Visiting Boston for the First Time? Here's What to See and Do
Boston is a city brimming with history, with winding back streets and brick buildings, a nod to the country’s colonial past. Its waterfront location is perfect for getting outdoors to enjoy lush green parks and breathe in the salty sea air. Besides being the center of culture and education in Massachusetts, this capital city is also known for its fierce local pride. First-time visitors, no matter their interests, are sure to find a wide range of activities in this New England destination. Here are some must-dos for your first trip to Boston.
Walk the Freedom Trail
Meander through Boston’s history.
This 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) walking path winds past many of Boston’s historical landmarks from the colonial and revolutionary eras. Marked with a red brick line, the path carries you through the heart of the city. Visit Faneuil Hall, explore the city’s Old State House, and see the site of the Boston Massacre before ending up in modern-day Boston at Copley Square. There are 16 set stops on the Freedom Trail, but the path allows for flexibility to explore the city at your own pace.
Immerse yourself in Boston’s museums
Art and culture thrive in this city.
Boston is full of museums, both large and small. Make sure to hit the major players, like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, famous for its eclectic collection housed in an Italian-style villa. Afterward, dive into the region’s unique cultural history at spots like the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Salem Witch Museum. For a bargain on a day or two of museum trips, pick up a sightseeing pass, such as CityPass.
Visit Fenway Park
Watch a ballgame in America’s oldest ballpark.
Boston is a baseball town, and games are held at the iconic Fenway Park. Home of the Boston Red Sox, the park is an impressive site, even when it’s not baseball season. On a guided tour of Fenway, you can visit the roof deck that overlooks right field, see the famous 37-foot (11-meter) “Green Monster” as well as “Pesky’s Pole,” and learn why these highlights are significant to Red Sox history. If you have a chance, make sure to catch a home game to feel the energy of local Bostonians cheering on their team.
Discover the North End
Explore Boston’s historically Italian neighborhood.
Boston is home to a large Irish and Italian population, and the Italian community once congregated around the North End neighborhood. With its dense brick buildings, twisting side streets, and many restaurants, Boston’s North End is a unique place to spend the afternoon. Visit the many churches in the area (including the Old North Church), stop by historical sites like the Paul Revere House, and taste the wide range of traditional Italian and American Italian food, including pizza.
Take a Duck Tour
See Boston from the water.
The renovated World War II-era amphibious vehicles known as ducks now serve as an excellent way to get out on the Charles River and experience Boston from the water. Pass the Boston Garden, the Boston Common, Beacon Hill, and Bunker Hill on land before driving off-road and into the river to get a water-side view of the city. For a comprehensive experience of the city, the Duck Boat Tours have it covered.
See these gentle giants in their natural habitat.
Massachusetts is one of the top whale-watching spots in the world. Admire these majestic animals up close from Boston via boat. Cruise around the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay to spot whales and other marine life with the help of a naturalist guide. The area is a feeding ground for humpback, fin, minke, pilot whales, dolphins, sea birds, and more.
Go on a Boston pub crawl
Sample Boston’s local beers throughout the city.
The city that served as the setting for Cheers knows its beers. Bars and taverns dot the city, ideal places to experience Boston’s nightlife. Raise a few pints of local beer in the city’s historic drinking holes and hear stories about Boston's past. You can also swing by a brewery like Samuel Adams or Harpoon to learn about the Boston brewing process and taste these famed local beers.