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Things to Do in Boston - page 2

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Beacon Hill
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17 Tours and Activities

True, Beacon Hill may be home to the Massachusetts State House, the crown jewel of the neighbourhood and focal point of politics in the Commonwealth, but the real appeal of this prestigious neighbourhood lies in its beauty. Gas lanterns illuminate the cobblestone streets, while distinguished brick town houses come decked with purple windowpanes and blooming flowerboxes.

Beacon Hill’s residential streets are reminiscent of London, and streets such as stately Louisburg Square indeed capture the grandeur that was intended. Charles Street, Beacon Hill’s charming commercial thoroughfare, is Boston’s most enchanting spot for browsing boutiques, haggling over antiques, or sipping a steaming cappuccino at one of the European-styled cafes. Stay for a fine dinner, made all the more romantic when it is enjoyed in such a delightful setting.

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Fenway Park
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Boston's most cherished landmark? Site of Boston's greatest dramas and worst defeats? To many Bostonians, it's not Bunker Hill or the Tea Party ship, but tiny old Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Built in 1912, Fenway Park is one of the last survivors of old-style baseball parks. Only Wrigley Field in Chicago rivals its legendary status. Baseball at Fenway is special thanks to the unique shape of the park, the intimate playing field, and the one and only Green Monster, the famous towering left field wall that compensates for the relatively short distance from home plate. The Green Monster consistently alters the regular course of play - what appears to be a lazy fly ball could actually drop over the Monster for a home run, and what appears to be a sharp double into the gap may be played off the wall to hold the runner to a single.
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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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Housing one of the world’s finest collections of art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is a must-see on a visit to Boston. The museum’s highlight is undoubtedly its American collection, which includes American paintings and decorative arts.

And there’s more. The Museum of Fine Arts also displays an incredible collection of European Impressionist paintings, including one of the largest collections of Monets outside of Paris. The MFA also holds one of the richest Degas collections in the world, not to mention Asian and Old Kingdom Egyptian collections, classical art, Buddhist temple, and medieval sculpture and tapestries. After you’re done marveling at these treasures, be sure to check out the exhibits of Japanese art, including Buddhist and Shinto treasures.

Best of all, the museum is undergoing an ambitious expansion program, and will soon open a new wing for American art, a renovated Art of Europe galleries, and an improved West Wing devoted to contemporary art.

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Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
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Built more than a century ago, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum boasts one of the city’s most well regarded fine arts collections. American, European and Asian pieces are all included in all varieties of media, including sculpture, paintings, tapestries and more.

In the 90s, the museum became the center of a high profile art theft that included 13 of its most valuable works. In total, the robbers escaped with more than $500 million in artwork, making it the single largest private property theft ever. To this day, the crime remains unsolved, and the whereabouts of the stolen works are unknown. The museum hosts an ever-rotating blend of exhibits, from historic works to more contemporary examples. The dedication to the arts as a whole includes hosting onsite lectures, concerts and community events, while on Sunday afternoons, the museum’s concert series invites musicians to play a variety of favorites, from time-honored classics to new music.

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Museum of Science Boston
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With more than 600 interactive exhibits, the Boston Museum of Science is an educational playground so engaging and effortless that you can’t help but learn something. The amazing array of exhibits explores computers, technology, complex systems, algae, maps, models, dinosaurs, birds and much more.

Favorites include the world's largest lightning bolt generator, a full-scale space capsule, a world population meter, and a virtual fish tank. At Investigate!, live science demonstrations involve animals and experiments taking place before your eyes. The Science in the Park exhibit uses familiar objects such as skateboards and playground equipment to teach kids the concepts of physics. You can even find out how much you weigh on the moon! The Museum of Science also houses the Hayden Planetarium and Mugar Omni Theater.

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Boston Children's Museum
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Boston Children's Museum is the city’s premier destination for the education of children and the second oldest museum of its kind in the country. It boasts a wide variety of activities and hands-on exhibits for children through entertainment and fun. Many are just as entertaining for parents as they are for children.

