Many people choose to live and work in Boston because there’s so much to do in and around the city. That said, if you can’t spend a lifetime here, you can cover a lot of ground in just a few days. Boston is called one of America’s most walkable cities for good reason.
Fun Things to Do in Boston
If you’re wondering what to do in Boston, visiting world-renowned museums, country-defining historical monuments, and famous sports landmarks are just the start. Here are our recommendations for the top 10 things to do in Boston.
Take a Brewery Tour
Boston is a fairly sudsy town, being home to the beer that basically started the craft beer revolution, Sam Adams Boston Lager. That makes Sam Adams Brewery and Tap Room nearly as much of a required historical stop as Paul Revere’s house. The brewery offers free tours, though any donations will benefit local charities. Learn about the process and, of course, sample the goods. In the tap room, you’ll find experimental brews you can’t find anywhere else.
On the complete opposite end of town, Harpoon has been brewing craft beers on Boston’s waterfront for nearly as long. Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall also offers tours with samples. The beer hall serves beer alongside homemade savory and sweet pretzels with a variety of dipping sauce options. How else would you be able to sample all the beer flavors?
Ogle at Art
Perhaps the most well-known of the city’s art museums, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), has a permanent collection that spans artistic eras and media. The ancient world collection alone contains more than 85,000 antiquities from 6500 BCE to 600 CE, including mummies, musical instruments, and mosaics.
Just up the street from the MFA, the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is worth a visit, too, both for the collection and the Venetian-inspired architectural masterpiece in which the art is housed. The personal collection of Isabella and Jack Gardner features paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture, rare books, and more.
For a museum exclusively dedicated to modern art, the waterfront Institute of Contemporary Art mixes exhibitions with films, dance, music, talks, and events to achieve a better understanding of contemporary work. No matter what’s on at the museum, it’s sure to stir conversation.
Follow the Freedom Trail
This 2.5-mile trail is one of the quintessential things to do in Boston. Winding throughout the city, the trail takes you past 16 must-visit historical spots. You can walk the trail yourself (it’s well marked), or you can opt for a tour with a guide in period garb from the Freedom Trail Foundation. The stories they tell provide a richer context for the sites you’ll explore.
Sites along the trail include Bunker Hill, USS Constitution (Old Ironsides), Paul Revere House, Park Street Church, and Granary Burying Ground, where Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams, among others, are buried.
Hoof it Along Harborwalk
While many visitors walk the Freedom Trail, the newer and near-continuous 40-plus-mile Harborwalk along Boston’s waterfront is less (intentionally) trekked. If the mileage is a deterrent, consider focusing on chunks.
More than 40 parks plus numerous beaches and museums are along the route, including the site of the Boston Tea Party, Boston Children’s Museum, Castle Island, and Pope John Paul II Park Reservation.
Catch the Champions
Over the years, Boston has earned the name Titletown. While some visitors (ahem, Yankees fans) may argue, it’s worth trying to watch one of the teams in action while you’re in town. Depending on the season, try to score tickets for a Celtics, Bruins, or Red Sox game right in the city. If you’re willing to go further afield, seasonal light rail service connects Boston’s North Station to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, home of the New England Patriots and New England Revolution.
Stroll Newbury Street
Non-shoppers, hear us out: Newbury Street is worth a stroll if only to admire the brownstone buildings that line the eight blocks of this boutique- and café-littered road.
Shoppers won’t need any convincing to hit this thoroughfare of commerce, where you can find everything, including high-end designers, independent gift shops, second-hand boutiques, bars, restaurants, jewelry shops, home goods, coffee houses, and more.
Stare at the Skyline
The Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center is the perfect place to photograph a city panorama. An audio tour points out places of interest and a museum celebrates Boston’s diversity. But with a hefty price for admission, you may want to consider heading to the Top of the Hub instead. Located two floors above the Skywalk, the restaurant and lounge is known for its pricey food with a view. However, you may be able to snag a cocktail at the lounge for less than the prices of Skywalk admission.
At night, the skyline lights up and the lounge features live music. Just make sure you step up your style: The bar and lounge area is business casual, and short shorts, flip flops, beach attire, and athletic wear are not permitted.
Visit the Lawn on D
If you’ve checked off your must-dos and are in doubt about what to do in Boston, pay a visit to the Lawn on D. This community event space hosts events open to the public throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Outdoor games like bocce, ping-pong, cornhole, and Jenga provide the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon. Public art installations like Swing Time are a crowd favorite, allowing you to ride on giant circular swings that light up as you go.
Food and drinks are available for purchase. Check the event calendar for what’s going on while you’re in town—you may be able to catch a live show, movie, or fitness event.
Munch Your Way Through Markets
Perhaps one of the most fun things to do in Boston is try a range of local foods. Quincy Market is a well-trodden destination, but for good reason. You can find all the Boston essentials here: lobster rolls, chowder, clams, and Boston cream pie.
For a slightly more local crowd, Boston Public Market is home to more than 35 vendors, including farmers, fishers, and food entrepreneurs. Everything in the market is produced in New England. Besides being the best place to grocery shop, you’ll find prepared foods and other goodies, like natural stoneware, to take home.
Haymarket, one of the country’s oldest open-air markets, is the place to buy fresh, affordable produce on Fridays and Saturdays.
Suit up for the Symphony
Of all the things to do in Boston, catching a show is a must. The city is home to an internationally acclaimed ballet company and handfuls of theaters with staples like Blue Man Group and a rotating list of top plays, musicals, and bands.
But if you have time for just one, head to Symphony Hall to catch either the Boston Symphony Orchestra or the Boston Pops. To put the organization’s worldwide fame into perspective, consider this: The website, bso.org, is the most-visited orchestral website in the United States.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Boston Travel Guide
- 10 Best Hotels in Boston
- 10 Best Cheap Hotels in Boston
- 10 Great Hotels Near Fenway Park in Boston
- 10 Must-See Boston Attractions
- 10 Best Day Trips from Boston
- 10 Best Cheap Eats in Boston
- 9 Best Italian Restaurants in Boston
- The 10 Best Boston Food Trucks
- What to Wear in Boston
- What to Pack for Boston
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– Original reporting by Kate Sitarz