Boston may be a small city, with a population of just over 600,000, but it is the largest in New England. What to do in Boston? You may ask.
Although “Beantown" is home to destinations seen in other popular urban vacation spots around the United States, the city’s special place in history has packed it with incredible sites that were pivotal during the birth of the nation and the American Revolution. There is also a fine selection of art galleries, aquariums, restaurants and pubs; so 21st-century-themed Boston attractions are not lacking.
So what are you waiting for? Visit Boston! Grab a cheap bus ticket and add all of these fabulous spots to your itinerary. Here’s my list of the most fun things to do in Boston today or maybe this weekend!
Best Places To Visit In Boston This Weekend
The Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail is one spot that appears consistently when people do a search on all the wonders Boston has to offer. There is good reason for this, because vacation usually means fast food and a lot of calories, so why not stay in shape with a 2.5-mile walk along the Freedom Trail? Download a map and stop by 16 sites that were crucial during the American Revolutionary War. If you’d rather have an expert show you, there are guided tours available. If you don’t have time to stop by all 16, be sure to visit the Paul Revere House, the Old North Church, the Old State House and the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
The Paul Revere House
One mandatory stop when strolling along the Freedom Trail is the Paul Revere House. As most American history aficionados know, Revere was a silversmith who made the famous midnight ride to Concord, decrying “the British are coming!" He is remembered as one of the most famous contributors to American Independence. So why visit a house that is over 200 years old? Apart from learning about the way of life in the 1770s, the Paul Revere Memorial Association (responsible for the restoration of the House) promises a visit will reveal “the true details of Revere’s famous ride and separate fact from fiction."
The Old North Church
The Paul Revere story would not be complete without mentioning the Old North Church. A single event at the church ignited the American Revolution on a pivotal evening in 1775. The plan to warn the Patriots of British attack was this: “one [lantern] if by land, two if by sea.’ It was the church’s sexton Robert Newman, alongside Vestryman Captain John Pulling, Jr., who made the climb to the top of the steeple and held up the two lanterns that warned the populace of the incoming British. As the oldest intact church in Boston, it’s a remarkable piece of history and is the most visited historical site in the city.
The Old State House
Located at the corner of Washington and State Street is the esteemed Old State House – the birthplace of revolutionary ideas. Located on the Freedom Trail, this is America’s oldest and most important public building. Take a trip back in time with Revolution-era artifacts within arm’s reach. Explore thousands of national treasures, including tea that was salvaged from the Boston Tea Party and check out John Hancock’s coat on display. Interactive presentations include one on the Boston Massacre; a bloody confrontation between Brits and Patriots that left five people dead in 1770.
The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
As you continue your tour of America’s history, be sure to stop by the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. This isn’t just a home for historical artifacts, it’s so much more. Be part of Boston’s only “colonial tavern night" where you are invited to “leave your 21st century troubles and cares behind, grab a mug of ale, and join the Sons and Daughters of Liberty for the best hospitality in all of 18th century Boston." Mingle with important Revolution-era figures, including Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Dorothy Quincy. Voted New England’s best museum by Yankee Magazine, you don’t want to miss this!
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
Interested in botany and plant evolution? Or do you just like exploring all the sites nature has to offer? The Arnold Arboretum is the ideal stop and a great place for a few Kodak moments courtesy of Boston’s beautiful fall foliage. The Bonsai and Penjing Pavilion is a must-see. Guided tours are available or just download a map here and explore on your own. A number of events take place at the arboretum every month, from bird walks to woodturning exhibitions, showcasing woodworking method that date back to 1300 BC Egypt.
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Affiliated with Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Peabody Museum is great for learning about everything from Native American culture to ancient Mayan customs. One of the most exciting special exhibitions currently going on is Arts of War, a display of weapons across many cultures through an artistic perspective. See over 150 pieces, including daggers, spears, shields and complete suits of armor.
The Harvard Art Museums
In the mood for some fine art? Close to Peabody are the three museums that make up the Harvard Art Museums: Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum and Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Named after a prominent psychiatrist, businessman, and art enthusiast, respectively. The latter, is perfect for anybody who is interested in Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean art.
Boston Public Library
While on the subject of universities and museums, it only seems natural (but a bit bizarre) to recommend a visit to the Boston Public Library. You don’t have to pick up a book if you’d rather not. Instead, examine the architectural complexities of the structure, dating back to 1895. The interior courtyard with its fountains and arched pathways will take you back to Renaissance-era Italy. For Shakespeare lovers, swing by the McKim Exhibition Hall for the Shakespeare Unauthorized display. Here, visitors will be able to see some of the world’s rarest books.
