Boston Museum of Fine ArtsHousing one of the world’s finest collections of art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is a must-see on a visit to Boston. The museum’s highlight is undoubtedly its American collection, which includes American paintings and decorative arts.
And there’s more. The Museum of Fine Arts also displays an incredible collection of European Impressionist paintings, including one of the largest collections of Monets outside of Paris. The MFA also holds one of the richest Degas collections in the world, not to mention Asian and Old Kingdom Egyptian collections, classical art, Buddhist temple, and medieval sculpture and tapestries. After you’re done marveling at these treasures, be sure to check out the exhibits of Japanese art, including Buddhist and Shinto treasures.
Boston Museum of ScienceWith more than 600 interactive exhibits, the Boston Museum of Science is an educational playground so engaging and effortless that you can’t help but learn something. The amazing array of exhibits explores computers, technology, complex systems, algae, maps, models, dinosaurs, birds and much more.
Favorites include the world's largest lightning bolt generator, a full-scale space capsule, a world population meter, and a virtual fish tank. At Investigate!, live science demonstrations involve animals and experiments taking place before your eyes. The Science in the Park exhibit uses familiar objects such as skateboards and playground equipment to teach kids the concepts of physics. You can even find out how much you weigh on the moon!
Boston CommonThe starting point of the Freedom Trail, Boston Common is the oldest park in the country. At 50 acres/20 hectares, the Common is the anchor for the Emerald Necklace, a system of connected parks that winds through many of Boston’s neighborhoods.
The Common has served many purposes over the years, including as a campground for British troops during the Revolutionary War. Today, though, the Common serves picnickers, sunbathers, and people watches. In winter, the Frog Pond attracts ice-skaters, while summer draws theater lovers for Shakespeare on the Common.
New England AquariumTeeming with more than 15,000 sea creatures of all sizes, shapes, and colors, the New England Aquarium is a giant fishbowl of sea-life wonder. Harbor seals and sea otters frolic in a large observation tank at the entrance, but the main attraction is the awesome four-story, 200,000 gallon (760,000 liter) Giant Ocean Tank, which swirls with more than 600 creatures great and small, including turtles, sharks, and eels.
At the base of the tank the penguin pool is home to three species of fun-loving penguins. Countless side exhibits explore the lives and habitats of other underwater oddities, including the two-floor Amazing Jellies exhibit, home to hundreds of ethereal jellyfish, and the Edge of the Sea exhibit, with its sea stars, horseshoe crabs, and sea dragons. Other attractions include displays on denizens of the Amazon, marine life in the Gulf of Maine, and the ecology of Boston Harbor.
Faneuil Hall MarketplaceThe heart and soul of downtown Boston, Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a bustling complex of restaurants, food stalls, shops, bars, and public spaces. Since it opened in 1976, this festive market and eating center draws both visitors and locals to its cobblestone plaza, teaming with shoppers, street performers, and people-watchers.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace itself if comprised of three historic 19th century buildings. Quincy Market, a three-level Greek revival-style building, sits in the center behind Faneuil Hall. Next to it is the North Market building and the South Market building.
Quincy MarketThe main hub of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, bustling Quincy Market has attracted locals and visitors alike for nearly 200 years. This historic food hall, set inside a stately three-level Greek revival-style building, is packed with more than 50 shops, 14 restaurants, and 40 food court stops. There’s even a bar that’s an exact replica of the bar from the popular TV show Cheers.
Inside Quincy Market, the central corridor is lined with full-service restaurants, pushcarts, and New England souvenirs. Choose from chowder, bagels, Indian, Greek, baked good, and ice cream. Then, take a seat at one of the tables in the central rotunda. On warm evenings, tables spill outdoors from restaurants and bars fill up with people, creating a festive mood.
Beacon HillTrue, Beacon Hill may be home to the Massachusetts State House, the crown jewel of the neighborhood and focal point of politics in the Commonwealth, but the real appeal of this prestigious neighborhood lies in it beauty. Gas lanterns illuminate the cobblestone streets, while distinguished brick town houses come decked with purple windowpanes and blooming flowerboxes.
Beacon Hill’s residential streets are reminiscent of London, and streets such as stately Louisburg Square indeed capture the grandeur that was intended. Charles Street, Beacon Hill’s charming commercial thoroughfare, is Boston’s most enchanting spot for browsing boutiques, haggling over antiques, or sipping a steaming cappuccino at one of the European-styled cafes. Stay for a fine dinner, made all the more romantic when it is enjoyed in such a delightful setting.
Freedom TrailThe Freedom Trail is a great way to explore Boston’s most popular sites. The 2 ½-mile/4-km trail itself links a number of historic sites, many associated with colonial United States history. The route is marked with a line of red paint or red brick on the sidewalk; markers identify stops and plaques point the way from one sight to the next.
The Freedom Trail starts on the Boston Common and visits sights on Beacon Hill, in Downtown, near the Waterfront, and in the North End, before crossing the bridge and ending in Charlestown. As such, it provides an introduction to some of Boston’s distinct neighborhoods, as well as its rich history.
Fenway ParkBoston's most cherished landmark? Site of Boston's greatest dramas and worst defeats? To many Bostonians, it's not Bunker Hill or the Tea Party ship, but tiny old Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Built in 1912, Fenway Park is one of the last survivors of old-style baseball parks. Only Wrigley Field in Chicago rivals its legendary status.
Baseball at Fenway is special thanks to the unique shape of the park, the intimate playing field, and the one and only Green Monster, the famous towering left field wall that compensates for the relatively short distance from home plate. The Green Monster consistently alters the regular course of play - what appears to be a lazy fly ball could actually drop over the Monster for a home run, and what appears to be a sharp double into the gap may be played off the wall to hold the runner to a single.
Boston Harbor Islands National Park
Boston Harbor Islands National Park is comprised of 34 islands, sprinkled throughout the Boston Harbor. These islands – many of which are open for trail walking, bird-watching, fishing, and swimming – offer a range of ecosystems. On a visit to this park, you’ll encounter sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, fresh and saltwater marsh, and forested trails. Best of all, the islands are only 45 minutes from downtown Boston.
Georges Island is not only one of the transportation hubs for the islands, it is also the site of the 19th century Fort Warren. Spectacle Island, another transportation hub, has walking trails and hosts many special events like live jazz concerts and festivals. Lovells Island draws boaters, swimmers, and sunbathers to its lovely rocky beaches. Here you can catch an afternoon shuttle to Grape Island, where you can pick raspberries, bayberries, and elderberries, all growing wild amid the island’s scrubby wooded trails.
Boston Public GardenThe Boston Public Garden is a 24 acre (10 hectare) botanical oasis of Victorian flowerbeds, verdant grass, and weeping willow trees shading a tranquil lagoon. At any time of the year, it is an island of loveliness, awash in seasonal blooms, gold-toned leaves, or untrammeled snow.
A statue of George Washington, looking stately atop his horse, greets visitors at the main entrance on Arlington Street. Other pieces of public art in the park, however, are more whimsical. The most endearing is Make Way for Ducklings, always a favorite with tiny tots who can climb and sit on the bronze ducks. But it’s the peaceful lagoon that draws visitors and locals a like to the Public Garden. For it is hear, you should take on the slow-going swan boats, a serene relic of bygone days.