Guide to Popular Massachusetts Regions


Big dreamers need big places to bring their ideas and businesses to life. American cities provide big dreamers with incredible resources. They serve as centers for intellectual pursuits, cultural pursuits, technological advancement, and political direction. The cities of Boston and Cambridge are exceptional examples of thriving American cities. 

The Boston/Cambridge metropolitan area has 44 colleges, universities, and places of higher education. This includes Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and Berklee College of Music, Boston University, and Northeastern University in Boston. The active community of thinkers and entrepreneurs stemming from these incredible universities contribute locally and globally through active think tanks, non-profit groups, finance, and global business. Boston and Cambridge are hotspots for innovation and startups. The Kendall Square neighborhood bordering M.I.T. has its very own walk of fame for big thinkers. Rather than paying homage to Hollywood actresses and actors, the paved walkway is adorned with stars recognizing notable thinkers for their achievements in innovation. 2011 was the inaugural year of the Entrepreneur Walk of Fame with seven inductees including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, William Hewlett, and David Packard. 

Every thinker needs a day in the park (at the ballpark, courtside seats at TD Garden, or perhaps a public botanical garden) to unwind and enjoy the world. Boston and Cambridge provide exceptional cultural and recreational opportunities. There are major league sporting teams (Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics). There are regular performances from the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. There are plenty of parks and green spaces throughout the cities to unwind including Boston Common and Boston Public Garden. And you are never far from a day at the beach with the saltwater air of the Atlantic Ocean to help clear your thoughts. There are numerous annual events including the Boston Marathon, tree lightings at Faneuil Hall & Boston Common, the Boston Pops July 4th Fireworks Spectacular, and of course the Boston Red Sox home opener at Fenway Park. 

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MetroWest refers to a region of cities and towns west of Boston. The MetroWest Chamber of Commerce recognizes Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Natick, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayand, and Westborough as the ten cities and towns making up the MetroWest area. The towns and cities have a combined population of approximately 205,000. Residents enjoy a short 20-40 minute commute to neighboring Boston or Worcester. 

A local newspaper held a contest in 1983 to name the area. The same newspaper included the winning moniker in its identity in 1999, renaming the paper the MetroWest Daily News. The newspaper is based in Framingham and circulates to most of the towns in the region. There are a number of parks and state parks, and a wildlife sanctuary in the region. Callahan State Park in Framingham has seven miles of trails on over 800 acres of land for hiking, horseback riding, walking, and mountain biking. 

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North Shore 

The North Shore is generally considered the coastal areas north of Boston and south of New Hampshire, though there is

no official designation for the region. There are 30 miles of rocky coastline, marshes, wetlands, and beaches within the 34 communities recognized by the North Shore Chamber of Commerce. The area has a rich history of commerce including commercial fishing and century old businesses. Today the region is also home to many high-tech innovators. The beaches, boatyards, and tourist attractions bring visitors into the region during the summer. Salem attracts year-round attention for those looking to better understand the infamous colonial Massachusetts witch trials of 1692-1693 at the Salem Witch Museum. 

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South Shore 

The South Shore is generally considered the coastal area south of Boston and north of Cape Cod. The 11 coastal cities and towns between Boston and Cape Cod bordering the Atlantic Ocean are Braintree, Cohasset, Duxbury, Hingham, Hull, Kingston, Marshfield, Plymouth, Quincy, Scituate, and Weymouth. There are additional towns and cities included or excluded depending on which agency you are working with, or when referring to popular opinion (the consensus of a recent Boston magazine poll also included the towns of Cape Cod). The South Shore Chamber of Commerce recognizes 23 cities and towns making up the South Shore. 

The region is an affluent area. The median income was $104,691 in 2020. The median home value was $574,831 in 2020. South Shore 2030, from the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, provides a “roadmap for current and future businesses to thrive”. The initiative focuses on maintaining and building the local pool of talent by providing “interesting, diverse, and attractive places to live and work” to ensure the success of current businesses while attracting new businesses. 

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Cape & Islands 

Cape Cod is a peninsula of fifteen towns stretching into the Atlantic Ocean. It is about 60 miles south of Boston. When referring to Cape & Islands the entire region of Barnstable County (Cape Cod and islands), Dukes County (Martha’s Vineyard, Elizabeth Islands, Norman Land), and Nantucket County (Nantucket, Tuckernuck, Muskeget) are included. 

The Cape & Islands attract a very substantial amount of tourists and seasonal residents in the summertime. There is a year-round population of over 220,000. There are hundreds of miles of coastline (including 40 miles of the Cape Cod National Seashore) 42 golf courses (private and public) and nine amateur baseball franchises. It is a great place to raise a family as it has quality public and private schools, low crime rates, and numerous recreational and cultural opportunities. 

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Nantucket County comprises the large island of Nantucket and the small islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget. The population was 14,255 in 2020. It is the least populated county in Massachusetts. Tuckernuck is privately owned by its residents. There are approximately 35-40 houses on the 900 acre island. The summer residents travel around the small island by golf cart. There are no grocery stores, paved roads, or public utilities. Muskeget is a slightly smaller area, 244 acres, with two unoccupied shacks. Muskeget is a breeding place for gray seals and a feeding area for great white sharks. 

The island of Nantucket is a rich and thriving community with a population of 14,255 (per the 2020 census). It is a tourist destination and the population will swell in the summertime with an additional 50,000+ people. The entire island was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1975 (expanded from the village of Siasconset, which was designated in 1966). The strict building laws maintain the unique architectural charm and character of the region. Building laws, as reported in a 1987 NY Times article, include pitched roofs and unpainted shingles. A newly built home is properly christened when the unpainted shingles turn gray after surviving their first winter on the island.

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