As one of the oldest cities in the United States, it’s unsurprising that Boston would have so many different places to see and things to do. But, if you’re only able to swing a short trip, what’s the best way to make sure you’re getting as much out of it as you can? We’ve asked Joe Miragliotta of JoesDaily.com to tell us all about the trick he uses to help you do just that.
Though I’ll never regret my decision to move to LA to build something for myself when I was only sixteen, I do feel like there are a few things that I missed out on experiencing as an adult back in the Boston area. To be honest, it wasn’t really until I began taking my wife home with me that I realized I didn’t know as much about what there was to do as I would like. To remedy the situation, we decided to come up with something of a mix-and-match system to make the most of our trips back home. If you’re gearing up for a short trip to “the Athens of America” and want to make sure you experience as much as this varied city has to offer, check out the list below for some ideas on how to piece a well-rounded trip together for yourself.
The beautiful thing about museums is that they’re totally different wherever you go—maybe even whenever you go. That said, trying to fit a stop into the city that you’re visiting is pretty much always going to be a great activity if you enjoy sucking up a little culture when you travel, and Boston is no exception. Their Museum of Fine Arts is actually the fifth largest museum in the US and boasts nearly half a million works. Honestly, even if it isn’t usually at the top of your sightseer list, a visit might be in order regardless of who you are.
Having grown up less than an hour from the city, I remember going to see the Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker as an annual tradition for basically everyone I knew. Lucky for you, they actually put on shows throughout the entire year so, even if you aren’t in town to witness the Sugarplum Fairy pirouette around, you can still catch other beloved characters like Cinderella or Romeo and Juliet—probably more brag-worthy, if we’re being honest.
Of course, dancing isn’t everyone’s deal, though, I will always argue that everyone should give one a shot at least once. If you’re still looking for a show that won’t involve tutus (well, some might), Boston almost has too many to choose from. Musicals, cirque, stand-up, and plays are all part of the entertainment repertoire the city has to offer. Essentially, if you’re looking to see something in a theater and you’re pretty much all set, regardless of what, specifically, floats your boat.
Keeping up with the scholarly-ish theme here, how does some kind of historical tour sound to you? Given the city’s incredibly rich past, it comes as little surprise to anyone that it would be such a spectacular city for this kind of thing. As for which to take, that’s totally up to you and your tastes. From Native American history to the Witch Trials to the Revolutionary War, there are tons of plentiful categories available.
Boston Public Library
Don’t worry, I’m totally aware that libraries are only tourist destinations in a select few places but did you know that the Boston Public Library was one of them? Spectacular architecture and design, special collections, and exciting exhibitions all make this lovely building absolutely worth at least a few hours of your visit. Free public tours are available to groups of seven or fewer. For a private tour, you’ll want to check well ahead of your visit, as they tend to be booked up pretty far out.
Museum of Science
If you happen to be traveling with kids in-tow, a visit to their Museum of Science would be a great way to spend an afternoon. They have just about everything you would expect: fun exhibits, educational IMAX and 4-D films, live presentations, a butterfly garden, planetarium shows…alright, maybe it has more than you would expect. Admission starts at $24 for children and $29 for adults but is also included, among many other things, with the Go Boston All-Inclusive card.
For those not traveling with children, might I suggest a fun brewery tour? Personally, I’ve never been on a brewery/winery tour that I didn’t love. Of course, there’s the lovely fact that you get to try out an adult beverage or two, but it’s also another great way to look into the local traditions and techniques of an area. Anyone that has been on more than one knows that, while the process is generally the same, each city has fleshed out their own unique way of doing things to truly make their mark. So, if you feel like you’re an ideal candidate for this kind of appreciation, I’d definitely recommend you give one of these a shot. (If beer isn’t your thing, not to worry, they have wine options too.)
Okay, no, I’m not going to make a case for escape rooms being different from city to city as well (though, a case could definitely be made for no two being alike), but they are an absolute blast, and I’m just never going to stop telling people to give them a try. Ideally, you’ll want to go in with a group of close friends you don’t mind getting exasperated with, as things can get, well, exasperating at times. Still, they’re all the fun of game night with the bonding of bad karaoke—what’s not to love?
Not to repeat myself but, what’s not to love? While Boston isn’t known for a specific kind of music like Nashville and country or New Orleans and jazz, Boston is still a great place to check out live, local music. Really, one could argue that, because it doesn’t have a specialty, it’s perfect for everyone, regardless of musical taste. Lovers of indie can head west to Great Scott, Loretta’s Last Call for country fans, and there’s Durty Nelly’s for an Irish twist. Boston is your musical oyster, take advantage! (Also, they have great oysters in the city, but that’s not what this topic is about.)
With Boston being known for so many things, it’s not unjustified if your brain doesn’t go to whale watching as an option for experiences to take in there. Still, given its harbor location, of course, it’s entirely perfect for it. Spectators can expect to see a variety of whales including minke, finback, and the majestic humpback, putting on quite the show of breaching, bobtailing, and spyhopping. If you’re unfamiliar with these terms, I’d tell you what they are, but it’s much better finding out in person. So, you know, go see them.
Hiking/Biking or Botanical Garden
Lovers of the outdoors have their pick when it comes to ways to spend time outside in and around Beantown with the Emerald Necklace, a more than 1,000-acre collection of marshland, meadows, gardens, walkways and bike paths. Highlights include the Boston Common, the oldest public park in the US; the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, where you can also treat yourself to classes, tours, and lectures; Jamaica Pond, where visitors can rent sailboats and rowboats; and Olmsted Park, featuring wildflower meadows surrounded by woods, making it a really great place for a picnic.
Anyone wanting to introduce a little land wildlife into their trip will want to head about 45 minutes northwest of the city to the animal sanctuary, Animal Adventures, in Bolton. Open for over twenty years, it’s currently home to hundreds of rescue animals of both the exotic and domesticated varieties. Animal Adventures is open most days, except for Tuesdays during the school year and a few holidays.
So there you have it, a mix-and-match list of a few different things to do in and around Boston. Pick one thing from each category, go with everything from just one, or create new options all your own. Whatever you choose to do, I’m sure you’re going to have a weekend to remember for a long, long time.
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