Travel Options & Tools
Things To Do
Photo Courtesy World Choice Travel
There is a wealth of historically significant attractions in Boston. Consider purchasing a 'Boston City Pass' and thereby pay half price for most of the finest attractions.
Freedom Trail: The Freedom Trail is one of the most popular walking tours in America. It covers approximately three miles and is very easy to follow. The path is marked by painted red lines or bricks set into the pavement. Each site is identified by a marker or sign. The trail follows the original path set by the colonists in the early days of Boston. Most of the Trail is accessible only on foot for this reason. The Trail is best started either at Boston Common or at the USS Constitution (where there is free parking). The easiest way is to leave the car behind and take the subway (T) red or green line to Park Street.
Stops Along the Freedom Trail
Site of Franklin’s Print Shop,
Old South Meeting House,
Site of Benjamin Franklin’s Birthplace,
Old State House,
Site of the Boston Massacre,
The Tea Party Ship,
Paul Revere House,
Saint Stephen’s Church (Hanover Street),
Paul Revere Mall,
Old North Church (193 Salem Street),
Copp’s Hill (Hull and Snowhill Streets),
USS Constitution (Charlestown Navy Yard),
Bunker Hill (Charlestown),
Site of the Liberty Tree (Washington & Essex Streets),
State House (Beacon & Park Streets),
John Hancock’s House,
The Beacon (The Monument behind the State House),
Park Street Church (Tremont & Park Streets),
Old Granary (Tremont St., near Park Street Church),
King’s Chapel Burying Ground,
Benjamin Franklin’s Statue,
The Old Corner Bookstore (3 School Street, Corner of Washington St.).
Boston Irish Famine Memorial
50 Braintree Hill Office Park
Braintree, MA 02184
The Boston Irish Famine Memorial, along the city's Freedom Trail, was unveiled in June, 1998 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Irish Famine, an episode which sent over 100,000 Irish refugees to Boston. It is also a tribute to the memory of over one million Irish who died during the Irish Famine (1845-1849) and a remembrance of people still suffering famines in countries around the world.
Walks Through Freedom
All year round by reservation.
Walk the Freedom Trail with costumed, historic ambassadors from Revolutionary times, discover or re-discover the story of America! Explore the Trail with the Freedom Trail Players as they re-tell the known and little- known tales of the past, leading the way through city streets to the actual sites of our American Heritage.
Black Heritage Trail
46 Joy Street
Boston, MA 02114
A walking tour of the history of Boston's Black community between 1800-1900 on Beacon Hill. The tour includes: Meeting House, Smith CourtResidences, Abiel Smith School, G. Middleton House, Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, Phillips School, home of John J Smith, Charles St. Meeting House, Lewis & Harriet Hayden House, and Coburn's Gaming House. Historic walking map available. All sites must be visited with an arranged tour except those hours noted at specific sites.
Book Lover's Dream Tour
Boston History Collaborative - Literary Trail
38 Burroughs St.
Boston, MA 02130
A guided walking tour of either Boston, Cambridge, or Concord's delightful, private bookstores, followed by tea and literary conversation in an elegant, historic setting. Call for reservations.
Women's Heritage Trail
Begin at the Boston Common Visitor Information booth to start five guided walks through four centuries of Boston women. The Downtown Walk highlights the search for equal rights; the North End Walk explores the diversity of cultures; the Beacon Hill Walk reveals the stories of writers, artists and activists; the South Cove/Chinatown Walk celebrates women's action for economic and social justice; and the Back Bay Walk tells the tales of educators, artists and social reformers. Follow the footsteps of some remarkable Boston women and share their stories of heritage and freedom, accomplishment and achievements as you "remember the ladies." Pick up the 80-page illustrated book "Boston Women's Heritage Trail" and begin at the Boston Commons Visitors Information Booth.
Beacon Hill Walking Tours - Magnificent and Modest
Visit the elegant Federal style Otis House, stroll around Beacon Hill; view the homes of well to do merchants and then the modest dwellings on the North Slope where the working class resided.
Boston Duck Tours
One of the most popular tours in and around Boston is the legendary Duck Tours, showing you the best of Boston with a combined land and sea tour. World War II vehicles take you on a scenic drive around the most famous sites and attractions in the city, and then onto the Charles River for a delightful harbor cruise. With interesting commentary, this novel tour is an enjoyable way to see the city.
