With travel being more accessible than ever before, there’s never been a better time to plan a trip and head off to pastures new. And if you’re planning a trip sometime soon but want to keep your costs low to save some cash, consider staying in a hostel. Modern hostels offer many of the same great services and amenities as good quality hotels at a fraction of the usual price. In fact, they often even throw in a lot of extras totally free like high speed internet access and breakfast buffets. Many hostel locations also feature multiple room types, with private options to go along with the traditional mixed-gender or gender-specific dormitories. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
2.HI Boston Hostel
3.Backpackers Hostel & Pub
4.The Farrington Inn
5.Found Hotel Boston Common
4 Best Boston Hostels
- Overview, Photo: JEROME LABOUYRIE/stock.adobe.com
- HI Boston Hostel, Photo: worldwide_stock/stock.adobe.com
- Backpackers Hostel & Pub, Photo: Pormezz/stock.adobe.com
- The Farrington Inn, Photo: face_reader_img/stock.adobe.com
- Found Hotel Boston Common, Photo: picsfive/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Crin - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Boston Common
Boston Common in Massachusetts is America’s oldest park and is pentagon shaped comprising 50 acres in downtown Boston. The Common is home to sporting and music events, protests, community events, a frog pond, and decorated with cultural landscaping and sculpture.
The Boston Common was founded in 1634 and been at the forefront of American history since Colonial times. The original common was bought by citizens of Boston from European settler, William Blackstone. The scrubland stretched from Beacon Hill to the Back Bay and had some woodland areas with four hills and three ponds. Today, only Flagstaff Hill and Frog Pond are still there. The primary purpose of the area was for pasture for herds of cows from the village. The Common was also the site of town executions where murderers, witches, Indians, Quakers, pirates and criminals were hung.
By 1775, the Common was occupied by British troops during the Revolutionary War. The entrenched camp was where soldiers were stationed before heading off to the Battle at Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill. Boston reclaimed The Common in 1776. By 1830, the pasture had become more park with the help of citizens who understood the importance of preserving The Common as a place of history. Cows were banned from the park and ponds were filled with paths added to the park for strolling. An iron fence was installed to surround the park in 1836 and the park became a center for events, ballooning and early football.
The Civil War lead to protests, recruitment rallies, and celebrations being held on The Common. The first subway was installed in 1897 and an underground parking garage in the 1940’s. The Common has been the site of many political and historical events in Boston including speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and the first North American Papal Mass in 1979.
By the 1970’s the park had suffered from neglect with many of the trees dying and the ponds emptying. Recent decades have restored a new fervor by volunteers to restore the park and improve the landscaping. The playground and bandstand have been restored along with the Frog Pond being rejuvenated and an Ice Rink added for skating. Future restoration plans are underway.
The Boston Common is home to sculptures and memorials, the Frog Pond, and cultural landscaping. There is also a spray park that operates during the summer, Ice Rink, reflecting pool, playgrounds, and a Visitor’s Center at the park.
The Frog Pond- This pond is a year round recreation tool with swimming allowed in the summer and ice skating in the winter. There is a tennis court, baseball fields, an a change house with ice making technology to prolong the skating season.
Brewer Fountain- Installed in 1868, the fountain has recently been restored and is a bronze copy of a fountain that was featured in the World’s fair in Paris in 1855. The fountain is surrounded by sculptures of mythological creatures.
Soldiers and Sailors Monument- Sitting atop Flagstaff Hill, this monument honors the Civil War.
Boston Massacre Memorial- This bas-relief sculpture was created in 1888 and is a bas-relief cast from bronze.
Shaw/54 Regiment Memorial- Designed by Augustus Saint-Gauden, this sculpture is the most popular and took 14 years to complete being installed in 1899. The sculpture tells the story of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw leading the 54th regiment as part of the union army. This regiment was the first all black union volunteer regiments in the Civil War.
Parkman Bandstand- The bandstand is inspired by Greek temples and was dedicated in 1912 honoring George Francis Parkman, a benefactor of The Common. This bandstand is where most of the concerts and public speaking events are held in The Common. It was restored recently in 1996 and is home to the Massachusetts Shakespeare Festival.
Founders Memorial- Designed for Boston’s 300th anniversary in 1930, this memorial is a bronze bas-relief found along Beacon Mall. The sculpture depicts Willian Blackstone and John Winthrop.
