Boston: Ten Great Things To Do
Boston, Massachusetts is an eclectic mix of old and new. Rooted in revolution and in a constant state of rediscovery, the city has a spirit all its own. On nearly every street corner signs of Boston’s colonial past intermingle with the mosques and bodegas of a modern multicultural city.
Boston is the largest city in New England, but its narrow streets and numbered alleys make it a treat to walk. Neighborhoods are a hodgepodge of busy squares and community parks. The city boasts a bustling waterfront, world-renowned museums, and a thriving theatre and food scene.
There’s a lot going on! To help you identify some of best activities, we have developed a list of ten great things to do in Boston. Many are outdoors and free. The list is organized in alphabetical order.
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Biking Boston Common & Public Garden
The Boston Common and Public Garden are side by side parks in the center of the city.
Boston Common was the country’s first public park. It was established by a group of Puritan neighbors in 1634. Its original use was for livestock grazing and public hangings. Today, the 50-acre green space is a place for Bostonians to relax and play. it is bordered by Tremont Street, Park Street, Beacon Hill, and the Public Garden.
Onsite you will find a frog pond and carousel. On one corner of the park is the Massachusetts State House. On another corner is the historic Park Street Church (part of the Boston Freedom Trail).
The Public Garden was the first public botanical garden established in America. The landscaped grounds and pond are home to the famous Swan Boats, the George Washington Statue, and the Make-Way-For-Duckling’s sculpture.
Next to the Public Garden is a Bluebike Station. At the station you can rent bikes (around $2.95 per half hour) to cycle around the Common and Public Garden. A short pedal away from the parks is the neighborhood of Beacon Hill, and the tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue Park, which are also fun to bike. When you are done riding, pop into the Cheers Pub (formerly the Bull in Finch) on Beacon Street across from the Public Garden. The pub was the inspiration for the television show “Cheers.”
Constitution Museum & Harbor Walk
In the neighborhood of Charlestown, travel to the Charlestown Navy Shipyard. The area is home to the USS Constitution and Constitution Museum. The USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” never lost a battle. It is the oldest commissioned US military ship still in the water. Visitors can tour the ship, and then learn more about its history at the museum. This is fun hands-on activity for all ages, and the Charlestown location is a great perspective from which to view the city.
When you are finished, stroll a section of the Boston Harbor Walk. The 47-mile walk spans from East Boston to the Neponset River. Hugging the seaport’s shore, the Harbor Walk passes wharves, shops, pubs, restaurants, yacht clubs, and fishing boats. The section of the walk from Charlestown through the North End is full of beautiful views and interesting businesses to explore.
Copley Square & Library
Copley Square is a hustling Boston square with much to see and do. It is bordered by busy avenues and some of the most remarkable buildings in Boston. The square itself is a grassy park with several statues, memorials and benches. The area is often buzzing with outdoor markets and fairs.
A few of the buildings around Copley Square include the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, 200 Clarendon (the glass-paneled skyscraper formerly known as the John Hancock Tower), the Trinity Church, Boston Public Library, and the Old South Church. In addition, the popular Copley Place and Prudential Center shopping malls are steps away. Read our article Boston Walk: Copley Square to Beacon Hill for more detailed information.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
The Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a group of Federal-Style buildings set on a large pedestrian plaza. The buildings house a wide array of restaurants, taverns, and shops. Onsite there is the historic Faneuil Hall as well as the Quincy, South, and North Markets.
The marketplace is a major gathering spot for visitors and locals. The Sam Adams Tap Room and several other bars and restaurants are onsite. In Quincy Market, a long food ‘Colonnade’ sells favorite regional and international foods out of a collection of indoor stalls.
The stores in North and South Markets sell crafts, apparel, house goods and specialty items. In the mix, there are national retail giants and small local sellers. Especially fun are the wooden carts outside the Colonnade in Quincy market that sell jewelry, trinkets, and sports paraphernalia.
Buskers play music and perform acts along the pedestrian ways in all seasons. The marketplace is a great place to people watch, shop, eat, drink, and while away the hours. Read our article Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace for more information.
Freedom Trail Walk
Boston’s Freedom Trail is an outstanding way to learn about the city. The trail winds for 2.5 miles through the Historic Downtown, North End, and Charlestown neighborhoods. Along the brick-lined route, there are 16 stops at churches, burying grounds, and other significant sites. Each stop adds to the story of the American Revolution.
The tour is self-guided. At some stops there are fees to enter sites. Other stops are free. You can pick and choose which locations to linger over. The route begins at Boston Common and ends at the USS Constitution (or Bunker Hill Monument).
The trail is so enjoyable because you get to tour the present-day city while immersing in the past. See our article, Boston Walk: Guide to the Freedom Trail, for more detailed information.
North End Walk
The North End is one of Boston’s most distinctive neighborhoods. It is a mixture of Italian charm and Boston street sense. The alleys of this well-established community are chock-full of restaurants (many Italian), markets and bakeries. There are lovely sidewalk cafes, lots of catholic churches, quaint squares, and odes to the area’s seaport heritage.
As the oldest residential neighborhood in the city, the North End is home to several Freedom Trail stops including the Paul Revere House, Old North Church, and Copp's Hill Burying Ground. See our article, Boston Walk: North End Things To Do for more detailed information.
Newbury Street is a roughly one-mile-long shopper’s paradise. The street is home to some of the trendiest, chicest, and most expensive retail establishments in the city.
Newbury Street runs between the Boston Public Garden and Brookline Avenue in the neighborhood of Back Bay. Many of its stores are housed in the classic brownstones for which Boston is famous. The stores are often 2 or 3-storied with an underground entrance.
Though many high-end retailers (Burberry, Cartier, Simon Pearce) make their home here, there are also fun start-ups to wander. Also, located along Newbury Street are two exquisite churches. You will find the Emmanuel Episcopal Church and Church of the Covenant on this avenue.
Boston is famous for its pubs and taverns. Located throughout the city, these hideaways are a great way to absorb the area's culture. The Union Street area by Faneuil Hall has a large concentration of atmospheric bars. Beginning at Faneuil Hall try the Black Rose and Sam Adams Tap Room. On Union Street try the Alma Cantine, Hennessey's, and the Bell in Hand Tavern (said to be the oldest pub in America).
Public Market and Haymarket Square
The Boston Public Market is an indoor marketplace that sells locally grown and produced items from around New England. The year-round market is housed in a community building. Around 30 New England farmers and artisans sell food and specialty items out of the building. The Public Market is nestled between Faneuil Hall and the North End.
On the weekend, treat yourself to a visit to Haymarket. America’s oldest outdoor open-air market is just steps-away from the Public Market. This collection of stalls has been selling fruits, vegetables, fresh seafood, and other foods to customers for about 300 years. Restauranteurs from all over New England come here to stock up. Wander the 40 or so stalls; watch, listen, and soak it all in. This is the real Boston.
Rose Kennedy Greenway
A great way to engage with the city, but to be out of the hustle and bustle, is to stroll a portion of the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Greenway is a series of parks built where Boston’s Central Artery (a highway) used to run. The parkway runs through the neighborhoods of the North End, Waterfront, Financial District, and Chinatown.
Along the Greenway, you will find fountains, gardens, sculptures, plazas, and picnic grounds. The Greenway Carousel is a fun stop on the route (the seats are modeled after animals native to Massachusetts). Surrounding the Greenway are many shops, restaurants, and a large concentration of food trucks.
That is the list for today! Message us about your favorite things to do in Boston, Laura and Randy
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