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Boston is without a doubt the kind of places one would wish to visit at least once in a lifetime. The fact that Boston receives millions of visitors every year, speaks volumes about the otherwise comparatively small American city, whose population is no more than 700,000.
If you are on holidays or simply want to meaningfully spend a weekend in Boston, the city offers a lot of options for you, ranging from a wide range of activities, numerous tourist attractions, and historical landmarks. Depending on your availability, Boston is also known as the ‘City of neighborhoods’, thanks to the more than 20 neighborhoods the city prides in. The significance of this great city is not only artistic but also historical, especially with regard to the colonial era as well as ear of the revolutionary war.
While there are many factors that may influence the timing of your visit, unless you are truly a fan of winter, you might want to avoid the month of February, and plan to interact with the immense joy of the other seasons.
From the very onset, it is important to observe that one of the easiest ways to navigate through the city is on foot. This is informed by the fact that majority of the attractions are relatively close. And because of the non-conformist spirit emanating from the passionate love for freedom by Bostonians, it might not be a good idea to drive a car in the city, since there is a general unwillingness to adhere to traffic rules in the city. Besides navigating on foot, the other most ideal alternative would be to use a bike. If for some reason you have reservations for walking or cycling, you can of course make use of a taxi.
The itinerary and suggestions given here are to help you make the most of your time in 2 days in Boston. And given the proximity of the various sites to each other, you might as well purpose to visit up to 5 attractions in a day, and still enjoy all your meals from morning to evening. Here we go!
8 – 10am: A Walking Tour of the Freedom Trail
Perhaps there is no better place to start off your two days tour of Boston than the Freedom Trail. The Trail is made up of red bricks and is no more than 3 miles. This path is widely considered legendary, and on average requires between one and a half hours to 2 hours, taking you through historical hot-spots of the city. Ordinarily, tours of this trail are conducted throughout the day, although there are variations in the hours depending on the season and the day of the week.
Having a guided tour is one of the options you can conveniently use to go through the stretch, although you can still come up with your own itinerary here by downloading a map to aid in navigation. With about 16 sites to visit on this trail, you will be at liberty to decide how much time you will spend on each of the sites, and what distance to cover. Of course, the essence of the tour guides in the first option is to ensure that someone is available to give you particular background information with precision.
One sure way to get started would be to stop by Boston Common and pass by the Visitors’ Center for a copy of brochures.
This walk will bring you face to face with a shadow of the realities that of American Revolution, highlighting the journey towards ultimate independence from Britain. This interaction with history will further bring to the limelight the main figures in the fight for freedom and the secrets revolving around their stories.
The trail will also take you to the old State House and the Old South Meeting House. In many ways, these make up for public buildings deemed the oldest in Boston and the site for the Boston Massacre is also here. The first reading of the declaration of independence to Bostonians was done from the old State House on the 18th of July in 1776.
The North end is almost synonymous to Italy. Here, you get to have an idea of how life was in the early 1770s, especially as you tour the home of Paul Revere, a central figure of the Old North Church. It was Paul Revere who learnt from two renowned lanterns of the impending attack and arrest of patriotic leaders by the British as they approached by sea in the mid 1770s and practically paving way for the American Revolution. The lanterns were actually hung, and this how Paul Revere got the signal of the looming confiscation of the supplies of munitions.
Here, you will also have a chance to set your eyes on the burial place for John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere. This site is known as the Old Granary Burying Ground. The other cemetery, which is actually considered the oldest in Boston, is the King’s Chapel Burying Ground, where you find the grave of Governor John Winthrop, among others.
10am – Noon: The New England Aquarium
After a long and exhaustive time walking along the Freedom Trail, one of the sure ways to relax for about an hour is to visit the New England Aquarium. The exploration here can mean a lot to both adults and kids – given there is so much one can see and do here.
The Aquarium is a spectacular site to behold, especially because it overlooks the waterfront. Much more, having to see about 20,000 fish with more than 500 species of aquatic animals gives you complete value for your time and money.
Perhaps one of the most outstanding exhibits here is the four-story man-made Caribbean coral reef, housing a wide range of exotic creatures and tropical fish. This is the place where you can easily see sharks one on one, including moray eels and turtles. Isn’t it fascinating? Be sure to interact with Ray Touch Tank as well, goofy penguins. You will surely find this place quite lovely, and after 2 hours you might as well plan to visit the Aquarium over and over again.
In some instances, you might be lucky to handle some of the small invertebrates like starfish, including urchins and crabs.
If you have a few minutes remaining, you can take advantage of the sponsorship programs of the Aquarium, to watch educational films on matters of nature for about 40 minutes, at the neighboring IMAX Theater.
Noon – 2pm: Time for Lunch
Having spent the entire morning walking and interacting with nature in the aquarium, a one to two hours break is well deserved, to not only take meals but also hold your breath in readiness for the afternoon. Take advantage of the expansive commercial space along the Boston waterfront to take a bite. Here, you will find numerous cafes with various options for a meal. You can surely pop in at Union Oyster House, or seek alternative meals at City Hall Plaza, just in case you are not in to sea foods.
2 – 4pm: USS Constitution Cruise
With all the advancements in technology, it’s always amazing to have a feel of the past by riding on the USS Constitution Cruise, which for many is the closest they will ever com with historic vessels.
