The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation manages one of the largest state parks systems in the country. Its 450,000 acres comprise forests, rural and urban parks, greenways, historic sites and landscapes, seashores, lakes, ponds, reservoirs and watersheds.
Places to go/things to do:
- Cool off and go swimming in lakes, ponds, pools, rivers, even Boston Harbor
- Get physical: hike , bike and mountain bike.
- Get back to nature and camp under the stars in 28 state forests and parks. For a twist on traditional camping, reserve a yurt at Otter River State Forest.
- Paddle on ponds and rivers.
- Explore the Boston Harbor Islands, just a 45-minute ferry ride from downtown Boston.
More things to do in state parks.
More bike trails and routes.
Visiting Boston? Stroll, picnic, and play in the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a brand-new one-mile linear park that replaced Boston’s elevated highway.
The great diversity of the Massachusetts landscape ranges from mountain peaks to pristine barrier beaches. The Trustees of Reservations is at the forefront of protecting properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value – 100 properties and 25,000 acres to date. On Boston’s North Shore, Greenbelt protects 15,000 acres of river, trail, and other natural corridors, coastal systems and visually intact landscapes.
Places to go/things to do:
- Climb to the summit of Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, and you’ll see why it’s been an inspiration to poets, novelists, and painters for almost two centuries.
- Roam the four coastal drumlins, rocky shore, and marshes that comprise World’s End in Hingham. Enjoy spectacular views of Hingham harbor and the Boston skyline.
- Check the tide charts, then walk across the mud flats at low tide to Crowninshield Island in Marblehead. Explore the woods, salt marsh, and tidal pools before the tide laps back in.
- Hike through a dense forest to Royalston Falls whose waters rush through a deep gorge, then plunge 45 feet into a basin.
Experience the wonders of nature up close. MassWildlife, the state agency responsible for protecting wildlife, has mapped out 67 prime viewing sites. Look for the brown binocular road signs indicating the sites.
Mass Audubon protects more than 34,000 acres of ecologically significant land in Massachusetts, and it is a leader in applying green technology to its existing and new buildings. Its sanctuaries represent some of the most spectacular habitats in Massachusetts, ranging from beaches and salt marshes on Cape Cod to woodlands and mountains in the Berkshires.
Places to go/things to do:
- See snowy owls and shore birds at Joppa Flats Education Center in Newburyport
- Spot rare wildflowers at High Ledges in Shelburne
- Enjoy spectacular views of a salt marsh and a barrier beach at Felix Neck on Martha’s Vineyard
- Keep your eye out for moose, deer, bobcats, while hiking 12 miles of trails at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. The sanctuary’s 1300 foot summit offers excellent hawk watching in the fall.
- Watch swallows catching insects in the meadows at Moose Hill
- More places that focus on flora, fauna, or ecology: The Arnold Arboretum and The Forest Hills Cemetery, both in Jamaica Plain, Boston; The New England Aquarium, Boston; The Harvard Museum of Natural History, and Mount Auburn Cemetery, both in Cambridge; Garden in the Woods, Framingham; Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston; The EcoTarium, Worcester; South Shore Natural Science Center, Norwell; The Polly Hill Arboretum, West Tisbury, Martha’s Vineyard; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Ocean Science Exhibit Center, Woods Hole; Great Falls Discovery Center, Turners Falls.
DOWN ON THE FARM
Massachusetts’ farmers welcome visitors. Here’s how to get a taste of rural life:
- Visit a farm: pick your own fruit, buy a bunch of flowers or some herbs, take a tour of an organic farm, help feed llamas, or treat yourself to homemade ice cream. Don’t want to go home? You can stay on a farm.
- Buy just-picked fruits, vegetables, and flowers from pick-your-own farms, farm stands and farmers’ markets.
- Head for a sugar house as soon as the sap starts to rise in the spring, then stop by a sugarhouse restaurant and fill up on pancakes drizzled with the first maple syrup of the season.
- Follow the Wine and Cheese Trail. Mmmm!
- See community-supported farms at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln and Moose Hill in Sharon.
- Check out farm and food events and food festivals and tours.
GREEN IS FUN
- Check out the New England Aquarium’s Blue Impact video and see how global warming is affecting Right Whales, sea turtles, sea jellies, even the water levels in Boston harbor. Then visit the Aquarium’s Giant Ocean Tank.
- In the spring, see river herring begin their annual trek up coastal streams and rivers via man-made fish ladders.
- Visit a fish hatchery.
- Celebrate all things Green at the annual Boston GreenFest: family activities, information, demonstrations, music, food, and more. Takes place mid-August every year.
- Learn about how turbines transform wind into green energy at the Museum of Science’s Catching the Wind exhibit. And track energy production in the Museum’s own Wind Lab, a group of nine wind turbines mounted on the Museum roof.
- Head out to Stellwagen Bank on a whale watch cruise and learn all about these magnificent creatures and their marine habitats from on-board naturalists.
HOW TO BE A GREEN TRAVELER
Before you leave home:
- Change your thermostat to reduce heat/AC use; lower the setting on your hot water heater; unplug chargers, TVs, and other electronics.
- Bring a bag to recycle containers en route.
- Consider alternatives to driving: train, bus, and plane.
- If you’re driving, follow these eco tips.
- Pack reusable water containers – avoid the high environmental cost of one-use plastic bottles.
- Bring good walking shoes – it’s the healthy way to get around.
During your Massachusetts getaway:
- Choose hotels and restaurants that have environmental programs in place.
- Participate in hotels’ Green programs: follow the towel re-use programs; use recycle bins; turn off heat, air conditioning, and lights when leaving your room; bring your own toiletries; use recycle containers.
- Get out of your car. Walk, bike, and take advantage of Massachusetts’ extensive public and private transportation network.
Cape and Islands Go Green Guide