How to plan slow travel in Massachusetts in 2024 (2024)


"I think slow travel is a more emotional way to engage with destinations."

How to plan slow travel in Massachusetts in 2024 (1)

By Kristi Palma

Slow travel, mindfully and slowly exploring a destination for a deeper understanding of its culture, has gained momentum in recent years and Massachusetts is full of destinations worth lingering over.

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“Slow travel is an approach to travel that gets off the beaten path and really focuses on hidden gems and local culture and food and music,” said Kate Fox, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT). “I think slow travel is a more emotional way to engage with destinations.”

An American Express study in 2023 revealed that 85% of respondents want to visit a place where they can truly experience the local culture, and 78% are interested in going on vacations that support local communities.


“It’s just a way to slow down and not do as much as humanly possible in a trip but to prioritize quality over quantity,” Fox said.

Fox shared ways that folks can experience slow travel in Massachusetts this year.

How to plan slow travel in Massachusetts in 2024 (3)

Berkshire Camino in Pittsfield, modeled after a 500-mile pilgrimage route in Spain called Camino de Santiago, brings folks on mindfully guided hikes. Participants walk from town to town, meet the people, learn the local history, and sample local food. It was founded during the pandemic by Mindy Miraglia, who has walked the Camino de Santiago more than once.

“She does a really nice job of engaging people with authentic Berkshire experiences and getting into nature and I think that’s a really nice way to get out in the Berkshires,” said Fox.

Folks can join a day trip or a multi-day inn-to-inn hiking retreat, which covers about eight miles a day and includes lodging and farm-to-table cuisine. Traveling by foot leaves less of a carbon footprint, another goal of slow travel.

Other ways to enjoy slow travel in Massachusetts is by walking the state’s arboretums and botanical gardens, Fox said.

“Our arboretums and botanical gardens are great reasons to get outside and interact with the natural landscape across the state,” she said.

Fox recommended meandering through Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, which has 100 acres of gardens and trails, and New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill in Boylston. At the latter, folks can view the 200-acre garden, attend exhibitions and educational programming, walk the trails, and eat fresh, locally-sourced foods at its cafe.

The state’s many gorgeous Trustees of Reservations properties across Massachusetts are also well worth spending extended time at, Fox said.

“The Trustees properties across the state have so many opportunities to slow down and engage in natural and also cultural resources because they have many museums and historic houses as well,” Fox said.

The nonprofit conservation organization oversees 118 natural and historic properties and hosts a wide variety of events throughout the year such as hiking, cooking, skiing, family-friendly farm activities, and more.

Beauty and local experiences abound during leisurely-paced journeys along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway and the Mohawk Trail, Fox said.

“Stop at the local restaurants or breweries or wineries and meet the people,” Fox said. “Spend time in the farms.”

How to plan slow travel in Massachusetts in 2024 (4)

Museums across the globe, including some in Massachusetts, are gearing up for Slow Art Day on April 13.

“The motivation for slow art, which is the same as slow travel, is that you take your time, you don’t blitz through a museum,” said Fox.


More than 1,500 museums have taken part in the global event since its founding in 2010.

Museum visitors typically spend 21 seconds in front of a work of art, according to MassMoCA, which is taking part in the event this year. The goal on April 13 is for museum goers to choose up to five pieces of art and spend 5 to 10 minutes examining each one.

The day is a way for guest to “connect more deeply to what you see in our galleries,” wrote MassMoCA on its website.

Another Massachusetts museum taking part in Slow Art Day this year is the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford. Check out a list of participating museums so far.

Other Massachusetts museums Fox suggested lingering at: The Icon Museum and Studies Center in Clinton, formerly the Museum of Russian Icons, and the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester.

“It’s amazing,” said Fox about The Icon Museum and Studies Center. “They have Russian, Ethiopian, and Greek icons. And it’s a way to spend time just studying this type of art.”

The Cape Ann Mueum’s fine art collection features the largest grouping of works by Fitz Henry Lane of Gloucester (1804-1865), a distinguished marine artist of the mid-19th century.

“Cape Ann Museum is another great opportunity to encounter art that has local roots and deep ties to the community,” Fox said.

No matter what your itinerary in Massachusetts this year, slow travel means welcoming unscheduled opportunities, Fox said.

“Leave time to explore and find something you weren’t expecting, because there is so much unexpected to explore in Massachusetts,” Fox said.

How have you experienced slow travel in Massachusetts?

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