Top 10 Things to Do in Boston for First Time Visitors – Must See & Do Attractions

As one of America’s oldest cities, Boston sure has a lot of history. There’s so much to see and do that both evokes the city’s heritage and hints at the promise of her future.

A visit here is perfect for any number of travelers, whether you’re a fan of art and architecture, a history buff, or a sports fanatic. From tours to museums and beyond, you’ll find no end of amazing attractions here in Beantown.

If you and your family are looking for the top things to do in Boston during your trip, check out our list of some of best attractions, including…

  • Boston Duck Tour
  • Whale Watch by Boston Harbor Cruises
  • Boston Red Sox Game & Fenway Park Tour
  • New England Aquarium
  • Freedom Trail Walking Tour
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • and more!

Save on Admission to Top Things to Do in Boston

Many of these must see attractions are available on the Go Boston® Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of popular Boston attractions and save up to 55% off combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

See all available Boston passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

Please keep in mind that some of the attractions listed in this post may be separately ticketed and not be currently included with the Go Boston® Card.

Boston Duck Tour

Boston-Duck-Tour-Bonus-2-newYou’d be hard pressed to find a better way to explore Boston than aboard one of their iconic Boston duck boats. Your expert local guide will fill you in on all the best info about the landmarks you pass, and you’ll even be encouraged to “quack” at nearby locals and fellow duck boat passengers!

Traverse land and water as you roam diverse neighborhoods, from the political Beacon Hill to the cultural North End to the commercial Newbury Street. You’ll even venture out into Cambridge, where you’ll find plenty of top attractions like Harvard, MIT, many museums, and more.

Some of the sites and landmarks you’ll see on your Boston duck tour include:

  • Trinity Church
  • Hancock Tower
  • Prudential Center
  • Boston Common & Boston Public Garden
  • Old North Church
  • Zakim Bridge
  • And more!

Hop aboard a duck boat and have the most enjoyable tour you’ve ever experienced.

New England Aquarium Whale Watch by Boston Harbor Cruises 

New-England-Aquarium-Whale-Watch-2It wouldn’t be a trip to New England without the opportunity to hop aboard a whale watch cruise from Boston. The waters this far north up the Atlantic coast often see whales in season, and it’s a delightful way to connect with nature on a responsible, expertly-run whale watch.

Head out to the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, which is a rich feeding area for whales, dolphins, sea birds, and other ocean animals. There, you’ll learn all about these fascinating creatures with guided narration by your aquarium-trained tour guides, who bring scientific expertise to bear on their information.

It’s also important that this tour is environmentally friendly and is cautious of disrupting the whales’ natural habitat. This is a fun option for eco-tourists!

Boston Red Sox Game & Fenway Park Tour

Fenway-Park-Tour-1Of course, sports fans may opt to go for something a bit more up their alley with a tour of Fenway Park. On this tour, you’ll go behind the scenes of one of Major League Baseball’s most historic stadiums and see all the iconic spots and artifact throughout the park.

Highlights of the tour include all the best things you remember from Red Sox history, from the Green Monster to Pesky’s Pole to the Lone Red Seat. If you’re a real fan, why not take the opportunity to snag a few tickets to a game while you’re in town?

Choose from select home games and you’ll get a Boston Red Sox game ticket. That means you get to experience Fenway like few fans do – with access to the park up to 2.5 hours in advance of the game. Watch batting practice and explore the concourse. Then, pick up a few Fenway Franks and settle in to enjoy the game!

Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Trolley Tour

City View Trolley (8)Another top option for exploring Boston is the flexible Hop-on Hop-off Boston Sightseeing Trolley. It circulates throughout the city, featuring major highlights at nine central stops, including Faneuil Hall, the North End, North Station & TD Garden, Boston Common, Beacon Hill, and more.

With the freedom to disembark at any of these stops, you’ll be able to fully customize your day of sightseeing to fit your interests. Ride along as long as the narration captivates your attention, and hop off when you find something fascinating you just have to explore.

Plus, your trolley ticket is good for two days, so you can really make the most of your pass when it comes to exploring attractions. We don’t, however, recommend that you make use of the trolley as a primary form of transportation due to traffic and frequent stops.

New England Aquarium

New-England-Aquarium-SDIAmong the most popular attractions for families and adults alike is the New England Aquarium. This fantastic aquatic destination includes many marvelous sights like a massive Caribbean coral reef, a Shark & Ray Touch Tank, a lively penguin colony, and so much more.

