Budget-Friendly Day Trips Near Massachusetts and New Hampshire

Add these affordable destinations to your day trip itinerary.

Credit: Bedford Depot Park
Credit: Bedford Depot Park

Written by Denise J. Dubé 

Adventures don't need to break the bank. Dust off that bicycle and head toward Cambridge or Bedford. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy Massachusetts,” said Massachusetts Travel and Tourism Executive Director Betsy Wall. Hit Portsmouth, New Hampshire on another day off. The best part? These destinations are only a tank of gas (or less) away.

Minuteman Bikeway, America’s Revolutionary Rail Trail

Located along Massachusetts Avenue, in Arlington and Lexington, then Hartwell Avenue or the Depot for Bedford access. 

(781) 862-9102  

Why Go? This 11-mile asphalt trail, formerly the Boston & Maine Railway, weaves through Cambridge, Arlington, Lexington and Bedford, four pivotal Revolutionary War spots. Park the bike behind the Visitors’ Center in Lexington and walk to the Battle Green. The Old Belfry is located across the street and up a steep hill. That bell was the colonials early warning system.  

Insider Tip: If you’re coming from Boston, park at Alewife Transit Station in Cambridge.  

Must Do: If 11 miles sounds daunting, drive up Massachusetts Avenue, toward Arlington and Lexington and park there.   

The Fine Print: Children under 17 must wear a helmet, per state law. A bike headlight is required if you're riding at night. The bikeway also is plowed during the winter months to allow for safer travel.

Bedford Depot Park 

Bedford Freight House

120 South Rd.

Bedford, MA 

(781) 687-6180 

Why Go? This is the rainbow at the end of the bike path. Here on narrow gauge tracks sits a restored train, the old freight house and a rest area. 

Insider Tip: Bedford Depot Park is across from South Road, which takes you to the recently restored Old Town Hall. It sits across from the town common and First Parish. Cross the street and walk a few hundred feet down South Road for the old burial ground.

Must Do: Purchase some items from the gift shop for a good cause. Proceeds are used to maintain Depot Park and to fund other historical preservation projects.

Fine Print: The Bedford Freight House is normally open on weekends, 10 a.m. to 6 pm. from April- October, so this is the perfect trip to enjoy after the winter season.  

Discover Portsmouth Center

10 Middle St.
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 436-8433

Why Go? Valerie Rochon, Portsmouth’s Chamber of Commerce tourism director promises the center’s programs, lectures and walks are “an excellent resource for all things...in the Portsmouth area.”

Insider Tip: When you purchase a full admission ticket to one of the area's historic homes, ask for a “passport” entitling you to $1.00 off the admission price at all other Portsmouth Historic House Associate member sites.  

Must Do: Walk the Black Heritage Trail. The Revolutionary War was fought by African-Americans who helped build this country. The center offers a real-life history lesson most people never heard in any classroom.

The Fine Print: Some of the programs have a small fee. Call to get costs.

Portsmouth Harbour Trail Walking Tour 

Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce

500 Market St.

Portsmouth, NH

(603) 610-5518  

Why Go? Take this almost one-mile journey on your own, at your pace. It weaves through the historic downtown district. Portsmouth’s history and architecture are visible in its historic homes and bustling waterfront.

Insider Tip: Guided tours are only available from June to October, and there is a fee. Call the chamber’s tour coordinator at (603) 610-5522 and ask for a map. 

Must Do: This 400-year-old city is one of the oldest in New England. Visit for the architecture and ambiance.

The Fine Print: Private walking tours are available year round, by appointment.


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