Boston Duck Tours
You’ve seen Boston by land, and possibly by sea, but have you seen it by land and sea? The Boston Duck Tours are your opportunity to do so as you board one of the unique amphibious vehicles that were restored from World War II military equipment used to deliver men and cargo on ground or water. The vehicles operated under the code name “DUKW,” hence the tour’s name.
When you embark on an 80-minute Duck Tour, a conDUCKtor will welcome you aboard your journey, which will take you by all of Boston’s major historic and modern landmarks, including the State House, Bunker Hill, the Newbury Street shopping district, the Boston Common, and others. You will then drive directly into the Charles River for a view of the Boston and Cambridge skylines that you can’t get from anywhere else. Your guide will offer a running commentary of the sights and sounds of Boston throughout your journey. The Duck Tours run from late March until December. Rates are: Adults: $42.10 (Internet rate $37.10); Seniors, Military, and Students: $31.85; Children: $26.45; and under 3: $5.95.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Historic Faneuil Hall, nicknamed “the Cradle of Liberty,” which has served as a marketplace and meeting hall since 1742, continues to host classical concerts and Boston City debates. In the same area is the early 19th century Quincy Market building, which was fully restored in 1976 and is now one of the most popular tourist and local attractions in the city. The indoor marketplace houses more than 100 shops and restaurants featuring American fare and ethnic foods from around the world. On the cobblestone promenade outside the building, trees are lit with sparkling white lights year-round as a fleet of pushcarts showcase the wares of New England craftsmen and artisans, while street performers put on their own version of “America’s got talent” for the crowd. Throngs of downtown workers frequent Quincy Marketplace at lunch and dinner time and 19 million people visit the Faneuil Hall area every year.
The Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden is, on a miniature scale, what Central Park is to New York City – a place of green respite amid the hubbub of a big city. Designated as a national historic landmark in 1987, the Garden’s life-size historic statues, fountains, lake, frog pond (frozen for ice skating in the winter) and foot-pedaled 19th century Swan Boats (made famous in Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings,”) are sights worth seeing if you’re visiting Boston at any time of year. Locals and tourists bring picnic baskets to the 24-acre park, which is located in the middle of the city’s skyscrapers, businesses and theater district and joggers and walkers enjoy the paved pathways that wind through the landscape. If you are a gardening enthusiast, put this destination on your “must see” list as it is home to a huge array of native and imported trees ranging from majestic redwoods to weeping willows, as well as a stunning array of annual and perennial flowers that bloom from mid-spring until early fall. Come and sit on one of the benches to feed the birds, or bring a blanket and soak in the natural beauty of the landscape.
Whether you’re a diehard sports fan or simply a history buff, the home of the Boston Red Sox should be tops on your list of places to see in the city of Boston. Located in the Kenmore Square area, Fenway Park is the oldest major league baseball stadium that is presently in use. Opening for its first game on April 20, 1912, the park has hosted sell-out crowds for every one of its home games since May of 2003. The team has won the World Series seven times but despite a championship dry spell of more than 80 years, the spirit of its fans is never daunted. The park celebrated its centennial last year, although it was not a great season for the Red Sox. If you can get tickets to one of the home games, you can sit in the famous “Green Monster” section, be pampered in a luxury box, or simply hover at the top of the bleachers where “standing room only” fans can watch the action on the field. It doesn’t matter much where you sit, because you will still get the feel of America’s favorite pastime, amid the smell of roasted peanuts, hawkers yelling “Get your Coca Cola” and the strains of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” on the park’s speakers before the bottom of the 8th inning. From the hot dog vendors on Yawkey Way to the red seat in the right field bleachers that marks the longest home run in Fenway history, you’ll be glad you went to the ballgame, and you just might not care if you ever go home. One-hour tours of Fenway Park are available year-round.
New England Aquarium
This largest aquatic display of marine animals in the six New England states attracts 1.3 million visitors a year since opening its doors on June 20, 1969. The aquarium houses an IMAX theater, penguin, otter and sea lion exhibits, and a 200,000 gallon ocean tank simulating a coral reef that provides visitors with a close-up look at sea turtles brilliantly colored tropical fish, giant moray eels, stingrays and sharks. A hands-on “Edge of the Sea” tide pool area allows children to touch and feel sea stars, snails and hermit crabs. The aquarium is open year-round and operates its own whale watch from April through November. You can even view a harbor seal exhibit in front of the building free of charge. Admission to the New England Aquarium is $19.95 for adults, $14.95 for children 3-11, and $17.95 for seniors. Tickets for the IMAX theatre range from $6.95 to $9.95.
The Freedom Trail
Lace up your sneakers and set out to explore Revolutionary era Boston on the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail. The walking tour begins at the Boston Common and travels up the hill to the golden domed Massachusetts State House. You will follow your guide past the Park Street Church, which was famous as the site where William Lloyd Garrison gave the first public speech denouncing slavery. Next to the church is the Old Granary Burial Ground where you can search for such in-house residents as John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere. Then it’s on to the oldest cemetery in Boston – King’s Chapel and Burying Ground where you can find the graves of some famous historical figures including the first Bay State Governor, John Winthrop, and Paul Revere, the horseman who assisted Revere in warning the Minutemen that the “British are coming!”
If you don’t tire easily, you can continue along the Freedom Trail to the site of the first public school in the nation, established in 1635, and past the statue of Benjamin Franklin in front of Old City Hall. Other landmarks along the trail include the 1718 Old Corner Bookstore, the Old South Meeting House, the site of the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House, Old North Church, the USS Constitution, the Old State House, the Bunker Hill Monument and Copps Hill Burying Ground. The Freedom Trail is a unique walk through history, and you won’t want to miss it whether you live here or are just passing through.
Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA)
Showcasing more than 450,000 works of art, the MFA is one of the largest fine art museums in the Americas hosting more than a million visitors a year. The museum opened its doors in Copley Square on July 4, 1876 with under 6,000 pieces in its first collection. In 1909 the museum relocated to its current location on Huntington Avenue and since then numerous expansions and renovations have made the building an ever-evolving work of art in itself. In 2006, the museum broke ground on its Art of the Americas Wing which now exhibits works from North, South, and Central America. The numerous collections of the MFA include its famous ancient Egyptian artifact exhibit, paintings of the French impressionist masters, the portraits of John Singer Sargent, Gilbert Stuart, and other 18th and 19th century American artists, imperial Chinese artwork and a Japanese collection, which is larger than any of its kind outside of Japan. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits, such as the one focusing on the culture of Samurai warriors, which will run at the MFA this summer. Visit www.mfa.org for more details.