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When you think “whale” and “Massachusetts” there’s a good chance Moby Dick also comes to mind, for good reason. One of the greatest American novels of all time, the story of of the white whale, a captain, and deckhand has deep connections to the Bay State. From the pages of the book to the life of the man who created the iconic tale, this itinerary highlights Melville’s literary inspirations, whaling era history, and even new ties today. Embark on this Melville-themed Massachusetts Whale Trail experience and you’ll be asking your crew to call you Ishmael in no time.
Snowcapped Mount Greylock inspired the physical size of Moby Dick
- In honor of the Melville family tradition, take a trip to the Berkshires for some rest, relaxation, and regional inspiration. Arrowhead served as the summertime getaway for the Melvilles; especially notable for being the place where Herman penned Moby Dick.
- Let your creative mind peak at the top of Monument Mountain in Pittsfield. In 1850, authors Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville hiked the mountain and formed a fast, close friendship. Another striking slice of terrain – perfect for avid hikers and also accessible by car – a snowy Mount Greylock is believed to have inspired the massive scale of Melville’s infamous white whale. Enjoy beautiful views from the summit any time of year.
- Continue exploring the significant sites in the Berkshires on the Melville Trail. Arrowhead, Monument Mountain, and Mount Greylock are just a few of the sites (there are 12 in total) with direct links to the American author.
- The “Whaleman” Statue pays homage to many courageous and enterprising men who helped New Bedford thrive during the 19th century when the city was the whaling capital of the world. This statue, along with many more historic sights representing the era, are included in Herman Melville’s New Bedford, a self-guided walking tour.
- With whalers, sailors, and fisherman coming and going from Quaker-based New Bedford, the Seaman’s Bethel became a sacrosanct place for seafaring men to visit before and after long whaling expeditions. Take a queue from the novel and settle into a pew while you recall the sermon scene in this “Whaleman’s Chapel.”
- Savor history with a stop at Moby Dick Brewing for a pint of Ishm-Ale or Simple Sailor lager.
- Hop a ferry from New Bedford to Nantucket (seasonal) or Hyannis to Nantucket.
- Whether or not you find yourself, “growing grim around the mouth,” (a line from Moby Dick) it’s always a good time to turn to the sea. Nantucket was a major port for the whaling industry in the 19th century and you’ll want to visit the Nantucket Historical Association Whaling Museum and Historic Sites to venture through exhibits, discovery rooms, and the restored 1847 candle factory that once made the island a beacon of industry across the world.
Nantucket Historical Association Whaling Museum
Looking to take your whale-themed travels to the next level? Check out these spots to shop, dine, and sip or admire a bit of whale art – maybe even take a piece home! If you’re digging the literary stuff, dig into our literary hero series for more Massachusetts sites with ties to great works.
Tag your journey #whaletrailMA on social media to share your favorite experiences and for a chance to be featured!
Feature image Lakeside Press edition of Moby-Dick, with Rockwell Kent’s illustrations, photo source: nypl.org