Flee the city for nearby Pawtuckaway State Park, an idyllic 5,000-acre nature preserve just across the border in New Hampshire. It’s one of the state’s largest parks, and it’s a little over an hour from Boston and just 40 minutes from the picturesque coastal beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. At Pawtuckaway, visitors can hike or bike through forests and to mountain summits, or pitch a tent with prime views of the sparkling blue lake. Water lovers can set up camp for the day on a sandy beach or take out a boat and paddle around the 784-acre lake. Pawtuckaway is also a geological attraction. When the glaciers receded at the end of the last Ice Age, hundreds of large granite boulders were left behind. Today, those boulders are popular for climbers. No matter how you want to spend your next weekend, there’s plenty to do at Pawtuckaway State Park.
Head north from Boston for 70 miles (about 1 hour and 10 minutes) to Pawtuckaway. There are a few different parking areas depending on where you’re going, but for camping head toward the main entrance and then take the road to whichever lakeside campground you’ve booked. The park is open year-round, but during off-hours or the off-season, the park is not typically staffed and some bathrooms or gates might be closed. Entrance fees are $5 for adults and $2 for kids 6-11. Children 5 and under and New Hampshire residents over 65 can enjoy the park for free.
There are almost 200 sites available to reserve at Pawtuckaway, including a handful of group sites, five cabins, a hike-in site, and dozens of tent sites. The sites are located in different areas around Pawtuckaway Lake on Horse Island, Big Island, and Neals Cove. The best part? Many of the sites have views of the lake. You can also expect to find a fire pit, picnic table, and a parking spot. While RVs are welcome, there are no hookups available. Campers have access to running water, toilets, coin-operated showers, a camp store, boat launch, and rentals of canoes and paddleboats nearby. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance at New Hampshire State Parks and start at $25/night (cabins are $65/night). Day users must make a reservation as well. These reservations can be made up to one month out.