Home to some of the country's best museums (some completely free), beautiful parks, great shopping, and historic attractions, Boston, Massachusetts, is a great destination to visit year-round. Follow the iconic Freedom Trail, explore the Museum of Fine Arts, stroll through Boston Public Garden and stop by the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. Family favorites include the Museum of Science, Boston Children's Museum and the USS Constitution Museum. Here are the best things to do in Boston, Massachusetts.
1. Boston Common
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Boston Common is the oldest park in the United States, and the starting point of the Freedom Trail. With over fifty acres to wander through either by foot, by bike, or on horseback, you will need several hours to fully explore the park.
Many famous world leaders have delivered speeches at the Common. With so much history to discover, it is a good idea to take a tour provided by the Freedom Trial Foundation and learn about the Common's significance to American history.
139 Tremont Street, Boston 02116
2. Museum of Fine Arts
© Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts consists of nearly 500,000 works of art and gives visitors an opportunity to experience everything from contemporary art and ancient Egyptian art to a range of historic and modern American art. The museum also has galleries on European, Asian, and African art, and they have transformed a wing of the museum for contemporary art and social and learning spaces.
Admission to the museum gives visitors all-day access to galleries and special exhibitions, a free repeat visit within ten days, and free guided tours and gallery talks. Spend a day walking through the artistic exhibitions or participating in one of the museum’s many programs and activities.
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 617-267-9300
3.Boston's Freedom Trail
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Two and a half miles of Boston’s most historically significant sites comprise the iconic Freedom Trail. From museums and churches to burying grounds and a ship, Freedom Trail gives visitors an experience that brings history to life. Official sites on the Trail include the site of the Boston Massacre, the Benjamin Franklin Statue and Boston Latin School, and the USS Constitution.
Boston’s rich history ensures there are many sites excluding the official sixteen, which include the Commonwealth Museum and the Minute Man National Historic Park. The costumed tour guides, or Freedom Trail Players, take guests on an adventure discovering the rich history of the American Revolution – creating memories the entire family will cherish!
99 Chauncy Street, Suite 401, Boston, MA 02111, 617-357-8300
4.Boston MA points of interest: Public Garden
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The Public Garden consists of 24 acres of flowers, plants, and trees in vibrant patterns for the people of Boston and the city's visitors to enjoy. The gardeners use new techniques to collect, hybridize, and propagate plants – all of which are grown in the garden’s very own greenhouse.
The greenhouse cultivates over 80 species of plants for the garden and other locations in the city. Many monuments, fountains, swan boats, and a lagoon can be found scattered throughout the garden for visitors to admire and enjoy.
4 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114
5.Places to Visit in Boston: Boston's North End
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Boston's North End gives visitors an eclectic collection of everything Boston once was and is today. From the houses to the businesses, the historic neighborhood takes visitors back in time and offers a unique view of Boston that can’t be experienced anywhere else.
Visitors can walk down the winding paths and experience history; North End is home to the heart of the Freedom Trail, Harborwalk, Old North Church, the Paul Revere House, and Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, where over 10,000 artisans, craftspeople, and merchants are buried. Visitors of North End will also find wonderful bakeries, taverns, restaurants, and many art and gift shops.
6.Fenway Park Tour
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No tour of Boston is complete without a stop at one of its most iconic landmarks. Tour the home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, also considered “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.” Experienced tour guides take visitors on a journey that baseball dreams are made of, through the home of Red Sox legends such as Petrocelli, Ortiz, Yaz, and Rice.
Attractions of the tour include visiting Pesky’s Pole and sitting atop the world-famous Green Monster, where you can overlook leftfield from over 37 feet high.
4 Yawkey Way, Boston, MA 02215, 617-226-6666
7. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
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The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum transports visitors back in time by taking them on an incredible journey through the events in the order in which they occurred over 200 years ago.
Meet colonists, explore authentically restored tea ships, and dump tea overboard just as the Sons of Liberty did. Visitors will go back in time as interactive exhibits, multi-sensory documentaries, and live actors take visitors through the events so that they see, hear, feel, and do as people did back in 1773.
Congress Street Bridge, Boston, MA 02127, 866-955-0667
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8.John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum & Library
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The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is a standing tribute to the life and times of the United States’ thirty-fifth president, John F. Kennedy. At this ten-acre park on Boston’s waterfront, visitors will find the striking building designed by I.M. Pei and a landscape of wild roses, shrubs, and trees overlooking the city that President Kennedy loved and cherished.
