Boston and neighboring Cambridge are among the world’s great cities, loved for their art and culture, professional sports teams, Revolutionary and Colonial history, and fun explorations on and around its famous harbor. The city is packed with great things to do on the weekends, weekdays, all year around. Are you wondering about Boston weather? Snowy in winter, fresh in spring, balmy in summer, crisp in the fall – that’s the summary. If weather is inclement, the number of things to do indoors is plentiful, even for active kids.
Even before we get to all the museums, dining, shopping and music, there is that matter of lodging, because you definitely want to stay for several days if you can. Some favorite luxury lodgings include Boston Harbor Hotel, a Forbes Five-Star lodging overlooking the waterfront; the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, a symbol of Boston's rich history since 1912; and Omni Parker House. Boutique hotels like Fifteen Beacon and the Lenox Hotel are a delightful way to stay in an intimate, European-like environment. Honeymooners or other romantic partners can find marble fireplaces, jet hot tubs, rooftop nightclubs or even rooftop swimming pools. And it's easy to find family friendly lodgings when you are traveling with kids.
Even if Colonial history is not your first interest, early in your stay you should invest in a walk on the Freedom Trail, because the trail (marked by a row of red bricks along the sidewalk) starts at the famous Boston Common – which you also want to visit – and meanders among stately shops, houses and churches where the Revolutionary War was inspired and planned. One site on the trail is the USS Constitution – or “Old Ironsides” – still member of the U.S. Naval fleet.
And the museums! Find several millennia of fine art pieces at the Museum of Fine Arts and the delightful Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum wrapped around a lavish, Mediterranean-style courtyard. The Museum of Science – with the splendid Hayden Planetarium and its changing programs -- and the Boston Children’s Museum are favorites for kids and adults. In Cambridge and nearby towns of Lexington and Concord, many family-friendly museums tell stories of the birth of the American ideal. An “outdoor” museum, so to speak, is the Minute Man National Historical Park in Lexington and Concord – the location of the opening battles of the American Revolution.
Shopping is great fun in Boston. A prime spot for visitors is Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market. Faneuil Hall has a large open plaza where kiosks sell gifts and souvenirs and street performers entertain everyone who ambles through. There are lots of indoor and sidewalk restaurants, the tons of kiosks selling walk-while-you-eat food. Other shopping hot spots are the picturesque Newberry Street, Prudential Center (at the “Pru,” check out Eataly, an emporium of Italian foods), and Copley Place. The Harvard Coop, in Cambridge, near Harvard University, is a college-infused place to shop for many needs and goods.
Every great city has beautiful outdoor spaces for flora and people to mingle. The Boston Public Garden and Boston Common are the descendants of the city’s Colonial-era community pasture. Both of them, the heart of the city, are places to walk and watch the city life in all seasons. The Emerald Necklace – a string of public parks designed in the late 1800s by Frederick Law Olmsted – embraces the Rose Kennedy Greenway and extends five miles through city neighborhoods. The Esplanade is a green space along the Charles River – the border between Boston and Cambridge -- where concerts and fireworks happen every Fourth of July. Ferries from the harbor front depart for the short trip to Boston Harbor Islands, a nature retreat right in the city’s harbor.
Activities for children can be found everywhere, starting with the Boston Children’s Museum, and continuing through the Franklin Park Zoo, the New England Aquarium and Boston Duck Tours (a part-land, part-river tour in an amphibious vehicle). The Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum are educational and fun.
Boston dining places you in the heart of the best seafood restaurants you will find on the East Coast. Ethnic food is easy to find, including Italian food in the city’s Little Italy, known as the North End. Boston has a big population of Irish-Americans, so Irish restaurants and bar are scattered everywhere. A fun food exploration is Boston Public Market, an indoor, year-round marketplace where three dozen food specialists prep and sell fresh foods, prepared meals, crafts, and food gifts. The KITCHEN at Boston Public Market celebrates cooking and local food producers with an ongoing program of classes and demos.