Centennial House Bed & Breakfast

10,000 BC – 16th Century: The Locals’ Experience

“American” history often starts in the 17th century – but thousands of natives dotted present day Mass before a cataclysm by European gun or germ. Today, travelers will find vestiges of the Wampanoag, Mohican, and Nipmuc in the form of legendary natural places, colonial trading posts, festivals and museum artifacts.

In Bourne, the fascinating Aptucxet Trading Post Museum is a replica of a 1627 Pilgrim structure used for colonist-native swaps. In Weymouth, 45 minutes north, a group of neighborhood teens in 1965 uncovered an 11-ft. mishoon (dugout canoe) dating to 1400; it’s now on display at Tufts Memorial Library. In Cape Cod’s Barnstable, the small but powerful Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum hosts an annual summer powwow and traces the tribe’s history from the Stone Age through European contact.

Some of the most spectacular native lands are in Western Mass’s Berkshires. Bash-Bish falls, in the Taconic Mountains, features an 80-ft. waterfall and is associated with a pair of legends involving native women being thrown or throwing themselves to their deaths. Nature lovers should also explore the Mohawk Trail, an ancient Native trade-route-turned-scenic-drive with corresponding offshoots for hiking, kayaking and feasting on mountain vistas. The foliage is especially spectacular in the fall.

Where to Stay: Centennial House Bed & Breakfast

Three-course locally sourced breakfasts — homemade scones, egg casseroles, fresh fruit — are a great motivator to hit the Mohawk Trail by foot or car. This highly rated five-suite B&B is just a 20-minute drive from the scenic byway.



By The Sea Bed and Breakfast

17th Century: “America’s Hometown”

You know the tale: A band of religious separatists crosses an ocean in 1620, starts a colony and celebrates with the remaining natives.

Fast forward 400 years, and you can enjoy picturesque Plymouth, nicknamed “America’s Hometown,” without worrying about surviving the winter. Plymouth Plantation, a re-creation village, offers a glimpse into how the colonists arrived by boat and endured the merciless climate. (The plantation’s full-scale replica Mayflower is being de-barnacled for the 400th anniversary in 2020.) The not-to-be-missed Pilgrim Hall Museum, America’s oldest public museum, showcases both Native American and European artifacts.

Following a spell inside, hit the open water to glimpse land as the pilgrims would have, and take a whale-watching tour with Captain John Boats or Plymouth Whale Watching to see some breaching humpbacks.

After experiencing America’s origin story rife with struggle, head 10 minutes inland to the Mayflower Brewing Company’s life-affirming taproom. The bartender may be nice enough to explain how the Pilgrims ended up in Massachusetts instead of in Virginia because of a beer shortage.

Where to Stay: By the Sea Bed & Breakfast

By the Sea Bed & Breakfast, overlooking Plymouth Harbor and the Mayflower replica (when it’s not in rehab), features blood-pressure-reducing views, off-street parking and well-appointed guest rooms. It’s also just across the street from the whale-watching boats, Provincetown ferry and Plymouth Rock.



Harbor Light Inn

17th Century, Take 2: What Possessed You to Go There?

To say that Salem embraces one of the most harrowing episodes in American history would be an understatement. More than 325 years after the 1692 executions of 20 “witches,” visitors will find over-the-top trial re-enactments at the Salem Witch Museum, ghost and witch tours, demonic knickknacks aplenty and an epic influx of costumed tourists during Halloween. Which is to say gory history can get a little silly. A guided tour or personal wander is a good way to explore. Itineraries include the relevant cemeteries; the “Witch House,” home of trial judge Jonathan Corwin; and the site of the gallows where 19 of the 20 blameless souls dangled before gaping mouths. There’s also a surprisingly moving little park memorializing the accused’s final protests of innocence — as well as all victims of mass hysteria.

There’s much more to Salem, of course, than burning fires and bubbling cauldrons. One great option: The massive Peabody Essex Museum displays the city’s impressive maritime legacy alongside a unique Asian art collection.

Where to Stay: Harbor Light Inn

Rooms in this Diamond Collection 18th-century inn feature fireplaces, four-poster beds and cathedral ceilings. Breakfast casseroles and the crème brulee French toast earn raves, and the inn’s relative size — with 20 bespoke accommodations — allows for amenities like a heated outdoor pool and quaint on-site tavern.



