Massachusetts  is a state in the New England region of the United States of America. Massachusetts is known as "The Bay State" because of its three large bays which dominate and shape the coastline. Massachusetts Bay in the Greater Boston and Cape Ann area and Cape Cod Bay, which shapes Cape Cod against the Atlantic Ocean, are on the eastern shore. Buzzards Bay, on the south coast, is the other large bay.
| Cape Cod (and the Islands)|
The state's premier summer vacation area of beaches, art and antiques.
| Greater Boston |
The metropolitan area inside the old Route 128, now Interstate 95.
| Southeast Massachusetts (South Shore, SouthCoast, Bristol-Norfolk)|
| Northeast Massachusetts (North Shore, Merrimack Valley)|
| Central Massachusetts (Blackstone Valley, Metro West, Quabbin, North County, South County)|
| Pioneer Valley (Franklin County, Hampden County, Hampshire County)|
The three counties of the Connecticut River Valley.
| Berkshire Hills |
A Western Massachusetts area of great beauty.
There are 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The 9 largest cities are:
- Boston - The state capital and largest city.
- Brockton - "The City of Champions".
- Cambridge - Home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Fall River - A former fishing and textile manufacturing center, Fall River boasts a large Brazilian and Portuguese community.
- Lowell - A former center for textile manufacturing, now gentrified and home to many artists.
- New Bedford - "The Whaling City".
- Springfield - "City of Homes." Home to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Quincy - "City of Presidents".
- Worcester "The Innovative City" Home to eleven colleges and universities.
- Agawam - home of Six Flags New England, a major amusement park.
- Amherst/Northampton - Academic capitols of the Pioneer Valley
- Lenox - home of Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
- Lexington and Concord for their historical significance as the birthplace of the American Revolution.
- Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard - Offshore islands.
- Plymouth - Landing place of the Pilgrims.
- Salem - The Witch City.
- Sturbridge where there is a recreated colonial village.
- Taunton - "The Silver City" & "The Christmas City", notably very rich of history, exquisite old & modern architecture, large regional events, natural beauty, rapid industrial growth, regional hub, and enshrouded mystery (such as the "Bridgewater Triangle").
- West Springfield the home of the Eastern States Exposition (The Big E).
Massachusetts is an excellent travel destination, noted for many of its historical sites as well as diverse regional flavors. The eastern Massachusetts Bay area of the state from Gloucester to Plymouth is very metropolitan, with Boston at its hub. Here you can find great cooking, fresh seafood, and an intense concentration of colleges and universities.
To the south of Boston is Cape Cod, a tremendously popular vacation spot and home to the Kennedy family, one of America's more influential political families. West of Boston you'll find the Blackstone Valley National Corridor, a vast expanse of rolling hills and small towns, as well as some of the most unique vineyards in the East Coast.
Massachusetts is one of the oldest states in America, dating back to the foundation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1620. The name Massachusetts comes from Algonquian Indian words that mean the great mountain, an apparent reference to the tallest of the Blue Hills, a recreation area south of the town of Milton.
Massachusetts is a state of firsts - the first public school (Boston Latin School), the first public library (Boston Public Library), the first public park (Worcester), the first American university (Harvard), the first birth control pill (Worcester), the first public beach (Revere Beach), the first liquid fuel rocket (Worcester), and the home of the Boston Massacre, the event that set off the American Revolutionary War, with the "shot heard 'round the world" in Concord at the Old North Bridge.
Massachusetts also has its dark side, the Salem Witch Trials being one of the most significant black spots on the state's history.
Massachusetts today is a blend of old and new. In Eastern Massachusetts you can walk the 3.5 mile Freedom Trail in Boston to see more than 20 historical sites, then hop over to Cambridge and see some of the world's most advanced biotechnology, not to mention the legendary Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the gold standard for technical education in the United States. The state as a whole is a blend of rural and urban, from Boston and suburbs in the East, to the gently rolling hills and lovely small villages in the Center, to the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires in the West.
The easiest way to get into Massachusetts is through Logan International Airport in Boston. Other regional airports include Worcester, Manchester, Providence, Windsor Locks (Hartford/Springfield), and Albany.
More information on New England's regional airports can be found at Fly New England .
Boston is the northern terminus of the Northeast Corridor, the most heavily trafficked rail route in the country, and one of the few routes serviced by Amtrak  with a high frequency of service. Trains from New York reach Boston in about 3.5 hours; trains from Washington take about twice as long. The faster Acela trains shave about an hour off those journeys, and although they cost more, they generally present a more enjoyable trip. You can reach the eastern portion of the state from Boston's South Station by taking the MBTA  commuter rail.
