Top Things To Do In Boston

Save 45% on admission to the top 4 Boston attractions with CityPASS.

Few U.S. cities can claim the history that Boston offers. From the clock tower that sent Paul Revere on his midnight ride to neighborhoods that have changed little for generations, Boston has much to offer. And for those who want to immerse themselves both in Beantown's history and modern points of interest, below is a list of Boston's top things to do. Wise travelers will take advantage of the "T," the nation's first subway line, as well as heeding Boston's moniker as "America's Walking City."

New England Aquarium

With the four-story Giant Ocean Tank as its centerpiece, the New England Aquarium features more than 40,000 creatures, including Myrtle, a 500-pound (227 kilograms) green sea turtle that reigns within.

What to Do
Be sure to visit the Edge of the Sea touch tank, the East Coast’s largest hands-on tidal pool experience, with bonnethead sharks and cownose rays. The tank also has viewing windows as another way to get up close to the animals.

What to See
Penguins, seadragons, and Atlantic harbor seals that romp in a natural setting. The seadragon exhibit has both kinds of seadragons, weedy and leafy, in an Australian temperate reef.

>> Learn more about the New England Aquarium.

Museum of Science

Three levels of engaging exhibits showcase the museum’s theme: "Science is an activity." You'll be able to experience more than 700 exhibits, animal presentations, science demonstrations, and a 4-D theater.

What to Do
Discovery Center is a haven for children under the age of 8, with activities designed just for them. Savvy older siblings can visit with Ada and Grace, the two virtual guides in Cahners ComputerPlace.

What to See
Everyone can enjoy the indoor lightning show created by the world’s largest Van de Graaff generator. The Charles Hayden Planetarium, which reopened in early 2011 after a $9 million renovation, is now home to the most technologically advanced digital theater in New England.

>> Learn more about the Museum of Science.

Boston Harbor Cruises

Get a unique view of Boston by seeing it by sea. Enjoy a fun and information-packed 90-minute Historic Sightseeing Cruise aboard a Boston Harbor Cruises ship.

What to Do
Sit back and relax while you enjoy a fully-narrated cruise. Also make sure to keep your camera out — there are plenty of photo opportunities of some of the best views of Boston's skyline.

What to See
During your cruise you'll pass the actual location of The Boston Tea Party and you'll be able to see the Old North Church. On Long Wharf you'll see the 1760s Gardiner Building, once the home of John Hancock's counting house.

>> Learn more about Boston Harbor Cruises.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Boasting more than 12,000 specimens, the Harvard Museum of Natural History was opened in 1998 as the public face of three research museums: the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Harvard University Herbaria, and the Mineralogical & Geological Museum. The museum is the most-visited attraction at Harvard.

What to Do
Find the spectacular Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Flowers, astonishing both for their beauty and botanical accuracy. Up to 3,000 are on display at any time and represent more than 830 plant species. The same glass artists Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka also have glass sea creatures on display at the museum.

What to See
Before leaving the museum, be sure to see the 42-foot (13 meters) skeleton of Kronosaurus, a prehistoric marine reptile; the 1,600-pound (726 kilograms) amethyst geode; and the Great Mammal Hall.

>> Learn more about the Harvard Museum of Natural Science.

Franklin Park Zoo

With 72 acres of wildlife habitat in Boston's historic Franklin Park, meet hundreds of exoctic animals from around the world. Be inspired by the Zoo's commitment to conservation.

What to Do
Check out Nature's Neighborhoods—the Children's Zoo, where you can get a bird's eye view of the entire Zoo. Let kids frolic among giant fish, slip down a giraffe-like tube slide, and "hop on" a Panamanian golden frog spring rocker at the Zoo's playground. Find an oasis in the city, as you walk past rows of vegetables, fragrant herbs, and seas of wildflowers in the organic garden.

What to See
Visit Serengeti Crossing to see zebras and ostrich, white-bearded wildebeests, warthogs and other species typically found on the African Savannah. Enter the rarefied world of the rainforest, where dozens of free-flight birds swoop through lush greenery and rushing waterfalls in a habitat home to hundreds of animals.

>> Learn more about the Franklin Park Zoo.

Fenway Park

Fenway Park is the nation’s oldest baseball stadium, and always has an impressive turnout. After opening in 1912, this park stands the test of time, with Red Sox players swingin’ bats for over a century. Red Sox fan or not, you can’t pass up the opportunity to visit Fenway Park.

What to Do
While you’re enjoying the wonders of the Red Sox in action you can enjoy a classic, all-American dog and get yourself a festive balloon hat on Yawkey Way. If your legs get a little restless, make a quest to find Autograph Alley. It’s usually in the team store, but it changes location every now and again. You never know who you’ll run into there.