Green Turtle Floating Bed and Breakfast

18th Century: Bed, Breakfast and Bayonet

If Route 66 is the “mother road,” The Freedom Trail is Massachusetts’s mother walk. The icon of American historical walking tours seamlessly highlights 16 landmarks along its 2.5-mile route. Take a tour from a guide in period costume or follow the red bricks and painted line independently — it’s the perfect primer to Boston’s rich historical tapestry. You’ll visit the site of the Boston massacre, the meeting places where the idea of tea dumping came to a boil and Boston Common, America’s most famous park to everyone but New Yorkers. The popular Faneuil Hall, built in 1743, continues its role as meeting place and public market with shops and food stalls galore.

After you’ve learned the secret of the gilded grasshopper and have stood in the shadow of the 220-ft. Bunker Hill Monument — where outnumbered and under-armed American troops held fire until they saw “the whites of the [enemy’s] eyes” — it’s time to eat. Head to the North End, Boston’s Italian restaurant mecca, for some antipasti, osso bucco or linguini in squid ink.

Where to Stay: Green Turtle Floating Bed and Breakfast

Choose one of two suites in a harborside houseboat or “captain” your own 45-ft., two-berth yacht for the weekend. The view of the sunrise over Boston Harbor alone is worth its weight in tea.



Hawthorne Inn

19th Century: The Wordsmiths

In the mid-19th century, sleepy Concord, already famous for the Revolutionary War’s first battle, became the center of America’s literary universe. Hawthorne, Alcott, Emerson, and Thoreau were its stars, writing on big themes: nature, transcendental philosophy and social ills. Today, literary pilgrims can deepen their understanding of the “Concord School” by visiting homes-turned-museums, like Emerson’s Old Manse and Alcott’s Orchard House. After a house tour or two, pay homage at the authors’ final resting place, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, a peaceful burial ground with an impressive ratio of plots to poets.

Just a stone’s Thoreau away from downtown Concord is Walden Pond State Reservation, a serene escape ideal for those looking to “front only the essential facts of life,” as Henry David did over two years, two months and two days. A half-day of exploring will do for most. The popular park features peaceful trails, summer swimming in the clear-as-glass lake and a replica of Thoreau’s spartan 10 x 16 cabin with bed, desk and fireplace.

Where to Stay: Hawthorne Inn

Concord’s apropos Hawthorne Inn marries Victorian charm with a playful modern vibe. It’s an unexpectedly successful union. The 1860 home — built on land once owned by the aforementioned literati — features seven uniquely appointed suites inspired by the writers and local sites.



Crowne Pointe Historic Inn

20th Century: Far from a Last Resort

A student of nature, Thoreau wrote admiringly of Cape Cod’s jagged beauty and had an inkling of its touristic fortunes. In 1848, the first train tracks reached the Cape, connecting Boston with Sandwich. Over the ensuing decades of laying wood and steel, the isolated region transformed from a backwater with moribund maritime economy into a resort-town powerhouse. By the early 20th century, shore-side accommodations housed thousands of travelers. From 100,000 feet, the Cape looks like a flexing bicep. Zoom down to beach level and you’ll find quaint seaside villages, lobster huts and clam shacks, sand-grass-covered dunes and the warmest of summer sunsets. It’s no wonder visitors feel a little pang of nostalgia when their trip is over.

Along the shoreline, the 15 towns and dozens of villages include the bustling seaport of Hyannis with its cafes and John F. Kennedy museum; Orleans, with its rugged, windswept Atlantic beaches; and funky Provincetown, the art-centric outpost at the tip of the Cape.

Where to Stay: Provincetown’s Crowne Pointe Historic Inn

The Cape is B&B country, with a multitude of Diamond Collection offerings speckling the seaside. One of our favorites: Provincetown’s Crowne Pointe Historic Inn & Spa, a restored captain’s mansion with onsite spa, restaurant and heated pool.



Topia Inn

21st Century: Painting the Town MoCA

“Hip” and “the Berkshires” are not nearly as incongruous as they sound. In 2017, MASS MoCA, the largest US contemporary art museum, opened its doors in the shell of a sprawling former factory complex. The carefully planned 16-acre campus features massive, regularly shifting art exhibits, many conceived and berthed on site through an artists-in-residence program. As visitors wander through the space, they won’t be surprised to find something to bang on, something that makes your head spin and something that makes you question art. The mind-bending visual pieces are nicely harmonized by an impressive weekend stable of indie and art rock shows, modern dance performances and avant-garde theater productions.

The Berkshires’ reputation for art, of course, precedes MASS MoCa. Visitors have long enjoyed the popular but less experimental Norman Rockwell Museum, as well as the many antique and art shops dotting the region.

Where to Stay: Topia Inn

Stick with the art theme in this unique space situated just five miles from MASS MoCA. The whimsical artist-designed rooms feature elements like floating beds, silk blankets, exotic hardwoods and organic everything.



– by Dan Askin