Whether you love flashy tropical fish or playful seals, intimidating sharks or lovable penguins, there’s a critter here to capture your heart.

They’ve even got a 3-D IMAX screen showing breathtaking films about nature and marine life in particular, so consider picking up an IMAX ticket as well.

As an added benefit, the cost of your admission goes to support marine conservation efforts being undertaken by the aquarium, so you’re doing a good deed with your visit.

Skywalk Observatory

Skywalk-Observatory-4See the gleaming city of Boston from above with a visit to the Skywalk Observatory, located in the Prudential Center Mall. From this central location in the Back Bay, the Skywalk Observatory provides sweeping views of the city, its many bridges, and the Boston Harbor.

The view is especially enchanting around sunset, when the city’s evening lights are first coming on but the dying sunlight reflect off the harbor waters. This is one attraction where you’ll definitely want to make sure your phone or camera is charged!

After you enjoy views from your lofty vantage point at the Observatory, head to the Top of the Hub, billed as both romantic and exciting. Enjoy bespoke cocktails and tasty appetizers, or go all in with a fine meal. 

Museum of Science

Museum-of-Science-5The whole family will love a visit to the Museum of Science. As an institution, Boston’s Museum of Science embodies the power and promise of Boston’s greatest scientific minds, and captures the magic and wonder of discovery for visitors of all ages.

Featuring over 700 (!) diverse exhibits, many of which are hands-on and totally interactive, the Museum of Science drives curiosity in all of its guests. A can’t-miss area of the museum is the comprehensive Hall of Human Life, which includes dozen of interactive exhibits that explore the biology of the human body.

Other popular exhibits include the Theater of Electricity, Triceratops Cliff, and the Live Animal Center, where you can watch baby chicks hatch! You could also opt to upgrade to other fascinating areas of the museum like the planetarium or the butterfly garden, both of which amaze visitors year ‘round. 

Freedom Trail Walking Tour

The-Freedom-Trail-Foundation-Walking-Tour-3It wouldn’t be a trip to Boston without a tour along the Freedom Trail. This iconic pathway throughout Boston highlights the major landmarks and sites of significance in the Revolutionary War, and showcases just how much history Boston really has.

Featuring 11 historic sites in just under one mile of walking, the Freedom Trail is also an effective way to see the big historical highlights of Beantown. Take the guided tour, where costumed guides narrate you with important information about Boston in the eighteenth century, and let you in on all the local legends and secrets.

Museum of Fine Arts

BOS MFA (4)Art lovers will not want to overlook this fantastic museum. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is among the most prestigious and well-curated art museums around, and features impressive collections of art and artifacts that span the globe. Plus, it’s recently been named among the top museums in the country by a TripAdvisor poll, so you know it’s popular among travelers from all over.

Their collections have particular strengths in American art and craftwork, textiles and fashion, European art, and art and artifacts of the ancient world. The Art of the Americas wing, a relatively recent expansion, offers over 50 distinct galleries filled with items dating from the Pre-Columbian period through the second half of the twentieth century.

A visit here will be inspiring and enlightening, so don’t miss out on the chance to see this delightful art museum with the whole family. Their gift shop is also particularly eclectic and well stocked, so you’re sure to find a perfect artsy souvenir here. 

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

John-F-Kennedy-Presidential-Library-Museum-2Be sure to pay a visit to the JFK Presidential Library of one of our country’s most influential and charismatic leaders, John F. Kennedy. This library and museum holds the largest collection Kennedy family materials in the world, including everything from televised interviews to rare family photographs.

Follow the narrative of his presidency, and see the crises and successes that defined his time in office. Begin with a look at Kennedy on the campaign trail in 1960, see him as President in the briefing room, explore artifacts of the Space Program that he so famously championed, and even get to walk around a mock-up of the Oval Office the way it looked in Kennedy’s time.

There’s also a particular emphasis on the connections between JFK, the Kennedy family, and the city of Boston. It’s a wonderful attraction for anyone who loves Boston history, presidential libraries, or American history in general.

Let’s Recap 

There’s our selection for some of the most popular and top 10 things to do in Boston for first-time visitors.

From cruises and tours to museums and historical sites, there’s something to appeal to every interest.

Consider including some of these attractions on your next trip to Boston, and we know you’ll come to love this city. Whether you’re traveling with family, a partner, or friends, you’ll enjoy these amazing signature Boston attractions.

Don’t forget to pick up a Go Boston® Card, to save up to 55% on combined admission prices. Happy travels!
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