Road Trip in Massachusetts

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As the home of the “shot heard 'round the world," people touring Massachusetts often focus on the sense of history gained from a visit. So much more is available: great beaches and old fishing villages along Boston's north and south shores, the magnificent Cape and islands, and Western Massachusetts' beautiful stretches of hilly countryside.

MA Rules of the Road

Massachusetts driving rules are similar to most states. You can check for more specifics in the MA Driver Handbook, as well as our page on Massachusetts safety laws.

Massachusetts requires that new residents obtain a Massachusetts driver's license upon becoming a resident. For details, visit our Applying for a New MA License page.

Major Roads in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has several major roads:

  • Interstate 90.
    • The Massachusetts Turnpike, locally known as the “Mass Pike," is a toll road starting in Boston which heads west to New York and beyond.
  • Interstate 95.
    • I-95 takes drivers north or south through Massachusetts but does not go through Boston. Rather, it circles Boston to the west, where for that stretch it is also known as Route 128.
    • Interstate 495, in a wider loop outside 128, also takes you around Boston.
  • Interstate 93.
    • This highway cuts through Boston and is often referred to as the Central Artery. One of the largest construction projects in the world, The Big Dig, was recently completed to bury this highway under the city. Traffic congestion has not improved, but the city has benefited greatly from this road's disappearance.
  • Route 3.
    • If you're driving down to the Cape, you'll become very familiar with Route 3, especially if you're driving there on a summer Friday afternoon. Tip: try out the new train with improved schedules, straight out of South Station.
  • Interstate 91.
    • Another north-south highway, I-91 cuts through the mid-section of the state and continues in both Connecticut and New Hampshire.

Massachusetts Destinations

Massachusetts locales can appeal to every sort of traveler. From city life to quiet beachfronts and a dose of history, this colonial hotbed has it all.

Boston

Boston is filled with sights to see and activities to do. Some highlights include:

  • The Freedom Trail.
    • On nice days, a popular activity is to follow the red line painted on sidewalks around town, dubbed “the Freedom Trail." It weaves through Boston's streets taking walkers to some of the the revolutionary period's most significant buildings, such as Paul Revere's house and the site of the Boston Massacre.
  • Local universities.
    • Many universities in Boston offer a variety of architecture and their own form of history to visit. Harvard and MIT, both built up along Massachusetts Avenue (or “Mass Ave"), are worth the trip, even if they are located just across the river in Cambridge. If you prefer to stay south of the Charles River, then head to Boston University.
  • Museums.
    • In addition to various historical museums, the Museum of Fine Arts holds a wonderful collection spanning all the traditional time periods. The Peabody-Essex Museum, just a few miles up the coast on Route 129 in Salem, also has a collection worth seeing.
  • Boston Harbor Islands.
    • If you're in the mood for a boat ride, consider taking a ferry to one of the many Boston Harbor islands. They're great for hiking, bird watching, organized activities and parks—and they allow you the pleasure of seeing the city from the water.

The Cape & Islands

One of the region's most coveted destinations, Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are all rich in history (mostly fishing history, the economic engine of the area for hundreds of years) and wonderful beaches.

Just hop on Route 3 south of Boston and take it to the beginning of the Cape or all the way to Provincetown. Different beaches and areas along the Cape have different vibes and crowds—while most are family friendly, they're not all the same.

To reach the islands, you'll need to take a ferry. Reserve your ticket in advance as these fill up quickly, especially if you want to take your car.

Western Massachusetts

The sights of Western Massachusetts, or “out West" in the local lingo, are worth a trip. Only a couple of hours from Boston, quaint towns like Amherst abound. A little further north and west are the Berkshires, with a wonderful array of activities from hiking to museums to Tanglewood, the summer music festival.

Salem

For history buffs and ghost hunters alike, the town of Salem, MA is a beacon for culture and entertainment. Home to the infamous Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s, the town not only embraces its past, but actively ensures that victims' legacies will never be forgotten. With the motto of “Still Making History," Salem is one of the country's oldest and most storied towns, and boasts beautiful streets, quaint neighborhoods, beaches, wharfs, and the Salem Common in the middle of it all.

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