Boston is the capital and largest city in the state of Massachusetts. It’s part of the New England region on the East coast of the US. Founded in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It has a long and varied history and is inextricably linked to many key events of the American Revolution. It has a population of almost 685,000 people, with large Irish, Italian, Caribbean and Chinese communities.
Boston is famous for its Red Sox baseball team, who play in the major league. The team plays its home games at the legendary Fenway Park. The city is also known for its unique Boston Baked Beans and a little bar called Cheers. Let’s take a dive into the city and guide you on the top things to do in Boston during your visit.
It’s a rite of passage in Boston for visitors to take in a baseball game at Fenway Park. The ground has been the home of the Red Sox since 1912. If there’s no baseball on when you’re in town you can, at least, take a stadium tour. Fenway Park is the oldest major league baseball ground in the United States, and it’s where the city’s famous Green Monster lives. The Green Monster is the 37 ft high left field wall that batters try striking from the home plate in an attempt at an all-important inside-the-park home run. A tour of Fenway Park is one of the top things to do in Boston on your visit.
Tickets required, available online or at ticket office, $21
Faneuil Hall was previously known as The Meeting Place of the Patriots. It was used as a place for activists to congregate and discuss all the really annoying stuff the British were doing. The building has been standing since 1742 and was designed to look like an English public market.
Unfortunately, it was built by (and named after) a known slave owner and was used to host the auction of slaves. Faneuil Hall is one of four historic marketplaces in the area and arguably the most famous. These days, the hall is a popular meeting, shopping and dining spot. There are also many works of art inside, depicting US revolutionary heroes and activists. The weathervane that sits on top of the hall is a famous Boston landmark. A visit to the Faneuil Hall is one of the great free things to do in Boston.
Museum of Fine Arts
This enormous attraction holds more than 450,000 works of art and is the United States fifth largest museum. It houses many important exhibits, such as its Rockefeller Collection of Native American Work, the largest collection of Japanese art outside Japan, an extensive array of priceless Egyptian artefacts, and a range of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. Some of the highlights are Paul Revere’s ‘Sons of Liberty’ Bowl, work by New England’s most famous artist, Norman Rockwell and masterpieces by Cezanne and Van Gogh. If you visit on a Thursday when there’s no admission charge, it’s undoubtedly one of the best free things to do in Boston.
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, $12-$20. Free entrance on Wednesdays after 4 pm and all day Thursday.
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile stretch of city streets in downtown Boston. The trail has 16 museums, parks, historical markers and homes that tell the story of the American Revolution. The trail runs from Boston Common to the Bunker Hill Monument. The main points are marked by brick, and the trail is self-guided and easy to follow. If you don’t fancy doing it alone and would like a bit of background, you can take one of the official walking tours. Sites on the Freedom Trail include the Old Corner Bookstore, the Old South Meeting House, the site of the Boston Massacre, and Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. One of the top things to do in Boston along the Freedom Trail is the home of legendary Patriot, Paul Revere. This home is also the oldest building in downtown Boston.
Tickets required (only for official tour), available online, $8-$14
Beacon Hill is a beautiful historic neighborhood filled with federal-style housing. It was named for the beacon that previously sat at the highest point in the area to warn residents of impending invasions. Beacon Hill is one of the most desirable areas in Boston and is home to affluent professionals and wealthy families. Within the neighborhood is the Massachusetts State House. This is a beautiful red brick, a gold-domed building that has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. This is due to its architectural and historic importance to Boston and the United States.
Beacon Hill is also home to the Black Heritage Trail. Notable sites on the trail include the Museum of African American History, the Charles Street Meeting House, and Abiel Smith School. The Smith School was financed by a wealthy white resident to provide education for black children and is of real cultural significance to the city. Taking a wander around Beacon Hill is an excellent free thing to do in Boston.
Museum of Science
Sitting along the banks of the Charles River, the Museum of Science is an interactive science experience and indoor zoo. With more than 700 exhibits, it’s a great thing to do in Boston with kids. The museum puts on live presentations each day, covering a range of topics and with something to suit all ages and interests. Exhibits within the museum include Machines and Transportation, To The Moon, Mapping the World Around Us, and the Butterfly Garden.
The Museum is home to the only domed IMAX theater in New England. Within the zoo are 120 animals, representing 50 species. The animal care center offers visitors the chance to see the residents being fed and cared for. Its focus is to educate on the importance of looking after the animal world. The Museum of Science is a really fun and educational thing to do in Boston with kids.
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, $24-$29
Old North Church and the North End
The Old North Church is of huge importance to Boston (and the US). It’s the location of Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride before the Battle of Lexington and Concord. From the church, he sent the secret signal by hanging lanterns from the interior. The famous line from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem ‘Paul Revere’s Ride’ contains the immortal line, ‘One if by land, two if by sea’ about that fateful night on April 18th, 1775. These are the supposed historic words that started the first battle that led to the American Revolution. The North End community in which the Old North Church sits is the oldest residential area in Boston. It is here the Paul Revere house is located.
Tickets required, available at the entrance, $4-$8
Off-Beat Attractions in Boston
No visit to Boston is complete without a trip to see the odd wonder that is the Mapparium. Within the Mary Baker Eddy Museum sits a three-story stained-glass globe, fully lit with LEDs. Standing within the globe gives you a perfect view of the world (albeit from 1935). The acoustics from the very center are incredible, if you like hearing your own voice (or other people’s) in stereo. It’s a really unique and fun thing to do in Boston.
Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers About Boston
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about things to do in Boston. The questions cover a range of topics and will help you research and plan your trip to the New England capital city.
What are some fun things to do in Boston, MA?
No visitor to Boston should go home without wandering around the pretty Back Bay area on the Charles River. The neighborhood features on the US National Register of Historic Places and is home to Boston Public Library. Back Bay is an affluent area, with high-end boutiques, stores and galleries. Have a walk around and check out the beautiful mansions and peaceful tree-lined streets to see how the other half live.
What are some things to do in Boston when it’s raining?
When the Boston weather isn’t cooperating, head to the Prudential Tower observation deck and take in the views over the city. Although the Pru is the second tallest skyscraper in Boston, it has the only publicly available observation deck. The deck at the taller John Hancock Tower was shut after the 9/11 attacks and remains closed. The 50th Floor viewing deck of the Pru is called the Skywalk Observatory and it’s the highest in New England. Two floors above the deck is the Top of the Hub restaurant. At ground level, there’s a shopping mall. Who knew there would be so many top things to do in Boston in one building?
What are some must see things to do in Boston, MA?
It would be very wrong to take a trip to Boston and not go sailing on the Swan Boats in the Public Gardens. The boats have been operational since 1877 (not the same ones, obviously, as that might be a bit worrying…). They are a popular Boston icon. You can hire a swan boat on the pond between April to September and it’s a really fun thing to do in Boston with kids. They don’t even have to help steer or power the boat. The pedaling is done by an employee and the ride lasts around 12-15 minutes. Easy!
Boston is a multi-cultural and historic city. There’s a mix of attractions, great places to eat, drink and, generally, be merry. It’s known for its love of sports and the important role it played in the formation of the United States. There are a lot of things to do in Boston for all ages and interests. The city is served by Logan International Airport, located in East Boston.
I hope we’ve convinced you of all the fun things to do in Boston, so what are you waiting for?