Family Vacation Critic reader and mom Melissa Cain wrote asking for help planning a trip to Massachusetts in August. “I would love to visit some of the major cities in Mass. I would like to visit Boston, New Bedford, Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod. What is the best way to go about seeing them all? Will it be impossible to do in just one week? I have read your guides on each individual one but was hoping you could compile a tour of Mass. guide! Thank you!”
Visiting the area for a week is definitely doable! Here’s my reply, for everyone who may be considering a similar trip this summer!
You’re in luck! I lived in the area for eight years. Start in Boston and do not rent a car while you are there because it’s a small, walkable city and the T is easy to use. You could do a lot in two to three days.
Then rent a car and drive to Cape Cod, where you also catch the ferry to Nantucket and the Vineyard. Nantucket is small enough you really could take the fast ferry (an hour) from Hyannis and then walk around the town to see everything in a day and go back to Hyannis on the last ferry. If you’re just looking to see Edgartown, you could do that in a day, as well. If you want to see more of Martha’s Vineyard, including the three different towns, you’d want to spend a night and just take taxis or rent bikes.
For the Cape, you’ll want to head to the Lower Cape, which is Chatham/Orleans up to Provincetown. That’s really the best essence of the Cape, and you could do that in a couple of days. Take 6A to drive by all the quaint towns and antique shops.
New Bedford has a ferry service, as well, so you could loop the trip quite easily, although of your choices if you skip anything, perhaps skip it. You could do the trip in one week, certainly, and get a great sense of the islands, the Cape and Boston.
Dee, a mother and Cape Cod resident who heads up the site Affordable Cape Cod Vacations, agreed with my reply, offering even more information.
“I so agree! You don’t need/want a car in Boston. Having a car in Boston really can be a hassle: traffic issues, it’s tough to navigate around the city if you don’t know it well, and very expensive to park. Not sure what rental car rates are like in Boston, but if memory serves — they’re much higher in Boston than on Cape Cod. If you don’t want to rent a car in Boston and drive to the Cape, there are a couple other options you might want to consider:
1. Take the bus from Boston to Hyannis, then rent a car in Hyannis. The Boston-Cape Cod buses are clean, comfortable and inexpensive ($34 and up for adults round-trip Boston-Hyannis).
2. Take the ferry from Boston to Provincetown, and rent a car there. The fast ferry is about a 90 minute ride, round-trip fare is $83 for adults. Either which way you do it, I know you’ll have a wonderful time here on the Cape. Enjoy!”
If you would like to get some ideas on summer family vacation travel, feel free to ask! I’m happy to help!