Blake Walsh

35 Best Things to Do in Boston, MA

  • Published 2023/01/18

See Also: Where to stay in Boston

Built on the spirit of revolution and transformation, Boston in Massachusetts is a heritage city full of lessons and remembrance.

Its cultural wealth is spread through museums, libraries, and art performance centers.

Arguably the oldest city in America, Boston wears the Freedom Trail like a badge of pride, delineating the heritage sites that witnessed the Revolutionary War and everything that came after.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the 35 best things to do in Boston, Massachusetts:

Learn about the Boston Common

The grounds of Boston Common

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Get into the Boston spirit with America’s oldest city park – the Boston Common.

Founded in 1634, this people’s park is poised downtown as the starting point of the Freedom Trail.

Having witnessed revolutions, independence speeches, anti-slavery meetings, and the birth of victory gardens, Boston Common is more than just a green space.

Statue at Boston Common

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This heritage site has now transformed into a place of peace, with paved walkways, fountains, statuary, and tree-scape welcoming those needing rest.

It also includes ballfields and the Frog Pond, where children frolic during the summer and skate during colder seasons.

A trail at Boston Common

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Admire the Trinity Church

Trinity Church

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Every city always has a must-see church or cathedral; for Boston, it is the Trinity Church.

The architectural lovechild of Henry Hobson Richardson, this grand structure was completed in the late 1870s in replacement of another Episcopal church nearby.

Entrance to Trinity Church

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Setting the tone for municipal buildings around the country, Trinity Church’s Romanesque style presents grounding pillars, dramatic edgings in the stonework, carved statues, and many-windowed towers.

It is a landmark for every visitor, whether simply passing by outside, or wandering in for more grandiose architectural highlights.

Interior of Trinity Church

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Shop at Quincy Market

Exterior of Quincy Market

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The stately gray façade of Quincy Market looks more like a place of diplomacy than festivities, but the lively interior will remove all doubts.

Donated by the generous Mayor Josiah Quincy in 1824, Quincy Market is your go-to for fun knick-knacks, Boston-themed souvenirs, and other quirky trinkets.

Interior of Quincy Market

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It is also well-visited for the culinary heaven, the food hall, which offers up mouth-watering choices across cuisines.

Game players may also be tempted by the chess and board game tables that will have you roaring in competitiveness – but it’s all in good fun.

Clothing shop at Quincy Market

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Explore the Museum of Fine Arts

Interior of Museum of Fine Arts

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Take an introspective afternoon at the Museum of Fine Arts, where distinctive galleries display masterpieces of all mediums.

Paintings aside, you can expect textiles, craftwork, and artifacts dating from ancient times to Pre-Columbian to the mid-20th century.

While the collection spans across the globe, the museum is known for its American and European art exhibits; the new Art of Americas wing, for instance, features over 50 galleries.

Exterior of the Museum of Fine Arts

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Art lover or not, it’s worth spending a few hours perusing the gilded frames.

Stop by the gift shop on your way out to pick up artsy souvenirs or an art history book for people back home.

Exhibit in the Museum of Fine Arts

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Visit Freedom Trail Walk

Statue at Freedom Trail Walk

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The red-bricked Freedom Trail Walk is significant, and not just because of its Wizard of Oz likeness.

Highlighting major landmarks and heritage sites, the path takes you through the trajectory of Boston history, focusing on the Revolutionary War.

It delivers the keystone role Boston has played in winning ‘freedoms’; this one-mile trail bundles up eleven historical sites of relevance.

Monument at the end of Freedom Trail Walk

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We recommend the guided tour for detailed exposition, costumed guides filling you in on 18th century Boston.

Ask about local legends and scandalous stories to lighten up the historical talk!

Marker of Freedom Trail Walk

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Relax at the Boston Public Gardens

Trail at Boston Public Gardens

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Put away the maps and electronic distractions for a few hours of relaxation amid fresh lawns and shade-providing trees.

The Boston Public Gardens were born in 1634 but modified during the Victorian Age to include various plantations.

Autumn view of Boston Public Garden

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Now you can enjoy low-hanging willows, pops of flower troves, and wispier plantations next to fountains and paved lanes.

The magical lake is top-rated, and families rent Swan Boats for a session on the water.

Swan boats at Boston Public Gardens

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Jog along Charles River Esplanade

The waters of Charles River Esplanade

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There’s no need to explain the charms of Charles River Esplanade.

