Boston Travel Guide 2021

2021 Boston Visitors Guide

Of all the U.S. cities, Boston is one of the most fun, energetic, cultural, and historical areas of the country. As the capital of Massachusetts, Boston is rich with museums, art exhibits, attractions, and events. It would take weeks or months to visit everything Boston has to offer. Narrow down your “to-do” list ahead of time to fit in everything you possibly can during your trip. Second, only to San Francisco in popularity with tourists, Boston is a cultural mecca as well as the site of year-round outdoor fun. The museums and art galleries contain internationally known treasures, many of which were donated by wealthy residents who purchased them in Europe during the 19th century. Boston has a fine opera company, The Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, blues, folk, bluegrass, and rock venues.

Boston Fun Guide

Boston is a favorite with families. Year-round activities include skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. Spring and summer bring white water rafting, mountain climbing, hang gliding, kayaking, surfing, hiking, and windsurfing. Only a few miles outside Boston are some outstanding seaside spots that are clean, beautiful, and accessible.

Boston is home to some top sporting teams. The Boston Celtics are America’s most famous professional basketball team and few teams have a more illustrious history than the well-known Boston Red Sox, New England’s only major-league baseball team. New additions to the sports scene are the popular New England Revolution and the Boston Breakers soccer teams.

Downtown Boston, MA

Although encouraging economic growth, Boston retains much of its historic beauty. Landmarks and their surroundings have been carefully preserved over the years. Boston is described as the birthplace of the United States and is justifiably proud of the role it played in America’s struggle for independence. The Freedom Trail brings to life the details of that heritage. The Trail is a walking tour that encompasses three miles of some of the most fascinating aspects of the years between 1630 and the early 1800s. Over 20 sites, some dating back to the time of the arrival of the first Europeans, are part of this stroll through history.

Boston is the gateway to New England, a region of unique charm and exceptional beauty. A visit to the area in the fall is an incomparable experience, as Mother Nature reveals the full palette of autumn colors, and leaves are transformed to hues of fiery red, glistening gold and bright orange. In December Boston becomes a truly magical place as the many trees in the city center sparkle with thousands of lights.

Boston Vacation Guide

Boston offers something for everyone, from museums to professional sports, and from the freshest of seafood to the finest Asian cuisine, Boston is not just a wonderful place to visit, but it is also a great base from which to launch an exploration of New England and the Atlantic coast. Whether its a vacation with the entire family, an intensive solo shopping expedition, a journey into history with a grandchild, an “escape from stress” weekend for two, or a myriad of other relaxing and enriching opportunities, Boston is the place to go.

Boston Downtown Hotels

Downtown Boston is the largest city in New England and one of the oldest in the country. It was the home of the American Revolution in 1775. The Freedom Trail runs throughout the city and its historic landmarks, including the Boston Harbor, home of the Boston Tea Party, the Old North Church, and beautiful Faneuil Hall. Relieve the birthplace of America throughout the city and surrounding towns! Boston is a city that is very much alive but keeps close ties to its history. The port city still clings to its maritime past. Explore the Boston Harbor through whale watching, visiting the Aquarium, and enjoying a meal at one of the many seafood restaurants throughout the city. Boston is also the home of the Red Sox and Fenway Park, as well as the Boston Garden, home of both the Celtics and Bruins he Boston Celtics. All of these attractions are easily accessible using the nation’s oldest subway systems, guaranteeing a wonderful adventure! Downtown Hotel Service offers Hotels near Downtown Boston that are quality hotels at an affordable price. Use our Search box above or click here to see available hotels!

Back Bay Hotel

One of Boston’s landmarks is the Back Bay Hotel, near the Charles River. The building was originally the Boston Police Department, contributing to its rich history. The location of this hotel is great for travelers of all kinds, including businesspeople and families, because it’s central to many of Boston’s most popular sights and attractions.

Boston Weather

Of all the major Northeastern cities, Boston is the most well-known for attracting cold-weather aficionados and those who aren’t afraid of a little bit of snow. However, Boston isn’t just about beautiful winters. It actually has four distinct seasons, each of which has different things to offer, whether you’re traveling to the Boston area or choosing to call it your home.

Boston offers a humid continental climate which is greatly influenced by the city’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. This can greatly affect the weather patterns from year to year. Although there are four distinct seasons in Boston, the length and intensity of the seasons are variable and largely determined by wind patterns.

Summer

For those who enjoy the convenience of living in the Northeastern corridor, consisting of many of the most populated cities in the United States, but dislike the hot and humid summers, Boston is an excellent place to call home. While most other cities spend June, July, and August in the 90-degree zone with high relative humidity, Boston’s high temperature is around 80 degrees in the summer months.

