State Six revisited: Massachusetts

It’s no surprise that we have a soft-spot for Massachusetts. When we first visited the New England state in 2010 we leaf-peeped, dined on oysters and lobsters, saw sunsets on bracing Atlantic-coast beaches and – shout out to all you old romantics out there – got engaged in the shadow of a lighthouse. On our latest roadtrip around New England and New York City we had 6 nights and 8 states on our itinerary so, alas, we couldn’t spend long in Massachusetts.

The beautiful bridge of flowers in Shelburne Falls.
The beautiful bridge of flowers in Shelburne Falls.

We visited Plymouth; the site of the colony founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the Mayflower. We saw Plymouth Rock which interestingly Hannah thought was smaller than she’d expected whilst it was bigger than Josh thought it would be.

The place where the Pilgrims landed
The place where the Pilgrims landed

Massachusetts has contributed much to American arts and culture. According to Wikipedia Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Updike, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, “Dr. Seuss” and Norman Rockwell are all strongly associated with Massachusetts; which brings us nicely to the Museum of Bad Art – also located in Massachusetts.  With its sassy slogan “Art too bad to be ignored” the Museum Of Bad Art (MOBA) is the world’s only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms. It is a delight. We visited the collection in the Somerville Theatre, Boston and saw all manner of artistic creations – or possibly abominations depending on your tastes – and genuinely laughed out loud at a tiny-handed Jesus and a cross-eyed Monk. We’d urge you to visit if you can: laughs here are guaranteed.

Tiny-handed Jesus at Boston's Museum of Bad Art
Tiny-handed Jesus at Boston’s Museum of Bad Art

Having realised, with trips to the Bill Clinton and Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential libraries, that they are the bees-knees for political-nerds it was only natural that we took time to visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. We saw all manner of Kennedy memorabilia, learnt more about the campaign and how he and Jackie lived in the White House together. Our only complaint about all of these Presidential libraries is that the gift-shops lack the kitschy-tat that we’re really after; but maybe the Republicans will sell a better range of retro gifts?

JFK campaign badges at the museum
JFK campaign badges at the museum

On the very last day of this roadtrip we decided there was only one place we’d want to be for a final American breakfast: Shelburne Falls. This historic village is famous for its Bridge of Flowers – a former trolley bridge over the Deerfield River now beautifully maintained by the Shelburne Falls Women’s Club as a floral display from April through October – and a collection of Glacial Potholes. It was where we’d written postcards in the pharmacy with the old-fashioned soda-fountain and watched a barbershop quartet perform before the screening of Ghostbusters in the Town Hall. It’s a glorious slice of small-town Americana surrounded by forests and mighty rivers; it was as wonderful as we’d remembered.

Shelburne Falls' glacial potholes
Shelburne Falls’ glacial potholes

Whilst we didn’t have time to sleep in Massachusetts this time around, we did manage to fit in a stomach-expanding lunch at the Boston Burger Company and enjoy an honest, generous breakfast at the Foxtown Diner in Shelburne Falls.

Delicious breakfasts to be had at the Foxtown Diner
Delicious breakfasts to be had at the Foxtown Diner

Massachusetts is the 7th smallest state in the United States but there is so much to see and do here: from the stunning coastline, the vast woods and forests to the small towns and fascinating history it’s a fantastic state and one we’re sure we’ll revisit again and again.

Rate the State:

Good for: Seaside and seafood, big skies, fall colours, pretty architecture.

Bad for: It’s hard to leave. It’s also fairly pricey.

Overall: 9/10

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