An essential guide to the very best things to do in and around New Bedford.
One of the leading fishing ports in Bristol County of Massachusetts, the city of New Bedford has long been famous for its impressive whaling industry. Often dubbed as “the whaling city”, New Bedford is the 6th largest city in Massachusetts and 3rd largest city on the Southern Coast. The city is surrounded on three sides by the North Atlantic Ocean, the Clarks Cove and the Acushnet River –marina and port activities hence are thriving here.
Among the top tourist attractions in New Bedford, the nine historical districts enlisted on National Register are noteworthy along with the array of museums, libraries and more. Have a look –
Let's explore New Bedford points of interest and 15 best things to do in New Bedford:
1. Visit museums of New Bedford
The largest in America, the New Bedford Whaling Museum give interpretative insight on whaling in south coast Massachusetts and its impact, interaction with whales and extensive artifacts related to this industry. Hands-on activities, world’s largest model of the ship and longest painting, whale skeletons and information about whale ecology will be among the points of interest in New Bedford. The old and modern glass materials at Museum of Glass, fire engines and firefight equipment at Fire Museum, varied genres of artworks at Art Museum and fishing exhibits at Fishing Heritage Center are also famous.
The 28 roomed Rotch-Jones-Duff House with Greek Revival structure and the garden museum with latticed pergola, calla lilies, and woodland walk will also impress you.
2. Appreciate arts at New Bedford Art Galleries
Nestled in the New Bedford National Park, the Arthur Moniz Art Gallery is among the best tourist attractions in New Bedford where you can see the finest print media and paintings on the New Bedford seaside. The Gallery X is another art gallery featuring artworks of the members and also that of the local talents. The Judith Klein Art Gallery features extensive printworks by Judith Klein along with the exhibit of drawing, painting, handmade, and furniture. Explore the TL6 the Gallery for watching the clothing, knitwear, handmade soaps, paintings and jewelry and the University Art Gallery at Downtown to appreciate local artworks.
3. Explore the Specialty Shops of New Bedford
From independently designed quirky items and handcrafted goods at Hippo to apparels, books, candles, glassworks, drinkware, creative jewelry, signboards and many handcrafted and carved well at the Landing Gift Shop and Chandlery –there are many places to visit in New Bedford for specialty gifts and souvenirs. Antiquarians will love to sample vintage furniture and other traditional items at Acushnet River Antiques, New Bedford Antiques at the Cove and New Bedford Antiques. If you have a fancy for witchcraft, check out Sanctum Folklorica for magic shows Psychic Readings and many witch items like spell candles, apothecary, and crystals.
4. Stroll on the Portuguese Acushnet Avenue
To learn about the Portuguese influence in this port city, one of the best things to do in New Bedford is to take a leisurely walk on the Acushnet Avenue. You will find a number of mom-and-pop stores dedicated to restaurants, markets, salon and grocery markets. Variegated cuisine options are there for you including Guatemalan, Azorean and Portuguese. Bars and bakeries also line the narrow street and you will get the real raw essence of Portuguese immigrants’ lives.
5. Religious Fervour at New Bedford
Among the religious points of interest in New Bedford, the St Anthony of Padua Church will thoroughly impress you with the exterior complemented by red sandstone and the peaceful interior. The Sunday Mass and the Organ Concert where organists from around the world perform, are definitely going to keep you hooked. Another interesting religious site dedicated to New Bedford sailors is the Seamen’s Bethel where you will learn about the lives of the sailors and see the dead sailors named inscribed on the wall. Mimics of the book of Melville on the pulpit and the whalers’ life-stories are depicted at the Mariner’s Home.
6. Visit New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
Tucked in the New Bedford downtown, the Whaling National Historical Park, as the name suggests, is among the best tourist attractions in New Bedford to learn about the whaling industry in the city and the rich history of the city “that lit the world”. The National Park Visitor Center and the Waterfront Visitor Center offer orientation briefing the necessary items for exploring around and widespread exhibits about the maritime part and modern-day commercial fishing. Check out the film, get maps, brochures and install apps for self-guided tours or reserve a guided tour around –the choice is yours.
