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Whether you want to go all history or all culture for your entire trip or mix-it-up – ball game, museums and shopping – it’s easy to tailor a Boston experience to meet your needs. Just don't overschedule yourself. Leave at least a little time to hang out at a Newbury St. cafe, coffee in hand, watching the world wander by.

Things to do in Boston

Ahla Brookline Food Tour

If you're up for a nosh and want to delve into more Boston history, head off to nearby Brookline. Both the Walking Tour of Jewish Cuisine and the From Russia With Love! Tour will introduce you to local history that has nothing to do with the Freedom Trail. Meet the town's top purveyors of all things delicious (latkes, bagels, falafel and more) and, of course, eat. What could be better than that?

80 Park St. Suite 35, Massachusetts, 617-304-1570,
Tags: things to do | history | tour | culinary | walk

Boston Harbor Cruises

This company’s well-regarded boat tours range from sightseeing to whale watching. History buffs can take a break from the Freedom Trail during an easier-on-the-feet narrated harbor cruise, while photo fans can capture great images on a Lighthouse Cruise that sails past Thacher Island, home to the country’s last operating twin lighthouses. Crave adventure? Take a thrilling, high-speed spin on “Codzilla.”

One Long Wharf, MA, 877-733-9425,
Tags: cruise | things to do | culture | history | tour | wildlife | whale watching

Boston Public Library

It's part art museum, part history museum, part live-event venue, part restaurant, and, oh yeah, there are books here, too. The Boston Public Library also offers a fascinating (and free) architecture and art tour of its historic 1895 McKim Building (Sun. at 2 p.m., Mon. at 2:30 p.m., Tues. and Thurs. at 6 p.m., and Fri.–Sat. at 11 a.m.). It's no throwaway line to say that the BPL's central library has something for everyone.

700 Boylston St., Massachusetts, 617-536-5400,
Tags: family | art | things to do | culture | architecture | history | tour

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Making beautiful music since 1881, the Boston Symphony Orchestra offers a range of concerts that appeals to young listeners hearing their first live classical music as well as lifelong subscription holders. Amid the splendid setting of Symphony Hall, a visual and acoustic wonder in its own right, revolving works from Brahms to Wagner take musical flight. Free tours of the hall are available during the BSO season (Oct.–May).

301 Massachusetts Ave., Massachusetts, 617-266-1492,
Tags: things to do | culture | performing arts

Charles Street

Mingle with Boston’s upper crust as you peruse the antique stores, specialty boutiques and upscale galleries that line this Beacon Hill street’s brick sidewalks. One don't-miss: Good (88 Charles St), a gift shop whose inventory of really good stuff ranges from whimsical toys to wow jewelry.

Charles St., MA,
Tags: shopping | expensive | things to do | gallery | antiques


The original Beacon Hill bar that served as the inspiration for the eponymous TV series, and whose exterior was shown in the opening credits, offers a happy hour (Mon.–Fri. 4–6 p.m.) with half-price appetizers. Pub-inspired food is served from 11 a.m. on and children are allowed on premises until 10 p.m. (there’s a kids’ food menu). Stay until closing and everyone is sure to know your name.

84 Beacon St., MA, 617-227-9605,
Tags: family | nightlife | things to do | bar | bar menu

Elephant Walk Cooking Classes

Get schooled by the beloved chefs/cooking instructors at The Elephant Walk restaurants. Classes – on everything from vegetarian comfort food to Cambodian curries – are a great way to bond with locals. After you all cook together, you eat together. And when you get home, your new kitchen skills will impress your friends. Sign up early since Saturday morning classes, held at The Elephant Walk restaurants in Cambridge and Boston, sell out quickly.

The Elephant Walk Restaurant, 2067 Massachusetts Ave., MA, 617-285-1056,
Tags: smart splurge | things to do | culinary | cooking class | educational

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

It's busy and crazy and sort of exhausting but it's also a Boston must. Knick-knacks and inexpensive souvenirs dominate the carts of vendors hawking everything from lobster lollipops to Boston-themed t-shirts. Plenty of typical mall stores are also on hand.

4 South Market Building, MA,
Tags: family | shopping | things to do | shopping mall | souvenirs

Fenway Park

This city has its fair share of churches, but none are considered as holy as the home of the Boston Red Sox. The team's fans – known collectively as Red Sox Nation – are one seriously loyal bunch. Learn all about their beloved circa-1912 stadium, including the infamous Green Monster, during daily tours. Want to see a game? Play begins in early April and runs through late September; for the best seats, buy tickets online long before heading to Beantown.

4 Yawkey Way, MA, 617-226-6666,
Tags: family | things to do | tour | spectator sport

Freedom Trail

Hit 16 historical sites along the free, 2.5-mile red-brick Freedom Trail (which begins at the Visitor Information Center in The Boston Common) as it winds through several of the city’s must-see neighborhoods. In pleasant weather, it’s an enjoyable and heart-healthy stroll. But if it’s cold or you’re traveling with tots, there’s no need to tackle the whole thing in one day. Divide it in two and walk half one day, the other half the next, devoting some time to enjoying the surrounding neighborhoods. It's the best way to put history in context with the modern city.