Like all wrap-around waterfronts, the Esplanade offers downtown views in long, breezy stretches.

Solid canopies provide shade for the tired, whereas energetic joggers can tread on paved lanes.

Bicycle ride along Charles River Esplanade

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Floating platforms extend over water for sunbathers and people to dip their feet, welcoming space in the summer.

If you’re hoping to squeeze in a run, take the route from Berkeley Street to Charles River Dam Road for a scenic backdrop.

People at Charles River Esplanade

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See the Whales with Boston Harbor Cruises

Aerial view of Boston Harbor Cruises

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Catering to eco-tourists and aquatic curious, Boston Harbor Cruises lead whale-watching tours that are environmentally friendly and responsibly leaving the whales’ habitat untouched.

Close up of a cruise ship at Boston Harbor

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Your expert tour guides will bring you into the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, where whales, dolphins, sea birds, and more feed on rich natural resources.

Check the website regarding tour times and whether you’ll be there on or off-season.

Boston Harbor Cruise on the waters

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Wander around Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library

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The Boston Public Library is a sacred place and not just for avid readers and researchers!

The library is a work of art designed by Charles Follen McKim in grand Beaux Arts-Renaissance Revival style.

Facade of Boston Public Library

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Polished marble and granite characterize the halls and stairways, and stone statues and inscriptions exude an air of nobility.

Large-scale paintings of ancient societies draw your attention to the detailed ceiling panels and elaborate stone etchings.

Reading area at Boston Public Library

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Take a Fenway Park Tour

Fenway Park Tour

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The dusty mounds and fresh-mown greens of Fenway Park are like a beacon for Major League fans.

Don’t just shell out for tickets to a game – go for the complete package with a Fenway Park Tour.

Start your day with a two-hour early entrance, with guides walking you around the concourse and where the team is practicing batting.

Bird's eye view of Fenway Park Tour

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Amid recounts of Red Sox history, you get to visit its highlights on the spot, such as Pesky’s Pole and the Lone Red Seat.

Of course, the tour is only half the experience; settle in for a Boston Red Socks game with your Fenway Franks and cheer the home team on.

View of Fenway Park Tour

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Watch Boston Ballet at the Citizens Bank Opera House

Orchestra House

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Fill up your performance art quota with a show by the Boston Ballet company.

Founded in 1963, this professional ballet company has expanded to 69 dancers, having grown from its 1979 Nervi Festival opening act to a powerhouse across the globe.

Exterior view of Citizens Bank Opera House

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Best known for their Nutcracker performance, they have gone on to reimage several classics.

The Citizens Bank Opera House that houses their performances is worth a visit on its merit, with grand halls and elaborate details attracting architectural buffs.

Have a Picnic at The Arnold Arboretum

The Arnold Arboretum

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Designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to cover 281 acres, the Arnold Arboretum is, in fact, the second most significant link in the 1,100-acre chain of parks coined the Emerald Necklace.

Owned and maintained by Harvard University, this recreational space is frequented by many families, joggers, and casual wanderers.

Scenic landscape of Arnold Arboretum

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Imported trees are planted next to local shrubs and flora, and paved walkways bisect open lawns for easy access.

Forgo restaurant sit-ins for a picnic when the sun is out.

Performance at Arnold Arboretum

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Pay a Visit to the Museum of Science

The Museum of Science

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Discovery is in the hands of visitors, young and old, as the Museum of Science rewards curiosity with interactive displays and hands-on exhibits.

The massive complex features over 700 diverse exhibits, ranging from the biology-focused hall of Human Life to the Theater of Electricity, where you learn about the science behind our technology fuel.

Huge T.Rex statue at Museum of Science

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There’s nothing like being awed by life when you watch baby chicks hatch or how the planetarium makes you feel small in the face of the mysterious universe.

If you want to learn about everything, the museum is your classroom.

Gigantic grasshopper statue at Museum of Science

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See the Boston Harborwalk

Night view of Boston Harborwalk

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Boston Harborwalk may be too long for you to walk, but stroll along the waterfront in snippets, and you’ll be gifted with diverse sights.

Skyline, beaches, wharves, and piers weave in and out to bring you both city and quaint shoreline districts, where you can get a feel of Boston life.

View of Boston Harborwalk

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It’s a brilliant way to see the various faces of the city while getting some fresh air and exercise.

You can also board a water taxi instead if you don’t have much time to spare.