Boston Trolley Tours
The Trolley Tours are taken in small bus-like trams that drive around the city on a route that points out the best known sites and landmarks. Travelers can step off at any of the stops to look around and then catch the next trolley, which will arrive shortly. An entertaining commentary accompanies the tour. Check at your hotel for hours and fares.
This 40-acre area is the nation's oldest public park. The land was set aside for public use in 1634 (originally as a cow pasture and training ground. The Commons also has a longstanding tradition as a place where demonstrators can exercise their right to freedom of speech without the hassle of getting a permit. Free.
Park Street Church
Free, seasonal tours. Call (617) 523-3383 to learn more.
This church is best known for its location at "Brimstone Corner" (named for its use as a gunpowder storage area during the War of 1812) and as the setting of William Lloyd Garrison's first anti-slavery speech.
Granary Burying Ground
The first of the three burying grounds on the trail, Granary is notable as the final resting place of John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere.
King's Chapel and Burying Ground
Famous for its architectural beauty, King's Chapel became the first Unitarian Church in the U.S. after the American Revolution. Donations accepted. For more information, call (617) 227-2155.
Site of First Public School/Ben Franklin Statue
This Freedom Trail stop features a statue of Ben Franklin and the site of Franklin's alma mater: the Boston Latin School (built in 1635).
Old Corner Bookstore
This brick building, where legends like Longfellow, Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau gathered, was once the literary center of Boston.
Old South Meeting House
Much of the discussion and debate that led to the Boston Tea Party and other events connected to the American Revolution took place in the old South Meeting House. Call (617) 482-6439 to learn about the lectures and programs on American history and culture offered by the Old South staff.
Boston Massacre Site
A simple circle of cobblestones marks the site where five colonists were killed by British soldiers in 1770. The brutality of this incident helped spark the anti-British rage that ultimately led to the American Revolution. Free.
Old North Church
"Old North," Boston's oldest church building, is located in the city's Italian North End. The church played an important part in the American Revolution by acting as a signal (via two lanterns hung in its steeple) of British troop movement. Donations accepted. (617) 523-6676.
Copp's Hill Burying Ground
The last Freedom trail site on the south side of the Charles River, Copp's Burying Ground is the resting place of thousands of merchants, artisans and free blacks. Free. Not wheelchair accessible.
Bunker Hill Monument
A tall granite obelisk commemorating the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill (which actually took place on Breed's Hill)You can climb this monument's 294 steps for a panoramic view of Boston. (No elevator). During the summer, visitors also can observe free musket firing demonstrations and "battle talks." Free.
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf, Boston, 02110
(617) 973 5200
In addition to over 7,000 fish, aquatic mammals and also penguins, the interior centerpiece is the massive 200,000 gallon 'Giant Ocean Tank', encircled by a four-story spiral ramp. The tank is home to a replica of the Caribbean coral reef and a collection of many different sea creatures, including several huge turtles, barracudas, stingrays and sharks. The New England Aquarium also offers whale-watching tours with indoor and outdoor seating and seal or walrus shows.
The USS Constitution
Charlestown Navy Yard
55 Constitution Rd, Charlestown, Boston, 02129
617- 426 –1812
November to April - 10:00 to 17:00
May to October - 09:00 to 18:00
Launched over 200 years ago in 1797, the USS Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy and undefeated in battle. Often referred to as 'Old Ironsides, ' the USS Constitution is located in Charlestown Navy Yard, the last stop on the Freedom Trail. Visitors can board the ship daily. Free guided tours are available. Active-duty sailors guide visitors around the ship.
Boston Public Library
666 Boylston Street, Copley Square, Boston
(617) 536 5400
Built in 1848, the Boston Public Library was the first free publicly supported municipal library in America, the first public library to lend a book and the first with a children's room. On the National Register of Historic Places, the library opened in 1852 as the first free, publicly-supported municipal library in America, setting a precedent for grand scale urban libraries. The fine building is reminiscent of an Italian Renaissance palace surrounding an open courtyard. With more than 650,000 photographs, 100,000 prints (some by Rembrandt and Toulouse-Lautrec) and 250 different papers in the 'Newspaper Room', the library now has Internet access, two restaurants and an on-line store with reproductions of its priceless artwork. All exhibits are free, open to the public and books are only the beginning.