The museum hosts nearly 20 permanent exhibits. Among them, the incredibly popular Arthur & Friends is home to characters from Marc Brown’s TV show and book series. In the Art Studio, parents work with their children to create freeform art. The Construction Zone inspires children to work with trucks and power tools to explore the world of construction. While the Japanese House is an actual house shipped from Kyoto to help foster an understanding of foreign cultures a world away. History buffs will also appreciate the museum’s rare and substantial collection of Natural History, Dolls and Dollhouses, Americana, Native American and Japanese artifacts.

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Franklin Park Zoo
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ust inside Boston's large Franklin Park is the aptly named Franklin Park Zoo. This century-old, 72-acre animal park features some of the best wildlife exhibits in New England, as it is home to more than 200 species. Visitors are welcome to view them all within a wide variety of main exhibits, including the Tropical Forest, a three-acre structure that simulates the natural environment for a variety of native African animals such as bats, gorillas, crocodiles, lemurs and hippos.

The African-themed Kalahari Kingdom houses a lion named Christopher, who guests can see through the glass or up close by way of a Land Rover replica that appears to have “crashed” into his den. The zoo’s other fascinating exhibits include the Outback Trail, the Children’s Zoo and Tiger Tales, which is home to two rescued tigers named Anala and Luther. Perhaps the zoo’s modern day claim to fame is its appearance as the backdrop in the Kevin James 2011 comedy film Zookeeper.

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John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
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The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is tmost commonly referred to as the JFK Library and is located on Columbia Point in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

The building houses original papers and correspondence from the Kennedy Administration, along with special literary materials. These include published and unpublished books and papers by and about the literary great, Ernest Hemingway. The library and museum sit on a 10-acre park that overlooks the sea, an important area to JFK. Kennedy chose the land, which was next to the Harvard Graduate School of Business and faced the Charles River. There would be views across the river to Winthrop House, where Kennedy spent his upperclassman days. Unfortunately, Kennedy was assassinated prior to seeing the construction begin on the library.

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Copley Square
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Located in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, Copley Square is among the most beautiful public parks in the city. For more than 100 years, it has been a hub of downtown activity and historical significance for the sheer number of institutions built here since the 1800s. Many still stand today, including the stunning Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, Old South Church, the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel and New England's tallest skyscraper, John Hancock Tower.

The square is best known as the site of the finish line for the annual Boston Marathon, and there is a 1996 memorial here celebrating the race's 100th anniversary. It is also well known as a downtown commercial hub with a variety of upscale restaurants and shopping options. The onsite Copley Place mall includes high-end stores such as Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Porsche Design and Tiffany & Co.

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Boston Public Library
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Founded in 1848, the Boston Public Library contains over 23 million items, making it the second largest public library in the U.S., after the Library of Congress. Of those millions, about 1.7 million are rare books and works, including medieval manuscripts and incunabula (a book or pamphlet printed prior to 1501 in Europe). Among the rare books are also the personal library of John Adams, early editions of works by William Shakespeare, drawings from Thomas Rowlandson and musical archives from the Handel and Haydn Society.

The McKim Building, with its vast research collection, and the Johnson Building, where you can find the circulating collection, are two of the most important parts of the library. The McKim Building is even a National Historic Landmark. And while the library system technically includes a whopping 24 branches, the original Copley Square location offers plenty to see, including Bates Hall, the Chavannes Gallery, the Abbey Room and the Sargent Gallery.

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More Things to Do in Boston

200 Clarendon (John Hancock Tower)

200 Clarendon (John Hancock Tower)

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Boston's John Hancock Tower soars nearly 800 feet above the city, and is not only Boston's tallest building but also the tallest building in all of New England. The 62-story John Hancock Tower was built in 1976 as the home of John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance, but in 2004 the company moved to a different Boston location. The building is now officially known as Hancock Place.

