Essential RV Massachusetts:
The Ultimate Guide to
Adventures in the Bay State
by Jake Poinier
In one of our regional blogs, we noted that Boston and Plymouth were two worthwhile destinations for RV adventures in Massachusetts. Now, let’s take a look at a few additional must-see sights in Boston and broader options for camping-friendly areas across the state—from the gorgeous coastal shores to the woods and waterfalls of the western mountains.
Boston packs a lot of history into a relatively small footprint, with the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail offering a convenient route through 16 historic monuments and sites. At the start of the trail, the Boston Common is America’s oldest park, while the adjoining Boston Public Garden is the country’s oldest botanical garden—and it’s also where you can ride the famed Swan Boats. The streets of the adjacent area, known as Beacon Hill, are lined with beautiful brick Federal and Greek Revival homes, and this is also where you’ll find the Massachusetts State House. One of the later stops on the trail, Faneuil Hall, was completed in 1742 as a public marketplace and is now run as a visitor center and historic site by the National Park Service. The adjacent Faneuil Hall Marketplace (built in the early 1800s) still bustles with activity: eclectic shopping, restaurants, and street performers at every turn.
When you’ve worked up a hankering for seafood, you can’t go wrong in Boston: Legal Harborside, Union Oyster House, and Atlantic Fish Co. are some of the longtime prominent names, while bivalve fans will want to make a pilgrimage to relative newcomers such as Island Creek Oyster Bar or Select Oyster Bar. Not a seafood fan? Head to the North End for outstanding Italian food—but don’t call it “Little Italy” unless you want to sound like a tourist!
Where to Stay: Boston is notorious for its hectic driving, so setting up camp for the night will bring the relaxation you need. Winter Island Park in Salem, Wompatuck State Park in Hingham, and Harold Parker State Forest in North Andover are the closest options, each about a half-hour drive out of the city depending on traffic. Wompatuck and Harold Parker offer forest environments with extensive trail systems and water activities, while Winter Island features a beach and several waterfront RV sites.
Known colloquially as “the Cape,” the Cape Cod peninsula extends about 70 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, with more than 500 miles of coastline. The Cape Cod National Seashore, technically a Massachusetts state park, extends down the eastern shore with 40 miles of beaches abutting the ocean. Recreation galore, countless beaches and restaurants, as well as quaint charm make the Cape a popular summer vacation destination for New Englanders and others escaping the heat, hustle, and bustle of the city.
Where to Stay: Numerous RV camping options can be found throughout the Cape, but reservations are an absolute must during the high season. At the tip of the Cape in Provincetown, Coastal Acres offers a prime location—close to the national seashore, downtown, and the Province Lands Bike Trail. On the Cape Cod Bay side, Brewster’s Nickerson State Park features numerous RV sites within a 1,900-acre park. Cape Cod Campresort and Cabins in East Falmouth also receives consistent high marks among RVers.
Ready to take your RV for a boat ride? The Steamship Authority ferry service transports cars, motorcycles, trucks and RVs of all sizes to the renowned island getaway of Martha’s Vineyard a few miles offshore of the Cape. Like the Cape, life here revolves around R&R on the beaches, recreational activities, dining and the arts. Plus, you never know when you might catch a glimpse of one of the famous residents, Hollywood stars, or politicians who spend the summer here.
Where to Stay: Although Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground is the only campground on the Vineyard, it’s a worthy choice—a friendly, family-run location with standard, large, and premium sites in addition to a wide variety of onsite and nearby amenities.
The highest point in the state, Mount Greylock reaches 3,489 feet into the sky in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. Hiking trails weave throughout the forest, including a section of the Appalachian Trail. (If you don’t feel up to hiking to the summit, there’s an automobile road that’ll get you there without breaking a sweat.) Either way, the payoffs at the top are panoramic views of five states and the 93-foot-high Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower.
Where to Stay: Mt. Greylock Campsite Park accommodates RVs up to 45 feet in pull-through and back-in sites. Nearby activities include biking, ropes and adventure courses, golf, and boating.
Lexington & Concord
This region of the Bay State is a must for history and literature buffs alike. Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord preserves the memory—and brings to life—the opening battle of the American Revolution. Nearby, the Old Manse home is a National Historic Landmark where Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne each lived at different points. Other area attractions include Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote and set Little Women, and Walden Pond, where you can visit a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s famed cabin—and even go swimming or boating.
Where to Stay: Boston Minuteman Campground is located in the tall pines 10 miles west of the historical park. In addition to full hookups, the RV sites include picnic tables, fire pits, and Wi-Fi.
Halibut Point State Park
Located right on the ocean north of Boston, this park offers beautiful views in addition to family-friendly activities such as tide-pooling, bird-watching, and picnicking. For an even grander perspective, make the climb up the 60-foot renovated World War II artillery fire tower. Once used to guard Boston and Portsmouth Harbors, this scalable chunk of history contains a museum and allows vistas as far as New Hampshire and Maine.
A hiking trail with interpretive signs takes you around the park and the former Babson Quarry. If whale watching is on the agenda, the historic fishing port of Gloucester ranks among the World Wildlife Fund’s "Top 5 Whale Watching Destinations in the World."
Where to Stay: The Cape Anne Camp Site in Gloucester is tucked into 80 acres of mature woodland and offers spacious RV sites with full hookups. A bit farther to the southeast, Winter Island Park Campground is located on the Salem Harbor waterfront, and if you want to take a convenient 30-minute ride into Boston, the Salem MBTA station is only 2 miles away.
Bash Bish Falls State Park
Tucked into the southwest corner of the state, bordered by New York and Connecticut, the town of Mt. Washington hosts Bash Bish Falls State Park. At 60 feet, the falls is the highest single-drop waterfall in the state. The area’s hiking and nature watching are excellent—and if you’re interested in hooking a trout, grab your license, rod, and reel, and wet a line in Bash Bish Brook.
Where to Stay: A short drive over the border into New York puts you in Taconic State Park, which also offers hiking access to the falls. Options for RV camping include Copake Falls (maximum 30’ length and no hookups) and Waubeeka Family Campground, where all sites include full hookup, cable TV, and internet.
Old Sturbridge Village
As New England’s largest outdoor living history museum, Old Sturbridge Village offers a step back into what life was like in the 1830s. More than 40 historic buildings were moved here and restored, and the overall collection includes more than 40,000 artifacts made or used by rural New Englanders between 1790 and 1840. To bring history to life, costumed historians portray work on the farm, in trade shops and in homes. They also provide hands-on workshops in craft classes such as forge welding, furniture making, and basket making.
Where to Stay: As you might guess from the name, Sturbridge RV Resort is the closest to the village, although the reputation is that it can be a bit crowded. Fifteen minutes west in the town of Wales, Oak Haven Family Campground prides itself on peace and quiet in a 90-acre private, wooded preserve. Head north for 30 minutes, and the Pine Acres Family Camping Resort offers full hookup sites—including options right on the waterfront of Lake Dean.