Museum of Afro-American History
46 Joy St.
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: (617) 725-0022
Hours: Daily 10-4, Memorial Day-Labor Day; Mon.-Sat. 10-4, rest of year. Closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Dec. 25
The museum includes the African Meeting House, dedicated in 1806 and said to be the oldest standing African-American church building in the United States, and the Abiel Smith School. Changing exhibits are displayed in the gallery. Guided gallery tours are available. The museum's Black Heritage Trail walking tour links 14 historic sites; maps and guided tours are available.
Museum of National Center of Afro-American Artists
300 Walnut St.
Roxbury Boston, MA 02119
An art museum dedicated to the promotion, exhibition, collection and criticism of the Black visual arts heritage worldwide. Programs are offered in 5 areas, as well as publications, research and education.
Bull and Finch Pub - Home of Cheers
84 Beacon Street, Boston
(617) 227 9605
The facade of this world-famous pub is instantly recognizable as the inspiration for the American television show, 'Cheers' and is situated opposite the Public Garden. This hugely successful sitcom ran for many years, with well-known characters including Sam, Diane, Norm, Frasier and many more. Although the exterior is the same as on television, the inside is completely different, being made up of several smaller rooms. However, although unexpected, this is not a real disappointment as the busy pub is full of a selection of Cheers memorabilia. The menu serves typical bar food, including burgers, nachos and chicken wings and is very popular with tourists.
Franklin Park Zoo
1 Franklin Park Road, Boston, 02121
(617) 541 5466
Founded in 1911, this large urban zoo covers an area of more than 72 acres / 29 hectares. Filled with a good selection of animals, including gorillas, leopards, hippos and many free-flying birds, this is a popular family attraction.
John Hancock Tower
200 Clarendon Street,
St. James Avenue and Trinity Place, Boston
This is New England's tallest building. It was designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei. It towers high above Copley Square and away from Boston's downtown high-rise area. The outside of the building is covered by mirror-like glass and Boston’s historic buildings are often reflected with subtle distortions of color and shape. This image of old and new side by side, together with the reflections, is often a popular subject for photographers. After terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the popular 60th floor observatory was permanently closed due to security concerns.
Old State House
206 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02109 USA
Phone: (617) 720-1713
Hours: Daily 9-5; closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Dec. 25
Old State House is at Washington St. at the head of State St. (T: State). The building is on the site of the old 1657 Town House. The present structure, built in 1713, is considered to be Boston's oldest public building. Royal governors and provincial representatives presided at the town house before the Revolution. The Boston Massacre occurred at the east front in 1770, and the Declaration of Independence was read to Bostonians on July 18, 1776, from the balcony. In 1780 John Hancock was inaugurated at the state house as first governor of the Commonwealth. The Bostonian Society maintains the building as a museum of Boston history.
Charles River Dam Visitor Information Center
250 Warren Avenue
(617) 727 5114
Guided tours and a short presentation explain the history of the dam and how it actually operates. The Charles River is the stretch of water that separates Cambridge from Boston.
Paul Revere House
19 North Sq.
Boston, MA 02113 USA
Phone: (617) 523-2338
Hours: Daily 9:30-5:15, Apr. 15-Oct. 31; daily 9:30-4:15, Apr. 1-14 and Nov.-Dec.; Tues.-Sun. 9:30-4:15, rest of year. Closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Dec. 25
Paul Revere House, 19 North Sq. (T: Haymarket), was built about 1680 and is the oldest house in downtown Boston. The restored home, which Paul Revere owned 1770-1800, contains 17th- and 18th-century furnishings and Revere memorabilia including silver. A Colonial herb garden and Revere-made bell are on the grounds.
4 S. Market St.
Boston, MA 02109
Phone: (617) 242-5675
Hours: National Park Service Rangers give historical talks every half-hour daily 9-5. Museum open Mon.-Fri. 9-3. Marketplace open Mon.-Sat. 10-8, Sun. 10-6, third Mon. in Apr.-Dec. 24; daily 10-6, rest of year.
(T: State Street or Government Center).
The 1742 building was given to the city by Peter Faneuil. It burned in 1761, was rebuilt in 1763 and was enlarged in 1805. The upper story served as a meeting hall, the scene of many gatherings during the Revolutionary movement. British officers used the building as a theater during their occupation of the city. Known for its grasshopper weather vane, the hall contains a military museum and paintings of notable battles.