Though easily accessible by train, it is frequently cheaper and almost always faster to fly to Massachusetts than take the train, if traveling from Pennsylvania or further away (however, traveling on the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago and all points in between is often less than $100).
Massachusetts has several large interstates that serve it, including:
- I-90, the northernmost east-west interstate highway in the U.S., called the Massachusetts Turnpike from Boston west via Worcester and Springfield to the New York-Massachusetts state line.
- I-93, which begins just south of Boston, goes under much of downtown (the famed "Big Dig"), then heads north to New Hampshire, crossing the Merrimack River at Andover.
- I-91 follows Connecticut River south through Greenfield, Northampton and Springfield in Massachusetts, continuing south to New Haven, Connecticut. To the north it passes along the border between Vermont and New Hampshire, then through eastern Vermont to Canada.
- I-84 has a very short length in Massachusetts. It begins off the Turnpike at Sturbridge, and is the quickest route from much of the state to Hartford and New York City.
- I-95, the major north-south highway of the East Coast, enters the state at Attleboro and heads toward Boston. It goes around the city itself, linking the western suburbs of Needham, Newton, Waltham and Lexington. It then turns north, through Woburn and Wakefield, before once again turning north and heading towards New Hampshire and Maine. The section of I-95 that forms a sort of belt around Boston is locally known as "Route 128", and its Interstate designation is rarely used by natives.
- I-290 runs from I-495 in Marlborough through downtown Worcester and ends at the Mass Pike in Auburn.
- I-395 is essentially the same road as I-290. South of the Mass Pike, I-395 goes from Auburn south to Webster and is the road to Eastern Connecticut, including Mystic, New London and the Connecticut casino resorts.
- I-190 is a short road that connects Worcester to the northern cities of Fitchburg and Leominster.
- I-495 forms a sort of "outer belt" around Boston, beginning near the base of Cape Cod and swinging west, through Foxboro, Franklin, Marlborough and the Merrimack Valley before joining I-95 near the New Hampshire border.
- I-195 connects Providence, Rhode Island with the South Coast, linking Fall River, New Bedford and continuing to the base of Cape Cod.
Other important non-interstate highways in Massachusetts include: U.S. Routes 1, 6, and 20; U.S. Route/State Route 3; and State Routes 2, 9, and 24.
Use SmarTraveler  to determine traffic conditions in the Metro Boston area.
Dial 511 on your cell phone to listen to up-to-date traffic conditions for all major highways.
A number of bus companies run a Boston-New York route, from the nationally-known Greyhound to a variety of small, low-cost "Chinatown bus" carriers.
- Fung Wah Bus  low-cost bus between New York City and Boston's Chinatown.
- LimoLiner  luxury bus transportation offering professionals business services between New York City and Boston.
A portion of the Appalachian Trail runs through the state.
There are a number of "rail trails" - converted rail road lines - throughout the state that have been paved for pedestrian and bicycle travel. There are also designated "bikeways" along secondary roads. See: 
I-90 (also called the Massachusetts Turnpike, or simply the Mass Pike) is the major East-West route across the state. Rt 2 is a more northern equivalent, though there are sections through town centers with traffic lights.
Although it is illegal to hitchhike on the highway itself, I-90 has a very good system of commercial rest stops placed conveniently every few miles. Hitching a ride from these rest stops isn't too hard. Make a sign, stand in the parking lot and put out your thumb for cars on the way out. As these rest stops are quasi-private property, it may be advisable to buy something small, like a pack of gum, so that you are a paying customer.
Amtrak  goes to major cities.
Within and around Boston public transportation is run by the Mass Bay Transit Authority or MBTA  and is called the "T", and there are commuter rails (purple on the maps) that go to surrounding suburbs and cities including Framingham and Worcester.
- More than 170 art, history and sporting museums, including excellent colonial "living history" museums:
- Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth,
- Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, and
- Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield.
- New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park and exhibits in Gloucester, Provincetown and Nantucket harken to the days when fishing and whaling were a vital industry.
- Over 50 theatres and performing arts centers. Cape Cod, Rockport and Gloucester have thriving artist colonies and numerous galleries.
- Numerous historical sites and monuments as Massachusetts played a central role in the American Revolution. Minuteman National Historical Park in Concord gives a taste of what times were like when America was born.
