Patriots Day in Boston is fast approaching, which also means one of the most famous and oldest annual marathons will also take place. Held on the third Monday of April, the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 20 is expected to draw approximately 30,000 race participants and 500,000 spectators along the legendary 26.2-mile course. If you’re heading to Boston to attend or participate in the 199th edition of the race, but are unfamiliar with what to do, use this handy guide to the best of what to see and do in one of America’s most prominent cities.
Boston Marathon participants and others attending the race have already made their travel plans or are already in the city, but if you are planning a trip to Boston later this year, here are some travel options.
Travelers flying into Boston will arrive at Logan International Airport in the East Boston neighborhood a few miles from the center of town. Upon arrival, travelers have a number of transportation options to reach Boston including car rentals, hotel shuttles, taxis, subway service via Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) or a number of bus services like the Logan Express.
Boston’s largest and primary transportation hub is South Station, conveniently located in downtown Boston. Amtrak, Greyhound and MBTA’s bus, subway and commuter rail all provide transportation services here, with convenient eateries and other businesses also on site.
Most out of town visitors will reach Boston via Interstate Highways 90 or 93 or U.S. Route 1. Motorists will likely encounter some of the toll roads in Boston – The Massachusetts Turnpike, The Sumner Tunnel and The Ted Williams Tunnel. Smartphone users unfamiliar with Boston may want to use a navigation app such as Waze.
While registered runners for the Boston Marathon might not want to spend much time sightseeing until after the race, the best way to get around Boston is with public transportation, with service to the city’s most famous landmarks and attractions, including the Old North Church, USS Constitution, Fenway Park and Harvard Square. While the subway system is fast, inexpensive and efficient, it may be confusing to ride for some visitors. An easier way to see the sights is by taking one of the popular hop on-hop off trolley tours such as Old Town Trolley Tours Boston or Upper Deck Trolley Tours.
Links to recommendations for overnight accommodations, ranging from affordable hostels to five-star luxury hotels.
Budget: Hosteling International Boston, Backpackers Hostel and Pub, Friend Street Hostel, Red Roof Inn Framingham, Super 8 Motel Watertown/Cambridge
Where To Eat
A list of recommendations for dining, including the Union Oyster House, one of the oldest restaurants in America.
For visitors who only have a day or two to see Boston, Freedom Trail should be at the top of their list. The historic 2.5-mile trail leads to 16 of the city’s most historic sites, from Boston Common to the south and Bunker Hill to the north. Among the most famous sites include the Boston Massacre Site, Old State House, the Paul Revere House, Old North Church and the USS. Constitution.
The Old North Church is forever known as the location of the famous “One if by land, two if by sea” signal in 1775. Using one or two candlelit lanterns, this signal was used to alert the colonial militia of British troops and preceded Paul Revere’s midnight ride and the Revolutionary War. Founded in 1722, the Old North Church (also known as Christ Church) is Boston’s oldest surviving church and one of four church sites along the Freedom Trail.
Featuring two historically accurate replicas of ships used during the Boston Tea Party in 1773, the Boston Tea Party Ships is one of the city’s most popular family-friendly attractions. The leading attraction is located where the Boston Tea Party took place on December 16, 1773. The museum tour entertains visitors with a number of segments, including a tea party reenactment, a visit to the historic ships Beaver and Eleanor and a chance to view one of only two known tea chests from the Boston Tea Party that are still in existence.
Paul Revere House
The Paul Revere House is the oldest surviving house in Boston. This was the home of Paul Revere when he made his historic ride in 1775 from Boston to Lexington after being alerted by two lanterns at the Old North Church. The Paul Revere House and the adjacent Pierce/Hitchborn House are open to the public.
Founded in 1634, the 44-acre Boston Common is the oldest public park in the country. The central park serves Boston year round and has a number of attractions such as the Frog Pond and the Parkman Bandstand and historic monuments like the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial. The famous Original Cheers pub lies near the northwestern border of Boston Common.
First launched in 1797, the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat in the world. The historic naval ship was used most prominently during the War of 1812 when it earned its famous nickname “Old Ironsides.” The USS Constitution is open for on-board visits, as well as the USS Constitution Museum at the Charleston Naval Yard.
Not far from the USS Constitution is the Bunker Hill Monument, the northernmost section of the Freedom Trail. Managed by the National Parks Service, the monument lies on one of the sites of the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major battle of the Revolutionary War.
Located in the Dorchester neighborhood, the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum honors the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. The presidential library and museum holds seven permanent exhibits and among them are The Oval Office, The Briefing Room and The Kennedy Family.
Built in 1912, Fenway Park is the home of the Boston Red Sox and the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Also known as “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark,” Fenway Park has been host to some of the most famous ballgames in history, including Carlton Fish’s home run in the 1975 World Series and the game winning home run by David Ortiz in the 2004 AL Championship, which led the Red Sox to their first World Series Championship in 86 years. Public tours of Fenway Park are held during the offseason.
Located along the Freedom Trail and near the waterfront, Faneuil Hall has served as a marketplace and meeting hall since 1742. Today, the historic building is a prominent center for socializing, shopping and dining, with 14 restaurants and several international food vendors and more than 100 shops.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.