Parkman Plaza- The Plaza is a paved area in front of the visitor’s center. There are 3 status features in the plaza that represent Industry, Religion, and Learning.
There are many events that take place on The Boston Common throughout the year. Many of these events are prescheduled while other’s such as protests, are more spontaneous. The park has been the home to many concerts and music festivals, community cultural programming, political events, and carnivals.
Parkman Bandstand Performing Art Festival- This annual festival began in the 1990’s and continues to bring free cultural entertainment to the community through performance. Puppet shows, concerts, magic shows, and film screenings have all been a part of the festival.
Outside the Box- The free cultural festival began in 2013 and lasts for 9 days. The festival is spread over half of the park and includes performances from cultures around the world, food vendors, and more.
139 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02111, Phone: 617-635-4505
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Attraction Spotlight: Arnold Arboretum
Located in Boston, Massachusetts along the Emerald Necklace park system, the Arnold Arboretum is a privately endowed arboretum that operates as part of Harvard University. As an academic site, the arboretum is committed to the study of the evolution and biology of plants and the dissemination of knowledge through research, horticulture, and education. As a public park, the arboretum’s grounds are open free of charge to visitors 365 days a year.
The arboretum was founded in 1872, combining estate land donated to Harvard by James Arnold and Benjamin Bussey for the purposes of horticultural research. The following year, Charles Sprague Sargent was appointed director of the new arboretum facility. Sargent negotiated a thousand-year grounds lease with the city of Boston that has become a model for similar horticultural institutions around the world, stating that, as an entity, the arboretum would become part of the city park system, but the university would be responsible for the cultivation and maintenance of its plant life. As a result, he worked closely with landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead to incorporate the arboretum’s layout into Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace park system.
Today, the arboretum is designated as a National Historic Landmark, with grounds encompassing 281 acres and containing more than 14,980 plant specimens representing 3,924 botanical taxa. In addition to its planted living collections, it has cultivated an herbarium collection in excess of 1.3 million specimens, serving as part of a five-million specimen collection held overall by the Harvard University Herbaria. Additionally, 40,000 volumes of library holdings and a large archive of photography serve as part of the arboretum’s extensive record system, which also electronically tracks the name, origin, and status of every plant in its collection.
Since its inception, the arboretum has strived in particular to maintain a collection of trees, shrubs, and other woody plants, both those indigenous to the New England area and others from around the world that can thrive in the region’s climate. The arboretum’s collection has a heavy concentration of species from North America and Asia, the latter resulting from university expeditions to Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan in the 20th century. Plants are labeled for identification and largely still organized according to the classical Bentham and Hooker classification system.
Park visitors are encouraged to enjoy a number of special horticultural displays, including collections of rosaceous, conifer, lilac, maple, and bonsai trees as well as cultivated arrangements of azalea and rhododendron. Large meadow spaces such as the Bussey Brook Meadow and the Cosmopolitan Meadow allow for free growth in urban wild environments. In addition to standard park structures such as benches and pathways, several pavilions provide an opportunity for observation and relaxation, although picking or otherwise destroying plant material, climbing trees, and walking in plant beds is strictly prohibited by arboretum policy.
A visitor center inside the Hunnewell Building features a permanent exhibit, Science in the Pleasure Ground, which chronicles the history and development of the arboretum. The Hunnewell Building is also home to the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library, which visitors can browse at their leisure or use for research purposes, as well as seasonal art exhibits focusing on horticultural and landscape themes.
Ongoing Programs and Education
In addition to its use as a public park space, the arboretum serves as a primary resource for Harvard’s plant biology research. Arboretum and university staff utilize both the living and herbarium collections for a number of diverse research purposes, including evolutionary biology, plant physiology, and biodiversity study as well as ecology and conservation research. The arboretum also continues to send scientists abroad for research expeditions, both to study plants in their natural environments and to collect for introduction into the park’s ecosystem.
Since the 1980s, the arboretum has been committed to serving as an educational resource for the Boston community, providing introductory horticultural study for children through educational programs and resources. Guided field study experiences for elementary school students offer hands-on experiences with the arboretum’s plant collections, while monthly professional development opportunities encourage teachers to explore ways to incorporate the natural world in their classroom. Families can also enjoy guided educational activities, such as a wildlife bingo game, a themed photo hunt, and the Discovery Pack program, which provides organized exploration suggestions for all age groups. Special exploration walks are led by arboretum staff and volunteers, offering family-friendly themed tours of the grounds and collections. Through the Arboretum Interpreters program, volunteers ca also serve as docents periodically throughout the year, guiding visitors through the grounds and offering additional information and anecdotes.
