Ride, don't drive

By ASHLEY RIGAZIO  |  June 11, 2007

Unleash your inner granola-munching, Patchouli-loving hippie in this Berkshires college town that prides itself on being both outdoorsy and well-rounded. Visitors can swim in mineral-water springs and hike along the Appalachian Trail or to the top of Mt. Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts. Horseback riding, biking, golfing, canoeing, fishing, and tennis are also offered at the town's parks, forests, and clubs.

Williamstown's active arts community supports galleries, boutiques, summer festivals, and the Williams College Museum of Art. The 75th annual Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival features performances and free events throughout most of the summer.

Newport, Rhode Island
Mainers should transfer buses in Boston. Take the MBTA commuter rail from South Station to Providence, then walk two blocks to Kennedy Plaza and switch to RIPTA's 60 line. Get off at Gateway Center in Newport. Ferry service is also available between Providence and Newport.

Learn all about the beginning of American high society in this seaside community known for its opulent, turn-of-the-century mansions and gardens. The Preservation Society of Newport County oversees 10 extravagant estate properties, including the Breakers and Rosecliffs, and offers guided tours at each throughout the summer. Also check out the Tennis Hall of Fame, the Museum of Yachting, and Astor's Beechwood Estate.

Each summer, Newport acknowledges its partying socialite past with a string of festivals on the waterfront. Tall ships come to town at the end of June, while annual jazz, pop, and folk festivals bring in big names.

Mystic, Connecticut
Pick up the Amtrak Regional line from Boston's South or Back Bay Station, or from Providence. Commuters from the north must take a bus to South Station, then transfer.

This seaport town's educational slant and easy train commute make it ideal for a family day trip. If you've ever dreamed of being a swashbuckling pirate or a seafaring captain, this tourist destination on the Mystic River has all the tall ships, sailboats, steamboats, and cruise excursions you can handle. But if you're prone to seasickness, Mystic’s marine attractions may not be for you.

Mystic Seaport, a national maritime museum, invites visitors to climb aboard its famed sailing ships and see them restored in its preservation shipyard. Then walk a mile through town to the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration, which caters to kiddies with sea lion shows and hands-on, slimy sea critter encounters.

Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut
Take a Northeast Charter & Tour bus from Portland, or Greyhound from Boston's South Station or Providence's Kennedy Plaza.

Not everyone buys into that whole "great outdoors" shtick. Hop on the bus with old people and have your fun in the Sun in air-conditioned, indoor bliss. Once you reach the casino, no more transportation is necessary, as theaters, concerts, clubs, and pubs are all at your fingertips (remember: casinos don't want you to leave). If you have any money left after hitting the tables, the complex also includes a spa and a shopping mall. Who needs onerous hiking trails, itchy bug bites, and blistering sunburns when you can zone out in a haze of neon lights and slot machines?

Ashley Rigazio, who's been known to commute by car to Boston from New Hampshire, is a freelance writer. She can be reached at arigazio@phx.com.

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