Massachusetts is home to beautiful state parks in every direction, great for outdoor activities of all kinds. Interested in a beach day? Try anywhere along the Cape Cod National Shoreline. Prefer hiking? The Mount Greylock State Reservation is where you'll find the state's highest point with picture-perfect views. Or if you're staying in the city of Boston, pack a picnic, hop on a ferry and head to the Boston Harbor Islands.
Read on for the 12 best state parks in Massachusetts as you plan out your next hiking, camping, or beach adventure.
Mount Greylock State Reservation, Lanesborough
The highest point in Massachusetts is at 3,491 feet atop Mount Greylock, where you can see 90 miles off in the distance on a clear day. Mount Greylock State Reservation, of course, offers hiking, but also camping, snowmobiling, hunting, cross-country skiing, and more. This is also one of the best places to see fall foliage during peak season—typically in October. From May through November, you can take your car all the way up to the top of Mount Greylock to see the views sans hike.
Cape Cod National Seashore, Cape Cod
The Cape Cod National Seashore is technically a Massachusetts state park, but it’s all-encompassing because Cape Cod—known to many as “the Cape”—is made up of 15 different towns and their beach communities. This is a popular summer vacation destination, especially for those who live in Massachusetts and other New England states, thanks to its beautiful beaches and laid-back vibe. Aside from the beaches, there are plenty of other outdoor activities to experience, whether it's heading out on a boat, going for a walk on a local trail, or camping out overnight.
Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park, Boston
You don’t have to go far from the city of Boston to get to a state park. The Boston Harbor Islands are located minutes from downtown and include 34 different islands and peninsulas. Several are accessible by the Boston Harbor Islands Ferries, including Georges, Spectacle, Peddocks, Bumpkin, Grape, and Lovells Islands. Each island differs from the others when it comes to things to do. Some have historic lighthouses and forts, while others are best for camping, hiking, or swimming. The ferries depart from Boston, making the islands convenient day trips for those who prefer to stay in the city.
Castle Island, Pleasure Bay, M Street Beach and Carson Beach, South Boston
Another option for Bostonians is to head to South Boston’s Castle Island, which is where you’ll find a beach, walking loop, playgrounds, and more. Castle Island is more than that though, as it’s full of history that dates back to 1634 when its fort was used to protect the city of Boston. That fort was eventually rebuilt and named Fort Independence, which you can tour today. Popular nearby beaches include M Street Beach and Carson Beach.
Sandy Point State Reservation, Ipswich
Sandy Point State Reservation is made up of 77 acres at the tip of Massachusetts’ Plum Island. This is a gorgeous coastal state park that is perfect for swimming and spending the day enjoying the beach. Here you can also fish and hunt. If you're visiting any part of Plum Island, drive into Newburyport to walk around and enjoy a meal on the water.
Halibut Point State Park, Rockport
Another picturesque coastal state park is Halibut Point State Park in Rockport. From here, you can see destinations far off in the distance when the weather is clear, including the Isles of Shoals in New Hampshire and Mount Agamenticus in Maine. This state park isn’t ideal for swimming, but there are tide pools to explore, areas for a picnic on the rocks, and trails to hike on. You can also take a tour of the granite quarry.
Mohawk Trail State Forest, Charlemont
If you’re looking for a state park in the woodlands, head to the Mohawk Trail State Forest in Charlemont. This scenic area consists of 6,000 acres of mountains, gorges, and woods—ideal for camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking. In the winter, there are also trails for cross-country skiing.
Walden Pond State Reservation, Concord
Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord is a popular state park for families, as it’s ideal for swimming, walking, biking and boating around the pond, which inspired Henry David Thoreau’s "Walden." Even Gisele Bündchen has been spotted doing laps at Walden Pond.
Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, Princeton
Wachusett Mountain is oftentimes best known for its skiing, but the 3,000-acre state park has lots more to do beyond that. Take your car straight to the top of the mountain’s 2,006-foot peak for panoramic views. And you can also bike and hike along trails when the weather is nice.
Mount Holyoke Range State Park, Amherst
The Mount Holyoke Range State Park is made up of 3,000 acres with a seven-mile mountain ridgeline. Here you can hike on the eight-mile Seven Sisters trail, park of over 30 miles of trails in the park. Mountain biking is another popular activity here, with popular trails called the Serpentine and Roller Coaster.
Nickerson State Park, Brewster
Cape Cod’s town of Brewster is home to Nickerson State Park, which has over 400 campsites for tents, trailers, or RVs within the 1,900-acre park. If you’re into fishing, there are eight freshwater ponds. There’s also an eight-mile bike path and miles of hiking trails in and around the woods and ponds.
Bash Bish Falls State Park, Mt. Washington
Bash Bish Falls State Park is known for having the highest single-drop waterfall in all of Massachusetts. The best way to experience the park is to go for a hike—depending on the route you take, you can either climb right next to the waterfall, or you can view it from more of a distance. Fishing and hunting are also activities to experience here.