What do Louisa May Alcott, Babe Ruth, John F. Kennedy, and Conan O’Brien all have in common? They all have called Boston, Massachusetts home at one point. Founded in 1630, Boston was one of the earlier cities where the fanatical Puritans settled and started to build along the harbor.
Many consider Boston to be the epicenter where whispers of independence from the German King George III began. In December 1773, the well-known Boston Tea Party event occurred. The name suggests a good time, but it was more of a rebellion than a party.
To protest the import tax regulations, a large group boarded three ships and proceeded to dump chests of tea into the harbor. The British Parliament retaliated, continuing a chain of events that led to the start of the American Revolutionary War.
Revolutionists like John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams are still remembered today and are household names in Boston.
The city is a premier destination to learn about America’s early history. But, if history is not your cup of tea and the food scene is more your speed, then Boston has all that too!
There are several close-by beaches and parks if you are looking for outdoorsy activities. Go on a run by the river, or relax with a picnic at Constitution Beach.
Boston winters can be harsh, as blizzards are common in this part of the country. January and February usually see the most snowfall with January being the coldest month for the city.
There are still winter activities available in Boston! Go ice skating on the Boston Common Frog Pond or peruse the holiday markets in December.
The town comes alive during the summer months, but it is when the prices are going to be highest due to the crowds. Summer is going to have the most activities available. In the spring, you can watch runners from all over taking part in The Boston Marathon.
Flowers start to bloom in places like the Boston Public Garden, which are worth a trip to see.
Fall is still busy for Boston as college students start school. The temperatures do start to cool down and you can watch events like the two-day rowing race, Head of The Charles Regatta. It is also a great time to admire the fall foliage from one of the harbor cruises.
If you are not sure what to do in Boston, then check out this guide to get some ideas and inspire you to book your next trip!
Table of Contents
- Best Boston Tourist Attractions
- 1. But first; Get a Boston CityPASS!
- 2. New England Aquarium and Franklin Park Zoo
- 3. Museum of Science and Harvard Museum of Natural History
- 4. Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
- 5. Fenway Park
- 6. Beacon Hill
- 7. The Garden
- Things to do in Boston for Couples
- 8. Embark on a Boston Harbor Sunset Sail
- 9. Paddle around in Swan Boats
- 10. Charles River Esplanade
- 11. Enjoy a Romantic Beach Picnic
- Libraries to Visit in Boston
- 12. Boston Public Library
- 14. Boston Athenaeum
- 15. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
- 16. Mary Baker Eddy Library
- Outdoor Things to do in Boston
- 17. Boston Public Garden
- 18. Castle Island
- 19. Walk the Freedom Trail
- 20. Go Whale Watching
- Museums in Boston
- 21. Museum of Fine Arts
- 22. Boston Children’s Museum
- 23. Paul Revere House
- Where to Eat/Drink in Boston
- 24. Cheers on Beacon Hill
- 25. Faneuil Hall Marketplace
- 26. Get wicked responsible on a Boston Brewery Tour
- 27. Food Walking Tours
- Boston Things to do at Night
- 28. Get spooked on a Boston Ghost Tour
- 29. Drink
- 30. Theatres of Emerson College
- 31. Boston Ballet
- Where to Stay in Boston
- The Newbury Boston
- Encore Boston Harbor
- The Verb Hotel
- How to Get Around in Boston
- Boston Hop-on and Hop-Off Trolley Tour
- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
- Rent A Car
- Rent A Bike
- Is Boston Safe?
- What are some things I can do with kids?
- Is Boston dog friendly?
- What is Boston, Massachusetts is known for?
- Most significant landmark – Fenway Park
- Best park – Boston Public Garden
- Best free activity – Freedom Trail (self-guided)
- Best activity for kids – Museum of Science
- Best activity for adults – Boston Harbor Sunset Sail
- Best food – Bova’s Bakery
- Best nightlife – Drink
- Best all-around accommodation – Encore Boston Harbor
Best Boston Tourist Attractions
1. But first; Get a Boston CityPASS!
There are so many Boston things to see it is hard to know where to start! The Boston CityPASS can help with that and help you save on costs if you had booked individual tickets. The pass acts as one admission ticket for up to four locations and is valid for nine consecutive days once you use it at the initial location.
The City Cruises and New England Aquarium do need reservations in advance, so take that into account as you plan your family-fun schedule!
See Related: Boston CityPASS Review: How d’you like ‘dem apples?
2. New England Aquarium and Franklin Park Zoo
Addresses: 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110 (Aquarium); 1 Franklin Park Rd, Boston, MA 02121 (Franklin Park Zoo)
Come explore and learn about the animals of the sea at the New England Aquarium. From African penguins to sea lions, your family will love observing the different creatures in their curated habitats. Myrtle the green sea turtle is one of the stars at the aquarium.
I recommend seeing her when the doors first open, or after 3 pm for better viewing opportunities. This location does sell out at times, so I recommend booking early to not miss out on this one! Get your New England Aquarium admission ticket now.
Kids will love getting to learn and watch all the animals at the Franklin Park Zoo. From the smallest bird to the largest mammal, the zoo has hundreds of animals, reptiles, and insects to enjoy. For an extra fee, you can book personal experiences with some of the animals like red pandas or giraffes.
See Related: Best Ghost Tours in Salem, Massachusetts
3. Museum of Science and Harvard Museum of Natural History
Addresses: 1 Museum Of Science Driveway, Boston, MA 02114 (Museum of Science); 26 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Harvard Museum of Natural History)
The Museum of Science is a place that encourages kids to learn about STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Mathematics) while also having lots of fun!
The immersive exhibits will appeal to all five of your senses. The museum likes to switch up the exhibits to keep the experience interesting and different each time you visit.
