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Find Your Dream Hotel Close to Downtown Austin, TX

Are you looking for the perfect hotel to stay in while visiting downtown Austin, TX? Look no further. Austin is a vibrant city with plenty of options for lodging, and there are plenty of hotels close to downtown that offer great amenities and unbeatable convenience. Here are some tips on how to find your dream hotel close to downtown Austin.

Check Out the Reviews

Before booking a hotel, it’s important to read reviews from past guests. This can give you an idea of what other people thought about their stay and what kind of amenities the hotel offers. You can find reviews on websites like TripAdvisor or Yelp, or you can even ask friends and family who have visited the area for their recommendations.

Look for Special Deals

Many hotels offer special deals and discounts for visitors, so it’s worth checking out what’s available before booking. You can often find great deals on websites like Hotels.com or Expedia, so be sure to take advantage of these discounts when possible. Additionally, many hotels offer loyalty programs that provide discounts for repeat customers.

Consider Location

When looking for a hotel close to downtown Austin, it’s important to consider the location and proximity to attractions. Many hotels are located within walking distance of popular attractions such as the Texas State Capitol Building or Lady Bird Lake, making them ideal for those who want easy access to all the sights and sounds of downtown Austin. Additionally, some hotels offer shuttle services that make getting around town even easier.

Finding the perfect hotel close to downtown Austin doesn’t have to be difficult. With a bit of research and planning, you can easily find a great hotel that offers unbeatable amenities and convenience at an affordable price. So don’t wait – start your search today and find your dream hotel close to downtown Austin.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


best places to visit downtown boston

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Things To Do In Downtown Boston

Downtown Boston is a cultural and historical hub with exciting things to do for visitors of all ages. From iconic landmarks to cozy cafés, this bustling city will captivate those who venture downtown and let them explore the full extent of its beauty. With its abundance of restaurants, bars, cultural attractions, parks, and more, there are plenty of activities and experiences to enjoy in the city’s vibrant hub. From hitting up the historical Freedom Trail to admiring modern art in the Institute of Contemporary Art, this guide outlines the best things to do in downtown Boston.

rose kennedy greenway

Rose Kennedy Greenway

The Rose Kennedy Greenway is a beautiful ribbon of parks, plazas, and gardens in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Spanning over one mile and connecting several neighborhoods, the 17-acre Greenway is a vibrant and ever-changing public space that provides free, year-round experiences to locals and visitors alike. With a network of contemporary artwork, lush landscape, dynamic open space, and a Water Feature, the Rose Kennedy Greenway is a place for art and culture, play, and exploration—all for the public to enjoy. The Greenway also features an innovative Horticultural Program that cultivates various plants, from fruits and vegetables to native and international species, while providing educational opportunities and green spaces throughout the Greenway.

faneuil hall marketplace

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Faneuil hall.

Faneuil Hall, built in 1742 in Boston, Massachusetts, has served as a marketplace, a meeting hall, and a stage for America’s independence movement. Today, it symbolizes American freedom, housing a famous bronze statue of Revolutionary War Hero Samuel Adams. It has been used for political gatherings and speeches, including several by fellow Revolutionary War leader Patrick Henry. It also served as a meeting place for abolitionists, where fiery debates over the future of slavery took place. Today, Faneuil Hall remains a popular destination among locals and visitors to Boston, often hosting seasonal festivities. It is also a significant stop on the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path that tells the history of the American Revolution . Its impressive architecture and rich historical significance remain an iconic part of Boston’s culture and its place in American history.

Boston Opera House

Boston Opera House

The Boston Opera House is a breathtakingly beautiful example of Beaux-Arts architecture from the early twentieth century. Located in the city’s Theater District, this stunning monument has been a cultural attraction since its opening in 1928. The interior comprises luxurious red and gold decorations, intricate chandeliers, and an ornate grand staircase. Guests can purchase tickets for various events , including symphony performances, opera, ballet, and Broadway shows. The Boston Opera House season runs from October to May, and visitors can take guided tours of the building throughout the summer. This National Historic Landmark continues to entertain and amaze guests, making it one of Boston’s most beloved and treasured venues.

The Wilbur Theatre

The Wilbur Theatre

The Wilbur Theatre is a historic theatre located in Boston’s historic Theatre District. Initially opened in 1913, it has been fully restored to its original appearance and is now used for various events, including comedy, music, lectures, and more. The Wilbur Theatre features a vast main floor seating area, two balconies, and two side boxes. A state-of-the-art audio and lighting system provides excellent sound quality for its guests. Additionally, the theater offers private rooms for food and drinks and a VIP lounge for a truly exclusive experience. With its rich history and world-class atmosphere, the Wilbur Theatre is one of the best places to experience the best of Boston’s entertainment.

Silvertone Bar & Grill

Silvertone Bar & Grill

Silvertone Bar & Grill in Boston offers a classic Americana dining experience. Their menu features traditional dishes such as steaks, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers, along with ethnic entrees and fresh seafood selections. They also offer innovative craft cocktails, beers, wines, and spirits to complement the menu. The restaurant’s atmosphere provides a unique industrial style that includes exposed brick, vintage chandeliers, and brass details. There is plenty of seating, including couches and booths, for those looking for a more laid-back experience. Reservations are welcome, and discounts are available for groups of five or more. Whether you are looking for a casual meal with friends or a romantic night out, Silvertone Bar & Grill in Boston provides an unforgettable experience.

brattle book shop boston

Brattle Book Shop Boston

Brattle Book Shop

Brattle Book Shop is a renowned secondhand and rare bookshop in Boston, Massachusetts. Established in 1825, this family-run business offers customers a vast selection of used, rare, out-of-print, and antiquarian books. Along with its extensive catalog of books, Brattle Book Shop regularly hosts events that bring together leading figures from the local literary community, such as author readings and book signings. The shop even has its blog, which provides customers with updates on upcoming events and provides engaging book reviews. Brattle Book Shop is a popular destination for book lovers everywhere, thanks to its unbeatable selection, knowledgeable staff, and customer-friendly policies.

Quincy Market

Quincy Market

Quincy Market, located in downtown Boston is a historic landmark that attracts millions of tourists from across the globe each year. It is one of Boston’s oldest markets, built in the 19th century. The market consists of a two-story granite building with more than 40 unique shops and restaurants. It also features a variety of fresh seafood, pastries, and chocolates. Some popular shops include Legal Sea Foods, Nature Food Bazaar, and Murray’s Cheese. The Quincy Market is also known for its musical entertainment and special events, such as the Jazz and Oyster Festival. The Quincy Market is great for finding unique items, sampling delicious food, watching street performers, and learning about history. It is a great place to experience Boston’s flavors, culture, and charm.

Historic Taverns & Irish Pubs

Historic Taverns & Irish Pubs

The historic taverns and Irish pubs of the United States are some of the country’s most beloved institutions. These beloved eateries and watering holes have played a significant role throughout the centuries and remain integral to the country’s culture and identity. Dating back to colonial times, the taverns and pubs of the United States are among the oldest establishments in the country, often serving as hubs for locals to meet and relax, waterfront docking ports for goods and goods, and occasional sites of significant political debates and events. Today, many old and historic taverns still feature iconic stool-lined bars, intimate dining rooms, and perhaps most importantly, delicious food and cold drinks – they continue to satisfy the people of the United States with their unique character, their stories, and their ability to bring people together in one place.

freedom trial walking tour blog

Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path located in Boston, Massachusetts. Established in 1951, the Freedom Trail offers a unique way to explore and learn about sites of historical significance, including churches, government buildings, cemeteries, and other landmarks. Taking a self-guided tour along the Freedom Trail is a fantastic way to experience and understand the events that created this great nation. During the tour, visitors can explore the sites and listen to stories about the birth of the American Revolution. Additionally, people can explore the rich history and culture of the United States by visiting places like the USS Constitution Museum and the Boston Tea Party Museum . Today, more than 4 million people explore the Freedom Trail each year, providing a unique educational experience for all.

Boston sightseeing tour bus

Boston Sightseeing Tour Bus

Explore Downtown with Boston Sightseeing Tour Bus

Exploring Boston with the Boston Sightseeing Double-Decker tour bus is a great way to see all of the city’s attractions. Sit on the top deck and enjoy the panoramic views as you go through the town. Learn interesting facts about the past and present of Boston as the tour bus rolls through the Downtown Crossing neighborhood, Beacon Hill, Charles River Esplanade, Back Bay, and more. Tour guides provide interactive quizzes and interesting historical facts about the city for a unique, immersive experience. With convenient hop-on and-off options, riders can explore the city at their own pace, making multiple stops to learn more about the significance of a given location or hop off at a restaurant for lunch. Touring Boston on this double-decker bus adds an extra fun and unique element to any trip to the city.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is a popular gathering spot and shopping destination. Built in 1742, the Marketplace is a national historical landmark with a unique blend of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The site offers over 140 vendors featuring various items, from souvenirs and apparel to books and jewelry. The Marketplace also features a wide selection of eateries, ranging from seafood and sandwiches to ice cream and crepes. Visitors can also enjoy live performances from street musicians in the outdoor area. Additionally, the site is home to several historical monuments, including the statue of Samuel Adams. Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a vibrant, lively destination that draws thousands of tourists annually.

museum of fine arts boston

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Museum Of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is a world-renowned institution and one of the largest art museums in the United States. It has a collection of over 450,000 works of art from ancient times to the present day, as well as two research libraries and numerous conservation laboratories. Visitors can explore famous and unknown works from every corner of the world, including European and American Art, photography, prints and drawings, textiles and costumes, Islamic art, Asian art, and contemporary art. Temporary exhibitions add even more to the variety and scope of the museum’s offerings, providing ever-changing perspectives for visitors to enjoy. The MFA also encourages its visitors to partake in interactive experiences such as classes, lectures, workshops, and family-friendly activities, keeping the museum both educational and entertaining.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a remarkable example of exquisite art, architecture, and design. It was founded in 1903 by the formidable Isabella Stewart Gardner. Throughout her lifetime, Isabella Gardner acquired an extensive collection of art worldwide. She bequeathed her entire collection and her beautiful Venetian-style home and garden to the public for the enjoyment of all. Today, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum still houses more than 2,500 works of art, including European, Asian, and American paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and decorative arts. They also feature unique exhibitions, educational programs, and special events. Its unique atmosphere and vibrant programs have earned the museum numerous awards and an international reputation. Visitors are invited to explore the museum to discover its unique charm.

Final Words

Overall, Downtown Boston offers an abundance of fun and exciting activities. From exploring the historical sites, taking advantage of the vibrant cultural programs, and shopping to dining, there is something to suit everyone’s taste and style. Whether you come to shop, find entertainment, or dine, Downtown Boston is a must-visit destination for all.

