Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Massachusetts ~ Our Top 12 Hidden Gems to Explore

If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Off The Beaten Path series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, however, there is just something incredible about discovering something unique and different. Our goals are to find the most unexplored places, and take those roads less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, so we’d love you to share your own off the beaten path stories with us. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking / free camping area, with GPS coordinates.

When I hear people talk about Massachusetts, it’s mostly about the witch houses in Salem, or Marthas Vineyard. Both are interesting and beautiful!

But there is more to Massachusetts! A lot more!

Bash Bish Falls

In the southwestern corner of Massachusetts Bash Bish Falls drops 80 feet from its summit to a shallow pool and a creek. At the top of the falls, a view extends into New York State’s Taconic State Park. There are a couple strange and sad legends surrounding the falls, but I’ll let you read about those when you get there. The easiest access is from a parking lot in New York (yes, NY! You’ll park in one state, and enjoy the falls in another) off route 344 just west of the state line. This place can get kind of popular in the Summer and during school breaks, but if you head out on a weekday, in the off season, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Glacial Potholes

Here in Shelburne Falls you can see over fifty whirling pools left by the glacial age. As the glaciers receded, fifty separate pools ranging from 6 inches to 39 feet in diameter were formed. The round holes were ground down by granite (by a whirlpool effect of water and constant movement of stones in different sizes) As a result of the constant whirling of the granite stones, the potholes took on a remarkably symmetrical and round shape. No swimming (since 2002). So please, tread lightly so everyone in the future can enjoy this. AND since you’re here, make sure you visit the Bridge of Flowers (see below)

The Bridge of Flowers

In the village of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, a bridge is groomed to bloom beautifully with flowers all summer long. It is a 400-foot long bridge covered in flowers expertly planted to ensure they bloom continuously from April to October. The bridge includes 500 varieties of flowers, vines, and shrubs. Worth the walk across. Please don’t pick the flowers, and enjoy the fragrance. Really unusual and unique bridge.

Echo Bridge

This one might be fun for the kids! A historic bridge in Newton with a lovely acoustic anomaly. A platform that was built specifically for visitors to play around with this aural anomaly can be found at the bottom of a set of stairs that lead underneath the bridge. An impressive echo that returns up to 15 reverberations of the human voice, and a loud, sharp sound such as a pistol shot can repeat as many as 25 times. PLEASE don’t bring your pistol and try it out. We don’t want anyone to get hurt!

Spite Houses

Have you heard of “Spite” Houses? Well there are plenty of these in Massachusetts. We found it quite funny that when people get mad, they build a spite house. Check these out if you’re in the areas. And the stories behind them are quite funny. Though I suppose at the time, not so much!

  • Skinny House – Boston. Only 10 feet wide! The rumors go on to say that the house was the result of a feud that took place between two brothers around the time of the Civil War. When one of the brothers returned from the war he found that his sibling had already built a large house on land which they inherited from their deceased father. Feeling that the house was too large, and his brother being unfair in distributing the land, the house-less brother angrily built the Skinny House to intentionally block sunlight to his brothers house and ruin his brother’s view.
  • O’Reilly Spite House – Cambridge. Only 8 feet wide! When his neighbor refused to buy his investment parcel of land, O’Reilly did what any even-minded, well-mannered, neighborly guy would do? He built a spite house. 
  • Plum Island Pink House – Newbury. According to town lore, the house was built while a local couple was in the process of finalizing their divorce in the 1920s. As part of the divorce agreement, the wife required her husband to build an exact replica of their family home for her. But unfortunately for her, she didn’t specify exactly where. Her soon-to-be-ex went along with her stipulations and built a home identical to the one they once shared. It would’ve been a sweet, amicable gesture, had he not purposely built it atop an isolated salt marsh. Even the plumbing used salt water instead of fresh water, making the abode uninhabitable.

The Dr. Seuss Museum

In Springfield you’ll find this quirky and colorful place! The kids will love it! Even kids at heart will love it. Who could go wrong in a Dr. Seuss Museum?

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. 

Nope! That’s not a typo (or it might be, but who could honestly tell?) You’ll probably never be able to pronounce Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaug, but you can visit it, enjoy the changing of the seasons, eat great New England food, and maybe, if you’re lucky, convince an older local to rattle off a few syllables.

Purgatory Chasm

In Sutton, you’ll find this beautiful hike! An easy 1.7 miles round trip. Features beautiful wild flowers and some granite walls that rise 70 feet up into the air, with precarious looking stone overhangs looming ominously over hikers heads. There are some points of the hike that narrow to cracks in giant rocks just a little over a foot wide. Pretty impressive.

Natural Bridge State Park

In North Adams, you’ll find this hidden gem! Naturally formed white marble arch housed in an abandoned marble quarry from the 1800s. It is estimated that the arch formed by Hudson Brook is 550 million years old. How “we” figure that out, I’m not sure! Tip: Make sure to enter from McAuley Rd entrance. There is no parking on the Natural Bridge Rd entrance.

Cranberry Bog

Ok, call me crazy but I seriously thought this was just on a TV commercial for Cranberry Juice! Cranberry Bogs are actually all over MA.  If you want to visit a Cranberry Bog, just find one near the area you’re going to be in. I found about 13 in the state but I’ll bet there are more. 

We hope each of you found something fun to go check out. Massachusetts has so much more!! We hope you share your hidden gems with us! Please leave your best, most amazing places below.

Have you seen the other states in this series? Here are just a few!

Thank you and remember ~ Live Simply – Give More – Expect Less!

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