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If you’re dreaming of a summer vacation—and who isn’t?—but fretting over how to pay for one, we’ve got the perfect solution. Why not vacation on a shoestring budget while simultaneously enjoying the comforts of home, by exploring beautiful and historic sites right in your own backyard?
The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism maintains a list of 1000 Great Places, a compilation of both well-known and relatively unknown historic, cultural, and natural sites from across the state. Developed a few years ago, the list was an effort to boost tourism to the Commonwealth as well as to give residents the opportunity to visit a prestigious list of attractions close to home.
So many choices...
Such hometown favorites as Asa Waters Mansion and Pearson’s Dairy Farm in Millbury as well as Purgatory Chasm State Reservation and Vaillancourt Folk Art in Sutton were chosen from among more than 12,000 nominated sites. In Worcester, 12 sites made the list, including Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center, Worcester Art Museum, Mechanics Hall, the EcoTarium, and Union Station.
Many of Boston’s well-known, and in most cases, obvious choices also were included, such as Faneuil Hall, Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail, the Bunker Hill Monument, New England Aquarium, J.F.K. Library, and the Public Garden. Statewide, the choices formed an eclectic mix: well-known Chatham Lighthouse, Six Flags New England in Agawam, Edaville USA in Carver, Old Sturbridge Village, and Battleship Cove in Fall River were named alongside the lesser-known and equally diverse Charlton Sewing Center, Crane Museum of Papermaking in Dalton, Peace Pagoda in Leverett, Buggy Whip Factory in New Marlborough, Nash Dinosaurland Track Site and Stone Shop in South Hadley, and Jack’s Hot Dog Stand in North Adams.
...So little time!
If you’re so inclined, you already may be doing the math in your head: It would take an aggressive sightseer, committed to visiting one site each and every weekend, almost 20 years to see them all. Oh, and it’d probably cost a lot in gas money, too (which defeats the purpose of this article, wouldn’t you say?). But commando-style touring aside, the list does give young families, retired couples, or anyone trying to decide, “Where do you want to go this summer?” a pretty exhaustive list of places to choose from without breaking the bank. To help whittle down the choices, try selecting one area of the state you’d like to tackle first—the north shore, for example—and have each member of the traveling party pick one or two sites of interest in that region.
Editor’s note: The list of 1000 Great Places was recently replaced by a new website, called MassVacation.com, listing thousands of sites to explore, hotels, restaurants, and more.