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Outdoor Activities/Discover New England

International Scholars > Experience American Culture > Outdoor Activities

Ski Trails

Outdoor Activities/Discover New England

If you enjoy fresh air and nature, and want to see how New Englanders appreciate the environment during the four seasons, you have lots of options all year round. We love our changing weather. Some people cannot wait for autumn to come so they can enjoy the beautiful changing of the tree leaves from green to red and gold. Others, who enjoy skiing, cannot wait for winter and the first snowfall. The people who love boating are eager for spring to arrive and the rivers to thaw so they can get onto the water. And the people of Boston and Cambridge love summertime for people watching, going to the beach, and outdoor music concerts.

New England has mountains, forests, meadows, rivers, lakes, and the Atlantic Ocean and its beaches, as well as beautiful wildlife. If you want to understand us, you will need to visit some of our beautiful natural surroundings. MIT and the MIT Activities Committee (MITAC) provide organized trips and discounted tickets to lots of outdoor activities. For example, in the fall, you can venture just outside the Boston/Cambridge area to one of the local farms where you can pick your own apples right off the tree. You can also take a trip to the Berkshire Mountains to see the beautiful autumn leaves. In the winter you can go on a ski trip, or better still, join a club that skis, skates, snow shoes, or sleds, and make some friends in the process. In the warmer weather you can visit an amusement park like Canobie Lake or Six Flags, or go camping, hiking, cycling, or boating (canoeing, kayaking, sailing, etc.) at one of our special State or National Parks. If you are even more adventurous, you can go deep-sea fishing or on a whale watch.

MIT has its own sailing pavilion on the Charles River. If you take lessons, you can take MIT sailboats out on the river (see MIT Sailing). MIT Rowing Club is open to students, faculty, staff, and other members of the MIT community who want to sweep row for fun and exercise on the Charles. These are both wonderful ways to meet people and enjoy water sports.

Many New England beaches are reachable by public transportation (subway, commuter rail, and buses). In the summer, northbound trains to the towns on Cape Ann even have special cars fitted with bicycle racks. If you take the train to Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, you will find a typical New England ice cream shop conveniently located between the beach and the train depot.

If bicycling is your pleasure, there are many designated bicycle trails throughout this area, as well as specialized bike “paths.” The most unique paths however, might be the “rails to trails” paths. These paths were created on the lines of abandoned or unused train tracks that have been removed and replaced with smoothly paved pathways for cyclists, rollerbladers, and other pedestrians. These paths provide a safe and unique perspective on the area. There are rails to trails paths throughout the country.

If you want to just sit back and view the landscape from a bus there many tours available. There are also opportunities to take city tours on buses and trolleys with other MIT folks. If you want to try something completely different, you can ride a “duck boat” in Boston, which allows you to see the Downtown area from both the land and the water. It rides through the streets of Boston and right into the Charles River! You will need to wear a life jacket. Tickets available through MITAC.

You can take a cruise to or go camping on the uninhabited Boston Harbor Islands, go on a whale watch, or ride a ferry to spend a day or a weekend on Cape Cod or one of the quaint vacation islands of Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.

You may also enjoy seeing an early colonial community like the one at Plimoth Plantation on the South Shore, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. There you can see and experience an early 17th century English colony of pilgrims while strolling the bucolic grounds on a self-paced tour. If want to see an American village of the early 19th century you can visit Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  You can also witness a re-enactment of an historical event like the start of the Revolutionary War in Lexington.

So many wonderful places are accessible via the public transportation system. So even if you do not have a car, you can still enjoy much of what this region.

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Last Updated: July 2019

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