The Museum of Science also includes a theater with quick movie features. The coolest part about the museum is the Charles Hayden Planetarium.
Take your kids on a virtual journey through the universe. The Planetarium can be for adults too. They offer musical experiences by pairing artists like Radiohead or Fleetwood Mac with trippy visual art.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History Museum is in Cambridge near Harvard University, where you can enjoy a Harvard University Campus Guided Walking Tour for a side trip.
The museum is accessible by the subway system. Learn all about wildlife, plant life, and marine life at the museum. It is open daily, except on major holidays, and does not need a reservation.
They also host lectures, adult classes, and put on special events. So keep an eye out for extra items to do through their event page.
4. Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
Address: 306 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
At the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, you can feel like you are a part of the 1773 event. Everyone’s popular colonist, Sam Adams, leads guests through the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party.
Then you can hop aboard a full-scale replica of the 1773 ship where you can dump your own “tea” into the harbor like our Bostonian ancestors.
The museum has a preserved tea chest called the Robinson Tea Chest on display. Historics believe this may be the only chest that survived the Boston Tea Party.
The museum tour also includes a 3D re-enactment area, a short film, and access to the gift shop. Afterward, enjoy a cup of tea and scone at Abigail’s Tea Room and Terrace.
The tea room does serve heftier food and alcoholic drinks as well. Visitors can access Abigail’s Tea Room & Terrace and the gift shop without a ticket if they do not have time for the museum.
See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US
5. Fenway Park
Address: 4 Jersey St, Boston, MA 02215
Fenway Park should be on the top of your list of what to do in Boston. The stadium is a sports institution and one of the more well-known baseball stadiums in the United States.
Home to the Major League Baseball team, The Boston Red Sox, the baseball season runs from spring into fall. There is nothing more American than donning your baseball cap, hot dog in hand, and cheering on the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
While many MLB teams have moved stadiums, Fenway Park is special in being the oldest baseball stadium still played today. In 2012, the National Register of Historical Places added the park to its list for its historical significance to help preserve the site.
I encourage you also to take a guided tour of the ballpark and learn all about its history. Many of the greats like Babe Ruth and Ted Williams played here under the Boston Red Sox name.
The team played its first game in the stadium in 1912 against the New York Highlanders. They have gone on to win eight World Series titles.
See Related: Best Spring Break Destinations for Families
6. Beacon Hill
When you picture Boston, you may think of cobblestone pathways and red brick row houses. Beacon Hill has all that and more as one of Boston’s oldest and most desirable neighborhoods. You can learn about Beacon Hill on tour.
Read about some of the historical sites you can visit.
The Museum of African American History
Address: 46 Joy St, Boston, MA 02114
The Museum of African American History explores colonial life for black communities and the cultural impact they had on the city.
Built-in 1806, the African Meeting House is a stop on the Black Heritage Trail and was renovated in the 1885 style. The buildings were used as a church, school, and community hall for free black communities during the 19th century.
I recommend touring the Black Heritage Trail to learn more about African American Boston history. The National Park Service provides free tours during nice weather, but you can also do a self-guided tour.
Use brochures to explain the historical significance of each location in Beacon Hill. The tour features 14 stops and is a little over a mile and a half walking distance. Please be respectful during your history lesson, as the historic homes on the trail are private residences.
George Middleton’s House
Address: 5 Pinckney St, Boston, MA 02114
George Middleton led the “Bucks of America”, a black militia group, during the American Revolutionary War. He was heavily involved in the African American community of Beacon Hill.
The home was built in 1787 by Middleton and Louis Glapion to house two families and is considered the oldest home on Beacon Hill. This location is on the Black Heritage Trail and is a private residence.
Boston Common Park
Address: 115 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116
The Boston Common Park was used as a campground for British troops during the American Revolutionary War, and George Washington used it to celebrate the nation’s independence. As one of the oldest American public parks, the park has seen many rallies and protests take place on its grounds.
Built in 1634, the park is part of the Freedom Trail route today and includes a pond, ample green space, sports fields, and more for families to enjoy!
See Related: Best Family Travel Hacks You Need to Know
7. The Garden
Address: 100 Legends Way, Boston, MA 02114
The North East is known for having strong ties to its sports teams, and the Boston Red Sox is not the only team to have a strong fan base. The Boston Bruins play in the National Hockey League (NHL) and won the Stanley Cup in The Garden arena in 1939 and 1970. They won the 2011 cup against the Vancouver Canucks in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) Boston Celtics team calls The Garden home as well. The Celtics are one of the original teams in the league and the name honors the Irish-Catholic immigrants who settled in Boston over the centuries.
They are considered one of the more successful teams in the NBA. Wear something green (Celtics) or black and gold (Bruins) and catch a sports game at the arena.
When the sports teams are not playing, The Garden will do large volume concerts and other various events. It opened in 1995 to replace the older Boston Garden building.
Each year, over 3.5 million people visit the sports and entertainment arena. It has been featured in some movies as well like Zookeeper and Ted.
It is a beautiful sight not to miss on a Boston walking and driving tour.
Things to do in Boston for Couples
8. Embark on a Boston Harbor Sunset Sail
Address: Rowes Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
Imagine cruising on the Boston Harbor with an 80-foot sailboat. You have a glass of champagne in one hand and your special someone next to you while you watch the sun setting behind the city. There is no better way to see the city skyline. Schedule this tour and book tickets early, as it is a popular one!
The sunset tour includes a captain and crew who will sail for two hours around the harbor to see sites like Castle Island and the Chelsea Navy Shipyard.
The crew is knowledgeable about the history of Boston and particularly loves to share maritime stories back when Boston was a key trade port. Food is not provided, but you can bring treats and alcohol is available for purchase.
