Top 10 Must-See Boston Attractions

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    These 10 Boston Places Should Be on Your Bucket List

    Boston Skyline from the Water
    ••• Can you check off all 10 of these must-see attractions in Boston? If not on your first trip, then you simply must visit again. © 2014 Kim Knox Beckius

    Boston is a one-of-a-kind American city that offers visitors opportunities to relive history, immerse themselves in the arts, cheer for hometown sports teams, explore museums, discover "hidden" harbor islands and imbibe at a famous brewery or an even more famous bar. If you're visiting Boston for the first time or if you've never spent an extended period in Massachusetts' capital city, here are our picks for Boston's 10 must-see places and attractions.

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    The Freedom Trail

    Old South Meeting House Boston Freedom Trail
    ••• Attractions along the Freedom Trail, like the Old South Meeting House, tell the story of Boston's crucial role in the founding of America. © 2014 Kim Knox Beckius

    A walk along the two-and-a-half-mile Freedom Trail is one of the best ways to get acquainted with Boston and to efficiently visit the city's bounty of historic landmarks. If you're in a hurry and in pretty good shape, you can cover the length of the trail in as little as an hour, but that won't really allow you the time to stop and visit any of the sites along the way. Your best bet is to allow three hours or more to walk the trail at a leisurely pace and see all of its Revolutionary landmarks. Boston also has an Irish Heritage Trail you may want to explore.

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    Boston Public Garden and the Swan Boats

    Boston Swan Boats
    ••• You don't have to be a kid to be enchanted by the Swan Boats: a fixture in the city since 1877. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

    Boston Public Garden, located along Charles Street adjacent to Boston Common, is the nation's oldest botanical garden. The famous Swan Boats have returned to Boston Public Garden each spring since they were first invented in 1877 by Robert Paget. The business, which operates from mid-April through mid-September, is still operated by descendants of the boats' inventor. When winter arrives, the pond is open to ice skaters.

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    Quincy Market

    Quincy Market, Boston, Massachusetts, USA,
    ••• Robert Mullan / Getty Images

    Most people know it as Quincy Market, although its official name is the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Whatever you call it, this indoor-outdoor market is a great place for both shopping and dining.

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    Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

    Boston Tea Party Ship
    ••• Kevin Fleming/Corbis/VCG /Getty Images

    The Boston Tea Party is reenacted daily, and you can participate. Really! Steep yourself in history at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Rebuilt and reimagined following a devastating 2001 fire, the attraction reopened in 2012, and it's now one of the city's most engaging experiences.

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    Fenway Park

    Fenway Park
    ••• Steve Proehl / Getty Images

    On a sunshine-filled summer afternoon, there is perhaps no better place to be in all of New England than Fenway Park, historic home of Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox. Baseball fans have been energized and agonized by the exploits of some of baseball's greatest players at Fenway since 1912. If you can't score tickets to a Red Sox game, look into behind the scenes tours of Fenway Park.

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    Museum of Science

    Museum of Science Boston
    ••• In the Hall of Human Life at Boston's Museum of Science, visitors learn how the immune system fights viruses. Courtesy of the Museum of Science / Photo by Michael Malyszko

    Boston's museums are as good as any you'll find in the world, and the most visited one is the Museum of Science at Science Park. It has more than 400 interactive exhibits including my favorite—the Virtual Fish Tank, an IMAX theater, and a planetarium. Take the kids!

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    Sam Adams Brewery

    Sam Adams
    ••• Go behind the scenes and see how beer is made, then taste fresh-brewed Sam Adams craft beers after your factory tour. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

    These days, Samuel Adams is known as much for being a brewer as a patriot. Tour the Sam Adams Brewery in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston for a glimpse of the beer-making process and a sample of the finished product. The brewery is also home to the Boston Beer Museum.

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    New England Aquarium

    New England Aquarium Harbor Seal
    ••• Atlantic harbor seals are just one of the aquatic creatures you'll see at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Courtesy of the New England Aquarium

    Want to see sea lions smile and penguins play? Head to the New England Aquarium, one of Boston's perpetually popular family attractions. Once inside, you'll find yourself immersed in a watery world, where you can wave your flippers at cavorting sea lions and press your nose right up against the glass of the poisonous fish tank—if you dare!

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    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Museum of Fine Arts Boston Photo
    ••• Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, established in 1870 and a fixture on Huntington Avenue since 1909, was already one of the city's must-see attractions before the addition in 2010 of a monumental wing housing priceless American works of art. © 2011 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) is New England's largest art museum. It is known for its collection of works by Claude Monet—the largest assemblage of paintings by the French Impressionist outside of France, as well as for its enthralling Art of the Americas Wing, which opened in 2010. It is also home to spectacular changing exhibitions that never fail to attract attention.

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    Boston Harbor Islands

    Boston Harbor Islands
    ••• The islands in Boston Harbor are a little-known national park. © 2012 Kim Knox Beckius

    Want to swim, hike, explore the ruins of an old fort and camp out under the stars at a national park? Believe it or not, you can do all of these things without leaving the city of Boston. The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area consists of 34 narrow isles scattered in New England's most historic harbor, and you can visit these "hidden" outdoor spaces by boarding seasonal ferries from Quincy and Boston's Long Wharf.

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    Cheers Boston (formerly the Bull & Finch Pub)

    Cheers Boston
    ••• It's the Boston place "where everybody knows your name.". © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    OK, I couldn't stop at 10! Here's a bonus Boston attraction to add to your must-see list.

    Famous as the inspiration for the television show Cheers, the former Bull & Finch Pub, now officially known as Cheers Boston, is located in Boston's Beacon Hill District. It's definitely a tourist trap with souvenirs galore for sale and overpriced pub food, but it's still one of those places that fans of the show make a beeline for when they're in Boston. There's a replica of TV's most famous bar now, too, at Faneuil Hall Marketplace.