Cultural Walk in Boston, Boston (Self Guided)

Through Boston's many theaters, cinemas, museums, art galleries, and concert halls, you can discover another side to this great city. Some of these cultural venues date as far back as the beginning of the 20th Century, and how well a show is received by audiences here can often determine whether it will succeed on Broadway. Take our tour to see the best artistic parts of the city.
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Cultural Walk in Boston Map

Guide Name: Cultural Walk in Boston
Guide Location: USA » Boston (See other walking tours in Boston)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.7 km
Author: anna
Boston Opera House

1) Boston Opera House

Boston is a lively city, dedicated to the arts, with its many theatres and concerts halls. While you are in Boston why not take in a show at the Boston Opera House.

This performing arts venue was built in 1928 on the site of the old Boston Theatre; it was designed by Thomas W. Lamb and dedicated to Benjamin Franklin Keith, who was considered the father of vaudeville. The interior is quite splendid with marble columns and mirrored walls in the entrance and a marble staircase to the balconies. The auditorium is encircled on three sides by colonnades and has a wonderful Rococo domed ceiling.

The Opera House has had a rather chequered career. When it opened in 1928 it was a movie palace, showing films and live vaudeville shows. In 1929 it was taken over by the RKO Theatre Company and showed only films until the nineteen fifties.

In 1970 the building was bought by the Sacks Theatre Company, who continued to use it as a cinema, but a full house was rare and it closed down in 1979. In 1980 it was bought by the Sarah Cadwell Opera Company of Boston, but they didn’t have enough financial know-how to pay the high up keep expenses and taxes and they closed down in 1991.

Between 1991 and 1996 the opera house suffered extensive water damage in the auditorium. It was finally restored by a group of Bostonian businessmen and reopened its doors in 2004. Today it is the home of the Boston Ballet and it also hosts touring Broadway shows.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Colonial Theater

2) Colonial Theater

One of the most beautiful theatres in Boston is undoubtedly the Colonial Theatre, near Boston Common, built on the site of the former Boston Public Library.

The theatre opened its doors in 1900 with a magnificent performance of Ben Hur, where live horses were brought on stage for the chariot race. This assured its success and it remains the oldest theatre still operating in the city.

It was built by Clarence Blackhall and paid for by Frederick Lothrop Ames. No expense was spared and the walls of the vestibule were lined with Italian marble. The auditorium has ornate murals on the walls and frescoes of the Muses. The floor was a crescent design made of over 40,000 mosaic tiles. Three magnificent chandeliers hang from the golden ceiling. There are seats for 1700 theatre-goers.

In the nineteen nineties the theatre was renovated and modernised, with easier access for the disabled on the ground floor, but there is no lift for the balcony seats.

In spite of rumours about financial problems and threatened closure, the theatre is still open and you can take in a Broadway or a Pre-Broadway show on most days of the week.
Cutler Majestic Theater

3) Cutler Majestic Theater

If you are a theatre lover don’t miss taking in a show at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, the home base of the Boston Opera. This lovely building is a Boston Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

The theatre was built in 1903 by John Galen Howard, who had studied at the University of Beaux Arts in Paris. The Rococo style building has a fine terracotta façade and stained glass windows. The gold auditorium has cantilevered balconies and instead of the gas and candle fixtures Howard installed over 5000 “innovative” electric light fixtures.

The building was designed as an opera house and theatre, and in the nineteen twenties it hosted vaudeville shows. In the fifties, the heyday of films, it was transformed into a movie theatre and most of Howard’s lovely work was covered over.

The building eventually fell into disrepair and closed down. In 1983 it was bought by the Emerson College and a renovation of 20 years began. The theatre was carefully restored in its original style but with 21st century technology: heating, air-conditioning, modern acoustics and safety measures. Reopened in 2003 it holds 1200 seats with wheelchair access for the disabled. You can see a variety of performances here, from Emerson Student’s Theatre Group to operas and circus acts.
Wilbur Theater

4) Wilbur Theater

This theater, which was built by Clarence Blackall in 1913, has been listed in the National Historic Register since 1980. The venue has been home to Boston's Comedy Connection since 2008. The two-story brick building with Georgian and Federal Revival motifs, the Wilbur Theater is ranked more along the lines of a private residence than an ostentatious playhouse.
Newbury Fine Arts

5) Newbury Fine Arts

Newbury Fine Arts is a gallery on Newbury Street in Boston. Its owners, Robin and Anthony Parrella, had it opened out of love for and desire to display the fine works of art, much as for the purpose of educating people. Unlike Claude Monet who said, “People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love”, at Newbury Fine Arts they want collectors not just to love what they buy, but also to understand what it is, be it a $30 aquatint etching by French artist Charlotte Reine or a $30,000 piece by famous Liz Gribin. Gallery's expertise covers various media: mixed pastels, oil paintings, lithographs, serigraphs – you name it! At Newbury's they practice an informal approach that incites regular visitors to bring their friends and even children and grandchildren to the gallery. Newbury has been in business for decades, and some of its staff have worked here since the foundation.

