Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Boston Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Boston

The capital of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States which played a key role in the country's struggle for independence. The city was founded in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England and witnessed many events of the American Revolution, including the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. Upon gaining U.S. independence from Great Britain, Boston thrived as a major port and manufacturing hub, as well as a center for education and culture.

Home to many of America's firsts, such as the first public park (Boston Common, 1634) and the first public/state school (Boston Latin School, 1635), as well as many other historical attractions like the Freedom Trail, Boston lures history buffs and tourists in their numbers, seeing annually more than 20 million visitors.

If you're one of these 20 million and wish to follow in the footsteps of Boston's heroes, see memorials to the world-changing events and, generally, make the most of your time in Boston, take this self guided orientation walk and explore some of the most prominent sights of the city!
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Boston Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Boston Introduction Walk
Guide Location: USA » Boston (See other walking tours in Boston)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: anna
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Boston Common
  • Nichols House Museum
  • New Massachusetts State House
  • Park Street Church
  • Granary Burying Ground
  • King's Chapel
  • Benjamin Franklin Statue
  • Irish Famine Memorial
  • Old State House
  • Boston City Hall
  • New England Holocaust Memorial
  • Faneuil Hall Marketplace
  • Paul Revere House
  • Hanover Street in North End
  • Old North Church
Boston Common

1) Boston Common (must see)

Boston Common (also known as "the Common") is a central public park in Boston and the oldest city park in the United States, established in 1634. Spread across 50 acres of land, it forms part of the Emerald Necklace of parks and parkways extended from the Common south to Franklin Park in Roxbury, and is open to use for formal or informal gatherings. Events such as concerts, protests, softball games, and ice skating are commonplace at the Common. Famous individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II have made speeches here, and Judy Garland gave her largest ever concert in the park on August 31, 1967.

One of the key highlights here is the Brewer Fountain – a gift to the city from Gardner Brewer in 1868. The fountain is made of bronze and set in a stone basin. The four figures around the base are Neptune - the Roman God of the sea, Amphitrite - one of Neptune's wives, Acis - the son of a river-nymph, and Galatea - Neptune's beloved sea-nymph.

Why You Should Visit:
To get broader insight into the history of the area and the US.

Just wander through and soak up the atmosphere of typically Bostonian life... This won't cost you a dime and if the sun shines, what could possibly be better?
In the winter, you can also go ice skating outdoors, at the Frog Pond. It may be crowded there, but good time is still guaranteed.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6:30am-11pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Nichols House Museum

2) Nichols House Museum (must see)

Beacon Hill is the most exclusive area of Boston and if you want to know about how its upper-class residents lived between the 19th and early 20th centuries, you can visit the Nichols House Museum to find out. The building was classified a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and really should be on your “must visit” list.

This museum is housed in one of the four-storey Federal-style terrace houses built on Mount Vernon Street in 1804 by Charles Bulfinch, a noted Boston architect. It became a museum in 1961 after the death of its owner, Rose Standish Nichols. Rose was the oldest daughter of Dr. Arthur Nichols who bought the house in 1885 for his family. She was also the first woman landscape designer in America, a pacifist and an active suffragette.

The house is elegantly decorated with 17th-19th century European and American furniture, European and Asian art, oriental rugs, Flemish tapestries and sculptures by the famous American 19th-century artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens. In the dining room, you will see fine examples of French faience from Lunéville, rare Chinese porcelain, and lacquered boxes. The wooden furniture dates back to the early 19th century and was made by Thomas Seymour, Isaac Vose, and J.R. Penniman.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place to get a glimpse of Beacon Hill's mansions from the inside. Plus, incredibly knowledgeable tour guides, and hardly anyone there!
Recommended for anybody interested in Bostonian history, antiques, textiles, preservation, family dynamics, or killing a little time (so, basically, everyone).

Take note, there is no air conditioning in the summer.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 11am-4pm (Apr-Oct); Thu-Sat: 11am-4pm (Nov-Mar)
Tours are offered on the hour and last 30-45 minutes. The last tour is at 4pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
New Massachusetts State House

3) New Massachusetts State House (must see)

Standing atop Beacon Hill in Boston is the New Massachusetts State House, seat of the government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts General Court and the offices of the State Governor. A wooden cod hanging on the wall inside the House of Republican chambers is called the “Sacred Cod” and represents the importance of fishing industry for Massachusetts.

