The birthplace of the United States, Boston is one of the most historic cities in the entire country. But don’t let its narrow, confusing streets and centuries-old landmarks fool you—Boston is an ultra-modern town with a bustling restaurant scene, nightlife, sports culture, and some of the best universities on the planet. Though it’s a small city, it has a big heart and a lot to offer every kind of visitor. No matter if you’re looking to wine and dine or cheer on some of the US’s biggest and strongest sports team, walk the pathway of American history or take a sailing lesson on a gorgeous afternoon, you’ll never be bored in Boston. So pack your bags and leave your “R”s at home—here are some of the must-sees in the city lovingly known as Beantown:
The Freedom Trail
The American Revolution was born in Boston, and you can follow the red line of history through the city streets. From centuries-old burial grounds to the place where Paul Revere famously warned “The British are coming!”, battle sites to a grand warship, the Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile programmed route of 17 important sites throughout Boston, marked either by a painted or by a brick red line on the sidewalk.
- Freedom Trail: thefreedomtrail.org
No matter your sports preference, Boston has a team for it. And, most likely, a really good one. Having won all of the major US sports championships within the past several years, Boston’s Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots are the pride of the town. Head to the historic Fenway Park to see the Sox play big-time rivals the Yankees, Boston Garden to see either the Celtics or the Bruins, or Gillette Stadium outside of the city for football with the Patriots. While you’re there, stick around to see Boston’s less-talked-about Revolution play some MLS soccer.
Boston is home to some of the most renowned institutions of higher learning in the world, and the very intelligent people who teach at and attend them. Within Boston proper, you’ll find Boston University, Wentworth School of Technology, and Berkley School of Music, among many other great schools, and Boston College is just outside of the city. Across the river in Cambridge are the heavy hitters: MIT and Harvard. Stroll within either campus to try to absorb some of the genius floating through the air.
Whether you’re into art, science, or marine life, Boston has a museum for you. Ranked one of the best art museums in the country, the MFA or Museum of Fine Arts houses a great collection of American art. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum also has a wonderful art and tapestry collection housed in a historic building. As a bonus, if your name is Isabella, you get free entrance! Science people and kids will love the Museum of Science with its huge exhibits, musical stairway, and domed Mugar-Omni Theater. Located on Boston Harbor, the New England Aquarium is a fun place to see…. Bring little ones to the Boston Children’s Museum to keep them busy for hours.
- Museum of Fine Arts: mfa.org
- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: gardnermuseum.org
- Museum of Science: mos.org
- New England Aquarium: neaq.org
- Boston Children’s Museum: bostonchildrensmuseum.org
Like every major city in the world, Boston has some great shopping. From the go-to chains on Washington Street to the high-end boutiques of Newbury Street, Boston has it all. Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall are a great area to grab lunch and a few souvenirs. If you’re looking to do some serious damage to your wallet, head across the Charles River to the Cambridgeside Galleria shopping center.
Boston Common and the Public Gardens
One of the more picturesque and calm areas of the city, Boston Common is a giant park near Downtown Crossing and Beacon Hill. Relax on the lawn, take in some theater under the stars during the summer, or skate on Frog Pond during the winter. In the Boston Public Gardens, hop on an iconic Swan Boat to float along the charming lake among real-life swans.
Its dirty water may have been immortalized in song, but the Charles River has cleaned up its act over the years. And now it’s one of the best places to enjoy Boston. To truly get a sense of Boston’s balance, spend some time on the river or its banks. Pretty much any time of year, but especially during the summer, you’ll find the river dotted with scores of white sailboats, and further in you’ll become enchanted by the silent sculling boats gently rowing their way under bridges.
Where to Stay
Boston hotels rival those of other major cities. With everything from familiar hotel chains to independent boutique hotels, hotels in Boston run the gamut. And as far as neighborhood goes, if you want to be centrally-located, Back Bay, Kenmore Square, or parts of the South End are the areas to be. Here are some good suggestions:
- The Boston Park Plaza Hotel
- Nine Zero
- Hotel Commonwealth
- Marriott Long Wharf Hotel
- City of Boston Tourism Site: cityofboston.gov/visitors
- Boston Hotels: prontohotel.com
- Boston Logan Airport: massport.com/logan-airport
OneFund Boston, benefitting the victims of the Marathon bombing: https://secure.onefundboston.org/