Heading to historic Massachusetts? Be sure to check out all the best things to do in Boston. The state capital and largest city in Massachusetts, Boston isn’t just the state’s cultural hub but one of the most important historic cities in the United States.
Whether you’re into history, culture, nature, arts, or sports, there’s something for every traveler in Boston. Each season brings something new, fresh, and exciting to experience. The top tourist attractions in Boston span everything from the Freedom Trail and Fenway Park to Boston Common and Harvard University.
Not sure what to do in Boston? Read on and plan the ultimate itinerary with this complete guide to the best places to visit in Boston, MA.
Must-see places to visit in Boston, MA
Want to see how the other half lives? Head to the Beacon Hill. Famous for its gorgeous streets, the gold-domed Massachusetts State House, and its ice rink in the winter months, the exclusive neighborhood oozes charm and is one of the most interesting places to see in Boston.
Wander down Beacon Street for its beautiful architecture and glamorous feel before turning onto Acorn Street to feel as if you’ve dived into years gone by. Exploring Beacon Hill is a great way to experience the different facets of Boston’s history and culture.
Don’t forget to take your wallet and dive into one of the many boutique stores and antique shops lining the streets of this upscale area.
Seeking out some peace and greenery in the heart of the city? Set your compass for Boston Common, the largest park in the city and one of the top Boston points of interest.
Spanning over 50 acres, this giant public park is a haven for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Much like everywhere in Boston, it also has historical provenance: Boston Common is the oldest park in the US, dating back to 1634.
Enter the park via the trendy and eclectic Charles Street, and enjoy both Boston Common and the neighboring Boston Public Gardens. In combination, it’s the perfect way to relax in your first 24 hours in Boston.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Consider yourself an American history buff? Then you’re going to want to get yourself to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, one of the city’s most important historic sites.
Located in the center of the city, this Boston institution was integral to the US independence planning process and played a part in Boston’s Underground Railroad network. Nowadays, the three historic market halls at Faneuil Hall Marketplace have been transformed into a hub of activity.
From restaurants & bars to shops, there’s plenty to see and do around Faneuil Hall—all while sitting in living US history!
Wanting to treat yourself or just indulge in some serious people-watching? Head down to Newbury Street in the Back Bay area of Boston, otherwise known as one of the most expensive streets in the world!
Home to luxury boutiques, upscale restaurants, and bars, Newbury Street is a must-see for those looking to add some glamour to their Boston visit. Whether you have cash to splash around or just fancy window shopping, there’s something to suit everyone along this popular stretch.
Running eight blocks around the Boston Public Garden area, Newbury Street is lined with gorgeous 19th-century brownstones that’ll have you dreaming about upscale Bostonian life!
Are you an avid sports fan with a soft spot for one of the oldest baseball franchises in the US? Then you’ll know the importance of Fenway Park.
As the home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park is a legendary stadium for any sports fan. Check their fixtures and try and catch a Red Sox game. Or, if it’s the off-season, take a guided tour around the baseball stadium? There are plenty of trophies and exhibitions around the stadium and the tour guides are excellent.
Whichever team you support—or if you don’t know the first thing about America’s favorite pastime—Fenway Park is one of the best places to go in Boston for the entire family.
Nothing says iconic Boston like hitting up the Freedom Trail. If you’re a fan of American history and want to walk in the steps of legendary American icons, there’s no better place to visit while visiting Boston.
Winding around the historic North End of Boston, the Freedom Trail follows a red-brick path spanning 2.5 miles between Boston Common and Bunker Hill. Walking along the path is the perfect way to spend an hour or two, wandering around and experiencing the power of American history.
Along the way, you’ll catch a glimpse of some of the city’s most important historical sites, including the Old North Church, Paul Revere House, and the Old State House.
If you’re looking for a free way to enjoy history in the beautiful open-air, then Freedom Trail needs to be at the top of your list of what to do in Boston.
Looking for somewhere beautiful and historic to grab a bite to eat? Look no further than Quincy Market, located next to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
Built by Josiah Quincy without any tax or debt, Quincy Market is now home to a huge food hall where you can buy groceries or grab a meal from a variety of stalls. The cuisines range from typical New England fare from lobster rolls to gelato to pastries, and more.
Enjoy the seating, upstairs or downstairs, and watch the world go by as you eat. Marvel at the historic architecture and ponder how this Boston icon has not only stood the test of time but thrived!
Interested in naval or military history? Be sure to check out the majestic USS Constitution during your trip to Boston. Sitting in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Bunker Hill, the ship is one of the top points of interest in Boston for history buffs.
Made famous for destroying five rival British ships and capturing numerous others in the war of 1812, the USS Constitution is a legendary ship and a huge part of American history. It’s actually the oldest commissioned ship in the entire US Navy!
You can take part in public tours of the USS Constitution from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 am and 6 pm, or enjoy a virtual tour from the comfort of your hotel room. We’d recommend going in person to appreciate the sheer scale of this US naval icon.
Bunker Hill Monument
Want to pay homage to the first fighters in the American Revolutionary War? Head to Bunker Hill Monument for a poignant reminder of those who gave their lives for freedom.
The Bunker Hill Monument is located on the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill, where one of the first battles between the redcoats and revolutionaries took place. The battle solidified Boston’s role in the war and set the stage for what was to come.
The first colossal obelisk erected in the United States, the Bunker Hill Monument paved the way for other iconic US monuments, including the famous Washington Monument in Washington, DC.
Boston Public Library
Consider yourself a bit of a bookworm? Well, the Boston Public Library will be your idea of absolute paradise and should be on the top of your list of what to see in Boston.
As a trailblazing institution for improving literacy and education, the Boston Public Library was the first free public library in America. It was also the first US library to lend books off the premises and the first to have a designated children’s room. Truly iconic!
If you’re looking to enjoy a book or two but don’t want to sit inside, head to Copley Square, a beautiful city square across from the library. As you thumb through the pages, keep an eye out for Trinity Church, Copley Square’s most defining feature.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Looking to inject some more art and culture into your Boston getaway? Hit up the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. At the popular art museum, you’ll enjoy world-renowned pieces in a Venetian Palazzo-inspired building.
Wondering where you might have heard about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum? In 1990, 13 pieces of priceless art—including Rembrandts, Vermeers, and even a Chinese Bronze—were stolen from the museum.
Enjoy the breathtaking works of art as you wander the architecturally fascinating halls. Before you leave, take a moment to relax in the museum’s iconic, Mediterranean-inspired courtyard, complete with a pond. Wow, we feel more cultured already!
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway
Wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Boston without leaving downtown? Running 1.5 miles through the heart of the city center, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway ticks all these boxes—and more!
Winding through Downtown Boston upon a former freeway, the 17-acre park offers green spaces, promenades, and plazas to enjoy, no matter where you’re exploring. This contemporary park, completed in 2008, is massively popular with tourists and locals alike, offering peace and tranquility in the center of Boston.
With multiple access points, you can enjoy Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway from various parts of the downtown area.
Looking to get out on the water and appreciate this beautiful city from the coast? Head over to the historic and stunning Boston Harbor. Made famous over the decades through trading—and for having copious amounts of tea dumped in its waters during the infamous Boston Tea Party—it’s one of Boston’s top tourist attractions.
Also known as the Seaport District, the Boston Harbor area is full of restaurants, cafes, and, of course, sightseeing cruises. Whether you’re visiting during the day or in the evening, the harborfront is a fantastic spot to explore.
Prefer to keep your feet on dry land? Enjoy the Boston Harborwalk as it winds around the coastline, taking in wharves, beaches, piers, and more.
Try and hit the harbor at dusk to see it all lit up; it’s the perfect end to a day exploring Boston.
Museum of Fine Arts
Want to check out one of the biggest art museums in the entire world? Save time for Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood. As it’s the 20th largest art museum in the world, you’ll find plenty to see and enjoy during your visit here.
With nearly 500,000 pieces of work to peruse, it would be easy to spend your entire trip at the Museum of Fine Arts, let alone just one day. As the galleries feature some of the world’s most renowned artists, you’re bound to see something you recognize—or find a new favorite.
If you’re traveling as a family, it’s worth noting that children under six get free entry to the Museum of Fine Arts. There are always age-appropriate interactive exhibits for the little ones to enjoy!
Paul Revere House
When you think of iconic tourist attractions in Boston, the Paul Revere House has to be near the top of the list. The former home of the legendary revolutionary, the house is often seen as pivotal to the success of the revolutionaries against the British.
Located in the North End neighborhood of Boston, this living museum has been painstakingly restored. It was the site where Paul Revere warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock that they were about to be arrested by the British, giving them the necessary time to hide and elude them.