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Boston Discovery Guide

Historic Downtown Boston

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Historical Downtown Boston: 10 Top Things to Do & See

Historic Downtown Boston encompasses much of the oldest and most historic areas of the city.

This is where you'll find numerous Freedom Trail sites, Haymarket, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and a lively mix of historic taverns and Irish pubs.

This historic area, sandwiched between Beacon Hill, Boston's Financial District, the West End neighborhood, and part of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, is where you'll find some of the city's iconic landmarks, historic markets, favorite night spots, hotels, and restaurants. 

Don't be surprised if you see costumed reenactors walking down the street, as well as costumed tour guides leading groups of visitors.

Almost every sightseeing tour takes you through this area, but you'll also find it fascinating to explore on foot because there are so many interesting things to see and do here.

It's also a terrific area to stay. 

Historic Downtown Boston hotels include luxury options as well as mid-range choices.  All offer ideal locations for exploring both modern and historic Boston sites, nearby neighborhoods such as Beacon Hill and the North End, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway and waterfront departure points for Boston Harbor cruises.

Top photo: Costumed Reenactors on Marshall Street near The Point in Historic Downtown Boston, with the Bostonian Boston Hotel and Haymarket in the background

Boston Discovery Guide is a reader-supported publication.  When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost for you.  Learn more

1.  Freedom Trail - Historic Downtown Boston Sites

Charles Street

Boston's 2.5 mile Freedom Trail links together sites involved in the development of American liberty - and you'll find many of them in the Historic Downtown Boston area.  

Start at Boston Common at the Park Street/Tremont Street intersection, and follow the red stripe to these sites:

  • Park Street Church - Site of pivotal events related to social justice, and home to an active congregation.  Visitors are welcome from Tuesday through Saturday (small donation welcome).
  • Granary Burying Ground - Picture-perfect 17th century graveyard.  Look for grave stones marking the final resting place of famous patriots, Revolutionary War heroes, and colorful citizens. 
  • Kings Chapel - More interesting inside than it appears on the outside - go in for a quick tour or even better, catch one of the Tuesday noon concerts.  Small donation requested.
  • Kings Chapel Burying Ground - Old stone markers carved with skulls, crossbones, and angels at the graves of Boston's first generation of English settlers.
  • Benjamin Franklin statue - In the Old City Hall courtyard (45 School Street).  Nice photo opp - but if you're visiting with kids, the donkey on the other side of the courtyard is even better!
  • Old Corner Bookstore - Interesting to walk by because it is one of Boston's oldest brick buildings.  Look for the Irish Famine Memorial across the street.  The two large sculptures of a family symbolize the 100,000 refugees who fled the Irish Famine and came to Boston in the 1840s.  The first sculpture depicts starvation and despair as the family leaves Ireland, and the second celebrates their joy and prosperity in Boston, sometimes called the "capital of Irish-America."
  • Old South Meeting House - Where the Boston Tea Party began.  Now a museum with interactive exhibits about the start of the American Revolution in Boston.  Admission fee; enter free with GoBoston discount card .
  • Old State House - Another site where Royalists and Patriots clashed before the Revolution began.  Now a museum - displays include tea from the Boston Tea Party, John Hancock's coat, and Paul Revere's famous Boston Massacre engraving.  Admission fee; enter free with GoBoston discount card
  • Boston Massacre site - Granite paver blocks and memorial inlaid in the sidewalk under the East Balcony of the Old State House where the Redcoats killed five Colonists.  The Boston Massacre is re-enacted here each March (see our March Events Calendar for details).
  • Faneuil Hall - The original building erected in1742 in a Colonial-era market place that now, along with three other buildings, forms the popular shopping complex, Faneuil Marketplace.   Faneuil Hall is still used for concerts and public events.  Go inside and look around at the paintings and formal interior design on the second floor.  Park Rangers give free presentations about the building's history. 

Freedom Trail Tours in Historic Downtown Boston

Virtually all Freedom Trail Tours include most of these sites in the Historic Downtown and give you a fun way to see this part of Boston!

2.  New England Holocaust Memorial

Louisburg Square, Boston MA

The Boston Holocaust Memorial 's six soaring glass towers provide a moving reminder of the 11 million people murdered by the Nazis before their defeat in 1945. 

Walk through the outdoor memorial and read the inscriptions; best for ages about 12 and up.  Located between Congress and Union Streets, near Faneuil Hall Marketplace.  Free.

More about the Boston Holocaust Memorial .

3.  Orpheum Theatre in Historic Downtown Boston

Orpheum Theatre entrance at 1 Hamilton Place off Tremont Street in Boston

The Orpheum Theatre looks unpromising on the outside, if you can even find its almost-hidden location at 1 Hamilton Place, which is a short alley off Tremont Street across from Granary Burying Ground.  Its original lobby/main entrance on the other side of the building now serves as retail space - yes, totally bizarre. 

However, this historic concert hall dating back to 1852 is something of a Boston "insider's secret," legendary for its rock concerts and terrific acoustics.  It is also much larger than you might expect, with seating for 2,800.  Shows include an eclectic mix of mostly concerts, along with occasional comedy shows and family-friendly favorites for kids. 

Schedules & Tickets

Enter DISCOVERY10 to save 10% on TicketLiquidator  & TicketNetwork tickets.  Good through 12/31/24.

best places to visit downtown boston

More Orpheum Theatre Tickets

4. Historic Taverns & Irish Pubs in Boston's Historic Downtown

Green Dragon Tavern, where Boston's Sons of Liberty eavesdropped on Redcoats and planned their Tea Party

Historic taverns and Irish pubs in the area around Faneuil Hall Marketplace add up to a very lively nightlife. 

You'll hear plenty of live Irish and other music, and probably encounter lots of revelers, especially on the weekend.  Comedy clubs add to the merriment. 

Come for lunch or in mid-afternoon for a more relaxed atmosphere.

Here are some favorites where you'll find excellent brew and decent-to-great pub food: 

  • Hennessey's (25 Union Street) - Irish bar with live music, karaoke, DJs.  Sometimes a small cover.
  • The Black Rose (160 State Street) - Very good reasonably priced pub food (including breakfast) with an Irish twist, live music every night, and plenty of Guinness.  Top Irish musicians have played here, including U2.  Nice fireplace upstairs.
  • Green Dragon Tavern (11 Marshall Street) - Historic tavern; pleasant place to stop for a drink and nachos.  Live music on weekends and some week nights.
  • Bell in Hand (45 Union St) - Historic establishment, with great window tables for people-watching, and live music, karaoke, DJs, and dancing upstairs; cover on weekends.
  • The Point (147 Hanover Street) - Small bar with live music downstairs and a DJ upstairs on Friday and Saturday nights.  Pub food such as burgers, quesadillas, and fried seafood.
  • Cheers  (Faneuil Hall Marketplace) - Replica of the Cheers bar in the famed TV show (exterior shots show the Bull and Finch in Beacon Hill).  Sure, it's touristy - but still a lot of fun.  Come for the beer, burgers, ambiance, and outdoor seating during warm weather.
  • Ned Devine  (Faneuil Hall Marketplace) - Combo Irish pub/restaurant/club, with outdoor seating, plus darkly atmospheric dining upstairs.  Famous for their clam chowder.  Live music, DJs, dancing on weekends; cover.

More about Boston's historic taverns

More about Boston's Irish pubs

5.  Haymarket & the Blackstone Block

Haymarket vendor

Haymarket, Boston's famous centuries-old outdoor market, pops up by the Bostonian Hotel on North Street on Fridays and Saturdays to offer the best deals in the city on a huge selection fresh produce.  

Located close to the Freedom Trail in the historic heart of Boston, Haymarket and the small brick-and-mortar food shops lining Blackstone Avenue form a vibrant market district along with Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Boston Public Market.

If you're at Haymarket, spend a few minutes exploring nearby Blackstone Block (bounded by Union Street, North Street, Blackstone Street, and Hanover Street), where you'll find narrow cobblestone lanes dating back to the 17th century and are believed to follow the original pattern laid out by the Puritans.  Devastating fires caused early wooden buildings to be replaced with many of the brick buildings you can still see today.

History buffs will also want to look for Ebenezer Hancock House nearby at 10 Marshall Street.  Built in 1767, it was owned by John Hancock (signer of the Declaration of Independence) and occupied by his younger brother, Ebenezer, disburser of money to the Continental Army during the American Revolution.   It's now used as offices, so you can't tour - but the exterior along with the rest of the street gives you a sense of what this area might have looked like during the eighteenth century.

More about Haymarket

6.  Boston Public Market

Local cheeses on offer at Boston Public Market

Boston Public Market (100 Hanover Street), also located in the historic market area encompassing Haymarket and Faneuil Marketplace, is an indoor market featuring local and New England food and products from 40 vendors.

In addition to wonderfully fresh seasonal fish, meat, and produce, look for specialty food entrepreneurs offering fruit vinegars, artisinal cheeses and cured meats, locally produced chocolate products, freshly roasted specialty coffee, local wines, gourmet doughnuts - you get the idea!

There are even a few vendors selling items perfect for gifts - polished serving trays made from local granite, beautiful salad bowls carved from felled (local) trees, lots of flowers.

A number of the vendors offer prepared foods - perfect to carry across the street to the Greenway for a picnic.

Boston Public Market offers a number of interesting events throughout the year.  Check their website for schedules and more information.

7.  The Greenway

Chinatown Park in Boston's Greenway

The Rose Kennedy Greenway stretches along the eastern side of Historic Downtown, forming a ribbon-like park from the North End to Chinatown.

Even though it's new, not historic, take a few minutes or a couple of hours to explore all or part of it.  Look for the distinct sections, each with its own attractions such as art, a carousel, fountains, a seasonal beer garden, lush plantings, and grassy fields, and plenty of benches and tables for relaxing.

More about the Greenway

8. Union Oyster House & Other Historic Restaurants

Union Oyster House in Boston's Historic Downtown

In addition to its historic taverns, this part of Boston offers several historic restaurants serving up specialties that continue to attract enthusiastic fans:

Union Oyster House (41 Union St; 617-227-2750) - Historic seafood restaurant open since 1826, and still one of Boston's best.  Specialties include their famous oyster bar, whole steamed lobsters, and New England shore dinners.  More Boston seafood restaurants

Parker House Bar (60 School St) at the Omni Parker House Hotel, once the meeting spot of the Saturday Club including members such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Henry David Thoreau.  Or have a meal in the Parker House Restaurant, which specializes in New England classics and local seafood and is famous for originating Parker House Rolls and Boston Cream Pie.  More about the Omni Parker House Hotel.

