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Historic Day Trips in Massachusetts and New Hampshire

Experience history firsthand with these fun day trips.

Credit: Denise Dubé
Credit: Denise Dubé

Written by Denise Dubé

Both the Revolutionary War and the Industrial Revolution started in Massachusetts. And New Hampshire, with its own brand of Live Free or Die defiance, was the ninth state to ratify the constitution, tipping the scales and helping to create the United States of America. Get a sense of the spirit of the people with these day trips. The best part? You can get to all these destinations on one tank of gas (or less).


Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation 

154 Moody St.

Waltham, Massachusetts

(781) 893-5410

Why Go? The Industrial Revolution in the states started in Waltham and was the brainchild of Frances Cabot Lowell. In 1814, he began building manufacturing plants that took power from the churning Charles River and eventually, the Boston Manufacturing Company was born. The museum tells its story. 

Must Do: Check out the Machine Shop, a re-creation of a production facility from around the turn of the 20th century.

Insider Tip: Getting to the museum can be difficult for those who don’t know the area. Pull into the first entrance of industrial buildings near the Carter Street light. The door is located behind the Francis Cabot Lowell apartment building. 

Fine Print: The museum charges $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. It’s free for museum members, children under 5 and active and retired military.


American Textile History Museum

491 Dutton St.

Lowell, MA 01854

(978) 441-0400

Why Go? The museum contains thousands of books, trade catalogs, personal papers, prints and photographs, a costume collection, millions of textile samples and hundreds of machines used in textile manufacture.

Must Do: The museum still produces tea towels and small samples made from the old machinery. Pick one up as a souvenir.

Insider Tip: The museum has a knitting group called the Rise, Shine & Knit Club. Once a month, at 10 a.m., knitters bring their projects to the Family Affair Café at the museum. 

The Fine Print: Open Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults 17 and older; $6 for seniors 65 and older; children 6–16 and college students with ID get in free.


New Hampshire State House

107 North Main St.

Concord, NH 

(603) 271-1110

Why Go? “It’s the oldest state house in the country where the legislature has continuously met,” New Hampshire’s Travel and Tourism spokesperson Tai Freeligh said of the circa 1819 golden-domed building.  

Must Do: If you're going with a group that includes students, don't be surprised if senators, representatives (or even the governor!) stop by to say hello during the tour.

Insider Tip: All tours start in the Hall of Flags. 

The Fine Print: Free and public State House tours are preempted by official events, so call ahead. 


Museum of New Hampshire History

6 Eagle Sq.

(603) 228-6688

New Hampshire Historical Society Tuck Library 

30 Park St.

(603) 856-0643

Why Go? Both the museum and library are run by the historical society. The museum offers classes, lectures and some hands-on use of the exhibitions. Outside of the National Archives in DC, the library has the largest collection of the state’s historical information.

Must Do: Visit the museum website beforehand. Download a few slide shows, take guided visits or enjoy its traveling programs. 

Insider Tip: Those planning a research project are encouraged to contact Sarah Hays, the library's director; shays@nhhistory.org or (603) 856-0643. Hays will prepare for your visit by making materials available. 

The Fine Print: The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The library is open Tuesday through Friday and the first Saturday of the month from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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