7. Parks and the Hurricane Barrier Harbor Walk by the Atlantic
The 4 primary parks namely Brooklawn Park, Fort Taber Park, Buttonwood Park and Hazelwood Park are the relaxing places to visit in New Bedford. While the Clasky Common Park is famous for the Sailors and Soldiers Monument and Civil War Memorial in the heart of the green space, the Hurricane Barrier Harbor Walk of Hazelwood is a popular Atlantic coast walk connecting Clark’s Cove and East Rodney French Boulevard. At the tip of the peninsula lies the Fort Taber Park with its military museum and has paved bike trail, walking trail overlooking the islands and Cuttyhunk, picnic pavilion, the World War II Bunkers and more.
8. Explore the 9 historic districts in New Bedford
Each infused with different flavor, the nine historic districts are the popular tourist attractions in New Bedford. Acushnet Heights boasts of a residential building with wooden frame construction while Buttonwood Park Historic District boasts of Craftsman styled and Colonial Revival Houses along with the beautiful park. The Romanesque Revival and Classical Revival houses of Central New Bedford; the major civic landmarks, post office and library of Country Street, millworker houses and double-decker houses of Howland Mill Village, two piers of Merrill’s Wharf, Georgian Revival, Colonial Revival and Ranch-styled Houses in Moreland Terrace and the art galleries of Seaport Cultural District will keep you enchanted.
9. Meet the animals at Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford
The conservation-based zoo of Buttonwood Park has everything from water and land animal exhibits, carousel and train rides for kids and a large farm filled with domesticated animals which you can fondle. Black Bear, Caracal, Golden-headed Lion Tamarin, Pygmy Marmoset, North American River Otter, Harbour Seal, Asian Elephant, Lynx, Cougar and birds like Green Aracari, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Magellan Goose and Red-breasted Goose are the points of interest in New Bedford. Don’t miss the Lionfish, Moon jelly and Pufferfish at the tanks.
10. Take a cruise journey in New Bedford
One of the best things to do in New Bedford is taking a cruise journey from the city pier to the two islands namely Cuttyhunk and Martha’s Vineyard. Enjoy the rolling waves and the sweeping view of the ports and with a bit of luck, you can spot the whales. The cruise is run by professionals offering a smooth ride and food will be available on the ferry. The CuttyHunk Ferry Co, Seastreak, and New England Fast Ferry are there at your service.
11. Books, Paintings, and Antiques at New Bedford Free Public Library
Bibliophiles looking for places to visit in New Bedford can find six public libraries and among them, the New Bedford Free Public Library is the perfect combination of books, antique decors and oil paintings. The second floor of the library is decorated with various oil paintings and there are regular lectures. Map room, children’s Room, art reference room, research section, genealogy sections are there for your requirements. Howland-Green Library, Bookmobile, Wilks Library and Lawler Library are the other neighborhood libraries you can explore.
12. Taste authentic Wines at Travessia Urban Winery of New Bedford
The wine aficionados will love to meet new people and taste authentic wines at the Travessia Urban Winery which is among the popular things to do in New Bedford. The wines made from native Massachusetts grapes such as Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc bear the simplicity and experiment of winemaking. Learn about the production of grapes, the wine maturing process and afterward, have a sampling session in the beautifully decorated tasting room.
13. Learn about water resources at RCWB Learning center
Among the unique tourist attractions in New Bedford, the Richard C. Wheeler Bay Learning Center by the Buzzards Bay offers environmental operation and education at free of cost. Here you will get firsthand knowledge about the local water bodies and the utility of the water resources while learning a way to conserve water. There are fish tanks filled with native aquatic species and the 3D Buzzards Bay map will give you state of the art information about the bayside life.
14. Festivals and fairs of New Bedford wiki tourism
The Cultural festivals and fairs are the significant points of interest in New Bedford, as through these you will get to experience the raw essence of New Bedford inhabitants. Among the popular festivals, you can attend the Whaling City festival, Jazzfest, 4th July celebration, Folk Festival, Working Waterfront Festival. The special celebrations include Polish feast, Portuguese Feast of the Blessed Sacrament (the largest of its kind), Senhor Da Pedra Feast and New Bedford Day of Portugal.
15. Catch a show at Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford
The Zeiterion Theatre, a performing arts venue is one of the popular places to visit in New Bedford which is run by the non-profit organization that strives to educate, entertain, engage and inspires people about the art culture. Known popularly as Z, this quaint theatre is adorned with crystal chandelier, golden art-deco muses and painted friezes. 120 performances are organized here annually including NB Ballet, NB Folk Festival and more.