Spring & Fall

In fact, although Boston is credited with having four distinct seasons, temperatures start hitting the upper 60s in April, peak at 80 in mid-summer, and return to the 60s until October, or even November. The moderate temperatures are due to the wind patterns from the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re considering a visit to Boston from another part of the country, don’t be surprised if Spring, Summer, and Autumn all feel relatively similar. This is one of the reasons Boston is known for its beautiful scenery, an array of outdoor activities, and is widely considered one of the most desirable places to live.

Winter

On the other hand, winters can be brutal compared to the rest of the Eastern Corridor. Due to its location, Boston is frequently hit by Nor’easters, or blizzards that hit cities on the East Coast when fronts from Canada and the Atlantic Ocean combine. These typically affect cities from New Hampshire to Washington D.C. and Virginia and can shut down even major cities for up to a week at a time.

Temperatures range, on average, from 22 to 40 degrees during the winter months, making virtually any day that experiences precipitation a day that the area will receive snow, sleet, freezing rain, or ice. The coldest month is January, where single-digit lows are not unheard of. On average, Boston gets about 50 inches of snow a year, most of it within a 90 day period. Like much of the Northeast, the area has become accustomed to the rough weather, and most people are able to get around easily, despite the constant presence of a few inches of snow on the ground.

While one of the most beautiful cities the U.S. has to offer, sun-worshippers aren’t likely to feel at home in Boston, where sweaters and scarves can be seen virtually any day of the year.

Boston Transportation

Boston’s street grid is notoriously convoluted. Tradition says that the streets were laid out along old cow paths. While this is not exactly true, getting around Boston can be confusing. Luckily, Boston is one of the most walkable cities in America. It is dense and compact. No one stays lost for long because everything is close together.

Maps are available all over Boston, both for sale and posted along major streets. Once a traveler gets his or her bearings, walking around Boston becomes a way to discover interesting surprises.

As easy as it is to walk around Boston, the city is served by an excellent public transportation system. The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) operates the oldest underground rail system in the country, known locally as the T. The T consists of five lines, the Red, Blue, Orange, Green, and Silver, that run to points of interest throughout the city and in neighboring communities. The T is a convenient and affordable way to explore Boston, Cambridge, Brookline and Quincy. Commercial development tends to center around T stops, and the tracks are laid out to connect to major cultural attractions.

In addition to the five main subway lines, the Mattapan High-Speed trolley system runs between Ashmont Station and Mattapan Square. Antique streetcars run through marshland and past Adams Square, the former home of the Baker’s Chocolate Factory, now picturesque apartments in a unique district on the Boston border. The High-Speed Line is the only train system that runs through a cemetery.

The MBTA also operates the seventh busiest bus system in the U.S. No part of Boston is unreachable by mass transit. The subways stop running after midnight in order to conduct regular maintenance on the tracks. The buses stop after 2:00 AM. Boston is served by an efficient and modern fleet of taxis that are regulated by the city. Cabs regularly patrol all the neighborhoods and it is normally easy to find one without needing to call.

Tour travel is possible by a number of private operators, including double-decker buses that take visitors to points of interest. In addition, Boston famous Duck Tours are a regular sight on the streets and in the Charles River. These vehicles are refurbished WWII amphibious vehicles that take visitors around landmarks scattered throughout the city, then show an unparalleled from the water as the vehicles driver right into the Charles River Basin and circle between Boston and Cambridge.

With all the transportation options available in Boston, there is no need to rent a car when staying in the city.

  • MTBA: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway, or ‘T’ as it is affectionately called, is one of the best subways in America. It serves most areas of the city and Cambridge, with several lines even running to outlying suburbs. The different routes are identified by different colored lines – Green, Blue, Red and Orange lines.
  • Bus: Buses cross the metropolitan area and travel farther into suburbs than subway and trolley lines.
  • Trolley: Trackless trolleys connect the terminal points of the subway lines to destinations in the suburbs, with some routes running through the city. They are powered electronically and departure times are less frequent than on the ‘T’.
  • Train: Boston South and Boston Back Bay stations are connected to Providence, New Haven, and New York City by Amtrak rail services.
  • Taxi and Shuttle: Taxis are plentiful and very convenient. They can be easily hailed on the street and are available around the clock.
  • Boat: A shuttle boat departs throughout the day from Rowe’s Wharf to Logan Airport and also from Long Wharf to Hingham: a unique way to travel in and out of the city.