Operation hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm; Sunday: 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Lanoue Fine Art

6) Lanoue Fine Art

Lanoue Fine Art is a gallery on Newbury Street, specialized in displaying the works of mid-career and seasoned contemporary artists who work in different media. Presented here collections comprise both representational and abstract works of painters, sculptors and printmakers, acknowledged both at home and abroad. Lanoue gives floor to original artists, whose manner of expression challenges conventional thinking and exceeds expectations in technique and formal execution. In business for more than twenty years, owner Susan Lanoue and the gallery's personnel pursue an objective of gathering artworks of integrity and lasting aesthetic value, for both established and emerging collectors.

Editor's note: The gallery will open at this location in May 2014.
Vose Galleries

7) Vose Galleries

Vose Galleries is the oldest family-owned art gallery in the United States. Since establishment in 1841, the Vose family has gained over 150 years of experience in art collecting, having passed through the hands of their six generations—down from father to son and now daughters—more than 34,000 works of art. Among these are specifically American realist paintings and works on paper dating from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. The gallery enjoys a well-deserved reputation for its expertise in the history, purchase and valuation of American art. Vose Galleries has participated in creation of numerous public and private collections: their paintings can be found in more than 150 museums across the U.S. In the fall of 2001, Vose Galleries opened a contemporary section, thus marking their return to dealing with living artists after an almost 40-year break.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Friday: 9:30 am - 5:30 pm; Saturday: 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Boston Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library

8) Boston Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library

The Mapparium, one of Boston's key landmarks, is a three-story high, 30-foot-wide stained glass globe that was built as part of The Mary Baker Eddy Library in 1931. Visitors to the Library can cross the glass bridge into the illuminated spherical space and see how ideas affect the world as we know it. Illuminated by a new lighting system, this huge globe showcases the world as it was more than 60 years ago, and highlights the new boundaries emerged over time. To reinforce the effect, the colossal 3D structure features an original, seven-minute presentation that combines words, music, and LED lighting set to illustrate the ideas that have penetrated time and space and subsequently reshaped the entire world.
Museum of Fine Arts

9) Museum of Fine Arts (must see)

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is one of the largest museums in the U.S., attracting over one million visitors a year. It contains over 450,000 works of art, making it one of the most comprehensive collections in the Americas. With more than one million visitors a year, it is the 60th most-visited art museum in the world as of 2017.

The museum was founded in 1870 and its current location dates to 1909. The museum's present building was commenced in 1907 when museum trustees hired architect Guy Lowell to create a master plan for a museum that could be built in stages as funding was obtained for each phase. The first section of Lowell’s neoclassical design was completed in 1909 and featured a 500-foot façade of cut granite along Huntington Avenue, the grand rotunda, and the associated exhibition galleries. The libraries at the Museum of Fine Arts house an extensive collection of 320,000 items.

Why You Should Visit:
The featured exhibitions on offer are almost always worth viewing, but the permanent collections (American & European art, plus Asian, Ancient Greek, & Egyptian) are world-renowned for a reason.
The "Art of the Americas" tour is a great way to see some of the U.S. masterpieces and get a nice orientation to American culture and history at the same time.
They also have a few meal options (tasty fresh salads, sandwiches) at the counter service café and some kid-friendly activities.

If you can't cover everything in a day, you can also re-enter the museum for free (within 10 days) – remember to keep your ticket.
If it's your first visit, avail yourself of the various free one-hour guided walking tours (in English) that are offered every day.
On Wednesdays (and a few holidays throughout the year), the museum is opened until 10pm and from 4pm, entry is free.

Opening Hours:
Sat-Tue: 10am-5pm; Wed-Fri: 10am-10pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

10) Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (must see)

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum or Fenway Court is a museum in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood of Boston, located within a walking distance from the Museum of Fine Arts and near the Back Bay Fens. The museum houses an art collection of world importance, including significant examples of European, Asian, and American art, from paintings and sculpture to tapestries and decorative arts. It is the only private art collection in which the building, collection, and installations are the creation of one individual.

Today, the museum hosts exhibitions of historic and contemporary art, as well as concerts, lectures, family and community programs, and changing courtyard displays. Built to evoke a 15th-century Venetian palace, the museum itself provides an atmospheric setting for Isabella Stewart Gardner's inventive creation. Inside the museum, three floors of galleries surround a garden courtyard blooming with life in all seasons.