What to See
It might seem obvious, but if you’re not seeing the Red Sox play at Fenway Park you’re not seeing a whole lot! Hear the clack of the bat hitting the baseball and watch it soar toward center field. However, you can take a tour of Fenway even if the Red Sox aren’t in town.

>> Learn more about Fenway Park.

TD Garden

TD Garden, home to the NHL’s Boston Bruins and the NBA’s Boston Celtics, is a baby compared to century-old sites like Fenway Park. But with more than 30 million people gracing the Garden since its grand opening in 1995, there’s a lot to see and do.

What to Do
If you’ve arrived early or want to wait awhile after the game to avoid traffic, find some time to relax at the Hub -- a full-service bar complete with a panoramic view of Boston. It’s a perfect place to see the city above before exploring it on your own.

What to See
If you’re not in town to see a hockey or basketball game, or if sports aren’t really your thing, there are still plenty of things to see at TD Garden. With over 200 events each year, you can belt out your high notes during a concert or enjoy an ice show with the whole family.

>> Learn more about TD Garden.

Boston Public Library

Visiting a library may not seem like a lot of fun on the surface, but as with most of Boston there's always more than meets the eye. At the Boston Public Library, you'll come out with more than just a book.

What to Do
Let a tour guide show you the library ropes. At the Boston Public Library, you'll get to walk through the stunning Bates Hall, regarded as one of the most important pieces of architecture in the world. A barrel-arched ceiling and impressive sculptures of renowned authors and Boston natives are sure to amaze.

What to See
Along with the elaborate architecture, the Boston Public Library offers a variety of galleries featuring well-known artists. The Chavaness Gallery, The Abbey Room, and The Sargent Gallery contain large murals of various themes. Check out the "Quest of the Holy Grail" for more than 150 spectacular paintings.

>> Learn more about the Boston Public Library.

Comedy Show at The Wilbur

Built in 1914 by the Shubert brothers, this theatre is one of a kind. Instead of relying on European influences like most theatres do, the Wilbur is pure American. Revel in the laughs, and soak in the colonial architecture.

What to Do
It’s a challenge to hold in a laugh at a comedy show. The Wilbur is known for its top-notch acts and the best thing you can do at this all-American theatre is laugh until you cry. Or maybe you’re in the mood for something a little easier on the ribcage. At the Wilbur, you can soothe your ears with some great live music, too.

What to See
If you’re going for comedy, there are always A-list comedians to keep an eye out for. Anyone from Bill Maher to Jimmy Fallon has performed at the Wilbur, and many more famous comedians continue to do so. Don’t settle for a chuckle, settle for a side-splitting hoorah at the Wilbur theatre.

>> Learn more about The Wilbur.

The Freedom Trail

Established more than 50 years ago, those who follow this 2.5-mile (4 kilometers) path will take themselves past 16 nationally significant historic sites. This is one of the top things to do in Boston for all history buffs.

What to Do
Well marked by either red bricks or red paint, the trail includes the USS Constitution, Faneuil Hall, the Old State House, Boston Common and more.

What to See
Each site on the trail helps you learn more about the history of the American Revolution. There's so much to see and experience on the Freedom Trail. Make sure to bring along your camera for all the amazing photo opportunities.

>> Learn more about the Freedom Trail.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is home to many magnificent collections including treasures from Egypt and the ancient world, the finest collection of Monets outside of Paris, and a collection of Asian art.

What to Do
Enjoy works by Degas, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt and Renoir, to name a few. MFA constantly always has new exhibits coming and going, so look at their website before you go so you know what to expect.

What to See
The new Art of the Americas Wing, which opened in November 2011, added 51,338 square feet (4,769 square meters) to the museum, doubling the number of works from the collection that can be on view at a single time. This wing houses 5,000 examples of art, including the iconic silver Liberty Bowl by Paul Revere.

>> Learn more about the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Boston Common

A choice bit of real estate set off in 1634 to serve as a "cow pasture and training field," Boston Common is now an integral part of the city’s life. Boston Common is also the "starting point" of the Freedom Trail, though technically you can start your journey at any point on the trail.

What to Do
Depending on the season, the park attracts picnickers in summer and ice skaters (who flock to Frog Pond) in winter. But the best thing to do is just relax and enjoy the green space of the park.

What to See
Public gatherings are – literally – common; well-known speakers include Martin Luther King Jr., Pope John Paul II, and Gloria Steinem. Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ famous sculpture honoring the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment is located at the park’s northeast corner.

>> Learn more about the Boston Common.

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall, a place of history and community, has been around since the early 1700s. A marketplace and a meeting hall wrapped in one red, white, and blue package, this landmark destination was the location of speeches from the likes of Samuel Adams and James Otis -- critical figures in the history of American Independence.

