The Bay State

Massachusetts is located in the New England region of the United States. Spring months are pleasant, summers are warm, late fall is cool and winters are cold, with considerable snowfall. Major points of interest include the historic capital city of Boston where you can walk the Freedom Trail and visit the Old North Church. The state of Massachusetts is famous for its universities (Harvard and Cambridge). Cape Cod is a well-known, beautiful tourist destination during the summer, and Gloucester is home to America’s oldest seaport. You can get a delicious lobster dinner anywhere along the coast. You could also visit Salem, with its fascinating witch trial history and the House of the Seven Gables. To travel around the state, you will need to book a bus or train ticket. For more information visit: Also see our custom Google map of our favorite sites in Boston!

Staying in Cape Cod during your program? Download the Cape and Islands J-1 Handbook (PDF) and visit

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Jump to: Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions | Arts & Culture | Sports & Recreation | Outdoor Activities | Food | Local Festivals | Housing Resources | Transportation | Health & Safety | Help Your Community

Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions

Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.

Historical Sites

New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park has many historical sites related to the town’s whaling heritage, including the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Schooner Ernestina and the Seaman’s Bethel.

Boston Area

As a center of many events before and during the Revolutionary War, Boston has many historical sites for visitors to explore. One of the best ways to learn about American history is on the Freedom Trail, a trail of 16 historical sites related to the American Revolution. Sites include the Bunker Hill Monument, Boston Common, the Paul Revere House and the USS Constitution.

The National Park Service runs tours of the Black Heritage Trail, a walking tour about Boston’s African-American community in the 19th century (Note: There are no tours in winter). Special events are also held throughout the year.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site has historical buildings, wharves, outdoor exhibits and tall ships from the Revolutionary War. Many of the grounds are open year-round while tours and special events are held throughout the year.

Cape Cod Area

Experience the historic maritime culture of the region at the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis.

The Zion Union Heritage Museum in Hyannis celebrates African-American and Cape Verde culture and other populations and cultures in the region.

Visit the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster to learn about the natural history and environment of Cape Cod and conservation efforts in the area.

The Highland Light is the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod. Originally built in 1797, the lighthouse was rebuilt in 1857 and continues to function today.

Tourist Attractions

Boston Area

Faneuil Hall is a stop on the Freedom Trail (see above), but it’s also the site of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, home to many restaurants, shops, events and street entertainment.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is an interactive museum that shares the story of the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Visitors can see virtual exhibits, live actors, films, historical artifacts and two Tea Party Ships.

The John F. Kennedy Library & Museum honors one of the most popular presidents in U.S. history with exhibits, special events and educational programs. The library and museum looks at his early life, the Kennedy family and his legacy as President of the United States, including significant events like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the civil rights movement and the space program.

The Commonwealth Museum teaches visitors about the history of the state of Massachusetts. The Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Massachusetts Constitution are displayed at the museum along with other important historical artifacts and exhibits.

Cape Cod Area

Whale watching tours are popular tourist attraction on Cape Cod. Depending on the time of year, visitors may see dolphins, seals, porpoises, and minke, finback, pilot and humpback whales. Check individual tour companies for prices, locations and schedules.

The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum shares the stories of shipwrecks and historic rescues at sea. Visitors are taken on guided tours and can also enjoy a nearby picnic area.

Tour Companies

See more tours in Boston and Massachusetts.

Tourism Websites

Arts & Culture

Boston surrounded by brilliant autumnal colors

Boston surrounded by brilliant autumnal colors. Photo by Rebecca Kennison.

The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to learn more about the U.S. and its culture.


A guide to arts and culture in the greater Boston area.

Cape Cod Area

Arts and culture in the Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island region.

Central Massachusetts

More information on arts and culture in Central Massachusetts.

Western Massachusetts

A guide to arts and cultural sites in Western Massachusetts.

Sports & Recreation

Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.

The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world and it attracts athletes from around the globe each April. About half a million spectators view the event and an average of 20,000 runners participate each year.

Professional Sports Teams

Many types of professional sports teams are located in the Boston area:

College Sports Teams

College sports are a fun, and often cheaper, way to watch favorite American sports in your local community:

The Cape Cod Baseball League is a summer collegiate baseball league in the Cape Cod region featuring many top college players.

Outdoor Activities

Ocean Lighthouse, Salem Massachusetts

Ocean Lighthouse, Salem Massachusetts. Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt.

The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.

Hiking is available on sections of the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Washington State Forest, the Blue Hills and many other hiking trails in Massachusetts. Trails range from beginner to advanced hikes.