More places to eat in Boston's Historic Downtown area:

  • 9 Park Street (9 Park St) - Renowned Chef Barbara Lynch's wonderful Italian-French cuisine features mostly local and New England ingredients and exquisite wine pairings in an elegant townhouse overlooking Boston Common.  Expensive.  Bar menu is a relative bargain.  (If you dine here and fall in love with the food, check out her cookbook: Stir.
  • Marliave (10 Bosworth St; don't miss the espresso bar on the lower level) - Oldest chef-owned restaurant in Boston, first open in 1885 - serves delicious French-Italian cuisine, including possibly the best shrimp scampi in the city.
  • Mooo (15 Beacon St; 617-670-2515, at the Fifteen Beacon Hotel) - Deservedly one of Boston's top steakhouses; seafood is also excellent.  Come for a special occasion, or when you're on an expense account.  Top picks: beef Wellington, lobster, and any of the steaks.  More about the luxury boutique Fifteen Beacon Hotel
  • Scollay Square (21 Beacon St, 617-742-4900) - Bistro in a historic 1899 building near the Massachusetts State House, with raised patio dining overlooking Beacon Street. 
  • Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall Marketplace - An English-style food hall lined with 35 stalls offering local specialties such as chowder and lasagna, plus homemade-type food from around the world.  Gets VERY congested around midday. 

9.  Faneuil Marketplace

Quincy Market building in Faneuil Marketplace

Although you'll find small specialty shops as well as a few street vendors scattered throughout the Historic Downtown Boston area, Faneuil Marketplace dominates the shopping scene in this area.

Part historic site ( Faneuil Hall puts it on the Freedom Trail ), part shopping and restaurant complex, and part entertainment center, Faneuil Marketplace's four historic buildings and outdoor courtyards have something for everyone.  Browse in unique specialty boutiques, visit your favorite national or international brand stores, check out the interesting offerings from cart and kiosk vendors. 

Street performers entertain crowds during the summer, special events take place all year, and if you're here between Thanksgiving and New Year, be sure to come see Blink!, a spectacular outdoor light and music show.  More about Blink!

More about Faneuil Marketplace

10.  Boston Athenaeum

Boston Athenaeum

Boston Athenaeum (10 1/2 Beacon Street, on the Freedom Trail) is a membership library dating back to 1807 filled with books, art, and other treasures - truly one of Boston's gems.

If you're visiting Boston and want to explore more than the usual well-known attractions, the Boston Athenaeum will give you a glimpse the city's rich literary heritage.

Non-members can explore the first floor exhibition galleries, join a free 60-minute tour focusing on the library's architecture and museum-quality fine arts collection, and attend evening lectures open to the public. 

Tours usually take place on Saturdays and one or two other days during the week; small admission and tour fees apply for non-members.  Check www.bostonathenaeum.org for event calendar and tour registration information.

Historical Downtown Boston Hotels

To explore Boston's Historic Downtown area, stay in a nearby hotel, such as the luxurious Bostonian Boston Hotel with rooms overlooking Faneuil Marketplace:

Bostonian Boston Hotel, top choice near Boston's City Hall Plaza

More top hotels in Historic Downtown Boston:

  • Omni Parker House Hotel

Check out other Historic Downtown Boston hotels

Need a Boston Hotel or Apartment?

Use this handy map from Booking.com to find the perfect place to stay.  Just enter your dates to find what's available, see the best rates, and make your reservations.

More about Historic Downtown Boston

These books (#ad) provide terrific information about this part of the city:

best places to visit downtown boston

  • The Boston Globe Historic Walks in Old Boston , by John Harris - More walking tours - a fascinating mixture of history, drama, suspense, and even local gossip by a real expert

best places to visit downtown boston

Getting to Boston's Historic Downtown - Directions & Parking


  • Red and Green Lines/Park St - Boston Common, near Park St/Tremont St intersection
  • Green and Blue Lines/Government Center - close to Tremont St/State St intersection
  • Blue and Orange Lines/State Street - under the Old State House

If you drive:  

Boston's most historic sites cluster along streets laid out in Colonial times - in other words, they're narrow, twisting, and congested.  Forget on-the-street parking - a garage will be your best bet.  Easiest to access are garages at the edges of this area.  Here are 3 where you'll find reasonable evening and weekend rates; high weekday rates reflect their location in the heart of central Boston.

Boston Common Garage - Huge parking garage under Boston Common; enter on Charles Street.  Weekday rates are somewhat lower than average.

Parcel 7 Garage - 92 Sudbury Street, across from Haymarket.  Daytime rates are slightly more than at Boston Common Garage - unless you get validation at Haymarket and other area businesses, which makes it the cheapest parking in town.  The catch?  It's often full.

75 State Street Garage - 75 State Street, enter at corner of State and Broad Street, very close to Faneuil Hall Marketplace/Quincy Market.  Weekday rates are high, but it offers lower evening and weekend rates, made even cheaper by validation/discount tickets available at Faneuil Hall.

More to See & Do in Boston

Experience the best of historic and modern Boston on these fun sightseeing tours:

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A panorama of some of downtown Boston, with the Old State House in the middle.

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Downtown Boston’s 6 must-visit sites

Stops include pre-Revolutionary War sites such as Faneuil Hall and the Old State House as well as Boston’s thoroughly modern City Hall

Downtown is one of Boston’s busiest and most amorphous neighborhoods, defined by a sustained hustle and bustle most enclaves can’t match and by geographic borders that tend to shift depending on who’s describing them.

These are the six must-visit sites within downtown Boston as delineated by the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and the North End to the east, Beacon Hill and Boston Common to the west, and Summer Street and Downtown Crossing to the southwest.

Faneuil Hall

The front of a squat, triangular-roofed building with a bronze statue of man with folded arms outside.

The bones of this building and marketplace at 4 South Market Street date from 1742—when its namesake, a wealthy merchant named Peter Faneuil, whose wealth came in part from slave-trading —ponied up the cash for its construction. (The statue outside, though, is of Samuel Adams.)

A fire several years before the American Revolution led to its reconstruction, and Faneuil Hall ever since has served its original purpose: as a civic and commercial hub for Boston, always one of the busiest places in town.

Quincy Market

Crowds outside of Boston’s Quincy Market.

This marketplace next to Faneuil Hall dates from the mid-1820s, and includes hundreds of shops and eateries in the main hall and neighboring ones. Quincy Market might be the best place to soak up the crowds in Boston, especially during the warmer months.

Boston City Hall

The exterior of Boston City Hall.

Boston’s brutalist government hive is one of the few city or town halls to ever inspire passionate debate . Some love it and its surrounding plaza’s imposing, monolithic appearance—so unlike most anything else in its genre—while others see it as forbidding and just ugly as sin . For architecture and urban buffs in particular, it’s worth a visit.

Old State House

The exterior of Boston’s Old State House at night.

This national landmark at 206 Washington Street dates from 1713, and is just what its name implies: the one-time government center for the colony and then commonwealth of Massachusetts. That role ceased in 1798, when the much larger and more ornate Massachusetts State House opened in nearby Beacon Hill .

The Old State House is also well-known for what happened in front of it on March 5, 1770. That was when British troops fired on colonial protesters, killing five and helping spark the American Revolution with what came to be called the Boston Massacre .

Old South Meeting House

The church-like interior of the Old South Meeting House in Boston.

If visitors learn anything about this former church building dating from 1729, it’s that it’s the birthplace of the original Tea Party. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fed-up colonialists met here in 1773 to foment and plan what became the Boston Tea Party.

Ever since, the stark, yet modest building at 310 Washington Street has been bound up in all things Revolutionary.

Boston Public Market

The exterior of the main entrance of the Boston Public Market.

This year-round market in a building born of Boston’s epic Big Dig infrastructure project includes dozens of vendors. During the warmer months, there’s also a farmer’s market outside.

Like with Quincy Market, Boston Public Market is a good place to absorb downtown Boston’s activity. It’s also a good jumping-off point into the neighboring North End .

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27 Places to Visit in Boston

Top tourist attractions.

best places to visit downtown boston

This post covers the top Boston attractions, including historic sites, museums, neighborhoods, and parks, as well as bus tours, boat tours, and our pay-what-you-like guided walking tours .

Be sure to check out our posts on The Best Things to Do in Boston (tips from a local tour guide) .

Many of the items below are included for free or at a discount on one or more of the Boston tourist attraction discount passes , which could help you save money on entry fees. 

1. Freedom Trail 

Boston is the birthplace of the American Revolution (1776-1783). The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walking route that passes 16 sites that played a major role in the war.

Walking the Freedom Trail is an interactive way to learn about the Revolution, its key figures, and events.

The trail begins in downtown Boston and ends near the USS Constitution.

Freedom Trail Boston

Just a few of the historic sites along the trail you’ll pass are Paul Revere’s House, the site of the Boston Massacre, Granary Burying Ground, the Old State House, and Faneuil Hall. 

If you’re interested in taking the trek, consider taking our pay-what-you-wish Freedom Trail walking tour or our Freedom Trail Self-Guided Tour .

If you're planning to enjoy this activity while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Downtown area .

Boston Walking Tours

2. Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market

Faneuil Hall is known as"the home of free speech" and America’s first town hall meeting was held here.

Built in 1743 originally for vendors to sell their goods, the building became a center of debates and demonstrations that led up to the Revolutionary War.

faneuil hall

Faneuil Hall Marketplace includes four historic buildings: Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market, and South Market.

The 200,000-square-foot marketplace is visited by both locals and tourists alike. There are over 70 vendors and retailers selling food, clothing, and more. 

During the holiday season, the marketplace is magical! See more about Christmas in Boston .

If you're planning to visit these places while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Downtown area .

Boston Travel Tips and Hacks

3. Boston Common

Established in 1634, Boston Common is America’s oldest public park.

Starting in 1768, the British Redcoats encamped here for eight years. The Common is a stop along the Freedom Trail. 

The common is spread over 50 acres and has plenty of activities to enjoy. If you visit Boston in the winter months, you can go ice skating on Frog Pond . 

There is also a  playground, a sports facility, baseball, tennis, and a stage/amphitheater for performance.

If you're planning to visit Boston Common while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Back Bay area.

Read more about Boston Common .

4. Boston Public Garden

Just across Charles Street from Boston Common is America’s first botanical garden established in 1837.

It was designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who, together with Calvert Vaux, designed Central Park in NYC.

Boston Public Garden

The gardens are filled with unusual plants, monuments, fountains, and the Swan Boats (see below).

If you're planning to visit the garden while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Beacon Hill area.

Find out more about the Boston Public Gardens .

5. Boston Harbor Boat Tours

Boston is perfect to see from the harbor which is why there are lots of great boat tours to choose from.

There are historic Boston sightseeing cruises , New England Harbor Cruises , whale-watching trips , dinner cruises , and even tall ship excursions !

Find the best tour for you by reading our post, Boston Harbor Boat Tours .

If you wish to take a boat tour while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Waterfront/Seaport area.

6. Swan Boat Rides

Perhaps not as exciting as a cruise, a ride on a Swan Boat in Boston Public Gardens is a tradition that dates back to 1877!

best places to visit downtown boston

After strolling the gardens, a 15-minute ride on a Swan Boat Tour is just the thing to rest your legs and cool off.

It’s one of Boston’s best activities for visitors with kids .

If you wish to take a boat tour while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the North End area.

7. Baseball At Fenway Park

Opened in 1912, Fenway Park is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. It’s home to the Boston Red Sox.

If you go see a game at this historic stadium, grab a seat on the stadium’s famous 37-foot-high green wall in left field known as the Green Monster. It’s the highest wall in the MLB.

Fenway Park

Public tours are offered year-round, so baseball history fans can get a detailed look at Fenway’s past and present. Read more about Fenway Park Tours .

See what dates the home team is in town here and grab some tickets to a game!

If you're planning to enjoy a game or take a tour at Fenway Park, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Back Bay area.

8. Boston Bus Tours and Trolley Tours

Boston Duck Tours is the most popular bus tour and for good reason. Using World War II-style amphibious landing vehicles, these tours are part on land and part on the water!

Another tour option is to take a hop-on, hop-off tour that allows you to get off the bus at sites of interest and get back on when you like.

Read about the several companies that offer Hop-on-Hop-off Trolley Tours .

Note that many bus tours are included free with the purchase of a  Boston tourist attraction pass .

There are also night bus tours, TV and Movie bus tours, ghost bus tours, and many more. 

Find out about all the tours that are out there from our post, Boston Bus Tours: Which Are the Best?

If you are looking for a place to stay in Boston, you might consider watching our post on Where to Stay in Boston .

9. Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the very best Boston art museums.

With a collection of over 450,000 works of art, it is one of the largest art museums in the United States.

It was founded in 1870 and is one of the most visited art museums in the world.

Among its best exhibitions are its Egyptian Mummy collection, its ancient Greece works, and its Impressionist paintings.

Museum of Fine Arts

There is also an impressive American Wing with paintings, decorative arts, furniture, and silver -- including silverwork from the great patriot Paul Revere.

If you're planning to visit the museum while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Back Bay area.

Read more about the Museum of Fine Arts .

10. USS Constitution Museum

The USS Constitution is one of six ships constructed as part of the Naval Act 1794. 

Nicknamed “Old Ironsides” after its heroic feats during the War of 1812, the ship is permanently docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard. 

best places to visit downtown boston

You can tour the ship for free, though you must purchase a ticket to visit the museum. Learn how to visit the USS Constitution and Museum .

If you're planning to visit the museum while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the West End area.

11. The North End 

The North End is Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood. It has Colonial-era sites speckled throughout its streets. 

But the North End isn't only about colonial history. It’s also about the history of Italian- Americans

The first Italian immigrants settled in the neighborhood in the 1860s and the Italian population grew for over a century.

North End

Today the neighborhood is less authentic and more about tourists, but there are still great places to eat and sites to see in the North End.

Our pay-what-you-wish North End and Little Italy tour takes you to the best sites while you hear stories about the colonial era, gangster times, and Italian pastry!

We also offer a self-guided tour .

If you're planning to visit this neighborhood while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the North End area.

12. Old State House

A stop along the Freedom Trail, the Old State House is the oldest surviving public building in Boston. 

When it was built in 1713 and called the Towne House, it was the hub of Boston’s civic life.

Old State House

After the British were defeated and America was born, Towne House became the State House for Massachusetts until 1798, at which time the current State House was erected on Beacon Street.

The Old State House Museum’s exhibits offer insight into the years leading up to the American Revolution, the Boston Massacre, and the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. 

Read more about the Old State House Museum .

If you're planning to visit the house while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Beacon Hill area.

13. Paul Revere House

Paul Revere was a silversmith and, more importantly, a colonial patriot who took a midnight ride to warn the colonists of a British attack. 

This house where Revere lived is the oldest remaining building in Downtown Boston and you can take a tour of it as it is now a museum. 

Paul Revere House

Amazingly, 90% of the building's structure is original and the two upstairs rooms contain furniture that is believed to have belonged to the Revere family.

Buy tickets to tour the Paul Revere House . Note that the tour is included free with the Go Boston Card.

If you're planning to visit the house while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the North End area.

14. Beacon Hill

This is one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods and has been the site of those active in fighting against slavery, and for religious freedom and equal rights. 

Its cobblestone lanes are lined with elegant Federal-period mansions and gas lamps. It’s also where you will find posh boutiques and excellent restaurants.

best places to visit downtown boston

Our pay-what-you-wish Beacon Hill Crime Stories walking tour takes you beyond the pretty facade to tell you the tale of the Boston Strangler, the city's most notorious serial killer.

Explore the neighborhood with our Self-Guided Beacon Hill Walking Tour . This tour is also available as an audio tour!

If you're planning to visit this neighborhood while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Beacon Hill area.

15. Massachusetts State House

The current seat of the state’s government, the Massachusetts State House, was built in 1798.

Samuel Adams laid a cornerstone in 1795 and Paul Revere coppered the dome in 1802.

Massachusetts State House

This National Historic Landmark is an architectural gem with marble-floored corridors and ceremonial rooms filled with paintings depicting Massachusetts’s history.

Free guided tours of the building and collections are led by volunteers. Read more here .

16. Granary Burying Ground

This is Boston's third oldest burial ground, opened in 1660 and named in 1737 for the Old Town Granary which once stood on the site of its neighbor, the Park Street Church.

Many of America’s patriots buried there include Paul Revere and three signers of the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.

The Granary Burying Ground is a stop on our daily, pay-what-you-like guided tour of the Freedom Trail . We also have a self-guided tour of Granary Burying Ground .

If you're planning to visit the place while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Beacon Hill area.

17. Harvard University

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest college in the United States. It’s located in the City of Cambridge, just across the Charles River from Boston.

The campus houses both Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, two of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world.

This list of notable alumni is truly amazing. 

There are several ways to tour the campus.

We offer a pay-what-you-wish Harvard and Cambridge Walking Tour and we also have a self-guided Harvard University Walking Tour .

You may want to visit one of the excellent museums on campus like the MIT Museum and the Harvard Museum of Natural History .

If you're planning to visit the university while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Cambridge area.

18. Boston Public Library

Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is not just a place to grab a good book, it’s a place of firsts.

It was the first large, free municipal library in the US. It was also the first public library to lend books.

Also, the library was the first major Beaux-Arts building in the United States completed in 1895 and was designed by renowned architect Chares McKim.

Boston Public Library

Not only is the building itself an architectural gem, but the interior is as well.

The Boston Public Library offers free art and architecture tours of the building a few times a week. Check the schedule here .

If you're planning to visit the library while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the South End area.

19. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Climb aboard an 18th-century replica ship for an immersive experience recreating that fateful December night in 1773 when the Sons of Liberty sparked the American Revolution by dumping their tea into Boston Harbor.

On a 1-hour tour, costumed actors take you back in time to learn about the history and impact of the Boston Tea Party.

In the end, you’ll start your own revolution by dumping tea into the Charles River!

If you're planning to enjoy the museum while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Waterfront/Seaport area.

20. Bunker Hill Monument & Museum

The Battle of Bunker Hill fought on June 17, 1775, was one of the first major battles of the American Revolutionary War. 

The monument is 221 feet tall and you can climb to the top for an excellent view of the city.

Bunker Hill Monument

In addition to the landmark itself, there is also a free museum you can visit which provides access to the monument.

Read our post on the Bunker Hill Monument & Museum .

If you're planning to visit the monument while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Charlestown/Bunker area.

21. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Established in 1903, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a prized Boston institution. 

Its collection is expansive and includes works from Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, the Islamic World, Renaissance Italy, and 19th-century France and America. 

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

If the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum sounds familiar, it's because in 1990 it was the scene of the single largest art heist in the world. 

The crime has never been solved. Fortunately, there are plenty of other pieces of art to see! 

Read more about the museum here .

If you're planning to enjoy the museum while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the South End area.

22. The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library

The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library is the only place in the world where one can walk through a 3-story stained-glass globe!

Because the Mapparium was created in 1935, the globe shows country borders and names as they were back then.

The Mapparium

Visitors walk across a thirty-foot glass bridge passing through the center of the globe while a presentation using audio recordings, music, and LED lights illustrates how the world has changed since the 1930s.

Find out about visiting The Mapparium .

If you're planning to enjoy this attraction while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Back Bay area.

23. Newbury Street

Newbury Street between Arlington Street and Massachusetts Avenue is the place to go for shopaholics and foodies.

This 8-block stretch is filled with high-end boutiques like Burberry and Channel as well as international apparel chain stores.

Newbury Street

The street itself is lined with historic brownstone buildings making it a lovely location for the many cafes and restaurants to enjoy.

See the Newbury Street website for a directory of shops and eateries.

If you're planning to visit the street while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Back Bay area.

24. New England Aquarium

Opened in 1969, the New England Aquarium is home to a multitude of sea life that includes species like northern fur seals, exotic jellyfish, giant Pacific octopuses, and thousands of saltwater and freshwater fish.

The highlight of the aquarium is its 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank that replicates a coral reef environment.

New England Aquarium

As they pass through a spiral walkway around the tank, visitors get a close-up view of sharks, sea turtles, and schools of fish.

There is also an IMAX theater that shows films with aquatic themes. The aquarium offers whale-watching tours that can be combined with the cost of admission. 

Find out about getting tickets here .

If you're planning to enjoy this activity while in Boston, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Downtown area.

25. Arnold Arboretum

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, a botanical research center,  is like a living museum of tree and plant life. 

The Arboretum’s 281 acres which include forests, meadows, and ponds are open free to the public.

Arnold Arboretum

Established in 1872, this is North America’s first public arboretum. It’s also a National Historic Landmark.

Read more about the Arnold Arboretum .

If you're planning to enjoy this botanical research center, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the Back Bay area.

26. The Cheers Bar

The bar which inspired the hit television series Cheers opened in 1969 as the low-key Bull and Finch.

It was discovered by Hollywood producers in 1981 and premiered in 1982 as Cheers, which ran for 11 years. 

Exposure from the tv show made Cheers the most famous bar in Boston. Why not go and grab a beer there? See our post on the Original Cheers Bar .

The bar is a stop on our self-guided Beacon Hill Tour and is just a 10-minute walk from our guided Beacon Hill Crime Tour .  

If you're planning to visit this bar, you might want to consider finding a place to stay in the West End area.

27. Back Bay

Just west of Boston Common, the Back Bay area is located along the Charles River.

This is one of the more well-liked places to stay while traveling to Boston because of its convenient location.

A view of Prudential Center in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. Image Source: Pixabay user T BW.

