The One Minute Geographer: Massachusetts (12): Vacationland

Jim Fonseca
5 min readAug 31, 2022
The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox from edithwharton.org

So, Massachusetts is a vacationland? Pick any topic of interest to tourists, and you will find dozens of sites. Massachusetts is a state like a few others, where if we created an index of attractions per square mile, it would be off the charts. There are dozens of natural and scenic areas: preserved areas of forests, swamps, salt ponds, waterfalls, glacial features, sand dunes and trails.

Cape Cod National Seashore from capecodchamber.org

If you want to stay outdoors, Massachusetts has dozens of public beaches, most notably 40 miles of beach within the 45,000 acres of the Cape Cod National Seashore. There’s the 90 miles of the Appalachian Trail running through the Berkshires across the north-south width of the state in western Massachusetts. The state park system maintains an amazing number of parks for such a small state, more than 150. Six of these parks have trails more than ten miles long. There are 20 botanical gardens in the state, many associated with universities.

If you are interested in historical sites, you have come to the right place. Massachusetts has 190 National Historic Landmarks, more than any state except New York, which has 275 sites, but New York is six times as large in area. You could spend months visiting all of the historical sites in Massachusetts.

Boston’s Freedom Trail from scoutingweb.com

You can spend a day or more at each of numerous living history sites. Old Sturbridge Village has 40 buildings to tour and Historic Deerfield Village has 11 house museums to visit. Plymouth Planation (now called Plimoth Patuxet Museum) has more than a dozen structures including a replica of the Mayflower. Check out the twenty buildings at Hancock Shaker Village.

Map of Old Sturbridge Village from osv.org

Downtown Boston’s Freedom Trail will take you to historic sites including Paul Revere’s House, Old North Church (One if by land), Bunker Hill, Faneuil Hall, the USS…

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Jim Fonseca

Geography professor (retired) writes The One Minute Geographer featuring This Fragile Earth. Top writer in Transportation and, in past months, Travel.