Boston Top Attractions
USS Constitution Museum
The world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat, the USS Constitution is dubbed "Old Ironsides" for its seemingly impenetrable oak hull, and was launched in 1797. The museum next door serves as the educational memory and voice of the ship, creating fun and educational experiences for both children and adults.
Boston Public Garden
Built on a reclaimed marsh in the 19th century, America’s first botanical garden combines broad lawns and ornamental flower beds. At its heart on a 4-acre lagoon, Swan Boats (floating fixtures since 1877) circle from mid-April to mid-September with the resident mallards and pigeons. Once autumn arrives, the willow, beech, oak, and maple trees burst with color. Be sure to check out the bronze Make Way for Ducklings statues by the garden's Charles Street gate, inspired by the beloved children's book.
The Museum of Fine Arts
This world-class institution is widely recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, representing all cultures and time periods. The Museum has more than 140 galleries displaying its encyclopedic collection, which includes everything from Art of the Americas and Contemporary Art to Textile and Fashion Arts and Musical Instruments.
The New England Aquarium
The aquarium's signature exhibit—a revamped, multistory Giant Ocean Tank with 2,000 aquatic animals and its queen, a massive sea turtle named Myrtle—has been renovated and made more sustainable with divers collecting eggs. Additions like toddler-height windows and the Yawkey Coral Reef Center make this spot extra kid-friendly and allow for prime sea-life spotting. Added bonus: daily educational presentations with live animals and IMAX films.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall Marketplace (aka Quincy Market) is always packed. Souvenir sellers coupled with buskers, mimes, drummers, and jugglers create a Disneyesque atmosphere some disdain (but kids love, thanks to recent additions like a magician's corner and puppet storytelling. Browse the 1826 complex’s restored stalls, play a game of outdoor ping-pong, then jostle in the food court to sample Boston’s edible holy trinity: lobster, clams, and "chowdah."
Boston Harbor Islands
The 34 islands of this National Recreation Area boast a pre–Civil War fort, vintage lighthouses, hiking trails, swimming beaches, camping, and picnic spots. The islands represent one of the city’s top values: May through October, the round-trip Harbor Islands Express ferries from Long Wharf to Georges Island and Spectacle Island provide a day of fun for just $17.
Massachusetts reportedly has the world’s highest concentration of colleges and universities. None, however, is more venerable than Harvard, a Cambridge institution since 1636. Students lead complimentary hour-long campus tours; find details on the university website (www.harvard.edu).
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Inspired by Paris’s Père Lachaise Cemetery, America’s first garden cemetery, circa 1831, offers urbanites 170 acres of "country-in the-city." Guided tours focus on historical personages buried here, artistic gravestones and crypts, the 700 carefully cultivated tree species, and thousands of shrubs and herbaceous plants. As a well-known flyway for migratory birds, it’s frequented by birders at early hours, especially in April and May.
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