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Things to Do in Massachusetts - page 2

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Skywalk Observatory
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9 Tours and Activities

Set on the 50th floor of Boston’s Prudential Tower, the Skywalk Observatory offers 360-degree views of the city and surrounding landscape. Here you can learn about notable landmarks, visit the onsite Dreams of Freedom Museum, or venture two floors up to enjoy a meal at the Top of the Hub Restaurant and Lounge.

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Beacon Hill
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Home to the Massachusetts State House, Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood is reminiscent of 19th-century London—replete with cobbled streets, brownstone buildings, and flower-filled window boxes. At night, gas lanterns flicker to life and create a romantic atmosphere for fine dining and bar-hopping.

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Old South Meeting House
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Dating from 1729, Boston’s Old South Meeting House was a congregational church and a gathering place for protestors who sparked the American Revolution with the 1773 Boston Tea Party. A key site on Boston’s Freedom Trail, the brick building is now a museum where visitors can chart the beginnings of the country’s 1776 revolution.

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Copley Square
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Located in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, Copley Square is among the most beautiful public parks in the city. For more than 100 years, it has been a hub of downtown activity and historical significance for the sheer number of institutions built here since the 1800s. Many still stand today, including the stunning Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, Old South Church, the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel and New England's tallest skyscraper, John Hancock Tower.

The square is best known as the site of the finish line for the annual Boston Marathon, and there is a 1996 memorial here celebrating the race's 100th anniversary. It is also well known as a downtown commercial hub with a variety of upscale restaurants and shopping options. The onsite Copley Place mall includes high-end stores such as Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Porsche Design and Tiffany & Co.

Visitors will also appreciate the rotating calendar of events offered in the park throughout the year, ranging from large concerts to farmers' markets.

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Buckman Tavern
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Although it dates back to the early 18th-century, the Buckman Tavern secured its place in the history books during the American Revolutionary War, as a popular meeting place of the Lexington Minutemen. Its most significant moment came on April 19th 1775, when the militia gathered at the tavern to await the oncoming British troops - what would later be known as the Battle of Lexington and Concord, notorious as the starting point of the American War of Independence.

Today, the Buckman Tavern is preserved as a National Historic Landmark and museum, where visitors can learn all about its long history, and view original fittings, including a portrait of proprietor John Buckman and the old front door, complete with a bullet hole made during the infamous battle.

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Boston Symphony Hall
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The beautiful Boston Symphony Hall is widely considered one of the premier classical music venues in the United States. Adored with Greek and Roman statues and gilded ceilings, the hall is known for its beautiful interior as well as its superb acoustics. It is home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, one of the country’s oldest and most celebrated.

The walls of the stage even slope down to increase the quality of the sound in the giant concert hall. Every detail was created or modified to enhance the acoustics, which makes for a phenomenal listening experience. The hall also contains an impressive 4,800-pipe organ.

With its exterior lined with columns and classical design, the hall obtained status as US National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Past performances have included the works of classic composers such as Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Brahmns, and more.

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Boston Athenaeum
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3 Tours and Activities

An athenaeum is defined as "an association of persons interested in scientific and literary pursuits, meeting for the purpose of mutual improvement; a literary or scientific club." The Boston Athenaeum was founded in 1807, placing it among the oldest independent libraries in the country. For more than 200 years, it has proven a vital cultural and educational institution for the city. Today it houses more than 600,000 titles, including a sizable circulating collection, a children's library, multiple reading rooms for newspapers and magazines, and ample quiet spaces.

The public is welcome to view the first floor and exhibition gallery, while a membership is required to visit all remaining floors.

Non-members interested in exploring and learning more of the building's history can take a weekly Art and Architecture Tour which is open to the public. The 40-minute tour focuses on theimportance of the Athenæum’s architectural history as well as its fine arts collection. The building has been moved, expanded, and renovated multiple times over the past two centuries, including most recently in 1999-2002.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
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9 Tours and Activities

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the well-respected Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university with a strong focus on technology, science, and engineering. Although it’s a 168-acre urban campus, you’ll see visually interesting buildings mixed with peaceful green spaces.

