The Best of Boston: 10 Essential Experiences

With its bombastic people, rich history, and great culture, it’s no surprise that Boston is a city with a lot of personality. My introduction to the place was during a blizzard in ‘13 (coincidentally, this was my spring break senior year of college). Even with the weather conspiring against me, I fell in love with the city.

Whether you’re there during a blizzard, a sunny spring day, the famous Fourth of July celebrations, or any other arbitrary time of year, here are 10 quintessential Boston things you should definitely experience.

The Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail winds through the heart of Boston, making it easy for visitors to catch the most important historical sights in this city. To walk the entire trail (about 2.5 miles), start at Boston Commons and follow the red brick inlaid in the sidewalk. Gold markers are in front of the 16 chosen historical landmarks. Several of the spots mentioned in this post are included on the route.

If you don’t trust yourself to keep on the track, you can also download or print out a map of the trail from the website.

Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work

Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work

Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market

Faneuil Hall was originally built in 1743 as a meeting house. Most of the building now houses shops where you can stock up on Boston souvenir items. But if you enter through the center doors on the back side (facing Quincy Market), you can go up the stairs to the old meeting house section. Park Rangers give talks throughout the day about the history of this building. They keep it brief and funny, to help engage the younger ones in the audience.

Across the square from Faneuil Hall is another hot tourist spot: Quincy Market. Here you will find more stalls selling anything and everything you could ever want with the word “Boston” on it. Quincy Market also has a wide selection of great restaurants and food stalls, with everything from gourmet mac and cheese to top-of-the-line Asian. The atmosphere might put one in mind of an indoor market in Europe–it’s generally crowded and loud, but fun. On the far side of Quincy Market is an Irish pub, where you can catch some traditional Irish tunes if you time your visit right.

Both of these well-known sights are located in the Marketplace, within the Government Center of the city.

Street Musicians and Performers

Boston is famous for its buskers. There is nothing quite like waiting for the T (metro train) to arrive while listening to someone play the harp, each note echoing down the long tunnel.

The acts and music you catch will be as varied as the city itself. In one walk across The Marketplace, I passed breakdancers, magicians, face-painters, more magicians, and a child prodigy playing the piano. My eccentric cousin was a performer himself for many years, doing windsailing and tricks with his scooter under the nickname Scooterdude.

The best places to catch these performances are Harvard Square and The Marketplace. But even if you don’t go out of your way, you’ll come across a busker in your visit. Save a few minutes to stop and enjoy the show.

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