The State House was built in 1798 to the design by Charles Bulfinch inspired by two buildings in London: Somerset House and the Pantheon. The magnificent dome was once covered in wood shingles, but it leaked, so they gave it a copper sheath and then covered with 23k gold-leaf. During WWII the dome was painted black to prevent its showing up in case of air-raids, and it cost the state a fortune to restore the original gold-leaf after the war. On top of the dome is a wooden pinecone to represent the importance of the logging industry. Found outside are several statues, including an equestrian statue of General Joseph Hooker; the statesman Daniel Webster; Horace Mann, considered to be father of the “normal school” movement; J.F. Kennedy; Anne Hutchinson, a staunch advocate of religious freedom and rights for women; and Mary Dyer, one of the Boston Martyrs who was hanged for being a Quaker in spite of a Puritan law forbidding Quakers in the city.

Why You Should Visit:
The building is open to the public free of charge, though you'll need to pass through security first.
To see the (many) grand halls and chambers where the legislators convene to debate & pass laws.
Magnificent architecture and artwork – large rotundas, grand staircases, marble sculptures and massive paintings.

If you come at the right time, you can have a guided tour through the building.
A self-guided tour is fine too, as there are pamphlets which explain the significance of the various rooms and monuments.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Park Street Church

4) Park Street Church (must see)

The Park Street Church (built 1810) is an active Conservative Congregational Church in Boston standing at the corner of Tremont Street and Park Street. The church's steeple rises to 217 feet and remains a landmark visible from several Boston neighborhoods. The steeple is seen as the terminus of both Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street, two of Boston's radial avenues.

The temple is adjacent to the historic Granary Burying Ground. The cornerstone of the church was laid on May 1, 1810 and construction was completed by the end of the year, under the guidance of Peter Banner (architect), Benajah Young (chief mason) and Solomon Willard (woodcarver). Banner took inspiration from several early pattern books, and his design is reminiscent of a London church by Christopher Wren. The church became known as "Brimstone Corner", in part because of the missionary character of its preaching, and in part because of the storage of gunpowder during the War of 1812.

Why You Should Visit:
Considering the size of numerous modern skyscrapers and tall buildings across the U.S., it is interesting to think that, back in the early years, this was the tallest building in the country.
Worth walking by to admire the architecture.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Granary Burying Ground

5) Granary Burying Ground (must see)

Founded in 1660, the Granary Burying Ground is the third-oldest cemetery in Boston. Located on Tremont Street, it is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War-era patriots, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence, Paul Revere and the five victims of the Boston Massacre. The cemetery's Egyptian revival gate and fence were designed by Boston architect Isaiah Rogers (1810-1849), who designed an identical gate for Newport's Touro Cemetery.

Prominently displayed in the Burying Ground is an obelisk erected in 1827 to the parents and relatives of Benjamin Franklin who was born in Boston and is buried in Philadelphia. The oldest memorial in the yard lies near the Franklin monument memorializing John Wakefield, aged 52, who died 18 June 1667. Why there is a seven-year gap between the establishment of the burying ground and the oldest memorial is unknown.

Why You Should Visit:
This is, of course, unique to Boston. As you may recall, Boston was one of the earliest settlements in the "New World", and you won't see headstones and burial rows, like the ones here, anywhere else.

A tour guide would be worth it to show you straight to the more notable graves here.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
King's Chapel

6) King's Chapel (must see)

King's Chapel is an independent Christian Unitarian congregation affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association that is "Unitarian Christian in theology, Anglican in worship, and congregational in governance." It is housed in what was formerly called the "Stone Chapel", an 18th-century structure at the corner of Tremont Street and School Street in Boston. The chapel building, completed in 1754, is one of the finest designs of the noted colonial architect Peter Harrison and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 for its architectural significance.

Inside, the church is characterized by wooden columns with Corinthian capitals that were hand-carved by William Burbeck and his apprentices in 1758. The current uniform appearance of the pews dates from the 1920s. Music has long been an important part of King's Chapel, which acquired its first organ in 1723. The present organ, the sixth installed in the Chapel, was built by C. B. Fisk in 1964. The local burying ground is the site of the graves of many historic figures.

Why You Should Visit:
Another example of a historically relevant edifice in the heart of Boston.
Architecturally speaking, it is simple, yet the craft of the details is exceptional.