Exhibits include artifacts, photographs, and videos from his campaign trail and his family interactions, along with a dedicated exhibit for First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. With three theaters, multimedia exhibits, and period settings, visitors of all ages can experience the world of the Kennedy Presidency.
Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125, 617-514-1600
9.New England Holocaust Memorial
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The New England Holocaust Memorial was built “as a beacon of memory and hope” in in 1995. Visitors may walk under the six glass towers, which can be visited when walking the Freedom Trail, and reflect on the events of the Holocaust and the importance of human rights. Providing an emotional experience, the six towers have been said to symbolize many things: the six different major extermination camps, the six million Jews killed, the six years the mass extermination took place, or the six candles of a menorah.
Engraved on the outside of the glass panels of each tower is the number representing the people killed, and inscribed on the inner walls are quotes from survivors of each camp. Symbolizing an important part of history, the New England Holocaust Memorial is an important learning experience for the entire family.
126 High Street, Boston, MA 0211-2700, 617-457-8755
10.Boston MA points of interest: Beacon Hill
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One of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods, Beacon Hill is steeped in history. The neighborhood has undergone a radical change from being a place of undesirable “fringe activities” in the mid 17th century, through to the 1830’s when palatial residential homes were built here for the prosperous. Beacon Street also boasts the Massachusetts State House, which is home to the Commonwealth government. Wander amongst period colonial houses with decorative gates, gas lamps, brick sidewalks, and tree-lined streets.
Acorn Street, the most photographed street, is nearby. It is paved in cobblestones and was once home to the coachmen of the nearby mansions. Beacon Hill is home to America’s first African Meeting House and has featured the residences of many notable Americans such as Louisa May Alcott, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Frost.
11.Places to Visit in Boston: New Waterfront
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Boston’s New Waterfront is teeming with life, both on land and in the sea. Right on the oceanfront you will find several restaurants, fashion stores, museums, art galleries, and hotels.
A stroll along the Harborwalk will take you through Boston’s most vibrant neighborhoods. There is always something to do down on the New Waterfront, from outdoor concerts to cliff diving and so much more. There is so much to do at the New Waterfont, but don’t forget to stop for a moment and simply watch the world go by.
12. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
© Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, established in 1903, houses a prized art collection from all over the world, including examples from Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, the Islamic World, Renaissance Italy, and 19th century France and America. The collection consists of more than 2, 500 objects and includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, letters, illuminated manuscripts, rare books, and decorative arts.
The museum is home to exhibitions of classic and contemporary art, concerts, lecture series, and family and community programs. There are plenty of free tours and talks with knowledgeable guides available, and they will show you the more memorable pieces. The museum is family friendly, and if your name happens to be Isabella, admission to the museum is free.
25 Evans Way, Boston 02115, 617-566-1401
13.Things to Do in Boston: Rose Kennedy Greenway
© Rose Kennedy Greenway
The mile long, Rose Kennedy Greenway stretches between TD Garden and Chinatown in Boston. This linear park includes an amazing mix of gardens, memorials, sculptures, kids’ playgrounds, events, festivals and, of course, food trucks. There is a green space for throwing a Frisbee around, an old-fashioned carousel, a huge splashing fountain, and so much more.
It took 16 years for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, known to locals as the Big Dig, to convert the ugly Central Artery into this heaven for all Bostonians, big and small. More than 300 events are organized annually on the Greenway, from public markets to free concerts. Six beautiful parks are part of the Greenway.
185 Kneeland St, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, Phone: 617-292-0020
14.Museum of African American History
© Museum of African American History
The Museum of African American History showcases the history of African Americans in the New England area from the 17th to 19th century. The museum is dedicated to preserving and conserving African American culture and contributions through exhibits and yearly celebrations. Exhibits currently include African American Literature, Picturing Frederick Douglass, and the Freedom Rising Civil War exhibit.
Events include book signings and an annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The museum is home to hundreds of carte-de-visites, lithographs, and original documentation.
46 Joy Street, Boston 02114, 617-725-0022
15.Places to Visit in Boston: USS Constitution Museum
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Launched in 1787, USS Constitution has earned her place in American Naval history and is now the star of the USS Constitution Museum. After her heroic actions during the War of 1812 and the battle with Guerriere where she earned her nickname “Old Ironsides,” Constitution achieved public revere. The museum is interactive, making it perfect for those with small children.
