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27 Places to Visit in Boston

Book A Guided Walking Tour

This post covers the top Boston attractions, including historic sites, museums, neighborhoods, and parks, as well as bus tours, boat tours, and our pay-what-you-like guided walking tours.

Be sure to check out our posts on The Best Things to Do in Boston (tips from a local tour guide).

Many of the items below are included for free or at a discount on one or more of the Boston tourist attraction discount passes, which could help you save money on entry fees. 


1. Freedom Trail 

Boston is the birthplace of the American Revolution (1776-1783). The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walking route that passes 16 sites that played a major role in the war.

Walking the Freedom Trail is an interactive way to learn about the Revolution, its key figures and events. The trail begins in downtown Boston and ends near the USS Constitution.

Freedom Trail Boston

Just a few of the historic sites along the trail you’ll pass are Paul Revere’s House, the site of the Boston Massacre, Granary Burying Ground, the Old State House, and Faneuil Hall. 

If you’re interested in taking the trek, consider taking our pay-what-you-wish Freedom Trail walking tour or our Freedom Trail Self-Guided Tour.

Boston Walking Tours

2. Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market

Faneuil Hall is known as"the home of free speech" and America’s first town hall meeting was held here.

Built in 1743 originally for vendors to sell their goods, the building became a center of debates and demonstrations that led up to the Revolutionary War.

faneuil hall
Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall Marketplace includes four historic buildings: Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market, and South Market.

The 200,000-square-foot marketplace is visited by both locals and tourists alike. There are over 70 vendors and retailers selling food, clothing, and more. 

During the holiday season, the marketplace is magical! See more about Christmas in Boston.


Boston Travel Tips and Hacks

3. Boston Common

Established in 1634, Boston Common is America’s oldest public park.

Starting in 1768, the British Redcoats encamped here for eight years. The Common is a stop along the Freedom Trail. 

The common is spread over 50 acres and has plenty of activities to enjoy. If you visit Boston in the winter months, you can go ice skating on Frog Pond

There is also a  playground, a sports facility, baseball, tennis, and a stage/amphitheater for performance.

Read more about Boston Common.


4. Boston Public Garden

Just across Charles Street from Boston Common is America’s first botanical garden established in 1837.

It was designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who, together with Calvert Vaux, designed Central Park in NYC.

Boston Public Garden

The gardens are filled with unusual plants, monuments, fountains, and the Swan Boats (see below).

Find out more about the Boston Public Gardens.


5. Boston Harbor Boat Tours

Boston is perfect to see from the harbor which is why there are lots of great boat tours to choose from.

There are historic Boston sightseeing cruises, New England Harbor Cruises, whale-watching trips, dinner cruises, and even tall ship excursions!

Find the best tour for you by reading our post, Boston Harbor Boat Tours.


6. Swan Boat Rides

Perhaps not as exciting as a cruise, a ride on a Swan Boat in Boston Public Gardens is a tradition that dates back to 1877!

Captain-tucker, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After strolling the gardens, a 15-minute ride on a Swan Boat Tour is just the thing to rest your legs and cool off.

It’s one of Boston’s best activities for visitors with kids.


7. Baseball At Fenway Park

Opened in 1912, Fenway Park is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. It’s home to the Boston Red Sox.

If you go see a game at this historic stadium, grab a seat on the stadium’s famous 37-foot-high green wall in left field known as the Green Monster. It’s the highest wall in the MLB.

Fenway Park

Public tours are offered year-round, so baseball history fans can get a detailed look at Fenway’s past and present. Read more about Fenway Park Tours.

See what dates the home team is in town here and grab some tickets to a game!


8. Boston Bus Tours and Trolley Tours

Boston Duck Tours is the most popular bus tour and for good reason. Using World War II-style amphibious landing vehicles, these tours are part on land and part on the water!

Another tour option is to take a hop-on, hop-off tour that allows you to get off the bus at sites of interest and get back on when you like.

Read about the several companies that offer Hop-on-Hop-off Trolley Tours.

Note that many bus tours are included free with the purchase of a  Boston tourist attraction pass.

There are also night bus tours, TV and Movie bus tours, ghost bus tours, and many more. 

Find out about all the tours that are out there from our post, Boston Bus Tours: Which Are the Best?


9. Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the very best Boston art museums.

With a collection of over 450,000 works of art, it is one of the largest art museums in the United States.

It was founded in 1870 and is one of the most visited art museums in the world.

Among its best exhibitions are its Egyptian Mummy collection, its ancient Greece works, and its Impressionist paintings.

