Boston is the capital of the state of Massachusetts in the United States of America. It is one of the oldest cities in the US and was founded in 1630. Boston has a rich cultural history and played a very important role in the American Revolution. It’s a tourist’s paradise and has many museums, historic places, and venues for live performances welcoming more than 16.3 million tourists every year. It is also ranked as one of the ten most popular tourist destinations in the United States of America. Here we share with you a list of most interesting things to do in Boston and tourist placfes that will make your trip to the city memorable. It takes you through the history of American freedom struggle and the various historical places connected to it, some of which are part of the Freedom Trail tour in Boston.
Table of Contents
Massachusetts State House
Park Street Church
A visit to the Park Street Church in Downtown Boston should be on your things to do in Boston. This historic church was built in 1809 and today is an active Church belonging to the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference in the United States of America. It has a membership of 1000 people, and more than 2000 worshippers join the weekly Sunday worship service at the Church on an average. It is located at 1, Park Street and is at the corner of Tremont Street.
The Park Street Church has a rich American history and is also a part of Boston’s Freedom Trail. The Park Street Church was founded in 1804 with the “Religious Improvement Society” hosting their weekly prayer meeting. The church was founded and organized by this society on 27th February 1809. The design of the church was made by the architect Peter Banner, and the same resembles a church in London. The church building is a landmark in Boston with its long steeple towering 66 meters, and visible from afar. It was the tallest building in the US from 1810 to 1828, as was a landmark in Boston visible from a distance. During the war of 1812, it was used to store gunpowder and was also nicknamed Brimstone Corner. The church has a strong tradition of missions and applying of Scriptures to social causes and upliftment. It was known for its social service to serve the urban poor. In 1829 William L. Garrison, who was a prominent abolitionist, delivered his major public speech against slavery and giving momentum to the cause of abolishing slavery in the US. The church is also famous as Billy Graham started his first international crusade starting from here in 1949. In 1974 the church building was added with another building adjoining it at the same venue. You can add worshiping in this historic Church on Sundays in your list of things to do in Boston.
Timings – 8.30 am, 11 am, 4 pm
Address - One Park Street, Boston, MA 02108-4899
Old State House
The Old State House is a historic building in Boston and stands at the crossroad of State and Washington streets. It was built in 1713 and was housing the Massachusetts General Court till 1798. It is one of the oldest standing public buildings not just in the Boston area but also in the entire United States. It is now serving as a museum run by the Bostonian Society and is a designated National Historic Landmark since 1960. A visit to this Boston landmark tops the list of things to do in Boston for most tourists who come here.
History of the Old State House
1713–1776 - This brick Old State House accommodated a Merchant’s Exchange on its first floor and warehouses in its basement. The second floor of the building had the Council Chamber of the Colonial Governor while the other side had the County courts and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court. The central part of the building had the chambers of the elected state assembly and had the first public galleries in the chambers of elected officials in the world. It is here in these courts where many cases related to the American Revolution and against slavery were fought. In 1770, the building witnessed the Boston Massacre, which happened in front of it.
1713–1779 – During this duration, the building was the seat of the state government and was used to proclaim the Declaration of Independence on 18th July 1776 by Col. Thomas Crafts from the east side balcony to the cheering crowds below. The signs of the British rule were plucked from the building and burnt on the street. Post this, and it was used as the seat of the state government till 1798.
1830-1841 – During this period, the building was used as Boston’s city hall and a post office and was damaged by a fire in 1832.
1841-1881 – These few years, the building was used by commercial establishments on rent and was occupied by various local businesses.
1881- Present – In 1881, to avoid plans for demolition due to its increasing real estate value, The Bostonian Society was formed and took over the building to enable it to be preserved. It was thereafter restored and now houses a museum for public view. The Queen paid it a visit on 11th July 1976, who stood and addressed a large crowd from the same historic balcony wherefrom the Declaration of Independence was the first readout. Makes sure you add visiting this place in your things to do in Boston.
