Massachusetts packs considerable variety into a relatively compact area. The oldest, most populous, industrialized, and urbanized of the six New England states, it is also rich in history and places of interest.
The official nickname is the Bay State. The name goes back to the 17th century when the area was the Massachusetts' Bay Colony. Many of the people and attractions are on the Atlantic Coast, and around the rim of the bay.
Bostonians no longer claim that their city is the "Hub of the Universe," but it remains the largest city in the region and one of the great educational, scientific, and medical centers of the country. Proud of its past, Boston carefully preserves it in old neighborhoods like Beacon Hill, while a stroll along the Freedom Trail is both a walk through American history and a tour of a great metropolis. In Lexington and Concord, you can see where the American Revolution began; at Lowell you can see where the Industrial Revolution began in America; at Plymouth on the South Shore you can see where America began.
The curving, sandy mass of Cape Cod makes up the southeastern part of the state. A popular resort area, the Cape offers visitors charming old fishing ports, lively resort towns and artists' colonies, long stretches of sandy beach, and shifting dunes. The Upper Cape is busy in summer, and the tip of the Cape, Race Point, is still the lonely wind-whipped place where Henry David Thoreau noted, "All America is at your back." To the south of the cape are the islands: Martha's Vineyard, with charming resort towns; and Nantucket, where elegant homes built by wealthy whaling captains grace tree-lined streets.
Central Massachusetts is a rolling landscape containing several cities, including Springfield and Worcester. Here the Connecticut River runs through what is called the Pioneer Valley.
The western boundary of the state is defined by the Berkshires, a range of steep, heavily wooded hills set amid a rolling, verdant, lake-dotted landscape of great beauty. The Berkshires have been a resort area for more than a century. In summer, the area hosts many cultural festivals, particularly the music festival at Tanglewood in Lenox; it is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Ski resorts attract visitors in winter, and the autumn foliage in the Berkshires is regarded as the most colorful in the state.