23 Best & Fun Things to Do in New Bedford (MA)

New Bedford is a city situated in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. In 2020, it had a population of 95,355.

The city has a unique maritime history and rich cultural and artistic roots. It is a premier fishing port in the United States. The ancient whaling city has many exciting and unique things to offer.

As a result of the surrounding water, the environment here is breezy, keeping you refreshed throughout your escapade. The attractions here will provide you with lots of fun memories. 

Immediately you visit, you will be welcomed by the many fishing boats docked at its large harbor.

Are you planning an exploration of New Bedford? Here are the best and fun things to do in New Bedford, MA.

Things to Do in New Bedford, MA

1. New Bedford Whaling Museum

New Bedford Whaling Museum
Credits: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock
New Bedford Whaling Museum

Bedford is nicknamed “The Whaling City” because it was one of the most prominent whaling ports during the early 1900s, coupled with New London and Nantucket. The whaling industry was a huge one during the early 1900s.

These whales were not just scouted for meat only but also for their fat and oil, which was a valuable stock back in the day.

If you want to learn more about the stories involved in whaling in New Benford, make sure to visit the Museum and see the great collection of documents, artifacts, a real-life whale skeleton, and photographs.

You can also look closely at the Lagoda half-scale model, a well-known whaleship in New Bedford. The Museum is available for weekly visits from 9 am to 5 pm.

Address: 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

2. East Beach

East Beach
Credits: Cristina Carvalho / Flickr
East Beach

There are many public beaches in New Bedford, and East Beach is the largest beach to see here, which winds around Fort Taber at the Southern end of the peninsula.

You can visit during summertime to have a one-of-a-kind beach experience. The east beach is wide, sandy, and a great length. As a result of the plenty of shells available here, this destination is ideal for beachcombers.

Another significant thing to see on this beach is the plethora of beautiful sceneries, including views of the 1898 Butler Flats Light and the numerous fishing boats and ferries that come and leave New Bedford.

There are lifeguards on duty during beach hours, and they are always available to guide and ensure the safety of visitors on the beach.

Address: New Bedford, MA, United States

3. Blue Lane

Blue Lane
Credits: NayaDadara / Shutterstock
Blue Lane

Blue Lane is a collection of several waterfront trails. It makes up an ideal spot for a quick and easy afternoon hike.

The trails here provide visitors with an excellent view of the ocean, which meanders through the corners of New Bedford.

You might prefer to hike on any of the three hiking trails known as HarborWalk, CoveWalk, and RiverWalk, which provide the very best of landscapes and beautiful scenes,

The Harborwalk features an out-and-back paved trail about a 2.6-mile link. It is beside New Bedford’s southeastern border and leads you to Fort Tabor.

The HarborWalk is ideal for an intimate evening walk with your partner. The CoveWalk also leads to the Western part of New Bedford’s peninsula. The Covewalk is just as lovely as the other two trails, leading to the peak of the hurricane barrier in the city.

Address: New Bedford, MA 02744, United States

4. Pour Farm Tavern

Pour Farm Tavern
Credits: somchaij / Shutterstock

The Pour Farm Tavern is a local craft beer in New Bedford that has served the residents of this area and tourists the best of fine brews since 2008.

It features 24 taps on-site, so make sure to stop by for a cup of beer which you can complement with their famous brisket cheesesteak, baby back ribs, and pulled pork.

Besides the excellent local craft beer and tasty food offered here, the place is also a famous entertainment hub. 

There are many shows hosted at the Pour Farm Tavern by numerous performers within and around Bedford. Other activities carried out here include art exhibits and many art-related activities. 

Address: 780 Purchase St, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

5. Buttonwood Park Zoo

Buttonwood Park Zoo
Credits: LEONARDO DASILVA / Flickr
Buttonwood Park Zoo

One perfect way to give your kids the best vacation experience is to bring them to the Buttonwood Park Zoo, where they get the opportunity to look closely at varieties of animals from Africa, Europe, and Asia. These animals are well-caged, so you need not be afraid.

The Zoo contains animals of different sizes. It houses about 85 animals that are available for visitors to see.

The Zoo also provides visitors with educational trips on wildlife preservation, all geared towards creating a better life and environment for animals in confinement. 

The Zoo creates awareness to help people learn about wildlife and these animals. Visitors can take beautiful pictures of these animals, including reptiles, predators, birds, and elephants that you usually see on your TV Sets.

Finally, safety is paramount here, so looking at the Zoo’s rules and regulations is ideal before you tour it. Seeing the animals in this Zoo is one of the fun things to do in New Bedford, MA.

Address: 425 Hawthorn St, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

6. New Bedford Seaport Cultural District

New Bedford Seaport Cultural District
Credits: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism / Flickr
New Bedford Seaport Cultural District

An addition to your list of top things to do in New Bedford, MA, is visiting the New Bedford Seaport Culture District. It is the primary historical and cultural centre of the city. It is nestled at the active waterfront of the town’s downtown area.

