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Things to Do in Boston - page 2

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Museum of Science Boston
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7 Tours and Activities

With more than 600 interactive exhibits, the Boston Museum of Science is an educational playground so engaging and effortless that you can’t help but learn something. The amazing array of exhibits explores computers, technology, complex systems, algae, maps, models, dinosaurs, birds and much more.

Favorites include the world's largest lightning bolt generator, a full-scale space capsule, a world population meter, and a virtual fish tank. At Investigate!, live science demonstrations involve animals and experiments taking place before your eyes. The Science in the Park exhibit uses familiar objects such as skateboards and playground equipment to teach kids the concepts of physics. You can even find out how much you weigh on the moon! The Museum of Science also houses the Hayden Planetarium and Mugar Omni Theater.

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Franklin Park Zoo
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ust inside Boston's large Franklin Park is the aptly named Franklin Park Zoo. This century-old, 72-acre animal park features some of the best wildlife exhibits in New England, as it is home to more than 200 species. Visitors are welcome to view them all within a wide variety of main exhibits, including the Tropical Forest, a three-acre structure that simulates the natural environment for a variety of native African animals such as bats, gorillas, crocodiles, lemurs and hippos.

The African-themed Kalahari Kingdom houses a lion named Christopher, who guests can see through the glass or up close by way of a Land Rover replica that appears to have “crashed” into his den. The zoo’s other fascinating exhibits include the Outback Trail, the Children’s Zoo and Tiger Tales, which is home to two rescued tigers named Anala and Luther. Perhaps the zoo’s modern day claim to fame is its appearance as the backdrop in the Kevin James 2011 comedy film Zookeeper.

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Fenway Park
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Boston's most cherished landmark? Site of Boston's greatest dramas and worst defeats? To many Bostonians, it's not Bunker Hill or the Tea Party ship, but tiny old Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Built in 1912, Fenway Park is one of the last survivors of old-style baseball parks. Only Wrigley Field in Chicago rivals its legendary status. Baseball at Fenway is special thanks to the unique shape of the park, the intimate playing field, and the one and only Green Monster, the famous towering left field wall that compensates for the relatively short distance from home plate. The Green Monster consistently alters the regular course of play - what appears to be a lazy fly ball could actually drop over the Monster for a home run, and what appears to be a sharp double into the gap may be played off the wall to hold the runner to a single.
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200 Clarendon (John Hancock Tower)
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Boston's John Hancock Tower soars nearly 800 feet above the city, and is not only Boston's tallest building but also the tallest building in all of New England. The 62-story John Hancock Tower was built in 1976 as the home of John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance, but in 2004 the company moved to a different Boston location. The building is now officially known as Hancock Place.

It's a glass-covered skyscraper in the shape of a parallelogram rather than a square or rectangle, and the blue-tinted glass panels beautifully reflect the city and scenery around the tower. There is an observatory deck at the top of the John Hancock tower, but it has been closed to the general public since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The observation deck is available for private events, however.

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Back Bay
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One of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Boston, Back Bay is famous for its architecturally significant buildings, including a series of Victorian brownstone homes. Back Bay is considered one of America’s most desirable areas, and it’s not uncommon to spot celebrities along the prime shopping streets. With that, one of the best ways to explore the neighborhood is to book a Back Bay photography tour, which will take you to the most important and significant buildings.

Some of the most exclusive real estate in Boston is located in Back Bay, which was once just a stagnant pool of water behind the Public Garden. Newbury Street, Boylston Street and Commonwealth Avenue are now among the most popular spots in the area. Be sure to visit the Boston Public Garden, the largest and oldest botanical garden in the country, established in 1837. It's where many visitors start their tour of Back Bay.

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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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Housing one of the world’s finest collections of art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is a must-see on a visit to Boston. The museum’s highlight is undoubtedly its American collection, which includes American paintings and decorative arts.

And there’s more. The Museum of Fine Arts also displays an incredible collection of European Impressionist paintings, including one of the largest collections of Monets outside of Paris. The MFA also holds one of the richest Degas collections in the world, not to mention Asian and Old Kingdom Egyptian collections, classical art, Buddhist temple, and medieval sculpture and tapestries. After you’re done marveling at these treasures, be sure to check out the exhibits of Japanese art, including Buddhist and Shinto treasures.

Best of all, the museum is undergoing an ambitious expansion program, and will soon open a new wing for American art, a renovated Art of Europe galleries, and an improved West Wing devoted to contemporary art.

