Get Your Marine Mammal Fix on Massachusetts’ New Whale Trail

humpback whale breaching east coast
Thomas Kelley

The modern (read 19th century) whaling industry has deep roots in Massachusetts. The storied history of Moby Dick begins on the island of Nantucket and coastal New Bedford was once called “The City That Lit the World,” so it’s fitting that the state recently debuted an official and comprehensive Whale Trail.

The trail took more than six months to design. Considering the breadth of history (300 years) and distance (around 200 miles) it covers, that’s no surprise. The trail consists of 40 whale-themed stops including historical lighthouses, ocean excursions, guided tours, and simple whale-related statues. All but one are located near the Atlantic Coast, but a single stop in the Western Massachusetts town of Pittsfield means the trail technically spans the entire width of the state.

The trail offers a “choose-your-own-adventure” style of exploration with stops focused on history, art, nature, architecture, and culture. Travelers can opt to do as much or as little of the trail as they like. Tuckamore Aviation provides a sky-high view of the state’s entire coast. From 1,000 feet up, with the helicopter doors off, passengers can take in all of Boston Harbor and beyond. It’s a great first “stop” to gain an appreciation of the vast ground the trail covers.

Travelers looking for a more up-close experience can join one of the handfuls of whale-watching expeditions from Nantucket to Hyannis to Boston. Wildlife lovers will find hundreds of marine species, including many whale-related exhibits, at Boston’s New England Aquarium. History buffs can trace the lineage of the whaling industry along the shores of Massachusetts from the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Boston to New Bedford’s Old Whaling Church to the Nantucket Historical Association Research Library & Archives. Among the official stops are plenty of minor attractions as well. Provincetown, for example, is home to the Center for Coastal Studies, a 40-year-old educational center with a unique, in-depth exhibit focused on a single humpback whale named Spinnaker.

Many of the stops center around New Bedford Harbor, making it an ideal spot for weekend travelers to cover a lot of whaling-related history in a short amount of time. Within the city’s compact downtown lies the New Bedford Whaling Museum (the most comprehensive museum of its kind in the world), Seamen’s Bethel (the real-world “Whaleman’s Chapel” from Melville’s classic novel), and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum (one of the best-preserved period homes from the days of whaling). What’s more: most of the downtown is federally recognized as part of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.

Travel

Casa de Campo Resort and Villas is the Perfect Place for a Guys’ Getaway

Everyone from the likes of Jay-Z to Michael Jordan to former President Bill Clinton, Drake, and honorary dude Rihanna have stayed at (and no doubt loved) Casa de Campo Resort and Villas.
Podcast

Learn All About the Best ‘Affordable Luxury’ Cigars from a Real ‘Cigar Aficionado’

We sat down with the executive editor of 'Cigar Aficionado,' David Savona, to pick his brain on all things cigar.
Living

Now Hiring: Earn $130,000 Per Year as a San Francisco Island Lighthouse Keeper

If you're an adventurous type who can cook and drive a boat, this lighthouse keeper gig awaits.
Food & Drink

5 Beer Fests Worth Traveling for in 2019

Need an excuse for a vacation? Book a trip to one of these beer festivals.
Travel

5 Under-the-Radar Travel Destinations to Visit in 2019

Based on our intuitions and what makes each destination worth visiting in the new year, here are the best unexpected travel destinations of 2019.
Travel

Inside the World’s 5 Sleekest Capsule Hotels

These accommodations are cheap, contemporary, and coffin-like.
Travel

Top 7 Travel Trends to Watch for in 2019

From trekking active volcanoes to digital nomadism, here's how we will travel in 2019.
Travel

Magnificent Castle Hotels You Can Actually Spend the Night in

Dragons and alligator-filled moats not included.
Auto

Camp in Style with FIM Caravans’ Migrator Off-Road Travel Trailer

Take your bedroom, kitchen, and shower everywhere you need them.
Travel

Easily Give the Gift of Air Travel with Skyhour

Think of it like Venmo for air travel, but the booking capabilities of Kayak.
Travel

A 71-Year-Old Frenchman Is Crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a Giant Barrel

In true French style, he's packed foie gras and bottles of wine to boot.
Travel

Pre-Disaster Tourism: 5 Iconic Places to See Before They Disappear and How You Can Help

Many of the world's greatest natural wonders are disappearing — fast.
Travel

Flying Nest Is a Shipping Container Hotel Designed to Travel the World

All the essentials plus eye-popping views without having to get out of bed.
Auto

World’s First All-Electric, Eco-Friendly Motorhome Could Debut in 2019

Early adopters won’t be embarking on any hardcore, off-grid road trips to the Grand Canyon — yet.