18 Spontaneous Day Trips That Are Less Than 3 Hours Away From Boston
No planning needed.
We get it, Boston is a great city with a lot to do and see, but sometimes you just need to get away from what you already know and explore the mysterious world around you - luckily, the invention of motor vehicles has made that pretty dang easy.
We also understand that you can't always take loads of time off from adulting, nor plan every aspect in your life, so with all that in mind, we have rounded up these 18 spontaneous day trips less than 3 hours away from Boston that you absolutely need to put on your travel bucket list.
From lively theme parks to urban exploration destinations and even commercial get-a-ways, there is something on this list for whatever kind of day trip takes your fancy. So the next time you're free and need something to do...well, you can thank us after.
Oh, and Bon Voyage!
Lincoln Ice Castles
Time From Boston: 2 h 6 min (130 miles)
Need something to do in the winter? No problem. The Lincoln Ice Castles are the perfect wintery destination. Every year the creators of the Ice Castles choose a location to design the perfect ice castle (like a sand castle but with ice). The technique used is nothing more than dripping water and letting it freeze in the desired location. They end up looking cool AF, literally.
White Mountain National Forest
Time From Boston: 2 h 48 min (167 miles)
Whether you need a day or night trip, White Mountain National Forest is worth the drive. Journey into nature with mountainous terrain, breathtaking views, miles of trails and brilliant night skies to stargaze at.
Distance: 33 min (18.0 miles)
Salem is one of the most infamous cities in Massachusetts, drawing thousands of tourists every week with all of the witch-related attractions alone - especially in October. Even if you aren't specifically interested in learning about Salem's occult history, there are tons of other attractions in the city to check out - too many to name, so view a list here. If you want to get there faster by beating the traffic, take the Newburyport/Rockport Line, it can knock nearly half an hour off of the trip during rush hour time!
Time From Boston: 38 min (33.2 miles)
While we're on the topic of Salem, a visit to New Hampshire's Salem is definitely warranted - since it is home to "America's Stonehenge." There is little known about this mysterious rock site of man-made chambers, walls and ceremonial meeting places. It is speculated that the site is over 4,000 years old, making it perhaps the oldest man-made construction in the United States. Did I mention they have an alpaca exhibit?
Time From Boston: 2 h 2 min (115 miles)
This narrow cavern located behind Newfound Lake offers viewers a look into the hard work of thousands of years worth of erosion - literally sculpting the rocks into a wavey, soft design. Once you're finished gawking at the falls, head to one of the many trails around for a day of natural entertainment.
Canton Treetop Adventures
Time From Boston: 29 min (20.8 miles)
If you're craving a thrilling day out, a spontaneous trip to Canton Treetop Adventures will not disappoint. Swing from the treetops like Tarzan, conquer the obstacle course like an American Ninja Warrior and rise through the ranks like an army private, all in one ultimate-day-out theme park. Are you up to the challenge?
Time From Boston: 47 min (43.5 miles)
Spend the day exploring the 17th-century English Village replicating the lifestyle of the first Pilgrim settlement in the state. While you could easily spend an entire day touring the thatch-house plantation and being thankful for today's comforts, you should totally make it a point to check out the attractions in Plymouth too - you know, since you'd be so close.
Spectacle Island Sea Glass Beaches
Time From Boston: 20 min (11.5 miles)
Sometimes all you need is to just spend a day mindlessly picking treasures along the shoreline. Luckily, New England has some great beaches to find sea glass at, including the Spectacle Island Sea Glass Beach, only a stone-throw away in Quincy. Finding the colorful glass bits is the easy part, knowing what to do with them afterward is a different story.
Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast
Time From Boston: 58 min (51.2 miles)
While Fall River is less than an hour drive south and offers an array of things to do, the most notable attraction seems to be the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast and Museum - you know the woman from that old rhyme, Lizzie Borden took an ax, gave her mother 40 wacks, when she saw what she had done she gave her father 41. This is the very house the murders took place in, and not only can you just visit it, but you can also do some ghost hunting and stay the night if you're not too scared.
Enchanted Forest Abandoned Amusement Park
Time From Boston: 1 h 26 min (86.2 miles)
Open amusement parks are cool and all, but there's just an added charm to the abandoned parks. Maybe it's that there are no lines to wait in, or that there aren't any screaming children - whatever it may be, you can decide for yourself when you visit Rhode Island's very own abandoned-and-overgrown Enchanted Forest Amusement Park.
Distance: 1 h 8 min (67.5 miles)
If you're looking for something more commercial to do, shop until you drop in the capital of New Hampshire. There are a plethora of unique shops, spas, and eateries, and of course, the nightlife scene is nothing short of poppin' - so get away from the normal crowd and spend a day out without people you don't want to see noticing you.
Time From Boston: 39 min (29.5 miles)
Beaches are not uncommon in Massachusetts, but singing beaches are - making this Manchester-By-The-Sea beach an absolute hidden gem destination. Apparently, the friction created when you walk on the sand causes it to ring out in a song-like tune. I don't know about you but I could never look at regular sand beaches the same way again. Seriously, why can't they all be this cool?
Time From Boston: 56 min (51.0 miles)
Escape the city by visiting a totally different city. Similarly to Boston and Concord, Providence is a city of unique history and attractions. Check out the human-skin leather books at John Hay Library, ghost hunt the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft in his very own home, stroll along the scenic pathways of Neutaconkanut Hill Park, and of course explore the downtown mom&pop shops and restaurants.
Bash Bish Falls
Time From Boston: 2 h 46 min (151 miles)
This is one bash-bish of a waterfall if you know what I'm sayin'. The falls are picturesque and extravagant, dropping 80 feet from the summit to the creek below. Of course, it's not so black and white; the spot has been deemed one of America's most dangerous travel destinations by AOL Travel because of the number of accidents that happen here in part to the extremely slippery terrain. Oh, and some people say the land is cursed by a Native American tribe. As long as you don't stray off of the guided pathways you should be pretty safe.
Eyrie House Ruins
Time From Boston: 1 h 34 min (90.8 miles)
Do you enjoy urban exploration? If you answered yes then you will have a heyday at the Eyrie House Ruins - an 18th-century hotel destroyed in a horse cremation gone wrong. Not many dilapidated buildings are open to the public, making this spot extra appealing for abandoned-place explorers since no law-breaking is involved.
Cape Cod, MA
Distance: 1 h 12 min (70.0 miles)
One of America's top vacation destinations is only a short trip away. With that being said, you can be sure that Cape Cod is full of entertainment, seasonal festivals, seafood shacks, beaches, lighthouses, museums, nature parks, shops, and my personal favorite - ferry rides to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. No matter who you are or what you're enjoy doing, there's something here for everyone in the family.
The Desert of Maine
Time From Boston: 2 h 6 min (128 miles)
A curious 40-acre plot of land in Maine features seemingly misplaced arid dunes of sand. Being the oddity that it clearly is, it has turned into a popular tourist destination (since other deserts are like thousands of miles away). You can tour the site, learn all about the history, and even bottle some up to take home. It's definitely not every day that you get to visit a desert in New England.
Distance: 45 min (35.2mi)
Gloucester is a fisherman coastal town with an extremely rich history. Some things you absolutely need to see are Halibut Point State Park, Hammond Castle Museum, Dogtown & Babson Boulder Trail, and the Fisherman Memorial - to name only a short few. This adorable place will keep any history buff and nature lover on their toes all day.