Eastern Mass/Greater Boston
Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park, from $8/night
Six of the 34 islands just off the coast of Boston can be reached by ferry from the North Long Wharf. Stay on Peddocks Island for camping, Spectacle Island for hiking and Georges Island for exploring Fort Warren, a Civil War-era prison for Confederate soldiers.
Boasting 800 acres of recreation space, Horseneck Beach attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and is one of the state’s most popular outdoor destinations. The reservation is comprised of barrier beach, marshlands and a protected estuary habitat.
Considered New England’s premier summer vacation destination, Cape Cod isn’t known for being affordable — but with a bit of planning it can be done on a budget. Salisbury Beach offers a gorgeous view of the cape, ample space for camping and recreation and a ton of great spots for food and ice cream.
Donated to the state by the Daughters of the American Revolution, this publicly owned forest area is known for the Upper Highland and Lower Highland lakes, which are open for swimming, fishing and non-motorized boating. The forest always contains about 15 miles (24 kilometers) of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. For those looking to brave the cold, the grounds are open in the winter for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice fishing.
Located in Sturbridge, home of the famous Old Sturbridge Village, this gorgeous park and recreation area is just over an hour’s drive from Boston. Visitors are welcomed to boat and fish at Walker Pond, and the park offers around 10 miles (16 kilometers) of trails for hiking, cycling and horseback riding.
Centered around Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts, this massive recreation area covers roughly 12,000 acres across six different towns. The reservation contains over 70 miles (110 kilometers) of trails, including a section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, as well as numerous trail-side lodges and campgrounds.
Granville State Forest Reservation, from $17/night
Granville is perfect for families looking to get out of the city for some peace and quiet. Visitors can take a stroll along the Hubbard River, go hiking or mountain biking and check out the diverse wildlife. One thing to keep in mind: This is black bear country, so be careful not to leave food lying around overnight!
About a two-hour drive from Boston, Zoar is not quite as cheap as traditional camping but features a number of exciting outdoor adventures to keep the whole family busy. There are various overnight packages that include rafting, zip-lining and kayaking along the river. Expect to pay around $160 per person for a two-day package.