The Seaport Culture District is a magnificent place to see, as it features the best of the city’s art studios, beautiful restaurants, magnificent historical and cultural attractions, and shopping boutiques. 

You can also be part of the yearly Seaport Art Walk that happens here every October, which showcases many events and activities.

If you’re seeking a quintessential experience in New Bedford, you shouldn’t miss going to this area in the city.

Address: New Bedford, MA, United States

7. New Bedford’s Art Culture at AHA!

New Bedford's Art Culture at AHA!
Credits: Destination New Bedford / Flickr
New Bedford’s Art Culture at AHA!

New Bedford is filled with Art, History, and Architecture. The establishment partners with over 60 other establishments and locations to help foster Downtown Cultural Night in New Bedford.

AHA’s popularity is not just tied to New Bedford alone. It is also known throughout the United States as a special event that commemorates this town’s history, art, and architecture in an iconic way.

The AHA event is carried out in the downtown area of New Bedford and is done each Thursday of every month. This event should be a must-see if you intend to have fun and bring out your creative art.

The festival is free to join. The theme for each festival changes occasionally and is unique from one another, which makes it even more interesting to attend. Visitors can see an engaging piece by visiting local artists.

They also have a cultural instructor who guides you through the various exhibits on stage.

Address: New Bedford, MA, United States

8. Antonio’s Restaurant

Antonio's Restaurant
Credits: Antonio’s Restaurant / Facebook
Antonio’s Restaurant

The most popular dish in New Bedford is Seafood for apparent reasons. To enjoy the many delicious seafood dishes available here, make sure to check out Antonio’s Restaurant.

Antonio’s Restaurant is a Portuguese-American restaurant chiefly focused on preparing unique Portuguese seafood cuisines that are palatable for everyone.

The restaurant is known to be the most popular Portuguese-American restaurant to have existed after a food magazine in New England named Bon Appetit ranked it. It has a history stretching back to 1989.

If you have a keen interest in local Portuguese dishes and want to taste seafood in New Bedford, one of the best places to visit in New Bedford, MA, is Antonio’s Restaurant. 

Antonio Restaurant provides visitors with fresh clams, scallops, oysters, lobsters, and a vast amount of fish while serving visitors meat dishes prepared in the traditional Portuguese way. The restaurant is open throughout the week from 11:30 am to 9 pm.

Address: 267 Coggeshall St, New Bedford, MA 02746, United States

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9. Merrill’s on the Waterfront

Merrill's on the Waterfront
Credits: Merrill’s on the Waterfront / Facebook
Merrill’s on the Waterfront

In the downtown area of New Bedford, you will find Merrill’s on the Waterfront, serving visitors and residents of this area with fantastic seafood.

The Merrill’s on the Waterfront was previously known as the Waterfront Grilles but is currently managed and run by Lafrance Hospitality since 2018.

The restaurant is perched on the extensive area of the seven wharves, known as Homer’s Wharf. It attracts myriads of tourists at its lovely waterfront patio, providing guests with picturesque views of the docks of New Bedford.

The restaurant is available for visits from 4 to 8 pm aside from Monday and Tuesday. So, if you want to enjoy delicious seafood in New Bedford, visit this restaurant.

Address: 36 Homer’s Wharf, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

10. New Bedford Folk Festival

New Bedford Folk Festival
Credits: Gary Brownell / Flickr
New Bedford Folk Festival

New Bedford Folk Festival provides visitors with an exciting lineup of the very best of modern and traditional American and Celtic Folk music and blues, with over 75 music performances for more than two days on seven different stages.

The main highlight of the festival is the different jam sessions with many artists, workshops, and people enjoying themselves together for this classic event.

The festival is open to the general public. You can also eat lunch and dinner as you enjoy the sound of music from the South Coast Stage or explore the vast number of locally crafted items here.

The performers who have graced their stage include Dar Williams, Beau Soleil, Tom Rush, Susan Werner, The Stray Birds, and Patty Larkin.

Address: 684 Purchase St, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

11. Cape Cod Bay

Cape Cod Bay
Credits: Kevin Saff / Public Domain
Cape Cod Bay

The art of whaling and hunting has been long forgotten in Massachusetts and New Bedford.

As an alternative, visitors are provided with whale watching besides Cape Cod Bay and the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Currently, whales are no longer hunted for their fats and oil or meat but are persevered for tourism. Despite the fascinating history of the Whaling industry back in the day, New Bedford’s primary industry is fishing.

Therefore, go whale watching if you’re indecisive about what to do in New Bedford, MA. See the varieties of whale species in the city, including humpback, pilot, and minke. In addition, you might be able to see lovely dolphins that would be glad to take photos with you.

