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Things to do in Boston

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Boston is perhaps the most American city with as much history from the Revolutionary War and colonial eras as any other. It is not surprising that the main sites of Boston have been made into a pilgrimage route for Americans and others looking to gain a better understanding of this history.

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The Freedom Trail provides a great introduction to the city and connects or passes close to many of its most popular tourist attractions. Boston is easy to find on foot as most of its major attractions are within walking distance. America’s first subway system (the T) connects the important neighborhoods.

Cambridge is located across the Charles River. This watery recreation area is known for its summer activities and is also home to the Esplanade Park. Cambridge, although a separate city, is connected to Boston by the same transportation system.

You’ll find here two of America’s most prestigious universities, Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These universities, along with many others in the region, help to keep Boston vibrant and young. Boston is home to many entertainment options such as music, theater and restaurants. There are plenty of things to do at night.

Follow the Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail, which is three miles long, takes you past and into 16 of the city’s most important historic monuments. You can easily follow the red bricks on the sidewalk or by your footprints at street crossings. Before you go to the State House, grab brochures about the attractions at the Visitor Center in Boston Common.

You will find the Old Granary Burying Ground, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, King’s Chapel Burying Ground, Old South Meeting House, Old State House, Old State House, and Old South Meeting House. This building is the site for the Boston Massacre.

The Freedom Trail continues on through Boston’s North End past the Paul Revere House, Old North Church, and crosses the Charlestown bridge with the 54-gun frigate USS Constitution, which is a granite submarine. It ends at the Bunker Hill Monument, which measures 220-foots high.

Official site: www.thefreedomtrail.org

Read More: Best Walking Trails near Boston

Visit Fenway Park to See a Game and Take a Tour

Fenway Park, also known as America’s Most Beloved Ballpark, is a popular tourist attraction. The home to the Boston Red Sox is much the same as when it opened in April 20th, 1912.

The Green Monster is one of its most distinctive features. It’s a 37-foot-high green wall that runs in left field. Some remnants of old-time baseball, such as the scoreboard, can still be found at the park. It also holds only 33,871 people (which makes it extremely rare to get tickets).

Address: 4 Yawkey Way Boston, Massachusetts

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall is known as the “cradle for liberty”. It was originally built by Peter Faneuil, a Huguenot merchant and as a market hall. He presented it to the city with the condition that it be always open to the public.

Market stalls still use the ground floor. The upper floor houses a council chamber that was used in 18th- and 19th century revolutionaries, and later, abolitionists. The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Museum is located on its fourth floor. It houses weaponry, uniforms and paintings from significant battles.

The adjacent Faneuil Hall Marketplace contains three long halls (Quincy Market North Market and South Market), which date back to the early 19th centuries. It is now home to a vibrant assortment of shops and restaurants as well as exhibitions.

Street performers and buskers will perform in the market square during good weather. There are also shops selling souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, and gifts. Boston’s most popular place to have lunch is at the market stalls.

Address: Faneuil Hall Square in Boston, Massachusetts

Official site: www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com

Boston Common and Public Garden: Take the Swan Boats

Boston Common is America’s oldest park. It also marks the beginning of the Freedom Trail. This large green space is used year round by many local residents. It also contains numerous monuments and the Central Burying Ground from 1756. From November to March, rent skates for the Frog Pond. Enjoy the fall colors and spring blooms reflecting on its surface. In summer, children can splash around in the wading pools.

It is located on the west side Charles Street and adjoins it, the 24-acre Public Garden. This historic botanical garden is America’s oldest. There are also many Victorian-style statues and monuments, such as an equestrian statue representing George Washington, and modern bronzes depicting a family ducks that Robert McCloskey wrote in his children’s book Get Ready for the Ducklings. The most famous experience in Boston is to ride around the lake on the Swan Boats. It was first launched in 1870s.

Address: Boston Public Garden, Massachusetts

Official website: http://swanboats.com

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts is one of the most renowned art museums in the United States. Its collections of Impressionist paintings and ancient Egyptian treasures are among the best in the country.