Entry into the church is free; however, donations are accepted at the front entrance.
They offer a couple of tours (Bells & Bones + Art & Architecture) for a fee – take them!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm (Apr-Oct); Fri, Sat, Mon: 10am-4pm; Sun: 1:30-4pm (Nov-Mar)
Sight description based on wikipedia
Benjamin Franklin Statue

7) Benjamin Franklin Statue (must see)

In front of the old City Hall, on the spot where the original Boston Latin School once stood, you will find the Benjamin Franklin Statue.

The 8-foot bronze statue was executed by Richard S. Greenough and put in place in 1856. It was the first statue of a human to be placed in any city in America. A lot of people think that Benjamin Franklin was President of the United States, but in fact, although he was one of the Founding Fathers, a statesman, diplomat and the Ambassador to France, he was never a president.

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston in 1706 and his father, who wanted him to become a clergyman, sent him to the Latin School. He didn’t finish his schooling and went to work for his brother who had a printing press. Franklin began to publish his own articles and moved into the field of politics, where he was a staunch advocate for the abolition of slavery and the protection of Native American rights. He was the only person to have signed all four of the most important documents in American History: the Declaration of Independence, the Alliance with France Treaty, the Peace with Great Britain Treaty, and the Constitution of the United States.

Benjamin Franklin was also a scientist; in 1749 he invented the lightning rod. In his role as a statesman, Franklin formed the 1st public lending library and the 1st fire department in Pennsylvania.

The statue would probably have better light for photographing in the morning, but you'd still manage to get a decent photo in the afternoon as well.
Ruth's Chris Steak House is right there, so if you're a meat eater, that is a good place to stop, but be forewarned – there are many many more historic restaurants further down the Freedom Trail.
Irish Famine Memorial

8) Irish Famine Memorial

Drifting along the Boston Freedom Trail you will come across a small park where you find the Irish Famine Memorial. It comprises two sets of statues, one of a mother, father and son obviously weak and ill, in attitudes of despair and supplication; and the second is of (perhaps) the same family – well-dressed, well-fed and wearing hopeful expressions. Eight plaques around the statues tell the sad story of how this memorial came to be erected in 1998.

In 1845 a series of catastrophes in Ireland led to a five year period of famine, poverty and disease. It began with the failure of potato crops, which were the main source of income and food for many Irish families. The English Administrators did little or nothing to help the people and food became perilously scarce. As more and more families succumbed to mal-nutrition, disease began to spread. Hunger and sickness killed over a million people and over 2 million fled the country, most of them crossing the Atlantic and arriving in America.

About 200,000 Irish refugees settled in Boston, living in appalling conditions of poverty in the insalubrious waterfront area of Boston’s North End. Luckily, the Irish are optimistic folk, and their will to live and to make a better life for their children paid off and they began to prosper. As Boston is considered the Irish capital of America, it is only fitting that such a memorial should be raised here to remind future generations that nothing is gained without a struggle.
Old State House

9) Old State House (must see)

The Old State House is a historic building, renowned for hosting the first elected legislature in the New World. Standing at the intersection of Washington and State Streets, it dates to 1713, which makes it the oldest public edifice in the city. Today it houses a history museum run by the Bostonian Society. Here, visitors can learn about the people and the events that have shaped the history of Boston, colony, state, and the whole of the United States.

The museum's exhibits occupy two floors and explain the role of the building, and that of the city of Boston, in the American Revolution. Also on display are collections of the Bostonian Society. Among the most notable exhibits is tea from the Boston Tea Party and John Hancock's coat. Visitors can hear testimony from the Boston Massacre trial; see Boston harbor paintings and other memorable items. Families with kids will enjoy hands-on history galleries with interactive exhibits on the 2nd floor.

Why You Should Visit:
An integral part of the Freedom Trail, it really is worth your while reading all that pervades this building, even if you decide not to enter.
They have an extensive gift shop, however, and you can pay for a 30 to 40-minute tour/talk outside about the Boston massacre.

To save money, there is a combo ticket that includes this, the Old South Meeting House, and Paul Revere's House.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm (Memorial Day - Labor Day closes at 6pm)
Closed at 3pm on Christmas Eve Day
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas & New Year's Days
Boston City Hall

10) Boston City Hall (must see)

Boston City Hall has been sparking furious debates about architecture for the last forty years and you really should go and have a look at the building to see what all the fuss is about.

