A Culture Lover's Guide to Boston

The Best Cultural Spots in Boston

Boston is a city known for having some of the best museums in the world, and for offering a rich cultural experience. A visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, or the Harvard Art Museums is an experience you will never forget. These institutions contain some of the most amazing collections of art, sculptures, and paintings in the world, and they are just a few of the amazing places Boston has to offer. So, here's our list of cultural sights and things to do in Boston for your next trip.

Museums in Boston

Boston is home to a wide variety of museums, from historic houses of worship to contemporary art galleries. These museums offer visitors the chance to explore the city's past, present and future through exhibits, artifacts, and collections.

Old State House
Old State House
Dating back to 1713, the Old State House was the site of the Boston Massacre where British soldiers fired into protesting colonists. This building was the seat of British government at the time, and became a spot where local colonists debated the details about their government leading to the revolution. Now, the building is a museum (combined with the Old South Meeting House) showcasing exhibits from the history of the revolutionary era.
206 Washington St, Downtown, Boston, Massachusetts
If you're looking for more information about Boston, read The Best Things to do in Boston's Downtown and A Fashion-Lovers Guide To Boston.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
This library and museum offers a legacy to the Kennedy family and the 35th president. It's located in a dramatic building made of white concrete and dark tinted glass. There are galleries that feature a timeline and glimpse into the lives of the Kennedy's. This is a successfully done museum and a moving tribute to a respected president.
Columbia Point, Dorchester, Boston, MA, 02125
Harvard Art Museums
The Harvard Art Museums include three museums - the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. There are also four research centers included in the system. These are the Archaeological exploration of Sardis, the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, the Harvard Art Museums Archives, and the Straus Center for conservation and Technical Studies.
477 Broadway, Inman Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138
The Institute of Contemporary Art
The Institute of Contemporary Art is in the Seaport District by the harbor. From the location you can enjoy impressive views of the Boston Harbor. The beautiful museum features 20th and 21st century work by notable women including Louise Bourgeois, Doris Salcedo, and Eva Hesse. There is also a satellite space that is opened seasonally during the summer months. It's accessible by shuttle but must be booked in advance.
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Seaport District, South Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, 02210
Museum of Fine Arts
The MFA houses an impressive collection that includes more than 450,000 pieces of art and artifacts. It has one of the best collections of Korean art outside of the Korean peninsula. It also has an impressive Egyptian collection as well as a European wing that includes the Claude Monet gallery.
465 Huntington Avenue, Fenway-Kenmore, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115
Boston Athenæum
Dating back to 1807, this is one of the oldest libraries in the county. It is a membership library and requires an annual subscription fee to join. The library was originally founded by the Anthology Club of Boston.
10 Beacon Street, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
Harvard Museum of Natural History
This museum offers a glimpse into the botanical, geological, and zoology research being done at Harvard. Some of the museum's collections date back to the 1780s with popular exhibits including the dinosaur hall, the gem gallery, the glass flowers, and the great mammal hall. With your admission fee you also give you access to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology next door.
26 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA, 02138
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Plimoth Plantation
This living history museum is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It recreates the first Pilgrim settlement in North America, which dates back to 1620. The small village has an authentic atmosphere with farm animals, basic cabins, simple furnishings that stay true to the time period. There are actors who are dressed the part and have real life roles in the town. They're available to answer any questions you may have.
137 Warren Ave, Plymouth, MA, 02360
The West End Museum
This local museum is focused on the history of the West End neighborhood in Boston. It's a smaller museum, but it's a fun and unique place to visit that offers a glimpse into the real West End neighborhood, it's history and culture, and everything that makes it special.
150 Staniford St Suite 7, West End, Boston, MA, 02114
MIT Museum
This interactive museum is perfect for the tech lovers among us. There are exhibits on robotics, oceanographic research, photography, and innovative engineering. The exhibits and programming changes frequently so there's also something new and exciting to check out. Both kids and adults of all ages can have fun exploring and playing at this hands-on museum.
265 Massachusetts Ave Building N51, Cambridge, MA, 02139
Nichols House Museum
The Nichols House Museum is located in an old Victorian mansion that was once owned by Rose Standish Nichols. This is a small and unique Boston museum that has a collection of art and furniture.
55 Mt Vernon St, Beacon Hill, Boston, MA, 02108
Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation
Located at Massachusetts General Hospital, this museum highlights the accomplishments of more than 200 years of research in the medical field. There are exhibits on various medical breakthroughs, as well up frequently updated features on the latest in medical technology. On the third floor there's a roof top garden that offers beautiful views of the Beacon Hill skyline. The Ether Dome is an amphitheater where anesthesia was first successfully used in 1846.
2 N Grove St, West End, Boston, MA, 02114
Gibson House Museum
This 1859 house on Beacon Street was designed with an Italian Renaissance style. There are guided tours available that take you through the four floors that are ornately decorated with elegant staircases and Victorian style furniture. A highlight of the tour is seeing the kitchen and bathroom from the turn of the century.
137 Beacon St, Back Bay, Boston, MA, 02116
Interested in more travel advice for Boston? Check out An Art Lover's Guide to Boston and Educational Places and Activities in Boston.
Museum of African American History
This museum educates visitors on the African American community and the people who lived on the north slope of Beacon Hill during the 19th century. This community actively worked to improve civil rights during this time. The two buildings that make up the museum include the African Meeting House, which is the oldest, still standing black church, and the Abiel Smith School, which is the country's oldest public school for African American children. It later became the headquarters for black Civil War veterans.
46 Joy St, Beacon Hill, Boston, MA, 02114
How much does it cost to visit the museums in Boston?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $17 to $35. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $27. A few of the best options are below.

