Five favorite day trips without a car, according to readers

Where will you go this weekend?

Wellesley, MA - 1/03/17 -  An outbound MBTA commuter rail train drops off passengers at the Wellesley Farms stop.  (Lane Turner/Globe Staff) Reporter:  (vaccaro)  Topic: (04mbtaprep)
An outbound MBTA commuter rail train drops off passengers at the Wellesley Farms stop. –Lane Turner/Globe Staff

We recently asked for your recommendations on the top places to visit without a car. You answered! Whether you’re a college student who doesn’t own a car, a commuter sick of sitting in gridlock, or an eco-conscious wannabe tourist, there are several locations accessible by public transportation around Boston that make for great day trips. Here are five of our readers’ favorite spots to visit without a car, and what to do (and eat!) once you get there. 

1. Rockport

An hour and 15 minutes north of Boston by train, Rockport is well known for its beaches and art scene, and came in as Boston.com readers’ top recommended day trip. The town’s picturesque red fishing shack called Motif No. 1 is believed to be the most painted building in the world. If you prefer to view artistic landmarks on canvas, Rockport is also home to over 30 art galleries, as well as the Rockport Art Association. Both Front Beach and Back Beach are within walking distance of the train station. Also within walking distance are many of Rockport’s restaurants — try My Place by the Sea for striking ocean views or Feather and Wedge that offers a seasonal menu and nods to the town’s granite mining history.

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How to get there: From North Station commuter rail, take the outbound Newburyport/Rockport line to Rockport; Trains run every 30 minutes to two hours; Tickets are $12.25 one way, or $10 round trip on weekends. Check the schedule for exact times. 

2. Providence 

Providence was also highly recommended by our readers, but many of you disagree on what to do once you get there. One reader recommended taking the ferry to Newport when it operates from late May to mid-October. Another suggested the Rhode Island School of Design museum or the Trinity Repertory Theater, which begins its run of the play “Radio Golf” later this month. If you prefer the wacky and obscure, the world’s largest bug is on the roof of New England Pest Control in Providence (a 58-foot-long blue termite). If you get hungry, the train station is walking distance from seafood-centric Italian restaurant and wine bar Oberlin and North, for something a bit more off the beaten path.

How to get there: From South Station commuter rail, take the outbound Providence/Stoughton line to Providence; Trains run every 30 minutes to two hours. Tickets are $12.25 one way, or $10 for a round trip on weekends. Check the schedule for exact train times. 

3. Salem

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Salem is a spooky place. Despite its reputation as the Halloween capital of the world (a well-earned one), there is plenty to do there year round. Readers recommended the Peabody Essex Museum, which is currently displaying the Carolyn and Peter Lynch collection containing works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Winslow Homer, and John Singer Sargent. Check out the House of Seven Gables or the Witch History Museum for something more macabre. If you’re looking for a family-friendly afternoon, Salem Willows offers an amusement park and arcades during the warmer months. For dining options located within walking distance, try the Ugly Mug Diner for breakfast and brunch specials, A&J King for baked goods, or Opus for a creative East-meets-West menu. 

How to get there: From North Station commuter rail, take the outbound Newburyport/Rockport line to Salem; Trains run every 30-75 minutes; Tickets are $8 one way, or $10 for a round trip on weekends. Check the schedule for exact train times. 

4. Manchester-by-the-Sea

This north shore town has more to offer than a setting for the award-winning eponymous movie. Manchester-by-the-Sea has long been a popular summer destination, and offers day trip-worthy attractions year round. Singing Beach is one of the few places in the world where its unique sand can produce sound. The Trask House offers an impressive collection of period furniture, artifacts, and art, as well as a look back into the history of the town. If you get hungry, grab a slice of pizza at Bravo by the Sea, or try Black Arrow for hardier fare. 

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How to get there: From North Station commuter rail, take the outbound Newburyport/Rockport line to Manchester; Trains run every 30 minutes to two hours; Tickets are $10.50 one way, or $10 for a round trip on weekends. Check the schedule for exact train times. 

5. Gloucester

Last but not least, our readers shared their love for Gloucester, the Cape Ann town once famous for its fishing and granite industries. Visit the Cape Ann Museum of Art which displays both fine art and the works of contemporary local artists, or take the bus around the harbor to Rocky Neck, one of the oldest continuously operating artist colonies in the United States. Check out the home of artist Fitz Henry Lane for some of the best views of Gloucester harbor. For dining out, try the Portuguese restaurant Azorean, just around the corner from the train station, or Short & Main for wood-fired pizza. 

How to get there: From North Station commuter rail, take the outbound Newburyport/Rockport line to Gloucester; Trains run every 30 minutes to two hours; Tickets are $11 one way, or $10 for a round trip on weekends. Check the schedule for exact train times.

Have you been to any of these towns? Do you have another recommendation? Tell us about it in the comments!

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