Best of Massachusetts 2023Photo Credit : Christopher Ryan/Unsplash
Looking for fun things to do in Massachusetts this summer? With an eye on what’s new for 2023, Yankee’s editors have rounded up the best things to do, the best places to eat, and the best places to stay in Massachusetts. Headed to the city? Check out our spotlight guides to the best things to do in Boston and Worcester.
Best Massachusetts Bakery, Bread | Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Housatonic & Pittsfield
Decades before everyone began fiddling with sourdough, Richard Bourdon was learning the craft in his native Quebec, then in Holland and France. Today, he and his team mill their own whole grains and slowly ferment the flour into focaccia, baguettes, and extraordinary pizzas. For a sweet finish, don’t miss the cookies and the chocolate-studded boule.
Best Breakfast Spot in Massachusetts | The Baker, New Bedford
We love a carb-forward breakfast, and this bakery/café has mastered the form. There are homemade doughnuts (we love the crullers and the banana-Nutella doughnuts), egg sandwiches, tartines, biscuits, cinnamon buns, bagels, and linguica rolls, plus coffee drinks. New Bedford’s food scene is on the rise, and there’s no better place to start a day of exploratory noshing than here.
Best Date-Night Restaurant in Massachusetts | Blackfish, Truro
Maybe it’s the soft lighting, the tucked-away location, or the rustic touches of this converted former blacksmith’s shop. Either way, Blackfish is romantic. And the food is excellent: house-baked bread, tuna bolognese, and even a $15 burger for a cheap(er) date. Eric Jansen and team have elevated the Outer Cape food scene and, frankly, we’re in love.
Best Destination Brewery in Massachusetts | Tree House Brewing Co., Charlton
Tree House now has four locations in Massachusetts and one in Woodstock, Connecticut, but the Charlton campus/flagship remains the place to enjoy their signature juicy IPAs on beautifully landscaped grounds with a giant picnic pavilion. Add a rotating lineup of food trucks and live music and you have a party. Just be sure to pre-order your cans and draughts online—weekend lines can be a buzzkill.
Best Historic Restaurant in Massachusetts | Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield
The 18th-century building that now houses the Salem Cross Inn was the White family farmstead for eight generations, until the Salem family took it over in the 1950s, peeling back decades of modernization right down to the original hand-cut rosehead nails. History buffs can’t miss the Fireplace Feasts in the cold-weather months, with prime rib roasted on an 18th-century roasting jack, chowder made in a cast-iron cauldron, and mulled wine made with a hot poker.
Best Mexican Food in Massachusetts | La Chalupa y La Enchilada, Pittsfield
Cain Serrano cooked in some of the Berkshires’ top kitchens before opening this food truck, which he parks at various spots around Pittsfield, Lenox, and Great Barrington. We’ll follow him anywhere for his tortilla soup, tacos al pastor, barbacoa, dulce de leche churros, and chocoflan cakes. Check online for the day’s location.
Best New Restaurant in Massachusetts | Calico, Easthampton
When Coco and the Cellar Bar suddenly closed in 2021, Easthampton lost a nationally acclaimed destination restaurant. Happily, many of the original staff were able to regroup and fully reopen last August as Calico. They resurrected Coco’s famous buttermilk fried chicken and added new delights like heirloom tomato salad with basil oil and crispy Parmesan frico and terrific cocktails. The space is small, so book early—the press has caught on and, ahem, the cat’s out of the bag.
Best Massachusetts Seafood Shack | Sesuit Harbor Café, Dennis
The bayside villages of Dennis and East Dennis boast some of the Cape’s best beaches, with low-tide flats you can walk for miles. Right where the two towns meet, this charming seafood shack overlooking Sesuit Harbor serves stuffed lobster rolls, fresh oysters, excellent fried seafood, stuffies, and sashimi. Even better, they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the summer.
Best Massachusetts Campground | Shawme-Cromwell State Forest Campground, Sandwich
Campers of all kinds can find their happy place at Shawme. Bring a tent or an RV, or build your base camp at one of the park’s six yurts. Beachgoers have free access to nearby Scusset Beach, while landlubbers can explore the property’s 700-acre preserve. Kiddos of any age, meanwhile, will appreciate the playground and basketball courts. Best of all, you get a full helping of Cape fun for a fraction of the price you’d pay at a resort hotel.