Many state parks in Massachusetts offer outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking and canoeing, hiking, camping, snowmobiling and sailing. Find a nearby state park by location or name at the Department of Conservation and Recreation website.

Sea kayaking is available along the east coast of Massachusetts. In Essex, many sea kayak tours and lessons are available from Essex River Basin Adventures.

Skiing and snowboarding are available at over 20 ski areas in Massachusetts, including Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort & Adventure Park and Catamount Ski Area. See a list of all ski areas in Massachusetts here.

Boston Area

Enjoy Boston Common, the oldest park in the United States and a popular landmark in the city of Boston. The 50-acre park is also the start of the Freedom Trail, a walking tour that leads through historic sites in Boston.

Take advantage of the Boston bike-sharing system, Hubway. There are over 100 bike stations in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville, allowing residents and tourists to rent bicycles for the Metro-Boston area. There are several bike trails in the city and nearby areas. Helmets are available at a reduced rate throughout Boston.

Cape Cod Area

Cape Cod has many outdoor activities for visitors and it is a popular vacation destination in Massachusetts. Bike the Cape Cod Rail Trail, go to one of the many beaches in the area, or camp at Nickerson State Park.

See humpback, finback and minke whales on a whale watching tour in Cape Cod and the Islands. Dolphins, seals and other wildlife are often seen on whale watching tours too.


One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.

Local Favorites

Massachusetts food is similar to many New England cuisines and includes plenty of seafood and local favorites like clam chowder, fried clams, lobster rolls, Wellfleet oysters, Boston cream pie and Boston baked beans.

Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ markets in Massachusetts are listed on the Mass Farmers Markets website. Search for markets by location, opening hours or services.

Food Festivals

Local Festivals

For a unique and local perspective on American cultural, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.

Rockport Chamber Music Festival takes place over five weekends in June and July with special performances from classical musicians, including some free concerts.

Whaling City Festival in New Bedford is a summer festival with live music, entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts stalls, and carnival rides over three days in July.

The Lowell Folk Festival focuses on traditional music from around the country and it is the largest free folk festival in the United States. Live music, ethnic food vendors, folk crafts and other activities can also be found at the three-day festival in July.

Boston Area

First Night Festival of the Arts is a showcase of 1,000 artists in various indoor and outdoor venues on New Year’s Eve in downtown Boston.

The Boston Arts Festival showcases the best of Boston’s visual and performance artists in September at the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.

Cape Cod Area

The Cape Cod Scottish Highland Festival in August features dancing, traditional music, activities and games to celebrate Scottish culture and history.

The Martha's Vineyard Film Festival organizes various film events for children and adults, including a March Festival, a Summer Film Series and special screenings throughout the year.

In Provincetown, the Portuguese Festival in June is a long-running annual event that celebrates Portuguese heritage with music, dancing, food, family activities, and more.

Housing Resources

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown, Massachusetts. Photo by Rolf Müller.

Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.

It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the Internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.

General Housing Information

Massachusetts Housing Resources

Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for Massachusetts participants include:


Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.

Public Transportation

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) operates buses, trains, subway and boats in the Boston area. Visit the MBTA website to see a trip planner, routes, schedules and service alerts for public transportation in Boston.

Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority provides buses, seasonal transportation and information on transit in the Cape Cod area. Use this transit map to navigate your way around Cape Cod, including CCRTA bus routes and bike routes. Visitors can find information on ferries in the Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard region on the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce website.

Visit the American Public Transportation Association website for a complete list of public transportation options in local Massachusetts communities. Information is also available on the Massachusetts tourism website.


Amtrak trains travel to many stations in Massachusetts, including Boston, Amherst, Worcester and Springfield. Amtrak also operates the Acela Express, a high-speed train connecting Boston to New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.


Greyhound buses travel throughout Massachusetts and the Northeast United States.

Other bus services connecting Boston to major Northeastern cities like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. include Megabus, Peter Pan and Bolt Bus.

Health & Safety

Participants in Massachusetts can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:

Emergency Management Agencies


Weather Information

Help Your Community

Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States., and are three general volunteer websites that match local organizations with volunteers in their communities.

The United Way of Central Massachusetts has volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups, including on-going work and one-time or short-term projects.

Mass Audubon aims to protect the nature of Massachusetts and needs volunteers at their wildlife sanctuaries for many types of projects.

Find a volunteer opportunity in the Cape Cod region on the Cape Cod Volunteers website.

Boston Area

Volunteer with the Greater Boston Food Bank for a few hours or at one of their special events throughout the year.

Nourish Boston supports the grown of small-scale, sustainable farms in the Boston area. Volunteers can help with farm work, research, design and other tasks. Learn more about the Nourish Boston website.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation