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If you’re planning a trip to Boston, you’ve picked a perfect destination. Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States – and one of its most historic, one of the few cities in the country where you can wander through original 18th century cobblestone streets and see Colonial landmarks at almost every turn. If you’re a history buff, it’s an essential can’t-miss destination. It’s the unofficial capital and cultural center of New England and is home to over 35 colleges (plus Harvard and MIT next door in Cambridge).
Here’s a quick rundown of some of our favorite spots and things to do in Boston.
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WHAT’S THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT BOSTON
You can visit Boston year-round, but the best time of year to visit Boston is between April and November. Spring can be a bit rainy and wet, but the weather is mild and pleasant. Summer is gorgeous, with high temperatures in the 80’s most days, though sometimes creeping up to the 90’s, with beautiful warm evenings.
Starting in late August, the nights get cooler and you begin the segue into Fall, the most glorious time to visit. Fall weather is mild and mostly sunny, and the turning leaves are dramatic. Winter can be bitter and very snowy; wait until things warm up to take advantage of everything Boston has to offer.
HOW TO GET TO BOSTON
Flying to Boston
If you’re flying to Boston, Logan International Airport is a major airport with direct and connecting flights to almost anywhere in the world. Regional carriers operate short-hop flights to dozens of destinations daily, and the airport is also one of the US’s major gateways to Europe. Logan is also just minutes from downtown Boston, and you can get to downtown using the MBTA Silver Line, cab or Uber, or any number of shuttle services.
Driving to Boston
Driving to Boston is a great choice. Two major highways bring traffic into Boston – I-93 from the North and South and I-90 from the West. If you’re coming from anywhere else in the US, you’ll probably be taking I-90 straight into downtown Boston. From Canada, I-93 will take you down through New Hampshire and again, straight to downtown.
Bus or Train to Boston
If you’re thinking of getting a bus or train to Boston, Amtrak’s Acela runs along the Northeast Corridor from Washington DC and New York to multiple stops in Boston – Back Bay Station and South Station – making the city relatively easy to get to by train. The MBTA Commuter Rail also offers regional rail service to the north, south and west of the city.
Getting around Boston
Walking is the easiest way to get around this compact city, where virtually all the major destinations are within walking distance of each other. Stay close to downtown and you’ll have no problem getting around on foot. Additionally, the T, as the local subway is affectionately known, offers service on 5 rail lines and several bus lines.
WHERE TO STAY IN BOSTON
Don’t worry about where to stay in Boston. The city has plenty of lodging, from the 5-star to the modest. Almost all of it is located minutes from all the major attractions.
If you’re looking for a true modern hotel experience and don’t mind dishing out, the 4-star InterContinental is located right in downtown Boston’s Financial District. It offers all the amenities – indoor pool & a spa, upscale dining and bars – and sleek, classy rooms with sweeping harbor views.
Just across the way is one of Boston’s most famous and most expensive establishments – the Boston Harbor Hotel. Sitting right on the Harbor, this high-end establishment is known for its impressive rotunda, which opens up to the water, and its upscale lodging.
For a particularly unique experience, stay at The Liberty – a thoroughly-modern and upscale hotel in a converted old jail. It maintains a charm and character that’s uniquely Boston but offers amenities and attractions like rooftop dining and sweeping skyline views that can compete with almost any other establishment.
For less-expensive lodging, try the Residence Inn Marriot in Back Bay, the HI Boston Hostel or browse Airbnb and see what digs turn up. You should be able to find something for about $150 a night or even less.
WHERE TO EAT IN BOSTON
Boston’s food scene is always evolving. While it can’t quite compete with New York, it certainly offers its own impressive selection of fine dining, bars and hole-in-the-wall establishments. What are you in the mood for?
Like Italian? Then you’re in luck. Head to the city’s famed North End, where a winding maze of brick homes and cobblestone streets reveals a plethora of fine Italian food. We love to grab a slice of pizza at the famed original Regina Pizzeria. For finer dining, Giacomo’s is lively, tasty and authentic Italian; it’s also one of the most popular spots in the entire city, so get there early if you plan to grab a bite and glass of wine. Finish off your trip to the North End with some gelato or pastries at the locally-famed Dolce.
