Boston, often called the “Cradle of Liberty,” is a city steeped in American history, renowned for its colonial past, prestigious educational institutions, and vibrant cultural scene. For those contemplating things to do in Boston, walking the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path that passes by 16 historically significant sites, and exploring the historic neighborhoods of Beacon Hill and Back Bay with their cobblestone streets and elegant brownstones are top activities.
The city’s Fenway Park, one of the oldest baseball stadiums in the country, offers a nostalgic glimpse into America’s favorite pastime. Nearby, the Museum of Fine Arts boasts an extensive collection of artworks, spanning ancient to contemporary, reflecting the city’s rich cultural heritage.
Beyond its historic landmarks and cultural institutions, Boston is a hub for innovation, with its world-renowned universities and tech startups. Boston’s blend of historical depth, academic excellence, and urban charm makes it a must-visit metropolis for those seeking the best places to visit in the USA.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Boston, USA
1. Freedom Trail
Stretching for 2.5 miles through the heart of Boston, the Freedom Trail connects 16 historically significant sites. These sites tell the story of the American Revolution and Boston’s early history. Walking the trail, you’ll pass landmarks such as Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church, and the Massachusetts State House.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable shoes, as this is primarily a walking tour. Guided tours are available, but you can explore at your own pace with a map or smartphone app.
2. Fenway Park
Home to the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park is one of the oldest baseball stadiums in the country. Established in 1912, it oozes history and character, from the iconic Green Monster to the Pesky Pole. Even if baseball isn’t your favorite sport, taking a tour of this legendary ballpark is a must for the cultural experience.
Travel Tip: Try to catch a game if you can, but if not, the behind-the-scenes tours are a fantastic way to experience the park. Arrive early to enjoy the neighborhood atmosphere on game days.
3. Boston Common and Public Garden
Boston Common, established in 1634, is the oldest public park in the U.S. Adjacent to it is the Boston Public Garden, America’s first botanical garden, renowned for its beautiful seasonal flower displays and iconic Swan Boats. Together, they offer a green respite amid a bustling city.
Travel Tip: Visit in the springtime when the flowers bloom or during winter for ice skating on Frog Pond in Boston Common.
4. Museum of Fine Arts
One of the most comprehensive art museums in the world, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston houses an incredible collection spanning from ancient artifacts to contemporary art. With over 450,000 works, visitors can admire pieces from around the globe and various periods.
Travel Tip: The museum is vast, so plan and prioritize the most interesting sections. Remember, on Wednesdays after 4 p.m., admission is by voluntary contribution.
5. New England Aquarium
Located on Boston’s waterfront, the New England Aquarium has thousands of aquatic animals, from sharks and rays to penguins and sea turtles. The Giant Ocean Tank, a four-story coral reef habitat, is the centerpiece, providing visitors with an immersive underwater experience.
Travel Tip: If visiting with children, try to catch the daily penguin feeding sessions—they’re both educational and entertaining.
6. Beacon Hill
One of Boston’s most picturesque neighborhoods, Beacon Hill is known for its narrow streets, brick sidewalks, and historic buildings. Its gas-lit lamps, and Federal-style row houses make it feel like a step back in time. The area also boasts boutique shops and cozy eateries.
Travel Tip: Explore the neighborhood early or late in the afternoon for quieter streets and beautiful lighting. And don’t forget to check out Acorn Street, one of the most photographed streets in the U.S.
7. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Relive the pivotal event that ignited the American Revolution at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Engaging live actors, high-tech exhibits, and authentically restored tea ships give visitors a first-hand experience of this historic protest.
Travel Tip: Be ready to participate! The interactive nature of this museum means visitors often get to play a part in the reenactment of the Boston Tea Party.
8. Harvard University and Harvard Square
In the nearby city of Cambridge, Harvard University is one of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions. The sprawling campus offers architectural beauty, historic significance, and a vibrant atmosphere. Near the university, Harvard Square is a bustling hub filled with bookstores, cafes, and street performers.
Travel Tip: Take the free student-led tour for an insider’s perspective on Harvard’s history and culture. While in Harvard Square, check out the Harvard Book Store for a wide selection of books and souvenirs.
9. The USS Constitution Museum
Moored in the Charlestown Navy Yard, the USS Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” the ship played a crucial role in the United States’ early years. The adjacent museum offers interactive exhibits detailing naval history and the ship’s storied past.
Travel Tip: Entrance to the ship is free, but be prepared for security checks similar to airport security. Pair it with a trip to the nearby Bunker Hill Monument to make the most of your visit.
10. Skywalk Observatory
Offering the city’s best panoramic views, the Skywalk Observatory is perched atop the Prudential Tower. Here, visitors can get a bird’s-eye view of Boston’s landmarks, the Charles River, and even as far as the mountains of New Hampshire on a clear day.
