I was born and raised in Massachusetts in a town called Peabody. My family didn’t have a ton of money, but my parents always found day trips from Boston (and the surrounding area) that were inexpensive, usually involved good food, and were always fun for the family.
Thinking back on some of the simpler times—eating Hobbs’ popcorn at the Salem Willows, watching monkeys at the Stone Zoo, playing Gilligan’s Island at Pine Banks Park, and meandering through hiking trails along the North Shore—brings me back to my youth.
I love Massachusetts. It’ll always be home for me. (You can keep the winters, though.)
I’ve since moved from the area, but visit it often, and when I do there are several things that are always on the top of my list to see, do, and eat.
Food destinations usually rank high for me. (You’d think I am someone who is five-hundred pounds, but no. I just enjoy good food.)
Here are 7 insanely delicious day trips from Boston. You’ll probably need a huge appetite or several days to fit all these in.
Foodies Delight in Day Trips from Boston
Only in the Boston area—in my humble opinion—can you get these awesome eats:
- Hot roast beef sandwiches
- Mouth-watering steak tips
- Frappes so thick you need a spoon
- And the best fried seafood in the world
First Stop. Lunch.
Of course, you’ll have to start by swinging into one of the 1,151 Dunkin’ Donuts in the state. Don’t worry; you’ll find one, if not fifteen, along the way.
But, that’s not lunch. We’re just getting started.
If you’ve never had a warm roast beef sandwich (Arby’s DOES NOT count), you haven’t lived. Thinly sliced roast beef with mayonnaise on a sesame seed bun is the way I like it. Some prefer the delicacy with sauce instead of mayo. You don’t need to specify the type of sauce. There’s only one. Barbecue.
There are many mom-and-pop roast-beef joints to choose from. Some are small chains, but they are usually family-run.
My favorite is Bill & Bob’s in Peabody and Salem. A close second is Land ’n Sea in Peabody. Kelly’s Roast Beef of Revere and elsewhere is almost-world-famous, but I think they’re overpriced and not as good as the two that I’ve mentioned. For other seriously good roast beef places, check this out.
Try Antiquing Along the North Shore and Cape Ann
The North Shore’s village of Essex, the coastal community of Gloucester and nearby Rockport, and the quaintness of Newbury, Newburyport, and Rowley are all worth a trip “up” route 128 or a drive down picturesque Old Route 1.
You’ll find the quaint streets a great place to stroll and find great antiques. Two of my favorite places to peruse for old findings are:
- White Elephant Shop in Essex
- Salt Marsh Antiques of Rowley
Salem Day Trips from Boston: It’s Not Just About Witches
My favorite city in all of Massachusetts is Salem.
It’s hip, historic, and fun. True, you can’t escape the witch factor, but there’s so much more to see and do there.
Salem’s history is amazing.
From Boston, the summer ferry ride is just a short walk from the North End—another place to dine, the Italian-restaurant mecca of New England. (More on the North End later.)
Hop on the Salem Ferry from Boston’s Long Wharf. The trip is a little more than an hour. The views along the way are amazing. You’ll see Nahant and Marblehead, which are destinations worth a visit themselves.
The Salem Willows is a park nestled on the tip of the city and boasts spectacular views of the harbor. Pick up a box of the world-famous Hobbs’ popcorn. For over one-hundred years, they’ve been making popcorn in the same kettle drum. I have never had such delicious popcorn in my life. And I’m not alone in thinking this either. Ask anyone from the North Shore, and they’ll rave about it.
Salem also has a thriving nightlife, but not too much for those of us teetotalers. There are plenty of coffee shops, antique stores, restaurants of various types, and history at nearly ever corner.
Dine on Steak Tips
I’ve traveled quite a bit and have never been able to find steak tips that match those on the North Shore.
Whenever I go back to Boston, I make sure I get my fill of tips at Major Magleashe’s of Salem or Champions in Peabody.
While I’ve yet to try New Bridge Café in Chelsea, I’ve heard they are equally as good—and closer to Boston. I’ve also heard it’s also a great place to people watch.
Top Off a Meal with Wicked Good Ice Cream
For dessert, the North Shore has some of the best ice cream. If you love soft serve, Dairy Witch of Salem is a must (only open in the summer though).
Other year-round treats can be had at Russ Treadwell’s in Peabody and Richardson’s Dairy in Middleton.
Eat Italian in the North End
You can’t go to Boston without visiting and eating in the North End. Pellino’s Ristorante is moderately priced and gives good portions. It’s near the Paul Revere house, which is fun to see even if from just outside.
Walking the cobblestone sidewalks of the North End, smelling freshly made bread wafting about, and stopping in at pastry shops that sell some of the best espresso and desserts around, is quintessential Boston.
Day Trips from Boston to Maine
My other favorite New England state is Maine. There is so much nature to experience by just driving a short while north.
Kittery, Ogunquit, and Kennebunkport are famous for cute shops, great restaurants, and nice strolls along the water.
Marginal Way in Ogunquit tops my spot for an easy-going nature walk.
Trek a few hours further to Acadia National Park and you’ll get some amazing hikes. Bar Harbor is a fantastic place to see too.
South of Boston: Why Bother.
Since I’m from the North Shore, this article may be a little bent in my hometown area’s favor. To be faithful to my South Shore brethren there are a couple of hot spots worth mentioning.
Blue Hills Reservation offers spectacular views of the city. The JFK Library is a must for history buffs. If you’re into beaches Nantasket and Cape Cod rate in the top.
Another fun thing worth seeing is the Corita Kent gas tank. You can’t miss it from the Southeast Expressway. It’s become a New England landmark.
You can find more day trips from Boston here. What places around Boston would you suggest? Type them in the comments below.
Rick Bettencourt is the author of the romantic comedies Tim on Broadway, Marketing Beef, Painting with Wine, and Not Sure Boys. Rick is a native New Englander who now resides in Florida with his husband and their dog Bandit.
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