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Copp's Hill Burying Ground
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9 Tours and Activities

The second-oldest cemetery in Boston, Copp's Hill Burying Ground is a landmark area and peak tourist attraction for those interested in the deep historical roots of Boston – one of the first cities built in the New World. Established in 1659, this burial ground is closing in on 400 years old, and with such tenure comes thousands of interred. A self-guided tour will reveal Boston’s long history of artisans, craftsmen, some notable founding fathers of Boston, as well as thousands of African Americans in unmarked graves on the Snowhill Street side of the burial ground.

Now a stop on the Freedom Trail, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1974 thanks to its repeated interest by tourists and photographers. Strolling the grounds will lend a new perspective on Boston, its peoples, and its history, perhaps best summarized by Thomas Williston’s grave, whose epitaph reads: “Stop here my friend and case an Eye. As you are now so once was I. As I am now, so you must be, prepare for death and follow me.”

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New England Aquarium
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Teeming with more than 15,000 sea creatures of all sizes, shapes, and colors, the New England Aquarium is a giant fishbowl of sea life, and it’s one of Boston’s most visited family attractions.

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More Things to Do in Massachusetts

Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument

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The Bunker Hill Memorial is a granite monument built in memory of the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first real battle of the American Revolutionary War.

The Battle of Bunker Hill took place in June 1775 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, when American Revolutionary forces met the British Army during one of the earliest battles of the war. The British ultimately won that battle – although, of course, they would go on to lose the war.

The battle itself took place on nearby Breed's Hill, but Bunker Hill was the main objective of both armies – so that's where the Bunker Hill Monument was built. The first monument was built in 1794, made of wood, and stood 18 feet tall. From 1827-1842, the current granite memorial was built. The obelisk resembles the Washington Monument in Washington D.C., towering over the surrounding landscape.

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Salem Ferry

Salem Ferry

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Salem, Massachusetts (of Salem Witch Trials fame) continues to be a favorite weekend getaway from Boston, and the Salem Ferry offers a fast route from the city direct to the the seaside town. In less than an hour, the high-speed Salem Ferry offers transportation back and forth between the two Massachusetts destinations. Weather-permitting, the outdoor lounge is a great place to take in ocean views during the journey. There is also comfortable indoor seating, as well as a small galley serving food and drinks.

This historic area of New England is home to a proud nautical tradition, as one of the oldest seaports in colonial America. As such, lighthouses, quaint homes, and historic ships are some of the things that make this area so beautiful to visit. The Salem Ferry journey by high-speed catamaran is quick and comfortable, so it’s even possible to do a day trip from Boston.

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Back Bay

Back Bay

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One of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Boston, Back Bay is famous for its architecturally significant buildings, including a series of Victorian brownstone homes. Back Bay is considered one of America’s most desirable areas, and it’s not uncommon to spot celebrities along the prime shopping streets. With that, one of the best ways to explore the neighborhood is to book a Back Bay photography tour, which will take you to the most important and significant buildings.

Some of the most exclusive real estate in Boston is located in Back Bay, which was once just a stagnant pool of water behind the Public Garden. Newbury Street, Boylston Street and Commonwealth Avenue are now among the most popular spots in the area.

Be sure to visit the Boston Public Garden, the largest and oldest botanical garden in the country, established in 1837. It's where many visitors start their tour of Back Bay. Another landmark to visit is the Old South Church at Copley Square, which holds local historical significance as one of the original meeting places of the Sons of Liberty during the Revolutionary War period, and it’s also an important example of classic Northern Italian Gothic architecture. Other buildings worth visiting in Back Bay include Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library, and the neighborhood is also home to the John Hancock Tower and Prudential Center, the two tallest buildings in Boston’s skyline. For shopping, hit Newbury Street, which runs the length of the entire neighborhood. This street is where you will find the historic brownstones and lots of shopping and restaurants.

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Paul Revere House

Paul Revere House

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Located in the North End and built around 1680, the Paul Revere House is the oldest building in downtown Boston. It is famous for being the house Revere left from on the night of his famous “midnight ride” to warn his compatriots that the British were coming to arrest them in 1775. He lived there with his family from 1770 to 1800.

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Museum of Science Boston

Museum of Science Boston

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With a range of interactive exhibits, the Boston Museum of Science is an educational playground. Its exhibits explore computers, technology, complex systems, algae, maps, models, dinosaurs, birds, and much more. Don't miss the world's largest lightning bolt generator, a space capsule, world population meter, and virtual fish tank.