If you’re up for some fine dining of a different vein, head across the Charles River to Cambridge and try one of Boston’s most well-known, innovative restaurants. Craigie in Main serves up true French cuisine and a slew of ever-changing seasonal fare. There’s no guarantee of what you’ll get at any visit, but it could be anything from Suckling Pig Confit & Bratwurst Sausage to Pâté de Campagne.
A popular destination for happy hour and drinks is Toro, a unique tapas bar located in the South End. Enjoy a glass of wine and some traditional Jamón Serrano de Fermín – Spanish Ham – or head there for a unique brunch.
In the mood for cheap eats? Tasty Burger is a local chain where you can grab a quick, classic burger and a beer or two to match. Gre.Co, on Newbury Street, makes tasty counter-served Greek food for a quick bite on the go.
THINGS TO DO IN BOSTON
If you’re looking for things to do in Boston, don’t worry, there are plenty of activities for everyone’s taste. From taking a stroll along one of the best Boston walks for those who love to see the cities on foot, to exploring the history of one of the oldest cities in the US. Here are our top recommendations you can do in the city of Boston.
Boston’s History and Tours
History is one of Boston’s biggest attractions, and if you’re visiting this beautiful city, you’ll want to set aside ample time to explore its many historic neighborhoods and sites. All the major historic sites are found along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile long red brick path. Starting at the Boston Common, the Freedom Trail will bring you to important places like the Granary Burying Ground, where important figures in the city’s history rest; the Old State House, site of the Boston Massacre; the Old North Church, famous for its role in Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride; and the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. The Bunker Hill Monument is 221-feet tall and can be climbed in 294 steps to the top, where you’ll get sweeping views of the city and suburbs to the north, as well as the harbor.
Be sure to check out Beacon Hill as well. It’s one of the US’ most historic neighborhoods, lined with cobblestone streets and Federal-style rowhouses dating as far back as 1796. Picturesque Acorn Street is often called the “most photographed street in the United States.”
Boston’s Museums and Art
Boston is well-known for its cultural attractions, too. The Museum of Science constantly shows a number of exhibitions and is one of the city’s most popular attractions.
The Museum of Fine Arts, located in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood, contains more than 450,000 works of art, and is the 5th largest museum in the United States. It also has an outdoor Japanese garden you can stroll through when the weather is nice.
Another great art museum is the Isabella Gardner Stewart Museum, which in addition to its many works of art, resembles a Venetian Palace and has a courtyard to match.
Finally, check out the Boston Aquarium, located right on Boston Harbor.
Things To Do Outside
When the weather’s nice, Boston’s a great city to explore outdoors. Go kayaking on the Charles River in summer. Go for a stroll in the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, a 281-acre arboretum with over 4000 unique species of trees, all maintained by the Harvard School of Botany.
Another fantastic way to spend a beautiful day in Boston is by taking a cruise of the Harbor Islands. Go whale watching or visit Fort Warren, a Civil War-era fort on Georges Island.
For a quick escape from the city, if you need it, head out to the Blue Hills Reservation, about 25 minutes outside the city. This reservation spans over 7,000 acres and is a perfect place for a run, nature walk or hike up to the top of the Great Blue Hill, with its sweeping views of the city skyline. If you are there in winter, you can even ski.
If you’re up for a day trip, the White Mountains of New Hampshire are only two hours north of Boston, while Cape Cod and the Islands are only two hours south.
Like sports? You can catch a ballgame at Fenway Park, the 107-year old home of the Red Sox. It’s the oldest stadium in baseball and one of Boston’s most enduring and popular sites, if not one of the most famous sports venues in the world.
Some other popular ways to spend a day in Boston include:
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BOSTON
Boston’s name origin. The town of Boston, Massachusetts, was named after the town of Boston in Lincolnshire, England from which a lot of colonists came to the new continent.
First college built in Boston. The first college in America, Harvard, was founded in Boston in 1636.
Boston is home to the oldest public park in the country. The Boston Common has been around since 1634.
First subway in the US. Boston has built the first subway in the country in 1897.
The nickname Beantown. Boston was nicknamed “Beantown” due to the popularity of a local bean dish that was baked in molasses. Sailors and visitors loved the dish so much that they started referring to Boston as Beantown.