It's a glass-covered skyscraper in the shape of a parallelogram rather than a square or rectangle, and the blue-tinted glass panels beautifully reflect the city and scenery around the tower. There is an observatory deck at the top of the John Hancock tower, but it has been closed to the general public since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The observation deck is available for private events, however.

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Back Bay

Back Bay

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One of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Boston, Back Bay is famous for its architecturally significant buildings, including a series of Victorian brownstone homes. Back Bay is considered one of America’s most desirable areas, and it’s not uncommon to spot celebrities along the prime shopping streets. With that, one of the best ways to explore the neighborhood is to book a Back Bay photography tour, which will take you to the most important and significant buildings.

Some of the most exclusive real estate in Boston is located in Back Bay, which was once just a stagnant pool of water behind the Public Garden. Newbury Street, Boylston Street and Commonwealth Avenue are now among the most popular spots in the area. Be sure to visit the Boston Public Garden, the largest and oldest botanical garden in the country, established in 1837. It's where many visitors start their tour of Back Bay.

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Louisburg Square

Louisburg Square

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If you’re looking to visit the most exclusive neighborhood in Boston, you’ll want to stop by Louisburg Square in Beacon Hill. The townhouses lining the square have an average value of over $6.7 million, with many selling for well over $10 million.

The houses on Louisburg Square were built primarily in the 1840s, but the area was first settled back in the 1600’s. Rev. William Blaxton moved to this part of Beacon Hill from Charlestown, where the Puritans had settled, to enjoy more peace and quiet. From the time of the first house, the neighborhood was the most fashionable address in Boston. Famous names from shipping and merchant banking, such as Cabot and Appleton, used to call the square home, as well as some famous artistic figures. Charles Bulfinch, the architect of the Massachusetts State House and portions of the US Capital Building, lived in the square.

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Boston South End

Boston South End

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The South End neighborhood of Back Bay in Boston is where you will find the famous Victorian row houses. It is northwest of South Boston, north of Dorchester, northeast of Roxbury and southwest of Bay Village.

Bow-front row houses are the star of South End. These are aesthetically uniform rows of buildings that date back to the 19th century and are typically five-story red-brick residential and commercial structures that showcase various styles of architecture including Renaissance Revival, Italianate and French Second Empire, Queen Anne Gothic Revival, Greek Revival and Egyptian Revival. Although there are varying styles, these row houses maintain their uniformity through the use of similar materials—red brick, slate, granite or limestone trim and cast iron railings. Bay Village is one of the highlights of the South End section of Boston. It encompasses about six blocks around Piedmont Street and is the hub for Boston’s gay community.

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Skywalk Observatory

Skywalk Observatory

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The Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory is located on the building's 50th floor. The tower is also known as "the Pru" to locals and is the second-tallest building in Boston behind John Hancock Tower. The Skywalk Observatory is the tallest open-to-the-public observation deck, as John Hancock Tower’s has been closed since Sept. 11, 2001.

Enjoy 360-degree views from the Skywalk Observatory, and if it’s your first time in Boston, be sure to grab the Acoustiguide audio tour headphones, as the guide details the city’s main points of interest. In addition to English, the audio tour is available in French Canadian and Japanese. The first floor houses the Shops at Prudential Center, where anchor stores include Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue. There are over 75 specialty retailers and even a functioning Roman Catholic Church as well. St. Francis Chapel is staffed by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and is located inside the shopping center.

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Boston Symphony Hall

Boston Symphony Hall

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Copley Place

Copley Place

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Copley Place is the premier high-end shopping destination of Boston. With 75 shops spread out over 9.5 acres, there is something for every shopper at the massive mall. The two levels of shopping are joined by a dining area, four office buildings, and two hotels. Apparel shops include brands such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Christian Dior, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co, and Barney’s New York, alongside lifestyle stores like William & Sonoma and Sur La Table.

Named for American artist John Singleton Copley, it was designed by the Architects’ Collective. The building’s center atrium and skylight lets in a ton of natural light and creates an airy feeling inside. The Westin and Boston Marriott Copley Place hotels offer maximum proximity to the center’s many shops. Special events are held frequently in the space as well. Copley Place is a luxurious, central place to shop, eat, work, and play in historic Boston.