As the Paul Revere House is small, you’ve got to reserve your visit slot in advance if you’re visiting as a group. Head to the official website to book before you arrive.
New England Aquarium
Got little ones in tow and need to escape the changeable New England weather? The New England Aquarium is bound to be a hit with visitors of all ages and interests.
From interesting exhibits and exotic wildlife to informative talks and tours, there’s a lot to love about this massive aquarium. Whether you’re a marine expert or don’t know a clownfish from an anglerfish, a good time is guaranteed at the New England Aquarium.
If you’re visiting between April and November, take advantage of the museum’s whale watch tours, lasting between three and four hours. It’ll be an amazing experience that you won’t forget anytime soon!
Museum of Science
Looking for a place for the entire family to spend the day while learning more about the world around us? There’s no better place than the Museum of Science, one of the city’s top family-friendly attractions and one of Boston’s must-see museums.
Located on the Charles River, this huge institution is home to thousands of displays and artifacts. The Museum of Science also offers a host of interactive exhibits, making it perfect for visitors of all ages and interests.
Choose from kicking back in front of an IMAX film, watching the stars in the planetarium, enjoying the temporary exhibits, or even wandering around the butterfly house. There’s truly something for everyone, and the sheer size of the place makes it ideal for a full-day excursion.
Interested in the wonderful world of nature and botany? You can’t go wrong with a visit to Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum.
As the oldest public arboretum in North America, the Arnold Arboretum is full to the brim with majestic trees of all species and origins. As it’s part of Harvard University, there’s plenty of research continually being done into the botany behind these natural giants.
The Arnold Arboretum is completely free to visit, so you can spend your entire day roaming around the 281-acre park. Get that nature fill and breath in that beautiful, fresh Boston air!
Want to feel like you’re out in the middle of nowhere while still being within travel distance of the city? Head to Castle Island for your escape. Located just off the South Shore of Boston Harbor, it’s one of the top day trips from Boston.
The name is a bit misleading: Castle Island hasn’t been an island since 1928 when it was linked back to the shoreline. Either way, this peninsula is a gorgeous stretch with great views back over to the city.
Castle Island is also home to an old military fort that holds informative and entertaining tours. All in all, it’s a great spot to while away a few hours. Alternatively, you can take in the island via boat on one of the many Boston Harbor sightseeing cruises.
Franklin Park Zoo
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Looking to get up close and personal with some of the most interesting animals on the planet? Check out the Franklin Park Zoo for a wild couple of hours.
Nestled in 72 acres of parkland, the Franklin Park Zoo has been operating since 1912 and is a Boston sightseeing favorite with visitors of all ages. The zoo’s most beloved residents include gorillas, red pandas, tigers, lions, giraffes, and more.
Each year for a month, the top cultural attractions in Boston offer Free Fun Friday, where admission is, you guessed it, free! Keep your eyes peeled at the Highland Street Foundation website to see if this happens during your stay.
Looking for a more indie and hipster spot to spend your time in Boston? Bow Market is the collaborative, creative hub that’s driving Boston’s art and food scene.
With over 30 independent food, art, and shops, Bow Market is the perfect place to support local artists, chefs, and performers. The market is located in an old storage building in the Somerville area of the city. If you’re looking for something a bit different, or you just want to support the community, this is the place.
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Bow Market also has a beautiful courtyard where you can sit and enjoy your meal or take in one of the many live events that they have on throughout the year. Check their events calendar to see what’s on during your visit.
Where to stay in Boston for sightseeing
For most travelers, the top choices for where to stay in Boston sit around the city center. Narrow your accommodation search to Back Bay, Downtown Boston, the Seaport District, and the North End. These areas & neighborhoods are close to the city’s top points of interest and offer travelers a barrage of great hotels.
Looking for a central hotel that won’t break the bank? Beeline for the citizenM Boston North Station. The rooms here are chic and cozy, offering a simple getaway just minutes from the action.
If you want to catch a show while visiting Boston, lay down your head at The Godfrey Hotel. Located in the Theater District, this modern hotel offers simple, cozy rooms pinned with modern decor. Spend time relaxing in the beautiful common areas, affixed with rich wood finishes and graceful stonework that hints of the Orient.
Want to splurge on a dash of luxury? Spend your nights at the W Boston. This top-notch luxury hotel charms guests with sleek modern designs that complement its world-class comfort. End your day of sightseeing with a craft cocktail at the bright W Lounge or a proper pampering at the on-site spa.