Boston Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Places to Visit in August
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1-day Itinerary in Boston

Explore the best things to do in Boston in 1 day based on recommendations from local experts.

Day 1

  • 1
    #8
    Boston Public Garden
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    #8 in Boston
    0.7 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.7 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Though the Boston Public Garden sits right next to Boston Common, the two are actually quite different. The public garden is newer (established in 1837) and holds the distinction of being America's first public botanical garden. Flowers and trees are beautifully organized and kept in quality condition throughout. You can see the colorful arrangements and exotic trees from the 4-acre pond in the center of the garden before taking in the lagoon by Swan Boat. Additionally, the park houses two of Boston's most iconic statues: "Make Way for Ducklings" (a bronze sculpture of a duck and her eight ducklings) and the George Washington Statue (which shows America's first president riding on a horse). 

    Visitors looking to relax after sightseeing will enjoy Boston Public Garden. Recent travelers said you'll find plenty of shade beneath the park's trees, which comes in handy on hot summer days. Plus, you'll likely spot some ducks and geese swimming around the Public Garden's lagoon. And if you have a few dollars, past visitors recommended taking a 15-minute ride on a Swan Boat. The large paddle boats cost $4 to ride (or $2.50 for kids ages 2 to 15); travelers with Go Boston Cards ride for free. Swan Boats are available between mid-April and mid-September. 

    5 minute walk
  • 2
    #3
    Boston Common
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    #3 in Boston
    0.4 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.4 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The grounds of Boston Common started as a cow pasture in the mid-1600s. After a few years, overgrazing became a problem and the area was transformed into a British camp. After the Revolutionary War, the park became a popular locale for public speeches and rallies. Now, the Common is best known because of its status as the oldest public park in the country. You'll also find a variety of activities and events, including theater and musical performances, hosted here throughout the year. If you plan to traverse the Freedom Trail, you'll start the walk here at Boston Common.

    Though some visitors said you won't find much to do in this park, Boston Common is great for picnics or a leisurely stroll. Recent travelers also noted that this site is a wonderful spot to take young children. In addition to ample running room on the park's green space, kids can play at the Tadpole Playground or Frog Pond. Frog Pond offers a spray pool during the warmer months and an ice skating rink in the winter.

  • 3
    #7
    Freedom Trail
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    #7 in Boston
    0.3 miles to city center
    Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.3 miles to city center
    Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Stretching 2½ miles, the Freedom Trail weaves past 16 of the city's most historic sites, including Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the Paul Revere House and Old North Church. Taking in all of the trail's attractions requires at least half a day (and some comfortable walking shoes), but you can easily plot points of interest before you begin your jaunt from Boston Common

    Though most recent visitors agreed the trail is easy to navigate on your own, some culture hounds said joining one of the walking tours with the 18th-century costumed Freedom Trail Player tour guides offers an informative, 90-minute introduction to Boston's revolutionary roots. If you have a Go Boston Card, standard guided tours are covered by your pass. 

  • 4
    #1
    Faneuil Hall Marketplace
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    #1 in Boston
    0.2 miles to city center
    Cafes, Shopping, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.2 miles to city center
    Cafes, Shopping, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Four buildings – Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market – constitute Faneuil Hall Marketplace, with the oldest being Faneuil Hall. Built in 1742 and now located on the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall has had a long and important history in Massachusetts politics. Samuel Adams once stood here to push for resistance against the British, and abolitionists and suffragists have stood on their soapboxes here. In fact, this is where Jonathan Mayhew famously challenged the Sugar Act of 1764 by proclaiming, "no taxation without representation." Since Mayhew's declaration, the marketplace has expanded to include more than 100 shops and restaurants. 

    Some former visitors caution that the items sold at Faneuil Hall Marketplace are a bit overpriced. However, if you're looking to kill some time or snap some great photos, consider strolling through the market's halls. You'll also find various cuisines served in Quincy Market if you're in need of a quick bite. Keep in mind that this market gets crowded quickly (especially on weekends and in the summer), so it's best to visit during a weekday if you don't want to encounter hordes of people. 

    5 minute walk
  • 5
    #20
    New England Holocaust Memorial
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    #20 in Boston
    0.2 miles to city center
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.2 miles to city center
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Gaze up at the six 54-foot-tall glass towers that comprise the New England Holocaust Memorial, and you're bound to be awestruck. Erected in 1995, each haunting tower is etched with numbers – the 6 million numbers represent the Holocaust's victims, while the towers represent the six major death camps. There is also a granite path covered in quotes from survivors that leads visitors inside the towers. 

    Recent visitors described walking through the columns as an emotionally charged and unforgettable experience. Plus, the monument's location next to Faneuil Hall Marketplace make it extremely convenient to see. 

    5-10 minute walk
  • 6
    #21
    Paul Revere House
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    #21 in Boston
    0.4 miles to city center
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.4 miles to city center
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    For a glimpse of what life was like in the late 1700s, head to Paul Revere's former residence in the North End. The house, which is situated on the Freedom Trail, offers insight into how homes looked in Revere's time (it's even filled with period pieces, including fine silver). Inside, history fans can admire the building's sweeping beams, spacious fireplaces and some original furnishings owned by the Revere family.

    If you like American history, former travelers said you'll enjoy seeing the Paul Revere House. This house is small, though, so don't allot more than an hour to tour the property. Also, arrive early if you don't want to deal with crowds. 

    5 minute walk
  • 7
    #15
    Old North Church
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    #15 in Boston
    0.6 miles to city center
    Churches/Religious Sites, Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.6 miles to city center
    Churches/Religious Sites, Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Most people who know anything about American history have heard of Paul Revere's famous midnight ride, when he rode through town to warn people about the arrival of British troops. Before heading off to Lexington, Revere gave orders at Old North Church. Robert Newman – the church's sexton – and Captain John Pulling Jr. – the church's vestryman – then climbed the steeple and held two lanterns as a signal (from Revere) that the British Regulars were indeed coming, but by sea. 

    The church itself, which is officially named Christ Church, is filled with beautiful relics from the past, including North America's oldest set of change ringing bells and chandeliers brought in from England in the early 1700s. The pews have a long history as well; Pew No. 54 was reserved for the Revere family. 

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