Why You Should Visit:
To leave all your stress behind and simply enjoy all the best life has to offer.
For culture and refinement, it just does not get any better in Boston.
The masterpieces are head-spinning; the guided tours are exceptional.

Just around the corner is the MFA, but don't try to see both museums on the same day.
Instead, take time to enjoy a meal in their upscale Café "G" – unique entrees served & presented with care.
Make sure you bring your headphones as they offer a free audio guide that you can stream from your device.

Opening Hours:
Wed, Fri-Mon: 11am-5pm; Thu: 11am-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

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.
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

With its many historical landmarks and modern artworks, Boston is a city with a unique image. Mementos of Boston's heroes and memorials to world-changing events are found here, as well as some fine examples of art in the open. Take this orientation walk to see the biggest and best sights of Boston.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 km
Historical Cambridge Walking Tour

Historical Cambridge Walking Tour

If you're a history buff, the Cambridge district of Boston has a number of great historical architectural artworks to visit. Inside the walls of these places you can see history in action and find some great stuff that's not in the history books. Take our tour to discover the amazing facts and sights of Cambridge.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Boston Nightlife Tour

Boston Nightlife Tour

Boston is one of the most sparkling and vibrant cities for nightlife in the US. Bostonians, tourists and Hollywood stars alike flock to the dance clubs here. Become one of the in-crowd by taking our tour of the best nightlife spots in the city of Boston.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Boston Places of Worship Tour

Boston Places of Worship 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 centuries of history. Take our tour and experience these must-see wonders of Boston.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 km
Boston Museums Walking Tour

Boston Museums Walking Tour

Boston's rich historical past is carefully nourished by the city's many museums. Inside these museums you'll find unique works of art, scientific wonders and many other objects that illuminate the past. Take our walking tour to discover the best museums in the city.

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.0 km
Boston Shopping Areas Tour

Boston Shopping Areas Tour

Boston is one of the top shopping destinations in the US northeast, with plenty of interesting stores to visit. You'll even find high class shops, stores inside historical buildings and places where bargaining is still in practice. Take our tour to experience the best shopping the city has to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Boston's Marblehead Eateries

Boston's Marblehead Eateries

With such a diverse variety of dining cuisines and styles, the little town of Marblehead has something to satisfy every budget and culinary palate. You won't find any neon here, none is allowed in town and there are no fast food or drive-thrus establishments either. Most are quaint and...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Boston for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Boston has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Boston's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Boston CityPASS or GO Boston Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple Boston's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving your precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Boston hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Boston Omni Parker House Hotel, The Bostonian Boston, Ames Boston Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Boston, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Boston typically costs somewhere between US$35 and US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off trolley to enjoy sightseeing of Boston in comfort listening to a live on-board commentary from a local expert, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route as often as you like. The tickets are valid for one or two days.

- Pack your “very best of Boston” experience in just one day with the help of a fully narrated sightseeing tour covering all of the city's key historic attractions, including those in the neighboring Massachusetts cities of Cambridge, Lexington and Concord, dating back to the times of the American Revolutionary War.

- Feel the spirit of Boston on a guided, 2-hour walk through the Downtown area on the popular Freedom Trail visiting the locations of great historical importance for the United States. If you're a history buff, this tour is definitely for you!

- Summon your guts and sense of adventure to dig deep into the ghastly side of Boston on a scary, yet fun and informative frightseeing tour set to bring light to some of the darkest corners of the city and relay the stories of the unfortunate souls and sinister characters that once walked the streets of Boston.

- Pedal your way around Boston on a 3-hour educational and fun bike tour to appreciate the city's most spectacular sights while stopping at some of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions en route from a knowledgeable group leader.

- Spend another three hours in a most tasteful way on a walk led by an expert guide to explore the culinary scene of Boston. Along with the freshest seafood food and other delights, you will acquaint yourself with Boston's Little Italy, learn the history of this neighborhood and some fascinating facts about its most favorite dishes.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Boston, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Cambridge, Lexington and Concord, New England coast, Salem, Martha's Vineyard, or Plimoth. For as little as circa US$50+ to US$105 per person you will get a chance to discover several nearby Massachusetts cities that left mark in the American history, stand on the legendary battlefield and visit other locations that played a prominent role in the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars, capture the beautiful scenery of the New England coast replete with postcard-worthy beaches, harbors, wetlands, rugged cliffs and lighthouses, travel along the rocky coast of Maine to one of the most iconic lighthouses in the U.S., learn the fascinating history of the Salem Witch Trials, see the birthplace of the American Navy, explore Boston's original Martha's Vineyard, or step back in time for a glimpse of life of the Pilgrims back in the 1600s with a chance to interact with the costumed actors reenacting the Pilgrims' daily chores in the English colony. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Boston and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach to the destination of your choice and back again.