Built in 1969 by architects Kallman McKinnell and Knowles, this is the seat of the Boston Municipal Government. The lowest portion is partially built into the hillside and houses the public department of the city government. The central portion is where the mayor and city council have their offices and the council chambers. The upper floors are given over to the administration and planning department offices. It’s a labyrinth of corridors, stairways and offices and has been condemned as space wasting and energy unfriendly.

The building is in the 'Brutalist' style, an off-shoot of the modernist architectural movement. Le Corbusier was a follower of this style and it’s true that the city hall greatly resembles the monastery he designed in La Tourette. "Brutalist" comes from the French "beton brut", literally "rough" or "unadorned" concrete, an idea of Le Corbusier. A lot of modernist architecture is very eye-catching, and the city hall is certainly that, but whether in a good or bad way is still at the center of argument.

Free admission through security (be ready for a bag check & metal detector) – explore it!
The City Hall plaza with the cool BOSTON sign is well worth checking out as well.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
New England Holocaust Memorial

11) New England Holocaust Memorial (must see)

The New England Holocaust Memorial is dedicated to the Jews killed in the Holocaust during World War II. Designed by Stanley Saitowitz and erected in 1995, the memorial consists of six glass towers that the visitor can walk under. Engraved on the towers are six million numbers that symbolize the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

There are also random messages on the towers. Underneath the towers, steam rises up through metal grates from a dark floor with twinkling lights on it. Each tower symbolizes a different major concentration camp (Majdanek, Chełmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, Bełżec, and Auschwitz-Birkenau), but can also be taken for menorah candles, the six million killed, and the six years that the mass extermination took place throughout 1939-1945. The New England Holocaust Memorial is located near the Freedom Trail, and is only a few steps off the trail, making it a popular tourist attraction.

Why You Should Visit:
Some Holocaust memorials are very evocative while some are not. This one in Boston is excellent.
It's a really nice spot near the North End and Haymarket and they have done well at building something memorable and powerful.

Walk slowly through it and try to read as much as you can allow yourself. Do not walk around this – it needs to be walked through.

Opening Hours:
Open daily 24 hours.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Faneuil Hall Marketplace

12) Faneuil Hall Marketplace (must see)

Not far from the waterfront and the Government Centre is a large marketplace comprising Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, North Market and South Market, set around a cobblestone promenade.

Faneuil Hall was built in 1742 and given to the city as a gift from Peter Fan, a rich Bostonian merchant. On the cupola of the hall, you can see a grasshopper weather-vane which was placed there in 1745. The open ground floor of the hall was an indoor market place, frequented by merchants, fishermen, and meat and produce sellers.

It quickly became a favorite place for famous orators. It was in this hall that colonists first protested against the “Sugar Act” in 1764 and established the “No taxation without representation” slogan, which was the basis of the War for Independence. The hall is called the “Cradle of Liberty”.

Today the market is full of shops and restaurants and is a great place to stop for lunch or just for a drink. The venue is very popular with street players, jugglers, magicians and musicians, so you will be entertained while having your meal. The first floor of the hall is a meeting hall for debating societies, and the second floor is occupied by the Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company.

Why You Should Visit:
Delightful and archetypal Bostonian area in that it's smart, classy, relaxed, friendly, clean and inviting.
You can't go wrong here and the best thing about it is the co-location with so much else that's impressive.

Be sure to check out the grasshopper weather-vane on top of the building, once used to spot spies during the War of 1812!
Also, check out the inlay showing the original shoreline and long dock in the front plaza – very cool.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Paul Revere House

13) Paul Revere House (must see)

The Paul Revere House (1680) is the colonial home of American patriot Paul Revere during the time of the American Revolution. A prominent Boston industrialist, Revere is best known for his midnight ride to alert the colonial militia in April 1775 to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord. He also helped organize an intelligence and alarm system to keep watch on the British military.

His house is located at 19 North Square, in Boston's North End, and is now operated as a nonprofit museum by the Paul Revere Memorial Association. In April 1908, the house opened its doors to the public as one of the earliest historic house-museums in the United States.

