While people looking for a getaway may not automatically think of Massachusetts as their destination of choice, there are any number of places to visit and things to do in the state. While the ‘Bay State’ is the seventh smallest state in the country, it offers some very distinct regions. This means that there is something for everyone who visits. Massachusetts is a state rich in history and while there are a number of obvious locations one might be interested in visiting within the state, there are also quite a few hidden gems, such as the following 10.
Up first is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which can be found in Boston. This unique location in Massachusetts offers visitors a chance to experience Venetian elegance, a welcoming garden, plus an assortment of exhibits that are not the average museum fare. Visitors can check out unique memorabilia of the 19th Century, as well as paintings from artists such as Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Botticelli. The entire experience is a “feast for the senses” and one that is hard to forget. As a unique twist on admission discounts, if one has the name Isabella, entrance fees are free for life. There is also free admission on one’s birthday and if one is a Red Sox fan, wearing team gear means $2 off admission.
In Quincy, the Souther Tide Mill was built in 1806. This Massachusetts’ mill is one of the oldest tide mills in the area. Although the building is not currently open, fundraisers have been on-going in an effort to add signage around the building for people to learn more about the history of the mill, the area itself and the industrial uses over the past 150 years that the area has dealt with.
The Kringle Candle Company opened in Bernardston in 2010 and has since become a shopping destination. The candle company was founded by the son of the Yankee Candle Company founder, Michael Kittredge III. With these candles there is a slight twist on tradition, all of the wax is white, no matter what the scent. Not only is there a 10,000 square foot candle store, but there is also a Christmas Barn and a Chocolate Cottage. To round out the experience there is the Farm Table restaurant, an award-winning eatery, which serves lunches Tuesday to Sunday and dinner is available Thursday to Sunday.
Another one of the 10 hidden gems of Massachusetts is the Bridge of Flowers located in Shelburne Falls. This particular find is one-of-a-kind. From the first of April until the last day of October, the bridge features more than 500 different varieties of vines, flowers and shrubbery. All of this spans across approximately 400 feet. The bridge was originally a trolley bridge until 1928, when the railway company went out of business. It was then, that this Massachusetts treasure was transformed into the Bridge of Flowers.
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art which is located in Amherst is a celebration of both books and art. An understanding and appreciation for these books is actually part of their mission statement. This museum truly celebrates the art of picture books and is a center for education and discussion. There are three galleries in the 40,000 square foot museum, which host rotating exhibits of picture book art from across the globe.
Massachusetts has quite a few unique outdoor experiences, and for people who enjoy hiking there are any number of places to explore. One of those places can be found in Carlisle. The Great Brook Farm State Park offers visitors over 20 miles of trails. These trails are perfect for hikers, bikers, walkers and even horseback riders. Along the way, one might catch a glimpse of ruins such as old cellars and other left over relics from the parks time as a working farm. In fact, there is still a dairy farm on location, so after a refreshing hike one might grab some fresh ice cream that is homemade.
For literary buffs, one of the most historic hikes in the area comes from Great Barrington. Monument Mountain has had some very interesting visitors, among them Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. In fact, it is said that while hiking together, Melville was inspired to write Moby Dick and Hawthorne himself seemed inspired after he wrote that the summit reminded him of “a headless sphinx wrapped in a rich Persian shawl.”
Perhaps the oldest candy company in the United States is not so much a hidden gem, but it is definitely a must visit location in Salem. This Massachusetts village may be known for witches and the Salem Witch Trials, but the Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie is every bit as historic. The candy shop was first established in 1806 and has even been featured in O Magazine as part of Oprah’s favorite things.
The Forbes Library in Northampton is also home of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum. The museum has a collection of letters and exhibits related to Coolidge’s political career in Northampton, and even his time after he was president. There are also materials related to his wife and sons included in the museum. This is the only public library in the country that houses a presidential collection.
In what seems to be a hidden gem for people outside of Western Massachusetts, Holyoke is the home of the Volleyball Hall of Fame. In 1895, volleyball was invented at a local YMCA by William G. Morgan. Visitors of the Hall of Fame get to learn more about the sport’s history and witness exhibits revolving around achievements in volleyball.
Although this list of 10 hidden gems in Massachusetts could easily be expanded, this list offers just a taste of the variety that the state has to offer. With a rich history that easily dates back to Plymouth Rock and pre-Revolutionary War, the Bay State has something to offer for visitors and permanent residents alike.
By Kimberley Spinney
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – About Page
Souther Tide Mill – MUCH PROGRESS AT THE SOUTHER TIDE MILL
MassFinds – Discover the Kringle Candle Company
Bridge of Flowers – Welcome to the Bridge of Flowers
Facebook – Hidden Gems of Massachusetts
Carle Museum – About Us
MassFinds – Enjoy the Great Outdoors with a Spring Hike
Forbes Library – Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum
Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie – Media Site
Featured Photo Courtesy of Justin Jensen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Bridge of Flowers Photo Courtesy of Doug Kerr’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License