Upon completion, the Harborwalk will extend from Chelsea Creek to Neponset River.

Boston Harborwalk during spring

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Visit the JFK Presidential Library and Museum

Exterior view of JFK Presidential Library and Museum

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Whether you know your American president or not, JFK Presidential Library and Museum will have you sucked into the political career of John F. Kennedy.

Rarely do you get such a comprehensive narrative of key leaders; the library and museum traverse JFK’s presidency through his successes and failures via a mix of broadcasted interviews and private family materials.

Interior view of the dome at JFK Presidential Library and Museum

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Other exhibits feature artifacts and objects from programs Kennedy had championed, such as the famous Space Program.

If you’re interested in American history, this is for you.

Interior view of JFK Presidential Library and Museum

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Wander around Beacon Hill

Narrow lanes at Beacon Hill

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Go residential with a walk around Beacon Hill, home to some of Boston’s most lavish properties.

Characterized by the Federal red-bricked, gently arched, and iron-gated porches, this residential district is lauded for its historical past and classical vibes.

Outdoor dining at Beacon Hill


Stroll down the gas-lamppost lined avenues of Charles Street and Louisbourg Square for swanky shots, or settle in at boutique cafés for a cuppa.

The morbidly curious, however, may want to join a Beacon Hill Crime Walking Tour for a hair-raising tale of Boston’s notorious serial killer, who struck the idyllic neighborhood more than once.

Garden at Beacon Hill

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Explore Franklin Park Zoo

Franklin Park Zoo

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Zoos are always a controversial subject weighing in on the freedoms of these animals versus lessons on ecology, wildlife, and conservation.

But Franklin Park Zoo takes on the protection and sustainability of natural life forms as their primary mission, actively designing the zoo experience around wildlife integration and conservation programs.

Muddy hippoporamus at Franklin Park Zoo

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Besides learning about the animals that live within these naturalistic enclosures, visitors also pick up on global efforts to preserve natural habitats.

Families will especially love Franklin Park Zoo, although it is geared toward all ages.

Do note that winter hibernations mean some residents will be cozied up out of sight, so don’t be too disappointed if you don’t see them!

Lion at Franklin Park Zoo

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Revisit the City’s History at Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

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Feel this collective museum rock under your feet where it is moored pier-side.

Combining high-tech interactive exhibitions and floating tea ships, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum brings a multi-sensory experience.

Between documentaries, costumed actors, and scripted re-enactments, you’ll have fun learning about the history of tea party ships – and in a ‘so unexpected it should have been expected’ twist, you can enthusiastically throw your tea overboard.

Dining area at Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

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Experience the Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley Tour

Front view of Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley Tour

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An alternative for those preferring spontaneous travel is to take Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley Tour.

As trolley tickets cover two days, your schedule is extremely flexible.

View of Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley Tour

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Pay close attention to the in-car narration as it passes major attractions such as Boston Common, the North End, and Faneuil Hall, and disembark when something catches your eye.

Do note that frequent stops and traffic may mean longer travel times, so don’t rely on the trolley as your primary mode of transport.

People travelling in Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley Tour bus

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Explore Faneuil Hall Marketplace

People strolling around the Faneuil Hall Marketplace

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Of the marketplace cluster comprised of Faneuil Hall, North Market, South Market, and Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall stands out as a space of free speech.

From its humble market origins in 1743 to a political and philosophical hub during the Revolutionary War, this historic hall celebrates freedom of expression.

Exterior view of Faneuil Hall Marketplace

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Street performers take to the open-air square to share their art, and other visitors arrive here through the Freedom Trail Walk.

A military museum coexists with vendors and food stalls, while Zumba and yoga classes entertain a health-seeking crowd.

Shrimps served at Faneuil Hall Marketplace

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See the Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument

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Like many heritage sites around Boston, the Bunker Hill Monument was commissioned in the mid-1800s to commemorate a significant battle of the Revolutionary War.

Standing at 221 feet high, this obelisk is a symbol of victory despite the apparent loss by the colonists, as it proved that the local community would stand strong.

View of Bunker Hill Monument

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You can climb up top (if you dare) for views over Charlestown or just lay on the lawn for lazy napping.

Across the street is a small museum that recounts the battle it was built in memory of.

Memorial plaque at Bunker Hill Monument

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Peer inside the Old North Church

View of the Old North Church

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Small and unassuming, you wouldn’t have known that the Old North Church is one of the city’s most visited heritage sites.

