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10 Places to Go for $10 with the MBTA Weekend Pass

The best bargain around for a day trip outta town

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The MBTA has extended its $10 Commuter Rail weekend pass through December 9, allowing commuters unlimited travel in all zones on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the fall. Now there is no excuse to stick around town on a beautiful New England fall weekend. You just have to know where to go and how to get there.

The program found immediate success this summer, selling 82,000 tickets in its first 13 weeks. However, construction from the Positive Train Control project limited commuter rail access, so the MBTA has continued the promotion through the fall.

The $10 weekend ticket is available on the mTicket mobile app and at North Station, South Station, and Back Bay Station. Find information on purchasing the pass here.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 day-trip ideas that are accessible by commuter rail. Be sure to check the commuter rail schedules for specific rails and times.

1. Salem

A sign for the Salem Witch Museum

Photo courtesy of the Salem Witch Museum

Everyone knows Salem is famous for the Salem Witch Trials in the late 17th century, but there’s much more to see here than just witches. Take, for example, the Peabody Essex Museum, renowned for its Asian art and artifacts, including a centuries-old Qing-era Chinese house. And Salem has great eats, like the aptly named Witch’s Brew Cafe, shops, and festivals. And of course, there’s the Salem Witch Museum. October is a great time to visit this year-round Halloween town.

Salem is a half hour from Boston. Take a Newburyport/Rockport Line train four stops from North Station to the Salem station.

2. Rockport

the Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse in Rockport

Photo courtesy of Michael’s Harborside

Before the weather dips too much, take a day trip to beautiful Rockport on Cape Ann, a town full of beaches, shops, and culture. The picturesque Halibut Point State Park, a sprawling landscape of rocky trails leading to the Atlantic, is a must. There’s also the Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse, built in 1835 and still maintained. While you’re out by the coast, stop by popular Roy Moore Lobster Co. for your fill of seafood. Grab a sweater and some hiking boots and go.

Rockport is roughly an hour and 15 minutes from Boston. Take a Newburyport/Rockport Line train 11 stops from North Station to the Rockport station.

3. Providence

A gondola ride on the providence river

Photo by Craig Fildes/iStock

Whether your thing is art, music, or just exploring a new tourist town (and another great college town), you’ll want to check out Providence, R.I., just an hour south of Boston. From the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art to the Providence Performing Arts Center, there’s something for everyone. Take a stroll down bustling Thayer Street. When you get hungry, head over to the popular, and cheap, East Side Pockets for some Mediterranean fare—falafel, kebabs, gyros, and more. Plus, here’s an ideal opportunity to visit friends at Brown, Providence College, or RISD for a weekend.

Providence is roughly an hour from Boston. Take a Providence/Stoughton Line train eight stops from South Station to the Providence station.

4. Plymouth

Plymouth MA

Photo by deebrowning/iStock

Just 50 minutes southeast of Boston, see where Massachusetts, and New England for that matter, all began. Nearing its 400th anniversary, Plymouth is home to a wealth of colonial history, from Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II (currently being restored at the Mystic Seaport) to Plimoth Plantation. There are also plenty of other museums, monuments, and historical societies to visit. For lunch, consider Dillon’s Local, a family-operated food joint with traditional American food. Plus, there’s the Americana Theatre Company, popular breweries and wineries, and countless other spots to explore.

Plymouth is roughly an hour and 15 minutes from Boston. Take a Kingston/Plymouth Line train eight stops to the Plymouth station.

5. Middlesex Fells Reservation

Spot Pond Brook in spring at Middlesex Fells Reservation

Photo by Monikah Schuschu/iStock

If you’re looking to escape city life and enjoy nature for the day, check out Middlesex Fells Reservation for your fill of hiking, fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities. Spanning more than 2,200 acres spread out across Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Winchester, “the Fells” offers visitors over 100 miles of mixed-use trails, mountain bike trails, fishing, kayak and canoe rentals, and on- and off-leash areas for those with canine companions. There are a few restaurants bordering the Fells, like J.J. Grimsby & Co., but we recommend fully immersing in nature and preparing a picnic meal.

Middlesex Fells Reservation is roughly a half hour from Boston. Take a Haverhill Line train two stops from North Station to the Wyoming Hill station, then walk about 15 minutes to the Fells.

