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As the dog days of summer carry on, sometimes you just need to get out of the sun. Why not check out one of these off-the-beaten-path museums – see some art, meet some animals, and learn about some special Massachusetts history.
Cape Cod and the Islands
Equal parts maritime history and marine biology, the Cape Cod Maritime Museum will have something that appeals to you no matter what your interests are. Learn about the history of sailing and fishing on Cape Cod, how sailors navigated the ocean before modern technology, or the many birds that call Cape Cod home. There’s even a boat shop if you’re in the market for a new vessel!
Open Wednesday through Sunday. $10 per adult, $8 per student (ages 6-17), $5 per child (ages 3-6).
Over 100 acres of flora and fauna are waiting to be discovered in Sandwich. Once you’re there, head on inside to learn about the history of Cape Cod and to explore the museum’s collection of classic automobiles, including cars from the 1910s up through the 1960s. Finish off your visit with a ride on a classic hand-carved carousel from 1908.
Open 7 days a week. $22 per adult, $12 per child (ages 3-17).
You don’t have to travel far to see art and artifacts from ancient Rome, Africa, or 19th-century America – just head on up to north central Massachusetts! Check out contemporary works of art from local artists or travel back in time and get up close and personal with a real mummy in the museum’s exhibit on ancient Egypt.
Open Wednesday through Sunday. $9 per adult, free for children.
One of the most unique museums you’ll find in Massachusetts, the Museum of Russian Icons is home to the largest collection of Russian Orthodox iconography – artful images of holy people and events that follow strict standards of the Orthodox church – outside of Russia, and the only such collection in the United States. The museum buildings are artifacts in themselves – including a 150-year-old former mill building, a former courthouse, and a former police station.
Open Tuesday through Sunday. $12 per adult, $5 per child (ages 13-17).
Part zoo, part natural history museum, Worcester’s Ecotarium is perfect for any nature lovers in your family. Meet some live animals like mountain lions, turtles, and owls, or test your science skills with interactive exhibits. The experience even extends beyond Earth – check out the museum’s planetarium to explore the stars above!
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. $19 per adult, $14 per child.
The Boston Tea Party of 1773 changed the course of history, and at the Boston Tea Party Museum you can learn all about it. Exhibits at the museum include historical artifacts, historical reenactors, even a replica of an 18th-century boat where you can try throwing tea into the Boston Harbor.
Open seven days a week. $38 per adult, $25 per child (ages 3-12).
Harvard University is well known across the globe, but did you know that the university also has several museums on campus? Among them, the Harvard Museum of Natural History spotlights plants, animals, and more from the natural world; and the Harvard Art Museum features works of art from all over the world on display. And better yet – Harvard recently announced that admission for these museums is now free.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays. Free admission.
North of Boston
Salem is well known for its famous history with witch trials of 1692, but did you know it has a history with pirates too? It’s true! Exhibits include the only authenticated pirate treasure ever discovered, and a narrative throughout the museum where you can follow the stories of legendary pirates. A fun photo experience is also included with admission.
Open 7 days a week. $17.50 per adult, $14.50 per child (ages 5-14).
South of Boston
Museums don’t get much more interactive than this. Explore a submarine (the USS Lionfish), a destroyer (the USS Joseph P Kennedy Jr.), and, of course, a battleship (the USS Massachusetts), and learn what it was like to serve in the Navy during World War II and the Vietnam War. You can also pay respects to those lost to war at one of the museum’s many veterans memorials.
Open seven days a week, $25 per adult and $15 per child (ages 4-12).
Understanding our past can give us insight into our present. The Old Colony History Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of Southeastern Massachusetts. Exhibits focus on the history of the area’s settlement, immigration, industry, transportation, and more.
Open Tuesday through Saturday. $5 per adult, children free.
There’s no better way to learn more about one of most influential poets in American history than to explore the places she called home. See how Amherst informed Emily Dickinson’s work and explore the artifacts in the museum’s collection that the Dickinson family actually owned.
Open Saturdays and Sunday, timed-entry ticket required. $16 per adult, children free.