If the sailing tour sells out, then check out the other sunset cruise options! The Sunset Cruise, Yacht Cruise, and Tall Ship Cruise offer different vessels and price points depending on the type of experience you want to have.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in the US
9. Paddle around in Swan Boats
Address: 4 Charles St, Boston, MA 02116
Riding a Swan Boat should be on your Boston Bucket List. Located in the lagoon area of Public Garden, the Swan Boats are a perfect Boston activity for couples.
The boats have been around since 1977 and feature a large, white swan on the back of the vessel, hence the name Swan Boat. Wooden benches with red trim allow visitors to relax while a driver navigates and pedals the boat.
The tour lasts about 15 minutes and is an affordable, fun activity. You may even spot the resident female swans of the lagoon, Romeo and Juliet! Please follow responsible nature practices and do not feed them. They get fed daily by the City of Boston animal professionals.
The business has been driving boats for locals and visitors alike since 1870. It started when Robert Paget began rowing a boat for hire at the same park. Paget wanted to make his boats unique and added the Swan feature.
He took inspiration from the swan-led boat in the Lohengrin opera. The current version of the boats was constructed under John Paget, Robert’s youngest son. The oldest boat dates back to 1910.
Pack a blanket and picnic to share in the park afterward!
10. Charles River Esplanade
Address: Charles River, Esplanade, Boston, MA 02116
The Charles River Esplanade is a 17-mile piece of land between the Charles River and Storrow Drive. This is a stunning place to spend a romantic day with your boo.
Car parking is limited in the surrounding area, so I recommend renting a bike and using the pedestrian bridges to get to the Esplanade. In the summer, you will see many people using the paths to run, bike, and rollerskate. Others like to spread out on the grassy areas and soak up the sun.
Take a break for some refreshments and stop by the seasonal pop-up beer garden hosted by Night Shift. Cool off with a hard seltzer or lager and lunch from one of the food trucks.
Independence Day is an exciting time to be in Boston. The Charles River Esplanade is the perfect spot to celebrate the holiday with the Annual 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza.
The Hatch Shell amphitheater puts on live music and the fireworks show can be seen over the Charles River. Go early to grab the ideal spot to hear the Boston Pops Orchestra play during the fireworks.
See Related: Best Girls Trip Destinations Around the World
11. Enjoy a Romantic Beach Picnic
Address: Constitution Beach, Boston, MA 02128, USA
Surprise your significant other by booking an intimate picnic on the beach. Leave the picnic haul to the professionals and enjoy the sites and experience. The picnic set-up includes a blanket, pillows, Bluetooth speaker, umbrella, snacks, and beverages.
The picnic lasts two hours and gives enough time to watch the planes take off and land at Logan International Airport.
Since you are on the New England coast, there are some close-by beaches only a short drive or metro ride away. Check out Revere Beach, Carson Beach, or Wollaston Beach. All are reachable by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Summer will always be a busy time, so I recommend snagging your spot on the earlier side!
See Related: Best Beaches in the US to Visit
Libraries to Visit in Boston
12. Boston Public Library
Address: 700 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116
Did you know a Frenchman was the first one to encourage Boston to have a free, public library? Nicolas Marie Alexandre was a successful ventriloquist who dedicated his time to developing the idea of library exchanges between cities and France.
With the approval of Boston’s mayor at the time, Josiah Quincy Jr., the Boston Public Library was founded in 1848. It still took six more years before the library would open to locals, but the space already had an extensive collection of volumes.
The library continued to expand and moved a few times to accommodate the growing collection. The library is one of the best attractions to explore on a Boston tour.
Even if you are not going to check out a book, the Central Library is worth seeing for the architecture alone. High-arched ceilings and Renaissance-inspired architecture and art, and French details make the library what it is today.
Charles Follen McKim designed the new location and envisioned a “palace” style library, which he did deliver. Choose a favorite classic and enjoy reading in Bates Hall at one of the many oak tables.
Take in the views of the courtyard library by having tea at the aptly-named Courtyard Tea Room. Sip some Earl Grey during a traditional afternoon tea, or talk about your favorite authors with a tea-infused cocktail in the Map Room.
You cannot go wrong with either experience and if you have the time, I recommend checking out both rooms!
See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Know
14. Boston Athenaeum
Address: 10-1/2 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108
As a fellow book-lover, visiting one library will not do. You might as well make a day of it to visit the different ones while in Boston. Another favorite is the Boston Athenaeum.
A local group called the Anthology Society took inspiration from the athenaeums of Great Britain and founded the Boston counterpart in 1807. The purpose was to create a safe place of knowledge, art, and culture.
The Boston Athenaeum became one of the largest libraries in America, until the Boston Public Library. Similar to the Boston Public Library, the Boston Athenaeum quickly outgrew its original building and moved the collections a few times until it found its home in the current Beacon Street location in 1849.
I recommend taking a tour to learn about the art and architecture of the buildings. After, find a peaceful nook to read a chapter or two from a book that caught your eye.
The Boston Athenaeum will sometimes have featured exhibits to explore and fun events like book talks. If you need a little extra time to write that novel, the library offers day passes and you get great views of the city.
Quench your thirst on a Boston Boo’s and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl Tour for a side trip.
15. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
Address: Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125
The JFK Presidential Library was established to honor the legacy of the late 35th President of the United States.
The presidential library system began with President Theodore Roosevelt. He provided important artifacts and papers from his presidency and created his library on his New York estate in 1939.
Currently, there are 14 presidential libraries across the United States. They include presidential archives, exhibits, and programs for visitors to enjoy.
Before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy agreed to provide his presidential papers like his predecessors.
