A perfect state to road trip, Massachusetts scenic drives cover many of the best things to do in Massachusetts. Scenic drives in MA explore all parts of the state. For example, the Old Kings Highway takes you through some of the prettiest parts in Cape Cod while the Mohawk Trail is one of the most scenic drives in Western Massachusetts. In our roundup of the 10 best scenic drives in Massachusetts, these Massachusetts scenic byways take you through rolling countryside, coastal towns and majestic forests.
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Scenic Drives in Massachusetts: Near Boston
One of the best scenic coastal drives Massachusetts offers, the Essex Coast Scenic Byway takes you through the Massachusetts North Shore.
Easily accessible from Boston, the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway can be done in a (long) day trip from Boston. This North Shore area is so charming and beautiful though, we think you would want to do a series of weekend getaways to the many small towns and Massachusetts state parks to fully appreciate the area.
Likewise the Battle Road Scenic Byway is near Boston. Both MA scenic drives are full of early American history and historic buildings. Just like some of the scenic drives near Bennington Vermont, these scenic drives in Massachusetts really are a window into Colonial New England.
Essex Coastal Scenic Byway
One of the most popular scenic drives in Massachusetts lies north of Boston between Lynn and Salisbury along Route 127 and Route 127A. There are 14 attractive communities along this scenic byway.
You can expect stunning scenic views, historic architecture, and plenty of fun activities to enjoy.
You can tack on to the main scenic byway the Cape Ann Loop (Route 127) which runs for 27 miles for beautiful coastal towns. We highly recommend doing this North Shore Loop.
These are the some of the places you will pass through on this MA scenic drive.
- Castle Hill on the Crane Estate and nearby Crane Beach in Ipswich
- State parks like Halibut Point State Park and Maudsley State Park
- Salem of the famous witch trials and the excellent Peabody Essex Museum
- Newburyport and nearby Plum Island with more beautiful beaches and its wildlife refuges
- Amesbury which has the Lowell Boat Shop (America’s oldest working boat shop)
- Rockport for Motif No. 1 (a fishing shack that is one of the most painted buildings in the USA)
- Gloucester has the famous fisherman’s memorial (an 8 foot tall bronze state of a fisherman commemorating all the lives lost at sea while plying their trade)
- Make time to stop on your road trip to check out the towns such as the antique stores in Essex, eat great seafood like fried clams at The Clam Box in Ipswich or go swimming at one of the fantastic beaches like Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Battle Road Scenic Byway
Massachusetts was the starting point for many defining events in US history including the pivotal American Revolution. Battle road runs along the estimated path that English foot soldiers followed in 1775.
Arlington, Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord are all scattered along this 16-mile road. Historic sites include the Minute Man National Historical Park in Lincoln, Uncle Sam’s Memorial Statue in Arlington and the National Heritage Museum in Lexington.
Scenic Drives in Massachusetts: Cape Cod
Cape Cod is known for its charming small towns and beautiful beaches. A drive along the Old Kings Highway features some of the oldest towns established in the USA.
Old Kings Highway (Route 6A)
Old Kings Highway travels through Cape Cod from Bourne to Orleans along the north of Cape Cod. You are never too far from the sandy beaches and cranberry bogs of Cape Cod.
The road passes through towns in Cape Cod like Sandwich and Barnstable that have lovely colonial homes. Along the way you will pass famous sites like the Jonathan Young Windmill in Orleans, Nickerson State Park in Brewster and stunning beaches like Sandy Neck Beach in Barnstable.
Scenic Drives in Central Massachusetts
These two scenic drives in Central Massachusetts pass through more fertile farmland that make up the heart of Massachusetts. This area is the famed Pioneer Valley with such well-known areas as Springfield and Amherst.
Connecticut River Scenic Byway
(39 miles in Massachusetts)
With more than 1000 historic sites and buildings on the Connecticut River Scenic Byway, this route is one of the best scenic drives in Massachusetts if you’re a history lover. This area has been settled since the 1600’s when settlers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony spread westwards towards Springfield for greener pastures. This area has some of the most fertile land in all of New England.
The Connecticut River Scenic Byway includes popular stops like the Hadley Farm Museum near Northampton, the open-air museum Historic Deerfield and Summit House on Mount Holyoke.