Founded in 1722, Boston’s oldest church is believed to be the signaling point that alerted Paul Revere about the British not-land-but-sea landing.

View of the Old North Church

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Simple white frames decorate the interior, the only grandiose adornment a pronged chandelier at the front of the hall.

There’s a bust of George Washington within the church.

Interior view of the Old North Church

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See the Penguins at New England Aquarium

New England Aquarium

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Dive deep into the tanks of the New England Aquarium that display aquatic life from various seas and oceans.

The vibrant Caribbean coral reef, alongside the Shark and Ray Touch Tank, is a crowd favorite.

Or maybe you prefer the cute penguins huddling in their icy habitat, perhaps the playful seals flapping their fins at you.

Turtle at New England Aquarium

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The aquarium is family-friendly and educational for adults, with the IMAX screenings showing stunning nature documentaries and the recess of deep seas.

New England Aquarium is more than just a flashy tourist attraction as admission proceeds go into marine conservation efforts; visiting contributes to marine life preservation.

Entrance to New England Aquarium

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See the World at The Mapparium

Located within the Mary Baker Eddy Library is the hidden world of the Mapparium, a world map brought to life.

A long bridge extends inside this 3D globe, a three-storied construct paneled with glass to display the countries in accurate geographical positioning to each other.

Color-coded mappings and lights showcase global shifts over time, delineating essential movements in the past decade.

The experience is elevated with music, historical quotes, and more sensory elements to build a compelling story of Earth.

Visit Harvard Memorial Hall

Exterior view of Harvard Memorial Hall

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There’s no shortage of beautiful architecture around Massachusetts – Harvard Memorial Hall is one of them.

Drop by this Victorian Gothic hall in its fiery beauty if you’re out around Cambridge on a day trip.

Stained glass windows at Harvard Memorial Hall


Marvel at the arched wooden beams and hanging chandeliers, a massive hall flowering open in honor of those who sacrificed themselves in defense of the Union during America’s Civil War.

Interior view of Harvard Memorial Hall

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Stargazing at Judson B. Coit Observatory

Visit Boston University’s Judson B. Coit Observatory for a night under the stars; helpful astronomy students and staff answering questions you might have.

It’s no advanced science center, but this is a hidden gem for those who like off-the-beaten-path activities.

The telescopes are generally set on the moon and the most apparent planet, so you won’t have to fumble around; there’s also something new to see, thanks to the world’s constant turning.

It’s open to the public every Wednesday night, barring lousy weather, so consider sneaking this into your itinerary.

Learn about the Brewing Process at Boston Brewery Tours

Boston Brewery Tours

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The Boston Brewery Tours add a touch of alcohol to your Boston art and history meal set.

Digging into Boston’s pub scene in alternative cultural pursuit, you’ll be taken around a few breweries to learn about the various brewing processes.

People enjoying the  Boston Brewery Tours

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Armed with knowledge about the mechanics and history of this happy hour grog, you get to sample a dozen or two award-winning stouts, pilsners, and other derivatives.

Choose a day or evening option, including a meal to settle your stomach.

 Boston Brewery Tours at Samuel Adams Brewhouse

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Marvel at the Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts State House

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Who would have thought that a cow pasture would one day evolve into a monumental building?

Designed by Federal-style pioneer architect Charles Bulfinch, the Massachusetts State House was the leading architectural piece in the late 1790s.

Golden dome at Massachusetts State House

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It is recognized for its golden dome; built initially with wood shingles, it was later reconstructed out of copper and coated with 23-karat gold coating to prevent leakage.

The straight edges, white columns, and burnished orange façade complement the crowning piece to exude a poised approachable aura.

Interior view of Massachusetts State House

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Climb aboard the USS Constitution

Ship at U.S.S Constitution

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Battleships never cease to intrigue us, and the USS Constitution is the oldest.

After a few years of repair work, it is again open for public tours.

Facade of USS Constitution

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Be humbled by its span and war-worn decks, and reflect on how war has simultaneously brought destruction and creation, pushing forth engineering advancements.

Naval scholars will also appreciate the adjacent museum dedicated to this heavy frigate.

Interior view of USS Constitution

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Cruise with the Boston Duck Tour

Boston Duck Tour travelling on land

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Waddling on land and in water are the iconic rainbow-stripped duck boats that take you around Boston.

Ready for the splash when you enter the canals and quack at passersby upon command!

Your local guides make this tour fun and riveting while piling on the facts.

