Now while New York might have the crown as one of the most popular cities to visit in the US, if you’re even remote interested in American history – Boston is the city you really should be headed to! Oh, and lobster here is dirt cheap… you know, just in case you’re still looking for more excuses to visit!
Boston is also home to some world class Universities (with the likes of Harvard and M.I.T.) so not only is this an intellectual and exciting city, you can also tell long before you arrive that it’s a fun one too! (University cities are almost always fun – it’s the law! 😀 ). Lloyd and I visited a few summers ago with friends (in between trips to Bermuda and New York).
Once you do finally make it to Boston, and have had you fill of freshly caught lobster down by the harbour (or perhaps you’ll wanna save that for a treat after you’ve been sight seeing?), here are 11 brilliant things to do and see in Boston!
1.) Freedom Trail
The perfect self-led tour through the best historical sites in the city, the Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile (4 km) long route that takes visitors past 16 significant places. The Trail features museums, churches, meeting houses, and burying grounds along a red-painted trail that crosses streets and sidewalks through downtown Boston.
The south-end of the trail begins at the Boston Common Visitor Center, then heads north through the Waterfront and North End areas of the city. The trail crosses the water before branching off into two different ending points: Bunker Hill Monument, and the USS Constitution Museum.
2.) Faneuil Hall
Both a meeting hall and a marketplace since 1741, Faneuil Hall is one of the best known historical spots in the city. Located near the waterfront, Faneuil Hall is often called the “Cradle of Liberty”, as it hosted the very first Town Meeting in the United States. It is the site where the Sons of Liberty met and decided to rebel against the King of England.
Today, the site is a popular shopping area, with historic Quincy Market located next door and plenty of great shops and restaurants surrounding it.
3.) Boston Common
The oldest city park in the United States, Boston Common is a great green space in the downtown area that has been around since 1634. The space was originally owned by William Blackstone, but was bought by a few Puritan colonists who wanted to use the land as a communal pasture for their livestock to graze.
Over the years, the park played a role in the history of the United States as Redcoats made camp on it 1775, and celebratory fireworks were lit for the repeal of the Stamp Act and end of the Revolutionary War.
Today, visitors can go for a leisurely stroll through the park all the while the historical events that took place there… or you could just go for a picnic and a snooze in the sun. Totally up to you! 😉
4.) Paul Revere House
To see the oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston, head to the Paul Revere House. Built in 1680, the house was purchased by Paul Revere in 1770, and was his home during the time of his famous night-ride to Lexington (for the uninitiated, Paul Revere is the guy who’s famous for alerting the army to the approach of British before the battles of Lexington and Concord).
Visitors to the house can learn about his famous midnight ride, as well as visit his silver shop, where he made high-quality silver pieces. A gift shop is also on site (you never know, you might find a souvenir in here…), and special events are held in which visitors can see reenactments of Paul Revere, as well as see how artisan craftsmen created out their colonial crafts.
5.) Old North Church
Boston’s Christ Church, popularly known as the Old North Church, is the city’s most visited historical site. It is said to be the spot where the famous message, “One if by land, and two if by sea” was sent. Founded in 1722, it is Boston’s oldest surviving church. It is located behind the Paul Revere Mall, where a large and iconic statue of Paul Revere on his horse now stands.
6.) Fenway Park
Just because Boston is a well-known historical hot-spot, doesn’t mean that you have to spend your entire time exploring places of the past. For something a little more current, head to Fenway Park, home of the famous Boston Red Sox. In use since 1912, it is the oldest baseball park in Major League Baseball.
To get the best experience, try to make it to a Red Sox game! If that isn’t possible, tours are available for everyone to you to get more of an insight into the popular American sport.
7.) Museum of Fine Arts
With over 450,000 art pieces, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts holds one of the best collections in the world. Pieces range from contemporary to ancient Egyptian, and visitors can enjoy the many exhibitions on display as well as educational programs on offer.
The museum dates back to 1876, when it was a much smaller institution located in Copley Square. The museum we have today is on Huntington Avenue, and sees over one million visitors pass through its halls every year.
8.) New England Aquarium
One of the top visitor attractions in Boston, the New England Aquarium is both a major educational resource center, and a global leader in marine exploration and conservation. The Aquarium is located on the water’s edge near Boston Harbuor, and down the street from Faneuil Hall. Don’t miss the Giant Ocean Tank, a four-story coral reef that showcases hundreds of stunning Caribbean creatures.
9.) Old State House
Located at the intersection of Washington and State Streets, the Old State House easily stands out as a historical piece of beauty amongst the taller, more modern buildings surrounding it. The House, which was built in 1713, was once the center for all things happening in Boston, including the American Revolution. The House was the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre, and today serves as a museum for Boston history.
10.) USS Constitution Museum
The USS Constitution Museum is focused on the famous warship, nicknamed “Old Ironsides” due to the fact that bullets seemed to bounce off it when it was being attacked. Over 200 years of historical artifacts and records from the Constitution are on display here, as well as personal stories and journals from the crew. If you’re a fan of old wartime ships, this museum is not to be missed.
Just across the Charles River is the town of Cambridge, home of two of the world’s best universities – Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Cambridge (named after the city in England) is great for both students of the universities, and visitors hoping to see the famous schools. Fabulous restaurants, cozy cafes, and plenty of picturesque shops and streets are in the area, all adding to the overall charm of the city.