Are you an early American history buff? Want to brush up on America’s formative years while immersing yourself in luxury? Look no further than the wide variety of Massachusetts’ bed and breakfast inns where you can explore a kinder, gentler America in comfort and style.
Steeped in the lore and history of the early days of our nation, you can find bed and breakfast inns statewide to suit any taste and budget. Central to the bed and breakfast industry across New England, Massachusetts perhaps could be considered the flagship state when it comes to B&B hospitality.
Perhaps no other locale better represents the classic American summer vacation than spending a week at the beach on Cape Cod. Grand style and genteel culture greet those who are up for fun in the surf while being treated to fresh-caught seafood served up by their Massachusetts B&B hosts.
Plymouth, just south of Boston, is famous for its Rock where the Pilgrims first landed. Provincetown and Rockport can argue the claim of being the easternmost town in the state and are either a long drive or a short boat ride away from each other across Cape Cod Bay.
Rockport is on the mainland and not far from the conveniences of Boston. Provincetown, on the other hand, might as well be in the middle of the Gulf Stream, though it’s nestled in the protective crook at the tip of Cape Cod peninsula.
Not a fan of the summer heat and humidity? Head west to the cooler highlands of the Berkshires in the western portion of the state. Revel in spring and autumn color, chilly mornings with fog-shrouded valleys and farms as you unwind with Henry David Thoreau.
East, west, or in between, cozy, comfortable inns are just a short drive but a world away from either New York or Boston.
The bed and breakfast inns of Massachusetts connect deeply with some of America’s earliest history. The first B&Bs were simple hotels, rustic restaurants, and pubs. These inns formed the initial network of waystations and stopovers travelers depended on as they made their way across the country.
Of course, the original structures of most of them have long since vanished. Some B&Bs, however, have retained a wall here, a broken piece of foundation there, or a frame of windows whose glass may have glimpsed Revolutionary War soldiers. Seen as portals to the past, great care has been taken to protect these relics from the ravages of time and renovation.
These inns with their connection to the past are extraordinary. In a world that seems to be changing at an ever-quickening pace, it’s refreshing to spend some time surrounded by walls that welcomed many from the bygone era that nurtured this great country’s beginnings.
Because there are thousands of B&Bs to choose from across the state, a historical tour is a great way to sample numerous inns and revisit our nation’s early history. In a condensed area like Boston, plan on a night’s stay in each of five inns. You’ll have a much better understanding of the region’s rich history as you build your B&B resume for future visits.
For those looking for action to enhance their visit, there is no shortage of activities. The challenge is choosing.
In a seaside, world-class city like Boston, everything under the sun is available with a couple of taps on the smartphone. From arts and culture to museums and galleries, to taking in a game at one of the sports coliseums, it could take weeks to sate one’s appetite for all there is to see and do.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is one of the finest in the United States. With a focus on the thirty-fifth US president’s upbringing, education, military service, and political career, the museum also features in-depth exhibits on the Kennedy family. The Museum of Fine Arts is a must-see as well. With over 450,000 exhibits, it is one of the largest fine arts museums in the country.
The New England Aquarium is another outstanding attraction that houses a giant ocean tank containing over 2000 sea creatures of all shapes and sizes. Check out one of the champion-caliber sports teams when they’re in town and pay a visit to our version of Rome’s Coliseum at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
For those history buffs, the Freedom Trail is an absolute must. Running the boulevards and back streets across 2.5 miles, this tour will connect you with 16 historically significant locations in our nation’s fledgling days. This trail by itself is worth the trip to Boston, as no other American city has such a rich tapestry of our history on display in such a compressed and compelling way.
One might be forgiven for thinking first of Boston and perhaps then Cape Cod when Massachusetts comes to mind. Two of the most iconic areas in our nation are located on the east coast. And with good reason, there is a lot to do and see throughout the region.
But for those who prefer a quieter visit, or time and space to relax, hike, wander, or find a secluded place to read, there are ample locations to dial down and rebalance elsewhere in the state that are attractive in their own right.
A simple online search will pull up dozens of places scattered across the state where one can avoid the crowds and simply unwind.
Monument Mountain in Great Barrington is one of the most sought-after natural features in the state. Squaw Peak affords probably the best view of the southern Berkshires. The views from this promontory can be breathtaking during the fall; however, plan your visit carefully to avoid the like-minded crowds.
Walden Pond is known for its name-sake film from 1981 starring Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda. Certainly on the list of things to do, but it’s cool because it’s natural and inspired a great story.
The many lakes and rivers are vestiges left over from the last glacial age approximately 12,000 years ago when underlying rock strata were scraped, twisted, and buckled by the pressure of sometimes miles-thick ice sheets above. With eons of time and the forces of erosion rounding off the uplifted, fractured rock, rounded mountain tops, hills, valleys, river bottoms, and gorges provide endless trails with pastoral settings perfect for quiet hikes while reconnecting with nature.
