Whether you're coming to Boston for your first visit or your 40th, a family vacation or a quick business trip, these 10 top attractions give you the perfect way to explore and enjoy the city.

Each attraction shows you an important part of what makes Boston special.

Want to Explore Boston's Top Attractions?

You'll get to experience our unique history as the nation's oldest city and our modern identity as a dynamic waterfront city with world-class sports teams, top cultural venues, exciting shopping in beautiful historic neighborhoods, and terrific restaurants.

To experience them all, allow about three days. 

Or, just pick one attraction and start there, as each one provides a great starting point for getting to know (and love!) Boston.

Top photo:  Victorian brownstones along Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood

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1.  Freedom Trail

Costumed tour guide next to the red stripe of the Freedom Trail in Faneuil Marketplace
Costumed tour guide next to the red stripe of the Freedom Trail in Faneuil Marketplace

For the ultimate walk through history, follow the red strip of the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail to see 16 sites important to American freedom and civil liberties.

In addition to the famous Colonial and Revolutionary War sites along the Trail, you'll see other attractions closely related to America's fight for liberty such as the USS Constitution, known as "Old Ironsides," famous its role in the War of 1812.

Along the way, you'll pass through several famous historic Boston neighborhoods - Beacon Hill, the North End, Charlestown.  Be sure to allow time for a meal in one of the many wonderful nearby restaurants.  If you love shopping, you'll want to linger in Faneuil Marketplace after you explore the Faneuil Hall on the Freedom Trail.

Find out more about where to find a free map, how to explore the Freedom Trail on your own or join a tour led by a costumed guide, and what to see at each of the 16 sites.

Our Favorite Freedom Trail Walking Tours

2.  Fenway Park

Fenway Park, Boston MA
Boston's Fenway Park

Built in 1912, Fenway Park is America’s smallest and oldest ballpark, and home field for the Boston Red Sox from April through fall.  

To experience Boston's passion for sports up close, get tickets for a Red Sox game.  You'll be surrounded by a sea of Red Sox apparel and chanting fans - and you can join in when the crowd starts singing Sweet Caroline near the end of the game.  

If you're in Boston during summer and early fall months, you can also catch a top stadium concert tour here by artists such as Foo Fighters, Journey, James Taylor, and Pearl Jam.  Check our Boston concert schedule to see what's on.

If you can’t get tickets to a game or concert, you can always catch the action on the big screens at one of the fun sports bars near Fenway Park. 

Find out more about Fenway Park

Where to Stay Near Fenway Park

If you're coming to a Red Sox game, spend the night or the weekend at one of the nearby hotels:

Check out more hotels near Fenway Park

3.  Boston's Theater District

Boston Theatre District
Boston's Downtown Theatre District along Washington Street

Boston's exciting downtown Theatre District is lined with beautifully-restored historic theaters boasting state-of-the-art performance spaces and comfortable seating.

You can choose from Broadway shows, Boston Ballet performances, avant-garde productions, comedy, kids shows, and a lot more. 

Enter DISCOVERY10 to save 10% on TicketLiquidator & TicketNetwork tickets.  Good for purchases made through 12/31/24.

See the complete schedule

For lots of laughs, Blue Man Group offers performances almost every night of the year at the Charles Playhouse, with plenty of matinées as well.

More about Boston's Theatre District

More about Boston's historical theaters

4.  Tea Party Ships & Museum

Tea Party Ships
Tea Party Ships and Museum

With costumed actors, interactive displays, and high tech, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum gives you an all-encompassing, totally immersive experience that brings to life the time and events leading up to the American Revolution.  

The guided 1-hour tour of the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum takes you back to the momentous December night in 1773 when the Sons of Liberty touched off the American Revolution with their tea party in Boston Harbor. 

You'll be entertained, but you also get to participate, explore, and learn.  There's nothing else quite like the Tea Party Ships Museum in Boston!  Great for adults as well as kids and teens.

Get your tickets for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

More Fun Ways to Experience Boston History:

5.  Museum of Fine Arts

Boston Museum of Fine Arts
John Singer Sargent's painting, "The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" in the Arts of the Americas wing, with tall ceramic vases similar to the Japanese Arita vases pictured in the painting

With hundreds of galleries filled with treasures from the ancient world to contemporary art, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts can easily keep you enthralled for an entire day.

Where to start, especially if you have less than a day?  Focus on the superb collections that set MFA apart. 

Start with Art of the Americas, an entire museum wing showcasing treasures from North, South, and Central America, including the Caribbean. 

Check out MFA's superb Egyptian collection of mummies, statues, pottery, and other artifacts. 

Visit the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art to see recent paintings, videos, sculpture, crafts, and more by artists from around the globe. 

Stop by the African collection to see West African masks, sculptures, funeral artifacts, and other art. 

While you explore all the art collections, also build in a few breaks to sample MFA's various dining options, browse the vast bookstore and specialized boutiques, and perhaps take in one of the special activities such as a tour, film, or performance.

End your visit with a few peaceful moments of relaxation in the Japanese Contemplative Garden located in a secluded spot outside the museum.

Find out how to get free admission with a GoBoston or CityPASS Discount Pass

Get your GoBoston Card now

Want the Best Views of Boston?

Get tickets to the new View Boston Observatory on the top 3 floors of Prudential Center:

6.  Public Garden, Make Way for Ducklings, & Swan Boats

Boston Public Garden
Tulips blooming in Boston's Public Garden

In addition to being one of the most beautiful all-season public parks in Boston, the Public Garden is where you'll find the Make Way for Ducklings statues celebrating Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their eight offspring celebrated in Robert McCloskey's famous children's book.