As a result, the region has many excellent hotels, and you can read more about them in our whole piece about where to stay in Back Bay.

A trip to the Boston Public Library and a baseball game at Fenway Park are just a few of the very popular outings in this area.

You can be confident that you'll be able to have a satisfying lunch while you're in Back Bay because there are so many excellent eateries around.

Consider watching our post on Where to Stay in Boston to get an idea on best places to visit in Back Bay area.


Many of the attractions in this post are included for free with a Boston tourist pass .

Below is a list of those attractions.

Go Boston Card

  • Fenway Park
  • The Mapparium
  • Franklin Park Zoo
  • Swan Boat Tours
  • New England Aquarium
  • Boston Children’s Museum
  • Otis House Museum
  • Skywalk Observatory
  • Museum of Science
  • Paul Revere House
  • HighFlyer Zipline
  • Old State House
  • Buckman Tavern
  • Concord Museum
  • Plimoth Plantation
  • Cape Cod Cruise
  • Hyannisport Cruise
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Boston Harbor Cruise
  • House of Seven Gables
  • Old Sturbridge Village
  • JFK Hyannis Museum
  • Salem Witch Museum
  • Harvard Walking Tour
  • Six Flags New England
  • Samuel Adams Brewery
  • USS Constitution Cruise
  • Louisa May Alcott House
  • Hop-on-Hop-off Trolley Tours
  • Liberty Ride Trolley Tours
  • Old South Meeting House
  • Edward M. Kennedy Institute
  • Institute of Contemporary Art
  • New England Aquarium Whale Watch
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • Harvard Museum of Natural History
  • JFK Presidential Library & Museum
  • Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology

Boston CityPASS

For more details, visit our post about Boston tourist passes .

Related Posts

  • Free Things To Do in Boston
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Downtown Boston

Visit Downtown Boston

Experience a turning point in American history in Downtown Boston. The storied city’s central district features famous revolutionary locations where the nation changed forever. This is not just an open-air museum, however. Hop between atmospheric restaurants, popular theaters and family-friendly attractions in this historic neighborhood.

Stand outside the Statue of Sam Adams to join the Freedom Trail , a walking route that follows the history of Boston, led by costumed guides. This neighborhood features sights such as the Old State House, which was colonial Boston’s seat of government, and the Old South Meeting House, where revolutionaries plotted and voted for the Boston Tea Party. Walk to the river to find a historic boat that houses the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum .

Stroll around downtown to see how other old buildings have been transformed. Attend a choral performance in King’s Chapel, an 18th-century church filled with revolutionary stories. Old City Hall was built in 1865 and today functions as a restaurant and office building.

Boston is also famed around the world for its residents’ love of sports. Join huge crowds of local fans at TD Garden, the home of the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics. The venue also hosts some of the world’s biggest musical acts.

Meet the ocean’s most beguiling creatures at the New England Aquarium, a visitor attraction and conservation center. Feel the coarse skin of fearsome fish in the Shark and Ray Touch Tank and marvel at the colorful Caribbean fish in the Giant Ocean Tank.

Spend your evening at one of the many theaters and arts venues in the district. The Orpheum is famed for its rock and pop concerts while the Boston Opera House hosts Broadway shows. Stop by The Wilbur to enjoy local comedy or live music.

Travel to Downtown Boston by train. Stop at South Station on the eastern edge of the neighborhood. Most of the cultural and historical attractions here are open throughout the year.

Popular places to visit

Boston opera house.

Admire the old-world craftsmanship of this vaudeville-era reconstruction while you enjoy a performance in opera, theater or dance.

Old State House

The Boston Massacre happened on its doorstep and the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed from its balcony, making this museum a witness to American history.

Boston City Hall

Boston City Hall is just one of the places to see in Boston, so why not enjoy the other things to explore during your travels? Discover the acclaimed theater scene and notable monuments in this vibrant area.

Boston Massacre Site

You can find out about the history of Boston with a stop at Boston Massacre Site. Attend a sporting event or visit the notable monuments in this vibrant area.

Old South Meeting House

Visit this important colonial-America site that witnessed much of the lead-up to the American Revolution and has long played a part in Boston history.

Granary Burying Ground

Samuel Adams and Paul Revere have their final resting places in the heart of the city they defended, within a stately 17th-century cemetery.

Downtown Boston Hotel Deals

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Other neighborhoods around downtown boston.

Boston featuring a square or plaza, night scenes and a city

Government Center

While you're in Government Center, take in top sights like Fenway Park or Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and hop on the metro to see more the city at Government Center Station or Bowdoin Station.

Boston Harbor which includes performance art, music and a bay or harbor

The ample dining options and captivating waterfront views are just a few popular features of the neighborhood. Make a stop by Fenway Park or TD Garden while you're visiting, and jump aboard the metro at Aquarium to get around town.

Museum of Science which includes a bay or harbor and a sunset

The fantastic nightlife and beautiful gardens are a few things travelers love about West End. Check out Fenway Park or TD Garden while you're visiting, and jump aboard the metro at Science Park Station to get around town.

Default Image

Theaters and historic sites are highlights of Chinatown. Make a stop by Fenway Park or Boston Common while you're visiting, and jump aboard the metro at Chinatown Station to get around town.

Beacon Hill which includes landscape views

Beacon Hill

Historic sites, shopping, and restaurants highlight some notable features of Beacon Hill. Make a stop by Fenway Park or Boston Common while you're visiting, and jump aboard the metro at Charles-MGH Station or Park St. Station to get around town.

@Isabella Street.... Different colors, vintage

Bay Village

While you're in Bay Village, take in top sights like Fenway Park and jump on the metro at Tufts Medical Center Station to see more of the city.

More to Explore

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Home » Travel Guides » United States » Massachusetts (MA) » 15 Best Things to Do in Downtown Boston

15 Best Things to Do in Downtown Boston

Downtown Boston is one of the oldest settlements in North America and has a history dating back to the arrival of the Puritans in the early 1600s. Throughout the centuries, Boston has played an important role in major historical moments including the American revolution and those notable events are celebrated throughout the downtown district.

Explore the Downtown district to discover seventeenth-century buildings between modern-day skyscrapers, eat oysters in a restaurant open since the early 1800s or live the moment which changed America’s history in a re-enactment aboard a floating tall ship museum.

Don’t think Downtown Boston is just for history fans; it’s not. There’s much more to see and do there than visit museums. Don’t miss out on any of these fifteen of the best things to do in Downtown Boston to make sure you have a great stay without getting an overload of the past.

1. Codzilla Boat Cruise

Codzilla Boat Cruise

Downtown Boston has a strong attachment to maritime history, but forget all about that when it comes to the Codzilla Boat Cruise.

Board the seventy-foot-long speedboat at its moorings on Long Wharf and get ready for a full-on thrill ride. The boat hits speeds of up to forty miles per hour as it zooms across the water and spins through a full three-hundred and sixty degrees. Yes, it’s wet and wild, so take a change of clothes.

If Codzilla is too much, scroll down to read about more sedate, stay dry, Boston harbor cruises further on.

Book online : Boston Harbor Codzilla High Speed Thrill Boat

2. Freedom Trail

Boston's Freedom Trail Walk

Explore Downtown Boston’s past by walking the Freedom Trail. Put on some comfortable shoes and join the trail in Downtown at the Old South Meeting House on Milk Street or by the Old Corner Bookstore on Washington Street.

The two and a half mile trail is clearly marked by a double line of red bricks in the pavement and runs through the district, as well as outside its boundaries, and past sixteen of Boston’s most notable historical landmarks.

For a fully immersive and informative experience, join a tour narrated by a costumed guide at the ArtsBoston booth in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. They do a fantastic job of bringing Downtown Boston’s history to life.

Recommended tour : Freedom Trail History and Architecture Walking Tour

3. Downtown Crossing

Downtown Crossing, Boston

Head to the Downtown Crossing for some traffic-free retail therapy. The Crossing, located at the junction of Winter, Summer and Washington Street, is a pedestrianized shopping zone and the best place in Downtown Boston to pick up a bargain.

Downtown Boston is well known for having more jewelers shops than restaurants, and there are plenty on the streets of the Crossing. There are also numerous other retail outlets ranging from street food vendors to large department stores like Macy’s, theaters and more than a handful of coffee shops and eateries.

Related tour : Downtown Harbor Sailing Cruise

4. Dreamland Wax Museum

Dreamland Wax Museum

Snap a souvenir photo with some of the wax effigies in the Dreamland Wax Museum in Downtown Boston’s Washington Mall. The wax figures of top stars and politicians are so realistic, convincing friends you met the real person won’t be a big deal.

The museum has twelve differently themed galleries covering a total floor space of over nineteen-thousand square feet. Get up close to Snoop Dogg, Cher, Clint Eastwood, the Queen of England and all forty-four presidents of the US.

Available online : Dreamland Wax Museum Entry Ticket

5. Union Oyster House

Union Oyster House

It’s not often a restaurant is designated as a historical landmark, but it’s one honor which has been bestowed on the Union Oyster House on Union Street in Downtown Boston which has been serving oysters to its customers for over two-hundred years.

With a facade more in keeping with a medieval street than a modern US city, the Union Oyster House looks every bit as historic as it is. The interior of bare wood flooring and beamed ceiling continues the time-warp impression, and there are still plenty of oysters on the menu.

Watch the oysters being shucked while sitting at the bar or take a table and fill up on oysters Rockefeller or go all out with a Ye Olde Seafood Platter. The taste and quality of the seafood won’t disappoint.

6. Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Visit the 18th-century replica tall ship at its moorings just of Congress Street in Downtown Boston and be immersed in a live reenactment of a moment which changed the history of North America.

At the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, costumed guides portray the roles of the characters involved in the historic event. Join them at the meeting house as rebellion flares before heading onto the decks of the ship to throw tea chests overboard the head below decks to explore the crew’s quarters and the hold.

Don’t miss viewing the 1773 original Tea Party tea chest housed in the museum or taking tea and scones in Abigail’s Tea Room served by waitresses in colonial dress.

Highly recommended : Boston Tea Party: Ships & Museum Interactive Tour

7. Trolley of the Doomed

Old Town Trolley Tours

Forget conventional sightseeing and go spook spotting in Downtown Boston instead. Get on the fright night special Old Town Trolley at the stop on Atlantic Avenue and be ready for some serious goosebumps raising.

The ghost tour is narrated by a 17th-century gravedigger who regales listeners with tales of the Boston Strangler while visiting ancient haunted burial grounds, Boston’s most haunted hotel and other locations in DT where spooks are reputed to wander.

The Old Town Trolleys also operate a daytime, spook-free, hop-on-hop-off service throughout Downtown Boston.

