If you're thinking about Boston, then do it! It's an amazing city.
If you do anthing in Boston, at least do part of the Freedom Trail . This is a winding trail in downtown Boston. Just follow the red bricks in the sidewalk. It guides you through the major American Revolution sites in Boston as well as taking you through a lot of neat parts of Boston. You can start at either end of the trail. There are guided tours, but Emily and I enjoy touring at our own pace and not being in a large group. Below are the stops on the trail:
1. Boston Common
A large park.
2. Massachusetts State House
You can walk around freely inside. Open until 6pm most days, but best to go earlier in the day when the galleries for the chambers are open.
3. Park Street Church
Only open to visitors one day a week (I think Tuesday).
4. Granary Burying Ground
Includes the grave sites of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, victims of the Boston Massacre, and participants of the Boston Tea Party.
5. King’s Chapel and Burying Ground
The woman who was supposedly the subject of The Scarlet Letter is buried here.
6. Benjamin Franklin Statue and former site of Boston Latin School
A quick stop and photo-op.
7. Old Corner Bookstore
This is now a two-story Chipotle; however, it’s neat to see the inside. It was formerly the publishing house for Hawthorne, Longfellow, and others.
8. Old South Meeting House
You have to pay to go inside. We looked at Internet pictures, and rather than being preserved on the inside, it looks more exhibit-like. So we just looked at the outside.
9. Old State House
Same as #8. It’s so beautiful on the outside and really neat juxtaposed with the surrounding skyscrapers.
10. Site of the Boston Massacre
Actually happened in the road, but there’s a large marker off on the sidewalk.
11. Faneuil Hall
A large auditorium used for public debate leading up to the Revolution. There’s an active market in the basement.
12. Paul Revere’s House Costs a little to go in and nothing special if you’ve seen old houses. However, it’s neat because of whose home it was and that it’s the oldest building in Boston.
13. Old North Church
Our favorite stop! A cool church and really neat history.
14. Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
Another historic cemetery. This one was founding in 1659.
15. USS Constitution
Known as Old Ironsides, this is the oldest naval vessel out there still floating.
16. Bunker Hill Monument
There’s a large monument here, and you can climb to the top. If it gets too hot they close it. For example, it got into the 90’s each day we were there, so it was only open in the mornings. If the weather stays cool, it remains open all day.
A free tour starts at the top of every hour. You will need to register at the Harvard Information Center to be assigned to a tour group. Note that there are official-looking companies that are not affiliated with the school that also offer tours; however, these will cost money. You will not be able to go into many buildings (even in the summer) due to classes going on; however, the outside portion of the campus is beautiful and worth looking at. The tour guides will give ou all of the history and background of the campus. One of the libraries is open to the public, and has many, many old books.
MIT was neat to see because of the history, but it’s not as pretty or interesting as Harvard. For this, you have to go to or call the admissions office ahead of time to see if you can tag along on a prospective student tour. We enjoyed it though.
Fenway is beautiful, has so many unique characteristics, and is the oldest ballpark in America. I (Karson) loved every minute of it, but I understand that seeing a ballpark isn’t on everyone’s bucket list. Tickets are pricier than most places and often sell out, so it’s important to plan ahead. If you go, hopefully your game doesn’t go 15 innings and last 7 hours (like ours did).
Alternatively, if there’s not a game or you’d rather not go to one, there are tours for about $20. I haven’t been on it, but a friend said even his non-baseball loving travel companions enjoyed it too.
Very well put together and very interesting. If you're a U.S. history buff or enjoy politics, this is worth seeing. The Edward Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate is next door and fairly new, but we did not go.
Old South Church
I wouldn’t go out of your way to see it, but if your nearby it’s worth popping in.
You can see the finish line of this almost 125-year-old race, as it’s painted on the roadway. That’s about it though.
Probably not much different that other Chinatowns, but we really enjoyed walking around. We enjoyed the fact that it was a Chinese community rather than a touristy location (we only saw a few other Americans). As with rest of Boston, I'd recommend walking around during the day.
If you buy what’s called a Charlie Card for about $20 you can ride their transportation system, referred to as the “T”, an unlimited amount of times. Most of the lines are subways, but the silver line is a bus system. The fairy is also the “T”, but we never road it. It’s a little tricky at times but easy to get the hang of. Keep in mind that if you just need to go one stop over, sometimes walking is faster than going down into a station and waiting for a subway. Don’t be afraid to ask random locals for help, most were quite helpful with directions.
Accommodations & Lodging
We stayed in the Boston Long Wharf hotel in the financial district, right on the Boston Harbor. It was a nice hotel that we got through hotel points.
They have a nice pool area and great staff. There’s also a restaurant connected to the backside of the hotel called Tia’s at Long Wharf. We loved the food, and it was all very reasonable.
We loved walking around that area and really all of downtown Boston just to take in the sights and all that’s going on. As with most large cities, I’d recommend doing this during daylight hours.
Great burgers! It’s been featured on Diners Drive-ins and Dives.