When people know you live in Boston, you become pretty popular – or at least your home does! Visitors usually want a list of the attractions and experiences that are too good or too iconic to miss. Perhaps you haven’t hit some of the places on this list yourself, precisely because they’re appealing to tourists or because you always meant to do it… eventually. So, next time it’s convenient or you’re looking to entertain out-of-town guests, here are some suggestions for the best things to do in Boston.
1. Catch a game at Fenway Park.
Watching any of our sports teams play is a great experience, but Fenway Park is the oldest ballpark in the MLB - Wrigley Field was built two years later - so just being here is an experience in its own right. Even if you can’t score tickets, you can still take the hour-long tour of the stadium (you'll find more info
). Was anyone else lucky enough to see Big Papi play during his final season?
2. Eat your way through the North End.
This neighborhood is a foodie Mecca. Whether you’re after pizza, pasta, seafood, or cannoli, you’ll find it here. Check out the Italian grocery stores and pick up gourmet ingredients that’ll make the next meal you cook one worth savoring.
3. Take a Duck Tour.
There’s a reason everyone does this. Not only do you get to ride in a replica of a World War II landing vehicle but, when it drives right into the water for a cruise down the Charles, you feel like James Bond - admittedly, a less glamorous version due to all the quacking!
The tour provides an entertaining overview of Boston history shared by a wonderfully wacky guide. Tours leave from the Prudential Center, the Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium. Sign up for a tour leaving before 10:00 a.m. when tickets are cheaper. Advance reservations recommended. Click
for more info.
4. Speaking of ducks… you need to stroll through the Public Garden and Boston Common.
The Duckling Sculpture is adorable and pays homage to the children’s book "Make Way for Ducklings," which is set in this garden. The George Washington statue is also impressive, but the focus here is on nature - stroll under the trees surrounded by flowers.
Riding the Swan Boats is one of those must-do activities. Yes, they move at the speed of glaciers, but what you probably don’t realize is that the driver is moving the entire boat by pedaling! The same family has been operating the Swan Boats since 1877, so tourists and residents alike have been doing this for well over a century. Afterwards, cross the street to the Common, the nation’s oldest city park, and continue your leisurely walk through this beautiful green space.
5. Dine at Union Oyster House.
This restaurant has been operating since 1826, making it the oldest in both Boston and the entire state of Massachusetts. A National Historic Landmark, the eatery has served the likes of Daniel Webster. Come for history, stay for the tasty oysters and chowder.
6. Walk the Freedom Trail.
Pick up this red brick line at whatever spot is closest to your current location. It’s 2.5-miles long and ties together 16 important sites, from meeting houses to burying grounds. There are plenty of guided tour options, but you can just as easily follow it on your own.
7. Visit the Sam Adams Brewery.
FREE BEER! Bet that got your attention. On these 40-minute tours, you learn about the brewing process, the company’s history, and receive three free samples of beer. You must be 21 years-old and show valid ID (if you’re not a U.S. resident, that means a copy of your passport). No tours on Sundays.
8. See Boston from above.
The Skywalk Observatory in the Prudential Tower offers an incredible aerial perspective of the city. However, depending on who’s in your group, it might prove more budget-friendly to buy drinks or a light meal in the bar at Top of the Hub for a similar, but slightly obstructed view.
Up for a splurge? Make a reservation to dine at this romantic restaurant on the 52nd floor. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
9. Try candlepin bowling!
Like regular bowling… but more challenging because you’re using smaller balls! Developed in Massachusetts in 1880, this is a fun twist on a classic that everyone can enjoy.
10. Explore the Museum of Fine Arts.
This vast museum contains art from around the world and across the ages. The Impressionist collection is eternally popular and the temporary exhibits are diverse and exciting. After 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, museum access is on a donation basis. While you do have to stand in line, you can get in for whatever donation works for your budget.
11. Marvel at the Boston Public Library.
Even before you factor in its contents, this Renaissance-Revival style building is amazing. You don’t need to be a member to go inside and admire the murals, the maps, and the inner courtyard – a precise replica of one in Rome (pictured above). The library contains 23 million items and, if you’re a Massachusetts resident, you’re eligible for a card. In fact, you can sign up for e-library access (more restricted than access with a physical card) without ever setting foot in BPL - but you’ll definitely want to go in person at some point.
12. Relax near/on/in the water.
Take a ferry ride to the Boston Harbor Island. Rent a kayak and paddle down the Charles. Hike along the Harborwalk. Hit the beach. There are countless ways to unwind by the water in Boston.
Part of Boston’s appeal is its endless entertainment options. What experiences do you think belong on the bucket list for everyone visiting – or living in – Boston?