Learn what life was like as a sailor in 1812 in All Hands on Deck and find out more about the War of 1812 and the battles that took place between Constitution and her enemies. You can even go aboard the restoration and take photos by her helm or the ships bell.
Charlestown Navy Yard, Building 22, Charlestown 02129, 617-426-1812
16.Museum of Science
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The Museum of Science is a must-do for the entire family while you are in Boston. Highly interactive, the museum boasts a wide range of permanent exhibits as well as frequently changing temporary exhibits. Wander amongst fossils and live sized casts and marvel at the sheer size of the dinosaurs. Learn about the use of models in today’s world and create your own in the Making Models exhibit.
Visit the Museum of Science and the Live Animal Care Centre, which is home to over 120 animals, to see animals both past and present. Make sure you leave plenty of time for your visit.
1 Science Park, Boston 02114, 617-723-2500
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17.Places to Visit in Boston: Old State House
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The Old State House offers a glimpse into the dramatic chapters leading up to the American Revolution, the Boston Massacre, and the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The building is the oldest surviving public building in the city of Boston, and it housed government offices, the Council of Chamber, and the Massachusetts Assembly.
Now a restored museum, the building offers two floors of exhibitions that tell the story behind its role in shaping the city, the state, and the nation. You will be able to listen to a testimony of the Boston Massacre trial, see the tea from the Boston Tea Party, view paintings of the harbor, and interact with exhibitions specifically designed for families of all ages.
206 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02109-1773, 617-720-1713
18.Things to Do in Boston: Back Bay
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One of America's most sought-after neighborhoods, Back Bay is made up of picturesque streets lined with vintage homes, trendy restaurants, cafés and bars, unique shops and stores and a wealth of attractions. This fashionable neighborhood attracts visitors from around the world to experience its bustling vibe and beautiful landmarks such as the two tallest buildings in the Boston skyline, the Prudential Center and the John Hancock Tower, and the architectural gems of the Trinity Church and Boston Public Library.
The neighborhood is also famous for its rows of beautifully preserved Victorian brownstone houses, which are considered to be some of the best-preserved examples of 19th-century urban design in the country.
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19. Arnold Arboretum
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On a sunny day, there is nothing better than taking a stroll around the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. Vivid colors, sweet smells, and fresh air await you, and you will lose track of time wondering around the 281-acre grounds. The arboretum is home to over 15,000 living plants that represent almost 4,000 kinds of trees, shrubs, and vines. With fourteen main collections, there is something for every taste.
Wander about Bussey Brook Meadow, or visit Cosmopolitan Meadow where wildflowers cover Weld Hill from top to bottom. View the Maple Collection with its beautiful orange leaves in the fall or the Explorers Garden with stunning flowers and foliage from both Asia and America. Take a guided tour and learn all about the history of the arboretum and its inhabitants.
Arborway, Boston 02130, 617-524-1718
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© Thinking Cup
Like many fast-paced big cities, Boston runs on coffee, and when Bostonians want really good coffee, they go to Thinking Cup. It was the first to serve the famous Stumptown coffee, a Portland, Oregon coffee chain that has been declared ‘the Best Coffee in the World’ by such authorities as The New York Times and Food and Wine Magazine.
One of the three Thinking Cup shops in Boston, the Tremont Street location near the Boston Common, is a cozy, cheerful and comfortable place where one can see students cramming for exams over a large Café Latte and a scrumptious Cherry Ginger Scone, or business types stopping in for their on-the-go cup of macchiato. The Thinking Cup has fabulous pastries, all made in the shop, as well as the best teas in the world and superb sandwiches. You might want to try the Barcelona Bliss, with Spanish chorizo, Manchego cheese, green olive spread and roasted garlic aioli, all piled up on a crunchy French roll.
165 Tremont St, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, Phone: 617-482-5555
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Combine the beauty of Boston with a love of photography and PhotoWalks would be the result. Owner, tour guide, and professional photographer Saba Alhadi, takes Boston visitors on an amazing journey – one that she’s been taking for over fifteen years.
Offering private and group tours of Boston’s most historic landmarks such as Beacon Hill, North End, the Waterfront, and Freedom Trail, Saba provides visitors with not only a detailed understanding of Boston’s history, but also professional photography tips and the opportunity to capture Boston in a tour unlike any other. PhotoWalks also offers night tours, photography workshops, and scavenger hunts – a family-friendly activity of solving clues by taking photos and answering riddles.
