Things To Do In Boston
Boston is one of the oldest cities in America. And naturally, there are plenty of historical attractions here. But there’s more to Boston than just its long history.
There are also plenty of attractions for foodies, art and culture lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. To help you plan your trip to Beantown, here are our picks for the 15 best things to do in Boston.
1. Freedom Trail
Walking the Freedom Trail is one of the best things to do in Boston. It will help you appreciate its rich history. Stretching for 2.5 miles, there are 16 landmarks along the length of the trail.
Starting at Boston Common, you’ll pass by sites such as the Old State House, Faneuil Hall, the Old North Church and the USS Constitution, before ending at the Bunker Hill Monument.
It’s a good idea to walk the trail early on during your visit to Boston to get your bearings. Wear comfortable shoes and leave yourself enough time if you want to explore any of the sites in depth.
And while you can certainly do the trail on your own, many visitors find it helpful to join a guided tour with a costumed guide.
2. Boston Common
Established in 1634, Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States. Initially, it was used as a cow pasture. Later on, it was a British camp before the Revolutionary war.
Today, it’s a popular public park for relaxing, gatherings, speeches, protests, concerts and live performances. It’s also the first stop on the Freedom Trail and the Black Heritage Trail. Look for the Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial in the park. Enjoy a leisurely stroll or a picnic on the pretty grounds.
Kids will enjoy playing in the Tadpole Playground or the Frog Pond, where you can find a spray pool during the summer and an ice skating rink in the winter.
3. Boston Public Garden
Located next to Boston Common, the Boston Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in the United States. The trees and flowers are beautifully landscaped and organized.
It’s very pleasant to stroll around the winding paths of the garden. Plenty of benches and shade can be found throughout. Look for two of the most iconic statues in Boston here – the Equestrian Statue of George Waashington and Make Way for Ducklings.
For many visitors, the highlight is taking a Swan Boat cruise around the lagoon at the center of the park. The paddle boats are available from April to September.
4. Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Founded in 1742, Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a famous and popular indoor and outdoor marketplace.
Part of the Freedom Trail, the marketplace is made up of Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market. Known as the “Cradle of Liberty,” it was here that Samuel Adams called for independence from the British.
You can find a statue of Adams just in front of the entrance to the marketplace. Many other important speeches and political events have been held here over the years.
Today, the market is home to more than 100 shops and restaurants. Stop by to appreciate the history, grab a bite to eat, watch the street performers and soak up the atmosphere.
5. North End
With a history dating back to the 1630s, the North End is the oldest residential neighborhood in Boston. It’s a beautiful area. With its narrow streets, historic buildings and cobblestone squares, it’s perfect for meandering.
Several stops on the Freedom Trail can be found here, including the Paul Revere House and the Old North Church. The North End is also Boston’s “Little Italy,” and home to a wealth of Italian cafes, bakeries, delis, restaurants and wine bars.
Be sure to try Italian classics like pizza, pasta and gelato while you’re here. To take the guesswork out, and to learn more about the history of the area, join a guided food and history tour of the North End.
6. Paul Revere House
Built in 1680, the Paul Revere House is the oldest home in downtown Boston. See where Revere lived for more than 30 years, including during the Revolutionary war era.
The house was saved from demolition by the Revere family at the turn of the 20th century. Now a museum and part of the Freedom Trail, the 3-story house is more than 90 percent original. Furnished with many heirloom items from the Revere family, the well-preserved interior takes you back in time.
Learn more about Revere and his legendary midnight ride, as well as 18th-century family life at the new education and visitor center. Special living history programs are held in the courtyard and gardens from time to time.
7. Old North Church
Part of the Freedom Trail, the Old North Church played a key role in the events leading up to the Revolutionary War. It was here that the “one if by land, two if by sea” signal lanterns were hung, as instructed by Paul Revere during his midnight ride.
With a history dating back to 1722, it’s the oldest church in Boston, and one of the most visited historic sites in the city. Look for a bust of George Washington inside, along with many historic and beautiful relics.
The Old North Church campus is also home to several gardens, Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop and several other specialty shops.
8. Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory
For the best views of Boston, head to the Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory.
Located on the 50th floor of the Prudential Tower (also known as “The Pru”), it’s the only high vantage point in Boston offering panoramic 360 degree views.
