Andrea Sperling

Quick escapes that will help you make the most of your Beantown visit.

May 07, 2016

While Boston's vibrant culture and history (not to mention its restaurants and bars) can keep you busy for days, there is no denying the beautiful towns just outside of the city. Here are five day trips from Beantown that will help you explore the New England coast.

Concord and Lexington

The British might have deemed these two towns worthy of a fight in 1775, but modern-day visitors appreciate Concord and Lexington, just twenty miles west of Boston, for their bucolic beauty. Henry David Thoreau spent two years in a cabin on Walden Pond here, and you can take a cue from the writer, too. Pack a picnic and find a spot for lunch on the five-mile Battle Road Trail. For a touch of the modern, stop by French Lessons boutique in Concord for fine shoes, handbags, and accessories (8 Walden St., 978-369-6227) before heading to dinner in Lexington at Artistry on the Green, the Relais & Chateaux restaurant at the Inn at Hastings Park.

Kennebunkport

A favorite spot for day-trippers, Kennebunkport is just 90 minutes north of the city. Famously known as the summer stomping grounds of the Bush family (you can see their compound on Walker's Point from the water), the quaint town offers plenty of shopping, like the aptly named Daytrip Society boutique. You'll have your pick of lobster rolls in Maine, but brave the line and opt for one doused in butter and mayo at The Clam Shack on the Kennebunk Bridge. For a more formal meal, head 15 minutes outside of town and dine at renowned chef Ken Oringer's Earth at Hidden Pond resort. The rustic-meets-luxury lodge is one of the best of Maine.

Portsmouth

This charming New Hampshire town is just one hour north of Boston. Shop family-owned boutiques like Gus & Ruby Letterpress for stationery, cards, and unique gifts before digging into a platter of fresh Island Creek oysters at Row 34, or enjoy breakfast all day at The Friendly Toast. Before you return, take the short trip over the Piscataqua River Bridge from Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine, for shopping at dozens of home and fashion outlet stores.

Provincetown

Avoid Cape Cod summer traffic, and take the 90-minute fast ferry on Boston Harbor Cruises from the Seaport into Provincetown Harbor. Rent a bike and ride the 5.25-mile loop from the Province Lands Visitors Center along the Cape Cod National Seashore. If you are feeling ambitious, add two miles to the ride and stop at Race Point Beach and Cove Beach. There is also shopping in the center of town on Commercial Street, and dinner at the Red Inn is a must for its inventive cuisine and expansive views of Cape Cod Bay and the Long Point lighthouses.

Rockport

Artists have flocked to this postcard-like town in Cape Ann just 40 miles northeast of Boston for more than 100 years because of its stunning natural light. Head to Rockport by car, or take the commuter rail on the Newburyport/Rockport line from Boston's North Station to the center of town. Wander up Bearskin Neck, a scenic stretch of art galleries, shops, and restaurants that were once fishermen shacks. Pick up a lobster roll or clam chowder at Roy Moore Lobster Co. and eat it overlooking the water (39 Bearskin Neck, 978-546-6696). Don't miss the handpicked home items at La Provence or Cynthia Curtis Pottery on Pigeon Cove.

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