Boston is not the first place you think to go when booking a holiday but if you do find yourself in this part of the world I highly recommend a visit. Read on to see my tips on how to make the most of this historical American city.
How many nights: 5
How I got there: I flew from London Heathrow to Boston Logan International via Virgin Atlantic. The outbound flight was just under 7 hours and the return was 5 and a half hours!
Where I stayed: Air BnB on Anderson Street, which is right in downtown Boston.
Boston is a surprisingly small city, especially for America. I honestly didn’t expect it to be as small as it was – the airport was a 20-minute drive (if that) to downtown Boston! To be honest, 5 days is certainly enough time to properly explore this city. It is a really easy city to get around, depending on where you stay you can pretty much walk everywhere. If you don’t fancy walking then don’t worry as the transport system is easy to use – their subway is only $2.75 each way. I recommend getting a Charlie Card (which is free) as you will get a discounted fare (only $2.50 each way) and can top up for the week, making it cheaper still.
The transport system also means you can go out of Boston for day trips. A tip here is to travel on the weekend as you can get a ticket for $10 which will allow you return travel to as many destinations outside of Boston for the whole weekend – great if you fancy going to Salem or Manchester! Get yourself to North Station and they will advise!
If you don’t fancy walking or using the subway then you can get yourself an uber or Lyft – it’s pretty cheap getting around this way too! Depends on how boujee you are feeling.
What to do
Boston is a city for everyone – it really depends on your interests. From eating out to watching a sports game in the famous Fenway Park or TD Garden or educating yourself on American History the city has a lot to offer. Here is what I got up to…
Day 1: Salem
Salem is where the witch trials took place so there is a lot of history in this small town.
The train took about 40 minutes from Boston’s North Station to Salem and then it was pretty easy to walk around the city.
There are a lot of ‘witch’ museums to see but after speaking to locals, and reading reviews, I decided to go to The Witch House, rather than the Salem Witch Museum. The $8 entry fee (unfortunately most museums in America charge an entrance fee) allows you to walk around the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, which is the only structure still standing in Salem, with direct ties to the witch trials of 1692.
Other places to visit include the Witch Memorial and the Salem Burying Point, otherwise it’s quite a quaint town to walk around and explore – there are some quirky little shops to see.
Day 2: Cambridge
Cambridge was my favorite area in Boston, namely because it is the location of Harvard University and I always wanted to go there but I didn’t, so it was really cool to see the Ivy League Uni.
You can spend a whole day in Cambridge, which is only a 40-minute walk from downtown Boston. Before going to check out the Harvard Museums and campus and made a short stop at The Garment District – this is a cool vintage clothing shop – highly recommend it if you love the 80’s and 90’s as they had some cool pieces.
I then checked out the museums including the Harvard Art Museum, which had pieces from some of my favorite artists including Pollack, Georgia O’Keeffe, Picasso, Lichenstein, Guston! Highly recommend you check this one out if nothing else.
Another exhibition I was lucky enough to see, whilst on campus included Time is Now, photography, and social change in James Baldwin’s America. This was located in the Carpenter Centre for Visual arts and is there until the 30th December 2018.
Further to this you can also check out MIT or just walk around the Harvard campus, which has its own shops – it’s like a mini version of Boston’s main city.
Day 3 & 4: Museums & Historical Trails
Not only did Boston play a large part in the American Revolution but it played a significant part in the Civil War and in African American History, not to mention it’s the birthplace of JFK! Naturally, there are a lot of museums you can see and trails you can do to learn more about the historical significance of Boston. Below find some of the ones I recommend.
For those of you who don’t know President JFK was born in Brookline, Boston, and after his assassination his mother, Rose Kennedy, recreated her family’s first home to share the memories of JFK’s early years.
This historical site is free to visit and is only a short walk from Brookline station (which is about 30 minutes on the subway from Park St). I love American politics so I really did enjoy this historic site, which includes a guided tour around JFK’s birth home.
b) Massachusetts State House
This is a must-visit if like me you enjoy learning about American politics! It is full of American history and I highly recommend you make the most of your visit by joining a free tour. The tour begins on the hour, every hour, and lasts about 90 minutes.
c) Boston Common – Freedom Trail
Boston Common is America’s oldest park and where the freedom trial starts. Located right next to Park Street subway it is a lovely park to walk around (if weather permits) and a great place to learn more about the American revolution. You can either walk around on your own or join in on a guided tour.
Another free tour, which departs from the Boston Common weekdays at 1pm (subject to change so do check the website before turning up).
It is a 90 minute guided tour, where you walk around and learn about historical points in Boston largely concentrated in Beacon Hill. Massachusetts was the first colony in New England with slave ownership and was the center for the slave trade throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and the Boston civil rights movement was significant so the tour is certainly educational.
The tour ends in the Museum of African American History – you have to pay a fee to enter the museum but it was worth it as the Picturing Frederick Douglas exhibition was on and you get a guided tour of the African Meeting House.
e) USS Constitution
I was lucky enough to get a private tour of the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat! Can’t say this will be the case for everyone, (we happened to go to the ship on a Wednesday evening and got a full private tour of the ship), but I do recommend you pay this ship and museum a visit.
Other museums to see include the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, JFK Presidential Library, and museum, The Paul Revere House, and the New England Holocaust memorial.
Day 5: Sports, food and shopping!
When it comes to American sports Boston is home to Fenway Park, which is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Whilst I didn’t go to see the Red Sox’s play (I’m a Dodgers girl and have already seen them play in LA) I did ensure I watched a basketball game at TD Garden. Although I consider myself a Lakers fan (west coast vibes and all) I’ve never actually had a chance to watch a Basketball game so when I had the chance to see the Celtics trash the Charlotte Hornets I couldn’t decline! It was so much fun and I highly recommend you do this if you get a chance.
TD Garden is also home to the sports museum, which is a great visit for American sports fans!
Again Boston is full of great places to eat- I recommend you check out Wahlburgers (the burger chain owned by the Wahlberg’s, the Union Oyster House (I’m vegetarian but I still was able to eat here – it’s actually the oldest American restaurant and again has historical references) and Mike’s Pastry (this is the home of the best cannoli and other sweet treats, including gluten-free options!)
Other places to visit are Faneuil Hall Marketplace, downtown crossing shopping area, Prudential Centre, and Quincy Market.
Overall Boston was a treat and I do recommend you visit this historical American city at some point in your life, even if it is only for a few days whilst you are on the East Coast!