In the fall, this road becomes especially spectacular with bright orange and red hues that cover the trees and rural communities and farms embracing the autumn harvest traditions.
Just like the Connecticut River itself which is New England’s longest river, the Connecticut River Scenic Byway runs through multiple states including Vermont and New Hampshire. The Massachusetts section starts in Northfield and leads to South Hadley.
Lost Villages Scenic Byway (Route 122 North)
This scenic byway gets its name from the villages and towns that were flooded by the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir. These historic villages were settled by Europeans along paths used for centuries by Native American tribes previously.
Route 122 is filled with natural beauty as it wends its way past farmland, small towns, rivers and forests linking the towns of Orange and Paxton.
Things to see along the Lost Villages Scenic Byway include the Audubon Society Cook’s Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary and the 1000 acres of the Federated Women’s Club State Forest. There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor sports like hiking and kayaking. Make sure to stop at Carter and Stevens Farm Store in Barre for great food and beer.
Scenic Drives in Western Massachusetts
The scenic drives in Western Massachusetts includes the mountains and forests of the Berkshires.
Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway
Towns in the Berkshires are some of the most cultured and picturesque in the country so why should the drives in this area be any different? Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway meanders all along the foothills of the Berkshires and is charming and rustic.
You will travel along the same rivers and streams that guided native Americans between the valleys and it offers a great alternative to the much busier Massachusetts Turnpike. This 35-mile stretch will take you through the towns of Lee, Becket, Chester, Huntington, and Russell.
Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway
This trail is more than 100 years old and is one of the first scenic drives in Massachusetts, and the country, built for auto-touring. Sixty-nine miles of stunning road winds through the forests, mountains, and historic towns of north-western MA. This Massachusetts scenic byway is especially known for its beautiful autumn landscape.
Starting in North Adams, you ascend the hills towards the iconic Hairpin Turn towards Hoosac Mountain’s Western summit. The descent takes you through Deerfield Valley into the Connecticut Valley and ultimately ends in the quaint town of Deerfield.
Mount Greylock Scenic Byway
Mount Greylock is one of the most iconic sites in Massachusetts and also offers one of the best scenic drives in MA. Mount Greylock is both a state park and a national park. On a clear day, the breathtaking views from the top show you as far as 90 miles away.
It is only a short drive but you will appreciate driving to the summit of Mount Greylock if you are not enthusiastic about hiking to the top through dense forest. The byway stops at the Mount Greylock Summit (the highest peak in the state) and the Western Gateway Heritage State Park will take up plenty of time. Start your route in Adams and head towards Williamstown.
Route 112 Scenic Byway
Route 112 Scenic Byway takes you through more farmland, small towns and forests. Some of the things you’ll find along the way include:
- hiking and biking trails in the DAR state forest
- water sports and fishing at the 200 acre Littleville Lake
- the scenic Bridge of Flowers in the town of Shelburne Falls
- the boyhood home of American poet, William Cullen Bryant
One of the most charming places (and hidden gems in Massachusetts) you will find along Route 112 is the Three Sisters Sanctuary. Located in Goshen, the sanctuary is a whimsical garden made to commemorate the life of a local artist’s daughter (a perfect place to stop in Western Massachusetts with kids!).
Route 116 Scenic Byway
Scenic Route 116 Scenic Byway is once again small towns and open farm land (surprise!).
Some of the things to do on Route 116 Scenic Byway include:
- swimming, hiking and camping in the 12000 acre Savoy Mountain State Forest
- gawking at the the Cheshire Cheese Press monument commemorating the 1802 gift to President Jefferson of a 1200 cheese wheel.
- taking another pass at Historic Deerfield if you didn’t have a chance to do it on the Connecticut River Scenic Byway.
- pretending its Christmas every day at the enormous Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield.
This Massachusetts Scenic Byway goes from Sunderland to Adams. Adams is a great town to visit for its many historic connections (like the Susan B. Anthony birthplace museum) but also its outdoorsy activities. like the 12 mile Ashultiwicook Rail Trail and nearby Mount Greylock as well as Natural Bridge State Park. Nearby North Adams is famous for the renowned Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
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