22.Places to Visit in Boston: Faneuil Hall Marketplace
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Faneuil Hall Marketplace is one of Boston’s historic landmarks, and it has been both a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1743. Visitors will appreciate the history surrounding the marketplace as it served as the venue several speeches by James Otis, Samuel Adams, and other historical leaders.
Families can spend hours browsing goods offered by local tenants while enjoying the atmosphere of the festival marketplace, which now has an indoor mall, outdoor stalls, and a food court.
1 Faneuil Hall Sq, Boston, MA 02109, 617-635-3105
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23.Ye Olde Tavern Tours
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As they believe at Ye Olde Tavern Tours, “beer makes history even better.” Visitors have the opportunity to go on one of the most entertaining tours of Boston, during which they walk the Freedom Train and drink a chilled beer at some of Boston’s most historic sites.
Highlights of the tour include drinking beer in the tavern where the Boston Tea Party was planned, seeing where four signatories of the Declaration of Independence went to grammar school, and even visiting taverns once frequented by Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John F. Kennedy, and other renowned Boston natives.
24.Abigail Oglivy Gallery
© Abigail Oglivy Gallery
Abigail Oglivy Gallery is a high-end contemporary art gallery in Boston that showcases concept-driven works and exhibitions by emerging and mid-career artists around the United States. The gallery was opened to the public in 2015 and strives to expand the scope of the Boston art scene by highlighting regional and national artists that have yet to exhibit works within the city. Exhibitions are showcased for approximately four to six weeks at a time, curated by owner Abigail Ryan and director Allyson Boli. Past exhibitions showcased at the gallery include works by Jenna Pirello, Austin Eddy, Natalia Wróbel, Luca Molnar, and Donna Moylan.
460 Harrison Ave, #C7, Boston, MA 02118, Phone: 617-820-5173
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25.Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory
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Boasting spectacular 360-degree panoramic views of Boston, the Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory is the best place to see all that Boston has to offer. Situated on the 50th floor of The Prudential Tower, the second tallest building in the city, the Skywalk Observatory became the current highest observation deck in New England after the observation deck of the John Hancock Tower was closed post 9/11.
Offering breathtaking views for 100 miles on a clear day, the observation deck provides visitors with the occasion to take in all the city’s famous attractions and landmarks, including the Hancock Tower, the Boston Common and Public Garden, Fenway Park, the Charles River, Harvard University, MIT, and more. The 52nd floor features a restaurant, the Top of the Hub, where guests can enjoy a bite to eat while soaking up the stunning views.
800 Boylston Street Prudential Tower, Boston, MA 02199-8142, 617-859-0648
25 Best Things to Do in Boston
- Boston Common, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Fine Arts, Photo: Museum of Fine Arts
- Boston's Freedom Trail, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Boston MA points of interest: Public Garden, Photo: Courtesy of Bastos - Fotolia.com
- Places to Visit in Boston: Boston's North End, Photo: Courtesy of vivalapenler - Fotolia.com
- Fenway Park Tour, Photo: Courtesy of vivalapenler - Fotolia.com
- Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum & Library, Photo: Courtesy of ASP Inc - Fotolia.com
- New England Holocaust Memorial, Photo: Courtesy of vivalapenler - Fotolia.com
- Boston MA points of interest: Beacon Hill, Photo: Courtesy of haveseen - Fotolia.com
- Places to Visit in Boston: New Waterfront, Photo: Courtesy of PaTupungato - Fotolia.com
- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Photo: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
- Things to Do in Boston: Rose Kennedy Greenway, Photo: Rose Kennedy Greenway
- Museum of African American History, Photo: Museum of African American History
- Places to Visit in Boston: USS Constitution Museum, Photo: Courtesy of diegograndi - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Science, Photo: Courtesy of R.Babakin - Fotolia.com
- Places to Visit in Boston: Old State House, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Boston: Back Bay, Photo: Courtesy of Chee-Onn Leong - Fotolia.com
- Arnold Arboretum, Photo: Courtesy of jpeacockcad - Fotolia
- Thinking Cup, Photo: Thinking Cup
- PhotoWalks, Photo: PhotoWalks
- Places to Visit in Boston: Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Photo: Courtesy of david9039 - Fotolia.com
- Ye Olde Tavern Tours, Photo: Courtesy of 1alexalex - Fotolia.com
- Abigail Oglivy Gallery, Photo: Abigail Oglivy Gallery
- Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory, Photo: Courtesy of Pamela - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun - Fotolia.com