Historic Sites in Boston

Boston is a city of history, and there's no shortage of museums, attractions, and tours that focus on the city's rich history. Boston's history stretches back over 400 years, with the city's first settlers landing in 1630. Since then, the city has been shaped by its diverse population, and today, Boston is a vibrant, bustling city with plenty to offer history buffs.
Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill
The historic neighborhood of Beacon Hill is famous for its Federal-style brick rowhouses and narrow gaslit streets. The brick sidewalks and historical character give the area a lot of charm and the residents maintain beautiful gardens and beautiful home fronts. There are often seasonal holiday decorations throughout, so it's worth wandering through during the holiday season. This one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and it has a number of historic landmarks including the Massachusetts State House and the Boston African American National Historic Site.
Boston, Massachusetts, 02114-3203
New England Holocaust Memorial
The New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston is dedicated to the Jewish people who were killed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.
Congress Street, Dock Square, Boston, Massachusetts, 02102
Federal Street Theatre
The Federal Street Theatre, also called the Boston Theatre, was the first theater built in the city.
160 Franklin Street, Church Green, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110
Bulfinch Triangle Historic District
The Bulfinch Triangle neighborhood has a number of historic commercial buildings that were built between 1870 and the early 1900s.
101 Merrimac Street, Dock Square, Boston, Massachusetts, 02102
Boston has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: How to Spend One Day in Boston and The Best Art Museums in Boston.
Armenian Heritage Park
The Armenian Heritage Park is a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. It includes a sculpture and a reflecting pool.
79 Cross Street, Dock Square, Boston, Massachusetts, 02109
Boston African-American National Historic Site
The Boston African American National Historic Site offers information on 15 pre-Civil War structures that are significant within the African American community, including the oldest standing black church in the United States.
76 Mount Vernon Street, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
How much does it cost to visit the historic sites of Boston?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $5 to $327. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $56. A few of the best options are below.

Food & Cuisine in Boston

Boston is famous for its food scene, and Bostonians and visitors alike love to go out to eat. Boston's restaurants are renowned for serving some of the best food in the country, many times in a fun, casual, and entertaining style.
Technically, its own city, Cambridge is an iconic area near Boston that is home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The town has a number of museums, mostly affiliated with either of the universities, as well as a lively music scene, an impressive art culture, and excellent restaurants. The Charles River is a defining feature of Cambridge. There are also a number of notable city squares as well as several distinct neighborhoods within Cambridge. While nightlife might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Cambridge, there are actually some great clubs and bars where you can grab a drink and party with the Ivy Leaguers.
Boston, MA
Chinatown - Leather District
Chinatown - Leather District
Boston's Chinatown, the 3rd largest Chinatown in the country, is at the heart of Chinese culture in the city. It's located to the south of the Downtown area and it's the place to go to celebrate Lunar New Year. There are a number of great Chinese restaurants and shops in the area. Head a few blocks to the east and you'll stumble into the small Leather District. This industrial warehouse area gets its name from its roots in leather manufacturing. Today it is home to a number of trendy restaurants.
Boston, MA
Named for the Mattahunt Native American Tribe that lived here during the 1600s, today this neighborhood is home to a mixing bowl of African American, Caribbean, Irish, Jewish, and Haitian residents. There are a number of great ethnic restaurants in the neighborhood.
Boston, MA
Boston has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: The Best Children's Museums in Boston and The Best History Museums in Boston.
South End
This cosmopolitan neighborhood is close to both Downtown and the Back Bay neighborhood. South End has grown in popularity in recent years and the neighborhood has a mix of young professionals, families, and a large LGBTQ community. The streets are lined with brownstones, giving it a similar feel to nearby Back Bay. This is a vibrant neighborhood with a number of great restaurants, bars and clubs, ranging from high end to casual. There's also a very active arts scene.
Boston, MA
How much does dining out in Boston cost?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $202 to $369. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $285. A few of the best options are below.