- For history buffs, Taunton is a small city filled with well-documented archives, preserved historical sites, and an extensive chronology of notable history dating back nearly 400 years. This includes (within the city): many significant historic firsts, innovations, national and/or regional leading center of industries, former prominent residents, numerous high-profile political visits/public speeches (ex.: pioneers, U.S. presidents, civil rights activists, etc.), war-related events, unique range of architectural structures, special industrial production (Civil War artillery, Olympic medallions, the White House's silverware, etc.), recent filming site of several popular 'Hollywood' movies, and the list just goes on and on... Do make sure to visit the city's Old Colony Historical Society and Museum.
- For decades, artists have migrated to Provincetown, and it is now a full-blown artist colony, home to numerous art galleries and theater houses. Moreover, Provincetown is the "gay capital" of Massachusetts, and the city is renowned for its liberal attitudes and unique culture. "P-town," as it is called by locals, is also renowned for its beautiful beaches, good shopping and restaurants, and festive year-round events.
- The Massachusetts coast offers some of the best whale watching opportunities in the world. The diversity of whale species that can been seen here is only equaled by far off corners of the Earth such as Antarctica, Patagonia, and Alaska. This abundance of whales, combined with the close proximity of both Stellwagen Bank and Jeffrey's Ledge, is no doubt responsible for Gloucester's popularity as a whale watching port. One of the truly great things about whale watching from Gloucester is that the city's location (on the southern end of Cape Ann) is situated directly between both of these popular whale feeding areas. Whale watching tours are also available from other ports.
- Bicycling, . There are many routes and bikepaths throughout Massachusetts. The Claire Saltonstall bikeway traverses a marked route from Boston to Cape Cod on some less-travelled roads. Minuteman Bikeway from Cambridge to Bedford is one of the more outstanding bike paths.
- Fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing
Mass Wildlife maintains an excellent site showing access points and maps of wildlife areas as well as regulations, permits and fees. Saltwater fishing does not require a license (shellfishing usually does), but there are regulations under the authority of the State Division of Marine Fisheries. Local regulations may also apply in regards to shellfishing or taking of herring.
- Bay Circuit Trail,  a 200 mile network of interconnected trails extending from Plum Island, Newburyport in the North to Kingston Bay in the South. Currently about 150 miles are completed and accessible.
- Blandford, Blandford
- Blue Hills, Canton
- Bousquet, Pittsfield
- Bradford, Haverhill
- Jiminy Peak, Hancock
- Nashoba Valley, Westford
- Ski Ward, Shrewsbury
- Wachusett Mountain, Princeton
Coastal Massachusetts is blessed with great shellfish including, lobster, clams and oysters. A New England clambake is, in many ways, the equivalent of Hawaii's luau. A hole is dug, (sometimes in beach sand, but more often inland), lined with stones and a fire started in it. Later the coals are covered with wet seaweed to create a steam pit into which packages of lobster, fish, clams, mussels, potatoes, and ears of corn are put. This is then covered with more seaweed and covered with tarps to cook.
The New England boiled dinner is a contribution of the state's many Irish immigrants. It is a simmered pot meal of corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and sometimes turnips. Horseradish, mustard, and sometimes vinegar are used as condiments.
Massachusetts folks are serious about their clam chowder. Many seacoast towns schedule chowder festivals at which locals compete for bragging rights. Fried clams are an alternative way to serve these delectable shellfish, usually accompanied by french fried potatoes. Haddock and cod are the local fish mainstays and one often sees "schrod" on menus. It is purported to be young cod or haddock, but is assumed by locals to mean generic white fish. Bluefish is worth trying, though some may find it a strong-flavored. The other local gamefish, striped bass, is considerably milder in taste.
Worcester's ethnically diverse population offers home-style food from all over the world in funky little restaurants hidden in odd corners all over the city. Stylish Shrewsbury Street (near UMass Medical School) offers many trendy new restaurants, as well as a few classic diners.
Southeastern Massachusetts was once the world's largest producer of cranberries. Large flat sandy bogs of colorful berries are harvested in early October.
Inland areas offer traditional New England country cuisine, especially at rural church suppers and breakfasts. Notable dishes include spaghetti-and-meatballs, roasted chicken, baked beans, baking powder biscuits, fruit pies, and cobblers.
Massachusetts's rocky soils produce two outstanding crops: tomatoes and apples. Orchards are still mostly family-owned and many growers offer pick-your-own sales. Cider mills churn out fresh cider to sell alongside bags of apples in roadside farm stands. On a crisp fall day the stands often offer warmed fresh cider mulled with cinnamon, clove and other spices. A list is maintained at: .
