Boston is one of the most American cities in the United States and also one of the oldest. Founded in 1630, Boston has undergone changes that reshaped the city from the inside out. Everywhere you go, the air of revolution continues to ring true. In present times, the city is a scintillating blend of history and modernization, where historic establishments from the Revolutionary War stand beside skyscrapers. Whether you are interested in the Tea Party, the Boston Red Sox, historical trails, shopping, or a rich maritime history, there is something in Boston for everyone to enjoy.
If you are planning a trip to Boston, you will find plenty of entertainments and attractions to explore. To get your itinerary started, here are the most fascinating historic places to visit in Boston:
1. Freedom Trail
The trail is a two and a half mile long walk that is one of the best ways to see everything there is to see in the city. Dozens of historic landmarks mark the walk, such as the Boston Common, USS Constitution, the statue of Benjamin Franklin, and the Old South Meeting House. If you want to see every site and take your time, the Freedom Trail takes about 2-3 hours to complete. During the walk, you can also approach guides dressed in colonial garb who are more than happy to give you tips and info.
Want more walks? You might be interested in the Irish Heritage Trail too.
2. Faneuil Haill
Although commonly called Quincy Market, the Faneuil Hall Marketplace has more than just a single market. Established in 1742, the marketplace was established by Peter Faneuil as a place for merchants and fishermen to share their goods to the community. Nowadays, Faneuil Hall has expanded into a major shopping center where you can find retail stores, restaurants, bars, and so much more. It’s the perfect place to stop for a snack or two while walking the Freedom Trail.
During the summer months, Quincy Market has hundreds of street performers—jugglers, buskers, clowns, puppeteers, magicians—to liven up the already dynamic atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to bring children, friends, and family.
3. Boston Public Garden
Located on Charles Street near the famous Boston Common, established in 1634, you can find America’s oldest botanical garden. You might know this place from Good Will Hunting. The gardens also have several statues pertaining to The Jungle Book and historical figures like George Washington. Every season, Public Garden gets a natural makeover as various species of flowers bloom. Don’t forget to take a ride on a Swan Boat!
4. Boston Harbor
One of the most significant locations of American history is the Boston Harbor, where the Boston Tea Party took place in 1773. Since 1614, however, the harbor was a notable place of imports and exports. Currently, you can enjoy shopping, dining, whale-watching tours, and even skyline views on the Boston Harborwalk. You can also get access to 34 islands, like Georges Island, Hangman Island, and Peddocks Island.
5. Paul Revere House
Here is another site along the awesome Freedom Trail: the Paul Revere House, a preserved fragment of the Revolutionary War that is also the city’s oldest building. The two-and-a-half story building is found at the North End. In the past, Paul Revere departed from this place on that fateful April 18th, 1775, when he rode towards Lexington. You can take self-guided tours throughout the house and learn about topics like Revere’s business, his ride to Lexington, and even 300 years of buildings, like the Pierce/Hichborn House and Lathrop Place. There is also a small shop that sells souvenirs and books.
6. Bunker Hill Monument
Many years ago, the British and American Patriots clashed for the first time on Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. Sadly, the Patriots were also defeated during this skirmish, and many lives were lost on both sides. 50 years after, the Bunker Hill Monument—a 219 foot tall obelisk—was proposed. Construction was completed in 1843. Since then, the monument and museum nearby have welcomed travelers from near and far to Boston. The museum at Bunker Hill hosts a number of exhibitions including artifacts, machinery, and photographs from the Battle on Bunker Hill and a detailed look at construction of the monument.
7. Trinity Church
One of the most beautiful facades in all of Boston belongs to Trinity Church, a Romanesque-style building with a breathing interior and exterior. On the outside, you can gaze at soaring arches, tall windows, and a vibrant clay roof. Inside, the stained glass windows shimmer. Remember to be respectful, though—the church has multiple functions throughout the week. Go on a guided or self-tour to see the architecture, artwork, and sculptures hidden around Trinity Church.
Interested in some music? Trinity Church also holds the annual Trinity Concert Series and does Candlelight Carols in the winter.
8. Fort Independence
Few forts in America are as memorable as Fort Independence, a star-shaped fortification on Castle Island, close to Boston Harbor. The granite star was constructed in the early 1800s and used during the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and during both World Wars. Since then, Fort Independence has become a public park where you can wander the battlements and learn about the life of the soldiers who used to reside here. Occasionally, you might even see the ceremonial salute fired from cannons around the fort.
9. Symphony Hall
Constructed in the 1900s, Symphony Hall is where the oldest American “Big Five” orchestra, the world-renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra, calls home. Modeled after the stunning Gewandhaus in Leipzeig, Germany, Symphony Hall has incredible acoustics and architecture. Over 2,500 people can be seated comfortably. Within the concert hall are also 16 replicas of famous Greek and Roman statues and an organ with 4,800 pipes. Free tours can be organized at Symphony Hall throughout the week if you’re interested in learning more about the fascinating history.
10. Old South Meeting House
This historic landmark in Boston is the place where the Boston Tea Party was organized. Originally a church, the Old South Meeting House was finished in 1729 and features a striking steeple that contends with the skyscrapers all around it. In 1872, the Old South Meeting House was almost destroyed in the Great Boston Fire, but it was saved and has become a museum and meetinghouse. You can go on a scavenger hunt, see 3D models of old Boston, and even check out John Hancock’s davenport!
Boston has so much to do! Kids and kids at heart will love this destination. Which of these attractions are you going to visit first?