Things to do in Boston, MASSACHUSETTS

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Boston, the home of the American revolution, is a beautiful and historic city found at the mouth of the Charles River on America's east coast.

Get your bearings by walking the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile walk that takes in 16 of the American Revolution's most important landmarks.  They include Boston Common, the US's oldest public park, teeming with greenery and history.  Other highlights include the Boston Tea Party Ships and Faneuil Hall Marketplace.  

Art lovers can easily while away a day at the Museum of Fine Arts. For those who love sports, you must take in a game at Fenway Park, the oldest major league ballpark still in use. And then learn about JFK, America's most loved President, at the JFK Presidential Library.

1. Boston Museum of Fine Arts

The approach to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Monet's Grand Canal

Opened in 1876, and holding a collection of nearly half a million works, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is the city's premier tourist attraction.

Housed in a Guy Lowell designed neoclassical building, with a striking 500 foot long cut granite facade bordering the Avenue of the Arts, the MFA's collection is arranged into 11 exhibitions.

They include the 53-gallery Art of the Americas department, whose highlights include the Maya ceramics gallery, galleries devoted to John Singelton Copley and John Singer Sargent, the Hudson River School of landscape painting gallery, and the 1768 Sons of Liberty Bowl.

The Art of Europe collection is another must-see. Its gems include Monet's Haystack (sunset), Rembrandt's Artist in his Studio, Turner's Slave Ship (pictured), Degas' At the Races in the Countryside, Kirchner's Mountain Lanscape from Clavadel, a Bouleron Inkstand from 1876, a John Harris gilded silver casket from 1820 and Rodin's Psyche.

Of the other collections, we recommend Jewelry (which contains a fourth century BC oak wreath, an Ashbee arts and crafts broach, and a Marjorie Merriweather Post emerald and diamond brooch) and Contemporary (which displays Warhol's striking Red Disaster). The MFA offers excellent visitor amenities, including a free cloakroom, a cafeteria, two cafes and its Bravo fine-dining restaurant.

where? Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Avenue of the Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston. Closest T stops: Museum of Fine Arts (Green line); Ruggles (Orange line).

when? 10 am to 4.45 pm (late opening till 9.45 pm on Weds - Fri). Closed: New Year's Day, Patriots' Day (third Monday in April), Independence, Thanksgiving and Christmas days.

£$€¥ Adults: $22; Concessions: $20; Children: $10.

2. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The atrium of the JFK Presidential library displays a large American flag

John F Kennedy (1917-1963) was the 35rd President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963.

The JFK Presidential Library and Museum is the official repository of the Kennedy administration's papers and correspondence. The I.M. Pei designed building, constructed between 1977 and 1979, was largely funded by public donations made by over 30 million in the years after JFK's death; its most striking features are the 38-metre high triangular concrete tower block and 35-metre high glass atrium (pictured). President Jimmy Carter dedicated the building on 20 October 1979, at a ceremony attended by a number of the Kennedys.

Visitors are shown a film introducing JFK and the Library on arrival. They can then explore the Library and its first floor museum, which contains exhibitions devoted to the US Space Programme, JFK's public speeches, his political campaigns, the Oval Office, the First Lady and the wider Kennedy family.

Exhibits include gifts from heads of state (for example a gold and silver Lion of Judah Statuette presented to JFK in 1963 by the Emperor of Ethiopia), sculptures and paintings, and clothes worn by the First Lady.

where? John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125 (617) 514-1600. Toll free (866) JFK-1960. Take the Red line to JFK/UMASS Station (from which a shuttle bus to the Library runs every 20 minutes).

when? 9 am to 5 pm, 7 days a week. Closed New Year's, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

£$€¥ Adults: $12; Concessions: $10; Young adults (13-17): $9; Children 12 and under: Free.

3. Fenway Park

A Red Sox batter playing a bunt (© Parkerjh, CC-BY-3.0)

Built in 1912, and home to the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park is the oldest major league ballpark still in use.

Fenway is also one of the two remaining classic ballparks (the other being Chicago's Wrigley Field) and can fairly claim to be one of the world's most famous sporting venues.

