A Historical Guide to Boston

The American Revolution Looms Large, But So Do the Red Sox

Massachusetts State House

TripSavvy / Violet Smirnova

Boston isn't just the capital of Massachusetts: It can truly be considered New England's capital. "Beantown" can't be beat for historic appeal, fine hotels, family attractions, shopping that runs the gamut from antiques to trendy boutiques, multicultural dining experiences, theater and other performances, public events and festivals and, of course, pubs!

Whether you've visited Boston many times or only know the city through impressions formed by watching episodes of "Cheers," "Ally McBeal," or "Fringe," this travel guide is designed to help you plan your trip with an eye to finding the most interesting things to see and do. 

Historic Foodie Stops

As every American knows, the Sons of Liberty hatched the rebellion against the British that eventually became the American Revolution in Boston. Names like Sam Adams, John Adams, Paul Revere, Dr. Joseph Warren, and John Hancock are familiar even to elementary school students. They met in the Green Dragon Tavern, which dates to 1654. The Green Dragon still is serving Bostonians brews (and much more), although it is not the original where the Sons of Liberty met. That building no longer exists, but there is a picture of it on the wall in the current incarnation. It's off the beaten tourist track but a must-see for lovers of American history.

Another great foodie stop is the Union Oyster House, which is a National Historic Landmark and America's oldest continuously operating restaurant. It is housed in a pre-Revolutionary building near Faneuil Hall and has been serving Bostonians since 1826. It was a favorite haunt of Daniel Webster, and much later on of John F. Kennedy, who stopped in for lobster stew every Sunday when he was in Boston. If you're looking for old-fashioned Yankee atmosphere, you'll relish the restaurant's hand-hewn, wooden ceiling beams, wide-planked wood floors, and cozy booths. Or belly up to the famous, semi-circular oyster bar, where upward of 3,000 oysters are shucked on a busy day.

Historic Must-Sees in Boston

The No. 1 attraction for history-loving visitors to Boston is a walk along the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail. You get acquainted with Boston and visit the city's bounty of historic landmarks all at the same time you walk along this well-marked path. It covers 16 stops, beginning at Boston Common and ending in Charlestown at the Bunker Hill Monument. Along the way, you will see Paul Revere's House, the Old State House, and the Old South Meeting House.

Check out Faneuil Hall, which has been a marketplace for Boston since 1743 and is near the Old State House, Union Oyster House, and the Freedom Trail.

Get in on the revolutionary action with the interactive Boston Tea Party of Dec. 16. 1773, which is put on every day at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. You get to see what it felt like to dump tea in Boston Harbor in a pivotal nose-thumbing at King George III by the colonists in Boston.

Top Things to Do

Baseball fans everywhere (except possibly New York Yankees fans) will surely want to catch a Red Sox game at Fenway Park if they're in Boston during baseball season. Even Yankees fans might want to sneak a look at Fenway.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, unveiled its Art of the Americas Wing in 2010. It holds a bounty of American treasures like a Sons of Liberty bowl crafted by Paul Revere in 1768 and paintings of Revolutionary heroes like George Washington. 

Boston's Top Annual Events

If you can't get to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day, Boston is the No. 1 stand-in. Boston's grand celebration is on March 17 every year; check online about that year's events if you plan to be in Boston during this ultimate Irish event.

Patriot's Day, celebrated on the third Monday in April every year, marks the first battles of the American Revolution, which took place on April 19, 1775, on Lexington Green and Old North Bridge in Concord. Celebrations include re-enactments of the battles and Paul Revere's famous midnight ride through the Massachusetts countryside. These events make this pivotal American history literally come alive.

The annual Boston Harborfest, which runs for nearly a week around the 4th of July, is America's largest patriotic celebration.

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