The alcohol purchase age in the Commonwealth is 21. No one is permitted to serve alcohol to a person under 21 years of age. No one is allowed to possess, drink, transport or purchase alcohol if they are under 21. Massachusetts, more than any other state in the union, vigorously enforces both "Blue Laws" and the drinking age. Most bars, pubs, and nightclubs in Boston have a city mandated 21+ policy, which is vigorously enforced. Additionally, many establishments in Boston and Cape Cod will not serve to out of state visitors under 25. Get a Liquor ID, a state ID card available to non-residents from the Registry of Motor Vehicles if you'll be in the area for awhile, costs $25 for five years of validity.
A controversial "third party liability" precedent has been set in Massachusetts. For example, a landlord rents an apartment to young adults who have a party and a person drinks and drives and causes an accident. Under this "third party liability," the landlord, those who hosted the party, and the one who drinks and drives can be held responsible. Rule of thumb for anyone drinking is to not drink and drive; second, if you are under 21 and want to drink in Massachusetts, you're out of luck unless you're at a private party.
Traditional New England culture back to Pilgrims and Puritans was far from abstenious. Surprising amounts of beer, wine, hard cider and distilled spirits were consumed. Although "Blue Laws" once prohibited alcohol purchases on Sundays, alcohol remains central to socializing in both urban and rural settings.
Microbreweries and brewpubs are becoming more common in urban areas and college towns. They usually offer sandwiches and other casual fare as well as a selection of brews that can be far superior to the megabreweries'.
Driving - Massachusetts drivers have a reputation for aggressive and careless driving including running red lights and unpredictable changes of lane or direction. Speeds up to 20 mph (30 kph) over posted limits are common on highways and interstates. Pedestrians should not count on getting the right of way just because it is legally theirs. Drinking is a widespread social activity and intoxicated drivers may be encountered evenings after work in working-class neighborhoods, or in college towns on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Winter driving involves snow and ice, December through April.
Deer are abundant and car-deer collisions frequent, especially during fall migrations and breeding seasons which may peak on moonlit nights in November. Collisions can occur in suburbs as well as alongside forests and fields. These animals frequently bound high enough to crash through windshields and endanger occupants with flailing hooves.
Although in 1846 author Thoreau had to leave Walden Pond and travel to Maine to observe moose, these larger relatives of deer are recolonizing Massachusetts as old farms revert to forest. Moose are tall enough to topple through windshields in collisions and adults will weigh about 1/2 ton, potentially a deadly combination for vehicle occupants. Immediately slow down and be prepared to stop if you should see one ahead of you. Count yourself doubly lucky to see such a large animal in a densely populated state, and to have avoided a collision.
Outdoors - Ticks can transmit Lyme Disease unless promptly removed. After walking in woods, brush or tall grass remove clothing and look for flattened dark insects 1/8" to 1/4" diameter. If they have already attached themselves touch them with something hot to encourage them to let go. +
Getting lost in thick woods is surprisingly easy, especially in the short days of fall and winter. In unfamiliar areas, plan your route before you set out. Carry map, compass and a whistle or some other way of making noise. Also carry extra clothing and high-calorie snacks in case you are benighted. +
Crime - Statistically, Massachusetts is one of the least violent states. Nevertheless there are cities with declining or vanished industries where economic desperation makes crime a career option. Other cities have tough neighborhoods, usually with telltale signs like trash in the streets, rundown housing, graffiti and barred windows. Try to avoid walking or using public transit in these areas. Also use paid parking lots and while driving keep windows rolled up and locked. Licensed taxicabs will usually be a safe way of getting around these areas. Tough neighborhoods have disproportionate numbers of people with bad attitudes. Try not to 'cross' them.
Massachusetts, home of Provincetown and same-sex marriage, is arguably the most tolerant state in all of the USA. Gay villages exist in abundance in Boston, and the smaller towns such as Northampton and the Berkshires.
- Rhode Island - The capital city of Providence is a short journey to the south of Masschusetts.
- Connecticut - Massachusetts' southern neighbor is home to Yale University, Mystic Seaport, the restaurant and nightlife scene in downtown New Haven, the Maritime Aquarium, and two major Native American casinos.
- New York - Located west of Massachusetts, upstate New York is home to the Finger Lakes region, a popular outdoor and wine-growing area.
- Vermont - The fall foliage in Massachusett's northwestern neighbor is a site not-to-be missed, while during the rest of the year the state offers a rural charm unique in America.
- New Hampshire - Massachusetts' northern neighbor is a fiercely independent state that offers the rugged White Mountains, idyllic lakes, and a handful of ocean resorts.