Things to Do in Massachusetts
The starting point of the Freedom Trail, Boston Common is the oldest park in the country. At 50 acres (20 hectares), it is the anchor for the Emerald Necklace, a system of connected parks that winds through many of Boston’s neighborhoods. The historic park was once a campground for British troops during the Revolutionary War.
The Boston Public Library was founded in the mid-19th century and serves millions of Bostonians annually. This sizable public library is the second largest in the US—next to the Library of Congress—and its original Copley Square branch includes two landmark buildings, the Bates Hall reading room, and cafés where you can grab a pick-me-up.
Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood, the North End has been inhabited since the 1630s and is now the city’s Little Italy. Visit to see a variety of historical and cultural attractions, such as the Paul Revere House (the starting place of his famous “midnight ride” in 1775) and enjoy Italian-American fare.
Faneuil Hall is a bustling marketplace best known for its ever-changing lineup of street performers and its central location on Boston’s historic Freedom Trail. Tourists and locals alike flock to the complex’s shops and Quincy Market, featuring 30-plus food stalls selling everything from exotic coffee to fresh seafood and artisanal bread.
The Salem Witch Trials Memorial preserves a moment in history, when 17th-century residents of colonial Massachusetts tried and executed women and men accused of witchcraft. The site, a small grassy area surrounded by stone walls and locust trees, is just one of the many witchcraft hysteria attractions in the historical town of Salem.
Crowning Boston’s Beacon Hill, the Massachusetts State House is the seat of Massachusetts’ government and one of many sites on the city’s Freedom Trail—a red-brick route connecting its American Revolution-related landmarks. Opened in 1798, the gold-domed building has an impressive interior filled with art and historical artifacts.
The Granary Burying Ground was founded in 1660 and the cemetery is a key stop on the Freedom Trail. This colonial sight is perhaps best known for its esteemed residents, and the gravestones are a who's-who of 17th- and 18th-century New England notables. Important Bostonians interred here include Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, among others.
Boston’s most cherished landmark isn’t Bunker Hill or the Tea Party Ships, but rather old Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. A must-see for sports enthusiasts as well as history and architecture buffs, Fenway Park is famous for its uniquely shaped playing field and towering left field wall known as the Green Monster.
Built in 1713, Boston's Old State House is the city’s oldest public building and considered pivotal to prerevolutionary US history. Dwarfed by Boston’s skyscrapers and a fixture on its revolution-tracing Freedom Trail, the onetime government building is now a museum to the city’s revolutionary era and the events that kindled the American Revolution.
The Boston Public Garden is a 24-acre (10-hectare botanical oasis of Victorian flowerbeds, verdant grass, and weeping willow trees shading a tranquil lagoon. It is a respite from the bustling city all year round, and is awash in either seasonal blooms, gold-toned leaves, or untrammeled snow. Adjacent to Boston Common, the garden is part of the city’s Emerald Necklace system of parks that connect via parkways and waterways.
More Things to Do in Massachusetts
Relive the events of December 16, 1773 at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. Located in Boston Harbor, this floating museum provides visitors with an immersive experience, complete with full-scale replica tea ships, live costumed actors, a multi-sensory documentary, interactive exhibits, historic artifacts, and more.
Dating from 1729, Boston’s Old South Meeting House was a congregational church and a gathering place for protestors who sparked the American Revolution with the 1773 Boston Tea Party. A key site on Boston’s Freedom Trail, the brick building is now a museum where visitors can chart the beginnings of the country’s 1776 revolution.
Also known as the Charter Street Cemetery, the Old Burying Point of Salem is the second oldest burying ground in the United States. It is estimated to date back to 1637. Victims of the infamous Salem With Trials were convicted nearby to the site. Jonathan Corwin and Jonathan Hawthorne, who were both Salem witch trial judges, are also buried here.
As Salem was once a major shipping port for “the New World,” this cemetery is particularly historic. A Mayflower pilgrim, one of the first to enter the United States, was claimed to be put to rest here. The grave of former governor Samuel Bradstreet can also be found. The old tombstones remain in tact and uniquely carved from the 1600s, presenting a bit of history that has been preserved since that time. A visit is an opportunity to learn about colonial era history, including burial practices and the lives of some of the important figures laid to rest here.
Please note: Old Burying Point (Charter Street Cemetery) will temporarily close for renovations during the spring of 2020.
Located in the heart of Boston's Back Bay, 200 Clarendon—once known as John Hancock Tower—is the tallest building in the city and a well-known creation of architect I.M. Pei. Though notorious for now-fixed falling panels, and once a destination for its since-shuttered observation deck, the tower today is mostly eye candy for design fans.
The main hub of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Quincy Market has attracted locals and visitors alike for nearly 200 years. The historic food hall located within a Greek Revival-style building is packed with more than 50 shops, 14 restaurants, and 40 food court stops—plus stalls and pushcarts selling everything from exotic coffee to fresh seafood and artisanal bread.
At the Salem Witch Museum, relive the tragic Salem witch trials of 1692 through a series of life-size stage sets. See and hear how neighbors turned against neighbors, and learn more about everyone involved. You’ll also get an overview of the evolving perception of witches throughout history.
Set on the 50th floor of Boston’s Prudential Tower, the Skywalk Observatory offers 360-degree views of the city and surrounding landscape. Here you can learn about notable landmarks, visit the onsite Dreams of Freedom Museum, or venture two floors up to enjoy a meal at the Top of the Hub Restaurant and Lounge.
Encounter maritime history at the Charlestown Navy Yard, one of the most prolific naval facilities in US history. This Boston yard served ships for more than 175 years, and now hosts the USS Constitution—and its museum—and the USS Cassin Young. Commercial business stopped in 1974; it's now a National Park Service site and free to visit.
See the house that inspired the novel House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Dating back to 1668, it’s one of the oldest surviving wooden mansions in New England. Overlooking Salem Harbor, the site comprises several historic buildings, gardens, a sea wall, and a large collection of artifacts, photos, and rare books.
More than 10,000 Bostonians are interred at Copp's Hill Burying Ground, a colonial cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places. This Boston landmark is a stop on the famed Freedom Trail. It's located steps from sights like the Paul Revere House and Old North Church, and offers easy access to the area's standout Italian eateries.
Home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Hall is considered one of the top classical music venues in the United States. A US National Historic Landmark, the hall is also known for its beautiful interior and is considered to have one of the best acoustics of any music hall in the world.
Located in Lappin Park in Salem, the Bewitched Statue is a tribute to actress Elizabeth Montgomery, the star of the popular 1960s show, Bewitched. Unveiled in 2005, the 9-foot (2.7-meter tall bronze statue features Montgomery’s character, the fictional witch Samantha Stephens, sitting on a broomstick in front of a crescent moon.
The Boston Athenaeum, founded in 1807, is one of the country's oldest independent libraries. This historic cultural institution dedicated to literary and scientific pursuits is a must-see for bibliophiles interested in visiting Boston's historic spaces. You can find hundreds of thousands of books, exhibitions, and peaceful reading rooms.
Located in the North End and built around 1680, the Paul Revere House is the oldest building in downtown Boston. It is famous for being the house Revere left from on the night of his famous “midnight ride” to warn his compatriots that the British were coming to arrest them in 1775. He lived there with his family from 1770 to 1800.
- Things to do in Boston
- Things to do in Salem
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