Best Coastal Massachusetts B&B |Inn on the Sound, Falmouth
The views of Nantucket Sound and Martha’s Vineyard are this cliffside inn’s top lures, but its accessibility is a close second. A short drive from the Sagamore, the inn is a 10-minute walk to the Nantucket ferry and less than two miles from Falmouth’s lively downtown. Guests have access to the private beach across the street, while local favorite Falmouth Heights Beach is a short stroll away. All 12 guest rooms feature an updated coastal vibe, and several also include private balconies.
Best Eco-Friendly and “Green” Hotel in Massachusetts | Topia Inn, Adams
Solar panels and biofuel power this LEED Platinum–certified B&B, while the upscale decor and next-level amenities (chromatherapy spa tubs that use LED lights to accent the bubbling bath water, aromatherapy rain showers, organic linens) give a boost to the guest experience. Locally produced artwork and other pieces in each of the eight rooms amplify the inn’s beautiful Berkshires setting.
Best Massachusetts Spot for Pet Pampering | Cottages at Nantucket Boat Basin, Nantucket
At this seaside resort, pups are more than embraced—they’re doted on. The welcome package includes treat baskets, a personalized ID tag, a high-end therapeutic bed, and perhaps most important, an endless supply of tennis balls. A list of Nantucket’s numerous pet-friendly destinations is available when you’re ready to explore, or you can just consult Bailey the concierge, a Labrador mix who knows all the island’s ins and outs.
Best Renovated Massachusetts Resort | Pelham House Resort, Dennis Port
The Mid-Cape gets some time in the limelight at the recently renovated 27-room Pelham House Resort, which manages to exude coastal sophistication without pretension. Rooms and suites feature dead-on views of Nantucket Sound, while postcard-worthy vistas of breaking surf are on full display from the pool. Even better: The hotel’s private beach is just steps from your door, as are the sunset cocktails at the oceanfront firepits.
Best Romantic Overnight in Massachusetts | Nobnocket Boutique Inn, Vineyard Haven
You and your significant other can escape reality together at the secluded Nobnocket, tucked away on two acres of gardens and woodlands (a rarity on tiny Martha’s Vineyard). The seven-room hotel puts a twist on the traditional island inn by embracing a contemporary aesthetic—think spacious guest rooms and spa-like baths, several of which have soaking tubs. Nobnocket’s acclaimed gourmet breakfasts alone are a reason to return.
Best Massachusetts Spa Escape | Canyon Ranch, Lenox
Wellness and luxury go hand in hand at Canyon Ranch, the famed health resort nestled in the rolling beauty of the Berkshires. The Bellefontaine Mansion, a palatial Gilded Age estate turned wellness retreat, offers the perfect setting for guests to rest, recharge, and reinvigorate with a lineup of spa treatments, fitness classes, and programs that run the gamut, from nutritional guidance to group photography hikes. All meals and several perks are included in the rate.
Best Family-Friendly Resort in Massachusetts (Stay & Play) | Great Wolf Lodge, Fitchburg
Great Wolf cranks the fun volume to 11 with its outdoor themes, most notably its specialized hotel rooms such as the Grizzly Wolf Den Suite, which has an en-suite cave with built-in bunk beds. The water park waves are invigorating, while mini golf, a climbing wall, an arcade, and seven on-site dining options will have you mapping out your next family visit before you check out.
Best Dog Excursion in Massachusetts | Stodder’s Neck State Park, Hingham
Is it a state park, or is it a dog park without the designation? Happily, it’s both. Dog owners up and down the South Shore know this 23-acre park as the place to bring their pets for social play. The “neck” is a peninsula at the mouth of the Back River, which means the land is bounded by water on three sides; the fourth side is guarded by a sturdy stone wall. Expect to find a mix of off-leash and leashed dogs here, many of which come to play practically every day. The landscape varies from grasslands to woods to hills, while the water offers ample opportunity for cooling off.