Address: Massachusetts, USA

12. Acushnet Avenue

Acushnet Avenue
Credits: Kenneth C. Zirkel [CC BY-SA 4.0], Wikimedia Commons
Acushnet Avenue
Your tour in Bedford will not be complete without visiting Acushnet Avenue. It is a hidden gem in this part of the country that promises lots of fun experiences for tourists.

This destination is full of life, with restaurants, pubs, and shops. So if you are up for some fascinating experience, make sure to have a visit to this place on your checklist of top things to do in New Bedford, MA.

You will see unique Portuguese shops, bakeries, boutiques, pastries, and numerous shops for you to explore.

Acushnet Avenue is also an ideal site for a walk, shopping for souvenirs to take back home to family and friends, and having striking conversations with the locals.

Address: Acushnet Ave, New Bedford, MA, United States

13. Fort Taber Park

Fort Taber Park
Credits: Allan Wood Photography / Shutterstock
Fort Taber Park

The picturesque Fort Taber Park is a 59 acres estate along the ocean. It provides visitors with scenic views of Buzzards Bay.

The Park is essential to New Bedford because it was initially constructed during the 1800s as a military fort just opposite Fort Rodman.

These forts were constructed to protect the coast of New Bedford at the Peak of the Civil War. This destination is visited the most in the afternoons as people come here to relax in summertime or spring.

Fort Taber Park is a must-see destination for anyone in the city as it blooms with tons of amenities and fun activities. It also has a tranquil and peaceful ambiance that gives you all the relaxation your body and soul need. Visitors can go biking, hiking, and jogging beside the paved paths in the Park.

Address: 1000C S Rodney French Blvd, New Bedford, MA 02744,

14. New Bedford Museum of Glass

New Bedford Museum of Glass
Credits: The New Bedford Museum of Glass / Facebook
New Bedford Museum of Glass

The New Bedford Museum of Glass is the abode for a vast collection of glass items that contains designs from modern artists such as Dale Chihuly and Old Mediterranean bottles.

In the Victorian period, the city was well known as the “Art Glass Headquarters of the Country.” Most of the exotic pieces produced in New Bedford include works by Crown Milano, Burmese, Lava glass, Rose Amber glass, and Royal Flemish.

Many beautiful glass pieces are showcased in the 7,000 glasswork collection in the Museum, highlighting the glass history from old times till this day. The Museum features antique tools coupled with a 7 feet high glass press.

You can check out the beautiful glasswork innovation that is used to create this beautiful glass piece which includes glass collections done by Waterford, Baccarat, Steuben, Tiffany, Lalique, Swarovski, and other prominent glass makers.

Address 427 County St, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

15. New Bedford Fire Museum

New Bedford Fire Museum
Credits: Daniel Case [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons
New Bedford Fire Museum
If you are a history lover and don’t know what to do in New Bedford, MA, check out the New Bedford Fire Museum. The Museum exposes visitors to Massachusetts’ oldest functional fire station, Fire Station No 4.

The fire station has a history that stretches back to 1867 and is still a complete active fire station and Museum that contains firefighting gear, equipment, and antiques that were used back then.

The Museum is charming and an ideal location to see in New Bedford. In addition, it is one of the few fire museums in New Bedford.

The Museum is made up of vintage and recent firefighting equipment representing various organizations involved in firefighting. 

Address: 51 Bedford St, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

Are you considering more exploration of Massachusetts, here is a list of  things to do in Hyannis, and things to do in Fall River, for a fun vacation

16. Cuttyhunk Ferry Co.

Cuttyhunk Ferry Co.
Credits: Timothy Valentine / Flickr
Cuttyhunk Ferry Co.

To enjoy the boating culture in NewBedford, one of the best things to do in New Bedford, MA, is to check out the Cuttyhunk Ferry, which leads you around Cuttyhunk Island and Buzzard Bay.

The experience of visiting here is something you surely do not want to miss. The Ferry will lead you through New Bedford’s beautiful water and historic sites.

This destination provides you with various types of exciting expeditions. You can fully be part of the sunset cruises, diner trips, and seal watches.

The Ferry Company has been functioning for about 30 years and has led people around New Bedford. Visitors can book their tickets at the website of Cuttyhunk Ferry Co. or phone their office. 

Address: 66 State Pier, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

17. New Bedford Free Public Library

New Bedford Free Public Library
Credits: cmh2315fl / Flickr
New Bedford Free Public Library

If you love to read good books, make sure to stop by the New Bedford Free Public Library, where you can peruse various books.

The Public Library is teeming with a book collection of 37,300 video and audio formats for youth, adults, and kids. It also houses an essential collection of American Whaling books, an extensive genealogy collection and Museum quality, and the 18th century Quaker books.

