10 Best Things To Do In Boston

So you are thinking about visiting Boston? Good for you. Most people overlook this historical city for its ritzy, over-priced neighbor to the South. I am looking at you, New York. But for those of you who are interested in US history and not so interested in paying $20 dollars for a cocktail, Boston is an excellent option. The city is filled with amazing restaurants, plenty of attractions to keep you busy, and super friendly locals. I had the pleasure of spending four days here, and if I could have, I would have extended it to a week or longer. I immediately fell in love with the red brick buildings, cobble stone streets, open air market and of course the Bahston accent.

However, not all that glitters is gold. Whenever I visit a new city, I make a point to find something that I dislike about it. Everyone wants to share the good stuff, but nobody wants to share the not so good parts of their travel stories. As someone who has had Boston on their must visit list for FAR too long, it was pretty difficult for me to find something about this city that I didn’t love. If I had to choose one thing, it would be that the main attractions of the city are spread out so far that it was hard to explore without a car. I didn’t rent a car during my stay, mostly because I planned on doing a fair bit of drinking and knew that driving wouldn’t be a viable option for me. Thus, I ended up spending close to $100 on Uber’s during my 4 day stay. So my suggestion to you is to rent a car, limit your alcohol intake and spend the days cruising through some of the oldest streets in the country.

 10 Best Things to do in Boston

things to do in boston

Eat Italian in the North End

So you are on a search for the best bruschetta this side of Tuscany? Wander through the North End of Boston and you are likely to find more than a handful of contenders. When I was in the city, the best Italian food I had was from a restaurant called Panza. It was a little place with maybe 10 tables. The Italian staff know exactly what you are looking for and are totally willing to suggest their favorite dishes on the menu. I ordered the bruschetta, obviously, as well as the baked ziti with meatballs. Though my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach (the portions are huge), I left completely content and full to the brim. I went for lunch, so I didn’t have to wait for a table, but their Yelp reviews suggest that it is fairly tough to get a seat here for dinner. They do take reservations though, so hit up OpenTable before you go, just to be on the safe side.

Panza

Address: 326 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113
Phone: 1 (617) 557-9248
Hours:11:30AM–3PM, 5–10PM

Eat a Canoli at Mike’s Pastry

Mike’s is a Boston institution and has been open on Hanover St. since 1946. Though locals will probably suggest a couple of other pastry shops that are a little less tourist centered, the experience at Mike’s is one for the books. You can spot the shop from down the block by the crowd of people gathering outside. We arrived at about 9PM on a Saturday night and stood in line for close to 30 minutes before reaching the pastry case. They have close to 20 different types of canoli as well as tons of other options. However, since this is the home of the canoli, there was nothing else we would have ordered. The sweet flaky dough combined with the light, rich cream filling was like nothing I have ever tasted before (I haven’t been to Italy yet, so I can’t compare, but MAN was it good). We ordered pistachio, espresso, and chocolate chip canolis and each one was special in its own way. For me, espresso was the winner. Don’t forget to bring cash, as this establishment is Cash Only.
Address: 300 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113
Phone:(617) 742-3050
Hours:8AM–10PM
things to do in boston

Take the Harpoon Brewery Tour

Before arriving in Boston, I had never even heard of Harpoon Brewery. I had come to Boston with every intention of taking the Sam Adams Brewery tour, but my travel partner mentioned that Harpoon was supposed to be cool. Though it is a ways from the center of the city, it was definitely worth the price of the cab ride. The brewery is huge and the tour was really interesting. I learned from the tour that it is the oldest and largest continually operated brewery in Massachusetts, and that they don’t sell their beer on the West Coast, which was a bummer since I got very attached to their Hoppy Adventure Double IPA. When you walk into the building you will face the German crafted beer hall where you can enjoy a cold one and a pretzel which transported me back to my days in Munich. The tour only costs $5 per person and on Sunday’s it runs every half hour. I believe it is every 15 minutes on Saturdays and once an hour during the week. After the main portion of the tour, you enter the Tasting Room, where the tour guides will pour you as many samples as you like over a period of 20 minutes or so. I think I tried all 10 beers that they had on tap in 20 minutes, so my cab ride back to the hotel was interesting to say the least. Maybe don’t drink the IPA flight in the 20 minutes before the tour, like I did.

Address: 306 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 00210 
Phone:(617) 456-2322
Tour Hours:11:30AM–5:30PM
Beer Hall Hours:
Friday - Saturday 11AM-11PM 
Sunday - Thursday 11AM-7PM
Things to do in boston

Have a Drink at Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square

After strolling through the pristine grounds of the Harvard campus, you are likely going to want to drink away the fact that you were not smart enough to be a part of this elite group of academics. If so, Russell House Tavern in the center of Harvard Square is an excellent choice. They have a wide variety of beers to choose from, as well as a fully stocked bar and food that rivals the best restaurants in Seattle. I ordered an IPA, of course, and followed it with 6 of their most popular oysters. I can’t tell you what type they were because the IPA was 10% alcohol and I honestly don’t remember, but they were awesome. The bar has a hipster vibe with old school light bulbs hanging over the bar and a bartender with a huge beard and a bow tie. Coming from Seattle, this was right up my alley.

Address: 14 John F. Kennedy St, Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone:(617) 500-3055
Hours:11AM–1AM
Things to do in boston

Have Tea at the Boston Public Library

After signing up for a Secret Boston group on FB and reading about Tea Time at the Public Library, I thought I was so cool. I had found an underground activity that no one knew about and I was going to impress everyone with my insider knowledge. After talking to a coworker who used to live in Boston, I realized that I wasn’t that cool and that most locals do know about it. Oh well, it was still really fun and it is an off-beat activity that not everyone gets to experience. The library itself it beautiful, though a bit confusing. I spent about 15 minutes wandering around looking for the bathroom after I had consumed too much tea. Don’t be like me. Ask someone instead of thinking you will be able to find it on your own. Back to the tea. The cost is $35 and it is completely worth it. They have a ton of different tea options as well as scones, cookies, and some savory sandwiches. Everything we ate lived up to our expectations and we walked away full, and you can check out the menu here.

Address: 700 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116
Phone:(617) 536-5400
Hours:9AM–9PM

Visit Boston Common

Boston Common, or The Common, is the oldest city park in the country and was created in 1634. It consists of 50 acres of land that was at one point used for cow grazing until the cows overgrazed the park and the Boston government had to limit the area to 70 cows at a time. Intersting, right? Well now it is just a huge park that is constantly filled with families and people walking their pets even on a blustery January day. While we were in town their was an ice skating rink set up in the center. Though it wasn’t as treed as Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, it was still a lovely place to unwind in nature in the middle of a metropolitan city.

Address: 139 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (617) 635-4505
Things to do in boston

Go to a Boston Celtics Game

While I was in Boston, I had the opportunity to go to my very first NBA game. Since Seattle no longer has a team (RIP Sonics), I have never really had the chance to see an NBA team live. Even though I am not a huge basketball fan to begin with, I think that experiencing a sporting event is an essential part of getting a feel for a city and its people. I even got to meet Brian Scalabrine, the White Mamba, in the flesh while I was picking up my tickets. If basketball isn’t your thing or if you happen to be in Boston during NBA off-season, check out a Red Socks game at Fenway Park or a Bruins game at TD stadium instead. You will get to see Boston fans in their element, and there is nothing more electric than that.

things to do in boston

Visit the Oldest Bar and Oldest Restaurant in America

The country’s oldest bar and restaurant are right next to each other in Boston on a cute cobblestone street. The Bell in Hand Tavern was established in 1775 and modeled after popular taverns in London at the time. It has since expanded and is now home to three separate bar areas so there is plenty of seating for all the tourists. While we were there, the pub was hosting a pub crawl so it was filled with drunk, rowdy Bostonians looking to have a good time, which made the experience much more entertaining. Union Oyster House which is located just down the street from the Bell in Hand opened its doors in 1826. We ordered clam chowder as well as a half dozen oysters, of which they only have one type to choose from. After having oysters at Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square, these were actually kind of disappointing, but the experience of sitting in the tiny wooden booths and reading about the history of the restaurant and its famous patrons made up for it. We went at lunch on a Saturday and there was not a wait, though I have heard that it is harder to get in for dinner, especially during peak tourist season.

things to do in boston

The Bell in Hand

Address: 45 Union St, Boston, MA 02108
Phone:(617) 227-2098
Hours:11:30AM–2AM

Union Oyster House

Address: 41 Union St, Boston, MA 02108
Phone:(617) 227-2750
Hours:11AM–9:30PM
things to do in boston

Visit the New England Aquarium

This is by far, the best aquarium I have ever been to. Since I have the attention span of a 5-year-old, this was the perfect way for me to wrap up my busy weekend in Boston. There is SO much to see here. Not only are there three different types of penguins, two types of seals, and countless species of fish to watch, there are also two different touch pools. Have you ever touched a sting ray? Well, pop into the New England Aquarium and you will be able to see and feel these beautiful creatures. In the second touch pool, you can feel star fish and sea anemones (which are kind of sticky and a little weird, don’t know how I really feel about that). I spent about 2 hours wandering around, dodging children and strollers, and videotaping jelly fish. I LOVE jelly fish.