He selected Cambridge, Massachusetts to be the location for the library and his office after leaving the Oval Office. Unfortunately, President Kennedy did not get to enjoy his new office. The young president was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963.
The Kennedy family was heavily involved in the development of the library and museum after President Kennedy’s death.
Due to significant delays at the original Cambridge location, a ten-acre site on the water was chosen instead. Sixteen years after President Kennedy’s death, the library and museum opened to the public in 1979.
Some of the permanent exhibits provide a glimpse into President Kennedy’s youth, his 1960 election, his space program legacy, and the life of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The archives have documents, photos, audio, and other artifacts.
They even include a majority of Ernest Hemingway’s manuscripts.
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16. Mary Baker Eddy Library
Address: 210 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115
Who is Mary Baker Eddy you may ask? She founded The First Church of Christ, Scientist, also known as Christian Science. The library welcomes visitors of any religious affiliation to come and learn about Mary Baker Eddy’s incredible life and how she came to found Christian Science.
The Mary Baker Eddy Library is most known for its Mapparium. The Church commissioned architect Chester Lindsay Churchill to build the stained-glass globe which is said to represent the global influence and reach of Christian Science.
These days, the globe is considered a historical artifact today as it shows the world as it was in 1935. Countries have come and gone and who knows what the world will look like in another 50 years!
Do not forget to check out the library’s podcast to learn more about Christian Science!
Outdoor Things to do in Boston
17. Boston Public Garden
Address: 4 Charles St, Boston, MA 02116
If you have not caught on yet, the 19th century was a booming time for the Boston area. In 1837, the city and America opened its first botanical garden with Public Garden.
The park is part of Boston’s “Emerald Necklace,” which is a strategic landscape design resembling an emerald necklace. It covers over 1,000 acres of parks linked together by parkways and waterways.
The Victorian era saw an interest rise in parks and gardens as a place where people could relax and socialize.
Florals became a key component of Public Garden and inspired gardeners to create colorful hybrids and landscape designs. Today, you can see over 80 different species of plants, and many weddings are held here due to its beauty.
The lagoon and swan boats are the most popular spot in the Boston Public Garden. On the north end, stop by the 1987 Nancy Schön sculpture of a mother mallard leading her eight little ducklings.
Schön was inspired by a 1941 children’s book by Robert McCloskey about a pair of ducks who raise their ducklings on the Public Garden lagoon. She titled her sculpture after the book, Make Way for Ducklings.
Sticking with the duck theme and also inspired by the McCloskey tale, the park hosts an annual Duckling Day Parade each spring.
Families dress their little ones in adorable duck costumes and “waddle” from Boston Common to the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture. It is one parade you do not want to miss, as you will never see this many ducks all in one place!
Another springtime event worth visiting the park is the blooming of the tulips. In the fall, the Boston Parks and Recreation department plants the tulip bulbs. In 2019 they planted over 25,000 bulbs!
The popular flower has been a staple of the garden since the 1840s and draws crowds from all over to see them in bloom.
Book a guided bicycle tour to explore the beauty of Boston.
See Related: List of US National Monuments
18. Castle Island
Address: 2010 William J Day Blvd, Boston, MA 02127
Part of a peninsula in the Boston Harbor, the name Castle Island is somewhat misleading as it has not been an island since 1928. The island was used as an outpost to help fortify the port town.
In 1634, the fort was built and labeled as the “Castle”. The name turned into Castle William, then Fort Adams, and finally the name stuck with Fort Independence once rebuilt.
The island played an important role in several wars and does have a dark past where for a time it was a holding area for the Native American slave trade.
In the 1660s and 1670s, tensions rose between the colonists and the two Native American tribes of the area, the Wampanoags and Narragansetts. King Philip’s War (sometimes called Metacom’s War) led to the destruction of lives, and homes, and was a brutal time.
If you have an interest in war and colonial history, volunteers give free tours of the fort in the summer.
Today, Castle Island is available for friendlier reasons and is a popular destination for locals and tourists. Since it is no longer an island, then you do not have to hop on a ferry or boat to go visit. There is a free parking lot by the fort, or you can take a bus or the subway red line.
Stroll along the Harborwalk around the 22-acre island or spend a fun day at Pleasure Bay Beach. Get lunch at Sullivan’s (or Sully’s) and take a free tour of Fort Independence.
If you are in the area for the July 4th holiday, watch the USS Constitution ship do her annual turn-around at the fort. Once at Castle Island, she fires off 21 guns to celebrate the nation’s hard-fought independence. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” it is the oldest ship in US service, since 1797.
19. Walk the Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail experience is a walking route you can do self-guided or through a tour. There are 16 historical sites along the two-and-a-half-mile route going through downtown Boston and Charlestown.
Instead of following the “yellow brick road” like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, visitors use a physical red line marked on the sidewalks to find the way. Since the trail is outdoors, you can do a nice, long walk with Fido while you learn about Boston’s history.
Join a small group walking tour, and if you are doing a self-guided tour there is no specific start or end to the route and you can go at your own pace. If there are sites you want to go inside for or experience, research the specific locations ahead of time to know when they are open, ticket prices, accessibility, etc.
Here are some of the stops you will see along the way!
Old North Church
Address: 193 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113
The Old North Church is still active today and aligned with the Episcopalian teachings of the Anglican Communion.
The church is famous for Paul Revere using the steeple to light two lanterns and warn the revolutionists when the British were coming. You can visit the sanctuary, and the church offers tours of the crypt, bell ringing chamber, and gallery.
Old Corner Bookstore
Address: 283 Washington St, Boston, MA 02108
Used as an apothecary, a publishing house, and now as a restaurant, this beloved corner is the oldest commercial building in the downtown Boston area.
