Choose from 83 Fun Things to Do in Massachusetts
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. At any time of the year, it is an island of loveliness, awash in seasonal blooms, gold-toned leaves, or untrammeled snow.
A statue of George Washington, looking stately atop his horse, greets visitors at the main entrance on Arlington Street. Other pieces of public art in the park, however, are more whimsical. The most endearing is Make Way for Ducklings, always a favorite with tiny tots who can climb and sit on the bronze ducks. But it’s the peaceful lagoon that draws visitors and locals a like to the Public Garden. For it is hear, you should take on the slow-going swan boats, a serene relic of bygone days.
The Boston Public Garden is located west across Charles Street from the Boston Common, bordering the Back Bay neighborhood. The garden is easily accessible via the MBTA subway, or the T. It’s also close to many Back Bay sites such as the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, and Gibson House Museum.
With more than 600 interactive exhibits, the Boston Museum of Science is an educational playground so engaging and effortless that you can’t help but learn something. The amazing array of exhibits explores computers, technology, complex systems, algae, maps, models, dinosaurs, birds and much more.
Favorites include the world's largest lightning bolt generator, a full-scale space capsule, a world population meter, and a virtual fish tank. At Investigate!, live science demonstrations involve animals and experiments taking place before your eyes. The Science in the Park exhibit uses familiar objects such as skateboards and playground equipment to teach kids the concepts of physics. You can even find out how much you weigh on the moon!
The Museum of Science also houses the Hayden Planetarium and Mugar Omni Theater. The planetarium boasts a state-of-the-art projection system that casts a heavenly star show, programs about black holes and other astronomical mysteries, and evening laser light shows with rock music. The theater shows IMAX movies, which engulf the viewer with sounds and vision from a five-story domed screen.
The Boston Museum of Science is in Science Park, off O'Brien Highway, alongside the Charles River Bridge between Boston and Cambridge. The museum is also accessible via the MBTA subway, or the T, which has a stop before the bridge. The Skyline Room Cafeteria offers good food and skyline views. The museum also has a fantastic gift shop, with toys and games that promote learning.
How to Get to Boston
Your cruise ship will dock at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal on the South Boston waterfront. Many cruise lines offer shuttles into the city center, but taxis are readily available as well. You can also catch Silver Line bus SL2 or SL3 to the South Station of the Boston T (subway). Another option is to head into the center on foot, about a 30-minute walk along Northern Avenue.
One Day in Boston
To get a thorough overview of Boston’s fascinating past, you can spend much of your day walking the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile trail that takes you past 16 historic sites in the city. Stop in at the visitor center on Tremont Street to get a map, check out an audio guide or arrange for a guided walking tour. Trolley tours following the Freedom Trail are also available. If you walk the trail, you will follow a painted red line or red bricks from Boston Common through downtown Boston, the North End and Charlestown. Along the way, you can visit some of Boston’s most important sites, including the Old State House, Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church and Faneuil Hall.
If you want to stray from the Freedom Trail, you might visit the Museum of Fine Arts, one of the best art museums in the country, the Peabody Museum or Archaeology & Ethnology, one of the oldest anthropological museums in the world. If your interests lean toward science and technology, don’t miss the MIT Museum, which is home to a variety of exhibits and hands-on activities in science, technology, architecture and design, nautical engineering and history. Kids will especially enjoy the New England Aquarium, which boasts what was once the world’s largest fish tank.
Beer lovers can tour one of Boston’s several breweries and sports fans shouldn’t miss a chance to catch a baseball game at Fenway Park if the Red Sox are in town.
Before returning to your ship, be sure to check out the food stalls at Quincy Market and enjoy the always-entertaining street performers at Faneuil Hall.
The cruise terminal doesn’t have many facilities for passengers and isn’t too close to anything of importance. English is the local language and the U.S. Dollar is the official currency. ATMs are readily available throughout the city, but you will likely need to visit a major bank to change currency.
- Only Georges and Spectacle islands have places to buy food and water, so pack a picnic lunch if you plan to visit other islands.
- A full day will enable you to enjoy two or three islands; more than that and you’ll end up spending more time aboard the inter-island water shuttle.
- The main ferries serving the islands are wheelchair accessible, but the smaller shuttles are not. Only a few islands have paved, level trails suitable for wheelchair users.
The starting point of the Freedom Trail, Boston Common is the oldest park in the country. At 50 acres/20 hectares, the Common is the anchor for the Emerald Necklace, a system of connected parks that winds through many of Boston’s neighborhoods.
The Common has served many purposes over the years, including as a campground for British troops during the Revolutionary War. Today, though, the Common serves picnickers, sunbathers, and people watches. In winter, the Frog Pond attracts ice-skaters, while summer draws theater lovers for Shakespeare on the Common.
Spend a day wandering freely in the Common. Walking paths crisscross its green, which is dotted with such monuments and memorials as the Boston Massacre Monument, the Great Elm Site, and the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial. Nearby sites include the Central Burying Ground and the Boston Athenaeum.
Boston Common is on the south end of the Beacon Hill neighborhood. The MBTA subway, or the T, services the area with a number of stations, enabling you to visit a variety of nearby sites. An on-site information kiosk is a great source of information and maps. Throughout the year, especially in summer, the Common hosts a number of activities, from free concerts to political rallies to seasonal festivities.
- Bring a camera to capture Acorn Street, one of the most-photographed streets in the United States.
- Walking is the best way to get around in Beacon Hill. The cobbled streets and brick sidewalks can be steep and uneven, so wear comfortable shoes.
- Most intersections are equipped with handicap-accessible ramps, but some areas may be difficult to navigate for wheelchair users.