Massachusetts may be one of the smallest states in the country, but that does not mean that there aren’t many people. It’s the 15th most populous state, with approximately seven million people calling it home. Massachusetts is one of four states to call itself a commonwealth, the other three are Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky. It is one of the six New England states.
Boston is the capital, and about 80 percent of the state’s population lives in the Greater Boston area. That doesn’t mean that you should only visit Boston, the entire state is worth visiting. If you’re looking to make that drive across Massachusetts, take the Mass Pike (I-90). It will take you, like Massachusetts native James Taylor sings, “from Stockbridge to Boston”. Here are six things that make Massachusetts unique.
Bay Staters (people from Massachusetts, since Massachusetts is the Bay State) sure love their sports! In Boston alone you will find all four major sports; the Boston Celtics basketball team, the Boston Bruins hockey team, the Boston Red Sox baseball team, and the New England Patriots football team. Not only are the teams historical, but the places where they play their home games are also as well. Fenway Park is arguably the best-loved field in Major League Baseball. It opened in 1912, and it is home to The Green Monster, which is a wall in left field.
Another reason why sports are unique in Massachusetts is because it seems to be a great state in which to invent new sports. Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts. Springfield is now home to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Four years later volleyball was invented in Holyoke by William Morgan. While most people believe that baseball was invented in 1839 by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York, there is evidence that points to a game called “base ball” in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1791. Great sports teams and a unique history of sports sets Massachusetts apart from the other states.
Massachusetts is filled with history, and in no place in the country is that history stranger than Salem. That’s because this is where the Salem Witch Trials took place. In 1692 and 1693 over 200 people were accused of witchcraft. Fourteen women and five men were hanged for the crime. One other man was crushed to death, and five more died in jail. Instead of trying to forget this grim piece of history, Salem celebrates it.
The best place to learn all about the Salem Witch Trials is the Salem Witch Museum. You can take a self-guided tour and learn all about this strange time.
You might also want to visit the Witch House, which was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin. Salem is not a town that shies away from its past.
Don’t think that Boston is all that there is to Massachusetts! The Berkshires (aka Berkshire County or the Berkshire Mountains) are as far west as you can go without crossing the New York State line. Part of the Green Mountains, Berkshire County is home to the highest point in the state, Mount Greylock.
The Berkshires are a great place to visit all year long. There’s skiing in the winter, lilacs in the spring, and incredible foliage each fall. The busiest time of the year is the summer, when the area becomes a cultural center. You’ll find theater, dance, and art. The main attraction during the summer months is Tanglewood. It’s the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The concerts range from classical, to the music of John Williams, to a popular artist series that always features the aforementioned James Taylor. The Berkshires may be in the same state as Boston, but that’s where the similarities end.
If you are a history buff, you need to visit Plymouth Rock at least once. This is where the Mayflower passengers disembarked back in 1620. The pilgrims referred to it as “a great rock” in their writings. After you see the rock, head over to the Mayflower II.
It’s a full-size replica of the original, and you will be shocked by the conditions that the pilgrims endured! You’ll also want to stop by nearby Plimouth Plantation (that spelling is correct). There are several different areas to visit, and you will leave with a new appreciation of the conveniences that you have in your life.
Cape Cod, or The Cape as it’s called by locals, is a beach lover’s paradise, especially in the summer months. Some people think that The Cape looks like an arm that is showing off its bicep muscle. The Cape is broken up into four sections; Upper Cape, Mid-Cape, Lower Cape, and Outer Cape. You can visit the beach, take a mini cruise, or see a lighthouse.
One of the most famous parts of Cape Cod is really an island slightly to the south, Martha’s Vineyard. This is of course where the Kennedy family of politicians lived. Cape Cod is a fantastic place to visit during the summer because you can enjoy the beach and comfortable temperatures. Visiting during the winter months is not as good an idea, Cape Cod winters can be brutal.
The American Revolutionary War
Much of the history of the United States of America started in Massachusetts. You can visit Lexington and Concord, which is where the earliest battles were fought in the American Revolution. A must-see in Concord is The Old North Bridge, which is where the first battle was won. Minute Man National Historical Park will take you back in time and allow you to feel as if you are experiencing the early days of the war. Another thing that Massachusetts has that you won’t find anywhere else in the country is the Freedom Trail. Located in Boston, this self-guided walking trail will take you to 16 different historic sites. You can see the Bunker Hill Monument, which is where the first major battle of the American Revolution was fought. Another stop is The Old North Church, where Paul Revere began his famous ride. These are just two of the sites that you’ll find when walking the Freedom Trail. Along its two and a half miles, you will see where the country was born. No other state has anything that comes close to that.