In the 19th century, the Ticknor and Fields publishing company printed well-known works like The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Bunker Hill Monument
Address: Monument Sq, Charlestown, MA 02129
A statue of Colonel William Prescott guards the 221-foot tall obelisk marking the spot where the Battle of Bunker Hill took place.
The battle was one of the first during the Revolutionary War and claimed over 1,500 lives between the British and colonists. The same Ticknor from the publishing company first recommended the war memorial on the hill.
See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in the USA
20. Go Whale Watching
Address: 1 Long Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
Whale watching off the North England coast is a special experience you do not want to miss!
Get some fresh air and book a seat on a catamaran where you will likely see humpback whales, finback whales, minke whales, and white-sided dolphins. Everyone is familiar with the humpback whale species and is often photographed when breaching (launching out of the water).
Yet, the minke whales are the most abundant with an estimation of 149,000 in the North Atlantic waters. The finbacks are the second longest only to the blue whale. The dolphins can hold their breath for around four minutes and eat squid, shrimp, and small fish.
The best months for Boston whale watching tours are May through October before the North Atlantic gets too cold and the whales migrate to warmer waters. The hotter months are the best time to see the humpbacks.
These tours are popular, so book way in advance. Book an early morning tour if you are prone to seasickness, as the wind causes choppier water later in the day. If you find you can brave the waters, whale watching is one of the more exciting things to do in Boston today!
See Related: Best Whale Watching Places in the World
Museums in Boston
21. Museum of Fine Arts
Address: 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
The Museum of Fine Arts is a traditional art gallery and houses over 100 permanent and traveling exhibits.
Before you enter this monolith to history and the arts, you’ll notice a rather evocative statue outside. In front of the museum, a prominent Native American opens his arm wide to the sky while on horseback. The statue is called “Appeal to the Great Spirit.”
The artist, Cyrus Dallin, created three other similar statues in his Native American series. The Boston statue was the last one created of the series in 1908 and was installed in front of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1912. The figure was only supposed to be temporary, but it is now a key relic for the museum.
Once inside, take a journey around the world and admire artifacts from long-gone civilizations, and paintings galore. View prints from famous artists like Picasso and Rembrandt and peruse Italian paintings from the Renaissance period. Take a break by enjoying the peaceful Japanese garden.
The museum likes to do special events and lectures, so take a peek at their website for the latest schedule. Some experiences include fall and summer studio art classes for kids, teens, and adults.
They also host an intimate film festival to feature international films and put on a concert series called “Concerts in the Courtyard.” Bring a blanket and buy some wine and cheese at the venue while listening to talented local and international artists. You can buy tickets to events via their website.
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22. Boston Children’s Museum
Address: 308 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
This museum is more for the 1 – 5 year age range, as they explore their surroundings and learn by doing! The Boston Children’s Museum has over 20+ interactive exhibits for kids to use their curiosity and problem-solving skills.
Does your little one get excited about trucks and building things? Take them to the “Construction Zone” exhibit where they can ride a Bobcat (safely of course) and learn about city-building.
Show your tot how to appreciate Japanese culture by taking them to the Japanese House. It is a life-sized home where you can learn about Japanese customs, ceremonies, art, and more.
The “Countdown to Kindergarten” exhibit helps pre-kindergarten children learn what to expect at school when the big day finally comes. The mock classroom helps them understand skills like waiting for a toy or making a friend on the first day.
These are only some of the exhibits that the museum includes to help shape our next generation!
This museum does not have a cafeteria or eatery, but you can bring snacks to eat in a designated area. They ask parents to leave nuts and nut butter at home for visitor safety due to common nut allergies.
23. Paul Revere House
Address: 19 N Square, Boston, MA 02113
Americans will remember being taught the cry, “The British are coming! The British are coming!” as Paul Revere rode horseback along the Boston streets to warn the patriots. But, that is not exactly how the story goes. He instead used lanterns to quietly warn his fellow revolutionists.
Even though he was a silversmith and did some dental work in the town, he also did not create a set of wooden teeth for George Washington, as some may still believe.
And while we’re at it, good old George did have a lot of trouble with his teeth and did get dentures, but they were not made of wood.
What is true, is Paul Revere lived a full life after the Revolutionary War. He fathered eight children (oof) with his wife Sarah Orne before she passed and then eight more with his 2nd wife, Rachel Walker (double oof).
He went on to become a successful store owner and opened a hardware store in downtown Boston. He passed at the age of 83 in 1818, which was an unusually long life during that time. Good on you Paul.
The original home was built in 1680 for the minister and his family of the Second Church of Boston. It, unfortunately, succumbed to the Great Fire of 1670, so a larger townhome was built on the site in 1674. Revere purchased the home in 1770 and the family owned the property before selling it in 1800.
The house went through several iterations as housing and shops before being re-purchased by Revere’s descendants in 1902. It reopened to the public as a museum in 1908. Today, you can see how the house would have looked during Revere’s life and in colonial times.
Book a private walking tour and learn more about the house.
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Where to Eat/Drink in Boston
24. Cheers on Beacon Hill
Address: 84 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108
Did you know Cheers the bar came before the popular 80s sitcom?
The bar was originally called the Bull & Finch Pub and was founded in 1969.
It was named after a well-known 18th Century Boston architect, Charles Bulfinch. Bulfinch designed several buildings in Boston and the surrounding areas, including the Massachusetts State House.
Due to the show’s continued popularity, the owners changed the name to Cheers Beacon Hill in 2002, nine years after the series finale.
When NBC was looking for locations for the show, they debated on California and Missouri, eventually landing on Boston. The Bull & Finch Pub could have missed its calling as one of the most popular pubs in Boston, thanks to the show.
The story is that the producers chose the pub out of a phone book advertisement before they ever saw the place.