Book online : 1.5-Hour Ghosts and Gravestones Tour

8. Mr. Dooley’s Boston

Mr. Dooley's Boston

There has been an Irish influence in Boston since the mid-1800s and there’s no shortage of Irish-themed bars, but for a good pint and a dash of authenticity, drop into Mr. Dooley’s Boston on Downtown Boston’s Broad Street.

Dooley’s have been serving Guinness alongside their Irish breakfast in the district for almost three decades. At night, be ready for some proper Irish shenanigans with regular live music and the occasional impromptu fiddle session.

9. Rose Kennedy Greenway

Rose Kennedy Greenway

Head along to the Downtown Boston waterfront for a stroll through the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Greenway is seventeen acres of parklands which stretch for over a mile through the district and into adjacent neighborhoods.

The Greenway is comprised of seven individual parks connected by broad promenades, plazas with interactive fountains, landscaped gardens and multiple public artworks plus a fun carousel with figures depicting animals native to Massachusetts.

Not only is the Greenway a great place to get a breath of fresh air, it’s also the perfect spot for seeing some great views of the Downtown skyline. If the exercise brings on an appetite, don’t worry, there are over thirty food trucks on the Greenway from where to purchase a snack.

10. The Wilbur

The Wilbur

For an unforgettable night of comedy or music from top American and international stars, there’s nowhere better to go in Downtown Boston than the Wilbur Theater on Tremont Street.

The one-thousand-one-hundred seat theater first opened in 1914 and is one of the city of Boston’s historic landmarks. Externally plain, the theater is Renaissance-style ornate internally and has mezzanine, balcony, and orchestra levels each with full bar service.

11. Sunset Cruise

Boston Skyline At Sunset

Sail out from Long Wharf in Downtown Boston at dusk aboard a Boston Harbor Cruise Boat to view the sensational DT skyline and an impressive Massachusetts sunset.

Choose from a ninety-minute narrated sailing which coordinates with the end of the day cannon firing on the USS Constitution or a one and a half hour trip across the harbor waters with music, light snacks, and sundowners included.

Ninety-minute daytime cruises around the harbor are also available and include a professional narration on the history of Boston harbor.

Related tour: Boston Sunset Cruise

12. Durgin-Park Restaurant

Durgin-Park Restaurant

For historic eats in Downtown Boston stop off at the Durgin-Park Restaurant on North Market Street. Established in 1827, this vintage-style eatery has been serving traditional Boston dishes to its clientele since before the American Civil War.

Don’t visit Downtown Boston without trying the Durgin-Park’s infamous Boston Baked Beans, Clam Chowder or heart-warming Baked Indian Pudding.

The street-level floor of the restaurant houses the Gaslight Pub which, as well as serving the full menu, has a special happy hour food offering and an outside patio.

13. Chinatown Gate

Chinatown Gate, Boston

Walk along Beach Street in Downtown Boston and be surprised by the sight of an elaborate, green-roofed pagoda-style structure with Chinese lettering straddling a street up ahead.

Pass through the Chinatown Gate and discover a completely different culture. The Chinatown in Boston is the third largest in North America and dates back to the 1840s.

Colorful and vibrant, Chinatown is full of restaurants, shops, and hosts many street celebrations throughout the year including the August Moon Festival and Chinese New Year.

Available tour : Chinatown Culture and Cuisine Walking Tour

14. Down Boston

Down Boston

For a mega-party night out, then Down Boston on Downtown Boston’s High Street is a great choice of venue.

The slick nightclub, located in a basement, has a good-sized dance floor surrounded by plush booth seating and positively glows with a neon rainbow of LED lighting.

Top Boston DJ’s man the decks spinning all the latest dance music, so be prepared to rave until at least two in the morning or later.

15. Make Way For Ducklings

Make Way For Ducklings, Boston

While not strictly in Downtown Boston, the Make Way For Ducklings statues are just a stroll away over Boston Common in the adjacent Boston Gardens and a must-see when visiting the district.

The statues commemorate a children’s storybook about a duck family which was based in the city and have become almost as iconic as some of the district’s historical landmarks.

The proud mother mallard and her eight ducklings make for a great, and very Instagramable, souvenir photo of Downtown Boston. Don’t miss out on seeing them.

15 Best Things to Do in Downtown Boston:

  • Codzilla Boat Cruise
  • Freedom Trail
  • Downtown Crossing
  • Dreamland Wax Museum
  • Union Oyster House
  • Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
  • Trolley of the Doomed
  • Mr. Dooley's Boston
  • Rose Kennedy Greenway
  • Sunset Cruise
  • Durgin-Park Restaurant
  • Chinatown Gate
  • Down Boston
  • Make Way For Ducklings

Explore Downtown Boston's "Hidden Gem" Historic Sites

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Explore Downtown Boston's "Hidden Gem" Historic Sites

Downtown Boston’s major historic sites, places like the Granary Burying Ground , Old State House , and Old South Meeting House , attract hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, many of whom take advantage of the Freedom Trail Foundation 's lively and informative guided tours .  But what about Downtown’s “hidden gem” historic sites? Often, they are no more than a plaque on an alley wall—but the history they commemorate is no less fascinating and compelling than that showcased at more famous sites. So come take a journey off the beaten path, to explore the historic sites that are tucked away on the side streets of downtown. Begin in Spring Lane , the secluded alley that slices between Washington and Devonshire streets. Here is where Boston literally began—the “Spring” in “Spring Lane” having been the original source of fresh water for Boston’s first settlers, the Puritans. At this exact spot, in 1630, the tiny settlement of Boston was born. A plaque on the side of the alley supplies details.

After exiting Spring Lane onto Washington Street you'll see the Old Corner Bookstore at the intersection of Washington and School streets. The building, constructed in 1718 by Dr. Thomas Crease, was his home and apothecary shop. It later housed a number of booksellers and publishers, the most famous of which was Ticknor and Fields, publishers of many well-known American titles including Thoreau’s "Walden," Hawthorne’s "The Scarlet Letter," Alcott's "Little Women," Beech Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and the Atlantic Monthly. In 1960, a group of Bostonians, concerned about the impending loss of an important piece of the city’s architecture and heritage, formed Historic Boston Incorporated (HBI) as a non-profit organization and pooled their resources and connections to acquire and restore the building for continued use as retail shops and commercial offices.

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30 Top-Rated Things to Do in Boston

As Massachusetts' capital and the birthplace of the American Revolution, there's no shortage of historical sites for travelers to explore within Boston's city limits (and beyond). There's even a Boston Tea Party Museum on the harbor

  • All Things To Do
  • 1-Day Itinerary
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best places to visit downtown boston

Freedom Trail Freedom Trail free

Stretching 2½ miles, the Freedom Trail weaves past 16 of the city's most historic sites, including Faneuil Hall Marketplace , the Paul Revere House and Old North Church . Taking in all of the trail's attractions requires at least half a day (and some comfortable walking shoes), but you can easily plot points of interest before you begin your jaunt from Boston Common .

Though most visitors agree the trail is easy to navigate on your own, some recommend a guided tour or downloading an app to tell you about the sites. (You'll find a handful of apps available for Apple and Android devices.) If you have a Go Boston Card, standard guided tours given by the Freedom Trail Foundation are covered by your pass.

best places to visit downtown boston

Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Every Friday and Saturday, Haymarket (one America's oldest open-air markets) pops up adjacent to Faneuil Hall. In order to navigate this often-chaotic scene successfully make sure to bring small bills, leave bulky bags at the hotel and keep it moving on the sidewalk. - Jill LeGrow

Four buildings – Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market – constitute Faneuil Hall Marketplace, with the oldest being Faneuil Hall. Built in 1742 and now a stop on the Freedom Trail , Faneuil Hall has had a long and important history in Massachusetts politics. Samuel Adams once stood here to push for resistance against the British, and abolitionists and suffragists have stood on their soapboxes here. In fact, this is where colonists famously challenged the Stamp Act of 1764 by proclaiming, "no taxation without representation." From those illustrious days, the marketplace has expanded to include more than 100 shops and restaurants.

best places to visit downtown boston

Boston Public Garden Boston Public Garden free

Though the Boston Public Garden sits right next to Boston Common , the two are quite different. The public garden is newer (established in 1837) and holds the distinction of being America's first public botanical garden. Flowers and trees are beautifully organized and kept in quality condition throughout. You can see the colorful arrangements and exotic trees from the 6-acre pond as you glide along the water in a Swan Boat. Additionally, the park houses two of Boston's most iconic statues: Make Way for Ducklings (a bronze sculpture of a duck and her eight ducklings) and a sculpture of George Washington (which shows America's first president riding on a horse).

Visitors looking to relax after sightseeing will enjoy the Boston Public Garden. Parkgoers say you'll find plenty of shade beneath the park's trees, which comes in handy on hot summer days. Plus, you'll likely spot some ducks and geese swimming around the lagoon. And if you have a few dollars, visitors recommend taking a 15-minute ride on a Swan Boat. The large paddle boats cost $4.50 to ride (or $3 for kids ages 2 to 15 and $4 for seniors); travelers with Go Boston Cards ride for free. Swan Boats are usually available between mid-April and Labor Day.

best places to visit downtown boston

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best places to visit downtown boston

North End North End free

Chances are you'll end up in the North End at least once during your visit to Boston. It's steeped in the city's rich history as it holds the title of Boston's oldest neighborhood and houses three attractions on the Freedom Trail . What makes this neighborhood a top point of interest, however, is its Italian culture: The North End is considered Boston's Little Italy.

While Italians weren't the first to settle in this area (English settlers arrived first then European Jews, African Americans and Irish immigrants), their cultural influence on the North End withstood the test of time. Today, you'll find all kinds of Italian food from classic pizza pies served at the popular Regina Pizzeria to Sicilian-style seafood, such as black linguine (made with squid ink) and calamari meatballs at The Daily Catch . For dinner, try Mamma Maria for fine dining, Giacomo's for its affordable, made-in-house pasta or Bricco , which sources its meats and bread from its own meat and bread shop, located right next door. If you’re only interested in pizza, hit up Galleria Umberto for delectable solo slices or Antico Forno for its full-size, wood-fired pies. Prezza is known for its extensive wine list, boasting hundreds of wine labels to choose from. For dessert, make sure to pick up a cannoli at Mike's Pastry or Modern Pastry , or tiramisu at the 24-hour Bova's Bakery .

best places to visit downtown boston

Museum of Fine Arts Museum of Fine Arts

If you want to make the most out of the Museum of Fine Arts, one of the most comprehensive art institutions in the country, then you'll need to spend a good chunk of your day here. The museum is home to one of the best art collections in the world, including the celebrated Art of the Americas wing. Inside this sprawling collection, you'll encounter galleries showcasing iconic pieces from indigenous cultures in North, South and Central America to works by contemporary artists like Edward Hopper.