Make Way for Ducklings statues in Boston's Public Garden
Make Way for Ducklings statues in Boston's Public Garden

From mid-spring through mid-fall, spend a tranquil 15 minutes on a Swan Boat ride around the Lagoon, where you'll see plenty of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard's descendants, Duck Island, and perhaps a pair of real swans. 

During the fall, the Public Garden's collection of specimum trees from around the world puts on one of Boston's best displays of fall foliage.

Fall day in Boston's Public Garden
Fall day in Boston's Public Garden

The Public Garden is located across the street from Boston Common, and together, these two beloved parks form the green heart of the city.

Bring a picnic lunch, a frisbee, or just a book, and enjoy a few peaceful moments in this perfect city oasis.

More about the Public Garden and the Make Way for Ducklings statues

Explore other Boston parks

7.  Boston's Top Waterfront Attractions

Canals along Boston's Esplanade
Canals along Boston's Esplanade - to the left is the Charles River, to the right is the Back Bay neighborhood, and in the background, the red brick building is the Liberty Hotel

Surrounded by water on three sides, Boston offers you a huge variety of waterfront parks, river and harbor cruises, and hotels and restaurants with spectacular waterfront views.

Start your explorations by choosing an area:

  • Whale Watching Cruises - Boston's top waterfront attraction takes place offshore at Stellwagen Bank Marine sanctuary, a rich feeding ground for many species of large whales, dolphins, sea birds, and other marine creatures.  Get your tickets for a whale watching cruise leaving from Boston's convenient downtown Long Wharf, or learn more about the cruises.
  • Charles River and the Esplanade - The Esplanade is one of Boston's best hidden secrets - a long linear park between Storrow Drive and the Charles River.  Lots of Boston visitors don't even know it exists because you have to access it by special footbridges.  Home to the famous July 4th Concert and Fireworks at the Hatch Shell, the Esplanade is a favorite of runners and walkers.  Sit on one of the floating docks to get great views of the river.  For a more exciting river experience, take a Charles River cruise or a Boston Duck tour and cruise.
  • Downtown Waterfront and Harbor Cruises - Historically and today, Boston is a maritime city - and there's no better way to experience it than by going on a Harbor Cruise.
  • South Boston Waterfront Entertainment - This is Boston's liveliest neighborhood, with numerous restaurants and bars overlooking the Harbor, and also where you'll find the popular Children's Museum, contemporary art and performances at ICA Boston, and the Leader Bank Pavilion, site of almost-nightly summer concerts. 
  • Boston Harbor Islands - Located just a few miles from the city and easily reached by ferry, the Harbor Islands played a special role in Boston's history.  You'll still find a historic fort, spectacular views, and wonderful spots for swimming, hiking, and birdwatching.
  • Castle Island - Connected to land by only a tiny strip of sand, Castle Island boasts its own fort, beaches, and plenty of grassy slopes perfect for a picnic and enjoy the views.  More about Castle Island

Top Boston Cruises

8.  New England Aquarium

New England Aquarium

The New England Aquarium located on Boston's downtown waterfront immerses you in another world where you can experience a giant coral reef and its colorful tropical fish, laugh at playful penguins, and can even meet and greet seals and sea lions on behind-the-scenes tours. 

Designed to appeal to all ages, the aquarium is one of Boston's very top attractions for visitors as well as locals.  It's the perfect place to visit on less-optimal weather days, and even better when the sun is shining and you can enjoy its expansive views of Boston Harbor.

More about visiting the New England Aquarium

Get your skip-the-line ticket to the Aquarium now

9.  Beacon Hill

Acorn Street in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood

Filled with elegant Federal-period mansions, gas lights, and cobblestone lanes, Beacon Hill is where Boston's first European settler built himself a cabin in 1625.

This is the city's most historic neighborhood, home to Bostonians active in the abolition of slavery, religious freedom, and equal rights.  You'll find Freedom Trail and Black Heritage Trail sites here, along with plenty of other places to explore.

Some of the city's top boutiques and restaurants are located here as well.

More about Beacon Hill

Where to Stay in Beacon Hill

Experience Boston's famous historic Beacon Hill neighborhood up close:  Stay in one of these wonderful Beacon Hill hotels, such as luxury boutique Fifteen Beacon:

Hotels near Boston's Beacon Hill

More top hotels in and near Beacon Hill:

Check out more hotels in and near Beacon Hill

10.  Newbury Street Shopping, Dining, & Architecture

Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood
Cafes and boutiques along Boston's Newbury Street

Mellow Victorian brownstones, designer fashion boutiques, art galleries, and trendy restaurants where outdoor dining rules during warm months come together on Newbury Street's eight elegant blocks in the exclusive Back Bay neighborhood.

Only one block over on Boylston Street, look for historic Trinity Church in Copley Square, the art-filled Boston Public Library - plus the Boston Marathon Finish Line.

With Prudential Center and Copley Place shopping nearby, the whole area is a fashionista's dream come true, and a top Boston attraction for visitors as well as local shoppers.

More about Newbury Street boutiques

More about Newbury Street art galleries

Outdoor dining along Newbury Street

Hotels near Newbury Street:

More Articles about Top Boston Attractions

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More Cool Ways to Experience Boston & Its History