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Boston, Massachusetts

What to Do, See and Expect in Boston
by Rita Cook

Boston is a city rich with history, some of it dating back to the 1600s. Located on the banks of the Charles River and the Atlantic Ocean, the visitor will find Boston has an array of attractive riverside parks and a unique skyline that fits amazingly well with the bustling waterfront and colorful open markets.

Insider Tips on the City

Boston is a city made for walking. The narrow cobblestone streets are the same ones the colonists walked years ago. The architecture of the buildings and many of the churches have a history rich from the making of early America. When taking a tour of the city, it's best to break it up into sections. There's the downtown area with confusing and narrow streets, but with a charm that makes Boston what it is today. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, also known as Quincy Market, is downtown directly across the street from Faneuil Hall, a historic meeting house. Opened in 1826, the marketplace is alive with restaurants, shops, street vendors and performers. It is located off I-93 between Chatham and Clinton Streets.

The waterfront area offers a park appropriately named, Waterfront Park, offering some breathtaking harbor views, shops and sightseeing tours. Beacon Hill is the heart of old Boston. Located on Mt. Vernon Street and Louisburg Square, stately old townhouses still remain from Boston's first families. If the visitor is looking for Paul Revere's house or the Old North Church, visit the North end. The visitor will find both among the narrow red brick streets that is now a wonderful Italian-American community.

Things to Do

There's never a shortage of things to do when visiting Boston. In fact, the visitor might want to pick one particular area and plan several more trips just to see it all. In order to avoid missing the history of the city, take the Freedom Trail and see just about every important sight in Boston from its colonial and revolutionary past. The trail lines the sidewalks and connects downtown Boston, the North end and crosses the Charlestown River. Start the trail at the Visitors Information Center on the Common. The Old Granbury Burying Ground dates back to 1660. Here the visitor will find the graves of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and the parents of Benjamin Franklin.

The Old State House was Boston's 18th century seat of government, the building was erected in 1713. In 1776 the Declaration of Independence was first read in Boston from the balcony at the Old State House. It continues to be read in the same place on July 4th of every year.

No trip to Boston would be complete without visiting the Public Garden with its graceful swan boats gently cruising the quiet pond. Adjacent to Boston Common across Charles Street, visit the Boston Common Visitor Center.

USS Constitution, famously known as Old Ironside, sits in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Built in Boston in 1797, Old Ironside has won 40 sea battles and is the oldest commissioned warship in the world.

There are all kinds of whale watching cruises to take in New England. Since 1926, Boston Harbor Cruises has offered Sightseeing and Constitution Tours, Whale Watching Tours and Boston Harbor Island Ferries. The sightseeing tours can take up to 90 minutes depending on which tour the visitor chooses and the whale watching tour is anywhere from three to five hours.

What to Pack

The best time to visit Boston is in the fall. The leaves are changing on the outskirts of the city and the weather is nice with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. During the fall, days are usually clear and breezy. Pack walking shoes and a light jacket that can be worn or wrapped around the waist.

The nights in Boston during the fall can dip into the 40s. Winter is cold and it snows, sleets and ices in the city. If the visitor travels to Boston in the winter, expect to pack warm clothes and bring water-resistant boots for walking. Spring reaches into the 50s, but Boston is still thawing out. During the summer, expect humidity and temperatures in the 80s and 90s. Nights along the waterfront can still be cool.

What to Expect

Expect to have trouble maneuvering a car into some of the tight streets. The city is compact and parking can be problematic. If the visitor can walk, that is the recommended mode of transportation. Everyone walks in Boston, and the many visitor information booths will supply maps. Hotels range from old and gracious to upscale and modern. When visiting the city, don't expect to chow only on seafood. The town is a great culinary find with ethnic eateries. Chinatown and the Italian North End are long established in Boston and the visitor will also find excellent Thai, Japanese, Portuguese, Indian, Mexican and Greek food.

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