Yes, the big cities have their trappings. And the seashore is a magnet for that time in the surf and sun. But when the soul craves something away from the action and the noise, much good can be attained by seeking the solace you will find when you embrace Massachusetts’ widespread natural features.
Even in a relatively small state like Massachusetts, there is a great deal of diversity when looking for fun, educational, and historical things to do. Boston is a world-class city located near some of the finest beaches anywhere around the country. A beautiful set of gently rolling mountains lies to the west, and small towns and villages populate the state’s central portion where there is a setting for everyone to find their piece of peace to satisfy the soul.
If one has to pick an area, though, that provides the highest concentration of things to see and do, the coast is hands down the place to be. Names like Martha’s Vineyard, Hyannis, Nantucket, and Falmouth conjures images of a small, weather-beaten cottage tucked among the sentry-like dunes. Sailboats languishing at anchor, gulls wheeling for a snack, and the blue-green surf endlessly flirting with the beaches are a siren song for those who love the seashore.
For lighthouse lovers, Martha’s Vineyard is the perfect stop. No less than three of these coastal relics still shine brightly on the darkest nights notifying mariners of the dangers nearby. They also provide breathtaking views of the surrounding Vineyard Sound area.
Check out the Steamship Authority in Hyannis and treat the kids to a day at Pirate Adventures Hyannis. For some wildlife viewing head to Mashpee National Wildlife Area just east of Falmouth. And for the ultimate getaway, Nantucket will do the trick. It’s an island all of its own. Rentals are the way to go because the price tags on single-family homes average $2.3 million!
The climate across Massachusetts varies between hot and humid in the summer months to cold and snowy over the long winters. There is abundant precipitation owing to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean in the east. The mountains to the west see consistent snowfall totals drawing moisture from the interior parts of New England and even Lake Ontario well to the west.
This bodes well for skating enthusiasts who take advantage of the innumerable lakes and ponds that freeze over as well as the snowy hills and trails for cross country skiers. Although the ocean moderates winter chill in and around the Boston area, weather systems that roil up the coast from the mid-Atlantic region can bring ferocious storms, heavy surf, and high wind, rain, and snow.
All things considered, the weather in Massachusetts can play havoc with the best-laid plans for a vacation. But allowing for the weather’s foibles, there is endless fun to be had, whether cavorting in the surf or shushing down a winter trail in the highlands.
Ok, the fun part first. From world-renown items like Boston baked beans and Boston cream pie to famous brands like Sam Adams beer and Friendly’s Ice Cream, Massachusetts is no stranger to culinary delights.
Looking a bit deeper on the menu, fresh seafood from fishing communities such as Cape Cod, Nantucket, Provincetown, and Falmouth, it almost doesn’t matter what the sides are when your dinner was alive in the ocean just hours ago. And an excellent way to start a brawl is to complain about a local bistro’s clam chowder. Red, white? Spicy, smooth? It all depends on the pallet but figure out your fav because as friendly as these seafood servers are, even they have their limits with diners who don’t know their chowder. And for dessert, that Boston cream pie will cool off any heat you’ve ingested. Wash it down with a Sam Adams for good measure and you’ll be fit as a fiddle. As you consider your comfy midday snack, toss down a couple of Fig Newtons, born and bred in Newton, Massachusetts.
In our ultra-modern culture, it’s not even a chore to locate any type of food you desire and have it delivered to your door in minutes. But when in Massachusetts, go local to seek out these tasty treats regardless of whether you’re at the coast, mid-state, or high up in the Berkshires. I’ll bet your B&B can have some Ubered and on your table within the hour.
In a word, nostalgia. What better way to immerse yourself in the history of our nation’s early days than a stay in a historic inn that actually might have been around at that time?
Another consideration for a B&B stay is service. While there are countless hotels that cater to every whim and fancy, the B&B is much more intimate. Because you’re actually sharing space with the homeowners, you are subject to a higher degree of that personal touch often missing in a hotel experience. The innkeepers undoubtedly have stories stretching back decades, if not centuries, to give you a keen sense of what it was like to live in the area at that time.
You also have the pleasure of experiencing their taste in everything from charming interior design, to art and furniture heirlooms, to their style of meal preparation. Many visitors rate their stay heavily on host-friendliness and with good reason. A relationship develops very quickly between hosts and guests, and the host’s passion for their calling is evident in the way they care for their guests.
Whether you choose a Victorian-style property or one that’s more upscale in the boutique range, you can count on many of the innkeepers possessing a comprehensive knowledge of their local region. With any luck, you may be sharing the home of an early patriot’s descendants – talk about a body of knowledge!