The most recent and greatest achievement of the project is the construction an entire American Wing house. It integrates in chronological order outstanding collections of American paintings and furniture, decorative arts, silver, folk art, and design from pre-Columbian to Art Deco and Modernist eras.

Highlights include a lacquered-wood sculpture from a Buddhist Bodhisattva from the 12th century, Korean painted screens, an ivory and gold statue representing the Minoan Snake Goddess, which dates back to 1500 BC, as well as a statue of Mycerinus, the Egyptian pharaoh, and his queen, from 2548-2530 BC.

Address: 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is located in a building that its eccentric creator modelled after a Venetian palace from 15th century Venice. It displays its collections in rooms around a central courtyard with fountains and flowering plants.

The museum’s 2,500-piece priceless collection of paintings and sculptures, furniture and tapestries, as well as books and manuscripts, reflect Mrs. Gardner’s personal taste and expertise. Her flamboyance adds further charm to the museum.

Renzo Piano, an Italian architect, designed a glass-clad structure measuring 70,000 square feet. It provides new perspectives for the original Palazzo as well as stunning spaces for music, visual arts and music. The museum can showcase outstanding contemporary artists and works. Piano’s Wing does not compete or clash with the original building. It simply offers a new window through which to see Mrs. Gardner’s palacezzo.

The palace and gardens are visible from almost every place in the new building, thanks to transparent walls. After touring the museum, take a stroll through the Fens. This long green space is home to a stunning rose garden that blooms from June through October.

Address: 280 The Fenway Boston, Massachusetts

Official site: http://www.gardnermuseum.org/home

USS Constitution (Boston National Historic Park), Bunker Hill

Old Ironsides is the name of the oldest US Navy commissioned ship. It is still commanded by Navy personnel and crew. Visitors can visit the ship and learn about its construction and actions at sea.

The USS Constitution Museum is located across the pier. It offers historical context through interactive exhibits that show life on a naval vessel from two centuries ago. The Cassin Young is another ship that you can visit here. It’s a World War II destroyer.

The Charlestown Navy Yard is located in the Boston National Historical Park. It’s just a short walk from the Bunker Hill Museum and Monument, which are also within the park. This granite monument, 221 feet tall, marks the hilltop location of an earthen fort that New England soldiers built prior to the Battle at Bunker Hill. It is the site of the first pitched battle in the American Revolution.

Address: Building 22 Charlestown Navy Yard Charlestown, Massachusetts

Official site: https://ussconstitutionmuseum.org

Museum of Science

This extensive science museum offers hands-on explorations of science and technology. It is open to all ages. More than 700 permanent exhibits are available that allow for hands-on exploration of physics, biology, chemistry and astronomy. These exhibits are enhanced with stage presentations and interpreters.

Highlights include a 65-million year-old fossil found in the Dakota Badlands. There is also an electricity dome that offers continuing programs. You can also walk among the free-flying butterflies within a conservatory with exotic plants. There is also ComputerPlace where you can control a robot and learn how your computer stores information. The planetarium hosts daily star and laser shows. The Mugar Omni Theater features a five-story domed screen.

Address: Science Park Boston, Massachusetts

Official site: www.mos.org

Harvard Square and Harvard Art Museums

Harvard University was founded in 1636 and is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious academic centers in the world. To take a fun and informative free walking tour around Harvard Information Center, a Harvard student will guide you. He or she will also share Harvard lore and his personal perspective. You can also download a tour via their website.

Harvard Yard is located in Harvard Square. This lively area for students, “townies” and visitors is home to many shops, bookstores and ice cream shops.

The Renzo Piano-designed Harvard Yard home of the Harvard Art Museums is located adjacent to Harvard Yard. It includes three separate collections that were once part of separate collections. Each of these collections was regarded as one of the top U.S. museums. These collections are rare at universities. Fogg Arts Museum focuses on Italian early-Renaissance Art, while the Busch-Reisinger focuses on Expressionist Art of Central and Northern Europe. It also includes Bauhaus objects and Klee paintings.

