A History Lover's Guide to Boston

Historical Sites, Museums, and Architecture 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.


USS Constitution
USS Constitution
This famous ship, referred to as Old Ironsides, was named by George Washington. It's a wooden-hulled, three masted, heavy frigate that was launched in 1797. It's also the oldest commissioned naval vessel that's still afloat. The ship is docked at Charlestown's Navy Yard and is part of the famous Freedom Trail. The ship's museum is located across the pier and is privately owned (with a suggested admission donation).
24 Third Street, Charlestown, Boston, Massachusetts, 02128
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 A Fashion-Lovers Guide To Boston and A Nature Lover's 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
Old North Church
Old North Church
This historic church is one of the main landmarks in the historic area of Boston's North End. Surrounded by houses and buildings that are hundreds of years old, the church itself dates back to 1723. Not only is it well preserved, but it has a special place in American history as the beginning of Paul Revere's famous ride to let everyone know that the British were indeed coming. Self-guided tours of the church are available, and additionally visitors can go down into the crypt underneath the church as well. Furthermore, the church is open for services on Sundays if you make a reservation.
193 Salem Street, North End, Boston, Massachusetts, 02113
USS Cassin Young
The USS Cassin Young was a Fletcher-class destroyer in the U.S. Navy.
10 Third Street, Dock Square, Boston, Massachusetts, 02128
The Paul Revere House
This simple, two story, wood-frame home offers a glimpse into how Paul Revere and his family lived during the late 18th century. The Tudor-style house is part of the Freedom Trail.
19 N Square, North End, Boston, MA, 02113
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
Old South Meeting Place
This historic church was built in 1729 and is famous for its role in the 1773 Boston Tea Party. At the time, it was the largest building in the city, and the gathering point of more than 5,000 people during the protest. This was the organizing point for the Boston Tea Party, on December 16th, 1773. It is also part of Boston's famous Freedom Trail.
294 Washington Street, Downtown, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110-1301
Boston has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: Boston: What to See and Do in the Spring and Things to Do In Boston on a Rainy or Snowy Day.
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
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
First Harrison Gray Otis House
This 1796 Federal-style house has been fully restored with bright colors, and elegant but timely furnishings. It offers a glimpse at upper class life in Boston during the late 1700s and early 1800s. There's also an interesting architecture museum in the basement.
141 Cambridge Stree, West End, Boston, MA, 02114
Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
You'll feel like you stepped back in time as this museum brings history to life. There are real life actors who portray this notable time in history through reenactments of a series of iconic events that led to the Revolutionary War. Beginning with the Sons of Liberty Meeting that was led by Samuel Adams, following through to the Boston Tea Party and finally Paul Revere's ride, you will experience it all at this historical museum. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this interactive experience.
306 Congress St, Seaport District, South Boston, Boston, MA, 02210
Boston Fire Museum
This small museum has exhibits on the historical aspects of firefighting. There are hand-operated pumpers from 1793 and a steam pumper from 1882. There's also a ladder truck from 1860. This is a fun museum for kids who like fire trucks and all things related to firefighting.
344 Congress St, Seaport District, South Boston, Boston, MA, 02210
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
Boston has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: A Nature Lover's Guide to Boston and Activities and Things to Do in the Fall in Boston.
How much does it cost to visit the museums in Boston?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $29 to $30. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $29. A few of the best options are below.

Historic Sites

Granary Burying Ground
Granary Burying Ground
The Granary Burying Ground is the third oldest cemetery in the city. It began in 1660 and has graves from the Revolutionary War including Paul Revere as well as the victims of the Boston Massacre.
1 Park Street, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
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
Faneuil Hall
Faneuil Hall
Established as a permanent central marketplace in Boston, and gifted by the wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil, this marketplace building was constructed in 1742 and then later expanded over the following decades and centuries. The meeting hall on the upper floor of the building became famous as a place of protest against the British during the era of the Revolutionary War. It has since become a place of protest and democracy throughout American history. Today, visitors can tour the historic building as well as visit the shops and restaurants of the marketplace buildings. Grab a souvenir and a bite to eat in the food court, or join one of the many walking tours of Boston that begin in this part of town.
4 South Market Street, North End, Boston, Massachusetts
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
Kings Chapel Burying Ground
Kings Chapel Burying Ground is a historic cemetery that is part of the Freedom Trail. It's also the oldest cemetery in the city.
45 School Street, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
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
Planning a trip to Boston? You might also be interested in An Art Lover's Guide to Boston and Best Places To Enjoy A Picnic In Boston.
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 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
Blackstone Block Historic District
The Blackstone Block Historic District was once the waterfront business area but is now a bit inland due to the infill of land. The area is near Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall and includes a number of historic buildings including the Union Oyster House.
33 Union Street, Dock Square, Boston, Massachusetts, 02113
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
How much does it cost to visit the historic sites of Boston?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $4 to $360. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $89. A few of the best options are below.

Religious Sites

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
Planning a trip to Boston? You might also be interested in Budget-Friendly Neighborhoods in Boston and Educational Places and Activities in Boston.
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


Boston Lighthouse
Boston Lighthouse
The Boston Lighthouse is found on Little Brewster Island in the outer Boston Harbor. The original structure was built in 1716, making it the first lighthouse in the United States. The current structure was built in 1783 and is the second oldest working lighthouse in the country.
Boston, Massachusetts, 02045
Tremont Street Subway
Located between Boylston Street to Park Street and Government Center stations, this is the oldest subway tunnel in North America. It was opened in 1897 and today it is part of the Green Line.
120 Tremont Street, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
Paul Revere Mall
Also known as the Boston Prado, Paul Revere Mall features a large statue of, you guessed it, Paul Revere. Also along this stretch of pedestrian-only cobblestones are plaques along the walls that feature other notable and important people from Boston's and America's history such as Benjamin Franklin. The plaza runs between Old North Church and St. Stephen's Church.
North End, Boston, Massachusetts
North Point Park
Located on the river, this park has a playground, jogging and biking trails, a dock for boats and stand-up-paddleboards, and some nice lawn space for relaxing. It also has great views of the water and the skyline.
1 North Point Blvd, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery is a public park and also a cemetery, arboretum, and wildlife sanctuary. It's a National Historic Landmark and spans 72 acres with a number of different types of wildlife present including foxes, wild turkeys, and birds. This is a popular place for locals who want to escape the city. There are a number of events held here and for the best viewpoint, climb Washington Tower and you'll enjoy views over the city.
580 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA, 02138
Castle Island Park & Fort Independence
Located in South Boston, this is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. There's a nice white sand beach where you can relax. Fort Independence is a granite fort dating back to 1851. Within the park there are two walking and running trails. For the easiest and shortest option, try the Castle Island Loop. The longer trail is the Pleasure Bay Loop. There are also great areas where you can enjoy a picnic and a nice playground that is perfect for kids who like to climb, jump, and run.
2010 William J Day Blvd, South Boston, Boston, MA, 02127
Bunker Hill Monument
The Bunker Hill Monument is located on the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was one of the first major battles of the Revolutionary War. The monument stands 221 feet tall and is a 294 stair climb to the top. But it's well worth the effort as from the top you'll enjoy impressive views of the Boston Harbor, the Charles River, and the city skyline.
Monument Sq, Charlestown, MA, 02129
How much does it cost to visit the monuments in Boston?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $20 to $400. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $113. A few of the best options are below.

Art & Art History

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

Where to Stay in Boston

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