Boston Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing
(Boston, Massachusetts - MA, USA)
As the largest and most important city in New England, it will come as no great surprise that Boston is rich in tourist attractions and sightseeing opportunities. Highly recommended are the Boston Duck Tours, where you climb aboard an amphibious vehicle and tour the city and harbor, whilst enjoying informative and entertaining commentary about the many attractions that you are passing.
A visit to the New England Aquarium should certainly feature on any itinerary of things to do in Boston, and this popular attraction is brimming with marine creatures, including many indigenous specimens that can be found living in the waters close by. Tourists will also favor the USS Constitution, the National Historic Park, the John Hancock Tower and the family friendly Franklin Park Zoo.
If visiting family or staying at one of the luxury Boston hotels downtown, you may want to consider purchasing a 'Boston City Pass' as this will enable you to pay half price for most of the finest attractions. Nearby, Cape Cod rentals offer affordable accommodation and come in the form of beach houses, homes and summer cottages, all of which provide a convenient place to base yourself.
One of the most popular tours in and around Boston are the legendary Duck Tours, which show you the best that the city has to offer, with a combined land and sea tour. World War II vehicles take you on a scenic drive around the most famous sites and attractions in the city - and then actually into the Charles River for a delightful harbor cruise. With interesting commentary, this novel tour is an enjoyable and fun way to see the city and very much recommended.
Free Tours by Foot
Address: 119 Berkeley Street, Boston, 02116
Tel: +1 (617) 299 0764
Worth looking out for are the free guided tours around central Boston. Led by knowledgeable and friendly local guides, these tours will take you through some of the city's most famous and interesting neighborhoods. Sightseers will be able to stroll along the Freedom Trail whilst learning more about local events in history, such as the renowned Tea Party and Boston Massacre. You will find out all about the noteworthy individuals who once walked on these very streets, such as George Washington and Sam Adams. Sites covered on most tours include the Common, the Massachusetts State House, the Park Street Church, the Old South Meeting House, the Old State House and Faneuil Hall, amongst many other principal attractions. And, since all guides work entirely on a tip-basis, you can be assured that each guide will work hard to keep you entertained and well-informed along the way. At the end, you simply tip what you feel to be a suitable amount.
Open hours: daily - 11:00, private tours can be arranged
The Trolley Tours are small bus-like trams that drive you around the city on a route that encompasses the best known sites and landmarks. The great advantage with a Trolley Tour is that your ticket is valid for the whole day and you are able to simply 'hop off' at any of the stops to look around in further detail and then catch the next trolley, which will arrive shortly. An entertaining commentary, crammed with city facts, makes this an enjoyable and most convenient way to get around the city and do some serious sightseeing at the same time.
New England Aquarium
Address: 1 Central Wharf, Boston, 02110
Tel: +1 (617) 973 5200
With over 7,000 fish, aquatic mammals and also penguins, the centerpiece inside the building is the massive 200,000 gallon 'Giant Ocean Tank', encircled by a four-story spiral ramp. The tank is home to a replica of the Caribbean coral reef and a collection of many different sea creatures, including several huge turtles, barracudas, stingrays and sharks. Scuba-divers regularly feed the sharks and fish several times a day to ensure harmony resides in the tank. Visitors are able to get hands-on at the edge of the 'Sea Exhibit', where they can touch and handle sea stars, sea urchins and horseshoe crabs in the tide pool. Other exhibits showcase freshwater and tropical specimens, sea otters and the ecology of Boston Harbor. The city's most visited tourist attraction is complete with exhibit space, gift shop and a café with spectacular views of the city and harbor. The New England Aquarium also offers whale-watching tours with indoor and outdoor seating - and even seal or walrus shows.
The USS Constitution
Address: Charlestown Navy Yard, 55 Constitution Rd, Charlestown, Boston, 02129
Tel: +1 617 426 1812
Launched over 200 years ago in 1797, the USS Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy and undefeated in battle. Often referred to as 'Old Ironsides' as the ship was famous for its legendary ability to repel any shot fired, the ship's principal service was in the war of 1812, where it was successful in all of its 42 engagements. It is docked next to the museum, which contains many interesting artifacts and hands-on exhibits, explaining the technology that resulted in this ship being a faster, more heavily armed frigate than ever before. With a crew of 200 men, the USS Constitution has narrowly escaped the scrap heap on several occasions and these days is towed out every year on July 4th for a turnabout in Boston Harbor. The USS Constitution is located in Charlestown Navy Yard, the last stop on the Freedom Trail. Visitors can board the ship daily. Free guided tours are available. Active-duty sailors guide visitors around the ship.