You'll also find an impressive collection of Asian art here, plus works from Monet, Renoir, Manet and Rembrandt on display. And in special temporary exhibits, you can admire masterpieces from Black artists like Diedrick Brackens and Picasso, among others.

best places to visit downtown boston

Boston Common Boston Common free

The grounds of Boston Common started as a cow pasture in the mid-1600s. It was also used for Puritan punishments, like whipping, and even for hangings. In 1768, the area was transformed into a British camp. After the Revolutionary War, the park became a popular locale for public speeches and rallies. Now, the Common is best known because of its status as the oldest public park in the country. You'll also find a variety of activities and events – including theater and musical performances and free fitness classes – hosted here throughout the year. If you plan to traverse the Freedom Trail , you'll start the walk here at Boston Common.

Though some visitors say you won't find much to do in this park, Boston Common is great for picnics or a leisurely stroll. Travelers also mention that this site is a wonderful spot to take young children. In addition to ample running room on the park's green space, kids can play at the Tadpole Playground or Frog Pond. Frog Pond offers a spray pool during the warmer months and an ice skating rink in the winter. Some visitors do note that the park tends to draw Boston's homeless population, particularly at night.

best places to visit downtown boston

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best places to visit downtown boston

Fenway Park Fenway Park

U.S. News Insider Tip: If you want to watch a Sox game without a ticket, head to the Bleacher Bar on Lansdowne Street. Located beneath the bleachers of Fenway, the best tables are positioned directly in front of the huge garage window that overlook centerfield. – Jill LeGrow

Fans of America's favorite pastime won't want to miss a game at Fenway Park. Home to the Boston Red Sox, this stadium has been the site of home runs, stolen bases and grounders since 1912. Regardless of whether or not you're a diehard Red Sox fan, you should try to catch a game and admire the ballpark's original architecture. Must-see features of the park include Pesky's Pole – the right field foul pole named after former Red Sox player Johnny Pesky – and the 37-foot-tall "Green Monster" wall in left field.

best places to visit downtown boston

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

After Isabella Stewart Gardner's husband died in 1898, the art enthusiast carried out their plan to buy land in Boston's Fenway area and open a museum to display her impressive collection of Italian art. The museum, which was fashioned after the Palazzo Barbaro in Venice , was completed in 1901, at which point Gardner moved in to the fourth floor and began installing her collection. Today, you can visit this Boston museum to get your fill of the Italian masters, such as Raphael and Titian. The building also showcases a cache of beautiful furniture, photographs, sculpture and rare books straight from Europe. The museum's New Wing, designed by Renzo Piano, includes a glass atrium, greenhouses and landscaped gardens.

The art isn't the only interesting thing here: the museum is also the site of the single largest property theft on Earth. In the wee hours of March 18, 1990, two thieves made their way into the museum disguised as police. The duo stole 13 works, including pieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet. Today, the museum has empty frames on the walls as placeholders until the art returns to the museum. As you may have guessed, the crime has not been solved and the works haven't been recovered. The museum is even offering a sizable reward ($10 million) for information leading to the art. 

best places to visit downtown boston

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best places to visit downtown boston

Boston Public Library Boston Public Library free

A library isn't always all about books. The main branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, which opened in 1895, is so much more, according to recent visitors who call the architecture "beautiful" and a “must-see.” Walking into the Renaissance Revival building is akin to visiting a museum. On Dartmouth Street, two immense stone lions sculpted by Louis Saint-Gaudens stand guard by the main entrance. Inside, Bates Hall, the library's main reference reading room, is a 218-foot-long room with a barrel-arch ceiling soaring 50 feet high.

Visitors can take a free tour and learn all about the murals found throughout the library, including John Singer Sargent's series on the "Triumph of Religion." Other murals include works by French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, who depicted eight library-centric disciplines in "The Muses of Inspiration," and Edwin Austin Abbey's "The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail."

best places to visit downtown boston

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

A must for any history buffs or fans of our nation's 35th president, this excellent library and museum details the life of President John F. Kennedy. Exhibits include his presidential papers; masses of Kennedy memorabilia, including re-creations of his desk in the Oval Office and of the television studio in which he debated Richard M. Nixon in the 1960 election; and artifacts from the U.S. space program. There's permanent display on the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis plus plenty of other artifacts and information about Kennedy's life and presidency. The building itself is quite striking and was designed by architect I. M. Pei.

Museumgoers say that while the museum is off the beaten path (it sits about 5 miles south of downtown on Columbia Point), it is well worth the trek thanks to the exhibits and staff. However, some wish the exhibits had a more detailed explanation of Kennedy and events during his life. The views from the museum are amazing, add some visitors.

best places to visit downtown boston

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

If you want to get outdoors in the greater Boston area, consider hopping a ferry (which operates from mid-May through mid-October) to the Boston Harbor Islands. This collection of 34 islands located in the Massachusetts Bay boasts plenty of things to do and see including historic sites, hiking trails, beaches, wildlife and much more. Popular islands include Spectacle, Georges and Peddocks, though ferries also go to Lovells, Grape, Bumpkin and Thompson.

The 114-acre Spectacle Island is a great option for those looking to hike. Here, you'll find 5 miles of trails, including one which leads to the harbor's highest hill, offering incredible views of Boston's skyline. If you’re looking for a place where you can sink your toes into the sand, head to Lovells Island. Here, you’ll find secluded shorelines as well as tide pools (when it's low tide, a whopping 71 acres are added to the island's land mass). Meanwhile, history lovers will enjoy a trip to Georges Island. Georges Island is home to Fort Warren, which the U.S. government used for patrolling and training Union troops as well as housing Confederate prisoners during Civil War times. Peddocks Island, one of the largest of the Boston Harbor Islands, offers a little bit of everything. This island is considered a prime camping spot and features scenic hiking trails that pass through coastal forests, headlands connected by tombolos and the biggest beach of any island. You'll also find a little bit of history thanks to Fort Andrews and a restored chapel from World War II.

best places to visit downtown boston

Newbury Street Newbury Street free

Located in the Back Bay along eight blocks between Massachusetts Avenue and Arlington Street, Newbury Street is home to gorgeous 19th century brownstones. It's also Boston's premiere destination for dining and shopping. Newbury Street has been called one of the most expensive streets in the world, thanks in large part to the significant cluster of expensive shops on the lower end (by numbered address) nearest Arlington Street.

Starting at the higher end, by Massachusetts Avenue, you'll find more budget-friendly retailers like TJ Maxx and Forever 21, as well longtime local favorites Newbury Comics and Trident Booksellers. In fact, Newbury Comics' opening in 1978 was the catalyst that began the transformation of Newbury Street from a heavily upper-class retail destination to a hipper, trendier spot for everyone.

best places to visit downtown boston

Samuel Adams Brewery Samuel Adams Brewery

Despite its location outside of city center, visiting the Samuel Adams Brewery is a popular stop for beer lovers. This brewery location acts as Samuel Adams' testing facility for new and specialty brews, which patrons can try. You can also take a guided tour of the facility to learn more about the brewing process.

Whether you're a local or a tourist, odds are you'll enjoy a visit to this brewery. Visitors say the staff is knowledgeable, but note there can be long entry lines.

best places to visit downtown boston

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Cambridge Cambridge free

Cambridge, which sits about 3 miles northwest of Boston's city center, is home to both Harvard University and MIT , but there's more to see in Cambridge than just the schools themselves. The city features an impressive array of cultural institutions that feature collections and exhibitions ranging from fine art to technological innovations.

The Harvard Art Museums , which include the Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum and Arthur M. Sackler Museum, house a wide range of periods, styles and mediums within its walls. Here, you’ll find a mix of modern photography, 13th century sculpture, paintings from legends like Georgia O’Keeffe, Picasso and Jackson Pollock, and much more. If you prefer history, head to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology , which boasts exhibits exploring everything from ancient Latin American cultures to the evolution of American eating habits and tableware to the lives of Native Americans. If science is more your speed, head to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to view dinosaur fossils, rare minerals and animal specimens from New England to Asia.

best places to visit downtown boston

Beacon Hill Beacon Hill free

Beacon Hill is arguably Boston's most beautiful neighborhood. Located north of Boston Common , Beacon Hill is awash with quaint, cobblestone-lined alleyways, corners dotted with gas street lamps, stately townhouses affixed with bay view windows and vibrant, flower-filled window boxes. It's Beacon Hill's incredible style, a stunning mix of Federal and Greek revival architecture, that make this neighborhood an attraction in and of itself. And recent visitors couldn't agree more.

Travelers who venture to Beacon Hill are charmed by its beauty and say that it's the perfect place to take a long stroll and wander around. While here, make sure to make your way to noteworthy spots including the picturesque Louisburg Square and Acorn Street, the latter of which is one of the most photographed places in Boston. After, head down Charles Street, where you'll find restaurants, shops and bars. Fans of the TV show "Cheers" will want to walk down Beacon Street to find the bar that inspired the program.

best places to visit downtown boston

Old North Church Old North Church

Most people who know anything about American history have heard of Paul Revere's famous midnight ride, when he rode through town to warn people about the arrival of British troops. Before heading off to Lexington, Revere gave orders at Old North Church. Robert Newman – the church's sexton – and Captain John Pulling Jr. – the church's vestryman – then climbed the steeple and held two lanterns as a signal that the British were indeed coming, but by sea.

The church itself, which is officially named Christ Church, is filled with beautiful relics from the past, including North America's oldest set of change ringing bells and chandeliers brought in from England in the early 1700s. The pews have a long history as well; Pew No. 54 was reserved for Paul Revere's son.

best places to visit downtown boston

Boston Children's Museum Boston Children's Museum

With a giant milk bottle structure at the front of the building, it's hard to miss the Boston Children's Museum. Here, hands-on exhibits present a fun and engaging way for kids to learn about various sciences, culture, art and health and wellness, among other subjects. Among the museum's standout exhibits are "Construction Zone," where little ones can learn about and play with kid-sized construction equipment, "The Common," where kids play with color, games and music, and "Japanese House" – a 100-year-old authentic Japanese house reconstructed in Boston by Japanese carpenters.

Museumgoers praise the variety of engaging exhibits tailored to kids within different age groups and can't recommend it enough. Others warn the museum gets crowded, especially in the summer.

best places to visit downtown boston

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway free

Boston is packed with cool outdoor spaces, but this nearly 1½-mile-long series of parks and gardens offers more than most. The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway was established to link Boston's diverse neighborhoods through a series of lawns, parks and walkways that occupy a former highway tunnel. Since opening in 2008, visitors have flocked to this sprawling green space to enjoy temporary public art displays, bubbling fountains, numerous food vendors and a carousel. Plus, the park offers free weekly events, including food and art festivals, summer concert performances and seasonal fitness classes.

