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This family-friendly Massachusetts Whale Trail itinerary is a combination of hands on activities, adventure, and educational experiences. Connect the dots from whaling era days to research and conservation efforts of today, with no shortage of on-the-sea fun. Read? Set? Go!
Close encounters with a humpback, video source: 7 Seas Whale Watches
- Try your deck-hand on the high seas with 7 Seas Whale Watches in Gloucester! These experts track whales out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary where you’ll see spectacular displays of humpback whales and their pods. (Learn more about Stellwagen Bank special exhibit at the Center for Coastal Studies further into your trip!)
- Stroll along the cobblestone streets and sites of “the City that Lit the World” at New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. This park boasts 13-blocks of historically preserved space for the public to connect with New Bedford’s past. At the waterfront facing Wharfinger Building, visitors can learn more about New Bedford’s current commercial fishing industry.
- Immerse yourself in Historic New Bedford, the whaling capital of the 1800s, with a visit to the New Bedford Whaling Museum. This impressive collection of artifacts and cultural narratives from the children of the whaling era, creates opportunities for visitors to engage with this world-famous port. Must-see exhibits include: A half-scale whale ship built in 1916, four species of complete whale skeletons, including a Blue whale, plus a mother and fetus of the highly endangered Northern Atlantic Right whale, and a fulsome collection of whale technology.
- Ferry from New Bedford to Nantucket (seasonal) or Hyannis to Nantucket
- Travel through time with a Nantucket Historical Association Historic Walking Tour. Guides will walk you through what life on the island was like during the 18th and 19th centuries, at the height of the whaling industry. From candle factory tours to tales of the ill-fated Essex ordeal, you’ll feel like an islander by the end of this excursion!
Guided tour of Nantucket, photo source: Nantucket Historical Association
- Ferry from Nantucket to Hyannis
- Stop by the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown for hands-on sea explorations. Learn about tides and ocean animals above and below the surface with interactive displays and staff-led expedition. Not to be missed is exhibit of the humpback whale, Spinnaker. The exhibit is study on life of whales in the modern world, and a prime example of collaborative research and response efforts.
- Ferry from Provincetown to Boston or Plymouth
- Between oceanic exhibits, whale watches, and animal encounters, the New England Aquarium is the ultimate attraction to top off your Massachusetts Whale Trail expedition. A perfect blend of entertainment and education, get up close with marine life and sea habitats that have connections to the beloved gentle giants. And if you’re itching for one last chance to see Minkes or Pilots in the deep, board the Boston Harbor Cruises Whale Watch for New England Aquarium expert-led excursion.
The Giant Ocean Tank at the New England Aquarium, with the hanging skeleton of a North Atlantic right whale and model of a sea jelly, photo credit: S. Cheng, photo source: New England Aquarium
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!
Tag your journey #whaletrailMA on social media to share your favorite experiences and for a chance to be featured!