Museum of Fine Arts

There is also an impressive American Wing with paintings, decorative arts, furniture, and silver -- including silverwork from the great patriot Paul Revere.

Read more about the Museum of Fine Arts.


10. USS Constitution Museum

The USS Constitution is one of six ships constructed as part of the Naval Act 1794. 

Nicknamed “Old Ironsides” after its heroic feats during the War of 1812, the ship is permanently docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard. 

You can tour the ship for free, though you must purchase a ticket to visit the museum. Learn how to visit the USS Constitution and Museum.


11. The North End 

The North End is Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood. It has Colonial-era sites speckled throughout its streets. 

But the North End isn't only about colonial history. It’s also about the history of Italian- Americans

The first Italian immigrants settled in the neighborhood in the 1860s and the Italian population grew for over a century.

North End

Today the neighborhood is less authentic and more about tourists, but there are still great places to eat and sites to see in the North End.

Our pay-what-you-wish North End and Little Italy tour takes you to the best sites while you hear stories about the colonial era, gangster times, and Italian pastry!

We also offer a self-guided tour.


12. Old State House

A stop along the Freedom Trail, the Old State House is the oldest surviving public building in Boston. 

When it was built in 1713 and called the Towne House, it was the hub of Boston’s civic life.

Old State House

After the British were defeated and America was born, Towne House became the State House for Massachusetts until 1798, at which time the current State House was erected on Beacon Street.

The Old State House Museum’s exhibits offer insight into the years leading up to the American Revolution, the Boston Massacre, and the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. 

Read more about the Old State House Museum.


13. Paul Revere House

Paul Revere was a silversmith and, more importantly, a colonial patriot who took a midnight ride to warn the colonists of a British attack. 

This house where Revere lived is the oldest remaining building in Downtown Boston and you can take a tour of it as it is now a museum. 

Paul Revere House

Amazingly, 90% of the building's structure is original and the two upstairs rooms contain furniture that is believed to have belonged to the Revere family.

Buy tickets to tour the Paul Revere House. Note that the tour is included free with the Go Boston Card.


14. Beacon Hill

This is one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods and has been the site of those active in fighting against slavery, and for religious freedom and equal rights. 

Its cobblestone lanes are lined with elegant Federal-period mansions and gas lamps. It’s also where you will find posh boutiques and excellent restaurants.

Francesca.hyanna19, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Our pay-what-you-wish Beacon Hill Crime Stories walking tour takes you beyond the pretty facade to tell you the tale of the Boston Strangler, the city's most notorious serial killer.

Explore the neighborhood with our Self-Guided Beacon Hill Walking Tour. This tour is also available as an audio tour!


15. Massachusetts State House

The current seat of the state’s government, the Massachusetts State House, was built in 1798.

Samuel Adams laid a cornerstone in 1795 and Paul Revere coppered the dome in 1802.

Massachusetts State House

This National Historic Landmark is an architectural gem with marble-floored corridors and ceremonial rooms filled with paintings depicting Massachusetts’s history.

Free guided tours of the building and collections are led by volunteers. Read more here.


16. Granary Burying Ground

This is Boston's third oldest burial ground, opened in 1660 and named in 1737 for the Old Town Granary which once stood on the site of its neighbor, the Park Street Church.

Many of America’s patriots buried there include Paul Revere and three signers of the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.

The Granary Burying Ground is a stop on our daily, pay-what-you-like guided tour of the Freedom Trail. We also have a self-guided tour of Granary Burying Ground.


17. Harvard University

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest college in the United States. It’s located in the City of Cambridge, just across the Charles River from Boston.

The campus houses both Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, two of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world.

This list of notable alumni is truly amazing. 

There are several ways to tour the campus.

We offer a pay-what-you-wish Harvard and Cambridge Walking Tour and we also have a self-guided Harvard University Walking Tour.

You may want to visit one of the excellent museums on campus like the MIT Museum and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.


18. Boston Public Library

Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is not just a place to grab a good book, it’s a place of firsts.

It was the first large, free municipal library in the US. It was also the first public library to lend books.

Also, the library was the first major Beaux-Arts building in the United States completed in 1895 and was designed by renowned architect Chares McKim.

Boston Public Library

Not only is the building itself an architectural gem, but the interior is as well.

The Boston Public Library offers free art and architecture tours of the building a few times a week. Check the schedule here.


19. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Climb aboard an 18th-century replica ship for an immersive experience recreating that fateful December night in 1773 when the Sons of Liberty sparked the American Revolution by dumping their tea into Boston Harbor.

On a 1-hour tour, costumed actors take you back in time to learn about the history and impact of the Boston Tea Party.

In the end, you’ll start your own revolution by dumping tea into the Charles River!


20. Bunker Hill Monument & Museum

The Battle of Bunker Hill fought on June 17, 1775, was one of the first major battles of the American Revolutionary War. 

The monument is 221 feet tall and you can climb to the top for an excellent view of the city.

Bunker Hill Monument

In addition to the landmark itself, there is also a free museum you can visit which provides access to the monument.

Read our post on the Bunker Hill Monument & Museum.


21. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Established in 1903, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a prized Boston institution. 

Its collection is expansive and includes works from Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, the Islamic World, Renaissance Italy, and 19th-century France and America. 

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

If the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum sounds familiar, it's because in 1990 it was the scene of the single largest art heist in the world. 

The crime has never been solved. Fortunately, there are plenty of other pieces of art to see! 

Read more about the museum here.


22. The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library

The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library is the only place in the world where one can walk through a 3-story stained-glass globe!

Because the Mapparium was created in 1935, the globe shows country borders and names as they were back then.

The Mapparium

Visitors walk across a thirty-foot glass bridge passing through the center of the globe while a presentation using audio recordings, music, and LED lights illustrates how the world has changed since the 1930s.

Find out about visiting The Mapparium.


23. Newbury Street

Newbury Street between Arlington Street and Massachusetts Avenue is the place to go for shopaholics and foodies.

This 8-block stretch is filled with high-end boutiques like Burberry and Channel as well as international apparel chain stores.

Newbury Street

The street itself is lined with historic brownstone buildings making it a lovely location for the many cafes and restaurants to enjoy.

See the Newbury Street website for a directory of shops and eateries.


24. New England Aquarium

Opened in 1969, the New England Aquarium is home to a multitude of sea life that includes species like northern fur seals, exotic jellyfish, giant Pacific octopuses, and thousands of saltwater and freshwater fish.

The highlight of the aquarium is its 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank that replicates a coral reef environment.

New England Aquarium

As they pass through a spiral walkway around the tank, visitors get a close-up view of sharks, sea turtles, and schools of fish.

There is also an IMAX theater that shows films with aquatic themes. The aquarium offers whale-watching tours that can be combined with the cost of admission. 

Find out about getting tickets here.


25. Arnold Arboretum

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, a botanical research center,  is like a living museum of tree and plant life. 

The Arboretum’s 281 acres which include forests, meadows, and ponds are open free to the public.

Arnold Arboretum

Established in 1872, this is North America’s first public arboretum. It’s also a National Historic Landmark.

Read more about the Arnold Arboretum.


26. The Cheers Bar

The bar which inspired the hit television series Cheers opened in 1969 as the low-key Bull and Finch.

It was discovered by Hollywood producers in 1981 and premiered in 1982 as Cheers, which ran for 11 years. 

Exposure from the tv show made Cheers the most famous bar in Boston. Why not go and grab a beer there? See our post on the Original Cheers Bar.

The bar is a stop on our self-guided Beacon Hill Tour and is just a 10-minute walk from our guided Beacon Hill Crime Tour.  


27. Back Bay

Just west of Boston Common, the Back Bay area is located along the Charles River.

This is one of the more well-liked places to stay while traveling to Boston because of its convenient location.

A view of Prudential Center in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. Image Source: Pixabay user T BW.

As a result, the region has many excellent hotels, and you can read more about them in our whole piece about where to stay in Back Bay.

A trip to the Boston Public Library and a baseball game at Fenway Park are just a few of the very popular outings in this area.

You can be confident that you'll be able to have a satisfying lunch while you're in Back Bay because there are so many excellent eateries around.


ATTRACTIONS INCLUDED IN TOURIST PASSES

Many of the attractions in this post are included for free with a Boston tourist pass.

Below is a list of those attractions.


Go Boston Card


Boston CityPASS

For more details, visit our post about Boston tourist passes.


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About The Author

Brian Burgess

Brian was born in Cambridge and has been living in the Boston area all his life. He is a graduate of Boston's Emerson College with a degree in communications with a journalism/history focus. He has been leading tours for Free Tours By Foot Boston since it was started in the city of Boston in 2012, and enjoys sharing his knowledge of Boston's rich history with not only the guests on his tours, but with everyone he meets.
Updated: January 18th, 2023
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