Opens - Monday-Sunday 9:00-17:00. Closed on - New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the first week of February Monday to Friday
Address - 206 Washington St, Boston, MA 02109, USA
Massachusetts State House
Another place worth adding in your things to do in Boston list is a tour of the Massachusetts State House. This magnificent building, also known as the New State House, is the current seat of the state government of Massachusetts. Located in Beacon Hill, the building currently houses the Massachusetts state legislature and the office of the Governor of Massachusetts. This historic building was designed by architect Charles Bulfinch as was completed in 1798 at a cost of $133,333, which was 5 times its allocated budget. It an icon of Boston and is an architectural masterpiece considered a National Historic Landmark due to its architectural significance. The building design resembles the London building designs taken from Somerset House and Pantheon. The Commonwealth did a major expansion of the original statehouse in 1895 post, which is 1917, the east and west wings were added to the structure. The original leaking wooden done was covered with copper sheets in 1802. This was the first-ever successful use of rolled copper into sheets for copper sheathing usage in America. It was further gilded in gold in 1874 and re-gilded in 1997 in 23k gold.
The front of the Massachusetts State House has statues of Gen. Joseph Hooker, Daniel Webster, Horace Mann, and President J.F. Kennedy. It also has the statues of Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer on the lawns below the east and the west wings.
There is a ceremonial large door inside the Doric hall which opens up on the Beacon Street through a staircase. This door is only opened on three occasions – when the US President or a foreign state head visits, or when the Governor exists the building on his last day in office, or when the regimental flag returns home from battle.
Today besides being the working state house of the government for the last two centuries, it has also become an outstanding museum showcasing the history of the state since the colonial times. Its corridors have portraits of various Massachusetts governors and display of its cultural heritage, making it a place worth adding in your things to do in Boston. You could take a memorable guided tour or walk on your own to observe the House and the Senate with its well-appointed chambers.
Opens – For public viewing: Monday-Friday 10:00-15:30
Address - 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133, USA
Bunker Hill Monument
A monument which will remind you of the American freedom struggle and a visit to which is on every tourist’s list of things to do in Boston, the Bunker Hill Monument was built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill between the British forces and the American Patriot forces during the American Revolutionary War. The battle happened here on 17th June 1775. This 67-meter granite monument was erected in Charlestown between 1825 and 1843, with granite stone brought from the nearby Quincy. It was brought to the current site by rail and then by a barge via a waterway. To reach the top, one has to climb 294 steps. Bunker Hill is a historical site and part of the Freedom Trail and Boston National Historical Park. Across the street, the Bunker Hill Museum is a free entry museum that houses exhibits of the battle.
The Bunker Hill Monument was the first of its kind in the United States. Unlike what its name suggests, the monument is on Breed’s Hill, where the actual battle happened. It remains a place of historical importance with a remembrance of struggle during the Revolution to get rid of the British from the American continent. In 1961 it was designated a National Historic Landmark due to its significance as an early war memorial and was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in the United States of America. Spending a few hours here is worth adding to your things to do in Boston list.
Address - Monument Square, Boston, MA 02129
Old North Church
If you are in Boston, you can’t miss the Old North Church from your things to do in Boston. Officially known as the Christ Church in Boston, this historic church was the site for the launch of the American Revolution and is a part of the Freedom Trail. Located at 193, Salem Street in the North End, Boston this is where the famous call “One by Land and two by Sea” was given by Paul Revere’s during the historic midnight ride on 18th April 1775 and preceding the Battles at Concord and Lexington at the height of the American Revolution.
The Church itself is a historic building built in 1723 and is the oldest standing Church building and has been declared a National Historic Landmark. Inside the church, you can see an outstanding statue of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America. This road to fame for The Old North Church started on the eve of 18th April 1775. The church Vestryman Capt. John Pulling and the Sexton Robert Newman climbed up the steeple of the Church holding two lanterns as a signal from a Boston Patriot-Paul Revere to others that the British army was marching to Concord and Lexington by sea and not by land. This ignited the American Revolution and the rest of history. The church has other interesting historical facts. The silver in the Old North Church was given by the British King along with a Bible. Given the fact that most of the congregation at that time was loyal to the British King with many of them holding positions in the colonial government including the Governor of Massachusetts, the act of the church bearers was an extraordinary act of patriotism and defined the course of the American Revolution that ultimately ended with the Declaration of Independence on 18th July 1776. Every year the church is visited by more than half a million people who pay their tribute to the Nations heroes and to experience this unique monument reminding of American liberty.