Its characteristic dark green stands and clubhouse are nestled between adjacent buildings in downtown Boston. Known as a hitters' ballpark, Fenway has been continuously renovated since its construction but remains dripping with quirky charm.

For instance, it can seat only 37,500, making it one of the smallest major league ballparks, and contains a manually updated scoreboard, the famous Green Monster (a 37 foot high left field wall, which is a popular target for right handed hitters) and numerous 'restricted view' seats missing from more modern stadia.

But to the committed Red Sox fans these features are what make Fenway America's favourite ballpark. It proof were needed, it comes from the Red Sox having sold out every home game since May 2003—a run of over 700 consecutive matches.

where? 4 Yawkey Way, Boston, MA 02215.

when? The season runs from March to early October, with Fenway Park hosting about 12 home games each month.

£$€¥ Tickets range in price from between $12-$165 (2012 season).

4. Boston Common

Boston Common's boating lake An impressive fountain in the middle of Boston Common Beautiful roses growing in Boston Common

Boston Common, the oldest public park in the United States, is teeming with green and history.

Expanding across 50 acres, this park is an intricate part of the Boston experience. Once used as a common pasture ground for cows, it eventually became one of the most important green spaces in country and has witnessed several historical events.

It hosted the British army before two of the most important battles of the American War of Independence: The Battle of Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. It has also been the site of several protests throughout the years, including a riot in 1713 due to a food shortage, and Vietnam War protests in the 1960s. Key figures such as Martin Luther King have given speeches at the common.

Today, the Boston Common continues to hold a central place in the heart of Bostonians. Here is where they go for runs, have picnics with their families, stroll around, and watch baseball games.

The park is decorated with fountains, monuments, and ponds, and attracts both locals and visitors alike. It also marks the beginning of the historic Freedom Trail and has a Visitor’s Center that provides tourists with useful information about enjoying the city.

where?  The public park is located at the city centre. Given its location and size, you can access it multiple ways, depending on where you are coming from. It is serviced by several public transit stops.

when? Although the park used to be open 24/7, the tragic murder of two teenagers in 2007 saw the implementation of a curfew. Park hours are now from 7:00am to 9:00pm.

£$€¥ There is no price for visiting the Boston Common, so it is very easy to enjoy your time here without spending a dime. However, there might be activities within the park or on its outskirts that may cost money.

5. The Samuel Adams Brewery

The Samuel Adams Brewery, Boston. © Kafziel CC-BY-ASA-3.0 Samuel Adams

Get your tastebuds ready to immerse in one of America’s favorite national products.

If you’re a beer enthusiast, a stop at the Samuel Adams Brewery is a must on your list. There are few things that Americans love more than beer, and this brand is dear to their heart, as it is consistently recognized as one of the country’s best. Besides the regular beers, which include the original Boston Lager, there are four specialty brews released yearly for each season.

The Boston brewery is the smallest of the brand’s three sites. However, it is where every new brew is tested. As the official website states, “The Boston Brewery is where all of our beers get their start.” It is also the only facility that allows for public tours.

During these one-hour tours, you’ll get to see the inner working of the brewing process, and learn a bit about the history of the Boston Beer Company and the Samuel Adams brand.

Even more exciting, however, is the fact that if you’re over 21, you’ll actually get to sample some of the new brews being developed. Regardless of age, everyone also gets a small keepsake.

where? Some visitors complain that the brewery is outside of the city centre, but it is the perfect opportunity to see a less touristy part of Boston. It is located on 30 Germania St. To arrive, head to the Stony Brook station.

when? Tours are given every hour on Mondays through Saturdays. Hours are 10:00am to 3:00pm on Monday through Thursday, and Saturday, and from 10:00am to 5:30pm on Friday.

£$€¥ There is no price of admission charged for the tours, making it ideal if you’re on a budget. However, there is a suggested donation of $2. If you want to give more than that, unrestricted generosity is appreciated.

6. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Go back in time to learn about and participate in this infamous event of American history.

