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Boston Harbor and skyline of the Financial District in Boston, Massachusetts
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The 10 Best Things to Do in Boston

SmarterTravel

Sample the lobster rolls, see the historic buildings, or hear that infamous accent in person—there are many reasons to visit Massachusetts’ capital city. Whether you’re a foodie looking to taste the best restaurants all in one place or a culture buff hoping to soak up some art and history, Boston has something to entice every type of traveler. Here are the 10 best things to do in Boston.

Caroline Morse Teel has lived in Boston for nearly 10 years. Her perfect Boston day would start with an acai bowl and espresso at Theo’s and end with a sunset kayak on the Charles.

Sample the City at Boston’s Best Food Halls

Bird's eye view of people clinking drinking glasses together over a table full of food
Rawpixel.com | Adobe Stock

Boston’s food hall scene has exploded over the past few years, leaving hungry visitors spoiled for choice when it comes to dining options. The city’s food halls are an affordable way to sample a number of Boston’s famous eateries—and are a great option for groups who can’t agree on a single restaurant. With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating available, food halls are also a smart option if you don’t want to make a reservation weeks in advance. 

The best Boston food halls are:

  1. Boston Public Market (Haymarket)
  2. Time Out Market Boston (Fenway)
  3. High Street Place (Downtown)
  4. Bow Market (Somerville)
  5. Hub Hall (North Station)

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is unlike any other museum. The museum occupies Isabella Stewart Gardner’s former mansion (which was modeled after a Venetian palace), and a visit here feels like attending an exclusive soiree at a wealthy friend’s home. Inside, priceless works of art are hung around a lush green courtyard—keep an eye out for the empty frames that await the return of art stolen in the museum’s famous 1990 robbery.

Fenway Park Game or Tour

Aerial view of Fenway Park baseball stadium in Boston, Massachusetts
Felix Mizioznikov | Adobe Stock

Fenway Park is nicknamed “America’s most beloved ballpark” for a reason. This historic stadium still retains features from when it was built in 1912, along with nods to famous players. If you’re visiting Boston during baseball season, grabbing tickets to a game is a great way to spend a few hours. 

If you’re not here during a game, a tour of Fenway Park is a great way to experience the ballpark, learn its history and get some cool photo opps. 

Stroll the Emerald Necklace

Make Way for Ducklings art installation in Boston Public Garden in Boston , Massachusetts
fototehnik | Adobe Stock

Need a respite from busy Boston? The city has a surprising amount of green space where you can relax in nature. Boston’s Emerald Necklace is a network of six Fredrick Olmsted-designed parks that stretches from Back Bay to Dorchester.

Download a map and walk the Emerald Necklace from beginning to end—or, if you’re not up for a seven-mile jaunt, pick just one park and pack a picnic. 

Take a Brewery Tour

Bird's eye view of friends clinking full beer glasses
New Africa | Adobe Stock

Sam Adams might be Boston’s most famous beer brand, but there are plenty of other local craft breweries for suds-lovers to explore in the city. Leave the driving to someone else and sign up for a brewery tour that will take you to hidden gems like Winter Hill Brewing Company, Slumbrew, Night Shift Brewing, and more.

If you’re visiting in the summer, conduct your own tasting by swinging by one of Boston’s lively popup beer gardens, like Cisco Brewers Seaport, Aeronaut Brewing, or Trillium’s Fort Point Beer Garden. 

Tea at the Boston Public Library

The Map Room Tea Lounge located inside the Boston Public Library in Boston, Massachusetts
Courtyard Tearoom | Map Room Tea Lounge

Housed in a stunning stone building, Boston Public Library’s famous Central library is on many Boston must-see lists. However, Boston locals know the secret attractions lie inside the library. Catch a free concert in the library’s gorgeous courtyard, and listen to classical or jazz music in the most beautiful setting. Or, stop by the library’s Courtyard Tea Room for high tea or the Map Room Tea Lounge for literary-inspired cocktails. 

Get Coffee and Cannoli in the North End

Sign welcoming visitors to Boston's North End
vivalapenler | Adobe Stock

There is an ancient rivalry that all Bostonians must pick a side on—is Mike’s Pastry or Modern Pastry better for cannolis? You’ll have to try both and cast your vote. In between bites, stroll around Boston’s North End, a charming Italian neighborhood with plenty of bakeries, pizzerias, and pasta shops. Hint: True locals know the best pastry is one that’s bought from Bova’s Bakery at 3 am (this old-school shop is open 24-hours). 

Pair your sweet treats with coffee from one of the many snug cafes on Hanover Street (or get a spiked coffee cocktail at Caffe Vittoria). Want to bring a taste of Boston home with you? Polcari’s Coffee features an impressive selection of coffee beans, spices, and teas that make great souvenirs. 

Take a Self-Guided Freedom Trail Tour

The Old State House in Boston, Massachusetts surrounded by new city buildings and roads
SeanPavonePhoto | Adobe Stock

Boston’s famous Freedom Trail makes it easy to see the city’s most famous sites. Start in Charlestown at the Bunker Hill Monument and follow the 2.5-mile red line that winds through 16 historic sites before ending at the Boston Common. 

To learn about what you’re seeing along the way, download the Freedom Trail Audio Tour from the National Parks Service, and follow along at your own pace.

Cruise the Boston Harbor

Aerial view of the Boston Harbor and surrounding city in Boston, Massachusetts
Crin | Adobe Stock

See the city from a different perspective on a Boston Harbor cruise. There are plenty of different options available depending on your interests. Cruise themes include whale-watching, tall ship sunset sails, party boats, or the famous Codzilla—a thrilling speedboat ride with spins and turns at up to 40 mph. 

You can get out on the water year-round in Boston, with heated boats offering Winter Wildlife Cruises or holiday-themed options

Go on a Ghost Tour

Trolley of the Doomed Boston Ghost Tour bus riding past historic buildings
Boston Tours

Boston was founded in 1630, and in a city this historic, there are bound to be some ghost stories. Hear them all (and learn some history) on a spookily entertaining ghost tour.

Board the Trolley of the Doomed to hear tales of the Boston Strangler, and visit the graves of John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Sam Adams. Or, search for spirits on foot with a family-friendly walking tour around town. 

Book Your Stay With SmarterTravel Hotels

Find the best Boston hotels at the lowest prices on SmarterTravel Hotels.

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