Beyond the Freedom Trail: 9 alternative things to see and do in Boston
The birthplace of the American Revolution, Boston is a city synonymous with history. The number one attraction here is undoubtedly the Freedom Trail - and for good reason. This 2.5-mile walking trail tells the story of America, weaving its way past 16 significant sights including the Benjamin Franklin statue and the Bunker Hill monument.
Then there are the other must-dos for first-time visitors to Boston: a trip to Fenway Park, a tour of the Sam Adams Brewery, and a seafood dinner, to name just a few. But beyond the world-famous draws, Boston has plenty of other tricks up its sleeve.
It's also a city that's easy to get to from the UK, with more affordable fares from the likes of Virgin Atlantic* than ever before. So if you've already ticked off the Freedom Trail, cheered on the Red Sox, and eaten your body weight in clam chowder, here are nine alternative things to see and do in Boston...
1. Kayak, canoe or paddle board the Charles River
Take an early morning walk along the promenade that lines the Charles River, and you're likely to spot college rowers out for a training session. If you're tempted to take to the water yourself, check out Paddle Boston.
You can hire kayaks, canoes and paddle boards by the hour or by the day, and set off along the river to explore. If you need a bit of a helping hand, join one of the kayak tours. The Sunset Tour comes with the added bonus of unbeatable dusk views.
2. Star-gaze from the Boston University Observatory
Every Wednesday evening - weather permitting - Boston University opens its observatory to the public for an hour. Come along for the chance to observe the night sky through telescopes and binoculars, and learn a bit of astronomy while you're at it. Tickets are free, but need to be reserved online in advance.
3. Admire the view from the Skywalk Observatory
Boston is a city best seen from above, and nowhere offers a better bird's-eye view than the Skywalk Observatory at the top of the Prudential Center. From this 50th-floor vantage point, you can look out over the Hancock Tower, Boston Common, Fenway Park and countless other Boston landmarks.
Your ticket also includes entry to the excellent Dreams of Freedom Museum, which celebrates the important role immigration has played in shaping the city.
4. Catch a concert at the Boston Public Library
Throughout the summer, Boston Public Library's beautiful central courtyard plays host to free concerts. Swing by to enjoy the smooth sound of jazz, classical or folk music, while basking in the New England sunshine.
Concerts aside, Boston Public Library is worth a visit in its own right. Join the free one-hour Art and Architecture Tour to find out more about the spectacular buildings, which date from the 19th century.
5. Stand inside a giant globe at the Mapparium
If you haven't had your photo taken inside a three-story, inside-out globe, have you even really travelled? This one-of-a-kind structure at the Mary Baker Eddy Library measures up at an impressive 30 feet in diameter, and allows the surface of the earth to be viewed without distortion.
It first opened to the public back in 1935, and the 108 stained-glass panels and LED lights still depict the world as it was back then, when Vietnam was part of French Indochina and colonial powers ruled Africa.
6. Experience a harbour cruise with a difference
There's no shortage of boat tours to choose from in Boston. But if you're looking for something that will get your adrenaline pumping, look no further than Codzilla.
This wet-and-wild speedboat ride will see you hurtling across the water at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, with a few hairpin bends and 360-degree spins thrown in for good measure. Factor in an original - and very loud - soundtrack and commentary scripted by Hollywood screenwriters, and you're in for a ride to remember.
7. Take a dip in an outdoor swimming pool
If the summer heat leaves you craving a sun lounger and a good book, take refuge at one of Boston's outdoor swimming pools. Our pick of the bunch is the swanky rooftop pool at the Colonnade Hotel, which non-hotel guests can use for a fee between Monday and Friday.
If you're on a budget, decamp to one of the city's public pools instead, such as the Reilly Memorial Swimming Pool or the North End's Mirabella Pool.
8. Eat your way around the city on a food tour
There's more to Boston's food scene than clam chowder and donuts (although that's not a bad place to start). Sample some of the city's most delicious bites on one of the many food tours on offer. Head to the North End to tuck in to Italian specialities and possibly the best cannoli you'll ever eat. Or choose a tour of Jamaica Plain and taste test some of the neighbourhood's microbreweries.
9. Get to know Cambridge
Most first-time visitors to Boston never make it north of the Charles River, but cross over to the adjoining city of Cambridge, and you'll find plenty to keep you busy.
Perhaps most well-known for its top rate universities including Harvard University and MIT, this historical city is a really lively area, packed with great restaurants and stylish bars. Take in the main sights on a free, tips-based walking tour.
Want to try your hand at paddle boarding the Charles River or star gazing from the observatory? Check out the latest great value fares with Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow and Manchester direct to Boston. You can also take a look at the weather in Boston and discover the best time to go to this incredible city.
More about Boston
Get FREE travel offers
Sign up to receive the latest deals and exclusive discounts on holidays, flights, hotels and more, plus inspiration on where to go when
We promise not to share your details
*affiliate links: find out how we are funded and why this helps us remain free to use.