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One of America’s oldest and most important cities, Boston intertwines quaint New England charm with well-preserved history. The Massachusetts state capital’s scenic and strategic location, where Boston Harbor meets the Charles River, imbues it with a natural beauty while keeping the city thriving economically for almost four centuries.
The bay, and the Atlantic Ocean from which it’s fed, shapes Boston’s seafood-focused culinary scene, and also keeps the city center small, making it an easy place to navigate; you can hardly walk a few blocks without running into historic Revolutionary War sites. But even squeezed into the peninsula, the city’s “Emerald Necklace,” with 1,100 acres of linked parks, holds plenty of wide open space. Meanwhile, Boston’s dozens of colleges and universities attract a sophisticated crowd that upholds the long traditions of cultural entities like the Boston Public Library and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Boston's compact nature makes getting to, from, and around the city very easy. Logan International Airport (BOS) welcomes flights from all over the world while also serving as a regional hub. You can take the T, as the local subway system is called, into the city from the airport, though there are plenty of rideshares, taxis, and shuttles, too. Renting a car is inadvisable because of both Boston’s famously terrible traffic and convenient transportation options, while the city’s small size makes it extremely walkable, helped further by a public bikeshare system. Acela high-speed trains serve Boston from destinations all along the Atlantic coast, as do Amtrak’s regular trains. Discount bus lines also connect to nearby cities.
Autumn in Boston paints the city in classic New England fall colors while threading the needle between hot, humid summer and chillingly cold winter. Late spring offers similarly pleasant weather, though the thaw from winter and slightly rainier months can turn things muddy. April’s marathon weekend, officially a state holiday called Patriots’ Day, draws huge crowds on the third Monday of the month. Average low temperatures in the winter rarely climb above freezing, but armed with plenty of warm clothing, you can take advantage of the off-season to visit high-traffic tourist sites without the crowds. Warm days with humidity make Boston summers sticky, but staying close to the many waterways around the city will help you stay cool.
The country’s oldest city park remains a jewel of public space in downtown Boston. Its 50 historic acres began as communal grazing grounds for livestock, then hosted British soldiers in the Revolutionary War. The park now offers open greenspace, lined with trees and dotted with fountains and statues, forming the southern terminus of the Freedom Trail, and bordering the stunning Boston Public Garden.
Where Boston’s Freedom Trail gives you a window into the city’s role in the Revolutionary War, this lesser-known but equally important 1.6-mile walk shows off what happened next. Take one of the free guided tours that tells the story of Boston’s large free Black community between the Revolutionary and Civil wars through 14 national historic sites, including the African Meeting House, built in 1806 and the oldest surviving Black church in the United States.
Boston’s harbor and rivers have shaped the city, so seeing it from the water offers the best way to both learn about and enjoy it. Choose from one of the many harbor tours, scenic sunset excursions, and fascinating architecture cruises offered to visitors, or rent a boat to paddle the Charles River or sail to the Harbor Islands.