How to Spend One Day in Boston

Only visiting for one day? These are the must-see places!

If you're visiting Boston for just one day, don't worry, you can still make the most of your time. In fact, many of Boston's historical sites and attractions are clustered together in the historic area of North End, much of which is all within a short walk of several T stations. Here you'll also find plenty of shops and restaurants, along with parks and other spots to catch some great views. Here's our list of things to do if you're only in Boston for just one day.
Boston Common
Boston Common
Boston Common is a famous central park in downtown Boston. It's also the oldest city park in the country, dating back to 1634. The park spans 50 acres and has a botanical garden and a pond where you can enjoy the iconic experience of taking a Swan paddleboat. Visitors can also find a playground and other fun activities for kids. During the winter months, an ice skating rink is set up, and a huge Christmas tree and other decorations adorn the park.
167 Tremont Street, Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
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
Interested in more travel advice for Boston? Check out Historic Buildings in Boston and Local Finds and Hangouts in Boston.
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 Aquarium
New England Aquarium
Rated one of the best aquariums in the world, the memories of the immersive aquatic experience that you will have here will last a lifetime. Visitors will find huge tanks filled with various marine species and ecosystems such as coral reefs, sharks, the north Atlantic, the northern Pacific, and more. Penguins, harbor seals, a touch tank, sea lions, and other exhibitions are also housed here, providing a day-long adventure through the seas. It's terrific for all ages, especially kids and kids-at-heart, or anyone who wants to learn more about the oceans and seas.
1 Central Wharf, Waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110
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
Boston Public Garden
Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden, dating back to 1837, was the first botanical garden in the country. It is heavily influenced by the Victorian era with seasonally flowers that change regularly. The Boston Public Garden is an iconic park in the city with its famous Swan Boats that you can use to paddle around the pond. There are flower beds that line the paths and many places to enjoy a leisurely stroll. Boston Public Garden is a relaxed and romantic setting and you'll often see weddings or wedding pictures being taken in the park.
4 Charles St., Beacon Hill, Boston, MA, 02116
The Boston Harbor & Whale Watching
The Boston Harbor & Whale Watching
Head to the Boston Harbor to enjoy a number of iconic experiences in the city. The views from the harbor are impressive. This is also where you catch most of the boats for whale watching. Whale Watching is a popular activity in Boston. For the best experience, visit during the summer months from May through October. This is when you're most likely to see whales migrating through the area. There are a number of different tours that leave from the Boston Harbor. They average between two and four hours in length and the boats vary in size, speed, and quality.
Boston, MA
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 Foodie's Guide To Boston and Stops Along the Freedom Trail.
Freedom Trail
Freedom Trail
Boston's famous Freedom Trail is a three mile long route that goes by 16 of the city's most notable historic sites. The trail is marked by red bricks in the sidewalk and there are footprints through the street crossings. There are a number of brochures available in different places, including the city's visitor center (found in Boston Common), that will tell you about the history along the trail. Notable sites along the route include the Old Granary Burying Ground, King's Chapel Burying Ground, Old South Meeting House, and the Old State House. The route begins in Boston Common and ends across the bridge in Charlestown at the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument.
Boston, MA
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
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
Rose Kennedy Greenway
This stretch of interconnected parks running through Downtown Boston is a great spot for a walk, run, or even a bike ride - or for just exploring the city. Starting at the north in North End near the Haymarket T station, the connected parks and trails run south through the Waterfront and Downtown areas until they reach Chinatown Park. Along the way, visitors will find smaller parks, interactive fountains, a carousel, gardens, public restrooms, restaurants and cafes, and more. If you're wandering along the path, it's quite easy to make short detours to explore the various attractions and historical spots of Boston.
John F. Fitzgerald Expressway, Waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110
Black Heritage Trail
The Black Heritage Trail is a 1.6 mile walking trail through Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood that showcases a variety of historical sites focused on the lives of Black Americans from the time periods around the American Civil War. During this time in history, Black Americans in this area of Boston fought to abolish slavery and gain the same freedoms and rights as other Americans. Part of the trail centers on the Museum of African American History while other locations are historic residences, schools, and meeting houses.
Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts
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
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
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
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
The Esplanade
The Esplanade is a riverside park in the Back Bay neighborhood. It has a number of charming footbridges including Arthur Fiedler Footbridge. Within the park you'll also find the Hatch Shell bandstand, which is where the Boston Pops Orchestra holds its annual Fourth of July celebration. There are also a number of movies and concerts in the park during the warmer months. The park is a nice place to explore with a number of nice running trails, or you could enjoy a walk beside the river. Also here is the Esplanade Playground for kids which is quite large.
Back Bay, Boston, MA
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Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $4 to $498. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $141. A few of the best options are below.

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