The museums also have one of the best collections of Chinese jade.

Address: 32 Quincy Street Cambridge, Massachusetts

Official site: www.harvardartmuseums.org

Old North Church and Boston’s North End

The North End is Boston’s vibrant Italian neighborhood. This is where Paul Revere, a silversmith and activist, lived during the American Revolution. The Paul Revere Housewhich he purchased in 1770 and where he lived when he made the famous ride is the only patriot’s residence on the Freedom Trail. It is available for tours.

You can climb up to the tower at Old North Church. This is where lanterns were placed in April 1775 to alert Paul Revere of British troops heading to Lexington to seize the munitions supplies and arrest patriot leaders. The church’s beautiful interior still has its original box pews.

Tourists love the North End for many reasons, not just for its historic attractions. It has seen a lot of changes since its original inhabitants were immigrants from Italy. However, the North End still retains its Italian charm and vibrant flair. There are many Italian restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and shops that offer Italian cuisine.

The North Bennet Street School offers classes in bookbinding and cabinet and furniture-making, as well as silver and gold work and violin making. The gallery shop is a place where you can find unique gifts and fine craftsmanship.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

More than a year ago, Bostonians protesting the tax on goods sent to the colonies stormed ships from England, and they threw the tea into this harbor. The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum provides tours that include a reenactment of the event, as well as replicas of the original ships used by the Sons of Liberty to dump tea overboard.

Through interactive exhibits, films and multi-sensory experiences, historical interpreters dressed in costume lead visitors through the historic night. Everyone gets to pour tea into the harbor. The museum contains the only known tea container from this ill-fated cargo. This is a popular activity for families with children in Boston. They love the adventure and learn more about American history and shipboard life.

Address: 306 Congress Street Boston, Massachusetts

Official site: https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/

New England Aquarium

The New England Aquarium overlooks the water and features over 20,000 fish and more than 550 aquatic species. The man-made Caribbean coral reef is home to a wide range of tropical fishes and other underwater life, including turtles, sharks, and morays eels. Visitors can touch small invertebrates such as starfish, crabs, and urchins at the Edge of the Sea touch tank.

Visitors can observe harbor seals in their enclosure and watch them perform. The New England Aquarium sponsors educational programs as well as whale-watching tours from Boston Harbor. Additionally, the adjacent IMAX Theater presents 40-minute films about nature subjects.

Address: Central Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts

Harvard Museums and The Glass Flowers

The four museums make up the complex and contain valuable artifacts like the Lewis and Clark artifacts, but for most people the highlight is the over 3,000 models of 830 different species of flowers and plants. Some even have insects. They are so realistic you’ll be hard-pressed to believe they are made from glass.

The flowers were created by Leopold Blaschka and Rudolf Blaschka between 1887-1836. Their secret process is still unknown. These flowers are part of Harvard’s vast research collections. They can be seen under one roof at the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology and the Mineralogical Museum.

The Peabody is particularly strong in Native American exhibitions. It displays artifacts and art that are interpreted as part a living culture even though it has disappeared. The Peabody exhibits some of the most important examples of Native American art from different periods and tribes. You will also be able to see how they changed when Europeans opened up new markets for their products.

The Pacific Islands balcony is a great place to step back in time if you like the Victorian “Cabinet of Curiosities”, feel of traditional museums. Louis Agassiz founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology in 1859. It houses a large collection of fossils, including an 25,000 year-old mastodon. The mineralogy collection includes a stunning display of rough and cut gemstones and a well-known meteorite collection. It also contains rocks, minerals, and ores from all over the globe.

Address: 26 Oxford Street Cambridge, Massachusetts

Official site: http://hmnh.harvard.edu/

Newbury Street and Back Bay

Boston’s Back Bay is both atmospheric and fashionable. It was once under water before a hill was built to fill it in. The grid of streets that runs between the Public Garden, the Fenway and Storrow Drive is dotted with brick townhouses and brownstone.