 

Boston Attractions

Planning a trip to Boston, Massachusetts is simple when you are familiar with the different attractions that can be found throughout the city. From teenage hangouts to sports complexes and historic landmarks, Boston has a little something of everything. When traveling through New England, be sure to check out these popular attractions to make the most out of your stay.

>> Visit our Top Boston Attractions Guide

Walking Trails

The two and a half-mile-long Freedom Trail passes 16 historical sites, including the Bunker Hill Monument and Paul Revere’s home. Another popular walking trail is the Black Heritage Trail.

Historical Sites

Boston is chock full of historical sites, including the New England Holocaust Memorial, the USS Constitution, and the Fort Warren Confederate landmark.

Pop Culture Attractions

Just about every tourist stops at the two bars based on the popular television show Cheers. One of the bars was used for the show’s exterior shots. The second bar, which is located in Quincy Market, is a perfect replica of the TV set. You can also check out the interactive Indiana Jones exhibit.

Museums

Anyone who loves modern art or learning about history will want to spend plenty of time in the city’s many museums. The Museum of Science and the JFK Library and Museum are perfect for history buffs. Head to the Museum of Fine Arts if you love the world’s most famous painters. Bring the kids to the Children’s Museum of Boston for some hands-on fun.

Popular Sights

The Boston Public Garden, located near the Boston Common Public Park, is best known for its 1877 swan boats and gorgeous lake. Quincy Market, located close to Faneuil Hall, has indoor and outdoor restaurants and shops to browse throughout the day. Take a Duck Tour to see all of Boston’s sights in one fun, fast jaunt. Just prepare to get a bit wet! You can also head to the New England Aquarium or take in a baseball game at historic Fenway Park.

Fenway Park
Fenway Park – Boston

Fenway Park

Fenway Park is the famous home of the main club for Baseball’s Boston Red Sox since 1912. The attractive interior view of the stadium and invaluable Green Monster, draw-in most of the visitors.

Boston Public Library

While a trip to the library may not sound like much of an attraction, the Boston Public Library has a vast history behind it and is located in a prime area in the center of the city. This tourist attraction was the very first large municipally-funded public library in the country. Browse through the wide collection of books that can be found here, as well as a unique map collection, area for internet connections and circulating book displays. Conference rooms are also available for meetings and get-togethers.

Boston Harbor Islands National Park

Boston Harbor Islands National Park is made up of 34 islands that can be found off the shore in the Boston Harbor. While each island is relatively small, some offer unique experiences that you will not find elsewhere. Head to 12 of the 34 islands via ferry service and explore the area. View historic lighthouses, take a hike through the forest, swim in the ocean water, camp, boat and more. George’s Island is one of the more well-known islands within the national park and is the home of Fort Warren.

New England Holocaust Memorial

Pay your respects to the victims of the tragic Holocaust event at the New England Holocaust Memorial. Many visitors travel from around the world to see the 6 glass towers that serve several representations. They stand for the 6 million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, the 6 Nazi concentration camps and the number of candles that can be found on the Jewish menorah.

Boston Dining

Visitors to Boston will find everything from the finest in international dining to bistros and cafes. Boston has an extremely impressive array of dining and drinking choices. This ethnic melting pot brings to the table an eclectic selection of menus. Seafood is a Boston favorite and so is the traditional Yankee boiled supper, but there is also authentic Italian, French, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Moroccan cuisine. On almost every corner of urban Boston, you can find a casual pub or a swanky, retro-style lounge or nightclub, and even though it is a small city, there is an impressive club scene.

The Black Rose

The Black Rose has been around since 1976 and is considered one of the best Irish restaurants in the United States. The menu consists of typical Irish dishes like chicken pot pie, hamburgers, fish and chips, and corned beef. As you are eating your meal and sipping on your beer, you can listen to live music in the background.

Cheers

If you are a fan of the television show Cheers, you should visit the restaurant that inspired it. This underground restaurant features traditional American cuisine and is a great place to take your family. When you open up the menu, you will find dishes like nachos, chicken wings, cheeseburgers, and grilled cheese sandwiches. When you are done eating, make sure to purchase a Cheers souvenir at the gift shop.

Union Oyster House

Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in the United States and is definitely worth checking out when you are in Boston. In addition to the best oysters around, the restaurant’s menu features seafood dishes like scallops, salmon filet, butterfly shrimp, and lobster. The portions served at this dining establishment are big, so you will never leave hungry.

Sibling Rivalry

If you are looking for a fine dining experience, you should visit Sibling Rivalry. The classic American dishes at this restaurant are made with the freshest ingredients and will satisfy anyone’s taste buds. When you open up the menu, you will find dishes like baked salmon, crispy pressed duck, roasted rack of baby lamb and jumbo scallops. Don’t forget to order a delicious martini with your meal.