There are materials available in the Portuguese language at the branch in Casa Saudade. For Spanish language, there are books available at the Howland Green branch. The Library is open for visits from Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 9 pm and on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm.

Address: 613 Pleasant St, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

18. Zeiterion Performing Arts Center

Zeiterion Performing Arts Center
Credits: Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center is a fantastic place to visit if you want to see cultural performances that will take you down New Bedford memory lane. It is one of the best places to visit in New Bedford, MA.

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center is highly recommendable for anyone visiting New Bedford, as it allows you to enjoy fantastic cultural shows and performances. 

Besides the cultural shows to witness here, this destination is also part of the 17 old theatres still standing in the downtown area of New Bedford.

Zeiterion Performing Arts Center has been in the business of entertaining both locals and visitors alike and also has been telling the history of New Bedford since 1923.

Besides cultural performances, the Arts Center features other events, including live performances, concerts, and many others.

Address: 684 Purchase St, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

19. New Bedford Harbor Hotel

If you intend to spend a day or two or even more during your trip here, do well to book a room at New Bedford Harbor Hotel.

This Hotel will give you ample opportunity to tour various picturesque destinations you have planned on your bucket list of fun things to do in New Bedford, MA.

Visitors can book a spa session to round off an adventurous day of touring. The New Bedford Harbor Hotel is near top tourist destinations in New Bedford, including the Whaling Museum, New Bedford’s Harbor area, Whaling National Historical Park, and Cuttyhunk Ferry Co.

The Hotel comprises state-of-the-art amenities, scintillating views of New Bedford’s Harbor, lovely foods, and discount deals throughout the year.

Address: 222 Union St, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

20. Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum

Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum
Credits: Daniel Case [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons
Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum
The Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum were constructed in 1834. Visitors can tour this Greek-style tower that shipbuilders built for a prominent New Bedford whaler, William Rotch, Jr.

Besides the little changes over the years, the Greek Revival nature of the home is still preserved, even with the profiles of the elliptical echinus on corner blocks and baseboards.

The inside of the Museum is well equipped in style, just like the mid-19th century when the family of Rotch was residing here, so to give you a pictorial view of how this weather-whaling family lived their lives.

Outside the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum is a beautiful garden with highlights from the three times the property changed ownership. 

Address: 396 County St, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

21. New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks

New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks
Credits: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism / Flickr
New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks

If you are a lover of art, don’t pass up an opportunity to check out the New Bedford Art Museum and Artworks. The Museum is housed in a former bank building in the downtown area. The Museum has been vital in promoting local art in New Bedford for more than 25 years.

The New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks also provides visitors and locals with impacting educational experiences. They offer studio lessons which include seeing and talking about the exhibits on-site.

The many art-related activities to get involved in when you visit include sculpting, mixed media projects, comic book art, clay sculpting, printmaking, mask making, and others.

The Museum organizes many events yearly, such as AHA!, an energetic cultural event in New Bedford downtown each Thursday of the month.

Address: 608 Pleasant St, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

22. Seamen’s Bethel

Seamen's Bethel
Credits: LEONARDO DASILVA / Flickr
Seamen’s Bethel

The Seamen’s Bethel is where whalers would always stop before embarking on their journey.

This destination was built ideally for many sailors who saw New Bedford as their home port; they saw it as a tradition to always visit the chapel before embarking on their journey.

Few renovations and changes were done in the building after it got caught up in flames in 1866. Names of New Bedford’s whalers and fishermen who died while sailing were put up on Bethel’s walls.

The chapel was constructed in 1832 due to the earnest contributions and efforts of the New Bedford Port Society for the Moral Improvement of Seamen. Their lifestyle of debauchery became a huge concern.

Address: 15 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA 02740, United States

23. New England Fast Ferry

New England Fast Ferry
Credits: Maridav / Shutterstock

Go on a tour around New Bedford with the New England Fast Ferry. It is an ideal way to explore many lovely areas of this city.

It is perfect if you want to miss out on the Cape traffic. It is large, quiche, and perfect to sail around the region.

The Ferry features spacious seating, like an airline, with many rooms if you want to relax. Other things to find on the ferry while on board include a dateline TV, a furnished bass, much leg room, and plush seating.

All their boats are top quality and come with recent technology to give you an easy and smooth ride anywhere you choose.

Address: 49 State Pier, New Bedford, MA 02740-7254, United States

Meet the top attractions in Massachusetts, here is a guide on the top things to do in Northamptonthings to do in Falmouth, and the best things to do in Worcester.

Plan Your Trip to New Bedford

If you are a history enthusiast or seafood lover, one of the top tourist destinations is New Bedford. Aside from being a well-known city as a result of its fishing port, it is filled with a beautiful and dynamic culture, entertainment, and art.

You will certainly enjoy your visit to this iconic city.

Have a fun trip!