148 Tremont St., MA,
Tags: editor pick | things to do | history | free | walk

Head of the Charles Regatta

Since 1965, the race has hosted an international lineup of handsome rowing crews, who annually congregate on the Charles River to compete in the world's largest regatta. Spectators line the banks while vendors and bands converge on the college town, creating a camaraderie that is pure Boston.

Charles River, MA,
Tags: festivals and events | things to do | spectator sport

Institute of Contemporary Art

Opened in late 2006 (as the city’s first new art museum in 100 years), the Institute of Contemporary Art's permanent home was a welcome addition to South Boston’s waterfront. Once inside, take the elevator to the light-soaked galleries on the top floor. You may not like everything up there, but it will certainly get you talking. Don't leave without a visit to the gift shop. Open Tues.–Wed. and Sat.–Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thurs.–Fri. 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

100 Northern Ave., MA, 617-478-3100,
Tags: editor pick | art | things to do | architecture | museum | performing arts

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

View the collection of Isabella Stewart Gardner, who during her lifetime amassed over 2,500 eclectic words of art, including sculptures, paintings, furniture, and rare books. When you are finished exploring the masterworks, duck outside to relax in the exquisite garden courtyard. Make the most of your visit by reading up on Gardner before exploring her home – she was quite the interesting character. Open Tues.–Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. (last admission at 4:20 p.m.).

280 The Fenway, MA, 617-566-1401,
Tags: art | things to do | culture | museum | gardens

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

This vast museum contains traditional galleries featuring European, Asian, African, and American art, with special exhibitions – ranging from Italian masters to modernist photography – mounted on a regular basis. An expansion, completed in late 2010, tacked on a strikingly modern Art of the Americas Wing with exhibits highlighting centuries of work from North, Central and South America. Also notable is the grand, iconic-columned entrance on State Street overlooking The Fens. Open Mon.–Tues. and Sat.–Sun. 10 a.m.–4:45 p.m.; Wed. 10 a.m.–9:45 p.m.

465 Huntington Ave., MA, 617-267-9300,
Tags: family | art | things to do | museum

New England Aquarium

With jellyfish, seal, shark, and penguin exhibits, plus a four-story Giant Ocean Tank, The New England Aquarium is a great place to bring the kids – but you’ll have a fantastic time, too. There’s also an IMAX theater that rotates educational movies about marine and animal life on a 65-foot-tall screen. Open Sept.–June, Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sat.–Sun. 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; July–Aug., Sun.–Thurs. 9 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sat.–Sun. 9 a.m.–7 p.m.

One Central Wharf, MA, 617-973-5200,
Tags: family | editor pick | things to do | wildlife | aquarium

Newbury Street

You can easily spend an entire afternoon on this eight-block-long shopper’s haven. No matter your brand of choice, from Marc Jacobs to Diesel to Burberry, they're all here. (But so are Gap and J. Crew, along with the Trident Booksellers and well-known alternative record shop, Newbury Comics.) Also home to more hair salons and spas than seem necessary, Newbury St. is the place to get pampered for a night on the town. Even if you don’t have money to burn, grab a coffee at a café and watch everybody else spend some.

Newbury St., MA,
Tags: shopping | expensive | editor pick | boutique | things to do | jewelry | gallery | designer | clothing | accessories

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway

Where there was road, now there's a park. Actually, there’s a mile-long string of parks. During the Big Dig, after the city sank the elevated highway that cut through part of Boston, officials turned the ground left behind into a series of linked parks. Winding from symbol-rich Chinatown Park to water-jet-studded North End Parks, the Greenway is an ideal spot for a spring or fall stroll, a fun playground for kids, or just a refreshing place (or bunch of places) to sit and eat a sandwich.

Massachusetts, 617-292-0020,
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | gardens | park

Swan Boats in the Boston Public Garden Lagoon

You have to ride them once (although kids will clamor for more, more, more). The Swan Boats have paddled around the lagoon of the Boston Public Garden since 1877. Afterward, stroll through the 24-acre gardens, which have been in bloom even longer, since 1837. Open daily, mid-Apr. to mid-Sept.

Bordered by Arlington, Boylston, Charles, and Beacon streets, Massachusetts, 617-522-1966,
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | gardens | park

The Coop

If it's a Harvard or M.I.T. logoed item you're after, look no farther. But the real reason to check out The Coop is its books section. There, you’ll find every tome you didn't know you had to read but instantly want to own. It's a truly seductive place and you’ll feel smarter for simply having walked through the door.

1400 Massachusetts Ave., Massachusetts, 617-499-2000,
Tags: shopping | things to do | clothing | accessories | books

Yawkey Way Store

Just give in. Red Sox fever is so strong in Boston that, no matter which team you usually root for, you'll feel the need to own something Sox before you skedaddle on home. For a wall-to-wall Red Sox gear experience, simply step across the street from the stadium itself. Just don't go on a game day (unless you have tickets) since it can be so crowded it'll make you cry. (And even if you’re not a Sox fan you have to admit it's fun to say Yawkey.)

19 Yawkey Way, Massachusetts, 800-FENWAY-9,
Tags: family | shopping | things to do | souvenirs | clothing | novelty

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