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Attractions in Boston and Cambridge

1 May 2014 775 views No Comment
Samuel Cook, Scott Evans, Robert Goldman, Mingfei Li, John McKenzie, and Kathryn Williams

Old State House

Old State House

There are many interesting places to visit in Boston and Cambridge, especially during the summer months. Below, we highlight only some of these for JSM attendees and their families to consider exploring before and after the meetings, or when they aren’t attending a session.

The Freedom Trail is a collection of significant historic sites that make up a 2.5-mile walking tour. The following 16 sites are on the trail, and one can join it anywhere along the route:

  • Massachusetts State House – Situated on 6.7 acres on top of Beacon Hill and adjacent to the Boston Common, it was built on land once owned by John Hancock, Massachusetts’s first elected governor.
  • Park Street Church
  • Granary Burying Ground
  • King’s Chapel
  • King’s Chapel Burying Ground – Boston’s oldest cemetery, its first interment was that of the land’s original owner, Isaac Johnson.
  • Benjamin Franklin statue and former site of the first public school in the United States (Boston Latin School)
  • Old Corner Bookstore – Built in 1712, it was originally used as a residence and apothecary. It became a bookstore in 1828.
  • Old South Meeting House – The organizing point for the Boston Tea Party and Boston’s largest building, 5,000 colonists gathered here on December 16, 1773.
  • Old State House
  • Site of the Boston Massacre
  • Faneuil Hall – A meeting place and marketplace since 1742, Faneuil Hall is where many people gave speeches encouraging independence from Great Britain. It is often referred to as the “Cradle of Liberty.”
  • Paul Revere House
  • Old North Church – The place from which the famous “one if by land, and two if by sea” signal is said to have been sent. It was related to the midnight ride of Paul Revere on April 18, 1775, prior to the battles of Lexington and Concord.
  • Bunker Hill Monument – A 221-foot granite obelisk built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill. One may climb the monument’s spiral staircase with a pass.
  • USS Constitution – A 1797 frigate of the United States Navy, she is most famous for her actions during the War of 1812 against Great Britain. USS Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat. In addition to the ship, one may visit its museum.

Except for the Old South Meeting House, Old State House, and Paul Revere House, all sites are free (although some suggest donations).

Next to the Freedom Trail is Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States. Its 50 acres is part of the Emerald Necklace of parks and parkways that extend from the Common south to Franklin Park in Roxbury. It is the last remaining intact linear park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, America’s first landscape architect. Its Frog Pond is a place for children to splash and ride a carousel during the summer.

The Public Garden, also known as Boston Public Garden, is a large park adjacent to Boston Common. It was the first botanical garden in the United States. About one-third of its area is an artificial lake of Make Way for Ducklings fame. Swan boat rides are available for people of all ages.

Also close to Boston Common is Beacon Hill, a historic neighborhood of Federal-style row houses known for its narrow gas-lit streets and brick sidewalks.

Louisburg Square is “the most prestigious address” in Beacon Hill, whose residents have access to a private park. Nearby, is Acorn Street, often mentioned as the “most frequently photographed street in the United States.”

USS Constitution

USS Constitution

Copley Square is a public square in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Named for painter John Singleton Copley, it contains numerous architectural works in various styles, many of them official landmarks. Among them are the Venetian Gothic Revival Old South Church, the Romanesque Revival Trinity Church, the Italian Renaissance Boston Public Library, the Beaux-Arts Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, and the Modernist John Hancock Tower (New England’s tallest building at 780 feet).

Another popular attraction is Fenway Park, home of Boston Red Sox since it opened in 1912. Fenway is the oldest Major League Baseball ballpark. The Red Sox are only home for the first two days of JSM, when they play the New York Yankees, but there are 60-minute guided tours of “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark” every day during the meetings.

Within walking distance of Fenway are the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The MFA is one of the largest museums in the United States. With more than 450,000 works of art, it contains one of the most comprehensive collections in the Americas. The Gardner houses a smaller art collection of world importance. It has significant examples of art from America, Europe, and Asia. In honor of Isabella Stewart Gardner, admission to the museum is free to anyone named Isabella.

Across the Charles River is Cambridge, home of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both world-renown universities have outstanding museums. They include the Harvard Art Museums (the Busch-Reisinger Museum, the Fogg Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum) and the Harvard Museum of Natural History. All are close to Harvard Yard, with its statue of the English minister for whom the school is named, and Harvard Square, its adjoining commercial center.

Seeing Boston
Two ways of seeing the city are the Prudential Tower’s Skywalk Observatory, currently the highest observation deck in New England open to the public, and the Duck Tours, which use amphibious vehicles to visit more than 44 attractions, including those mentioned in this article.

The MIT Museum hosts collections of holography, technology-related artworks, artificial intelligence, robotics, maritime history, and the history of the institute. Its holography collection of 1,800 pieces is the largest in the world, though not all of it is exhibited.

The Boston Museum of Science is located in Science Park, a plot of land spanning the Charles River. Along with more than 700 interactive exhibits, the museum features a number of live presentations every day, along with shows at the Charles Hayden Planetarium and Mugar Omni with its IMAX screen.

Closest to JSM and the Boston Convention Center is the New England Aquarium. It has completed a renovation that renewed its main building, and the Giant Ocean Tank has undergone a top-to-bottom, 21st-century transformation. Other attractions at the museum include the Simons IMAX Theatre and the New England Aquarium Whale Watch.

Finally, there is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Designed by architect I. M. Pei, it is the official repository for original papers and correspondence of the Kennedy Administration.

In addition to numerous attractions within Boston and Cambridge, there are many historical and cultural destinations outside metropolitan Boston. Read more about things to do in New England Attractions: Outside Boston and Cambridge.

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