On December 16, 1773, the fate of the United States of America would change forever. Protesting high taxes and the lack of representation at the English Parliament, a group of colonists stormed ships and dumped tea into the Boston Harbour. Though a small act of protest, it is cited as one of the major events that led to the American War of Independence.

The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum brings the event back to life through a series of interactive exhibitions. With live-actors, holographs, and a short documentary, this floating museum seeks to educate people on the event and its consequences.

To make everything even more interesting, visitors board a fully restored tea ship, where they get to partake in their own Boston Tea Party and throw tea into the harbour. After the hour-long tour, you can cool off from the exhaustion of tea-throwing by spending some time at Abigail’s Tea Room or the gift shop.

where? The floating museum is, of course, located at the Boston Harbour, on 306 Congress Street. To arrive, take the Old Town Trolley to stop #17, the bus to Summer Street at Dorchester Avenue, or head to South Station.

when? Schedules for tours vary depending on the season. During in-season, tours operate from 10:00am to 5:00pm. During off-season, they operate from10:00am to 4:00pm. Tours take around an hour, so plan accordingly when deciding your time of arrival.

£$€¥   The regular price of admission is $26 for adults, $23 for students and seniors, and $16 for children. All tickets can be gotten for a moderatelyreduced price if bought online.

7. Paul Revere House

Paul Revere House in Boston

Relieve the height of the American War of Independence inside this historical house.

Paul Revere’s name has been immortalized in history books, films, and even poems. Known for being the Patriot who rode to warn the militia about the approach of the British army before the Battle of Lexington and Concord, it is no surprise that his house has been preserved. But besides being the home of a historical figure, the museum also provides an intimate look into what life was like in the late 18th century.

Located along the Freedom Trail, the small house is decorated with period furniture and trinkets, and it is the oldest remaining structure in the city’s Downtown. There is an Education and Visitor Center, as well as a gift shop and new interesting exhibits. This is the perfect place to learn about the history of the city as told by a physical landmark.

where?  The house is located at North End, on 19 North Square, next to North Square park. To arrive, take bus 4 to Commercial Street at Fleet street. 

when? The museum is open daily throughout most of the year, except on January through March, when it closes on Mondays. Operating hours vary by season, with the house opening from 9:30am to 4:00pm from November 1st to April 14th, and from 9:30am to 5:15pm from April 15th to October 31st. Tickets can only be paid in cash.

£$€¥ The price of admission is $3.50 for adults, $3 for college students, and $1 for children ages five to 17. Holders of the Go Boston Card get in for free.

8. Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Faneuil Hall, Boston Faneuil Hall Square, Boston (© Robert Linsdell, CC-BY-ASA-3.0)

Architecture, shopping, and history combine in perfect harmony at this incredible marketplace.

The Faneuil Hall Marketplace brings together four historic buildings to create a great shopping experience. It is composed by Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market, and South Market, and counts more than 100 shops and restaurants, meaning that the selection is quite varied and interesting. Quincy Market especially is known for the wide variety of cuisines it represents under its roof.

Even if you’re not interested in splurging, the marketplace is worth visiting just to see the beauty of the buildings and to walk around. Faneuil Hall usually gets the most attention for its historical significance. Since 1743, it has been an important place for public gatherings, and has witnessed several important historical moments, including Samuel Adams preaching for independence and Jonathan Mayhew’s coining of the phrase “no taxation without representation.” Because it was the site of several speeches preceding the American War of Independence, it is nicknamed The Cradle of Liberty.

where?  The marketplace is located along the Freedom Trail on 4 South Market Building. To access it, take the bus to Congress Street stop, or the “T” to the Aquarium, Haymarket, or Government Center stations.

when? Faneuil Hall Marketplace is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10:00am to 9:00pm, and on Sundays from noon to 6:00pm. However, it is important to keep in mind that all individual shops operate on their own schedule. If you have a specific store or restaurant you wish to visit, check the hours of operation beforehand.

£$€¥  Although some visitors head to the marketplace to stroll around without buying anything, most people come looking for some retail therapy, so it is advisable to bring enough money. Because of its central location and popularity, prices tend to be steeper than in other places in the city.