A CITY MARKED BY ITS HISTORY
WHAT TO DO IN BOSTON? MY JOURNEY
On the Freedom Trail
The Bell in Hand
The famous Freedom Trail is the main activity to do in Boston. If the weather is nice when you are there, start there, without hesitation! You will discover many historic buildings, Boston history and some famous Boston neighborhoods.
To start the visit, go to the Boston Common visitor center. You have animated tours that are organized throughout the day. Click here to learn more. I did it without a visit, and there are explanatory signs all over the city so that may be enough. From the visitor center, you have a common thread on the ground that must be followed.
But before following this freedom trail, take the opportunity to see the Public Garden. A super cute park in the city center with a small lake. If you are there early, you can meet very curious little squirrels. This park is really nice for a morning walk or an outdoor lunch.
But back to the subject, the Freedom Trail. As I said, you will pass by many historical sites. I’m going to talk to you here about what struck me the most during this visit. First of all there is the cemetery “Granary burying ground” which has personalities, and people not known. Panels are in the cemetery to explain the different styles of stones but also to tell the story of certain personalities buried there. Then you will pass the Irish Famine Memorial Statue. In 1845 / 1850, many Irish people came to live in Boston to escape the horrible famine that their country was experiencing. The statue depicts a wealthy family watching a starving family from afar. The statue really speaks for itself. You’ll also pass Boston’s oldest surviving tavern, the “Bell in Hand.” The tavern is located in a very cute neighborhood. A few meters further, you will pass in front of the Quincy Market. Even if the wire doesn’t fit inside, go take a look inside. Lots of food stalls are available to you in a large alley. An incredible variety of food that will please everyone. This market is ideal for a lunch break. Then, we change scenery with the Italian North End district. A very original architecture, I really did not expect to see that in Boston. The buildings are super pretty and there are of course many Italian shops. Another neighborhood you will pass through is Charlestown. And what a beautiful neighborhood! A mix between colored wooden houses and red bricks. The streets are very quiet and charming! Little favorite for Pleasant street. Pass by the Bunker Hill monument, memorial of the war of 1775. You have a museum in front of the monument which tells you the history of this small hill, which saw a real massacre between the Americans and the English. To visit the museum, you will need an hour. End the red thread by the former Navy base in Boston.
You can enter the visitor center to discover the history of this Boston marine base and its role. They explain the evolution of the different techniques used for rope, chain, etc. There are also some anecdotes about the history of the base. Next, board the USS Constitution ship to experience life on the ship. Members of the crew will be happy to answer your questions. You will be able to go down in the boat and see the different floors. It’s impressive to see, I can’t imagine how they did it at the time. The boat served for many years to protect commercial vessels. To visit the visitor center and visit the boat, allow an hour.
There you go, you’ve finished the Freedom Trail! Not bad, isn’t it ? You will have passed through such different neighborhoods and monuments. Really worth doing. On the internet they say that if you only do the path, it will take you 1h30. Personally, I did the path and a few more visits on the way as you can see. I took about 4 hours.
Entrance to the Bunker Hill Museum: free.
Entrance to the Charlestown Visitor Center and the USS Constitution: free.
One of Boston’s most famous neighborhoods. And there is something. This neighborhood is so beautiful! The houses are covered with red bricks and are linked one after the other. It’s just wonderful! If you go there in Spring, you will have flowering trees which clearly add to the charm of the district. I have 3 favorite streets in this neighborhood: Acorn Street, Cedar Lane Way and Pinckney Street. These are for me the 3 unmissable streets of the district. But do not hesitate to get lost in the neighborhood to discover little treasures. An hour is enough to get lost in the streets and enjoy the neighborhood.
BOSTON CAMPUS: HARVARD AND MIT
Visit Boston without going to see one of the most famous campuses in the United States? Of course not, you don’t want to miss this. From the city center it takes a good hour on foot, otherwise you have public transport that goes there. It’s quite easy to access.
To visit the Harvard campus, go to Harvard Yard, a huge park that includes some of the historic buildings of the Campus. Large brick buildings with the statue of John Harvard. You have tours that are organized by students. Why not take a ride with them? Don’t forget the tip at the end of the visit. The atmosphere is very pleasant in this park. To be honest, I didn’t imagine the campus like that at all. It is in the middle of various activities and buildings. I thought it was lost in a corner and there would only be the campus, but not at all. You have nice and lively little streets not far away. I haven’t done any but you have a few museums on campus, if you have time, why not take a look.
Once you have visited the Harvard campus, why not go to the also very famous MIT. You can walk there via Massachusetts street which has many restaurants and various shops. The campus is nothing like Harvard. Much more modern buildings with contemporary statues. There is also a central courtyard like on the Harvard campus but the atmosphere is not the same. If you have time, it’s nice to see what the campus looks like but it’s not a must visit in my opinion.
A good 3 hours will be enough for you to do both campuses.
OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS TO DISCOVER IN BOSTON
Street in South End
Boston Public Library
Street in South End
Three other neighborhoods that are also worth visiting in Boston.
The South End is a fairly quiet area with very cute little shops. But what makes the charm of this district are these red brick houses with their stairs. It’s so beautiful! The neighborhood is still quite different from Beacon Hill, the streets are more organized I would say, you get lost in them less. Here are my favorite places in the area: the small squares of Union Square and Concord Square, and the flowery Worcester Street. Do not miss!
Not far away, you have the Back Bay district where you can discover Boston’s incredible public library. Once inside, you will be amazed by the setting and the beauty of the place. Even the yard is super cute! The area is nice but it’s more of a big city downtown with a lot of shops and big avenues.
And finally, take a trip to Waterfront. A nice little walk from the Long Wharf (where you can buy a ticket to see the whales if you wish. Be careful when you are there, don’t be fooled). Then head for the harborwalk towards the Harbor Boston Hotel, the walk is short but pleasant, especially when the weather is nice.
Each district mentioned can be visited in an hour.
I was pleasantly surprised by Boston. It’s a big city but on a human scale. You can walk there for hours in different neighborhoods without getting tired of it. Everything is close by being at a great distance. A very lively and pleasant city to spend time in. It is also full of stories, I did not expect that at all. I had a real crush on this city.
WHEN TO GO?
I was in Boston around the end of April and had wonderful weather. It all depends on your luck.
I think 3 days is enough or even 2 days if you don’t do museums or boat trips. There are many neighborhoods to visit and everything is easily done on foot.
WHERE TO SLEEP? MY ACCOMMODATION
HI Boston Hostel
19 Stuart St, Boston,
Price: $ 79 – € 73 / night / person in a female dormitory
Hostel website : click here
Quite honestly the price is not given (surely one of the most expensive accommodations of my road trip in the United States), but it remains the cheapest in town! And the prize is surely due to an event that was taking place at that time. However, it is excellent value for money. The dorms are clean and well organized, the hostel is very big. The lockers are large enough to put a suitcase or a large backpack. Perfect !
MY 3 TIPS TO VISIT BOSTON
- Wake up early to visit neighborhoods such as Beacon Hill or Charlestown. The streets are beautiful, it would be a shame to have people in your photos.
- Note the streets to see in the neighborhoods so as not to miss the most beautiful.
- Do the Freedom Trail, with or without a guide. You will be able to discover a large part of Boston thanks to this common thread.