For many American families, road trips are now a dependable form of vacation planning. Travelling the country’s most picturesque routes by car can be a fun and peaceful way to pass the time when flying is too expensive and you own an electric or hybrid vehicle and don’t have to worry about petrol prices.
However, if you’re already on your way somewhere, why not actually take the scenic route? There are nine amazing Byways and scenic roads in Massachusetts that you can choose from if you’re heading somewhere to fully appreciate the state’s diverse scenery. You can even come at different times of year to take in the year-round variety of natural beauty.
Find out where to stop along the way for the nine most breathtakingly beautiful drives in Massachusetts below.
Essex Coastal Scenic Byway
Take a breathtaking look at history, coastal living, and historic architecture by taking the 90-mile Essex Coastal Scenic Byway between Lynn and Salisbury.
The creator of the Always Time for Tea blog, Evelyn Boyer, has spent her whole life in Massachusetts. She expressed how much she enjoys this way to A-Z Animals.
The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway is one of Massachusetts’ most breathtaking scenic routes. My spouse and I took this lovely drive last year. We intend to revisit the byway in the spring after being delighted by the picturesque scenery and quaint architecture.
This coastal route, which connects 14 distinct coastal cities with the state’s other municipalities, awes motorists with its magnificent autumn colour. Make sure to stop at least once in a town as you drive through and around it for a delicious lunch, a fascinating historical lecture, or just a peaceful day spent gazing at the sea.
Points of interest en route: Don’t forget to make stops in communities like Essex, Rockport, Beverly, and Ipswich. These seaside villages provide amazing views of the surrounding countryside, excellent cuisine, handmade crafts, antiques, and live history.
Battle Road Scenic Byway
True to its name, Battle Road is the approximate route that British soldiers walked at the start of the Revolutionary War. The 15-mile byway, which connects Arlington, Lincoln, Concord, and a number of other towns, offers a comprehensive historical trip that begins at the location of “the shot heard round the world,” which signalled the commencement of a revolution that would change the entire nation. It is one of the four National Scenic Byways in Massachusetts.
Along the route, there are attractions related to architecture, history, literature, nature, and technology on the Battle Road Scenic Byway. The Codman Estate, Author’s Ridge at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and the wildlife preserves offer some of the most thrilling experiences and vistas.
Jacob’s Ladder Trail (Route 20)
The Jacob’s Ladder Trail, which is situated in Western Massachusetts, enables both visitors and residents to “drive across the first of the great mountain crossovers.” The Jacob’s Ladder Trail, which links Laurel Lake and Tekoa Mountain, offers pristine, rural beauty. The byway offers an abundance of weather-responsive outdoor activities that make it a year-round destination that is not to be missed.
Along the route, stop at the Keystone Arches, canoe the Westfield River, or just lose yourself in nature while exploring the miles of hiking and skiing trails in the Chester-Blandford State Forest.
Mohawk Trail Byway
The Mohawk Trail Byway, a 69-mile National Scenic Byway, is recognised for its rich natural and cultural features. It is a historic route. The byway, which links the Connecticut River Valley with the Berkshire Mountains, is situated in northwest Massachusetts. Local history indicates that almost 12,000 years ago, Native American tribes travelled between the Hudson River and the Connecticut River Valleys using the walking route that the byway currently follows.
Points of interest along route: The overlooks along the byway are something you shouldn’t miss. Excellent choices include the numerous spots near Charlemont that provide an unobstructed view of the Deerfield River, or the Whitcomb Summit with its magnificent panorama of the Green Mountains.
Old King’s Highway (Route 6A)
The Old King’s Highway, also called Cape Cod Route 6A, is still one of only four National Scenic Byways in Massachusetts (alongside Battle Road, the Connecticut River, and the Mohawk Trail). It is recognised as “one of America’s most iconic byways.” The 62-mile distance between the start and finish allows motorists to enjoy the towns’ and highways’ historical, cultural, and natural features. Native American tribes used this walking route to travel the area because it dates back to pre-colonial times.
Daniel Gillaspia is the creator of the travel blog UponArriving and a nationally renowned authority on travel. He offered additional motivation and area of interest in his discussion with A-Z Animals.
“I’m a full-time digital nomad who spent a few months living in Massachusetts, close to the Cape Cod border. Travelling along the Grand Army of the Republic Scenic Highway alongside the canal is a breathtaking experience. Between the mainland and Cape Cod, there are a few viewing sites where you may take in the landscape and watch ships pass through one of the world’s widest canals. The bridges that traverse the canal are interesting sights in and of themselves.
Points of interest along the way: The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, the Josiah Dennis Manse Museum, and the Cape Cod Military Museum are worth a visit if you’re looking for museums. Along Old King’s Highway, the Cape Cod Chamber has put up a list of several hundred items of interest.
Mount Greylock Scenic Byway
If drivers have some spare time, they can drive from the vast farmland of Lansborough through the Mount Greylock State Reservation to the North Adams art centre. In particular, the mountain’s ecosystem offers two excursions in one: hardwood trees akin to those found in Pennsylvanian woods thrive near the summit, while northern Maine’s boreal firs and spruces may be found nearby!
Points of interest along the way: The approximately 4,000-foot top of Mount Greylock, which provides 360-degree, 90-mile panoramic views, is the main draw of this picturesque byway.
Lost Villages Scenic Byway
A 40-mile picturesque route that runs beside Route 122 in Western Massachusetts links approximately ten nearby communities with historic attractions and unspoiled rural areas. The communities that were “lost” when the adjacent Quabbin Reservoir and aqueduct system were built, as well as the organic growth of human settlements in the state’s early history, are the sources of the byway’s name.
Points of interest along the way: You might want to make a stop in Orange, where the downtown area still has a large number of 19th- and 20th-century homes that are open for tours.
Route 112 Scenic Byway
The Route 112 Scenic Byway is located in Western Massachusetts and spans 51 miles. This route crosses the Mohawk Trail and Jacob’s Ladder, two more fantastic byways, as well as active farms and historic communities.
Points of interest along the way: In the fall, look for vibrant farmland and fall foliage once you cross into Massachusetts from Vermont.
Connecticut River Scenic Byway
The Connecticut River Byway is one of Massachusetts’ four National Scenic Byways, as was already mentioned. It crosses three states in all, totaling a staggering 498 miles, including a drop into Vermont and New Hampshire through Massachusetts. Throughout the many generations of colonial settlers, the Connecticut River was crucial to the industrialization of towns and agriculture. It even helps to fuel the current economic expansion! You’ll see farmlands, floodplains, and other features as you drive.
Route highlights: The section of the Connecticut River Scenic Byway is around 38 miles. Take into consideration seeing the Buttonball Tree in Sunderland, an American sycamore that is between 200 and 400 years old, or the Northfield Drive-in Movie Theatre, one of the state’s four surviving drive-ins.