Audio guides and a multimedia theater will tell you more about key landmarks as well as Boston’s history and culture. Learn more about the city’s multicultural population at the Dreams of Freedom Museum on-site.
For fine dining with a view, head up to the Top of the Hub Restaurant and Lounge two floors up. You can also go shopping at the mall on the building’s first floor.
9. Fenway Park
Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, visiting Fenway Park is still one of the best things to do in Boston. Home to the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park is the oldest Major League baseball stadium in America.
Given its age and location, there are some unique features about the park, such as the “Green Monster” left field wall. Learn more about the stadium and America’s national pastime on an hour-long tour of the park, available on most days.
Or better yet, stay for a game if you can score some tickets. Then grab a drink at the Bleacher Bar, the bar below the bleachers in centerfield.
10. Boston Harbor Islands
Visiting one of the Boston Harbor Islands is one of the best things to do in Boston to enjoy the outdoors. There are 34 islands in Boston Harbor to choose from, all part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Park.
There’s no fee to visit the islands, and seasonal ferries provide easy access. Enjoy miles of great hikes and incredible harbor views from the highest harbor point on Spectacle Island.
Explore historic Fort Andrews, scenic hiking trails and a large beach on Peddocks Island. Relax on a secluded beach and play in tidepools on Lovells Island. Other popular islands include Georges, Grape and Thompson.
11. New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Boston for families with kids and animal lovers. Located on Central Wharf overlooking Boston Harbor, the aquarium is home to more than 15,000 sea creatures.
Don’t miss the 4-story Giant Ocean Tank, where more than 1,000 creatures can be found. There are also special exhibits dedicated to certain animals, such as penguins or jellyfish. Enjoy a sensory experience at the Shark and Ray Touch Tank.
Time your visit for feeding time for a special experience. Behind-the-scene tours of the aquarium are available. The aquarium is also home to the Simons IMAX theater, which houses the largest IMAX screen in New England.
Save time waiting and book a skip-the-line ticket in advance.
12. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
Learn more about the life and presidency of JFK at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. Housed in a striking building designed by I.M. Pei, it holds the world’s largest collection of Kennedy family materials.
See letters, family photos, memorabilia, presidential papers, audio and video recordings and more. Explore more than 20 multimedia exhibits and settings from the White House.
You can see a recreation of JFK’s Oval Office, as well as his 26-foot sailboat. Additional exhibits of interest include ones devoted to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the space program.
The 10-acre waterfront site at Columbia Point also offers wonderful views of the Boston skyline and the Harbor Islands.
13. Copley Square
Located in the Back Bay neighborhood, Copley Square is a charming and bustling square that’s home to several popular attractions.
Don’t miss the Boston Public Library, with its beautiful architecture and artwork. Guided hour-long tours are available. Copley Square is also home to the grand Trinity Church and the Old South Church.
The tallest building in the state can also be found here – formerly the John Hancock Tower, now 200 Clarendon Street. Find high-end shopping and dining just a block away on Newbury Street. While the finish line for the Boston Marathon, and the famous Tortoise and Hare statue, can be found on Boylston Street nearby.
14. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Be a part of history at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Located in Boston Harbor, the floating museum offers an immersive experience that allows visitors to relive the events of December 16, 1773.
Visitors start at the Meeting Room and receive their disguise before boarding one of two replica tea ships to throw a crate of tea overboard. The experience continues at the museum, where interactive exhibits, multi-sensory documentaries, reenacted debates and historic artifacts help tell the story of this key event.
A great gift shop and lovely team room round out this unique way to experience history. Book your tickets ahead of time to guarantee your entry,
15. Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the best things to do in Boston for art lovers. One of the oldest art museums in the country, the Museum of Fine Arts has a collection of more than 500,000 works of art.
See everything from ancient Engyptian art and artifacts to contemporary American art. The museum’s Art of the America’s wing is particularly impressive.
Also noteworthy is the museum’s collection of Japanese art, one of the largest outside of Japan. The museum also has an renowned collection of French impressionist works. You can easily spend many hours here.
But for those short on time, pick up a highlights map of the museum, or embark on a specialized tour.
Tip : Consider getting an multi-attraction pass, such as the CityPASS, EXPLORER Pass or GO BOSTON Pass, if you plan on sightseeing in Boston. The hop-on hop-off trolley is also a great way to explore the highlights of Boston at your leisure.
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