Address: 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
Phone: (617) 635-4505
Hours:
Monday - Friday 9 am - 5 pm
Saturday - Sunday 9 am - 6 pm
Things to do in boston

Bike the Freedom Trail

After I have over inundated you with enough food options to kill a horse, you will definitely need to work off some of those pasta and pastry calories. A leisurely bike ride along the Freedom Trail is the perfect way to see the historic landmarks around Boston, while also making yourself feel better about eating those 3 canolis for breakfast. The trail is 2.5 miles in length and runs from Boston Common to the USS Constitution in Charlestown. The hotel we stayed at offered a bike sharing program, so we were able to borrow bikes and helmets which was awesome, but there are also a few bike rental shops near the start of the trail. There are 16 landmarks along the course of the trail, though the most famous of which is Paul Reveres home. I have added a list of all the locations so that you make sure you don’t miss out on any photo ops. Your Instagram will thank me later. Though most of the sights are free admission, the Old South Meeting House, the Old State House, and the Paul Revere House do charge admission, just so you are aware. We didn’t go inside any of these places, so I can’t tell you whether or not it would be worth it to pay for entry. I guess it all depends on what you want to get out of the experience.

  1. Boston Common
  2. Massachusetts State House
  3. Park Street Church
  4. Granary Burying Ground
  5. King’s Chapel
  6. King’s Chapel Burying Ground
  7. Benjamin Franklin Statue
  8. Old Corner Bookstore
  9. Old South Meeting House
  10. Old State House
  11. Site of the Boston Massacre
  12. Faneuil Hall
  13. Paul Revere House
  14. Old North Church
  15. Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
  16. USS Constitution
  17. Bunker Hill Monument

BONUS EXPERIENCE

things to do in boston

Visit the Top of the Hub in the Prudential Tower

The views from the top of the hub are some of the best views we saw in Boston. To me, it was definitely worth the hefty $17 dollar admission price to see 360 degree views of the city from 50 stories up.

Address: 800 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199
Phone:(617) 536-1775
Hours:11:30AM–1:30AM

Spending 4 days in Boston, I was able to accomplish everything on this list. If you have a long weekend and are looking for a great city to visit without the high price tag associated with most East Coast cities, check out Boston. It is filled with US history, which made my heart happy, amazing food, which made my tummy happy, and outdoor activities, which kept my waistline happy. Overall, I enjoyed nearly everything about my experience in Boston and I will definitely be back to check out all the things that I am sure I missed.

What are your favorite things to do in Boston? Are there some local restaurants or bars that you love that I forgot? What drew you into Boston in the first place, history, culture, food? Let me know!

Happy Travels,
B

 

 

15 comments on “10 Best Things To Do In Boston”

  1. ivanaabroad says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Boston! I recently spent six months surrounded by history in Spain. Now that I’m back in western Canada, I’m itching for some cobblestone streets! I’ll have to make a trip out east sometime.

    1. B says:

      Boston was beautiful, but a little bit cold this time of year. You can always come visit Seattle and I can show you around down here 🙂

  2. Omg, some of these I had no idea about, but as far as food it looks like I hit all the right spots! Panza was amazing when I went!

  3. Dara says:

    Honestly, i love Boston. Great article! Makes me wish i could go back soon! Really dig people from Boston too… Accent and all 😉

  4. Joanna says:

    Thank you for this insightful post, it’ll come in handy when I’ll be visiting this amazing city 🙂

  5. lily kate says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit a big US city but thought New York might be a little obvious, so I think I’ve found my answer! Love cities that can be explored on bike or on foot too, what with food always being the most important part. 🙂
    lily x
    jolihouse.com

  6. Tea at the Library is such a great idea! What a great way to stay warm and enjoy the library, definitely add to my Boston activity list. Thanks for sharing the great “not-so-underground-for-the-locals” offbeat activity!

  7. [email protected] says:

    I love your inclusion of food and drink must-dos – I love experiencing a place through its food!
    Also, that sounds like me . . . not so excited about paying 20$ for a cocktail. 😉

  8. Emily says:

    Great post. I love Boston! It’s been too long since I’ve visited, reading this makes me want to go back ASAP

  9. Jenna says:

    Id love to visit Boston some day soon (preferably in the summer months), and when I do, ill keep this list handy 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  10. This is great! Those are definitely some of the best hot-spots around town. If you come back to town you need to take a walk through Boston Public Market– its my #1 favorite spot in BOS!

  11. Hi Becca,
    First time here on your blog (visiting from FB)
    Thanks for sharing this 10 best things to do in Boston!
    I have lived in MA for over 30 years and I have never gone to the North End lol
    That is on my “to do” list for this year 🙂
    Great blog btw 🙂
    Have a great day 🙂

  12. Like A Lady says:

    I’ve been in Boston a few times but only on a layover at the airport. I will definitely be taking a 4 day weekend to explore Boston. Thanks for the suggestions, this list is right up my alley!

  13. Julie Kern says:

    Girl you nailed it! My favorite thing to do here is definitely the Freedom Trail. It’s a little touristy, a lot of history and you can go at your own pace 🙂 Awesome read!

    1. B says:

      Thanks Julie! It was SUCH a fun weekend. Every local I met was asking me when I was going to move to Boston because I was raving about it so much 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

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