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Charlestown Navy Yard
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Dating back to 1800, Charlestown Navy Yard was among the most prolific, historic, and vital navy yards in U.S. history. It served as the home of many of the nation's elite warships for the purposes of resupply, maintenance, retrofitting, and service.

The navy yard's most critical role was during America's two largest wars before it closed for good in 1974. From the beginning, Charlestown Navy Yard remained a pioneer of shipbuilding technology and served as a center for electronics and missile conversions. During its almost 175-year history, its staff constructed, christened, and launched over 200 ships and serviced thousands more. After its closing, thirty acres of the yard were earmarked as part of Boston National Historical Park. Today, the U.S. National Park Service oversees this most critical portion of the shipyard.

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More Things to Do in Boston

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

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Boston Harbor Islands National Park is comprised of 34 islands, sprinkled throughout the Boston Harbor. These islands – many of which are open for trail walking, bird-watching, fishing, and swimming – offer a range of ecosystems. On a visit to this park, you’ll encounter sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, fresh and saltwater marsh, and forested trails. Best of all, the islands are only 45 minutes from downtown Boston.

Georges Island is not only one of the transportation hubs for the islands, it is also the site of the 19th century Fort Warren. Spectacle Island, another transportation hub, has walking trails and hosts many special events like live jazz concerts and festivals. Lovells Island draws boaters, swimmers, and sunbathers to its lovely rocky beaches. Here you can catch an afternoon shuttle to Grape Island, where you can pick raspberries, bayberries, and elderberries, all growing wild amid the island’s scrubby wooded trails.

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Castle Island

Castle Island

7 Tours and Activities
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Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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Built more than a century ago, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum boasts one of the city’s most well regarded fine arts collections. American, European and Asian pieces are all included in all varieties of media, including sculpture, paintings, tapestries and more.

In the 90s, the museum became the center of a high profile art theft that included 13 of its most valuable works. In total, the robbers escaped with more than $500 million in artwork, making it the single largest private property theft ever. To this day, the crime remains unsolved, and the whereabouts of the stolen works are unknown. The museum hosts an ever-rotating blend of exhibits, from historic works to more contemporary examples. The dedication to the arts as a whole includes hosting onsite lectures, concerts and community events, while on Sunday afternoons, the museum’s concert series invites musicians to play a variety of favorites, from time-honored classics to new music.

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Louisburg Square

Louisburg Square

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If you’re looking to visit the most exclusive neighborhood in Boston, you’ll want to stop by Louisburg Square in Beacon Hill. The townhouses lining the square have an average value of over $6.7 million, with many selling for well over $10 million.

The houses on Louisburg Square were built primarily in the 1840s, but the area was first settled back in the 1600’s. Rev. William Blaxton moved to this part of Beacon Hill from Charlestown, where the Puritans had settled, to enjoy more peace and quiet. From the time of the first house, the neighborhood was the most fashionable address in Boston. Famous names from shipping and merchant banking, such as Cabot and Appleton, used to call the square home, as well as some famous artistic figures. Charles Bulfinch, the architect of the Massachusetts State House and portions of the US Capital Building, lived in the square.

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Boston Light

Boston Light

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Not surprisingly, Boston boasts the nation's oldest continually operating lighthouse. Boston Light on Little Brewster Island dates back to 1716 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

The original lighthouse was virtually obliterated by British forces near the end of the Revolutionary War. The tower was resurrected in 1783 and in 1859 was raised 14 additional feet to its current height of 102 feet. The beacon is still in use by the Coast Guard today and is capable of shining its light up to 27 miles across the Atlantic. By decree, the Coast Guard had automated all lighthouses throughout the country by 1990. A handful of preservation groups petitioned to keep Boston Light in its original state and eventually Congress relented. Today it is staffed by only a few Coast Guard workers who perform geological surveys, meteorological studies, and other data collection.

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Boston South End

Boston South End

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The South End neighborhood of Back Bay in Boston is where you will find the famous Victorian row houses. It is northwest of South Boston, north of Dorchester, northeast of Roxbury and southwest of Bay Village.

Bow-front row houses are the star of South End. These are aesthetically uniform rows of buildings that date back to the 19th century and are typically five-story red-brick residential and commercial structures that showcase various styles of architecture including Renaissance Revival, Italianate and French Second Empire, Queen Anne Gothic Revival, Greek Revival and Egyptian Revival. Although there are varying styles, these row houses maintain their uniformity through the use of similar materials—red brick, slate, granite or limestone trim and cast iron railings. Bay Village is one of the highlights of the South End section of Boston. It encompasses about six blocks around Piedmont Street and is the hub for Boston’s gay community.