Though filming did not take place in the pub itself, it is forever known as the inspiration for Cheers. The cast even watched the 1993 series finale at the Bull & Finch to commemorate the end of an era.
Across from the Public Garden, head over to Cheers and order a “Giant Norm Burger” and Sam Adams lager. The burger is aptly named after George Wendt’s character, Norm Peterson.
Though the original basement bar does not resemble the show’s interior design, the owners built a replica and added a gift shop to the ground floor. The pub is open daily, except on December 25th.
See Related: Where to Stay in Salem, Massachusetts
25. Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Address: 1 S Market St, Boston, MA 02109
A popular spot for tourists and locals, Faneuil Hall Marketplace makes up 200,000 square feet of retail and great restaurants. It encompasses the Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market, and South Market.
Street performers set up along the cobblestone promenade surrounding the Marketplace, making it a great family-friendly spot for dinner and entertainment!
Faneuil Hall was created in 1742 as a place for merchants and food sellers to do business. It was named after Peter Faneuil who was a successful merchant himself and provided the hall for the city to use.
The building has seen several historical events and many well-known faces have graced her halls. The famous concept “no taxation without representation” during the protests of the Sugar Act of 1764 started here, and George Washington celebrated the first year of America’s independence at Faneuil Hall.
Today, the original building is a visitor center and is labeled as a historic site.
As the 1800s saw Faneuil Hall’s popularity grow, Quincy Market was added to the marketplace in 1826 and named after then mayor, Josiah Quincy. You can even take a historical tour of Quincy Market. Today, the market is a mixed-use space for local shops and includes a food hall.
The North and South Market also has great restaurants and more traditional chain stores you may find in a mall. Visit the market while on a Revolutionary Story Walking Tour in Boston.
26. Get wicked responsible on a Boston Brewery Tour
Address: 2 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116, USA
You could spend more than a week trying to experience all the breweries that Boston has to offer. I recommend booking this five-star brewery tour with a company like Viator to hit many breweries in only half a day!
Also, you do not have to worry about drinking and driving, or trying to navigate the city after that third IPA. This particular brewery tour provides a bus for its guests and takes you to four different neighborhoods, so you get a good feel for the city.
Many of the breweries have food on-site and a meal is part of the price. Below are some of the breweries you may experience on the tour, as locations are subject to change.
Samuel Adams Brewery is one of the more popular stops due to its national recognition and nod to one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A true Bostonian of his time, Samuel Adams graduated from Harvard College and is known for helping steer colonists toward independence from Great Britain.
Though the Samuel Adams Brewery has a national presence, it is still considered an independent craft brewery.
The Night Shift Brewing company is the same one you can find during the summer beer garden at the Charles River Esplanade.
Sticking with the night theme, the brewery has an owl as its icon. Order beverages like a Hoot Hard Seltzer or a “Fluffy” Hazy IPA. The brewery even sells coffee beans to take home.
A more recent brewery in the area to get its start, the Dorchester Brewing Company started in 2016. Their expansive 9,000-square feet taproom includes so much cool stuff that you will never want to leave!
Dorchester Brewing has food trucks, Skee-ball, pinball machines, board games, wi-fi, and an all-season rooftop with skyline views. Plus, they have 20 taps for you to try like a Nitro Raspberry Blonde Ale or the “Unhallowed” Brown Ale, which is an ode to the late metal rocker, Trevor Strandt.
Do not forget to try their hard seltzer slushies like the “Dreamsicle,” which reminds us of the orange and vanilla flavors of a creamsicle.
Winter Hill Brewing Company set its roots in the Somerville district back in 2016. Winter Hill remains a favorite neighborhood place for locals to come to hang out with friends. Not just a brewery, you can stop by for breakfast and coffee as well.
Their colorful beer labels draw you in and entice you to try all the interesting flavors like a lemon-lime and coriander ale called the “Chad Pop!”
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27. Food Walking Tours
Boston Seafood Lovers Food and History Walking Tour
Address: 263 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113, USA
Eating a lobster roll and clam “chowda” is a rite of passage when you visit the New England coast. This walking tour combines my two favorite things; seafood and history.
Many agree as well and the tour does sell out often, so I recommend booking tickets early!
They keep the groups on the smaller side, so you can be close enough to the tour guide to hear all about Boston’s history during the mile-long walk. Do not forget to wear comfortable walking shoes during these types of tours!
Underground Donut Tour
Address: 90 Oliver St, Boston, MA 02110, USA
I will admit I do also have a weakness for donuts. Dunkin’ Donuts (now rebranded as Dunkin), started in the Boston suburb of Quincy in 1948.
So, Bostonians have an affinity for good donuts. With creations such as the (oh, I don’t know) Boston cream pie who could have possibly known?
On this magical tour, you can visit independent donut shops and bakeries that have gained huge popularity over the years and like to focus on their artisanal donut varieties.
There is nothing better than bundling up during autumn with an apple cider donut in hand and walking down some of the oldest streets in America – except eating a true Boston cream donut from Bova’s Bakery!
This little Italian bakery has been open since 1926 and is a staple in the North End neighborhood. It is open 24/7, even during blizzards! After you get your donut fix, I recommend going back to visit Bova’s with the whole family or ordering one of the many cannoli varieties to-go.
The food and brewery tours are some of the more fun things to do in Boston because you really get to know a city by its food culture.
See Related: Best Boston Tours | Food, Walking, and Sightseeing
Boston Things to do at Night
28. Get spooked on a Boston Ghost Tour
I do not think you can visit a New England town without some kind of ghost tour. The towns have seen almost four centuries of major moments in history.
No wonder there might be a ghost or two still hanging around to see how we live today. There are a plethora of different ghost tours out there, so shop around and take your pick – or try them all! Here are a couple worth spending the money on to get your spooky fix.
