Top Boston tourist attractions include Freedom Trail, Custom House Tower, Faneuil Hall, Boston Harbor Islands tour, and Harvard University.
Freedom Trail (thefreedomtrail.org) is a 4 km (2.5 mile) long walking tour of Boston, that goes through central Boston and its 16 historical sites.
Each of these sites has a significance within American history, especially in terms of the American Revolution and American independence.
You can make the walk by yourself, unguided, or, as an alternative, tour the sights with one of the official guides, who, dressed in 18th century attire, explains the most important stories related to the waypoints in the walking route.
Highlights in the route include…
- Boston State House,
- venue of the 1770 Boston Massacre, which started the events towards independence of the United States, and
- museum ship USS Constitution (from 1797).
Custom House Tower (marriott.com/hotels/travel/bosch-marriotts-custom-house/), meanwhile, is one of the oldest skyscrapers in Boston, from 1849, located within McKinley square, in Boston’s financial district.
The tower was, in fact, Boston’s tallest building until 1964.
Today, it is used by Marriott hotels, who bought and renovated the building in the 1990s.
Staying overnight at the hotel is a wonderful way to be staying in the middle of 200 years of American history and within one of the best Boston tourist attractions.
Even if you won’t be staying at the hotel, you can tour sections of the building, including:
- taking a look the entrance level,
- visiting Boston Marine Museum and the its exhibition, and
- participating in a guided tour to the tower’s 26th floor observation deck.
Of the Boston tourist attractions, Faneuil Hall Market(faneuilhallmarketplace.com), located near Boston’s waterfront and the city’s administrative center, has been used as a marketplace and a meeting hall from 1742.
The hall was an important meeting place during America’s search for independence, with, for example…
- Samuel Adams,
- James Otis,
- and others giving speeches here.
Because of this background, the hall is often called the “Cradle of Independence“.
When touring the city’s sights, Faneuil Hall is easy to combine with the Freedom Trail walk, as it is along the route.
Today, the marketplace contains over 100 shops and 43 sales stands, of which some have specialized in selling New England made crafts and souvenirs.
Boston Harbor islands (bostonislands.org) tour, on the other hand, is a cruise to the islands in front Boston, and these islands feature their own attractions, as well as great views to Boston from the sea.
In fact, many say that the most beautiful facade of the city can be seen from the islands.
The most popular guided tours to the islands take about three hours, with highlights including the oldest lighthouse in the United States (from where you’ll have spectacular views of Boston Harbor).
However, you can visit the islands even without a guided tour.
Among the more popular of the islands is Georges Island, from where you’ll find Fort Warren, a 19th century fortress, built to protect Boston from attacks from the sea.
Spectacle Island is also a popular destination, and it is especially popular to take a walk to the highest point in Spectacle Island, with great views of the Boston cityscape.
Finally, Boston tourist attractions also include Harvard University (harvard.edu), the oldest institution of higher education in the United States (founded in 1635), and perhaps the world’s most famous university.
Harvard is located within a suburb of Boston, in Cambridge, accessible using, for example, the Boston subway.
A good way to start get to know the Harvard campus and its history, is to go to the Harvard University Events & Information Center, located within Holyoke Center Arcade, at 1350 Massachusetts Avenue, next to the famous Harvard Square.
The helpful people at the center can answer your questions about Harvard, and you can also get maps, guidebooks to the Harvard attractions, and information about the areas history.
They also provide free, hour-long guided tours (www.harvard.edu/visitors/tours) to Harvard.
During the tour, a Harvard student will provide background information about the buildings, current exhibitions, and programs, including how the area has played a role in American history, and how the buildings have contributed to the country’s architectural legacy, from the colonial period up to the present day.