To be sure not to miss this experience of a lifetime, keep checking the attraction website. Although the operations run from mid morning (at 10:30am), going for the afternoon option (which lasts up to 4:30pm) would offer a good adventure to usher in the evening: and before calling it a day, you will have the opportunity to tour the Naval Museum and the Charlestown Navy Yard.
Cruising through the Boston Harbor is not only a delight but also a great source of knowledge.
Having spent the better part of the day interacting with marine life, it would only be prudent to have a feel of the North End for romantic evening meal and drink, before retiring to your room for the night.
Day Two: date with Museums, Gardens and Parks
8 – 9am: Boston Public Gardens
This is the climax day for your two day tour of Boston. And yes, you can get the most of it. Possibly you have woken up in good time and done your morning exercises and taken your breakfast. While activities may not be robust at this hour of the day, the Boston Public Gardens offer a good opportunity to see some really pretty flowers. The foliage colors during fall can be such a spectacular site to behold. You can call it meditation time, gazing at the pond that is strategically at the heart of the garden.
If you still have a few minutes remaining, you can stroll to the Boston Commons. This is one place you can be sure to find a lot of people, especially during summer. Of course, if you have issues with heat even as early as 9 in the morning; take advantage of the Frog Pond to cool off for a while, before proceeding with the rest of the itinerary.
The other option would be to pass by Charles Street, another public garden that is considered one of the oldest in the history of America, especially with regard to botany. Here, you will stand a nice opportunity to view statues and monuments (Victorian-style). Even for a few minutes, you can still have some fun with Swan Boats, which are readily available at the heart of this garden. A ride around the lake will surely be a memorable moment.
9 – 10am: Museum of Science
If there is one unique thing about Boston is the presence of numerous museums. You can actually spend a whole day hoping from one museum to another, whether it’s for academic purposes or for fun. This is what one would call face to face encounter with science and technology, for the various disciplines in science (including zoology, ecology and biology). Ever heard of the fossils of Dakota Badlands (more than 60 million years of age)? This is where to find them, in addition to the Butterfly Garden, Hayden Planetarium, an electricity dome, and the Hall of Human life.
The exhibits found here are more than 700 in number, and irrespective of age and gender, there are a lot of hands-on activities to keep you busy for the rest of the day. The museum also presents you with an opportunity to have a close view of the first space capsule, and virtually have a visit of the Acadia National Park.
The museum usually gets opened at 9am every day and closes at 5pm, except on Fridays when it’s closed at 9pm.
10am – 11am: A Tour of Harvard Art Museums
The desire to visit the grounds of Harvard University can be as strong as the desire to study in this prestigious institution, which was established in the mid 1630s, and which continues to serve as one of the oldest centers of higher learning in the global arena, but much more within the United States of America. Anyone visiting Boston should see to it that if not for anything else, that a picture is taken at this center of education that is of one of the leading around the world.
The tours here are often guided by students, and no charges will come your way, save for your kindness. Of course, you still have the option of visiting their website to download a copy of tour.
Right at the hub of Harvard Square is the Harvard Yard, where you can easily have access to shops and bookstores. This is the time to behave like a student and revisit your own college days, by buying ice cream from the many places readily available.
The Harvard complex is made up of four museums, namely the Botanical Museum, the Mineralogical Museum, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.
This is where you get a good glimpse of a treasure of collections, comprising of about 3,000 models, and more than 800 species of both flowers and plants.
11am – Noon: Museum of Fine Arts
Noon – 1pm: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
This was erected as a memorial in honor of JFK, who served as the 35th President of the United States of America, and is found on the shore, south of Boston city. Some of the outstanding features include historical exhibits on the life and times of Kennedy (including his time in the Oval Office). Highlights are given about Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, the then First Lady. Apart from three theaters in the museum, there are lots of photographs as well.
1 – 2pm: Lunch
There are many choices of places you can indulge your appetite over lunch time, and conveniently so within your budget. As a matter of fact, you can take your lunch near Fenway, in readiness for your afternoon. Lansdowne is just one of the many great local restaurants available. The joints are more than you need, given there are numerous colleges around here.
2 – 4pm: Fenway Park
Whether you love sports or you are simply a fan of history, the magnificence of this historical stadium is one you cannot afford to miss to see for yourself. Whenever you talk of Major League Baseball, you cannot go without mentioning this oldest ballpark. You will therefore find a lot of significance in the kind of people found here. It’s no wonder that some people refer to it as ‘America’s Most Beloved Ballpark’.
More than a century old since it began its operations, the home of the Boston Red Sox has carefully been maintained. Some of the outstanding features include the Green Monster Wall, the Lone Red Seat, The Triangle, the green wall in left field (37 foot), the score board which is operated using hands, and the Fisk Pole.
Although tours are run on a daily basis from 9am to 5:30 pm, tours should be considered in good time before the start of a game, say 3 hours to.
If you plan to watch a game, be sure to book your tickets in good time, otherwise with its holding of just over 30,000 spectators is quite a small seating capacity for Major Leagues.
Other attractions that could interest you
Trying to cover Boston in two days is as good as running a crash program in college. In case you get some extra time, you could as well pass by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), make use of the Transit system to pop in to Cambridge, visit Faneuil Hall, Isabella Stewart Garner Museum, or board Boston Harbor Cruises to go for the renowned Whale Watch! One more thing, do not deny yourself an evening walk to do some little shopping and overnight entertainment in memory of Boston!