20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Boston
There's something for everyone in America's "Boston, a city of neighborhoods," a mix of arts and culture, iconic sites and dynamic cities. You'll find world-class art museums, elite theater, and a lively music scene, and the occasional celebrity strolling the red carpet. Explore for days and still be able to take a step back and reflect that you've explored so much.
Once your back is against the wall, find a quiet park bench or local watering hole and try to sit back and reflect. Our list of the best places to visit in Boston provides all the inspiration and motivation you need.
Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is one of the top museums in the US. An unmissable art collection and free admission makes it a place worth visiting if you can't afford to pay for an art gallery. Its collection of classical European paintings includes the Leonardo da Vinci oil painting The Last Supper, Dutch landscapes, and early American paintings by Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper. There is also a full collection of Japanese art, including important early Japanese prints. American Indian art is also represented, with works by John Trumbull and Thomas Cole in the permanent collection. The gift shop is the place to buy famous souvenirs, including reproductions of Norman Rockwell's paintings.
The Boston Common is a pleasant park in Boston. It is also the site of the old Boston Commons, one of the first squares in the American colonies. In the Boston Common of today, the trees date back to the 1800s. Also known for its ethnic diversity, Boston Common is a mixture of parks, pavilions and gardens, fountains and sculptures, greenbelts and gardens, public gardens and fountains, great ponds and a geyser. Boston Common is the location of the City of Boston's Marathon and Boston's Public Library and is also the location of the Boston Common Puppet Festival, the world's oldest and largest public puppet festival, which attracts thousands of visitors each year.
The Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail in Boston is a series of 19 sites connected by walking paths from the Boston Common to Bunker Hill. These sites are considered to be where the “shot heard ’round the world" occurred on the morning of April 18, 1775. The trail represents the march of patriots and British redcoats from the Lexington Green, through the Old North Church, the Old State House, and then the Town House, all the way to the Old Boston Common. The Boston Common is the starting point for this significant “walk", which can be extended if one desires to visit the homes of other patriots such as Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and more. As the footpaths are narrow and winding, one should exercise caution when traveling through the park.
South of the historic city of Boston, in the suburb of Brookline, Newbury Street is home to the largest concentration of important shops in the United States. The street is lined with luxury department stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co, and Saks Fifth Avenue, plus numerous exclusive boutiques. Newbury Street's longest section is a 4-block stretch between the Massachusetts Turnpike and the Fenway Green Line Station, known as "Fenway North." West of the station is a delightful section of the street known as "Fenway South," home to some of the best-known shopping destinations in Boston. The section extends from Newbury Street to Mass Ave. The area is a vibrant commercial district and some of the best-known stores in the world are located there. There are about 30 shopping centers in the area and more than 1,200 retail shops.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Located in the heart of Boston, this historic outdoor market was built in 1742 to connect New England's colonial shipping and trade with the bustling port of Salem. Originally the site of a market square, it is now home to more than 140 mostly crafts and antique shops, from which to purchase knick-knacks, souvenirs and quality souvenirs. An enclosed walkway leads visitors through the shops, lined with wooden booths and aisles. Among the well-known places for souvenirs is Chez Pierre, where many antiques and crafts are sold, and the Blue Mermaid restaurant, offering fine seafood.
Fenway Park was built in 1912 and is the oldest park in Major League Baseball. It is a part of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. Opened in 1912, Fenway Park is affectionately referred to as the "Church." Located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, the park is also one of the most historic baseball parks, hosting many famous athletes. With its stadium located only three blocks away from Boston's historic Freedom Trail, Fenway is arguably one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city.
The USS Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned naval ship still afloat, built in 1797. It has a long history of serving in the United States' armed forces, from being a riverboat during the War of 1812 to serving as a gunboat during the American Civil War. The Constitution earned a battle honor in Vietnam. The decommissioned battleship has become a tourist attraction in its own right, due in large part to the popular Ken Burns TV documentary series, "The War". It is docked in the Boston's historic Seaport Museum in Boston Harbor.
Museum of Science
Housed in a 19th-century mansion, the Museum of Science in Boston is home to several impressive galleries. The permanent exhibits present different aspects of the universe and include an impressive collection of astronomical and marine fossils. Exhibits on other subjects include exhibits on human origins, zoology, science and technology, environment and natural resources, and the history of the United States. With its curatorial emphasis on science and its hands-on displays, the museum is an especially excellent educational experience for children. Another excellent place to visit in the area is the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Copley Square, better known as "the Bean," is the heart of Boston's financial district, and is home to some of the city's top financial institutions, like Bank of America and the major New England offices of National Geographic and the Boston Globe newspaper. The square and surrounding blocks are packed with massive towers, glassy skyscrapers, towering office buildings, and marble and granite plazas. It's like a modern day European city right on the American Back Bay. But there's more to Copley Square than business: it's also the home to Boston Common, a charming city park, and the headquarters of the Boston Red Sox, one of the most storied sports teams in the US. Located at the center of Boston Common is the magnificent City Hall, with its white marble dome and intricate stonework. The City Hall hosts a lively farmers' market on Saturdays and Sundays from early spring through fall, and in the evenings many bars and restaurants line nearby Beacon Street. A stroll through the Common provides a feel of the colonial New England history, while browsing through the outdoor vendors and street entertainers with your kids is an excellent way to spend a sunny afternoon. You'll find sidewalk cafes and ice cream vendors. Boston Common is a mere 10-minute walk from the Copley Square. It's also accessible by the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) "T" from both North Station and Downtown Crossing.
