Probably the most famous historic city in America, Boston is proud of its Mayflower Pilgrim roots and its dramatic role as a revolutionary against English colonial rule.
Massachusetts’s capital city on America’s north-eastern seaboard offers visitors an unparalleled historical legacy, timeless colonial architecture, world-class museums and a thriving cultural and gastronomic scene. And just a hop across the Charles River is Boston’s neighbour Cambridge, home to Harvard University.
Here are 5 best Boston attractions to visit during your next trip.
Boston’s coastal location alone makes it an attractive city to visit, with 37 islands to explore. Take a sail around the famous harbour, see a Boston Red Sox baseball game, follow the Freedom Trail and connect with the city’s revolutionaries, and enjoy the city’s rich cultural legacy and Colonial architecture.
Boston is seafood heaven and has a range of upscale restaurants and luxury hotels. It also boasts world-class museums and galleries. And of course the city is home to Harvard University, making Boston both intellectually and aesthetically inviting.
1 Walk the Freedom Trail
Discover Boston’s historical legacy with this unique walk along the city’s 17 most popular American Revolution sight-seeing areas. The self-guided 2.5-mile walk begins in America’s oldest park, 50-acre Boston Common, and concludes at Bunker Hill Monument.
More than 1000 redcoats were based on the Common when the Brits occupied Boston in 1775, and it was the site of anti-Vietnam war rallies in the Sixties. Today the park is a popular recreation area. Other historical sights on the Freedom Trail include patriot Paul Revere’s house and the USS Constitution (the 55-gun frigate that fought the English). Visit the Old Granary Burial Ground (Boston’s oldest cemetery) and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where revolutionary speeches were given. From ships to meeting houses to burial grounds, the spirit of the American Revolution comes alive on the Freedom Trail.
2 Best Boston Shopping
From street markets to luxury labels, Boston shopping has an eclectic range of retail experiences for visitors. Faneuil Hall Marketplace (aka Quincy Market) has been a place to shop – and protest – since 1742 and is a popular destination for tourists and locals. You’ll also find restaurants, bars, independent boutiques and street entertainment here.
An open-air market worth visiting is Haymarket on Blackstone and North Streets. With more than 100 shops and artisan stalls, it’s the perfect place for souvenirs. Head to Copley Place and the Prudential Center (connected by an indoor bridge) for upscale mall shopping with designer clothes, and visit Back Bay on Newbury Street for more luxury labels. Antiques and collectables are to be found around Beacon Hill. Visit Upstairs Downstairs Antiques on Charles Street for five rooms stacked with an eclectic collection of vintage art, home décor, furniture and more.
3 Explore Beacon Hill
Walk into history along the charming cobblestone neighbourhood of Beacon Hill. The Federal-style row houses and narrow gas-lit streets are among the most expensive real estate in Boston. Head for the South Slope district between Pickney and Beacon Streets for a time travel back to the Colonial era. This is the city’s most historic neighbourhood where civil rights, the abolition of slavery and freedom from British rule were given voice. Join the Freedom Trail and the Black Heritage trail here. The area is a lively cornucopia of boutique shops, restaurants, old pubs, art galleries and antique shops, especially along Charles Street on the Hill’s western slopes. Say ‘cheers’ at the Bull and Finch pub here – supposedly the inspiration for the TV series of the same name. Beacon Hill’s only remaining private park is the beautiful Louisburg Square, just beyond Charles Street. It has a statue of Christopher Columbus at one end and famous former residents including writers Louisa May Alcott and William Dean Howells.
4 Boston Cruises and HarborWalk
The Boston waterfront is the perfect place to escape the city – morning and evening. This former rundown port area of Boston sprang into life again in the Seventies thanks to an adventurous city council who could see the advantages of creating a mix of residential and commercial space. Fast forward to today and the area is connected by the HarborWalk waterfront area offering a selection of cafes, shops, parks, arts spaces, and the chance to sail around Boston Harbour by ferry, water taxi or a cruise boat. The HarborWalk runs from Charlestown to South Boston – take a stroll from the North End to the Seaport area and visit impressive Institute of Contemporary Art suspended above the water. A replica of the Boston Tea Party Ship is here and offers guided tours.
5 Two Great Boston Museums to Visit
John F Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library: Arguably the most influential US President of modern times, the life and service of JFK is celebrated here in this museum dedicated to his family and political life. Exhibits also include artefacts that belonged to his wife, Jackie Kennedy, a widely-loved First Lady who was instrumental in giving the White House a much-needed overhaul back in the 60s.
Isabella Gardener Museum: An unmissable exhibition of art, tapestries, furniture, manuscripts, rare books and more, all beautifully featured in the socialite and philanthropist’s former home – an outstanding three-storey, 15th-century Venetian style palace, only a short walk from the Museum of Fine Art.
Getting Around Boston
Boston’s Logan International Airport is just 3 miles from the centre of Boston and is served by regular taxis, Uber and Lyft. A more romantic way to get into the city is via water taxi. Three taxi services dock at Logan International Airport: the MBTA Harbor Express, Boston Harbor Cruises and Rowe’s Wharf. Boston has a superb public transport system known at the ‘T’. This encompasses subway, bus, trams and boats across the Greater Boston area. Subways are colour coded with six lines: Red, Green, Blue, Orange and Silver. Purchase a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket at subway vending machines. If you’re feeling more active, hop on a Bluebike at many locations across the city and see the best of Boston on two wheels. We recommend buying a Boston CityPASS which gives you discounted admission into many of Boston’s top attractions, including the Skywalk Observatory and Boston Harbor Cruises.
The Best Time To Visit:
Boston has four distinct seasons – but like most of the world now the weather can be unpredictable. Bring layers, an umbrella and good walking shoes.
Spring: Blossom on the trees, and some rainy days. Outdoors markets make a welcome reappearance as do the local baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. The Boston Marathon is in April as is the famous Patriot’s Day.
Summer: Boston can be humid in summer, but often the ocean breezes keep the temperatures down. The perfect season to get on a cruise on the harbour. Summer events include Boston Pride Festival in June and there are many festivals and open-air concerts.
Autumn: Fall colours in Boston are stunning. Temperatures are cooler so wear layers. From Oktoberfest, to food festivals and even pumpkin pageants, autumn is a fun time to visit.
Winter: Boston generally gets snow fall in winter. So be prepared if you visit between December and March. First Night Boston is a fabulous New Year’s Eve celebration.
Image via BostonUSA.com