You can stroll its tree-lined streets, particularly Newbury Street, to discover a European atmosphere with small boutiques, art galleries and cafes that spill onto sidewalk terraces. The neighborhood’s architecture is diverse, featuring fine examples of brickwork and ornamental terracotta.

Boston Public Library and Copley Square

Both old and new buildings surround the main square in Back Bay. The Boston Public Library is the centerpiece of the square. It was founded in 1848 and was the first lending library to be publicly funded in the United States. The present building was designed by Charles Follen McKim, an architect.

You can see the library’s Renaissance Revival architecture, murals by John Singer Sargent, and Edwin Abbey from the inside. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, an American sculptor of renown, created the granite medallions that grace the entrance arches. Daniel Chester French designed the three sets of bronze doors that are found in the vestibule. Boston offers many free activities, including regular Art and Architecture tours.

The Trinity Church is a red sandstone structure built by Henry Hobson Richardson, in his unique style known as Richardson Romanesque. It faces the library across a lawn where you can have a picnic lunch with nearby office workers. Trinity is widely considered his best work. John La Farge painted the murals, frescoes and painted decorations. Much of the stained glass was created by Edward Burne Jones and William Morris.

The Fairmont Copley Plaza, an iconic Boston institution, is located on the third side of the square. These three buildings, backed up by the sheer glass wall of skyscrapers, create an impressive cityscape. Look down Boylston Street for the finish line at the Boston Marathon. This race is held every April on Patriot’s Day.

The Prudential Centre is located just beyond. It’s a 32-acre complex that includes apartments, shops and restaurants. There’s also a 52-story tower. For 360-degree views of Boston, visit the Skywalk observation deck on its 50th floor.

Address: 700 Boylston Street At Copley Square Boston, Massachusetts

Whale Watching Cruises and Boston Harbor

Rowes Wharf is where you can board the Odyssey for a cruise through Boston Harbor. It will take you from Castle Island to George’s Island and then east to Little Brewster Island’s Boston Light. Then it will head north to Charlestown Naval Yard, before returning to the wharf.

While you enjoy the Boston skyline views from the water, you can also enjoy lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. You can cruise by starlight or full moon to see the skyline at night.

On Boston Whale Watching Cruises you can leave Boston Harbor to view humpbacks and fin whales in the wild. These naturalist-led tours last three hours and are highly popular. They claim to offer whale sightings every time.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The museum, which is dedicated to the memory and legacy of the 35th U.S. president, was designed by I.M. Pei opened the museum in 1979. The museum is located on the south shore of the city and features three theaters as well as personal memorabilia and photographs. It also has historical exhibits that detail the life and times of JFK.

The Kennedy family, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and the Oval Office are all covered in the exhibits. Interactive experiences include the Highlights tours, which are free and suitable for families, and the Hands-on Cart program. These programs include the PT-109 story as well as a closer look into the Race for Space.

Address: Columbia Point, Boston

Official website: www.jfklibrary.org

Beacon Hill & the Black Heritage Trail

The south side of Beacon Hill is one of Boston’s most picturesque neighborhoods. It’s located in the heart of the city and has been home to many of Boston’s old money families. Its tree-shaded streets are lined with brick homes in Federal or Greek Revival styles. At its heart, Louisburg Square is where homes face onto a private park. From 1880 to 1888, Louisa May Alcott was a resident of this neighborhood.

The Nichols House Museum is a Federal-style home designed by Charles Bulfinch. It features collections of decorative arts and 16- to 19-century furniture. Charles Street lies at the western tip of Beacon Hill. It is lined with shops and boutiques that are well-known among visitors and have a long history catering to the area. Beyond Charles Street, towards the Public Garden, Finch and the Bull were the inspiration for the popular television show Cheers.

The north side of Beacon Hill, which is much smaller, has been home to many immigrants, including an extensive African American community, since at least the beginning of the 19th century. National Park Service Rangers offer guided tours of the Black Heritage Trail, which runs from April to November. You can also take a self-guided walk all year.