Boston Ghosts & gravestones night-time trolley tour
Address: 200 Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02110, USA
One of the most popular ghost tours in town, the trolley takes you around to each haunted location. A welcome respite after a long day of running around Boston!
Some walking is still expected though, so as always bring comfortable walking shoes. The tour guide gets in character as a ghoulish grave digger and dramatizes the ghostly stories along the route. Hear tales of unfortunate victims who succumbed to the feared serial killer, The Boston Strangler.
Visit Cotton Mather’s grave, a Puritan preacher who had a direct hand in persecuting witches in the Salem Witch Trials. End the night by seeing some of Boston’s heroes and their final resting places such as John Hancock and Paul Revere.
The tour in total takes about two hours.
See Related: Most Haunted Hotels in Salem, Massachusetts
Haunted Boston Ghost and Pub Walking Tour
Address: 150 Bowdoin St, Boston, MA 02108, USA
Enjoy a drink at historic pubs as a costumed, animated guide takes you on a two and half hour tour near downtown Boston and Cambridge Street.
Walk by the King’s Chapel burial ground, which was the first cemetery in Boston and houses headstones from the 1600s. Marvel at the architecture of Old City Hall and hear about the ghosts that haunt the building.
Cap the tour off with your last stop at Beantown Pub, which is across from Samuel Adams’ resting place. The alcohol is not included in the price, but you do get a take-home commemorative can cooler!
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Address: 348 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
It’s not just a verb (that’s also great to do in Boston); it’s a magical place!
If you are looking for a sophisticated night out, then head over to Drink in the Fort Point neighborhood.
Chef Barbara Lynch started the cocktail bar/restaurant in 2008. The James Beard winner also owns other popular Boston restaurants Menton, No 9 Park, B&G Oysters, The Butcher Shop, Stir, and fellow Fort Point spot, Sportello.
Drink is known for its craft cocktails and you can order classics like a French 75 or the fun Corpse Reviver. The place prides itself in understanding its liquors and artisanal ingredients well. They will make you your favorite drink or help create one of your preferences.
The menu is limited but offers up-leveled pub food like foie gras pigs in a blanket or corn fritters decorated with truffle and hot honey.
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30. Theatres of Emerson College
Addresses: 219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116 (Majestic); 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111 (Paramount); 10 Boylston Place, Boston, MA 02116 (Tufte)
Schedule in some night entertainment and add the Theatres of Emerson College to your list of Boston places to visit. In the downtown theatre district, Emerson College has three venues to offer tantalizing performances to the public.
The Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre was the second venue in the district and was built in 1903 for opera performances. The theatre expanded her portfolio and also presented vaudeville acts, movies, and plays on her stage.
The college renovated and reopened its doors in 2003 to allow students to put on performing arts once again. The auditorium sits over 1,000 and the ornate details of the gold and red decor are magnificent.
The 1930s saw a rise in film and the Emerson Paramount Center opened to the public in 1932. As the movie industry evolved and larger modern theaters were built, the Paramount Center was close to being demolished by the 1970s.
It took a couple more decades, but the theatre survived and was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Renovations began in the 2000s and Emerson College bought the building in 2005 to continue the process and expand its use of the building.
Today, the center seats 550 guests and includes a residence hall, 125-seat black box section, film screening room, rehearsal studios, sound stage, and more.
Following the ornate style of the Majestic, the auditorium is dripping in Art Deco decor of golden hues. Admire the ceiling with an intricate sun painted against a dark blue sky. 1
The Emerson Tufte Performance and Production Center, or Tufte PPC for short, was built in 2003. It houses the Greene and Semel Theatres for performances, as well as classrooms and studios for students. Check out the college’s website for the latest available events.
31. Boston Ballet
Address: 539 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111 (Citizen’s Bank Opera House)
The Boston Ballet Company has been around since 1963, and each Artistic Director works hard to make it a national and international household name. The company prides itself on diversity and its principal dancers have been from countries like Brazil, South Korea, Armenia, etc.
The Boston Ballet School was established in 1979 and organizes programs for children as young as 16 months and into adulthood. The school loves to give back to the community and provides free introductory ballet and dance classes for 3,000 kids each year!
Several performances are scheduled each year for dancers to showcase their elegant skills. Step into an enchanted world with ballet classics like The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty, which are held at the historical Opera House next to Boston Common.
You may even be inspired to take a barre class or two to let out your own inner ballerina!
Where to Stay in Boston
The Newbury Boston
Address: 1 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116
The Newbury Boston is a historic hotel built in 1927 as the first Ritz-Carlton hotel. Located on the western edge of Public Garden in the Back Bay/Beacon Hill neighborhoods. The hotel was known for being the place to be seen and for its grandeur.
Unfortunately, as the Great Depression and World War II affected many businesses, the Ritz-Carlton hotel struggled to return to its former glory.
Today, the hotel has been remodeled and rebranded as The Newbury Boston by the Highgate Hotels brand after decade-long ownership under Taj Hotels. Bringing the building into a modern, opulent style with historic charm, the hotel is once again all about luxury.
Book a reservation at the coveted rooftop restaurant, Contessa, to see the skyline views and sip on champagne. The gorgeous and unique decor will remind you of Europe in the 1920s.
Afterward, hang out in The Street Bar lounge where the jewel-toned couches, fireplace, and library will have you craving an Old Fashioned or a “Harvard” over ice.
If you are looking for a luxurious place to sleep while you are in Boston, The Newbury Boston is it.
Encore Boston Harbor
Address: 1 Broadway, Everett, MA 02149
If you want sweeping views of the city and a comfortable room, check out the Encore Boston Harbor (Wynn hotel brand). Located off the Mystic River, this casino and spa resort will provide you with all you need.