Regina Pizzeria

If you have a taste for pizza, you should stop by Regina Pizzeria. This pizza restaurant has been around for more than 80 years and serves some of the best pizza in town. The restaurant’s menu features several gourmet pizzas, so you shouldn’t have a problem choosing one that you like. One of the more popular pizzas at this restaurant is the Giambotta, which contains salami, pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and sausage. The atmosphere in the restaurant is very cozy and the staff will make you feel like you’re at home.

Jacob Wirth

Jacob Wirth has been around since 1868 and is truly a Boston classic. It is located in the middle of the city’s theatre district and is a great restaurant to eat at after a show. The menu features a variety of different dishes including buffalo chicken wraps, hamburgers, meatloaf, and beer-battered fish

Esplanade - Boston
Esplanade Concert – Boston

Boston Events

The city of Boston in Massachusetts is an exciting modern city with a rich historical and cultural heritage. For its residents and the many visitors that come to Boston every year, the city and various organizations within Boston put on numerous events. These events help to celebrate the history, culture, and arts of the local area. Here are some examples of festivals, shows, and celebrations:

Spring

  • Boston Marathon & Patriot’s Day – April is the time for the Boston Marathon, and it is always held on Patriot’s Day in honor of the ride of Paul Revere through the town in 1775 and the ensuing battles fought near Boston starting the Revolutionary War. Besides the marathon, other events take place during the day like re-enactments of the battles of 1775 and Paul Revere’s ride. The day also is a home date for the Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball Team.

Summer

  • Independence Day – Every 4th of July, Boston puts on a huge party. The televised Boston Pops Concert with a spectacular fireworks show on the banks of the Charles River ends an entire series of celebratory events. City Hall has a ceremony raising the flag in the morning. Then, the Granary Burial Ground is the start-off place for the parade. In the parade are Boston’s militia, one of the oldest still-active military units on the globe.
  • Feast of St. Anthony – Brought to the city by Italian immigrants, the Feast of St. Anthony includes food and food vendors as well as a parade on Hanover Street. Additionally, games and musical events take place.

Autumn

  • Head of the Charles Regatta – In the middle of October, Boston holds a two-day rowing event. Athletes from all over the world totaling more than 8,000 come to compete in the rowing competitions.

Winter

  • New Year’s Eve – Starting a tradition that cities worldwide have copied, Boston has the country’s oldest New Year’s city-wide party. During the day on the eve and the day, children and family events are held. Exhibitions of the arts range from poetry to music to dance and more. Concerts and other events last until midnight. Then, waterfront fireworks bring in the New Year.
  • St. Patrick’s Day – Because Boston has such a large population of Irish descendants, Irish pride rides high. This inspiring ethnic group welcomes the entire city to celebrate the holiday with them. Anyone in the city can join in the spirit by wearing a hat, pin or shirt that has a shamrock or a note stating, “I’m Irish!”

Family Fun near Downtown Boston

As a family-oriented destination, Boston offers a variety of educational and fun opportunities for both children and their parents. History is woven throughout Boston’s fabric, but the city also has modern marvels that will delight children and expand their horizons.

Boston Aquarium

The Boston Aquarium is a state of the art facility famous for its marine exhibits. Conveniently located on the downtown waterfront, an afternoon can be enjoyed learning about the mysteries of the sea and ongoing efforts to preserve this unique and fragile environment.

USS Constitution

The sea is always close by in Boston, which is a working port with strong traditions. The USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat, offers free tours by experienced U.S. Navy sailors. Old Ironsides has docked only a few blocks away from the Bunker Hill Monument that commemorates one of the most famous battles of the American Revolution. The view from the top of the monument offers stunning views of the city and of Boston Harbor while a tour of the grounds offers an exciting lesson in American history.

Franklin Park Zoo

The largest zoo in New England is located in Boston. The Franklin Park Zoo is set on 72 acres in Franklin Park, an urban oasis designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Exhibits include the Tropical Forest, Serengeti Crossing, Outback Kingdom, and Butterfly Landing.

Castle Island

Not all excursions in Boston need to be educational. Visiting Castle Island at the end of the South Boston peninsula is a Boston tradition. Castle Island is named for the Civil War-era fort that stands on the former island. Walking around the fort’s perimeter presents breathtaking views of the harbor as well as a causeway that leads to miles of soft, sandy beaches. Castle Island lies under the flyway approach to Boston Airport, so airplanes continually fly overhead en route from faraway destinations.

