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First time to Boston - what can't I miss?

First time visiting Boston and I want to see the real thing—where should I go (only have three days so I have to plan carefully)? I know Faneuil Hall and the Cheers bar, but that’s about it—what else should I hit to see the real Boston like a local?

8 Answers

answered by
Barbara from Massachusetts

Dear Rosie,

Don't miss going to the North End area.  History would bring you to Paul Revere House..and foodie fun would bring you to fabulous restaurants..pricey  Mamma Maria or not pricey Mother Anna's.  The Museum of Fine Arts is exquisite if you are an art afficionato.  Stroll through the Boston Garden and browse on Newbury Street stopping at Stephanie's for a great meal.  Most love the Boston Duck Tours to cover a large area and learn fun facts.  Have fun.  You can't miss.  Trips to Lexington Center are also especially beautiful in the fall.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. North End (neighborhood)
  2. Paul Revere House (attraction)
  3. Mamma Maria (restaurant)
  4. Mother Anna's (restaurant)
  5. Museum of Fine Arts (attraction)
  6. Boston Garden (attraction)
  7. Newbury Street (attraction)
  8. Stephanie's (attraction)
  9. Boston Duck Tours (attraction)
  10. Lexington Center (attraction)
8 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Toni from Los Angeles

Hi Rosie,

I lived in Boston for 3 years before heading to L.A. Because it's so small, you can literally see the city in a day and the BEST way to do that is to take a Boston Duck Tours (you buy the tickets online).  I would take all my visitors there and just did another one myself when I went back to visit last October. 

Here are some other suggestions:

Lunch on Newbury Street.  They say it's the 'Rodeo Drive' of Boston, but that's only because there are some pricey shops.  It's MUCH better than that.

Take the Red Line to Harvard Square in Cambridge and walk around the campus.  

Have dinner in the North End.  Reservations are highly recommended.

Walk through Boston Common.

Walk through Chinatown.

Have a beer at Beantown Pub and check out the amazing cemetery across the street.

I hope this helps and have a great trip!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Boston Duck Tours (attraction)
  2. Newbury Street (attraction)
  3. Harvard Square (attraction)
  4. North End (neighborhood)
  5. Boston Common (metro area)
  6. Chinatown (attraction)
  7. Beantown Pub (attraction)
7 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Dave from Newton, Massachusetts

I'd skip Faneuil Hall AND Cheers Boston if you want the real thing. I grew up in Boston and have never bothered with Cheers Boston, and Faneuil Hall is mostly a tourist destination or where college kids are getting rowdy. 

Head to Back Bay for some good shopping, Trident Booksellers & Cafe for breakfast on Newbury St, Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square for the best cocktails in town, hop on a Hubway bike and peddle out to Cambridge (Massachusetts) to check out Lord Hobo if you are a beer person. The Seaport District has/is becoming the new hot spot for restaurants. While you are out there try Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall's beer garden! If you want to get a little Irish, head to South Boston and try Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant for AMAZING food and solid drinks. 

For music head to The Sinclair in Harvard Square (amazing food and drinks too), Middle East Corner on Mass Ave in Cambridge, Orpheum Theater, Brighton Music Hall (Brighton/Allston is a young hipster scene with good bars and small but fun music venues.) 

For art you can't go wrong with the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art is kind of hit or miss so check their current exhibition, or Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for a beautiful setting.

Boston is a drinking city if you haven't figured it out from my bar/restaurant recommendations. People here may be a little hard to talk to if you head out alone, but don't take it personally! Have a blast!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Faneuil Hall (attraction)
  2. Cheers Boston (restaurant)
  3. Cheers Boston (restaurant)
  4. Faneuil Hall (attraction)
  5. Back Bay (neighborhood)
  6. Trident Booksellers & Cafe (attraction)
  7. Eastern Standard (restaurant)
  8. Kenmore Square (attraction)
  9. Cambridge (Massachusetts) (city)
  10. Lord Hobo (restaurant)
  11. Seaport District (metro area)
  12. Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall (attraction)
  13. South Boston (neighborhood)
  14. Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant (restaurant)
  15. The Sinclair (attraction)
  16. Harvard Square (attraction)
  17. Middle East Corner (attraction)
  18. Orpheum Theater (attraction)
  19. Brighton Music Hall (attraction)
  20. Museum of Fine Arts (attraction)
  21. Institute of Contemporary Art (attraction)
  22. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (attraction)
5 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Sherrie from Harrisburg

If you love history, you need to do the Bells and Bones tour King's Chapel.  You visit the church steeple and the catacombs below the church.  Very cool.  They have this same tour at Old North Church  You climb the same church steps as Paul Revere did as a young bell ringer. (photo above)  They haven't changed.  You also visit the catacombs underneath.  While in the North End get a good Italian meal or a good piece of Pizza Regina Pizzeria(it is Little Italy after all) and make sure to get some great canoli at Mike's Pastry shop.  We also did a Food/History tour of downtown Boston, very interesting and we had some great food!   You get to learn about the city and eat eat eat!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. King's Chapel (attraction)
  2. Old North Church (attraction)
  3. North End (neighborhood)
  4. Regina Pizzeria (restaurant)
  5. Mike's Pastry (restaurant)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Perry from Berlin

Get a canoli at Mike's Pastry, a beer at Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain, an old school meal at Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe finished off with a Santarpio's Pizza right before the getting back on the plane at Boston Logan International Airport.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mike's Pastry (restaurant)
  2. Doyle's Cafe (attraction)
  3. Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe (restaurant)
  4. Santarpio's Pizza (restaurant)
  5. Boston Logan International Airport (attraction)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Alex from Natick, Massachusetts

Boston Duck Tours is very popular with first time visitors to Boston. Good leaf peeping may require you to rent a car. Blue Hills Reservation has wonderful leaf views and you will be in Boston at a perfect time. Fenway Park Tour is also fun.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Boston Duck Tours (attraction)
  2. Blue Hills Reservation (attraction)
  3. Fenway Park Tour (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

top answer by
Marissa from Boston

That's one of the best times to visit here! Although I hate to break it to you - if you're looking for the real Boston you won't find it at Cheers or Faneuil Hall Building. Both highly touristy - although be sure to go to Faniuel as it's one of the most centrally located spots in town. Check out the pubs like the Bell In Hand Tavern - they are a bit less touristy than some of the spots directly in Faniuel and still walking distance. To see beautiful views and foliage plan a walk along the Charles River esplanade, starting in Beacon Hill. Another one of my favorite walks is down the Commonwealth Avenue Mall- it's a tree lined path flanked by brownstones that neighbors the Public Gardenand Newbury Street (great shopping). Definitely go to the Top of the Hub for a drink - but for dinner head to the South End or North End.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Faneuil Hall Building (attraction)
  2. Bell In Hand Tavern (attraction)
  3. Charles River (attraction)
  4. Beacon Hill (attraction)
  5. Commonwealth Avenue Mall (attraction)
  6. Public Garden (attraction)
  7. Newbury Street (attraction)
  8. Top of the Hub (restaurant)
  9. South End (neighborhood)
10 thankscomments (4)

answered by
R A from Boston

Boston had an incredible history during the American Revolution and through its development.  If you like small-group walking tours with well-trained local guides, check out, a 40-year old non-profit.  They do tours of the major neighborhoods, for example Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the North End and the Heart of the Freedom Trail.  There is also a kids tour and an architectural boat cruise. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Boston (city)
  2. Beacon Hill (attraction)
  3. Back Bay (neighborhood)
  4. North End (neighborhood)
1 thanks

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