A single day affords the opportunity to sample some experiences unique to Boston. You will not have time for full immersion,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,consider focusing on just a couple of things you’re most excited about,plus a good meal or two. If what actually gets you going is the Museum of Fine Arts,the Museum of Science,Newbury Street’s art galleries and boutiques,and even an excursion,you have a good reason 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 recommendation of a local journalist in 1958. Following the entire Freedom Trail can consume the bulk of a day,but a number of options that focus on the downtown part of the walk take 2 hours or so. 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 provides a host of shopping options,a number of which are outlets of national chains. You can offer your wallet a workout before,after,or even (this can 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 next to Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. If you prefer to eat indoors,head across the street to Union Oyster House
4. Paul Revere House.
Our preferred 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 fascinating Old North Church. But there’s more to this historic neighborhood than just history. The city’s “Little Italy” (locals don’t call it that) is a great place for wandering around.
6. Hanover Street
Coffee outlets throughout the city valiantly attempt to serve great 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 drag. Top choices: CaffÃ¨ Vittoria,Mike’s Pastry,and CaffÃ¨ dello Sport.
7. The Waterfront
Now the center Boston’s small size pays off: In almost any direction,the stunning harbor is a short 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 are out of 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.