Boston Museums

Home to notable fine art museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Harvard Art Museum, as well as numerous small galleries, the Boston area is home to high culture. In addition, Boston has a world-class symphony and the Theater District regularly shows Broadway plays and lyric opera.

There are over 100 colleges and universities in the Boston area, making the city an ideal place to inspire the idea of advanced education. The campuses of these colleges are picturesque and most offer small museums and exhibits on an ongoing basis, especially at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Harvard Medical School. The Ether Dome in Massachusetts General Hospital is an operating room open to the public where anesthesia was first demonstrated to be effective.

Shopping near Downtown Boston

As the largest city in New England, Boston offers a variety of shopping opportunities that cannot be found anywhere else.   Thanks to all of the shopping available in the city, you’ll never have to leave Boston empty-handed. Beacon Hill has tons of shopping opportunities located throughout its cobblestone streets. Newberry Street is ideal for stylish shoppers and you can find great deals at Filene’s Basement.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Shopping is a favorite year-round activity in Boston. Located in the center of Boston, four buildings are collectively known as Faneuil Hall Marketplace and individually as Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market, and South Market are filled with the activity of shoppers, diners and sightseers day and night, attracting millions of enthusiastic visitors a year. The structures are grouped around a cobblestone promenade where jugglers, magicians, mimes, and bands continually entertain passersby.

Clothing boutiques in the best shopping areas offer everything from great bargains to the ultimate in chic. Three or four of the best-known outlets are within a short driving distance of Boston. Bookshops, antique and collectible shops abound.

Faneuil Hall and the Quincy Market are old buildings in the heart of downtown dedicated to open-air shopping and entertainment. Small shops fill the stalls with a number of souvenirs and luxury goods. The dining options in Quincy Market make shopping a pleasure, and the street performers make for pleasant diversions between stores.

Newbury Street

Newbury Street boston
Newbury Street

Newbury Street has been called one of the most picturesque and quaint shopping streets in the city. Its shady sidewalks are home to upscale shops and stores that cater to local residents. Most of these stores are small enterprises, providing unique shopping options in addition to the large chain stores that are on Boylston Street, a block away.

Dorchester Avenue

Boston is a city of neighborhoods, the largest of them being Dorchester. By taking the Red Line of the T, what they call the subway system in Boston, visitors can get off at Andrew Station and find themselves in Boston’s famous Polish Triangle. Eastern European delicacies and small groceries abound in this area along Dorchester Avenue.

Dorchester Avenue, also called Dot Ave, is a five-mile-long street that runs from the South Boston neighborhood for five miles in a straight line to the city limits. Along the way, the street runs through a heavily Vietnamese area filled with specialty shops, as well as older Irish-American communities that have so long added to Boston’s cultural heritage. Filled with locally owned small businesses, shopping in Dorchester is small-town shopping with a big city’s variety.

Kenmore Square

The Green Line runs past Kenmore Square in the neighborhood of Fenway Park. As one may suspect, this area is full of Red Sox-themed shops and sports bars selling memorabilia celebrating Boston’s favorite team. Further along, the Green Line is Coolidge Corner in neighboring Brookline, where an antique picturesque shopping mall is the center of attention, in addition to smaller luxury shops and sundry sellers.

No matter what a person is looking for in Boston, he or she will find it. From antiques to antiquarian books, from high fashion to discounted clothing. The tradition of Filene’s Basement continues in the various clothing retailers that offer bargains that are unheard of in other cities. High-end jewelry, furnishings, and craftwork are available all over Boston on its main streets and in out of the way locations. A bustling city thrives on commerce, and Boston is no different. As a shopping destination, Boston is ideal.

Boston Hotels Map
Map of Hotels in Boston

Map of Hotels in Boston

  1. Lawrence Logan Int Airport – Find hotels near Porzio Park & Ingleside Park
  2. Boston Downtown – Find hotels near Boston Opera House & Union Oyster House
  3. Harvard University – Find hotels near Spring Hill & Cambridge
  4. Boston Fenway Park – Find hotels near House of Blues & Yawkey
  5. Bunker Hill Monument – Find hotels near Charlestown & Boston Navy Yard
  6. Boston Charles River – Find hotels near Boston Common & Charlesbank Park
  7. Boston National Historical Park – Find hotels near Union Oyster House & During Park
  8. Harbor Islands National Park – Find hotels near Peddocks Island & Hull Bay
  9. Isabella Stewart Gardner – Find hotels near Emmanuel College & Evans Way Park
  10. Boston Peddocks Island – Find hotels near Quincy Bay & Winthrop