Besides the casino, this five-star hotel includes 10 eateries, a summer beer garden, a spa, a hair salon, shops, and a nightclub. The nightclub often features well-known DJs where you can dance the night away after winning at Craps.
The hotel even offers free valet service and self-parking, which is a rarity for city hotels. If you did not rent a car, Encore has a free shuttle that will pick you up and drop you off at select MBTA stations and travels a few neighborhood routes.
The Encore Boston Harbor does not disappoint and provides everything for a luxurious vacation.
See Related: Hotel vs Motel vs Inn: What’s the Difference?
The Verb Hotel
Address: 1271 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215
This boutique hotel brings a unique spin to your stay with colorful 1950s rock and roll decor with a modern twist. An influencer’s dream, take fun photos in front of the stationary big, red coach bus!
Starting as a motel near Fenway Park back in 1959, the building survived to be transformed into the funky two-story hotel she is today. Sticking to the music theme, when you book a room you will find a record player and speakers that you can use during your stay.
Are you an Elvis fan or are The Monkees more your style? Choose your favorites from the selection of vinyl in the shared library.
The Verb has a heated pool in the middle with some rooms offering a pool-facing balcony, or perhaps you prefer gazing at Fenway Park across the street. If the night game crowds or music get too loud during your stay, the hotel does offer complimentary headphones!
The best part is the pet-friendly policy, so you do not have to leave your pooch at home. Check out their onsite Japanese Izakaya where you can sip a frozen cocktail out of a tiki glass while waiting for your sushi.
How to Get Around in Boston
Boston Hop-on and Hop-Off Trolley Tour
The most fun and easiest way to get around town while hitting several of the historic sites is to take the hop-on and hop-off trolley tour.
The trolley has fourteen stops and you can ride it as many times as you need with no restrictions on how many stops you can accumulate. The tour does only run 9 am – 4 pm, so plan accordingly!
It will run year-round in most weather, but it does provide heat in the winter for those super cold days. A tour guide rides the trolley to offer fun facts as you ride through the city taking in the sights. It takes almost two hours to ride the trolley from start to finish if you decide not to get off at any of the locations.
The tour includes many of the historic sites mentioned in this guide, but it will also take you to areas such as Chinatown, Theater District, Antique Row, and more!
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
Boston has a commuter rail, subway lines, buses, and ferries to help you navigate around the streets and waterways.
The subway is the inner city metro and the best option if you are staying within Boston proper. There are four color-labeled subway lines to make it easy for us visual learners.
The commuter rail leaves from the North or South Stations and makes stops in the expanding areas of Boston and nearby cities.
The bus system is extensive since they make more frequent stops, so use the maps and guidance on the website to determine which route works best for your trip. The Massport Shuttle buses are good to get to and from between Logan Airport and downtown Boston.
Use the ferries to explore some of the Boston Harbor islands like Spectacle Island where there are beaches and hiking trails with views.
Rent A Car
There are many day trips worth the effort to rent a car and be on your own schedule. Due to the proximity to other alluring destinations, a car rental can sometimes be easier than trying to figure out train schedules.
Check out places like Martha’s Vineyard (~3 hours one-way) or Cape Cod (~2 hours one-way) for a fun day trip or weekend!
If you are flying into Logan Airport, take a look at making a car rental reservation with someone like Rentalcars.com, Booking.com, or Kayak. Keep in mind that parking is limited in Boston and hotels will often charge daily parking rates.
See Related: Do You Need a Car in Boston? 5 Things to Know
Rent A Bike
You can do a traditional bike rental at several places in the city, but Boston also has a shared bike program called Bluebikes.
There are hundreds of docking stations around the city and surrounding neighborhoods, so you do not have to return the bike to the same location from where you booked it. Tourists can rent the bike hourly or for a single trip through the downloaded app on their phones.
Keep in mind there are some bike restrictions with the MBTA and the Mattapan Trolley, so review regulations before renting a bike.
Is Boston Safe?
Boston does have a crime rate higher than the national average, which factors crimes such as homicide, rape, kidnapping, robbery, etc. Like in any city, you must take certain precautions to avoid being scammed or harmed.
The city receives 19 million visitors annually, so do not be discouraged from visiting if it is on your bucket list. Here are some tips to stay safe when you visit:
- Public transportation is considered relatively safe in Boston, but avoid riding it at night or instead ride with a large group.
- Keep important personal belongings in a bag only accessible to you or wear it in front of your person. Pickpocketing and purse snatching can be common.
- Stay in well-lit areas and more populated locations
- Always travel with a buddy or group at night
- Always be aware of your surroundings and contact authorities if you notice anything suspicious
Learn more about staying safe in Boston safety in our article “Is Boston Safe to Visit? 6 Things to Know”.
Travel insurance is always recommended when traveling, as it helps cover medical costs, lost luggage costs, theft costs, and more. World Nomads and TravelInsurance.com are the two best in the business and will look out for you when things go awry on your trip.
See Related: Best Vacation For A Group Of Friends
What are some things I can do with kids?
The Museum of Science, Children’s Museum, Franklin Park Zoo, and Swan Boats in the Public Garden are all great places to take your kids and enjoy as an adult.
Is Boston dog friendly?
Yes! Stay at The Verb Hotel next to Fenway Park for a pooch-friendly vacation. Check out the various dog parks and beaches like South Boston Bark Park. Booking.com also has a pet-friendly city tour!
What is Boston, Massachusetts is known for?
Boston is most famous for playing a key part before and during the Revolutionary War with the Boston Tea Party event. Well-known colonists like Samuel Adams and Paul Revere are from the city.
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