Despite the substantial renovation process which returned the house to its conjectured appearance around 1700, 90 percent of the structure (including two doors, three window frames, and portions of the flooring, foundation, inner wall material and raftering) is original to 1680, though none of the window glass is original. Its heavy beams, large fireplaces, and absence of interior hallways are typical of colonial living arrangements. The two chambers upstairs contain several pieces of furniture believed to have belonged to the Revere family.

Why You Should Visit:
Seemingly in excellent condition and, although with only four rooms to see, providing a good sense of the style and scale of homes back in the 1700s. It's a short house tour but the knowledgeable staff will answer questions you may have regarding Paul Revere and/or his house.

Entrance is $5 per person and they only accept cash, so make sure to have some on hand if you're interested in seeing this historic house.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-4:15pm (Nov 1 - Apr 14); 9:30am-5:15pm (Apr 15 - Oct 31)
Closed on Mondays in January, February, and March
Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hanover Street in North End

14) Hanover Street in North End (must see)

Established in the 1660s, North End is the oldest residential area of Boston. Home to the European-American community, predominantly of Italian origin, this small (only 0.36 square miles = 0.93 km2) neighborhood is renowned for its delicious Italian cuisine. Small as it is, the district nonetheless has its own “Fifth Avenue’’ analogue in the form of Hanover Street packed with nearly one hundred establishments and a variety of tourist attractions. Strolling down this street and its side alleys, seeing it narrow and widen again, and then parking yourself at a cafe for a cup of original cappuccino is ideal for those seeking to soak up the area's atmosphere!

Why You Should Visit:
This is the part of central Boston where they have all the main historic elements that relate to Paul Revere and his historically significant life.
There are lots of things to see and read. You can have an enjoyable, rewarding and educational experience for the whole family in wandering around this area without enduring a financial cost.

You can undertake a tour of North End as part of an overall Freedom Trail experience – and that's FREE as well.
Make reservations if you plan to eat between 5pm and 8pm in one of the many great restaurants in the area, as it is busy with locals and tourists.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Old North Church

15) Old North Church (must see)

Old North Church (officially, Christ Church in the City of Boston), at 193 Salem Street in the North End of Boston, is the oldest active church in the city and a National Historic Landmark. Built in 1723, it was inspired by the works of Christopher Wren, the British architect who was responsible for rebuilding London after the Great Fire.

A seminal location in American history, this is where the "One if by land, and two if by sea" lanterns shone, and from where Paul Revere's ride signaled the coming invasion of British soldiers into the city and marked the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Individual visitors may wish to go inside this red brick church, the oldest in Boston, to hear more about the role of the church on that famous night in April 1775, learn about the church's history, and actually climb the stairs in the steeple (additional fee).

More recent history is reflected in a most unusual War Memorial for American soldiers who had lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (or the so-called "wars on terror"). Dog tags for each soldier who had lost his life had been hung on a chain in 15 rows, acting as wind chimes when the breezes blow across the church grounds. In addition, a small bronze wreath of poppies was set on a pedestal placed in a rock garden in front of the dog tags to commemorate soldiers who also had fought for the British and the Commonwealth forces.

Inside the church is a bust of George Washington, which the Marquis de Lafayette reportedly remarked as the best likeness of him he'd ever seen.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed-Sat: 9am-6pm (Apr-Oct); Mon, Wed-Sat: 10am-4pm (Nov-Mar)
The church is closed to visitors on Tuesday

Walking Tours in Boston, Massachusetts

Create Your Own Walk in Boston

Create Your Own Walk in Boston

Creating your own self-guided walk in Boston is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Boston Shopping Areas

Boston Shopping Areas

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Historical Cambridge and Harvard University Walking Tour

Historical Cambridge and Harvard University Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Bunker Hill Walking Tour

Bunker Hill Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
North End Food Tour

North End Food Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.8 Km or 0.5 Miles
North End Walking Tour

North End Walking Tour

The North End was the city's first neighborhood, and one that has been key to its fortunes. Known as Boston's Little Italy, it has been home to Italian immigrants through much of the 20th century, and still retains an European flavor in its many restaurants, cafés, and specialty shops. This neighborhood is one of those where it's easy to get lost, so take this self-guided walk to...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Boston Churches Walking Tour

Boston Churches Walking Tour

Boston's many great churches are among the most precious of the city's numerous architectural jewels. What makes these artworks special are their unique styles, elegant facades and long history. Take this self guided walk to witness these architectural wonders of Boston.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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