The Faneuil Hall Marketplace includes North and South Markets, Faneuil Hall and the adjacent Quincy Market, a renovated 19th-century complex containing more than 125 restaurants, boutiques, produce stands and retail pushcarts. Street performers entertain continuously.
New State House
Beacon St. & Park St.
Boston, MA 02133 USA
Phone: (617) 727-3676
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9-5; closed holidays.
Admission: Free. Guided tours by appointment.
The New State House is on Beacon St. at the head of Park St. (T: Park Street). The golden dome, which is one of the city's best known landmarks, marks the political center of Boston. Completed in 1795, the "new" State House was designed by architect Charles Bulfinch, who later planned the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The original brick front section, completed in 1798, remains almost unchanged. Statues, historical paintings, transparencies of battle flags and war relics are displayed inside. Across the street, Shaw Memorial, a bronze bas-relief of Col. Robert Gould Shaw by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, recalls the first black regiment to serve in the Civil War.
Museum of Fine Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
The MFA is located in the Fenway area, one mile west of Copley Square. It is easily accessible via public transportation by taking the Orange Line to the Ruggles stop or the Green Line E trolley to the Museum of Fine Arts stop.
Hours: Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 AM to 4:45 PM; Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 10 AM to 9:45 PM (West Wing only Thurs. and Fri. after 5); Saturdays and Sundays, 10 AM to 5:45 PM
The Japanese Garden is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 AM to 4 PM
Admission: charged. Admission reduced by $2 on Thursdays and Fridays after 5 PM.
Boston's finest and most comprehensive art museum is a world unto itself: art galleries from all periods and cultures; three restaurants; two gift shops; lecture and film series; gallery talks; concerts all season ; and exceptional special exhibits. The museum is especially well known for its collections of European paintings, European and American decorative arts and furnishings, Egyptian sculpture, and Asian fine and decorative arts.
The Museum of Fine Arts is so vast and the collections so extensive that several visits are required to really enjoy and appreciate its wonders. The galleries are laid out in the shape of a two-story figure eight, with two courtyards in the middle.
Some of the highlights:
The room of French Impressionists. The MFA has a particularly large and fine collection, including one each in Monet's "haystacks", "Rouen Cathedral" and "water lilies" series. These are presented in a large, bright gallery which highlights their color.
The collection of Egyptian sculpture and artifacts is unsurpassed outside of Egypt. Children are drawn to the mummies, and the figurative sculpture and tomb artifacts.
The collection of musical instruments (open only weekdays 2-4 PM and weekends 1-5 PM) is a delightful catalog of the ways in which people have made music in all cultures and through all centuries.
The wing devoted to Asian art, with its rich wood trim, shoji screens, and subdued lighting,
The "period" rooms, which include an early 19th century mansion from Peabody thought to have been designed by Samuel McIntyre, and the wood carving in the rooms from Hamilton Palace, a Scottish castle.
First Church of Christ Scientist
175 Huntington Avenue
No admission charge.
The world headquarters of the Church occupies 14 acres of Boston’s Back Bay and is a remarkable structure. Most notable is the Mary Baker Eddy Library and the Mapparium. The Mapparium, on the first floor of the extension, is a huge, ,brightly colored stained glass globe. By walking inside it, you can stand at the center of the world. It shows the political boundaries of the 1930s (the time at which it was constructed) . Each of the 608 panels making up this impressive structure, covers 10 degrees of latitude and longitude.
The church itself is a huge open space which seats over 3,000. It is dominated by one of the world’s largest organs, which is played at every service. The basilica type, impressively domed structure is actually an extension of the original small granite building which was outgrown within a few years of the church’s founding in 1892.
Boston Stock Exchange
100 Franklin St.
Take a tour of Boston's stock exchange! The glass-enclosed viewing area above the trading floor offers an area for self-guided tours. Exhibits and multi-media displays trace the close links between the Exchange's role as an early source of capital, the development of New England's economy and the growth of Boston's financial services industry. Online access to breaking financial news and stock market data are available.
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02125
Located in the heart of the South End, easily accessible by public transportation and within walking distance from Chinatown, Back Bay, Beacon Hill and the Theatre District, the Center features programs in the historic Cyclorama, exhibitions in the Mills Gallery, theater performances in three small theaters and offers studio space for artists.
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