The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is known widely as the Bay State, but did you know Massachusetts has several other nicknames? It took me 65 years to learn of it.

There is a good reason Massachusetts is known as the Bay State. There are many bays here. When I first thought about it, I considered Massachusetts Bay, Cape Cod Bay, and Buzzards Bay – but there are many more than that.

There are 25 bays in Bristol County alone.

Get our free mobile app defines a bay as an "indentation of a coastline or shoreline enclosing a part of a body of water; a body of water partly surrounded by land." This definition includes such terms as "arm, bight, cove, estuary, gulf, inlet, sound," and even harbor.

Okay, it makes sense now why Massachusetts would be known as the Bay State.

Massachusetts is also known as the Old Colony State. The name applied to the early settlements of the Plymouth Colony between 1620-1628, before the Massachusetts Bay Colony was established.

In 1677, Massachusetts was made up of Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony, plus the areas of New Hampshire, Maine, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

The colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island were originally settled by people from Massachusetts.

The Bay State and the Old Colony State were not the only nicknames assigned to Massachusetts over the years, however. While the Bay State is the official nickname, Massachusetts is also known as the Pilgrim State, the Puritan State, the Baked Bean State, and, of course, the Old Colony State.

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Every beach town has its share of pluses and minuses, which got us thinking about what makes a beach town the best one to live in. To find out, Stacker consulted data from WalletHub, released June 17, 2020, that compares U.S. beach towns. Ratings are based on six categories: affordability, weather, safety, economy, education and health, and quality of life. The cities ranged in population from 10,000 to 150,000, but they had to have at least one local beach listed on TripAdvisor. Read the full methodology here. From those rankings, we selected the top 50. Readers who live in California and Florida will be unsurprised to learn that many of towns featured here are in one of those two states.

Keep reading to see if your favorite beach town made the cut.

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Many of the included towns jump out at the casual observer as popular summer-rental spots--the Ozarks' Branson, Missouri, or Arizona's Lake Havasu--it might surprise you to dive deeper into some quality-of-life offerings beyond the beach and vacation homes. You'll likely pick up some knowledge from a wide range of Americana: one of the last remaining 1950s-style drive-ins in the Midwest; a Florida town that started as a Civil War veteran retirement area; an island boasting some of the country's top public schools and wealth-earners right in the middle of a lake between Seattle and Bellevue; and even a California town containing much more than Johnny Cash's prison blues.

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