Religious Sites in Boston

Trinity Episcopal Church
Trinity Episcopal Church
Sitting on Copley Square and famously reflected in the glass of the John Hancock Tower, this gorgeous church dates back to the 1870's. The interior's beauty matches the exterior, as numerous stained-glass windows bring in the light while telling a myriad of stories. The church is a national historic landmark, and tours are available along with a gift shop.
206 Clarendon Street, Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts
Old South Church
Old South Church
Located across from Copley Square, this historical church is gorgeous. Visitors here can see architectural history combined with American history, as the church's history goes back to the early days of European settlement in the 1600's. The current building was completed in 1875, and is a prominent part of Boston's community today.
645 Boylston St, Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts
Old West Church
The Old West Church was built in 1806 and played an important role in the American Revolution. It is believed that this is where the phrase "no taxation without representation" came to be.
131 Cambridge Street, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, 02114

Music & Concerts in Boston

The Boston music scene is unlike anywhere else in the country. With more music venues per capita than any other city, Boston has a thriving local scene and draws in musicians from all over the globe.
Boston Opera House
The Boston Opera House is now the home of the Boston Ballet. It also hosts a number of Broadway shows.
26 West Street, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, 02111
Wang Theatre
This large theatre seats nearly 3,700 guests and is ornately decorated on the interior emulating the Paris Opera House. And, appropriately, this theatre hosts opera, ballet, concerts, and other premier events.
270 Tremont Street, Theatre District, Boston, Massachusetts

Theater in Boston

The Boston Theater scene is thriving with innovative productions and shows by some of the most prestigious theater companies in the country. The Theatre District, located just south of Boston Common near Chinatown and Downtown, his home to a large number of theatres showing amazing plays, musicals, concerts, and more.
Paramount Theatre
Paramount Theatre
The Paramount Theatre is a performing arts center that hosts several touring Broadway productions each year. Opened in 1896, the Paramount Theatre is one of the oldest theaters in the country. It hosts many Broadway shows as well as concerts and operas.
559 Washington Street, Theatre District, Boston, Massachusetts
Charles Playhouse
Featuring productions of Blue Man Group and Shear Madness for more than 30 years, these are the only two shows hosted at this theatre, and they are extremely popular! The theatre itself was built in the Greek Revival architectural style and offers plenty of charm.
74 Warrenton Street, Theatre District, Boston, Massachusetts
Shubert Theatre
Opened in 1910, Boston's Shuburt Theatre has ties to the theatres in New York with the same name. As such, visitors can see a variety of Broadway-style shows here including dramas and musicals and large productions.
265 Tremont Street, Theatre District, Boston, Massachusetts
How much do theater tickets cost in Boston?

Art & Art History in Boston

Boston is rich with art, and there are plenty of museums, galleries, and public art displays to enjoy. From murals to sculptures, Boston's art scene is diverse and constantly growing. Here are some of the best places around Boston to see world-class art.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
This unique art museum features the collection once owned by Isabella Stewart Gardner, an eccentric collector who enjoyed travel and ancient cultures. The building this museum is housed in is impressive as well. It's a Venetian style palazzo that has a beautiful courtyard and elegant architecture. Within the museum, the collection has grown to include more than 7,500 art pieces, 2,700 books and manuscripts, and more than 8,000 historical objects.
25 Evans Way, Fenway-Kenmore, Boston, MA, 02115
deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum
This 30 acres outdoor park and museum offers a peaceful place to explore with fields, gardens, lawns, forests, and terraces. It's located about 20 miles to the west of Boston, so if you're looking for a peaceful place to escape the city, this is a nice option.
51 Sandy Pond Rd, Lincoln, MA, 01773

Where to Stay in Boston

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