Your Trip to Boston: The Complete Guide

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If you're looking for a taste of New England's distinct four seasons, fresh seafood, history and professional sports of all kinds, there's nowhere better than the city of Boston. It's here that over 28 million people come to visit each year to explore each of the neighborhoods, check out museums and other landmarks, and enjoy Boston staples like lobster rolls, Fenway Park and the Freedom Trail. There's plenty of food, culture and entertainment to take in while you're in town.

Autumn on Boston's Jamaica Pond
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When to Visit

Boston is a destination where you can truly experience all four seasons and there's plenty to do within each. Because of this, the best time to visit depends on your preferences, such as experiencing the holidays or snow during the winter months, seeing fall foliage or enjoying the warmer weather while walking around the city. Many prefer to head to Boston in the late-spring (May to June) or early-fall (September to October).

Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market in Boston
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Where to Eat

Boston — and New England in general — are known for coastal foods, particularly seafood, but there are also other staples to try depending on which neighborhood you're in. To start, make sure you grab a lobster roll or clam chowder from one of the local seafood restaurants and an Italian cannoli in the North End. If you head north of the city (and also at select places in Boston), you'll also find roast beef sandwiches that are a staple for those who grew up in the area and much better than standard deli meat.

In the past few years, Boston has become more of a craft beer destination, with local breweries popping up in many of the city's neighborhoods and even out in the suburbs. You can try them out either at the breweries, many of which have fun outdoor, dog-friendly spaces, or at bars throughout the city, as many now have a wide variety to choose from on tap. If you're not into craft beer, you can't go wrong with two of the bigger Boston breweries, Sam Adams and Harpoon.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of hotels to choose from in Boston, ranging from well-known brands to boutique options. Renting an Airbnb can also be an affordable option and enable you to live more like a local.

While it's easy to get place-to-place within Boston, think about what you want to see and do before you book a hotel or Airbnb. Being close to the MBTA will make your life easier if you're willing to try out the city's public transportation system. Also, for Airbnbs especially, take a look at the location before you book, as you'll likely find that the least expensive options may not be in the most accessible spots or even within Boston proper.

If you plan to shop and want to see Newbury Street, consider staying in the Back Bay. Or if you plan to focus on seeing the city's historical landmarks and museums, while also experiencing some of the most beautiful and unique neighborhoods, try staying in or near the North End, Beacon Hill or even the South End. Other areas with fewer or no actual hotels but lots of great restaurants and shops are South Boston and Charlestown.

Just outside the city are neighborhoods like Somerville, including their new Assembly Row plaza with a hotel right inside. If you're visiting in the summer months and want to enjoy Massachusetts' beaches, consider staying in a coastal town with public transportation into the city to see the sights.

Explore the different neighborhoods you can stay in and our recommendations on the best hotels, including the top picks for romantic and boutique hotels.

Getting Around

Boston's Logan International Airport (BOS) is the best place to fly into, with direct flights from many of the country's major cities and beyond. The airport is located in East Boston, about 15 minutes outside of the city, though the drive will depend on the time of day and traffic. You can also use public transportation via the MBTA Silver Line to get to South Station for free. That's where you can pick up several other MBTA subway lines, the Commuter Rail, the Greyhound bus station and more.

There are two other airports you may opt to fly into, depending on if you are exploring other parts of New England during your trip and what prices at each look like: Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire (less than 50 miles north of Boston) and T.F. Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island (approximately 60 miles from Boston). You'll likely want to rent a car unless you plan to stay put once you are in Boston, in which case you can take buses and other forms of transportation into the city.

Once you're in Boston, you can get by with public transportation and/or ride-sharing services and taxis.

First Parish Church and tourists in Harvard Yard at Harvard University
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Things to Do in Boston

What you do in Boston will depend on the time of year you're visiting, as spring and fall are the most ideal for walking around the city. However, there are activities like holiday festivities that take place during the cold winter months that are also fun to experience. No matter when you visit, here are a few things you won't want to miss:

  • Walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile pathway that will guide you along many of the historic landmarks starting at the Boston Common and ending in Charlestown at the Bunker Hill Monument, commemorating the first major battle of America's Revolutionary War.
  • Check out several of the city's museums, including the Museum of Science, Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum and Boston Children's Museum.
  • Go shopping on Newbury Street, Boylston Street and in Copley Plaza and the Prudential Center, all in the Back Bay. Charles Street in Beacon Hill is another shopping destination with more local boutiques.

    Explore more attractions with our comprehensive articles on the top attractionsbest things to do with kids and most popular museums.

    Aerial view of Fenway Park baseball stadium in Boston
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    Money Saving Boston Tips

    • Pick up a Boston CityPASS for savings on popular attractions and things to do like the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Skywalk Observatory, Boston Harbor Cruises and the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and and to skip ticket lines.
    • You may also find savings with the GO Boston card, which you'll buy prior to your trip and then activate on first use. Choose from one- to seven-day cards good for free admission at dozens of local attractions.
    • Get free admission to many of Boston's best cultural venues, including museums and more, through the "Free Fun Fridays" program during the summer months. Many of Boston's museums also have free or discounted days throughout the year, so be sure to check their websites before visiting.
    • Skip the guided tour of the Freedom Trail and instead opt for the free app that will give you the same information on Colonial Revolutionary Boston, but let you go at your own pace. The Freedom Trail is already easy to navigate thanks to the literal brick line that guides you along the 2.5-mile pathway.
    • Stay close to the city but not right downtown and check out Airbnbs in various neighborhoods and surrounding towns near public transportation.
    • Take public transportation, the MBTA, rather than taxi or Uber, or consider trying out the city's Blue Bike rentals.

      Learn more about the cheapest ways to have fun by exploring the best free things to do in Boston.