- Boston is overflowing with historical sites and monuments that recount the richly detailed story of America’s independence.
- Many consider Boston to be home to some of the best museums in the world.
- While the sprawling city offers many metropolitan amenities, Boston also provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature.
A unique blend of history, modern amenities and fine dining, Boston is an exuberant city everyone should visit at least once. The capital of Massachusetts is a focal point in the birth of the United States. As such, its culture is rich and winding across time and space. Here are 12 of the best attractions the city has to offer.
1. Start Your Adventure at Boston Common
Dating back to 1634, Boston Common is the oldest city park in the United States. Sitting at the center of the city, it has served as a prominent location for many speeches by politicians who marked American history in centuries past.
Today, the park hosts cultural attractions throughout the year, such as concerts and theater performances. With a beautiful pond and attractions for children, it’s also a lovely place to spend time with family or enjoy a picnic.
Boston Common also happens to be the starting point for the famous Freedom Trail.
2. Follow the Winding Path Along the Freedom Trail
Considered Boston’s main attraction, the Freedom Trail is a winding route that takes trekkers along a path featuring museums, meeting houses, burial grounds, parks and historical markers that regale the tale of the American Revolution. Starting at Boston Common, the trail winds its way through the city to its destination, the U.S.S. Constitution.
Along the way, you’ll visit the Massachusetts State House, built in 1798, along with the Boston Latin School, the oldest public school in the United States, founded in 1635. You’ll also pass the site of the Boston Massacre, where a monument stands dedicated to the five civilians that were slain by British soldiers in 1770.
You can find more information and a tour schedule on the Freedom Trail website.
3. Visit the U.S.S. Constitution and Museum
If you begin your journey at Boston Common and follow Freedom Trail, you’ll eventually come to the oldest functional warship in the United States. The U.S.S. Constitution, launched in 1797, was present during significant historical battles, such as those of the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
The Constitution is moored in Charlestown, Boston’s National Historic Park, and the guides are the U.S. Navy’s own sailors. In addition to visiting the ship, you can visit the museum, which has a vast collection of armaments, letters and navigation pieces.
4. Head to Boston’s North End to Visit “Little Italy”
Known as “Little Italy,” the North End of Boston is an unforgettable destination for American history buffs and lovers of Italian food.
The Freedom Trail winds through Little Italy, with stops along the way, including Paul Revere’s house, the home of the American patriot who famously rode through the night to warn settlers of approaching English troops. Close by is the Old North Church, the oldest church in Boston and the first stop on Revere’s fateful journey in 1775.
In addition to the rich American history, the neighborhood is home to many Italian immigrants and, true to its name, is infused with Italian culture and cuisine. Notable eateries include Pizzeria Regina, The Daily Catch, Mike’s Pastry, Mamma Maria and Giacomo’s.
5. Experience the Museum of Fine Arts
If you’re passionate about the arts, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has the second-largest permanent exhibition in the country, second only to the Metropolitan in New York City. With more than 450,000 works of art, including paintings, furniture, photographs, sculptures, engravings and artifacts from different periods of human history, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is considered to have one of the most valuable art collections in the world.
The museum also has exclusive wings for works by women, in addition to the iconic Art of the Americas wing, which brings together pieces from indigenous cultures from across the American continent.
Check the Museum of Fine Arts website to learn more about its collections and to find out about visiting hours and admissions.
6. Take a Tasty Stroll Through Quincy Market
For those who love discovering new flavors in gastronomy, the Quincy Market, located in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, is an absolute must. Located in a historic building built in 1826, Quincy Market offers dozens of original dishes from around the world.
Visiting Quincy Market is an affordable adventure, but you’ll want to bring a big appetite and some patience. The market is usually filled with tourists, so wander the aisles at a leisurely pace, and indulge in such delicacies as a lobster sandwich or a Greek salad.
Once you’ve had your fill, head to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and visit the New England Aquarium, where you can see whales and dolphins.
7. Visit the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
Another attraction for lovers of American history is the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, which recounts the story of the most unusual protest in 1773, when Boston was still under British rule. The ship docked at the pier is considered the best museum in Boston and an attraction that no patriot should miss.
There’s also a guided tour, complete with costumed actors that regale the tale of the settlers’ protest against the excessive British taxes. You can even taste the five types of teas that were thrown overboard. Fortunately, these particular samples were spared being tossed into the sea.
8. Museum of Science
For a little more modernity, the family-friendly Museum of Science is one of Boston’s most popular destinations for families and kids of all ages. A butterfly exhibit, a planetarium show, motion simulators and an IMAX theater are just a few of the museum’s many attractions.
The museum is especially well-suited for families with children. Kids can learn, in a playful and fun way, about astronomy, botany, anatomy and history. One example is the Charles Hayden Planetarium, which offers impressive light shows. You can check the ticket prices on the Museum of Science’s website.
9. See the True World in the Mapparium
Located inside the historic Mary Baker Library, the Mapparium is a three-story-high, stained-glass globe of the earth. Unlike a typical globe that’s viewed from the outside, this one is experienced from the inside via a bridge intersecting the center.
With a regular globe, the perception of the human eye distorts the surface of the earth, causing distortions in perspective. But from the center of the Mapparium, your eyes bear witness to how the planet truly looks. The experience is as disorienting as it is fascinating, and you’ll never look at a world map in the same way again.
The acoustics are also impressive since the sphere reflects sounds throughout the entire globe, making mere whispers audible from anywhere in the globe.
10. Take in the Nature at Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park
Once you’ve had your fill of history, art and culture, head to the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park for an unforgettable ferry ride. Boston and the surrounding area are home to 34 islands and peninsulas, where you can hike, camp, swim in natural pools, fish and visit lighthouses.
Each island in the park offers a different type of attraction. On Georges Island, for example, you can visit Fort Warren, which dates back to 1833 and was built with the aim of protecting the city. It’s also an excellent option for picnics and walks. On Peddocks Island, visit Fort Andrews, go for a camping trip or simply sit with nature.
11. Experience the Tranquility of the Boston Public Garden
Considered one of the most beautiful places in the city, the Boston Public Garden is perfect for anyone looking to break away from the urban environment and take in some lush nature. With beautiful trails and large grassy areas, it’s equally well-suited for leisurely sports activities and romantic walks with a loved one.
The park itself is home to the first public botanical garden in America, and today has more than 80 species of trees surrounding a serene lake. If you’re lucky enough to visit Boston in the autumn, the changing of the leaves guarantees a visit that’s indescribably beautiful.
12. Catch a Baseball Game at Fenway Park
Boston is a city that’s rich in American culture. From the Freedom Trail to the U.S.S. Constitution to the home of the patriot Paul Revere. For American history buffs, Boston is an amazing city overflowing with stories, locales and monuments that represent the foundation of the United States.
But once you’ve taken in all the wonderful history that makes Boston so amazing, do yourself a favor, and head to Fenway Park for a baseball game. Grab a hot dog and a cold beer, and take part in one of America’s favorite pastimes. Even if you aren’t a Red Sox fan, you can’t visit Boston without catching a game.