Boston is an amazing city! This was our first time in this fun city. Whether you are visiting Boston for a week or a weekend, we have eleven things we think you must see. Boston is after all one of the oldest cities in the United States, so there is a lot of history here. Several key events that lead up to the American Revolution took place in Boston. Events such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. While visiting Boston, it surprised us to find out much of Boston is man-made. They took dirt from the higher ground to fill in and expand Boston.
As a destination, Boston is fantastic. First, Boston is a walkable city. It is also a city of neighborhoods all distinctly different. There are tons of great restaurants. So, there is something for everyone.
1 – Old Town Trolley Tour
First off, hop on, hop off bus tours are a great way to get a lay of the land. We like city tours as a way to learn where everything is located in relation to the city center. It helps in planning out our itinerary of what to see and do when for the rest of the trip.
2 – Freedom Trail Walking Tour
The Freedom Trail is 2.5-miles long. It is a pedestrian trail that links local landmarks significant to the history of the United States. The Freedom Trail Walking Tour entertains you while taking you back in time through the early years of American history. 18th-century costumed guides tell the stories that help shape the United States of America all the while staying in character. I highly recommend this tour. History in school was boring but learning history this way is mesmerizing. If you are lucky, you will get some great, “historical gossip.”
3 – Boston Tea Party Ships and Museums
I highly recommend the Boston Tea Party ships and Museums. At the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, 18th-century costumed guides tell the famous story of the Boston Tea Party. You get to go on a ship replica and toss overboard some tea. As part of the tour, there are also these paintings that came to life and talked to us. Great special effects! We just could not figure out how they were doing that!
The day before the dumping of tea into the Boston harbor the citizens of Boston held a meeting in a local church. Upset about taxation by Britain without representation in parliament, people of Boston decided that they would dress up in disguise, board a British ship at night and dump all of the King’s tea into the harbor as a protest. This event was significant in the growth of the American Revolution movement. Who knows, if the citizens of Boston decided against this protest, would there be the United States of America?
4 – Boston Harbor Cruise
The Boston Harbor Cruise gives you a great view of the Harbor Islands, and a chance to enjoy the city skyline from the water. We departed from Long Wharf located in downtown near the aquarium. We saw some unique areas of Boston’s inner and outer harbors during this entertaining and educational sightseeing Boston Harbor cruise. It was incredible how many islands are out there. The harbor is beautiful and clean yet as we found out this was not always the case. Boston Harbor has undergone a tremendous clean-up. We saw the nation’s oldest continuously manned lighthouse on Brewster Island. And, we saw the state of the art waste treatment plant that has helped to clean up the harbor. There are not too many times you can experience planes flying overhead and landing like you can on this cruise. It was fascinating to take pictures of planes landing at Logan Airport.
5 – Beacon Hill
I do not think a visit to Boston would be complete without a visit to the gas lamp district known as Beacon Hill. Imagine street after street filled with brick rowhouses on narrow, gas-lit streets and brick sidewalks. It is by far the most charming neighborhood in the city. Many Bostonian apparently agree, making this area the most desirable in Boston. For its prestige, you would think the residents would not like gawkers walking their streets. But, Keith and I were struggling with a map and twice someone approached us and asked if we needed help. We found all Bostonian’s very friendly.
6 – The Old State House
Built in 1713, one of the oldest public buildings in the United States is The Old State House. And, it is the oldest surviving public building in Boston although now a museum. There are interactive exhibits, even ones for kids. There are 18th-century artifacts and artwork but I found the building itself most impressive, especially the floating spiral staircase. Today, surrounding The Old State House you see the tall buildings of the Boston Financial district. The old and new mix is a common theme in Boston, which you’ll see everywhere.
7 – The New England Aquarium
We found the New England Aquarium entertaining and educational. My first thought was, I have been to an aquarium why see another one. But, this was one was exceptional. First off, the New England Aquarium is part of a Species Survival Plan. An example is the penguins. The Aquarium breeds African penguins in the context of a Species Survival Plan. There are several species of penguins as soon as you walk into the aquarium and watching them is very entertaining. The New England Aquarium gives its employees a unique opportunity to connect with guests. All around the aquarium, you will see employees ready to answer questions or holding something unique for you to experience.
We met Chelsea near the Pirahna exhibit. She had a Pirahna skull including teeth for us to see. We started talking about us living near the Amazon where Piranha exist in the wild but never mentioned we were bloggers. She said that once an hour she was able to take a couple of guests behind the scenes of the aquarium, and would we like to be her guests. Of course, we said yes. The experience was fantastic. Lots of people are working behind the viewing areas to care for all the aquatic life. There is much work to be done. We saw fish that were part of the Species Survival Plan that the public would never see. The fish are only there to be cared for and to prevent extinction.
8 – Historic North End
The North End is the city’s oldest residential community. People have continuously lived here since settling in the 1630s. This neighborhood is the Little Italy of Boston. There are just so many great restaurants to eat at that you will have a hard time choosing. The North End is also home to some of Boston’s best bakeries. A historic area with lovely buildings housing food and treats make this a not to be missed area.
9 – Boston Common
Boston Common is Boston’s central park and the oldest public park in the United States. This well-used park consists of 50 acres of lush green space in the heart of the city. Everywhere we looked we saw people walking their dogs, eating lunch or sitting on a bench having conversations. Our Freedom Trail walking tour began in Boston Common. Need a free Boston map? On the Common, you can get free maps at the Visitor Center.
10 – Skywalk Observatory
All we knew when we went to the Skywalk Observatory is that we would get a 360 view of Boston from the 50th floor of a skyscraper. We did not know we would get Acoustiguide audio tour handsets. Not only did we get a one-of-a-kind city view but also a compelling narration of what we were viewing. To give you an idea of the quality of this audio, the same company who did the Met’s and Louvre’s narration made this one. We absolutely loved this experience. To top off this experience, we went up to the 52nd floor after our tour and had a glass of wine and an appetizer at the elegant restaurant, The Top of the Hub.
11 – Fenway Park
Last but by no means least you should visit Fenway Park and do the tour. You do not have to be a baseball fan or a Red Socks fan to enjoy this tour. But, if you are a fan you will be blown away! This tour allows you to go behind the scenes of your beloved park. For those who are more history fans than baseball fans remember Babe Ruth got his start here at Fenway. And, Fenway is the oldest major league ballpark still in use today.
Fenway is small for a ballpark, only 36,000 fans can attend each game with possibly a few more who stand for the whole game. As I was there, smelling the fresh cut grass, I could imagine fans who love their city and their team, cheering and screaming. I think the Red Socks are loved so much because they are the comeback kids. There was a time when they could barely get a few hundred people to the games. The Red socks were the worst team in the league. But, they came back, and the rest is history.
With its charming narrow streets and historical past, Boston offers a lot for everyone. Boston holds a prominent place in the history of the United States but also in baseball history. Its harbors provide a spectacular scenic surrounding for the city. There are museums but also lots of green spaces. There are historical buildings butted alongside skyscrapers. And, when it comes to dining there are just too many options to choose. No single element makes Boston a great place to visit. If you live in Boston, have visited Boston or dream of seeing Boston, please let me know.
See even more in this short video summary of our Boston trip
Also, check out our post on Fenway Park.