The elite men start the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, in Hopkinton, Mass., Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Located just 20 minutes from Boston, Massachusetts, the region boasts family-friendly activities, outdoor adventures, history, culture and art; in fact, several communities have strong cultural and arts organizations with performance venues, classes, and more.  Hiking and cycling are favorite pastimes with five state parks and numerous community trails. And sports are kind of a big deal — the Boston Marathon starts here.

More of an indoorsy person? You’re covered. Art galleries and live performances are just around the corner, historic sites tell stories of the area, there’s even a learning center dedicated to Christa McAuliffe so you can get your science on. Once you are ready to play visit one of the many shopping centers and malls, go bowling, drive a go-kart or try your hand at axe throwing!

Dining can be an international experience. The region has a large Brazilian population, and there are many restaurants that create Portuguese and Brazilian specialties. Not to mention Mexican, Chinese, Pub Fare, Steakhouses, Italian, Japanese… you get the idea. MetroWest libations include several microbreweries, a winery and a cidery located on the farm where the apples are grown. It doesn’t get any more local than that.

Lodging ranges from affordable brand name hotels and charming New England inns, including a 300-year-old inn made famous by Longfellow, all with free parking. Once you settle in, things to see and do are minutes away. The area is easily accessible by major highways and the MBTA Commuter Rail.