Many previous visitors said the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway not only offers a much-needed respite from the city, but also an easy way to explore Boston with kids during the warmer months. And, in many sections of the Greenway, you're never more than a few steps away from the Freedom Trail .

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Art & Culture

Freedom Trail: Small Group Tour of Revolutionary Boston

Freedom Trail: Small Group Tour of Revolutionary Boston

(2114 reviews)

from $ 39.50

best places to visit downtown boston

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

This hands-on museum offers an entertaining look at one of Boston's pivotal moments. You can toss (fake) tea overboard, climb around replica ships and converse with period actors about Colonial issues. Exhibits at the museum, which is located on Griffin's Wharf (close to where the actual Tea Party occurred on Dec. 16, 1773) include 3D holograms, talking portraits and the Robinson Tea Chest, an authentic tea chest from the Boston Tea Party. Two of the three ships have been recreated, the Beaver and the Eleanor, which are fun to explore. The film "Let It Begin Here" depicts the events that immediately preceded the American Revolution. You can also grab a cup of tea or a snack in Abigail's Tea Room, which has one of the best views of the harbor around.

Visitors love the interactive nature of the museum and tossing tea overboard, saying their time there was entertaining for all ages. They also add that the guides are informative and stay in character.

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Museum of Science Museum of Science

If you're traveling with young ones in tow, be sure to swing by the Museum of Science. Here, kids can learn about astronomy, earth sciences and anatomy, not to mention participate in some fun interactive exhibits. Budding scientists can examine the Arctic in "Arctic Adventure: Exploring with Technology" exhibit or play on swings to learn about physics in "Science in the Park." The museum also features the Charles Hayden Planetarium, where you can indulge your inner astronaut during shows. Meanwhile, at the Mugar Omni Theater, you'll feel like you're actually in the IMAX film thanks to its cutting-edge sound technology and five-story-high projection screen.

Although the museum is very kid-focused, past visitors said that young-at-heart adults and even teens will get a kick out of the museum's engaging displays and shows. Though most travelers spend about half a day exploring the museum, you could easily allocate an entire day to this attraction. Also, remember that separate tickets (which cost extra) are needed for some museum features, such as IMAX films, planetarium shows and the Garden Walk and Insect Zoo.

best places to visit downtown boston

Boston Duck Tours Boston Duck Tours

Wander Boston for a couple of hours and you're sure to see a Duck Tour quacking its way through the streets (and waterways). These "Truck Duck" vehicles recreate the look of a DUKW truck used by the U.S. military during World War II and transport tourists all over the city by land and water. The tours drive past a number of landmark sites including the Old State House, Newbury Street , Prudential Tower, Public Garden and the Swan Boats, and Copley Square (home to the Boston Public Library ). Once launched into the water, you'll cruise down the Charles River checking out MIT, the Longfellow Bridge, as well as the Esplanade and the Hatch Shell. 

Besides giving tours around the city, Boston Duck Tour boats have been used in all of the victory parades since 2002 for the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins (the city's major teams for football, baseball, basketball and hockey, respectively). What started off simply as a way to roll the Patriots through downtown Boston for a Superbowl celebration has turned into a much-loved tradition that continues today.

best places to visit downtown boston

Boston Symphony Orchestra Boston Symphony Orchestra

Even if you're not a classical music aficionado, you can't miss attending one of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's world-renowned performances at Symphony Hall. The BSO began performing in 1881. Today, the symphony performs everything from family shows to traditional concerts and Boston Pops – a lively performance filled with singing and a variety of music. The BSO performs at Symphony Hall from September through April, then heads to Tanglewood (which is about 130 miles west of Boston) in the summer.

Past spectators not only praised the world-class talent, but also noted the impressive acoustics of Symphony Hall as a main selling point for attending future concerts. If you can't score tickets to an orchestra performance, consider taking a free tour of Symphony Hall. Tours, which are offered in the fall, winter and spring, provide information about the property, as well as insight into the orchestra's musicians and conductors.

best places to visit downtown boston

New England Holocaust Memorial New England Holocaust Memorial free

Gaze up at the six 54-foot glass towers that comprise the New England Holocaust Memorial, and you're bound to be awestruck. Dedicated in 1995, each haunting tower is etched with numbers. The 6 million numbers represent the Holocaust's victims, while the towers represent the six major death camps. There is also a granite path covered in quotes from survivors that leads visitors inside the towers.

Recent visitors described walking through the columns as an emotionally charged and unforgettable experience. The monument's location next to Faneuil Hall Marketplace makes it very accessible while walking the Freedom Trail .

best places to visit downtown boston

Martha's Vineyard Daytrip from Boston with Round-Trip Ferry & Island Tour Option

(2148 reviews)

from $ 115.00

Best of Boston Small Group Tour w/Boat Cruise + USS Constitution

Best of Boston Small Group Tour w/Boat Cruise + USS Constitution

(212 reviews)

from $ 160.00

The North Shore: Salem & Cape Ann Private Day Trip from Boston

The North Shore: Salem & Cape Ann Private Day Trip from Boston

from $ 420.00

best places to visit downtown boston

Paul Revere House Paul Revere House

For a glimpse of what life was like in the late 1700s, head to Paul Revere's former residence in the North End . The house, which is situated on the Freedom Trail , offers insight into how homes looked in Revere's time (it's even filled with period pieces, including fine silver). Inside, history fans can admire the building's sweeping beams, spacious fireplaces and some original furnishings owned by the Revere family.

If you like American history, travelers say you'll enjoy seeing the Paul Revere House. This house is small, though, so don't allot more than an hour to tour the property. Docents are friendly and knowledgeable.

best places to visit downtown boston

Massachusetts State House Massachusetts State House free

The golden-domed Massachusetts State House is an important building for many reasons and is one of the stops on the Freedom Trail . The land it sits on was originally used as John Hancock’s cow pasture. It was designed by Charles Bulfinch and completed in 1798 and the cornerstone was laid by Samuel Adams in 1795. A copper dome was installed by Paul Revere in 1802 (later covered in gold). Nowadays, senators, state representatives and the governor conduct the Commonwealth's business here.

Free tours are offered by docents who explain the building's history and discuss the important art and architecture within. Make sure to look for the Sacred Cod in the House of Representatives Chamber. The almost 5-foot wooden cod symbolizes the importance of the salt cod industry to the area.

best places to visit downtown boston

New England Aquarium New England Aquarium

Your kids will find plenty to love at the New England Aquarium, starting with the Atlantic harbor seals that hang out just beyond the ticket booth. Inside, you'll find thousands of marine critters to study, and at the center: the Giant Ocean Tank. This four-story tank includes a coral reef habitat that houses more than 1,000 underwater creatures including green sea turtles, eels and barracuda. In other parts of the aquarium, you'll find exhibits dedicated to penguins, sea jellies and seadragons, plus a six-story high projection movie screen with digital surround sound, where you can watch films about sea creatures and more. And don't forget to check out the Shark and Ray Touch Tank, which allows visitors to graze sharks and rays as they swim by.

While some visitors bemoan the aquarium's compact size (which, in turn, made for thick crowds), many appreciate the attraction's variety of animals. Several travelers also recommend watching a penguin or seal feeding.

best places to visit downtown boston

USS Constitution USS Constitution free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Every July 4th, the USS Constitution takes her annual "turnaround" sail in Boston Harbor. The particular sail is the only one open to the public and the US Navy holds a lottery with the lucky winners getting to board "Old Ironsides." – Jill LeGrow

History lovers, boat enthusiasts and military aficionados alike can't miss the chance to board the USS Constitution. Docked at the Boston National Historical Park in Charlestown, this historic vessel is the world's oldest commissioned warship still operational today. It is helmed by United States Navy sailors, who also serve as the ship's guides. The ship's accompanying museums displays nearly 2,000 artifacts related to the ship's history.

best places to visit downtown boston

Bunker Hill Monument Bunker Hill Monument free

Bunker Hill Monument is part of the Boston National Historical Park and a stop on the Freedom Trail . The first major battle of the American Revolution took place on Breed's Hill in June 1775, though originally it was supposed to take place on nearby Bunker Hill. Names aside, the British won the battle but fared worse than their American foes. The British sacrificed about nearly half of their 2,400 men; American casualties were between 300 and 500 out of an army of 1,400 to 1,800 soldiers. Construction of the monument started in 1827 and was completed in 1842. The 221-foot granite obelisk offers fabulous views from its observatory, though you have to work for it by climbing 294 steps to the top.

Start your visit at the Bunker Hill Museum, located across the street. Exhibits explain the Battle of Bunker Hill, the construction of the monument, and the history of Charlestown. Free tickets are required to climb the monument and you can also pick them up at the museum. Visitors enjoy the museum and say the monument is awe-inspiring and the grounds beautiful.

best places to visit downtown boston

Food & Drink

Boston's North End Small Group Food Tour

Boston's North End Small Group Food Tour

(779 reviews)

from $ 75.00

Boston Small-Group Walking Food Tour With Tastings

Boston Small-Group Walking Food Tour With Tastings

(575 reviews)

from $ 106.00

Boston: North End to Freedom Trail - Food & History Walking Tour

Boston: North End to Freedom Trail - Food & History Walking Tour

(1230 reviews)

from $ 99.00

best places to visit downtown boston

View Boston View Boston

U.S. News Insider Tip: To save some cash on your sightseeing, pick up a Boston CityPass which allows you to visit up to four attractions (such as the Museum of Science , New England Aquarium , Boston Harbor City Cruise and View Boston) for one discounted price. – Jill LeGrow

Replacing the iconic Top of the Hub restaurant and Skywalk Observatory that closed in 2020, View Boston opened in June 2023 to offer 360 panoramic views of Boston from atop the 52nd floor of the Prudential Center. Taking over the top three floors of the Prudential Center, View Boston includes an observatory, a wraparound roof deck and indoor/outdoor cocktail bar called Stratus, and a floor with interactive exhibits such as a projection-mapped 3D model of Boston. There's also Beacon, a bistro offering seasonal beverages and food.

best places to visit downtown boston

The Mapparium The Mapparium

Located at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, this three-story, stained glass globe never fails to elicit wonder. Designed by the architect of the Christian Science Publishing Society building, Chester Lindsay Churchill, the globe depicts the world as it was in 1935.

The "How Do You See the World" experience includes the globe; the "Our World: Mapping Progress," which highlights humanity's achievements since 1935; and "Points of Progress," where you can learn about significant events in human rights, scientific advances, exploration, and other fields. A 10-minute audio narration features clips from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jane Goodall, Wangari Maathai (a Kenyan Nobel laureate) and others. One of the coolest features of the globe is that it is a "whispering gallery." Stand at one end of the gallery while a friend stands at the other. Whisper something to them and they will be the only one to hear it.

best places to visit downtown boston

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