Timings: The church is open for public viewing January-February: 10:00-16:00, March-May: 9:00-17:00, June-March: 9:00-18:00, November-December: 9: 00-17:00.
Address: 193 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113, USA
USS Constitution Museum
The USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown Navy Yard is part of the Boston National Historical Park in Massachusetts, US, and is a must to be included in your things to do in Boston. The museum is located near the USS Constitution, which is a wooden-hulled, heavy frigate of the US Navy. It is the world’s oldest commissioned Naval Ship that is still on the water. It was launched in 1797 by the US Navy as part of the six ships which were authorized for construction. The museum celebrates the history of this US Naval Ship and is a part of Boston’s Freedom Trail. The museum itself is housed in a restored shipyard at the end of Pier 2.
The museum has a collection of exhibits that tell the story of the USS Constitution and about the people who designed, constructed, and built the ship and also the lives of those who sailed her. The museum also has the Samuel E. Morison Memorial Library, which has a complete repository of the ship’s history and all related documental records. The USS Constitution Museum is run by a private and nonprofit organization. A visit to this place is a must-add in your things to do in Boston as it trails the US history of the fight for independence and, ultimately, the achievement of freedom from Britain.
Few of the Exhibits that you will see are as below:
All hands on deck – This is an interactive exhibit that showcases the life at sea aboard the USS during the war of 1812.
Old Ironsides in War and Peace – A comprehensive history of the ship along with the how and why it was built and the fame it achieved during the war of 1812 and also why it is preserved as the oldest commissioned warship of the United States Navy.
War of 1812 Discovery Center – Here you can find an interactive exhibit giving the details of the war of 1812, its causes and consequences. It has multi-media, books and other articles which will take you through the complete history of the same.
USS Constitution vs. HMS Java – This exhibit showcases and details the story of the fierce battle between the two ships using archived records, artwork, and artifacts pertaining to this history.
Timings- The Museum opens Monday-Sunday 10:00-17:00. For seasonal changes in timings, refer to the official website.
Address- Building 22, Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA
Old South Meeting House
Your visit to the historic town of Boston is not complete if the Old South Meeting House is not in your things to do in Boston. This historical church is located at the corner of Washington and Milk streets in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It was built in 1729 and shot to fame for organizing the Boston Tea Party on 16th December 1773 were more than five thousand colonists congregated at the meeting house, which was the largest building in Boston at that time. The Tea Party was a movement across the British governed America against the Tea Act passed by the British Parliament and which was strongly resisted by the local American people as it impacted their business interests. The episode leads to the American Revolution and is a part of American’s historic path to independence from Britain.
The meeting house or church was completed in 1729 and has a 56-meter steeple. In 1775, the British occupied the building due to its association with the revolutionaries and destroyed the interiors of the building and used it for horse riding practice. As the British left Boston, the building was rebuilt.
Address - 310 Washington St, Boston, MA 02108-4616
Granary Burying Ground
If you want to pay your respects to the many notable patriots and revolutionaries, you need to add a visit to this place in your things to do in Boston list. The Granary Burying Ground is one of the oldest cemeteries and was founded in 1660. Located on Tremont Street, this is the final resting place of Paul, Revere, few victims of the Boston Massacre and also the three signatories of the Declaration of Independence – John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat Paine. Though it has 2345 grave markers, it is believed that more than 5000 people have been buried here. The cemetery has an Egyptian style revival gate designed by architect Isaiah Rogers in the 1800s.
Address - Tremont Street, (between Park and School Streets), Boston, MA 02108
Boston has a very important role in American history and preserves and celebrates these historic places. When you are in Boston, you’re never at a loss for things to keep you busy. There are professional sporting events, cultural activities, concerts, festivals, and much more throughout the year. Each April, the city hosts the Boston Marathon, and then there are festivals like the Cambridge Science Festival, Harborfest held every year July 4, along with popular ArtWeek Boston, Boston Calling Music Festival and tree lighting ceremonies in December. So, book your tickets now for the best tours, attractions, museums, markets, and things to do in Boston, Massachusetts.