6. Newburyport

Newburyport

Photo courtesy of Michael’s Harborside

At the tip of the North Shore, visit Newburyport, a lovely coastal town with beaches, tourist attractions, and a rich history. Newburyport is the birthplace of the US Coast Guard, so head to the Custom House Maritime Museum to learn more. If you’re looking for an excellent picnic spot or a walk along the water, go to Waterfront Park, a boardwalk that runs along the Merrimack River. Enjoy the abundance of shops, galleries, and restaurants in town as well. For a less casual sit-down meal, check out Michael’s Harborside, with views overlooking the water.

Newburyport is roughly an hour from Boston. Take a Newburyport/Rockport Line train 10 stops from North Station to the Newburyport station.

7. Gloucester

A statue in Gloucester

Photo courtesy of Discover Gloucester

Just 40 miles up the coast, Gloucester is America’s oldest seaport and the oldest working art colony in North America. Take a stroll down Main Street for a variety of shops, boutiques, and restaurants, like Virgilio’s, an Italian bakery and deli, or head over to the Cape Ann Museum for an immersive history lesson. If you’re an interior design buff, or just like big, fancy houses, you’ll want to check out Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, the gorgeous early 20th-century summer home of one of America’s first professional interior designers. And of course, Gloucester has beaches, lighthouses, and whale watching.

Gloucester is roughly an hour from Boston. Take a Newburyport/Rockport Line train 10 stops from North Station to the Gloucester station.

8. Walden Pond

Walden Pond

Photo by flickr contributor mgstanton

If you’re looking for a transcendental trip back to the 1800s, Walden Pond is a must-see. Visit the pond where legendary writers and philosophers Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson got their inspiration. You can swim, hike, picnic, boat, or just sit and ponder life’s great questions. You can even see furniture from Thoreau’s original cabin in the nearby Concord Museum. There are no restaurants near the reservation, so if you’re hungry, look out for a pair of pizza shops next to the commuter rail station.

Concord is roughly 40 minutes from Boston. Take a Fitchburg Line train seven stops from North Station to the Concord station. The Walden Pond State Reservation and Concord Museum are each just a few minutes’ drive or 20- to 30-minute walk from the station.

9. Manchester-by-the-Sea

Manchester-by-the-Sea

Photo by Flickr contributor Karen Cox

To see the setting of the Oscar-winning film Manchester by the Sea, head to, you guessed it, Manchester-by-the-Sea, a small town on the North Shore. You can relax on the half-mile-wide Singing Beach, hike through scenic Coolidge Reservation, or visit the town’s local shops, like Manchester By the Book, a bookstore with rare collections, including a 40-volume complete works of Shakespeare and local maps of 19th-century Gloucester and Rockport. Also head over to Allie’s Beach Street Cafe for some coffee, tea, or a full menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and more.

Manchester-by-the-Sea is less than an hour from Boston. Take a Newbury/Rockport Line train eight stops from North Station to the Manchester station.

10. Worcester

Inside the Worcester Art Museum

Inside the Worcester Art Museum. Photo by liz west/Flickr

Worcester, just 50 miles west of Boston, is the second largest city in New England, and there’s something for everyone. For those who enjoy art, there’s the Worcester Art Museum and the Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. Just a five-minute walk from the art museum is Lucky’s Cafe, a breakfast and lunch spot with live music on weekends. Worcester is also officially the future home of the Worcester Red Sox, a Triple A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Plus, with several colleges in the area, you can visit your friends at Clark University, the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester State University, and others.

Worcester is an hour and a half from Boston. Take a Framingham/Worcester Line train 16 stops from South Station to the Worcester station.

Jacob Gurvis can be reached at jgurvis@bu.edu; follow him on Twitter @JacobGurvis.

3 Comments

3 Comments on 10 Places to Go for $10 with the MBTA Weekend Pass

  • Paul R on 10.09.2018 at 7:55 am

    The biggest problem travelers will face is the “last mile” issue. Once you get off at the station, are shared bike rentals available? Is local taxi service available? Is uber/lyft service locally?

  • Bob B on 10.09.2018 at 10:12 am

    The article says, “The $10 weekend ticket is available only on the mTicket mobile app …” The link in the article states that the weekend ticket is also available “At the ticket windows at North, South, and Back Bay stations …” Which is true?

    • Jacob Gurvis on 10.09.2018 at 11:14 am

      The weekend ticket is available both on the app and at those stations. We’ve updated the piece with that information. Thanks for pointing this out!

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