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John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

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The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is tmost commonly referred to as the JFK Library and is located on Columbia Point in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

The building houses original papers and correspondence from the Kennedy Administration, along with special literary materials. These include published and unpublished books and papers by and about the literary great, Ernest Hemingway. The library and museum sit on a 10-acre park that overlooks the sea, an important area to JFK. Kennedy chose the land, which was next to the Harvard Graduate School of Business and faced the Charles River. There would be views across the river to Winthrop House, where Kennedy spent his upperclassman days. Unfortunately, Kennedy was assassinated prior to seeing the construction begin on the library.

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Mapparium

Mapparium

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The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library is a stunning, three-story, stained-glass globe that reflects a 3D representation of how the world was laid out in 1935.

Visitors pass through the globe on a 30-foot glass bridge, surrounded by a seven-minute audio-visual show of words, music, and LED lights to show how the world and ideas have changed over time. The Mapparium was originally built as part of the Christian Science Publishing Society building, and opened on June 1, 1935. Due to the size, concave, spherical walls, and hard surface, the Mapparium has unique acoustics that turn the room into a whispering gallery, where you can hear others across the room no matter which direction you are talking.

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Samuel Adams Boston Brewery

Samuel Adams Boston Brewery

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For more than 30 years, no beer has been as synonymous with the city of Boston as Sam Adams, named after the well-known patriot who played a critical role in the Boston Tea Party and American Revolution.

For a real taste–literally and figuratively–of Boston, a visit to the Sam Adams Brewery is a must. The brewery is among the city's most popular attractions for both beer-loving tourists and locals. Learn about the general history of beer-making and the brewing process, as well as what makes Sam Adams unique. Visitors can sample raw ingredients along the way and gain an appreciation for the materials involved.

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Gibson House Museum

Gibson House Museum

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This popular historical attraction located in the heart of the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston is home to four floors of furniture, artifacts and decor that date back to the 1800s. Visitors can explore this popular attraction on guided tours that detail the life and times and the famous Gibson Family. The home is essentially untouched, making it the perfect place to see how early aristocratic Americans lived.

Travelers can venture through the formal dining room and learn about the Italian Renaissance style that’s evident throughout the home. The brownstone and red brick façade was designed by the iconic architect Edward Clarke Cabot and remains one of the city’s most pristine nods to a long gone era of a life gilded in family heirlooms and European style.

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Mary Baker Eddy Library

Mary Baker Eddy Library

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Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) was a 19th century American author, poet, teacher and founder of Christian Science, and this library, research center and museum gives visitors the chance to take a glimpse into her life. This inspiring New England woman achieved many things during her lifetime and was a pioneer in many fields from business to publishing, education and women’s rights, especially during a time when women had very little power or voice to be heard.

At the Mary Baker Eddy Library you’ll learn more about this remarkable woman through exhibits, collections and a library, which is home to “one of the largest collections by and about an American woman.” While an attraction located in a Christian Science church might scare some off, the exhibits presented are interesting and informative, touching on an array of topics and issues.

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Institute of Contemporary Art

Institute of Contemporary Art

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Located in Boston, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is an art museum and exhibition space that has seen a number of changes over the years. It was founded in 1936 as the Boston Museum of Modern Art and has undergone both name and location changes since. It currently sits in the South Boston Seaport District, where it was built in 2006 and designed with the idea of “from the sky down,” with contemplative space for viewing contemporary art, and “from the ground up,” with areas for public enjoyment.

The ICA is 65,000 square feet, and its design resembles a dramatic folding ribbon with a cantilever that reaches to the water’s edge. Galleries have movable walls and ceilings with adjustable skylights. The Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater seats 325 people and is located on the second and third floors. The Charles and Fran Rodgers Education Center is a two-story education center, which includes Bank of America Art Lab.

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Boylston Street

Boylston Street

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Boylston Street is a popular dining and shopping area in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. It is always bustling with activity, and overflowing bars and restaurants make this a good spot to enjoy a lively evening. You can also taste everything from local seafood to international specialties in the area, or shop some of the most luxury fashion brands.

It was named for Ward Nicholas Boylston in the 18th century, but was known prior as both Frog Lane and Common Street. Many Boston landmarks can be found on Boylston Street, including the Boston Public Library and Public Garden, as well as Emerson College and the Berklee College of Music. It is the final stretch at the end of the Boston Marathon, and a small memorial for the victims of the bombings can be seen in remembrance of those who lost their lives.

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Waterfront

Waterfront

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