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Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

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Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park is comprised of 34 islands sprinkled throughout the city harbor. Just 45 minutes by ferry from downtown, the park is a picturesque escape, where visitors can explore a Civil War–era fort, visit the oldest lighthouse in the United States, head out for a hike, and spend a night camping.

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New Bedford Whaling Museum

New Bedford Whaling Museum

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For an experience that combines history and economics, science and seafaring, head over to the New Bedford Whaling Museum and get an up-close look at the Massachusetts whaling industry. Check out the whale skeletons and the robust scrimshaw collection, featuring objects carved from whalebone—then hop aboard a large model ship.

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Copley Place

Copley Place

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Copley Place is the premier high-end shopping destination of Boston. With 75 shops spread out over 9.5 acres, there is something for every shopper at the massive mall. The two levels of shopping are joined by a dining area, four office buildings, and two hotels. Apparel shops include brands such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Christian Dior, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co, and Barney’s New York, alongside lifestyle stores like William & Sonoma and Sur La Table.

Named for American artist John Singleton Copley, it was designed by the Architects’ Collective. The building’s center atrium and skylight lets in a ton of natural light and creates an airy feeling inside. The Westin and Boston Marriott Copley Place hotels offer maximum proximity to the center’s many shops. Special events are held frequently in the space as well. Copley Place is a luxurious, central place to shop, eat, work, and play in historic Boston.

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Boylston Street

Boylston Street

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Boylston Street is a popular dining and shopping area in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. It is always bustling with activity, and overflowing bars and restaurants make this a good spot to enjoy a lively evening. You can also taste everything from local seafood to international specialties in the area, or shop some of the most luxury fashion brands.

It was named for Ward Nicholas Boylston in the 18th century, but was known prior as both Frog Lane and Common Street. Many Boston landmarks can be found on Boylston Street, including the Boston Public Library and Public Garden, as well as Emerson College and the Berklee College of Music.

It is the final stretch at the end of the Boston Marathon, and a small memorial for the victims of the bombings can be seen in remembrance of those who lost their lives.

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Boston Massacre Site

Boston Massacre Site

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A circle of cobblestones in front of the Old State House still stands to commemorate the Boston Massacre that occurred in 1770. The Boston Massacre Site today reminds visitors of the event, when tension between British soldiers and colonists came to a head, and a minor fight erupted into a riot. Rocks, fists, and insults were thrown as the soldiers fired into the crowd, killing five Bostonians. At the time, 2,000 soldiers occupied the town of only 16,000. The troops forced their way in to defend officers from the hostile (though unarmed) crowd.

The Boston Massacre was an important moment in early US history. The violence toward colonists served to turn public opinion against the Redcoats soldiers, some of whom were tried for murder. Figures such as Paul Revere and John Adams were instrumental in the aftermath of the incident. Some have even called it the spark that started the Revolutionary War. For many it is seen as the start of the rebellion against British occupation in colonial America.

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Martha's Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard

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Martha's Vineyard gained national attention as the setting for the movie Jaws in the 1970s, but notable figures were spending their summers soaking up the sun on this picturesque island off the coast of Cape Cod long before the movie. Cozy inns, fine dining, and golden-sand beaches characterize this scenic coastal retreat.

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Harvard Square

Harvard Square

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It’s easy to spend an afternoon in Harvard Square, a popular gathering place and a hub for street performers thanks to a lively street scene and close proximity to Harvard University. Travelers will find plenty of local life in this Cambridge neighborhood, as well as restaurants, shopping, an old-school newsstand, and public-art installations.

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Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

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Stretched across the mouth of Massachusetts Bay east of Boston, the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is an Atlantic Ocean reserve designed to protect the area’s rich marine environment. Created in 1992, the sanctuary is visited by migrating wild whales and other sea life, and draws numerous whale-watching boat trips from Boston.

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Plimoth & Patuxet

Plimoth & Patuxet

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Plimoth & Patuxet, formerly Plimoth Plantation, is a living history museum that attempts to portray the first colony of English settlers to arrive in the New World in the 1600s. You’ll meet historical reenactors who speak and look the way the Pilgrims did as you explore the faithful recreation of a chapter in American history at a Smithsonian-affiliated museum.

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