Boston is the city I call home. While I didn’t grow up here, I’ve been here over a decade and don’t see myself leaving any time soon. Why do I love Boston so much? There are so many things to do in Boston! Need proof? I put together a guide with over 100 things to do in Boston to add to your trip itinerary. Let’s get to it!
Take a tour of Boston
As touristy it sounds, taking an official tour of any place you visit is a great way to kick off a trip. It can help you get a sense of the city layout, plus you might discover a neighborhood or attraction that you’d like to explore that perhaps didn’t come up in pre-trip planning.
Boston has several fun tours that you can join. There’s the famous Boston Duck Tours, which take you through the streets and the Charles River in WWII era land-sea vehicles.
Catch a Boston sports game
Boston is a HUGE sports town. We’re fiercely loyal to our sports teams, even when they’re in last place or go almost 90 years without winning a championship. Boston has 4 major professional sports teams, so you’re bound to find a game to attend or to cheer on at a local sports bar any time you are in town.
From Spring through late Summer or early Fall, the Boston Red Sox play baseball at Fenway Park. The New England Patriots play football at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA, about an hour outside Boston from early Fall through early Winter.
From Fall through Spring, the Boston Celtics play basketball at the Garden in downtown Boston and the Boston Bruins play hockey at the Garden during the same seasons, as well.
Aside from cheering on a Boston sports team, you can also take a 1 hour walking tour of historic Fenway Park or visit The Sports Museum at the Garden. The Garden also occasionally offers behind-the-scenes tours, but only between sports seasons.
Visit a museum in Boston
Boston has a reputation for being a world-class center for learning with its many schools, hospitals, and museums. Ever since I was a child, my favorite museum has been the Museum of Science. The Museum of Science is filled with tons of hands-on exhibits and experiences. There’s even a butterfly conservatory!
The New England Aquarium is another fun and educational spot. The New England Aquarium has a variety of aquatic exhibits and animals. They also have a heavy focus on conservation and research.
If you are traveling with kids, the Boston Children’s Museum is a must-do, with its interactive exhibits and fun playscapes.
For art lovers, there’s plenty of art museums to pick from, too. The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is home to an impressive collection of fine art, from historical and ancient artifacts to paintings, photography, sculptures , and more.
The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Boston specializes in contemporary art. Both the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) feature music, film, and performing arts events.
Another option for fine art is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is home to a beautiful collection of fine art, gorgeous gardens and musical performances. Fun Fact: If your name is Isabella, you can apply for a free admission card that grants you free admission for life!
Browse a library in Boston
The Boston Public Library is the second largest library in the US (with the Library of Congress coming in first). The main branch is located in the heart of Copley Square, with 24 branches scattered throughout the city.
At the Boston Public Library includes not just books, but also rare manuscripts and artifacts, art, musical scores, documents, and movies. The Boston Public Library also hosts a variety of free events throughout the year and offers a limited number of free museum passes to members.
Not far from the main branch of the Boston Public Library, is the Mary Baker Eddy Library. The Mary Baker Eddy Library is home to the research and writings of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, as well as the Mapparium, a 3-story stained glass globe.
Over in Dorchester, next to the University of Massachusetts’ Boston campus, is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. This library houses books, papers, and other materials from former US President, John F. Kennedy, as well as a collection on Ernest Hemingway.
Explore college life in Boston
Boston is arguably the best college town in the US, with institutions such as Boston University, Northeastern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and Boston College.
Many of these institutions offer tours for free. One of the more popular Boston area colleges and universities to tour is Harvard University, just across the Charles River, in Cambridge, MA. Check out the very fun “Hahvahd Tour,” led by real Harvard students.
Spend Time Outdoors in Boston
When many people think of a city environment, they assume there aren’t outdoor activities available. That is definitely not the case for Boston! One of my favorite things to do in Boston is hangout in the Boston Public Garden during the warmer months. It is great for people watching, picnics, and leisurely strolls. The Public Garden is one of my favorite places to photograph in Boston. If you’re looking for photo tips for the Public Garden, check out Photowalks’ Public Garden tour.
Across from the Boston Public Garden is the Boston Common, 50 acres of park grounds that include sports fields, the Central Burying Ground (a cemetery from the mid-18th century), a bandstand (for concerts and other performances), skating pond, and more.
The Boston Public Garden and Boston Common is part of a larger network of parks across the city, referred to as the Emerald Necklace. Other excellent parks and waterfronts within this network include the Riverway, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Pond, Franklin Park (including the Franklin Park Zoo), among others.
Another network of parks across the city is The Rose Kennedy Greenway. This includes various outdoor spaces and parks in the North End, Fort Point Channel, Wharf District, Dewey Square, and Chinatown neighborhoods.
The Charles River runs between Boston and the neighboring town of Cambridge, MA. There are a lot of activities along the Charles River, such as bike and running paths, canoeing, kayaking, river cruises, and even gondola rides. The Hatch Shell also sits on the banks of the Charles River, where movies are shown during the summer, as well as concerts and weekly Zumba classes.