Although eating or preparing food is generally not permitted on the arboretum grounds, the popular once-a-year Lilac Day celebration, held on the second Sunday in May, encourages visitors to bring a picnic and tour the blooming lilac collection.
125 Arborway, Boston, MA 02130
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Attraction Spotlight: Old North Church
The Old North Church is the oldest church still surviving in Boston and the site of Paul Revere’s signal that the British were coming by way of the Charles River. This event sparked the Revolutionary War and half a million people still visit the historic Old North Church annually.
Christ Church, which came to be known as Old North Church, was built in 1723 and is the oldest church still standing in Boston. The most popular historic attraction in the city, Old North Church is famed for being the site of the signal lantern that Paul Revere designed to warn Lexington and Concord that the British were invading by way of the Charles River.
The church is now part of the Old North Historic Site and is managed by The Old North Foundation, a nonprofit secular group. The Christ Church in the City of Boston is still home to an episcopal congregation and is a partner of the Old North Foundation. Hours vary seasonally and are outlined on the Old North Church website.
Attractions at Old North Church Historic Site
In addition to the historic Old North Church, the site includes four other attractions that are popular for visitors to tour while visiting the Christ Church in the City of Boston.
Captain Jack’s Historic Chocolate Shop- Visitor’s to the chocolate shop will witness what chocolate making was like in the 18th century. Captain Jack’s still produces chocolate as it was during the Revolutionary War and Colonial times. Volunteers dress in period clothing and chat with visitors about the history of chocolate making in Boston and the connection to the church. The shop was built in the 1740’s and operated by Captain Newark Jackson. The site opened in 2013 as a historic landmark and chocolate shop to the public.
Gardens- There are multiple gardens at Old North Church that are used for quiet reflection, prayer, meditation, or walking. The gardens began in 1995 when gardeners from the Old North Church congregation and The North End Neighborhood joined together to beautify the historic site’s campus. The gardens use plants and grasses that were popular in the 18th century. There are displays of annuals and perennials throughout the year. Other gardens on the campus include St. Francis Assisi Garden, Washington Memorial Garden, The Third Lantern Garden, and The Memorial Garden. The Memorial Garden is the first public garden to honor the lives that were lost from American Troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as Operation Enduring Freedom.
Gift Shop- Found in the former St Francis Chapel, the main gift shop is 12,000 square feet featuring Old North Church Branded merchandise including American Heritage Chocolate that is produced in Captain Jack’s, Coffee, books, clothing, jewelry and educational items.
Old North Church Historic site is located along the Freedom Trail and has a parking garage nearby. Visitors are encouraged to participate in self-guided tours of the site which is free, while donations are appreciated. There is a mobile app, This Old Pew, that will provide an audio tour, history of specific pews, and the American Revolution. There are two guided tours daily that require ticketing. Reservations are required for groups of 8 or more who would like a guided tour.
Behind the Scenes Tour- This tour takes visitors from the crypt up to the bell tower of Old North Church while they are educated on the history of Paul Revere and the steeple, as well as artifacts that were found in the crypt.
Tolerance and Tombstones Tour- The second-floor gallery of the church’s sanctuary is only available to visitors on this tour. They will explore religion, and investigate how death and burial was handled in colonial times. The Crypt and Copp’s Hill Burying Ground are also visited during the 40-minute tour.
Aesthetic Appeal Tour- Visitors on this tour will see some of the beauty of the Old North Church in an interactive way exploring the concepts of Anglican Art and Architecture. Participants will see the second-floor gallery, and fine art pieces that decorate the church. This tour is only conducted when the church is closed to the public.
There are two annual events that are hosted at Old North Church Historic Site. There are several other events for families and children throughout the year and those can be found on the events calendar on the website.
Colonialfest- This celebration is held annually during Boston Fourth Of July Harborfest and includes activities and reenactments relating to the American Colonies, Revolutionary War, and 18th century life.
Family Fall Fest- Held on or before Halloween weekend, Fall Fest is a free celebration of Autumn and harvest time that includes lots of treats, family friendly activities and crafts immediately following the North End Halloween Party and Parade.
There is an admission fee.
193 Salem Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02113, Phone: 617-858-8231
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