Open hours: November to March - Thursday to Sunday, 10:00 to 16:00; April to September - 10:00 to 18:00; October, Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 to 16:00
Boston National Historic Park
Address: Charlestown Navy Yard, 02129-4543
Tel: +1 (617) 242 5642
This site encompasses the USS Constitution and Charlestown Navy Yard as well as the other sites of the Freedom Trail. These are all connected by a red brick or painted line down the pavement - see the Freedom Trail
Boston Public Library
Address: 700 Boylston Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, 02116, USA
Tel: +1 (617) 536 5400
Built in 1848, the Boston Public Library was the first free publicly supported municipal library in America, the first public library to lend a book and the first with a children's room. On the National Register of Historic Places, the library opened in 1852 as the first free, publicly-supported municipal library in America, setting a precedent for grand scale urban libraries. The fine building is reminiscent of an Italian Renaissance palace surrounding an open courtyard. With more than 650,000 photographs, 100,000 prints (some by Rembrandt and Toulouse-Lautrec) and 250 different papers in the 'Newspaper Room', the library now has Internet access, two restaurants and an on-line store with reproductions of its priceless artwork. All exhibits are free, open to the public and books are only the beginning.
Cheers Beacon Hill
Address: 84 Beacon Street, Boston, MA, 02108, USA
Tel: +1 (617) 227 9605
The facade of this world-famous pub, formerly called the Bull and Finch Pub, is instantly recognizable as the inspiration for the American television show, 'Cheers' and is situated opposite the Public Garden. This hugely successful sitcom ran for many years, with well-known characters including Sam, Diane, Norm, Frasier and many more. Although the exterior is the same as on television, the inside is completely different, being made up of several smaller rooms. However, although unexpected, this is not a real disappointment as the busy pub is full of a selection of Cheers memorabilia. The menu serves typical bar food, including burgers, nachos and chicken wings and is very popular with tourists.
Open hours: daily at 11:00
Franklin Park Zoo
Address: 1 Franklin Park Road, Boston, 02121
Tel: +1 (617) 541 5466
Founded in 1911, this large urban zoo covers an area of more than 72 acres / 29 hectares. Filled with a good selection of animals, including gorillas, leopards, hippos and many free-flying birds, this is a popular family attraction.
The Symphony Hall
Address: 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, 02115
Tel: +1 (617) 266 1492
The hall is home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Handel and Haydn Society and also the Boston Pops. The acoustics are particularly impressive during the many concerts, which include classical, jazz and popular music.
Ghosts and Gravestones Tour
Who was the Boston Strangler? How much does a ghostly spirit weigh? Why did Edgar Allan Poe have such a dark side? You can find out the answers to these questions and many more on this frightening and thrilling tour of the city's secret history. This trolley tour is very enjoyable and will make your spine tingle one minute and have you laughing out loud the next.
John Hancock Tower
Address: 200 Clarendon Street, St. James Avenue and Trinity Place, Boston
This is New England's tallest building and was designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei. It towers high above Copley Square and away from the high-rise area of downtown. The outside of the building is covered by mirror-like glass and the historic buildings are often reflected with subtle distortions of color and shape. This image of old and new side by side, together with the reflections, is often a popular subject for photographers. When it was first built, many of the 10,000 windows actually fell out because of changing heat and wind conditions. Thankfully this problem was soon resolved. After terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the popular 60th floor observatory was permanently closed due to security concerns.
Charles River Dam Visitor Information Center
Address: 250 Warren Avenue
Tel: +1 (617) 727 5114
Guided tours and a short presentation explain the history of the dam and how it actually operates. The Charles River is the stretch of water that separates Cambridge from Boston.
Other attractions worth a visit:
- Bay Colony Offices
- Bentley College
- Bentley University
- Brandeis University
- Burlington Mall
- Charles River Museum of Industry
- DeCordova Museum
- Fleet Center
- Garden in the Woods
- Gore Estate
- Gore Place
- Lahey Clinic
- Lyman Estate
- Historic Lexington / Concord
- McLean Hospital
- Paine House Estate
- Sports Hall of Fame
- Walden Pond
- Waltham Watch Factory