Winter hours: we are open Thurs-Mondays, tours 10a-4p.
Plan Visit > Masks are mandatory for ALL guests.
Starting Jan 15: Per the City of Boston, ALL persons 12 year & older MUST show proof of vaccination to enter the museum. View Safety Guidelines >

Top Things to Do in Boston for First Time Visitors

As one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States, Boston is a city filled with history, culture, attractions and so many unique points of interest. When you’re planning your first trip to Beantown, be sure to include these activities in your travel itinerary.

Take Part in History

Unlike any other museum you’ve visited, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is an experience that will awaken all your senses. Through advanced multi-sensory technology and with the help of our skilled Historical Interpreters, the events of December 16, 1773 come to life. Step into a colonial town meeting as your Host and Sam Adams discuss the crisis with the East India Company tea. Take part in the action as you play the role of a Boston Tea Party participant and try your hand at destroying the tea. Continue your journey as you learn about the ramifications of your actions and see why the Boston Tea Party is the “single most important event leading up to the American Revolution.” Huzzah!

Walk the Freedom Trail

One of the most unforgettable experiences you’ll have in Boston, the Freedom Trail provides a journey into the events that shaped the American Revolution. This 2.5-mile trail leads you to 16 of the city’s most historically significant sites including the Massachusetts State House, Granary Burying Ground, King’s Chapel, Old South Meeting House, the site of the Boston Massacre, the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s house and many more. You can tour the trail at your own pace or choose from one of the many guided tour options available.

Dine Surrounded by History

Anything but your typical shopping and dining destination, Faneuil Hall dates back to 1742 and is just as bustling as it was when it served as the central gathering place. Today, there are dozens of chic boutiques, an array of delicious food options and constant entertainment in the cobblestone courtyards.

Browse the Artwork

The magnificent architecture of the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston draws you in, but when you add to that the incredible collection of artwork, you’re sure to be delighted and enthralled. The modern 65,000 square foot building extends over the Boston waterfront’s edge in a beautiful structure of glass and metal. The interior is characterized by column-free galleries that have moveable walls and a skylight system that allows constant natural light to filter in. Exciting work from leading contemporary artists and new, emerging artists are on display in a variety of exhibitions.

Take a Stroll through the Park

You cannot visit Boston without a stop at the ever-popular Boston Common. Established in 1634, the Common is the oldest public park in the United States and has served many roles throughout its rich history. Today, it’s a place to enjoy natural scenery, a quiet walk or recreational activities. A central gathering place for many local events, it may be hard to imagine that long ago it was the site for public executions, a campground for the British army and a venue for famous speakers including Gloria Steinem.

Ride a Swan (seasonal)

Home to the famous Swan Boats, Boston Public Garden is just next door to Boston Common. This beautiful attraction is the first botanical garden in the United States and is part of the Emerald Necklace, a string of parks in Boston. The grounds feature a lake, many exotic flora and fauna and several statues, including one of George Washington. If you visit during the warmer months, be sure to take a ride on the Swan Boats and enjoy the lovely scenery of the park from the water.

Play With the Animals

People of all ages love visiting the New England Aquarium where penguins, sea turtles, sea lions are many other marine animals live in their own recreated natural environments. Here, you’ll have a chance to interact with a wide variety of marine species that live in the Giant Ocean Tank, the centerpiece of the aquarium. Numerous exhibits, including the Amazon Rainforest, the Gulf of Maine, the Pacific Community Reef and many more provide an up close view of intriguing sea animals that make the waters surrounding New England their home.

All Hands on Deck

It’s only fitting that a city as historic as Boston house a museum dedicated to the oldest commissioned warship. The USS Constitution, or Old Ironsides as she is deemed, sits in the Boston Navy Yard and is now a museum open to the public. Built from the lumber of 2,000 live oak trees, this unique frigate features a diagonal cross-braced skeleton, making it exceptionally strong. A visit to this museum offers you the opportunity to learn more about the ship, its history and how the crew lived and worked centuries ago. The USS Constitution will be in dry dock until 2018. Tours, on a first-come first-serve basis, are available of the upper deck of this vessel throughout this project.

The Highest of Praises

The first public obelisk in the United States, the 221-foot Bunker Hill Monument was built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill that took place on June 17, 1775. The battle was quite destructive for both the American and British troops. Both sides lost a great number of men, including an alarming number of British officers and Patriot leader Dr. Joseph Warren. Although it was named the Battle of Bunker Hill, most of the fighting actually took place on Breed’s Hill.

Explore the World through Art

As a foremost patron of the arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner sought to share her passion with the community. Her collection, which is a result of her world travels over three decades, is one to be treasured and enjoyed by all those who visit the museum that bears her name. Here, you’ll be treated to a view of mixed paintings, furniture, textiles and objects from many different cultures and time periods.


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