What to Do
Faneuil Hall is only one elemental piece of the grand marketplace. Three buildings, the North Market, Quincy Market, and South Market, are full of great treasures. Make your way through the crowd and find something to take home with you from one of the many local merchants. You can also catch a glimpse of the talented local street performers — some juggle and dance while others stand still as statues.

What to See
Faneuil Hall is filled with paintings and sculpture busts of activists from the Revolutionary War. Roam through the hall to uncover a visual history, or crane your neck to see the Grasshopper weather vane high atop Faneuil Hall.

>> Learn more about Faneuil Hall.

Boston Harbor & USS Constitution

The Boston Harbor is home to the USS Constitution, a famous naval vessel used during the War of 1812. After defeating the British warship HMS Guerriere, the USS Constitution was nicknamed "Old Ironsides" when its tough and rugged exterior remained unscathed after being blasted with enemy cannons. Head to the harbor and take a trip to the past as you learn about the history of naval warfare.

What to Do
Experience history in the "All Hands on Deck: A Sailor's Life in 1812" exhibit at the USS Constitution Museum. This interactive exhibit allows you to explore the troublesome hardships of life on the sea. Get ready for war as you relive the date the War of 1812 was declared and participate in a variety of hands-on activities perfect for anyone of any age.

What to See
As you board "Old Ironsides," you'll get to see real Navy men and women at work. Considered to be a special-duty assignment, these men and women work on the ship to promote education of naval history. The ship is open year-round and the active-duty personnel are always giving free tours.

>> Learn more about the Boston Harbor & USS Constitution.

North End

The North End of Boston is comprised of many well-known historical sites. The majority of Freedom Trail exists in the North End neighborhood and is visited by more than 3 million people every year.

What to Do
Walk through Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and see more than 2,000 markers dating back to the 1600s. Head over to Hanover Street where everything is vibrant and the warm smells of food flood your senses. Take time to eat a meal at one of restaurants in the area, you won't be disappointed!

What to See
The North End neighborhood is Boston’s oldest, and the architecture is as beautiful as it is historic. As you stroll along the cobblestone streets, take note of the sturdy designs. The 1713 Clough House is made of 18th century bricks and has yet to be huffed and puffed away.

>> Learn more about the North End.

Old North Church & Paul Revere House

Both the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s House are must-sees in the historic North End neighborhood. See for yourself the home of Paul Revere, the messenger who announced to the Patriot leaders that the British were coming. Visit the Old North Church where the lanterns were hung to warn others of the British march to Lexington and Concord.

What to Do
To step foot inside the Old North Church is exciting enough, but you haven’t lived the Revolution until you explore the rest of the campus. At Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop, you can indulge in 18th century chocolates just like the colonial Americans did. After you satisfy your sweet tooth, take a look at the 18th century printing process at the Printing Office of Edes & Gill. The mass production of news helped spark the Revolution.

What to See
At Paul Revere’s House there is an abundance of authenticity. Marvel at the late 18th century appearance and soak up America’s living history. Upstairs you’ll find furniture that once belonged to the Revere family. There is no tour guide, so take your time and see all there is to see.

>> Learn more about the Old North Church & Paul Revere House.

Bunker Hill Monument

On June 17th, 1775, The Battle of Bunker Hill began. On this day, outnumbered and ill-prepared Americans braved the brute forces of the British Army. Today, the monument stands to represent the first great battle of the American Revolution and is part of the Freedom Trail.

What to Do
Get ready to sweat like a patriot! The most fulfilling activity you can participate in at the Bunker Hill Monument is to climb your way to the top. After 294 steps to the pinnacle, you’ll get the reward of a stunning view.

What to See
If you make it to the top, you’ll witness a view like no other. See Boston as if you were an 18th century patriot, and appreciate the freedom that comes with it. Even from the ground you can admire the towering monument in all its glory. Don’t forget a camera. You’ll want to remember this.

>> Learn more about the Bunker Hill Monument.

Use a Boston CityPASS and save nearly half off combined admission at the top attractions in Boston. Plus, CityPASS holders avoid some ticket and entry lines, which means less time waiting and more time doing. Boston CityPASS includes admission to the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Boston Harbor Cruises, and your choice between the Harvard Museum of Natural History or Franklin Park Zoo. Some special exhibits are not included with the CityPASS and may require an extra fee.

CityPASS can be purchased online or at any of our participating Boston attractions. Use our Boston CityPASS and discover these top places to visit and things to do in Boston.

TD Garden Photo Credit
Wilbur Theatre Photo Credit
Franklin Park Zoo image Courtesy of Franklin Park Zoo

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