Travel Tip: Go during sunset for a magical view of the city transitioning day to night. The observatory also has audio tours which provide context to the vistas below.
11. North End
Boston’s historic North End is the city’s oldest neighborhood renowned for its Italian heritage. With its narrow streets and old-world charm, the North End is packed with authentic Italian restaurants, pastry shops, and historic sites like the Paul Revere House.
Travel Tip: For a treat, don’t miss Mike’s Pastry or Modern Pastry for a cannoli. The area can get crowded, especially on weekends, so consider visiting on a weekday for a more relaxed experience.
12. Boston Children’s Museum
Designed for children and families, the Boston Children’s Museum offers interactive exhibits focusing on science, culture, environmental awareness, health, and the arts. The museum is known for its hands-on approach, ensuring kids have a fun and educational experience.
Travel Tip: If visiting with young ones, aim to arrive early when the museum opens, as it tends to be quieter, allowing for a more personal experience with the exhibits.
13. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
This unique museum, fashioned after a Venetian palazzo, showcases the personal art collection of Isabella Stewart Gardner. Visitors can marvel at masterpieces from artists like Vermeer, Botticelli, and Rembrandt, all set in rooms that evoke a grand European home with a stunning courtyard garden.
Travel Tip: If your name is Isabella, you get free admission! Also, the museum offers discounted entry if you wear Red Sox gear. Don’t miss the contemporary wing, which often hosts special exhibitions and events.
14. Arnold Arboretum
The Arnold Arboretum is a green sanctuary managed by Harvard University, covering 281 acres and boasting various trees, shrubs, and flowers. It’s a beautiful spot for walking, bird watching, or enjoying nature. Each season offers a unique visual treat, from spring blossoms to autumn foliage.
Travel Tip: Visit during the Lilac Sunday in May, when the nursery’s extensive lilac collection is in full bloom and special activities are organized.
15. Boston Symphony Orchestra
One of the Big Five American orchestras, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) offers world-class performances at Symphony Hall, renowned for its outstanding acoustics. The BSO provides a range of classical concerts, special events, and performances tailored for children.
Travel Tip: Consider attending a rehearsal session for a more casual and economical experience. These generally happen in the mornings before an evening performance and are open to the public at a lower cost.
16. Back Bay
The Back Bay is one of Boston’s most upscale neighborhoods characterized by Victorian brownstone homes and trendy boutiques. It’s home to the famous Newbury Street, where you can find high-end shopping, art galleries, and an array of cafes and restaurants. The area also features the architectural marvels of the Boston Public Library and the historic Trinity Church.
Travel Tip: Walk along the scenic Charles River Esplanade adjacent to Back Bay for relaxing views, especially during sunset. In the summer, check out the open-air concerts at the Hatch Shell.
17. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
This striking museum, located on a ten-acre waterfront site, offers a glimpse into the life and legacy of America’s 35th president. Through multimedia exhibits, personal artifacts, and re-creations of iconic moments, visitors can delve into the world of JFK and the early 1960s.
Travel Tip: Take advantage of the audio tours available. They provide detailed narratives that bring the exhibits to life. Also, spend some time in the museum’s atrium, which offers a serene view of the Boston Harbor.
FAQ About Things to Do in Boston, USA
What are the top attractions to visit in Boston?
Some of the top attractions in Boston include the Freedom Trail, Fenway Park, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.
Is the Boston Public Garden worth a visit?
Absolutely! The Boston Public Garden is America’s oldest public garden, known for its beautiful seasonal flowers, iconic Swan Boats, and picturesque bridges.
Are there any historical tours available in Boston?
Yes, Boston offers a variety of historical tours, including the famous Freedom Trail walking tour, which takes visitors to 16 historically significant sites.
Where can I get the best seafood in Boston?
Boston is renowned for its seafood. Some popular spots include Union Oyster House, Neptune Oyster, and Legal Sea Foods.
Can I catch a live performance or show in Boston?
Definitely! The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Ballet, and theaters like the Boston Opera House and the Wilbur regularly host performances.
Is there a place to learn about Boston’s role in the American Revolution?
The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum offers an immersive experience about the events leading up to the American Revolution. Additionally, sites along the Freedom Trail, such as Paul Revere’s House and the Old North Church, provide insights into Boston’s revolutionary history.
Are there family-friendly activities in Boston?
Yes, families can enjoy visiting the New England Aquarium, the Boston Children’s Museum, and the Franklin Park Zoo, among other attractions.
How can I explore Boston from the water?
Several harbor cruises and duck tours offer unique perspectives of the city from the water.