Begin your journey with a walk along the Freedom Trail, which will take you to historic sites such as the Paul Revere House and Boston Common. Alternatively, visit the Museum of Fine Arts to learn about Beantown’s artistic side, as well as its fashion sense on Newbury Street. If you enjoy baseball, you must see a game at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox. Though blowing through your trip budget is easy in Boston, there are lots of free things to do, such as the picturesque Boston Public Garden and the bustling Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
All of this, plus some of the best food and drink available, all sourced from New England’s waterways and fields. Here are the top things to do in Boston, spread out throughout its patchwork of squares, corners, and crossings.
Table of Contents
1. Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail runs over 212 miles and passes by 16 of Boston’s most significant locations, including Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the Paul Revere House, and Old North Church. It will take at least half a day (and some decent walking shoes) to see everything the trail has to offer, but you may simply plan your route before leaving Boston Common.
Though most recent visitors felt that the path is easy to travel on your own, some recommend taking a guided tour or at the very least downloading an app that tells you about the locations.
2. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
One of our favorite museums in Boston—and the country—is the Museum of Science. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which draws on the immense art collection of its eponymous (and eccentric) founder, who had a hunger for travel, a bohemian lifestyle, and the great luxuries of ancient cultures, is both intimate and unsurpassed in its grandeur. Masterworks by Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, and John Singer Sargent share space with outstanding architectural aspects within a Venetian-style palazzo enclosing an attractive courtyard. Stewart Gardner curated the collection of approximately 7,500 fine and decorative art objects, 2,700 books and manuscripts, and over 8,000 historic artefacts from all over the world with care.
3. Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall Marketplace is made up of four buildings: Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market, and South Market, with Faneuil Hall being the oldest. Faneuil Hall, which was built in 1742 and is now a station on the Freedom Trail, has a long and vital history in Massachusetts politics. Abolitionists and suffragists have stood on their soapboxes here in the past, including Samuel Adams, who pushed for opposition to the British. In fact, it was here that colonists famously declared “no taxation without representation” in response to the Sugar Act of 1764. The marketplace has grown to include over 100 businesses and eateries since those glorious days.
Former tourists have complained that the merchandise displayed at Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a little touristy. Consider wandering through the market’s halls if you want to spend some time or take some amazing shots.
4. Brattle Book Shop
Carts and racks of $1, $3, and $5 books line an alley off West Street in the center of Boston’s downtown. The seller: Brattle Bookshop, a used book business with three floors, the top of which is stocked with unique treasures. Ken Gloss, its purveyor, is a regular appraiser on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow and has garnered some notoriety among antique collectors and public-television junkies.
The varied mix of personalities that frequent independent bookstores is as much a part of the experience as the books themselves. Brattle Bookshop is an institution for curmudgeonly regulars, bespectacled students, and travelers who enjoy a good read.
5. Boston Common
In the mid-1600s, the grounds of Boston Common were used as a cow pasture. Puritan punishments such as lashing and even hangings were carried out with it. The location was converted into a British camp in 1775. The park became a favorite location for public lectures and rallies after the Revolutionary War. The Common is now most renowned for being the oldest public park in the United States. Throughout the year, a variety of activities and events, including theatrical and musical performances, are held here. If you’re going to walk the Freedom Trail, you’ll begin your journey here at Boston Common.
Despite the fact that some people claim there isn’t much to do in the park, Boston Common is a nice place for picnics or a leisurely stroll. This venue is also a great place to take young children, according to recent visitors.
6. Seaport District
For good reason, Boston Seaport is one of the city’s most talked-about areas. The former no-land, man’s just over the bridge from Downtown, has quickly transformed into a hub of innovation, mixed-use development, and modern culture, attracting major corporations such as Amazon, big names in biotech, and major developers competing to build Boston’s most expensive, sky-scraping condos. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Legal Harborside, Wood Hills Pier 4, Flight Club, the Lookout Rooftop, and the Greek-Med hotspot Committee are just a few of the amazing companies that have followed.
7. Boston Public Garden
Despite the fact that the Boston Public Garden is directly adjacent to Boston Common, the two are very distinct. The public garden is newer (it opened in 1837), and it claims to be America’s first public botanical garden. Flowers and trees are tastefully displayed and preserved in excellent condition. As you glide down the river in a Swan Boat, you can admire the colorful decorations and exotic trees from the 4-acre pond. In addition, the park is home to two of Boston’s most famous statues: “Make Way for Ducklings” and a George Washington sculpture (which depicts America’s first president on a horse).
The Boston Public Garden is a great place to unwind after a day of touring. According to recent visitors, the park’s trees provide lots of shade, which comes in handy on hot summer days. In addition, you’re likely to see ducks and geese swimming in the lagoon of the Public Garden.
8. Tatte Bakery & Café
Looking for a one-of-a-kind fast casual dining experience in Boston? Keep a look out for Tatte, the city’s most popular bakery and café. Its Parisian elegance complements the city’s favorite French-Israeli food. Tzurit Or, the founder, bakes in the French style with Middle Eastern ingredients, and she’s introduced halva, za’atar, and halloumi to Boston’s foodies.
Shakshuka comes in three flavors: traditional, lamb meatball with labneh, and summer veggie, and it’s usually a hit. Salads combine leafy greens with rich dressings like tahini vinaigrette. Tatte’s first shop in Brookline opened more than a decade ago, and the company has since grown to 16 locations in the Boston area without sacrificing quality.