The Boston African American National Historic Site contains 15 pre-Civil War houses, businesses, schools and churches that provide a snapshot of Boston’s 19th century African American community. The Museum of Afro-American History manages the African Meeting House. This is the oldest (1806) church in the country built by and for Black Americans. It has been restored to its original 1854 appearance.

The 1834 Abiel Smith School is the first public grammar school for African American kids. Both schools have artifacts and films as well as sculpture and artifacts that relate to the New England black experience.

Boston HarborWalk and Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park

Since its colonial days as a shipping port, the Boston waterfront has experienced many changes. The area experienced a decline throughout much of the 20th Century. However, it was revived in the mid-1970s by an ambitious redevelopment program.

This interesting mix of commercial and residential space is now connected by HarborWalk. It’s a walkway that runs along the waterfront with benches, cafes and interpretive signs. You can also access several ways to explore the harbor by boat, ferry or water taxi. The Charlestown Navy Yard can also be reached by a shuttle-boat.

It extends from Charlestown, Massachusetts to South Boston, but the most important part is the one you don’t want to miss. It runs from the North End to the wisteria-draped pergola of Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. Then it curves along the harbor to the Institute of Contemporary Art. This art museum cantilevered over the water, to the vibrant Seaport District.

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, one of Boston’s newest parks and green spaces is a new addition to the city. It fills in the gap left by the demolition of the Central Artery.

Nearly 1.5 miles of parks, gardens, and streets connect diverse neighborhoods including the North End, Chinatown, Faneuil Hall Market, and the North End. All are just steps away from the linear park.

The park is alive with public art, gardens and benches, a farmers’ market, food trucks, and playgrounds. There’s also a whimsical carousel of animals where children can ride on turtles, butterflies, lobsters, rabbits, and grasshoppers.

Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops

In 1881, the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed its first concert at Symphony Hall. This concert hall, which opened in 1900, is one of the most acoustically ideal concert halls in the world. Its conductors include Pierre Monteux and Serge Koussevitzky, Charles Munch and Seiji Ozawa.

The Boston Pops Orchestra is a regular symphony performance. Pops concerts are a highlight for many visitors to Boston. They can be found in Symphony Hall, or at the Hatch Memorial Shell. This Art Deco outdoor music shell is located on the riverside Esplanade and has become a Boston landmark.

The shell hosts concerts and special events on a regular basis. It is most famous for hosting the Boston Pop’s annual performance of the 1812 Overture July 4th. The shell’s lawn offers views of Cambridge, Back Bay and Beacon Hill. A tour of Symphony Hall allows you to see behind the scenes and hear about the history and traditions that the Boston Symphony Orchestra, its musicians, and its conductors.

Address: 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts

Official site: www.bso.org

Arnold Arboretum

The Arnold Arboretum, also known as a “museum of trees”, is particularly colorful in fall when maples are ablaze with reds and yellows. Spring brings cherry trees, magnolias, and lilacs to life. The Arnold Arboretum can be enjoyed throughout the year. The 281 acres of snow-covered trails are a popular spot to snowshoe or cross-country ski.

The Arboretum, a National Historic Landmark designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and used as a teaching lab by Harvard University. The Arboretum has a variety of perennial flowering plants and trees. A highlight is the Bonsai & Penjing Collection.

Two of the largest Franklin trees in the world, the Explorers Garden is located within the grounds. This species is now extinct in nature. Docent-led tours can be done by anyone, from a quarter-mile introduction suitable for all levels to a 90 minute Keeper’s Tour.

Address: 125 Arborway, Boston, Massachusetts

Official site: https://arboretum.harvard.edu/

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The 150-acre MIT campus is a special attraction for fans of modern architecture. It’s a living museum that includes works by notable architects such as Alvar Aalto and Eduardo Catalano.

The campus also features hundreds of sculptures, art installations, which you can view with the help of a self guided walking tour map. These include works by Henry Moore, Alexander Calder and Auguste Rodin. The Hart Nautical Gallery contains ship models. The Compton Gallery displays contemporary art.

Address: 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Official site: www.mit.edu

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