Hometown Guide to Boston by Fly.com's Sean Cahill.
One of America’s oldest cities, sophisticated Boston is home to some its most historically significant sites. Boston tourism officials note that most visitors to Beantown include the Boston Common, Boston Tea Party and Boston Massacre sites in their itineraries. But this quintessential college town – which is said to have more colleges than any other American city – is also notoriously proud of its home sporting teams: the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. Every year since 1897, the city has also hosted the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual marathon, the Boston Marathon.
The site of the first Boston Market restaurant in the U.S., Boston has recently emerged from its humbler roots to become a leading culinary destination for its many acclaimed restaurants. This well-read city is also one of just a handful in the U.S. to still support two local newspapers, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.
Pedestrian-friendly Boston offers a lively blend of historic sites, upscale shopping, chic hotels and fine dining. As the home to world-famous Harvard University, MIT and a plethora of other colleges, its bookstores and bars are abuzz with activity. Its world-class museums include the Museum of Fine Arts and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The city’s three-mile Freedom Trail offers a walking tour around the heart of historic Boston. And no trip would be complete without seeing the Boston Public Garden, a beautiful park located near the city center. The best shopping locations include Copley Place Mall, Newbury Street, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and Downtown Crossing.
When to Go
Throngs of visitors come to Boston year-round, but tourism peaks between April and November. The periods around college graduation – late May and June -- are especially busy. The slowest time is January-March, which tends to coincide with the city’s most unpredictable weather. For moderate temperatures, spring and fall are your best bet.
How to Get There
Served by more than 40 airlines, Logan International Airport is New England’s largest. Situated about two miles from the city center, there are several public airport transportation options to downtown and suburban locations. Amtrak's high-speed Acela provides fast service between Washington, New York, and Boston. Known by locals as simply The “T”, Boston’s public transportation system offers subway, bus, commuter rail and boat service almost everywhere in the Greater Boston area and beyond.
The Freedom Trail: This is a great way to get acquainted with Boston. It takes about an hour to walk. Allow more time to check out its Revolutionary landmarks at a more leisurely pace.
Boston Public Garden: Adjacent to Boston Common along Charles Street, it is the country’s oldest botanical garden. Each spring, the famous swan boats return. In winter, its pond becomes an ice-skating rink.
Quincy Market: Also known as Faneuil Hall Marketplace, this is a unique indoor-outdoor market for shopping and dining.
Fenway Park: This venerable institution has been energizing fans of the Red Sox since 1912. Its intimate setting makes fans feel like they are part of the game.
Cheers Boston: Many visitors make a beeline for Cheers Boston (formerly the Bull & Finch), which famously inspired the TV show “Cheers.” Located in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, it offers souvenirs galore and pub food.
Boston’s Museum of Science: Features dozens of displays and exhibits, which are continually updated to ensure a new experience on every visit. Its five-story IMAX dome screen shows many new films.
Boston Pops: The world-famous orchestra features top musicians. The orchestra is so influential that household-name performers frequently agree to perform with it.
Or you can even take a kayak tour on the Charles River!