Old North Church
Built in 1723, Old North Church (Hanover Street) was the first building in the country to be designed in the English-Colonial style. With its elegantly restrained interior, Old North Church is a fine example of early colonial architecture and one of Boston's oldest landmarks. A magnificent building it was also used for worship for over a hundred years. After church, enjoy the moody, white wooden building as it sits in the middle of bustling downtown Boston. The steeple's graceful design has been the subject of much literary and architectural analysis over the years.
Massachusetts State House
The Massachusetts State House, which was first erected in 1795, is the oldest continuously used state house in the US. The exterior is not particularly noteworthy. However, inside, visitors can wander among the past and present furnishings of the US Congress. There's a cool, history-filled reception area and an information desk, while the main building holds the Legislative Chamber and Executive Chamber, as well as the offices of the Massachusetts legislature. Among the famous Boston sights nearby are the historic Prudential Center and the Old North Church, a church-turned-concert hall where famous musicians perform.
The New England Aquarium
A must for any lover of animals, The New England Aquarium has nearly 700 aquatic species of fish, invertebrates, birds, mammals and reptiles on display. If that's not enough to please your inner animal lover, exhibits such as the Penguin Encounter, where they host their feathered friends, and the Penguin Harbor feature a broad collection of marine and freshwater creatures ranging from the scuba-diving Wobbegong Seahorse to the ornamental frogs. The current Penguin Pavilion and Coral Reef are home to marine mammal programs. Marine programs include nursing opportunities for Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and sub-Arctic fur seals; special enrichment programs for California sea lions and gray whales; and education programs for Virginia tideland mudskippers. The Dolphin Theater show "Underwater Kingdom" at the Dolphin Pavilion has something for everyone, with dolphin feeding, interactive shows and more. Other attractions include the "Tidbit Pavilion" where guests can see a variety of marine and terrestrial animals as well as the Aquarium's dedicated support for marine science and conservation. Another highlight is the Maritime Aquarium at the Boston Harbor which showcases the history of the area's fishing industry and provides a chance to learn about the local seafood.
The North End of Boston's Back Bay has a rich history, from bustling, 19th century marketplaces, to a New England hot-dog cuisine that hasn't changed much in over a century. The area has a vibrant student population and several beautiful institutions. Tourist sights include the beautiful Trinity Church, an 1820 white granite Gothic structure, and the the landmark First Church of Christ, Scientist, also dating to 1820, and now owned by the Universalist Church. The area has a number of bars and restaurants, although the two main sections for nightlife are the sections of Washington Street near Mass Ave., the main drag, and Davis Square. North End, Boston, USA
Located in Boston's "Back Bay," Esplanade features restored period buildings and ample open space that is perfect for an afternoon stroll or for events such as free concerts or festivals. At the heart of the Esplanade is the Boston Common, where you can find the famous Old State House and the Faneuil Hall Marketplace with its many souvenir shops. It's just a short walk to Logan International Airport. Esplanade can be easily accessed from Chinatown, from the North End, and from the Fenway Park and MBTA subway stations.
The Public Garden is the most popular spot in the city for both residents and visitors and is located on Commonwealth Avenue in the heart of the downtown area. Featuring a Boston Common-type area where people spend time strolling through the landscaped rose gardens, through the Civil War memorial, and along the edge of the Charles River. Other sights in the park include the Veterans' Park, Veterans Monument, Arnold Arboretum, and the Rose Garden. For those who would like to spend more time exploring this park, bus stops and the T stop, are located along the Esplanade.
The USS Constitution Museum
Located on the famous Charles River Esplanade in Boston's historic Beacon Hill neighborhood, the USS Constitution Museum tells the story of the U.S.S. Constitution, the nation's oldest commissioned warship. One of only two surviving Revolutionary War-era U.S. warships, the Constitution is actually the fourth-largest warship in the U.S. Navy today. Inside the museum, visitors can explore the history of the nation's most iconic warship with exhibits, interactive displays, videos, and objects and art from the vessel's long, storied history.
The Old State House
The Old State House is a historical building in Boston, which is today the center of state government and home to a city museum. Its connection to America's past is in its location near the site of the Boston Massacre, and in the rooms where Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry and others held meetings. Originally built as the Boston State House, the building served as the official residence of Massachusetts governors from 1795 to 1847.
Mt. Auburn Cemetery
Dating to 1841, Mt. Auburn is the second-oldest cemetery in the United States. Over seven decades of history have endowed the cemetery with beautifully designed sections and monuments, richly patterned patterns of trees and foliage, and elaborate statuary, all overseen by the Mt. Auburn Cemetery Company. Located in the Roxbury section of Boston, it is surrounded by scenic open space. Highlights include the cemetery's 71.5-acre Cemetery Arbor, an impressive grove of fully mature and original trees, and numerous memorials of note.
Located on the north side of Beacon Hill, this historic district is bordered by the Washington Street Bridge, Tremont Street, and Beacon Street. The oldest part of the district, on Beacon Hill proper, is home to many of Boston's oldest buildings, including the Old State House (1795). It's possible to tour the Old State House but it is also open on a limited basis, which is quite nice since it's a national historic site. The adjacent Public Garden and Boston Common are filled with attractions and an abundance of green space, including the Boston Common Frog Pond, the Green Gallery, the New Public Garden, and the John F. Kennedy Memorial.
The Prudential Center
The Prudential Center, at one time the tallest building in the world, is the headquarters of the Prudential Insurance Company of America, Inc. Its location in the center of Boston provides a great city view and a glimpse of the newest skyscraper in New England. Most tourists visit the Prudential Center to take in the indoor and outdoor atrium displays and sculptures, enjoy the foods and beverages offered in the nearby Prudential Center Copley Place, have an ice cream at the Prudential Center Ice Cream Shop, or just to enjoy the height, unique architecture, and amazing view from the Skywalk on the 41st floor of the skyscraper.