Photo Credit: Boston Harborfest/Facebook

Boston Harborfest
45 School St # B
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 227-1528

Dates: June 28 to July 4

With more than 200 activities planned for the 31st Boston Harborfest, this year’s week-long, family-friendly festival promises to live up to its proud reputation as the nation’s largest patriotic celebration. The Harborfest’s historic tradition looks to be as big as ever this year. At its waterfront venues the city will commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 with the USS Constitution and visiting foreign maritime vessels and ships taking center stage during a Parade of Ships in Boston Harbor June 30. Other events will include a Chowderfest, historical reenactments, walking tours, sunset harbor cruises and free noontime concerts on City Hall Plaza. More than half of the Harborfest events are free, and based on last year’s attendance, they will likely attract more than two million visitors.

75 State Street Garage 
75 State St.
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 443-2817

The 75 State Street Garage is conveniently located within walking distance of most of the Harborfest venues and related tourist attractions, including Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Quincy Market, the Freedom Trail and the waterfront. Take the Green Line to Government Center, the Blue or Orange Line to State, or the Orange or Red Line to Downtown Crossing for proximity to most of the week’s events.

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Scavenger Hunt: Where the Boston Tea Party Began
Old South Meeting House

310 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 482-6439

Hours: June 28 – 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; June 29 and July 1 – 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: $1 to $6/free 18 and younger

As a venue for free speech since 1773, the Old South Meeting House played a major role in the events leading up to the Revolutionary War. It is best known as the place where thousands of outraged colonists met to vent their anger over the British tax on tea. Participants of all ages will enjoy this special scavenger hunt at the museum, where they’ll be invited to search exhibits for clues as to what led to the infamous Boston Tea Party. Prizes will be awarded to everyone who successfully completes the hunt.

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Children’s Day
Boston City Hall Plaza

1 City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201
(617) 635-4500 or (617) 227-1528

Hours: June 29 – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Price: free

Bring the whole family to this amazing day of entertaining and educational activities for kids of all ages. In addition to face painting, a bubble machine, balloon art, juggling and seed planting, the National Park Service will exhibit flag craft, Old North Paper will showcase paper lantern craft, and the Otis House will demonstrate paper boat craft. Representatives from the New England Aquarium will be there with a sample tide pool, and the Boston Fire Department will escort kids on tours of one of its fire engines. Music and dance will fill the air, with performances by singer-songwriter Wayne Potash and the Music Fun Band, and members of the Eleanor Rubino Dance Academy. Take the Blue or Green line to Government Center for this event.

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Tall Ships Viewing on the Schooner Liberty Clipper
Boston’s Central Wharf
(north of New England Aquarium)
(617) 742-0333

Dates: June 30 to July 4
Price: $35 to $150

Related: Guide To Boston Tall Ships Visit, War Of 1812 Bicentennial

The international sea parade of Tall Ships arrives in Boston Harbor late June 29, and there’s no better vantage point from which to see them up close than the 125-foot-tall schooner Liberty Clipper. Take advantage of seafaring options including daytime sightseeing sails around the harbor to observe the Tall Ships in their docks, a 3.5-hour Tall Ship brunch tour, or a rum and revolution sail that features booze and crew members costumed in colonial garb regaling passengers with tales and songs of Boston’s revolution from a rummer’s perspective. Better still, sail out to the Harbor Islands on the 4th of July for a cookout and viewing of the Boston Pops and the fireworks display. Take the Blue line to Aquarium Station for this event.

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Annual Chowderfest
Boston City Hall Plaza
1 City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201
(617) 635-4500 or (617) 227-1528

Hours: July 1 – 11 a.m. to  6 p.m.
Price: $8 kids/$12 adults

Some of the Boston area’s best restaurants will vie for the coveted title of best chowder maker, and you’ll be the judge. Visitors should bring their appetites — they’ll have an opportunity to sample generous dollops of creamy New England clam chowder from several vendors before choosing their favorite. More than 2,000 gallons of the stuff were ladled out during last year’s festivities and this year promises to be even better. Last year’s champion, Clancy’s, will be back to defend its title. Other competitors will include Scholar’s American Bistro and Four Green Fields.

Related: Best Clam Chowder in Boston

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Concert Series
Boston City Hall Plaza
1 City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201
(617) 635-4500 or (617) 227-1528

Dates: June 29 to July 3
Price: Free

This year’s Harborfest concert series offers something for almost every musical taste. It kicks off Friday with one of last year’s favorites, The Baha Brothers, who’ll play classic beach rock from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The all-female pop group, Girls Nite Out, will be onstage on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m., followed by Disco Inferno, a nine-piece ’70s dance band that will play disco and funk tunes for the twilight set during a Party on the Plaza from 6 to 9 p.m. On Monday afternoon, the local alternative rock band, Mission Hill, will perform from noon to 3 p.m. followed by Boston’s classic rock group, Element 78, who’ll play from 4:30 to 7 p.m. On Tuesday, dance to the beat of The Town Hall Blues Band, a sextet who will mix it up with jazz and blues from noon to 3 p.m. The series concludes with the Mudhook quartet, which will take the stage from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. playing traditional ballads and shanties and contemporary songs of the sea.

Faneuil Hall

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Faneuil Hall Marketplace
200-299 Quincy Market Place
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 523-1300

Just a short walk from the Old South Meeting House and Boston City Hall, where many of the Boston Harborfest events will take place, Faneuil Hall Marketplace offers 14 restaurants and pubs, including CheersDurgin-Park and McCormick & Scmick’s, as well as 36 international food vendors inside of the Quincy Market Colonnade, New England’s largest food hall.

Related: Boston’s Best Family Friendly Dining with Adult Appeal

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Harborside Inn
185 State St.
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 723-7500

Price: $229 to $269

Just steps from the Freedom Trail, across the street from Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market, and minutes from Boston’s waterfront, the Harborside Inn is an ideal location for travelers who want to be able to walk to most of the Harborfest venues. The hotel offers free high-speed wireless Internet, newspapers, morning coffee and a free library of HBO movies.

40 Berkeley
40 Berkeley St.
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 375-2524

Price: $90 to $280

If you’re don’t mind taking the T to most of the Harborfest venues, you might enjoy staying at 40 Berkeley, Boston’s upscale, but affordable, hostel. Its standard full, double, triple and quad rooms have shared baths (women’s and men’s on each floor) and no TV, while the deluxe suites, which can sleep up to four, have a private bath and TV. All guests receive a complimentary full buffet breakfast and access to free wireless Internet throughout the building.

Maureen Harmonay wears many hats. She is a real estate agent who specializes in country estates, antique homes, and horse properties in the metrowest suburbs of Boston. With certifications in Feng Shui and as an Eco-Broker, she is keenly attuned to how energy affects the health of a home and its occupants, both humans and pets. Her work can be found at