Best Downtown Shopping in Massachusetts | Main Street, Northampton
Along the widest Main Street in New England, independent shops reign supreme. Crowds from the Five Colleges area flock to these sidewalks for shops like Beryl, a jewelry and decor store filled with Western Massachusetts artists’ wares, and A2Z Science & Learning, a toy store with a stegosaurus out front. Turn onto Strong Avenue for outdoor dining options; during the peak summer months, the street vibrates with live music. For serious deals, hit July’s sidewalk sale.
Best Factory Outlet in Massachusetts | Annie Selke, Pittsfield
The Pittsfield woolen mill that made uniforms for Civil War soldiers is now the headquarters, warehouse, and outlet for Annie Selke, the high-end textile company specializing in rugs and bedding. It has a massive following thanks in no small part to the durability of its products and its smile-inducing use of color, but it’s the outlet’s accessible prices that keep shoppers returning—and the annual tent sale in July is a particularly strong draw that brings customers from far and wide to hunt for deals.
Best Massachusetts Food Emporium | Portugalia, Fall River
The quickest way to describe this food oasis is to call it “the Eataly of Portuguese food.” But that moniker fails to capture how rooted it is in the South Coast Portuguese community, nor does it convey the care with which the Benavides family sources and markets its wares. From the designated salt cod room selling every grade and cut of this staple fish, to the wines, olive oils, tinned fish, cheeses, pottery, and prepared foods, every view and flavor transports you to the heart of Portugal. Start your visit at the café, order some pastéis de nata (custard tarts) and a coffee, then follow your senses through the aisles.
Best Mountain Biking Spot in Massachusetts | Thunder Mountain Bike Park, Charlemont
Thrill seekers find the speed they need at this downhill bike park designed by Gravity Logic, one of the country’s premier trail-building companies. Jumps, gaps, and other elevated features cater to experienced riders, while green cruisers await the rest of us. Powered by its on-site wind turbine and solar farm, Thunder Mountain offers not just lessons and rentals, but also accommodations including on-site camping.
Best New Massachusetts Attraction | Real Pirates, Salem
Salem’s newest immersive museum is devoted to the exploits of a band of pirates who could teach us all a thing or two about getting along. You’ll meet Captain “Black Sam” Bellamy, who offered his comrades—whether African, British, Dutch, or French—a democratic say in the pillaging and a fair share of the loot. Speaking of booty: Their ship, the Whydah, which was wrecked off the Cape Cod coast in 1717, holds the only real pirate treasure ever discovered. While much still remains below the bottom of the sea, you’ll see recovered ship artifacts and even touch silver coins brought up from the depths. For a gold-caliber experience, book a guided tour with an authentically attired pirate.
Best Stay-All-Day Beach in Massachusetts | Nantasket Beach, Hull
It doesn’t fly under the radar, but that’s the charm of this South Shore classic. Along with a sandy beach that stretches for more than three miles, you’ll find Paragon Boardwalk’s arcade, beer garden, and Park Carousel, which dates back to 1928. Cap off the day with a cone at Carousel Creamery, then stroll the Hull ArtWalk, a free installation extending from the sand to the town center. Best of all: Parking is plentiful.
Best Massachusetts Summer Performances | Groton Hill Music Center, Groton
A jam-packed summer of pop, country, jazz, and classical concerts will pack the lawn and 1,000-seat hall—the architectural and acoustical showpiece of the Nashoba Valley’s new destination for music listening and learning. Built of timber and stone in homage to the 110-acre former apple orchard on which the venue’s sited, its rusticity is illusionary: This is a state-of-the-art performance space. Who can you look forward to seeing? Artists the caliber of … wait for it … Leslie Odom Jr.
Best Used Bookstore in Massachusetts | Raven Used Books, Northampton
Descend five steps into a labyrinth of book-filled nooks. It seems like Raven’s been here forevermore, but this place to score intellectual fodder at reasonable prices is 30 years young and thriving. Whether you’re helping a child pick out a new favorite or scanning walls crammed with titles on every imaginable topic, there’s only one thing that disappoints: Loud ceiling creaks are coming from a clothing store upstairs, not a second story of storybooks.
Check out our full 2023 Best of New England Summer Travel Guide to find our current editors’ picks in all six New England states.