Believe me, Boston is one of the best cities on the planet, if not in the whole galaxy. (The views expressed in this intro are strictly personal and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of Dauntless Jaunter, etc.). And, I am ready to advocate this idea any time I have a good opportunity, or even without it.
Wonder where all this adoration comes from?
Boston is one of the oldest cities in the US, so it is full of fascinating historical sites. Furthermore, it is brimming with great art, the local craft beers are delicious, it is home to the Red Sox, and it’s a great place to see whales.
Have I convinced you yet?
But, before packing your suitcase and heading off to the Hub of the Universe (and it was Oliver Wendell Holmes, not yours truly, who came up with this nickname), do not forget to read our list of things you cannot miss while in Boston!
Here’s our guide on the best things to do in Boston:
1. Follow the Freedom Trail
If you have only a couple of hours in the city, the Freedom Trail should still be the first thing on your to-do list in Boston. It is the route that encompasses the most important historical landmarks in Boston from the times of the American Revolution, such as the Paul Revere House or the Boston Latin School, which is the oldest public school in the United States. It is also very easy to recognize the Freedom Trail – starting at Boston Common, this 2.5-mile (4 km) route is paved with red brick. Almost like in the Wizard of Oz!
2. Watch Whales in Boston Harbor
Boston Harbor is a place for anyone. If you are passionate about history, you should visit it, as the famous Boston Tea Party took place there. From Boston Harbor, you can also take a ferry to Salem, another city that is well known for its bewitching history.
Not a big history fan?
No worries, you can take a cruise to watch whales! Or use a ferry to explore the Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park that includes 34 islands and peninsulas.
3. Explore the Museum of Fine Arts
Another important place to go in Boston is the Museum of Fine Arts. It boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of art, both in the US and worldwide. Currently, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has almost 500,000 exhibits and works of art, both ancient and modern, from all over the world. By the way, it has one of the most impressive collections of impressionists!
4. Wander Around the Boston Public Garden
As one of the oldest cities in the US, Boston has a lot of “the first” and “the oldest.” One of those things is the Public Garden, which is the first public botanical garden in America. No matter the season, it always stays beautiful and has plenty of things to offer for its visitors, with the most famous being the sculpture “Make Way for Ducklings.”
5. Explore Beacon Hill
Being a historical neighborhood in a historical city, Beacon Hill is one of the most picturesque districts in Boston with its narrow streets and old colonial brick houses. The Massachusetts State House overlooks Beacon Hill from the top, and, while walking there, you should check out the sites of the Black Heritage Trail.
6. Root for the Red Sox at Fenway Park
For over a hundred years, Fenway Park has been the home for the Boston Red Sox, one of the most famous baseball teams in America, proclaiming itself to be “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.” If you like baseball, I do not need to convince you any further why it is so worth visiting. However, even those who are not sports fans should check out Fenway Park: it regularly hosts a plethora of interesting events and concerts.
7. Flip Through Books in the Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library is a place that is beautiful both inside and out. It might be not the first thing to see in Boston; however, it is doubtless worth visiting if you have a free hour (or more). With over 24 million volumes, it is the third-largest public library in the US. Full of paintings, murals, and sculptures, every day the library hosts different events and exhibitions. And make sure to check out the charming open-air courtyard when you feel in need of fresh air!
8. Go Under the Sea at the New England Aquarium
Sharks, fish, penguins, turtles… Any sea creature you can possibly think of you will most likely find in the New England Aquarium. It welcomes more than 1.3 million visitors a year and is definitely one of the top places to see in Boston both for kids and adults. By the way, the whale watch cruise we mentioned above is organized in a partnership with the New England Aquarium!
9. Stop by Harvard University
Harvard University is yet another site that doesn’t need any introduction, being one of the most respected and prestigious universities in the whole world. Even though located in Cambridge, it is easily accessible from Boston by MBTA subway. Most of the buildings are restricted to the public (to not ruin the academic atmosphere for future presidents), but you can still walk around the famous Harvard Yard and maybe get the inspiration you need to work towards another degree. And, when you are there, check out the Harvard Museum of Natural History: they have an amazing collection of skeletons and fossils!
10. Take a Stroll Along Newbury Street
Probably the most famous street in Boston, Newbury Street has plenty of shops, boutiques, and restaurants. However, even if you are not planning to spend all your budget on luxurious goods, you still can’t miss going there. First of all, Copley Square, where a lot of important landmarks, such as Trinity Church, are located, is just a stone’s throw away from it. It is also very architecturally and stylistically diverse and just a pleasure to look at!
11. Try Out Some Local Beers & Bars
Boston has great beer scene, whether we are talking about the local craft beers or places where beer can be consumed. You can take one of many brewery tours where you will learn all the secrets of beer production along with a tasting. Another option is just to walk into one of the countless pubs in Boston and explore this brave new world by yourself.
12. Have Fun at the Museum of Science
The Museum of Science in Boston is another activity that will be perfect both for younger visitors and adults, especially as a rainy day activity. It has more than 700 exhibits, including the Butterfly Garden, where you can gaze at butterflies all over the world, the Planetarium, and the Hall of Human Life, where you can take a look inside the human body.
13. Get Artsy at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Another place on our list of top sites to visit in Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum holds a vast collection of European, American, and Asian art. It also supports contemporary artists by providing a place for exhibitions and performances. Some of them can even work and live at the museum!
It is no wonder it’s so easy to get inspired in this place: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has the most magnificent courtyard garden you could possibly imagine!
14. Jump Aboard the USS Constitution
One of the landmarks on the Freedom Trail, the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy. Climb aboard a ship that once valiantly fought off pirates and later the British overlords to catch a whiff of history (like the Vasa ship in Stockholm). Just don’t forget to bring your ID if you are 18 or older, as it is required to protect the ship from modern-day invaders.
15. See the Whole Planet at the Mapparium
What the heck is a mapparium, anyway?
As the name suggests, it is a hybrid of a map and aquarium, and it easily might be the coolest map-related thing anybody ever invented. So, it is a three-story-tall glass globe which visitors may enter into via a bridge. It is open to tourists from 1935 and never has been changed, so some country borders are outdated, but nevertheless it is a great experience!
You can find the Mapparium in the Mary Baker Eddy Library as the main exhibit.
16. Watch Shakespeare on the Common
Shakespeare on the Common has been an annual Boston tradition since 1996. It is a free evening performance of Shakespeare’s plays that take place every summer in the central public park of the city, Boston Common (which is, by the way, guess what? Yes, it is the oldest city park in the US!). Do not miss the opportunity to mix with the crowd of both locals and tourists and spend your summer evening admiring the genius of the “Bard of Avon.”
Definitely one of the top free things to do in Boston!
Well, that’s our guide on the best Boston things to do. Got any feedback, questions, or other Boston activities or places to go to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below, and thank you so much for reading!