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Home Road Trip 5 MA Road Trips: History — Proud and Notorious — Meets Scenic Beauty

5 MA Road Trips: History — Proud and Notorious — Meets Scenic Beauty

by Staff

MASSACHUSETTS — History comes to life almost everywhere in Massachusetts, and a road trip to any one of those places would be a righteous use of your leisure time.

The Hood Milk Bottle sits outside the Boston Children’s Museum. (Shutterstock/Jay Yuan)

Conjure up Salem’s witchy past: The coastal beauty and charming shopping and entertainment districts are reason enough to take a Salem road trip, even without the pull of the notorious 1692 witch trials. Some 200 people were suspected of practicing witchcraft and 20 were executed. Most of the physical history of this dark chapter has been removed, and the story is mainly told in plaques, cemeteries, guided tours a nd local lore. More whimsically, the “Bewitched” statue featuring actress Elizabeth Montgomery pays tribute to the filming of the TV sitcom’s seventh season in Salem.

If you haven’t already planned this road trip, do it now or put it off for later because Salem is a busy place in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Spots to see include the Salem Witch Museum; Proctor’s Ledge, the rocky ledge suspected to be an execution site for many years; and an attraction called Gallows Hill and The Lost Museum at what was formerly thought to be the execution site.

The salt box home at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead is the only remaining home of a person who was tried for witchcraft (the 71-year-old grandmother, wife of a local artisan, was exonerated). The site also has a reproduction of the 1672 Salem Village Meeting House, the site of many of the early hearings surrounding what is now called “the Salem witchcraft hysteria.”

The Old Burying Point Cemetery is supposedly the place where the corpses of all 20 suspected witches were unceremoniously buried without headstones. The cemetery is said to be haunted by the ghost of Judge John Hathorne, the chief examiner in the trials. The Witch House was once owned by another judge in the trials, Jonathan Corwin, but has no relationship to the actual trials.

The Witch House was once owned by one of the judge’s involved in the famous witch trials. (Shutterstock/Ale Volpi)

Beyond the Lizzie Borden legacy: The Lizzie Borden House, a bed and breakfast operating at the site of one of the most gruesome, unsolved double murder cases in history, isn’t the only reason to go to the Fall River, the site of the Battleship Cove and Fall River Heritage State Park. Go for the food, too. Nearly half of the residents of Fall River are of Portuguese descent and, as a result, the area offers a vibrant food scene with everything from cooked chourico sausage links and grilled meats to finely crafted pastries.

The Braga Bridge at Heritage State Park in Fall River is shown at twilight. (Shutterstock/NayaDadara)

Still, the unsolved grisly murders of Andrew Borden and his wife, Abby, in 1892 remain a fascination of sleuths. People who have stayed at the B&B have reported seeing figures moving about the room. Doors have been known to move and rocking chairs have been known to rock on their own, according to other local ghost stories. Others say the haunting is hype. But whether it is or it isn’t, there’s plenty to do around Fall River to relive the Borden history.

The Lizzie Borden House looks much as it did when the Borden family lived there. The books read by Lizzie Borden, accused and acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother, and other artifacts remain on display. The floorboards are still stained with Andrew Borden’s blood. (Shutterstock/EQRoy)

Live in the present: Sure, Cape Cod has a historic past — after all, Provincetown, on its northern tip, is where the Mayflower landed in 1620. For all of its historic significance, Provincetown has an eclectic vibe with shops, art galleries, eateries and a vibrant LGBTQ+ community.

The beach at Provincetown is a popular road trip destination. (Shutterstock/lunamarina)

The hook-shaped peninsula is also one of the best places in Massachusetts to live in the present, especially in the summertime when the sandy beaches and dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore call. There are plenty of quaint villages and lighthouses to explore. An olfactory delight awaits at the Cape Cod Lavender Farm.

Chatham, located in the “elbow” of the Cape Cod arm, is a good overnight spot. Surrounded by water on three sides, it has more than 1,000 acres of conservation land. The Chatham Pier Fish Market is popular for obvious reasons, but also because it’s a great place to watch seals. The Chatham Lighthouse is a must-see.

The lighthouse in Chatham and the red-roofed keeper’s house are road trip bucket list locations. (Shutterstock/NayaDadara)

Skip the beach and take in the Massachusetts Berkshires: Save a tour of the Massachusetts Berkshires, the state’s third most popular tourist destination behind Boston and Cape Cod, until the peak of fall leaf-peeping season if you can. There’s something for everyone on this U.S. Highway 7 road trip — abundant opportunities for hiking, biking and kayaking, but also art, history, music, antiquing and great food. Photographers will love the rolling beauty of the Berkshires.

The Berkshires in Massachusetts offer pastoral views of rolling hills. (Shutterstock/Albert Pego)

Some places to get out and stretch your legs — and your imagination — are the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge and Great Barrington, which has a great main street district filled with boutiques, theaters and restaurants.

The Berkshire Mountains road trip combines art, culture, and stunning landscapes, making it a must-visit destination for all types of travelers.

Norman Rockwell’s studio is nestled in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. (Shutterstock/James Kirkikis)

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