston 

Katherine Hala

 

Native Bostonians know Cape Cod is an obvious weekend getaway, sitting just an hour and a half southeast of Boston. Adventure, excursions, and relaxation combine to create a weekend offering a little something for everyone. Explore the Nauset Marsh Trail, Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail, Small's Swamp Trail, or one of the other hiking trails that weave through the swamps and cedar forests that define the area. The 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail encompasses six towns and includes challenging hikes like the 2-mile Head of the Meadow trail, which tests your skills with steep hills, sharp curves, and low tunnels. Whale-watching is a must-do in Cape Cod. Sign up for a whale-watching tour to up your chances of seeing these massive mammals in the wild.

When all of that activity works up a hunger, grab some fresh seafood. Mac’s Shack in Wellfleet serves up fresh sushi and a raw bar, which you can enjoy inside the converted 19th-century home or outside on the patio. Brewster Fish House offers seasonal, fresh seafood selections in a quaint Cape Cod cottage setting. You’ll feel like a real fisherman without the hassle of having to catch the fish.

3. See the Sunrise at Mount Desert Island

Mount Desert Island northeast of Boston Dave Wilson

Mount Desert Island northeast of Boston

Dave Wilson

 

Located 4 ½ miles northeast of Boston, Mount Desert Island (that’s MDI to locals) is a popular summer getaway for Northeasterners. About 10,000 folks call MDI home year-round, but the onslaught of vacationers makes the island especially crowded in the summer—and for good reason. Acadia National Park takes up much of the island, giving you many outdoor opportunities to explore. Stroll along Sand Beach and brave the Atlantic’s chilly waters, or bike through 45 miles of carriage roads (all of which are closed to motor vehicles). Animal lovers should sign up for a two-hour cruise of Acadia National Park for a chance to see seals, porpoises, and eagles.

Forget sleeping in on your MDI getaway. The sun rises earlier here than anywhere else in the U.S. Take a trip up Cadillac Mountain for a spectacular view of the sunrise while the rest of the country sleeps.

4. Explore the Berkshires

Berkshire Mountains, located two hours west of Boston Liza

Berkshire Mountains, located two hours west of Boston

Liza

 

Replace skyscrapers with rugged peaks during your escape to the Berkshire Mountains, located about two hours west of the city. The quieter, more rural vibe is a relaxing break from Boston’s big-city bustle. Try a guided tour on horseback through the shaded trails of Kennedy Park and Lenox Mountain with Berkshire Horseback Adventures. Go whitewater rafting in Crab Apple, where you can find tours for all skill levels. For a really unique experience, Berkshire Mountain Llama Treks will pair you with a llama guide that you’ll walk on a leash through the October Mountain State Forest.

Insider tip: Save your Berkshires getaway for fall, when the foliage is at its peak. The area hosts an annual fall foliage festival every September or October.

5. Say Bonjour in Montreal

Skylines and water in Montreal in Canada, a 5 to 6 hour drive north of Boston Caribb

Skylines and water in Montreal in Canada, a 5 to 6 hour drive north of Boston

Caribb

 

Montreal, Canada, is about five to six hours from Boston, but the extra time spent in the car will be worth it. Get ready to eat some local, French-inspired fare as well as uniquely Canadian dishes like poutine (fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy). Burn off the heavy meals with a walk down the city’s cobblestone streets, where you can view the 18th-century facades in Old Montreal and stunning churches like the Basilique Notre-Dame. In the winter, bundle up and cheer for the local hockey team, Les Canadiens de Montréal, or ice skate along the St. Lawrence River. Warm up at a pub with a “glass du vin” or a local “biere.” Just be sure to always say “Merci” after your bartender fills your glass.

Barbie Carpenter

Barbie Carpenter is a freelance writer and editor and self-proclaimed grammar enthusiast based in Lexington, Kentucky. When she’s not polishing prose, she’s spending time with her husband and two young children, exploring the Bluegrass region, and planning her next trip to the beach.

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