Introduction

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Introduction to Massachusetts

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Although quite small in size, Massachusetts is one of the top five mainland states in the US visited by international travellers, and it's easy to see why once you've travelled there.

Located in the heart of New England, about three to four hours north of New York City and about the same distance south from Montreal in Canada, Massachusetts offers urban nightlife, winding country roads, authentic seaside villages, and vast beaches with rolling sand dunes. From the historic and vibrant capital city of Boston, to the beaches of Cape Cod, to the gorgeous Berkshire Mountains in the western part of the state, there's something for everyone.

Massachusetts is home to 15 National Parks, mostly in the eastern part of the state. These are mostly historic and cultural parks, designated as such due to the importance they have in the history of the US. The largest is the Cape Cod National Seashore, created in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy and located on the forearm of Cape Cod. Consisting of nearly seventy square miles (176 square kilometers) of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds, and uplands, the Seashore is dotted with lighthouses, cultural landscapes, wild cranberry bogs, beaches and walking and biking trails. Boston National Historical Park, which features the Freedom Trail, a permanent brick line on the sidewalk leading to 16 significant historic sites in the oldest part of the city, is a national treasure.

"The Bay State" as Massachusetts is known, is home to more than 100 colleges and universities (60 in the Boston area alone). The thousands of students from all over the world that pour into dormatories and apartments every August from Boston to the Berkshires help give the state a youthful edge.

Some of the most famous schools are Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tufts University, Boston University, Berklee College of Music and Wellesley College, all in the Boston area; and Amherst, Smith and Williams Colleges, all in Western Massachusetts. The college towns across Massachusetts provide residents and visitors alike with a bit of a laid back, intellectual-yet-funky atmosphere offering tree-lined streets dotted with cafes, bookstores and locally-owned boutiques and gift shops.

The arts and culture scene in Massachusetts is vast and bubbling over with energy. The state is home to half a dozen major art museums, plus equally as many niche art museums showcasing everything from children's book art to contemporary crafts to art from the Far East and Oceana. It's also the only state of its size that can boast four independent colleges of art and design, each with its own public art galleries that showcase student and professional works.

The lively theatre scene stretches from Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod, to Gloucester on the North Shore, and from Boston to the culturally rich Berkshires, where in July and August the performing arts are showcased through live events of all kinds. Here, world-class musicians, actors and dancers perform outdoors, under nature's canopy.

Take the time to explore the state and see all that there is to offer for the young, and the young at heart, in Massachusetts!