In the North End/Wharf District area, you can join a whale watch or visit the Harbor Islands. For thrill ride fans, there’s the quirky Boston Codzilla: Thrill Boat Ride experience. Castle Island, in South Boston, is a combination of outdoor and historic activities. Visitors can tour Fort Independence and stroll along the beach in the same spot.
Admire the Boston Skyline
On the Boston-Brookline border is Summit Avenue, a hill that stretches between Commonwealth Avenue + Beacon Street. At the peak of the hill, you can take in a beautiful view of the Boston skyline from Corey Hill Outlook Park.
Another fantastic view of the city can be seen from across the Charles River on the riverbank along Memorial Drive. If you don’t mind paying for the view, you can see the city from high up at the Skywalk Observatory or by securing a reservation at the Top of the Hub Restaurant & Lounge, both of which overlook the city from high up in the Prudential Tower.
For more Boston skyline view suggestions, check out this map of Boston outlook points from WBUR, Boston’s NPR radio station.
Tour a Boston Brewery
Samuel Adams offers tours throughout the week, except for Sundays and holidays. Tours last about an hour + include a tasting of classic + specialty brews. Visitors can also pick up growlers of a small, rotating selection of brews.
Harpoon Brewery offers tours of their Boston-based brewery every day of the week, with the exception of holidays. Tours at Harpoon Brewery also include tastings of classic and specialty brews. All tours end at their on-site beer hall, where you can order full pints of beer and eat tasty pretzels.
For guided tours that visit multiple breweries and beer halls, check out the Boston Brewery Tour. Aside from tours of local breweries, there’s also a constant stream of craft beer events and festivals in Boston.
Learn about Boston’s History
As one of the oldest cities in the US, Boston is rich with historical experiences. The Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile trek from the Boston Common to the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution, takes visitors past 16 historically significant landmarks and sites, such as the Old State House, Paul Revere’s house, and the Granary Burying Ground.
The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum take you back in time to one of the most significant events in US history. There’s even an opportunity to throw some tea overboard one of the ships and a tea room for afternoon tea. Exploring Boston and America’s history is one of the best things to do in Boston!
Shop ’til You Drop in Boston
There are lots of little shopping districts throughout Boston. If shopping is the main event for your trip, there’s 4 key neighborhoods to hit up.
Newbury Street is about a mile long and lined with a mix of affordable and upscale retailers (from H&M to Dolce & Gabbana), independent boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.
The Shops at Prudential Center and Copley Place are technically separate shopping centers, but are connected by a skywalk. There’s a multitude of shops and restaurants, such as Sephora, Vineyard Vines, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co., and even a Roman Catholic chapel.
Further downtown is Downtown Crossing, which features a pedestrian mall with a variety of shops and stores, such as Macy’s, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, and Primark.
Not far from Downtown Crossing is Faneuil Hall, another great district full of shopping and restaurants, such as Lucy’s League (a must for female sports fans), Newbury Comics, Boston Chowda, and Wicked Good Cupcakes.
Take a Day Trip from Boston
It might sound weird to say that one of the best things to do in Boston is to leave the city. However, there are so many lovely New England towns within a short drive or train ride away, that it would be wrong of me not to suggest it!
Salem is just a short drive or commuter rail train ride from Boston. In Salem, you can visit the Salem Witch Museum, the House of Seven Gables, the Peabody Essex Museum, and more. Salem becomes quite crowded in October, during the town’s month-long Halloween celebration.
That said, October in Salemis truly the best time to visit due to the gorgeous Fall weather and plethora of unique activities.
Cape Cod + the Islands
Provincetown, located at the very tip of Cape Cod, is another great option for a day trip. To make the trip more doable as a day trip, I recommend taking the ferry from Boston to Provincetown, which takes about 90 minutes. Provincetown is filled with lots of cute shops, restaurants, bars, and galleries. Provincetown is also a well-known LGBTQ friendly destination.
Another beautiful seaside destination is Martha’s Vineyard. This Boston-area island is accessible by plane and ferry. Spend the day visiting a beach, shopping, boating, or fishing. Guided tours to Martha’s Vineyard from Boston are available for a reasonable price.
While you can do Provincetown or Martha’s Vineyard in a day, they are best enjoyed with at least an overnight visit.
South Shore + Beyond
Plymouth is great for history buffs. One of the biggest attractions in Plymouth is the Plimouth Plantation, which takes visitors into a live reenactment of the Plymouth Colony. You can also tour the Mayflower II, a replica of the historic Mayflower ship. At the Pilgrim Hall Museum, you can touch a piece of the famed Plymouth Rock.
If architecture is more your thing, take a day trip out to Newport, RI, where you can tour gorgeous mansions overlooking the ocean.
What are your favorite things to do in Boston?