The subject of libraries brings forth one of the coolest things to see in Boston: the Mapparium. World-famous and three stories high, this stained-glass, three-dimensional globe, housed at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, offers a unique visual and acoustic experience. The globe is equipped with 206 LED light fixtures that can emit up to 16 million colors and the curvature of the glass walls emit strange sounds. People speaking at the center of the room sound louder than normal while sounds produced at one end can be heard clearly at the opposite end.
The Museum of Science
We as a society have made remarkable discoveries through science and you can see it in action at Boston’s Museum of Science. See the world’s largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator as it generates indoor lightning bolts! There is also a highly anticipated upcoming exhibit which features the great Leonardo da Vinci. This Renaissance master wasn’t just a painter, but also an inventor who actually produced the first pair of scissors. Check out the exhibit when it opens on October 23rd to learn about a man remembered as a scientist, artist, engineer, architect and philosopher.
The New England Aquarium
Shifting away from books and academia, the New England Aquarium is a spot that will educate and entertain all ages. Home to aquatic animals numbering in the thousands, this aquarium also has the East Coast’s largest shark tank! The Giant Ocean Tank, home to Caribbean Sea critters, lives up to its name, as it’s four stories high. Don’t forget to visit Myrtle, the green sea turtle, who happens to be the aquarium’s most famous sea dweller. One of the most recent newcomers is the giant Pacific octopus, who lives in the recently renovated Olympic Coast exhibit.
The Prudential Observatory
From sea to air… see the city from a bird’s eye view in the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center for a 360-degree view of Greater Boston. The guided audio tour is an excellent way to learn about noteworthy sites around the city. The Center is also home to shopping and dining options in addition to events every month.
If you’re in Boston during baseball season, catching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park is a definite must This Boston landmark hosted its first professional baseball game on April 20, 1912 (a few days after the sinking of the Titanic), when the Red Sox defeated the New York Highlanders (now the Yankees) in front of 27,000 fans.
The shore of Boston Harbor in the southern part of the city is home to Castle Island. Despite the name, there is no castle on-site, but visitors can explore Fort Independence – one of oldest English fortified sites in the country (built between 1834 and 1851). It’s also not an island anymore, since the construction of causeways for pedestrian and vehicular use. With 22 acres of parkland to discover, a trip to Castle Island will be filled with jaw-dropping scenery and the perfect place to gaze at a full moon, according to locals. However, if you don’t feel like walking, book a brunch or dinner cruise on Tripadvisor and explore this historic site from the sea.
The Faneuil Hall Marketplace
One of my favorite things to do in Boston is to check out the Faneuil Hall marketplace. Located in the historic heart of Boston, the Faneuil Hall Marketplace is the go-to place for unique restaurants, pubs, street performers and musicians. Shop for hot fashions, shoes, jewelry and more at L’Attitude. Stop by the Boston Chipyard for chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven or grab ice cream at Sprinkles. Seafood cravings can be satisfied at the Salty Dog Oyster Bar & Grille or head on over to Dick’s Last Resort, which promises to deliver ‘buckets o’ good grub." One of the most unique aspects of shopping at this marketplace is the outdoor pushcart vendors; catch them before they lock up for the winter.
Classic and Trendy Neighborhoods
Boston is one of the easiest cities to walk in New England. So take a walk to two of the most popular neighborhoods in the city: The North End and the South End. Home to great eats like Pagliuca’s and Mike’s Pastry, the North End is affectionately referred to as Boston’s Little Italy. The South End, on the other hand, is home to more controversy. In the 1980s, this isolated area was deemed dangerous. Having undergone a remarkable transformation, the South End, or “Southie," is a hot real estate market. Popular restaurants, boutiques and townhouses dating back to the 1800s have resulted in an influx of upscale clientele.
Events in Boston
Apart from these destination, there are many events. Like any chic urbanscape, there are tons of events in Boston that take place every month. Early October brings Eight by Tenn, a series of short plays by Tennessee Williams produced by the Zeitgeist Stage Company. The 21st Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, taking place in late October, offers free admission, parking and food samples. Around the same time, the Vertigo Dance Company, a Jerusalem-based company, will be putting on a spectacular show.
November brings with it Le Corsaire by the Boston Ballet. After that is the Boston Christmas Festival, which offers visitors the opportunity to shop at 300 craft arts shops. Pick up gifts for the holidays and enter a gingerbread house competition while you’re there. December in Boston means a magic show by illusionist Ivan Amodei or the Winter Northeast Comic Con. The best events for all 12 months can be found here.
With all these sites and delights waiting to be explored, start planning your itinerary now. For more information on Boston and its highlights, click here. Additional top tourist destinations can be found here.