Other considerations may include a full-service concierge for your getaway. These professionals are trained in the local history and pride themselves on their in-depth knowledge of the politics and events that shape the present-day culture.
And depending on the layout of the property, you may opt for some greater privacy and choose a carriage house or captain’s quarters that are a bit removed from the main house. This is all part of the fun of planning out your vacation, and there is an endless number of B&B types to meet your every desire.
A most interesting juxtaposition of the Massachusetts bed and breakfast is the deep historical context overlaid by today’s up-to-the-minute, modern amenities. Private baths have been around since the days of Bathsheba, but with whirlpool jets? The peak highlight of any visit after a hard day of sightseeing is returning to your sanctuary for a soak in a tension-melting Jacuzzi. Then slip between high-quality linens for an exquisite night's slumber to round off the day.
Missed some emails (oh snap)? Maybe the latest happenings on the sports fields? Not to worry, wifi has you covered. And unless you’re in the middle of a tech detox, there’s most likely a widescreen tucked away somewhere that will provide the needed fix.
By definition, the B&B culinary feature is what makes or breaks a guest’s visit. As noted earlier, many guests rate their stay on the friendliness and hospitality of their host. The next most important feature for many guests is that all-important first meal of the day. And it stands to reason that because the chef and staff have only one meal to concentrate on, all their focus goes into breakfast.
Need to get gone quickly and attack the day’s list of must-see attractions? Plan on a continental breakfast so you can maximize your time first thing in the morning. That’s one of the attractions to the B&B experience – customized service with a smile. Many innkeepers delight in pleasing their guests because, well, that’s what they’re in business to do.
Additional considerations for your B&B stay may include them being pet, family, or singles-friendly. In today’s on-demand culture, there are numerous other categories to be searched and no doubt found. So it’s a good idea to give some thought to the type of experience you desire at the outset of your vacation planning and begin with that property type in mind.
Because of the relatively small size of Massachusetts, those native to the state will typically choose to drive. Escaping the hordes of Boston for points west and the cooler uplands of the Berkshires is but a few hour’s drive. And likewise for those headed east from the rural parts of the state.
Arriving by air from out of state? The good news is there are numerous national and international airlines serving Boston’s Logan International Airport. New York’s JFK and LaGuardia, and Newark International Airport are nearby options as well.
Once on the ground, any of these large airports have fleets of rental cars and buses to get you anywhere you need to go. Equally as important, though, is how to get around once you’ve arrived at your destination.
More good news. A rental car is the conventional way to go, but if you’re going to be in Boston for any length of time, Uber, Lyft, and the standard taxi will suffice for timely transportation and eliminate the hassle of driving in big-city traffic, not to mention finding convenient parking.
Beach bound and eschewing the four-wheelers all the way? Check with your B&B host - they may provide fat-tire beach cruiser bikes to handle any terrain. But short of that, you can always rent a bike for the length of your stay.
And of course, there’s always the time-honored method, finding places you want to see within walking distance. Those wishing to stretch their legs while on vacation will find no shortage of hikes, trails, beaches, and city blocks to traverse on foot. Not a bad idea after one of the sumptuous B&B breakfasts your host has stuffed you with!
With so many quality Massachusetts bed and breakfast experiences to choose from, where to start? There are many bnbfinder Diamond Collection properties we recommend stretching across the state from the seashore to the Berkshires. Coastal inns include beautiful properties such as The Woods Hole Inn and The Palmer House Inn in Falmouth, the Hampton Terrace Inn, The Garden Gables Inn, and The Rockwood Inn all located in Lenox.
For the best bed and breakfast in seaside pampering, Nantucket boasts many first-rate inns such as The Seven Sea Street Inn and The Brass Lantern Inn. Polished from stem to stern, these inns are timeless, classic settings perfect for that romantic bed and breakfast experience you’ve always dreamed of for years.
As captivating as the coastal inns are, they have their competition cut out for them in the western uplands. Archetypal inland country inns such as The Deerfield Inn in the northwest is a fabulous getaway and conveniently located just a short drive from a major interstate highway.
The best of the Berkshires include Shaker Mill Inn in West Stockbridge as well as the palatial Windflower Inn in Great Barrington. These great old houses inspire the romance and sentimentality of bygone eras that still reverberate through our nation today.
In addition to the pet, child, and family-oriented inns listed earlier, have a look at properties that cater to the romantic, haunted, or various themes. As our population ages, there is an increasing number of inns whose features and design include amenities for the disabled.
As mentioned earlier, the bed and breakfast inns of Massachusetts remind us of all that is good about our nation. Constructed during a time that could not possibly imagine the world today, come and immerse yourself in the best that B&Bs have to offer. Rest, rejuvenate, and rebalance. Your heart, body, and soul will benefit from the connection you make to the past while you luxuriate in the amenities of today.