View of Boston Duck Tour

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Bringing you from Beacon Hill to Newbury Street and possibly even into Cambridge, these duck boats venture through political and cultural neighborhoods.

Some major attractions include Trinity Church, Prudential Center, Old North Church, Zakim Bridge, and the intellectual reaches of Harvard and MIT.

Boston Duck Tour travelling in water

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Appreciate Art at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Scenic view of the plants at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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Take a wonderful look inside the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a museum of art that exhibits notable pieces of American, European, and Asian art.

The museum was constructed between 1898 and 1901 as a Venetian palace from the fifteenth century by American art enthusiast, philanthropist, and patron Isabella Stewart Gardner.

It first opened to the community in 1903.

Stunning architecture of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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Paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and creative arts are part of its collection.

Isabella Gardner’s legacy is carried on nowadays by the museum’s current artist-in-residence program, courtyard garden exhibits, concerts, and creative educational initiatives.

View of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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Spend an Afternoon Strolling around Newbury Street

People strolling around the Newbury Street

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The Puritans’ triumph in the English Civil War’s Battle of Newbury in 1643 is commemorated by the street’s name, Newbury.

Newbury Street, which is regarded as Boston’s trendiest and coolest neighborhood, is among the most valuable streets in the whole globe.

It follows an east-west axis from the Boston Public Garden to Brookline Avenue.

Outdoor dining at Newbury Street

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Newbury Street transforms into one of the greatest retail streets in Boston or elsewhere, with a highly unique and alluring charm.

Prepare to find jewelry shops, apparel outlets, galleries, restaurants, bars, cafés, cosmetic stores, beauty parlors, and more in the 19th-century brownstone buildings.

For a fun-filled day of dining, shopping, and leisure, take a stroll down Newbury Street and explore the selection of stores and food establishments.

Shops at Newbury Street

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Pay a Visit to TD Garden

Exterior view of TD Garden

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The famous NHL Boston Bruins and NBA Boston Celtics clubs are based in TD Garden, New England’s biggest sports and entertainment venue.

Every year, it welcomes more than 3.5 million visitors to its renowned concerts, athletic events, family performances, wrestling matches, and ice displays.

The prize-winning, cutting-edge TD Garden offers a year-round, 19,600-seat arena in addition to three private restaurants, 90 executive suites, 1,100 club seats, a high-resolution video scoreboard, and 360-degree LED technology.

Entrance to TD Garden

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Discover the renowned facility, which has hosted over 200 events each year since its inauguration in 1995.

You may schedule a private tour of the location after watching a game and retrace the steps of sporting greats.

Interior view of TD Garden

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Relive History at Paul Revere House

Signage of Paul Revere House

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The Paul Revere House, constructed in 1680, is considered Boston’s earliest House.

Paul Revere, an American hero, and forefather, lived in the Paul Revere House during the American Revolution.

It is a National Historic Landmark and is run as a nonprofit museum by the Paul Revere Memorial Association in Boston, Massachusetts, at the city’s North End.

Exterior view of Paul Revere House

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The House is a place of learning for students of all ages, providing on-site field expeditions, outreach initiatives, adult education activities, and group tours for various sizes of groups.

Homeschooled children, scouts, family events, business groups, after-school programs, and summer camp programs are all invited to stop by.

Interior view of Paul Revere House

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Attend Events in Boston Athenaeum

A spectacular landmark structure houses the Boston Athenaeum, a singular blend of a library, museum, and cultural center.

They are among the earliest and most prestigious independent libraries in the country.

It has a circulating library with more than 500,000 books, ranging from modern top sellers to works written in the 1800s.

Facade of Boston Athenaeum

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One hundred thousand valuable books, maps, and scripts are part of special collections of research resources.

It features 100,000 pieces of art, ranging from paintings and sculptures to prints and photography.

A calendar of cultural events, including author lectures, book clubs, exhibits, concerts, social gatherings, and networking opportunities, is available to members, guests, and the general public throughout the year.

Final Thoughts

Boston is renowned for being a fantastic place to study ancient American history.

However, there are also numerous other activities in the city if you’re more engaged in the vibrant food scene than in historical records.

It is home to a wealth of historical monuments encircled by gorgeous scenery.

Boston boasts ancient public parks, restaurants, and ballparks, plus it also has a ton of other brand-new, exciting stuff.

Prepare yourself for a crazy journey when you travel to Boston!

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