17 BEST Places to Visit in Boston [December 2019]

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Located in the eastern state of Massachusetts, Boston is one of New England’s most charming waterfront cities. It provides an attractive blend of culture, history, and striking scenery.

Boston is loaded with attractions that’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s a city that holds great significance in the shaping of America. Many of the buildings and landmarks retell tales of glory, hard work, and determination.

However, you don’t have to be a history-lover to appreciate the city. From a vibrant nightlife scene to chic boutiques and plenty of outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone!

Check out our guide to the best 17 places to visit in Boston, we’re positive they will make your trip as eventful and memorable as possible!

Staying safe in Boston

Boston is considered a safe city to visit. However, just like any other big city, there are a few precautions you’ll want to take during your stay.

There are a few areas of the city you’ll want to avoid late a night. These areas include the Boston Common, the Public Garden, Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester.

Pickpocketing or bag and purse snatching does occur in tourist areas and on public transportation. Stay alert, keep your valuables close to you, and never leave your items unattended.

Stay in the tourist areas, travel with others when possible, and follow the rules of common sense and you should have nothing to worry about!

 

#1 – The Freedom Trail

Possibly one of the most important places to visit in Boston

The Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail (Photo credit – viator.com )

  • See 16 Boston points of interest that are significant to the founding of the United States
  • The trail provides a free and fun way to see the city

The Freedom Trail is one of the top Boston attractions. It’s a self-guided 2.5-mile route that runs next to 16 of the main historic sites in the city. The path leads from the Boston Common to the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill. The whole trail is pedestrian-friendly and labeled with easy-to-follow signs to guide you.

Best Attractions
  • The site of the Boston Massacre is one of the most unique stops on the trail. It’s located right in front of the Old State House. This is the area where 5 colonists were killed, an event that sparked the American Revolution.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in The Freedom Trail, Boston

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#2 – Boston Common and Public Garden

A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Boston

Boston Common and Public Garden

Boston Common and Public Garden (Photo credit – bluebikes.com )

  • The Boston Common marks the start of the Freedom Trail
  • Located in downtown Boston

The Boston Common and Public Garden are two adjoining parks that lie in the heart of the city. 

The Boston Common dates back to 1634 and is the oldest city park in the US. Together these areas provide a large urban green space, filled with walking paths, flowers, draping willow trees, and quiet ponds.

Best Attractions
  • The Swan Boats are arguably the park’s most famous attraction. They’ve been amusing visitors since 1877 when they first launched. They are available from the second weekend of April to the third weekend in September. They operate in a large pond in the Public Garden.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Boston Common and Public Garden, Boston

#3 – Beacon Hill

A great place to see in Boston if you love architecture

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill (Photo credit – advisorsliving.com )

  • Beacon Hill is the postcard picture of Boston
  • A historic district filled with small cafes, antique shops, and boutiques

Beacon Hill is your quintessential Boston neighborhood. With red-brick houses, cobblestoned streets and antique street lamps, this historic area is a must-see in Boston. Charles Street is great for shoppers. It’s lined with independently owned stores. This is upscale Bostonian living at its finest!

Best Attractions
  • Acorn Street is one of the most photogenic streets in Boston. The narrow street is lined with Federal-style and Victorian homes. It’s also one of the few streets in the U.S. with its original cobblestones still in place.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Beacon Hill, Boston

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#4 – The North End

One of Boston’s coolest historical sites!

The North End

The North End (Photo credit – bostonmagazine.com )

  • This area of the city is also Boston’s Little Italy
  • Another historic site located along the Freedom Trail

North End is Boston’s oldest residential community. You’ll find some of the city’s most historic buildings, like the Paul Revere House, the Ozias Goodwin House and St Stephen’s Church. Walk the narrow streets, admire the architecture, and take in the delicious aroma of Italian food!

Best Attractions
  • The Old North Church is the location where the famous “one if by land, two if by sea,” signal was given to Paul Revere. This famous event launched his midnight ride, and thus, the American Revolution! The church was built in 1723, it’s one of the most historic Boston tourist attractions.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in The North End, Boston

#5 – Boston Waterfront

One of the most incredible free places to go to in Boston

Boston Waterfront

Boston Waterfront (Photo credit – theboxerboston.com )

  • The best opportunity for Boston sightseeing
  • You can explore the harbor by walking, or by taking a cruise, ferry, or water taxi

The Boston waterfront offers picturesque views of the city skyline. The Harborwalk is a 43-mile  public walkway that connects 8 neighborhoods of Boston and mainly follows the shoreline around Boston Harbor. There are many areas to stop along the route, including public beaches, museums, cafes, restaurants, and much more!

Best Attractions
  • The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is an interactive museum that will take you through the events of the Boston Tea Party. You’ll be guided by 18th-century costumed actors on a fully immersive tour. Visiting this museum is a must-do in Boston!

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Boston Waterfront, Boston

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#6 – Fenway-Kenmore

A must visit place to visit in Boston on the weekend!

Fenway-Kenmore

Fenway-Kenmore (Photo credit – areavibes.com )

  • An area of the city where Boston’s sports culture and nightlife scene thrives
  • A popular student hangout

Fenway-Kenmore is the city’s lively neighborhood. From sports bars to dance clubs to live music venues and eclectic eateries, there’s a lot going on. The main nightlife scene is centered around Lansdowne Street. If you’re trying to decide where to go in Boston for a fun night out, this is your place!

Best Attractions
  • Fenway Park is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball and one of the most iconic baseball parks in the country. It draws huge crowds for Red Sox games. If you’re visiting outside of baseball season, tours of the ballpark operate year-round.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Fenway-Kenmore, Boston

#7 – Charlestown

Charlestown

Charlestown (Photo credit – onlocationtours.com )

  • The site of many historic attractions in Boston
  • The location from which Paul Revere launched his “midnight ride”

Charlestown is the oldest neighborhood in the city of Boston. It has many ties to the American Revolution. It contains the Bunker Hill Monument that commemorates a major battle in the American Revolutionary War. The Warren Tavern restaurant, which opened in 1780, is still in operation today and claims to have been one of Revere’s favorite taverns.

Best Attractions
  • The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned vessel in the US Navy and the oldest warship in the world still afloat. Today, it is a museum filled with interactive exhibits. Step aboard and explore Boston’s history!

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Charlestown, Boston

#8 – Back Bay

Back Bay

Back Bay (Photo credit – tripadvisor.com )

  • Many of Back Bay’s most notable attractions are found in Copley Square
  • One of Boston’s most expensive residential neighborhoods

The neighborhood of Back Bay is another scenic Boston attraction. From idyllic streets lined with brick homes to trendy restaurants and chic cafes, this district has many alluring factors. It houses New England’s tallest building, the John Hancock Tower. It also contains the Boston Public Library, which was founded in 1848 and is the third-largest public library in the U.S.

Best Attractions
  • Trinity Church was built in 1872. It’s a national treasure and one of the most beloved places of worship in America. General admission into the church is USD $10.00, but your entry fee includes an audio guide that will provide you with more information into the church history.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Back Bay, Boston

MUST READ – There are some incredible day trips from Boston you should know about!

#9 – Cambridge

A fascinating educational place to visit in Boston

Cambridge

Cambridge (Photo credit – castlesunlimited.com )

  • Part of Boston’s metropolitan area
  • Directly north of Boston, across the Charles River

Cambridge is located right next to Boston and is well-known for housing Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It’s a university town with a youthful vibe. There are loads of museums, including the Museum of Science, Harvard Arts Museum, and the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. In addition, you’ll also find a vibrant nightlife scene, cozy cafes, and eclectic restaurants.

Best Attractions
  • Harvard Yard is the oldest part of Harvard University’s campus. It’s a lovely outdoor area surrounded by the campus’s large historic buildings. The Yard is a well maintained grassy area of 22 acres. If you’re looking for free places to see in Boston, add a trip to Harvard Yard to your list!

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Cambridge, Boston

#10 – Boston Harbor Islands

A beautiful outdoor place to visit in Boston

Boston Harbor Islands

Boston Harbor Islands (Photo credit – newengland.com )

  • The islands offer a myriad of outdoor activities
  • The Boston Harbor Islands are accessible by ferry from May to October

Boston Harbor Islands are located just minutes from Boston’s city center. They are made up of 34 islands and peninsulas in total. Catch a ferry and explore the islands. Enjoy a scenic ride as you travel through the Boston Harbor. Discover a historical fort or lighthouse, enjoy a relaxing picnic, and escape the busy city for an afternoon.

Best Attractions
  • Georges Island is home to the historic Civil War-era Fort Warren. The building of the fort began in 1833 and it took nearly two decades to finish. It’s the main attraction of the island and a must-see for history buffs. During the Civil War, the island was used as a training facility for Union soldiers.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Boston Harbor Islands, Boston

Insider tip – Use our expert guide to see when the best time to visit Boston is!

#11 – Newbury Street

A great place in Boston if you love to shop!

Newbury Street

Newbury Street (Photo credit – bisnow.com )

  • The street runs for roughly one mile
  • You’ll also find plenty of dining options along Newbury Street

Newbury Street is one of the best places to go in Boston for shopping. The area comprises a total of eight blocks. From boutiques to salons to home and garden stores, there’s something for everyone. Stroll the tree-lined streets and see the best selection of keepsakes Boston has to offer.

Best Attractions
  • The local stores are the ones we recommend checking out when you visit. Tatyana Boutique sells 1950s vintage clothing items. The Boston Olive Oil Company is a family-owned business with great olive oils and different types of vinegar. Lastly, if you’re into comic books and Star Wars, head to Newbury Comics!

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Newbury Street, Boston

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#12 – Downtown

Downtown

Downtown (Photo credit – istockphoto.com )

  • This is a great area of the city to stay in
  • Many free walking tours depart from downtown Boston

Downtown Boston is a happening area of the city. This is where you’ll find numerous sites located along the Freedom Trail as well as a great mix of historic taverns and lively restaurants. Don’t be surprised if you see costumed actors dressed in 19th-century attire walking down the street, as well as costumed tour guides leading groups of tourists around the city.

Best Attractions
  • The Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a popular downtown shopping market. It offers a large and diverse range of locally produced goods. From shopping options to food vendors, you’ll find anything and everything! This is one of the best attractions in Boston for experiencing the local lifestyle.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Downtown, Boston

#13 – Chinatown

Certainly one of the most exotic places to see in Boston!

Chinatown

Chinatown (Photo credit – globalimmersions.com )

  • One of America’s largest Chinese neighborhoods
  • Located on the edge of the downtown shopping and financial districts

Chinatown is one of the most densely populated areas in Boston. It’s the center of American Asian life in Boston and it houses many Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants and stores. If you’re a fan of Asian food, this is one attraction in Boston you don’t want to miss!

Best Attractions
  • The Chinatown Gate is a traditional gate that sits at the entrance to Chinatown. It was gifted to the city by Taiwan in 1982. It’s the main symbol of Chinatown and makes for a great photo opportunity.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Chinatown, Boston

#14 – Adams National Historical Park

A fascinating educational place to visit in Boston

Adams National Historical Park

Adams National Historical Park (Photo credit – whdh.com )

  • See the site that housed four generations of the Adams family 
  • Access to the property is offered by guided tours only

Adams National Historical Park is located in Quincy, Massachusetts, just ten miles south of Boston. This site is the location of several preserved homes, including the birthplace of two Presidents of the United States, John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams. Walk around 13-acres of a historic landscape. This is one of the best tourist attractions in Boston outside of the city!

Best Attractions
  • John Adam’s Birthplace was built in 1681. It housed another family until John Adams’ father bought the house and the six acres of property it was built on in 1720.  On October 30, 1735, the second president of the United States was born in this quiet modest cottage.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Adams National Historical Park, Boston

#15 – The Esplanade

Awesome place to visit in Boston with kids!

The Esplanade

The Esplanade (Photo credit – boston-discovery-guide.com )

  • It features three play areas, multiple docks, and sports fields 
  • Located in the Back Bay neighborhood, on the south bank of the Charles River

The Esplanade is a three-mile-long waterfront promenade. This is one of the most beautiful places in Boston. It’s a lovely area for walking, running, biking, kayaking, or just relaxing. There are plenty of shaded benches to sit on and the grounds are well maintained. The Esplanade is open 24/7 and is one of the best Boston tourist sites for kids.

Best Attractions
  • The Esplanade Playground is a playground found along the path that is perfect for kids! They’ll enjoy the unique set of structures to climb, slide, and run through. Adults can relax on a bench while their little ones play and take in the amazing views of the Charles River!

Our Favorite Places to Stay in The Esplanade, Boston

#16 – Theater District

A great place to visit Boston at night

Theater District

Theater District (Photo credit – ridecj.com )

  • A great place to go in Boston for nighttime entertainment
  • From historic opera houses and theater to casual comedy clubs, you’ll have plenty of options

The Theater District is a lively area of the city with nightlife options for everyone. If you’re in the mood to see a show, you’ll find plenty of Broadway hits, opera performances, comedy acts, live music and more! You’ll also find an eclectic variety of bars and restaurants.

Best Attractions
  • The Wang Theater is the best place to go in Boston to see a high-quality show. From comedy to concerts to musicals and ballets, this venue hosts an impressive line-up of performances. You’ll experience the very best of Boston’s performing arts culture by visiting this theater.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Theater District, Boston

#17 – Rose Kennedy Greenway

One of the nicer places in Boston to sightsee!

Rose Kennedy Greenway

Rose Kennedy Greenway (Photo credit – boston-discovery-guide.com )

  • The Greenway is a popular place for food trucks to set up
  • Weekly farmers markets can also be found along the Greenway

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is a 17-acre park that stretches a mile and a half in length through several of Boston’s downtown neighborhoods. It’s a linear park, meaning it’s longer than it is wide. The area is filled with decorated gardens, outside murals and sculptures, promenades, plazas, fountains, and much more.

Best Attractions
  • The Greenway Carousel is one of the park’s most unique attractions. It features 14 Boston sea, land, and sky creatures. Take a ride and choose from a grasshopper, lobster, butterfly, or another fun character. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this attraction!

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed our list of the 17 best places to visit in Boston. As you can tell, there are loads of entertaining attractions that will keep you entertained for your whole visit.

Walk the Freedom Trail, wander the picturesque Beacon Hill neighborhood, and explore the Boston Harbor Islands.

No matter what time of year you visit, you’re guaranteed a good time. Summer and spring offer pleasant temperatures that make outdoor activities very enjoyable. A New England fall sees the city decked out in jaw-dropping autumn colors, and in winter a crisp breeze and a light dusting of snow exposes another layer of enchantment. 

Boston is hands-down one of the most vibrant and scenic places to visit in the United States!

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About the Author Nicola Smart

Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!