A single day affords the opportunity to sample some experiences unique to Boston. You won’t have time for full engagement,but you can touch on several singular attractions and destinations. Your focus will be the downtown area,home to the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods.
Start: Boston Common (Red or Green Line to Park St.),15 State St. (Orange or Blue Line to State),or Faneuil Hall (Green or Blue Line to Government Center).
One Singular Sensation: On a 1-day visit,think about focusing on just a couple of things you’re most excited about,plus a good meal or two. If what really gets you going is the Museum of Arts,the Museum of Science,Newbury Street’s art galleries and boutiques,or perhaps a field trip,you have a good excuse for refraining from doing more– and for a return trip to Boston!
1. The Freedom Trail
Boston’s signature attraction is a 2.5-mile line of red paint or brick laid out at the tip of a local journalist in 1958. Following the whole Freedom Trail can consume the lion’s share of a day,but numerous options that focus on the downtown part of the walk take 2 hours approximately. Your goal is to cover– at whatever pace suits you,as carefully or as casually as you like– the first two-thirds of the trail,from Boston Common through Faneuil Hall. Start at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center with a pamphlet describing the self-guided tour or with the audio tour available from the Freedom Trail Foundation. If you prefer a guided tour,check the schedule of tours with National Park Service rangers,Boston By Foot,and the Freedom Trail Foundation.
2. Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall Marketplace uses a host of shopping options,many of which are outlets of national chains. You can give your wallet a workout before,after,or even (this may be our little secret) during your sightseeing.
3. Quincy Market
The main level of Faneuil Hall Marketplace’s central building,Quincy Market,is a gigantic food-court. You can eat at the marketplace,but I suggest crossing Atlantic Avenue and enjoying your snack or lunch with a glorious view. Stake out a seat overlooking the marina beside Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. If you prefer to eat indoors,head nearby to Union Oyster House
4. Paul Revere House.
Our favorite Freedom Trail stop is a little 17th-century home overlooking an attractive cobblestone square.
5. The North End
The Freedom Trail continues here with another famous Paul Revere hangout,the interesting Old North Church. But there’s more to this historic neighborhood than just history. The city’s “Little Italy” (locals don’t refer to it as that) is a great place for wandering around.
6. Hanover Street
Coffee outlets throughout the city valiantly attempt to serve good espresso and cappuccino; the shops here always are successful– and if they don’t,they don’t remain in business long. Pair your caffeine with a fresh-baked pastry,settle in at a bakery or caffÃ¨,and take in the scene on the North End’s main road. Top choices: CaffÃ¨ Vittoria,Mike’s Pastry,and CaffÃ¨ dello Sport.
7. The Waterfront
Now downtown Boston’s small size pays off: In almost any direction,the gorgeous harbor is a brief stroll from the North End. As the day unwind,you can take a sightseeing cruise from Long Wharf or Rowes Wharf– though a ferry ride from Long Wharf to Charlestown and back may be better for your schedule and budget. If cruises aren not for you or run out season,explore the New England Aquarium or the Boston Children’s Museum. If those don’t appeal to you,head for the nearby Seaport District (also known as the South Boston Waterfront) and visit the Institute of Contemporary Art. It’s a 20- to 30-minute walk or 10-minute cab ride.
Or– it’s not the Waterfront,but bear with us– abandon the sightseeing after the Paul Revere House and go shopping in the Back Bay,starting with a stroll along Newbury Street.