Things to do in Boston
The Cradle of Liberty, The Puritan City, Beantown. Boston is a city of many names, and it’s jam-packed with just as many activities and sights. As one of the United States’ oldest cities—and the center of the American Revolution—there are dozens of historical sites and museums to visit, but there is also a plethora of things to do in Boston suitable for any interest. From baseball to seafood, Boston has something for everyone.
Check out our list of things to do in Boston, including fun day trips from the city.
Wander along 2.5 miles of history on Boston’s Freedom Trail. In the heart of Boston—one of the United States’ oldest cities— this historical pathway leads visitors past some of the nation’s most iconic sites. Boston’s Freedom Trail includes 16 locations significant to the founding and formation the United States, and is one of the most educational things to do in Boston. Explore the trail from Boston Common to the USS Constitution in Charlestown, soaking up history every step of the way. Read more about the Freedom Trail in our article on the topic!
Enjoy America’s pastime in the nation’s oldest ballpark
Nosh on some peanuts and Cracker Jacks while taking in a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. The ballpark, built in 1912, is the oldest one in the U.S., and is the perfect place to see the BoSox play April through October. For sports fans, this is one of the best things to do in Boston.
Boston has become a center for craft beer, and there are two major breweries open for tours. For adults 21-years and older, this is one of the most relaxing things to do in Boston. Samuel Adams, the flagship brand of the Boston Beer Company, was named for the American revolutionary patriot and beer brewer. The Harpoon Brewery tour is probably Boston’s second most popular beer-focused activity (after Sam Adams, of course). Harpoon calls Boston home and is famous for its Indian Pale Ale.
After winding your way along the Freedom Trail, you’ll find yourself in Charlestown, the oldest neighborhood in Boston. The historic area is known for its Irish-American influences, and is home to a handful of historic sites. The USS Constitution is here, as well as Warren Tavern, which was first opened in 1780.
Take a Stroll through Jamaica Plain
This hip Boston neighborhood is brimming with artists and young professionals. Referred to as “JP” by locals, this area is a go-to spot for delectable food, boutique shopping, and drinks worth cheering about.
Snag a Donut in Union Square
Called “hipster central” by the Boston Globe, this cool neighborhood boasts a smorgasbord of restaurant options. In addition to boutique shopping and coffee, this is one of the best things to do in Boston to find amazing donuts: Union Square Donuts.
Kayak on the Charles
For about $15 an hour (or $60 for the entire day), you can paddle your way down the Charles River in a rented kayak. The Charles offers the best view of Boston, including all the major universities: Boston University, MIT, and Harvard. For those unafraid of breaking a sweat, add this to the top of your things to do in Boston list.
Visit SoWa Markets
Housed in a previously rundown warehouse district, SoWa Markets support a community of artisans, makers, and entrepreneurs hawking finger-licking-good treats and hand-crafted art. One part flea market, one part farmers market, one part food truck parking gathering spot—this is a must-see in Boston.
Shop on Charles Streets in Beacon Hill
Charles Street has got to be at the top of any fashionista’s Boston itinerary. From end to end, this thoroughfare is lined with boutiques, galleries, and cafes. Beautiful, historic townhomes are now home to one-of-a-kind shops. Lovers of shopping will find Beacon Hill at the top of best things to do in Boston lists.
Sample the Seafood
With its proximity to the sea, it’s no wonder Boston has become an epicenter for swoon-worthy seafood. While visiting Beantown, it is inexcusable to skip lobster rolls, clam chowder, or bivalves. Hit up a local happy hour for buck-a-shuck oysters and chow down on a lobster roll at Neptune Oyster, an establishment famous for serving up the essential New England meal. Last, but not least, swing by Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the nation. This landmark has made a name for itself dishing out iconic clam chowder. Read more about scrumptious seafood in our article about the best restaurants in Boston!
Get Your Heart Racing at the Coliseum
The Coliseum, also known as Harvard Stadium, is the nation’s oldest. Built in 1903, the annual Harvard-Yale football game draws alumni and fans from all over the country. The stadium itself is fascinating to see, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try the famous stadium workout: running up and down 37 sections of concrete seats, totaling 1147 seats. It’s quite the workout.
Take a Peek Inside One of Boston’s Many Museums
Boston, an international center for higher education, has dozens of fabulous museums to choose from. Pick one or two to explore while visiting this historic city. One of Boston’s most famous is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Home to a magnificent art collection, the Gardner Museum fell victim to an infamous art heist in 1990. Read more about Boston Museums in our article on the topic!
Enjoy the Scenery on Newbury Street
Tree-lined and rowed with red brick townhouses, this neighborhood is the spot to find world-class dining and designer shopping. Upscale and picturesque, this is the perfect place to grab a seat outdoors and people-watch. Relaxing on Newbury Street is one of the greatest things to do in Boston during summer.
Sip a Pint at an Irish Bar
In the early 19th century, Irish immigrants flooded into Boston, and Irish-American culture and pride have heavily influence the city ever since. To experience a little bit of Irish culture, explore one of Boston’s many Irish Bars. Pouring drinks since 1882, Doyle’s Cafe in Jamaica Plain is the perfect place to grab an Irish import or microbrew. Or check out Olde Magoun’s Saloon in Somerville, which puts a hipster-twist on Boston’s Irish pub scene.
Walk the Black Heritage Trail
The Black Heritage Trail traces the history of the African American population that lived in Beacon Hill throughout the 19th century. Start at the Museum of African American History and explore the trails 14 sites, including The African Meeting House and the oldest black church edifice still standing in the United States. Alongside the Freedom Trail, The Black Heritage Trail is one of the top historical things to do in Boston.
Visit the Boston Public Library
As the second-largest public library in the United States, this institution holds approximately 25 million items. Even if you’re not interested in reading, the building itself is one of Boston’s most jaw-dropping examples of architecture.
Seasonal Things to Do in Boston
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
Because of its rich Irish heritage, Boston is the best (and the craziest) place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston, which draws almost one million visitors each year, takes center stage on the Sunday closest to March 17th. And don’t forget to don green while toasting at one of Boston’s multitude of Irish bars.
Boston Dragon Boat Festival
Since 1979, the Boston Dragon Boat Festival has drawn more than 20,000 participants and spectators. Celebrated each June on the Charles River, 30-40 teams from the US and Canada race in beautiful and colorful 39-foot Hong Kong-style dragon boats. In addition to the race, Asian-American culture is celebrated with food, art, and crafts.
Run in the Marathon
For elite runners who can qualify for the race, crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon is a great accomplishment. For the rest of us, watching the race and cheering on the runners is still a blast.
Row the Head of the Charles Regatta
Each October since 1965, thousands of rowers have gathered to race along the Charles River. The best crew teams from around the world dip their paddles into the Charles to the enjoyment of tens of thousands of spectators.
Day Trips from Boston
Spend Halloween in Salem
About a one-hour drive from Boston, Salem, Massachusetts is a spooky spot to celebrate Halloween. In 1692, Salem was the site of witch trials that have now become infamous in American history and culture. In October, the town celebrates Halloween with parades, costume contests, re-enactments, and haunted houses.
Vacation on the Cape
Cape Cod is the hook-shaped peninsula in southeastern Massachusetts, and is well-known for its quaint seaside villages. A two-hour drive from Boston lands you among Massachusetts’ best beaches. Chow down on seafood, snap photos of lighthouses, and soak up the rays in this popular summertime destination.
Enjoy the best things to do in Boston while on your Boston Tour!
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