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No visit to New England would be complete without spending some time in Massachusetts. This little corner of the US is a wonderful vacation destination, crammed with gorgeous landscapes, rich, fascinating history, and a wonderful cuisine that plays off its awesome coastal location.
The main attractions of Boston and Massachusetts are well-known, from Fenway Park and the Freedom Trail to Cape Cod and Harvard University, but the state is overflowing with amazing, under-the-radar, and just plain weird things to do as well.
So if you plan to leave Boston on an all-inclusive cruise on your next vacation, why not pack an extra bag, add a few days to your itinerary and explore some of the coolest and most unusual things to do in the state of Massachusetts.
Salem is probably Massachusetts' most notorious destination, and also one of its most fascinating. The site of the famous witch trials, it retains an eerie, spooky reputation that is confirmed and bolstered by some of the superb attractions you can see on a visit to this history-filled town. As you might expect, the town is dominated by the history of witches and the witch trials, and you can visit the Witch Museum to find out the real story behind the myth. If you are after something a little more interactive, there are a number of witch tours to attend, as well as the Witch House, the last surviving structure from the time of the trials. If you are feeling particularly brave, you can even visit the official headquarters of The Satanic Temple, which also houses a gallery of remarkable occult-themed art!
Although the Kenneth Lonergan film might not have made Manchester-by-the-Sea look all that enticing, it is actually a gorgeous spot. Massachusetts is spoiled for choice when it comes to gorgeous beaches, but Manchester offers something a little different, and certainly one of the coolest and most unusual stretches of sand you are likely to find. The Singing Beach is a true marvel of nature, an incredible natural phenomenon where the sand literally sings, thanks to friction between grains of sand when the wind blows. Massachusetts' North Shore might boast plenty of more mainstream attractions, but the Singing Beach is undoubtedly the most surprising, and probably one of the most charming as well.
The Mapparium, Boston
The Mapparium is one of Boston's most incredible, most unusual, and most interesting attractions, a stunning blend of science, geography, education, entertainment, and weirdness. However it flies under-the-radar in comparison to the more famous attractions of Bean Town. Built in the 1930s by the Christian Science Publishing Society to act as its headquarters, the Mapparium is an inside-out stained glass globe, lit with hundreds of lights, that stands three stories high, and is both as eye-catching and weird as it sounds. The Mapparium isn't just a beautiful folly; it offers a unique opportunity to envisage the globe in an undistorted way, from the center of the Earth! You will come away from a visit to the Mapparium with your perception of the world radically altered. It also acts as a form of 'whispering gallery', a little like the more famous one in St Paul's Cathedral, London. Standing right at the core of the glass globe, your voice reverberates in amazing surround sound, and whispers at one end of the bridge that bisects the Mapparium can be heard clearly at the other.
Warren Anatomical Museum
John Collins Warren was a doctor in 19th century Boston who spent much of his professional life collecting anatomical and pathological curiosities in order to further his investigations into medical science. On his death, he bequeathed his remarkable collection to Harvard University, who founded the Warren Anatomical Museum to share his bizarre specimens with the world. The entire collection is vast, with well over 15,000 objects, but the museum itself only displays a fraction of this - but what a fraction! You'll see pieces relating to the phrenological 'discoveries' of Johann Spurzheim (including his own skull!), as well as early surgical equipment, conjoined fetal skeletons, and many other weird, wacky, and wonderful (albeit somewhat gruesome) oddities and curios. The centerpiece of the collection is probably the preserved skull of a railway worker who managed to survive having a 13-pound tamping iron blown through his head in the course of an industrial accident. The museum is housed in the Countway Library of Medicine, on the fifth floor. Admission is free, but you will need photo ID to enter.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast
A final chilling stop on your unusual tour of Massachusetts is a bed and breakfast in Fall River with a blood curdling difference. The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast is the actual site of the Borden family murders, a house infamous for its ghostly activity, and available for overnight stays for anyone who is brave enough to sleep there!
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