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Mapparium

Mapparium

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The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library is a stunning, three-story, stained-glass globe that reflects a 3D representation of how the world was laid out in 1935.

Visitors pass through the globe on a 30-foot glass bridge, surrounded by a seven-minute audio-visual show of words, music, and LED lights to show how the world and ideas have changed over time. The Mapparium was originally built as part of the Christian Science Publishing Society building, and opened on June 1, 1935. Due to the size, concave, spherical walls, and hard surface, the Mapparium has unique acoustics that turn the room into a whispering gallery, where you can hear others across the room no matter which direction you are talking.

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Gibson House Museum

Gibson House Museum

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This popular historical attraction located in the heart of the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston is home to four floors of furniture, artifacts and decor that date back to the 1800s. Visitors can explore this popular attraction on guided tours that detail the life and times and the famous Gibson Family. The home is essentially untouched, making it the perfect place to see how early aristocratic Americans lived.

Travelers can venture through the formal dining room and learn about the Italian Renaissance style that’s evident throughout the home. The brownstone and red brick façade was designed by the iconic architect Edward Clarke Cabot and remains one of the city’s most pristine nods to a long gone era of a life gilded in family heirlooms and European style.

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Samuel Adams Boston Brewery

Samuel Adams Boston Brewery

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For more than 30 years, no beer has been as synonymous with the city of Boston as Sam Adams, named after the well-known patriot who played a critical role in the Boston Tea Party and American Revolution.

For a real taste–literally and figuratively–of Boston, a visit to the Sam Adams Brewery is a must. The brewery is among the city's most popular attractions for both beer-loving tourists and locals. Learn about the general history of beer-making and the brewing process, as well as what makes Sam Adams unique. Visitors can sample raw ingredients along the way and gain an appreciation for the materials involved.

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Haymarket Boston

Haymarket Boston

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Otis House

Otis House

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The Otis House Museum is actually a mansion, the last surviving one, in Bowdoin Square. This West End property was named for Harrison Gray Otis, a Federalist lawyer and politician. There are actually three Harris Gray Otis Houses in Boston, all of which were built by the noted architect Charles Bulfinch. The first, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1796 and was inspired by a William Bingham house from Philadelphia. Owned by the Historic New England organization, this one now operates as a museum.

The house is a look into the lavish lifestyle of Otis and his wife Sally. Otis made his fortune developing Beacon Hill, was a representative in Congress and then later became mayor of Boston. The home’s design is reflective of the Federal style, which Bulfinch introduced to Boston.

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Mary Baker Eddy Library

Mary Baker Eddy Library

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Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) was a 19th century American author, poet, teacher and founder of Christian Science, and this library, research center and museum gives visitors the chance to take a glimpse into her life. This inspiring New England woman achieved many things during her lifetime and was a pioneer in many fields from business to publishing, education and women’s rights, especially during a time when women had very little power or voice to be heard.

At the Mary Baker Eddy Library you’ll learn more about this remarkable woman through exhibits, collections and a library, which is home to “one of the largest collections by and about an American woman.” While an attraction located in a Christian Science church might scare some off, the exhibits presented are interesting and informative, touching on an array of topics and issues.

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Boylston Street

Boylston Street

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Boylston Street is a popular dining and shopping area in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. It is always bustling with activity, and overflowing bars and restaurants make this a good spot to enjoy a lively evening. You can also taste everything from local seafood to international specialties in the area, or shop some of the most luxury fashion brands.

It was named for Ward Nicholas Boylston in the 18th century, but was known prior as both Frog Lane and Common Street. Many Boston landmarks can be found on Boylston Street, including the Boston Public Library and Public Garden, as well as Emerson College and the Berklee College of Music. It is the final stretch at the end of the Boston Marathon, and a small memorial for the victims of the bombings can be seen in remembrance of those who lost their lives.

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