If you’re a fan of Hollywood movies, American history, politics and clam chowder then Boston has plenty of things to do for you. Mention Boston and glass towers from Boston Legal or boardrooms from Ally McBeal might be images that jump to mind. But you only need to scratch lightly below the Hollywood veneer to discover that Boston is a high-achieving city of historic, political and intellectual significance. Here are the best things to do in Boston for first timers.
Taste Boston clam chowder
The clam chowder at Ye Old Union Oyster House (41 Union Street) is one of the world famous things to do in Boston. Just ask US President Barack Obama, whose photo is on the wall of the restaurant.
The building that houses the restaurant also has a fascinating history. Long before it became a restaurant, the building was a stage for a cast of interesting characters.
The future King of France (Louise Philippe) lived on the second floor when he was in exile in 1796. He earned his keep by teaching French to the young ladies of Boston.
The restaurant first opened as the Atwood and Bacon Oyster house 1826.
John F. Kennedy was a regular visitor. He used to pop in on the weekends for lobster stew.
If you want to channel JFK you can dine in the ’The Kennedy Booth’. But don’t be surprised if you end up being photographed by tourists.
Take a tour of Harvard University
Established in 1636, Harvard University has long attracted the best minds from around the world.
The university is the USA’s oldest higher education institution and getting accepted into Harvard is almost as difficult as winning lotto. But fortunately, there are over 100 other schools in the Boston area.
Around six percent of applicants are admitted to Harvard and they say that anyone who graduates is likely to become a millionaire before the age of 30.
Mark Zuckerberg blew that statistic out of the water when he invented Facebook. His fortune is estimated to be $47 billion and he is the sixth richest person in the world.
BhumibalAduldejSongkla, King of Thailand, was born in Cambridge (in 1927). His father was studying at Harvard’s medical school at the time.
A tour of the campus is one of the fun things to do in Boston and usually pretty entertaining.
You’re likely to meet an engaging student who will entertain with funny stories about Harvard’s culture, architecture and its rivalry with Cambridge.
Who knows? You might even meet a future Zuckerberg? Get their autograph, just in case. Visiting Harvard is certainly one of the things to do in Boston that you simply should not miss!
Explore American Revolution history
Boston’s harbour was the scene of the 1773 Boston Tea Party, which was a trigger for the Revolution.
The British retaliated by invading the harbour, prompting silversmith Paul Revere’s “midnight ride” to warn American Revolution leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock of the invasion.
Take a walk along the Freedom Trial, which is a red line on the pavement leading to 16 historic sites.
One of the best things to do in Boston is learn about American history.
To brush up on the American Revolution, take a tour of Quincy, which is a small city 15km from Boston and the birthplaces of two U.S. presidents: John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams.
Visit the saltbox house where John Adams was born in 1735 as well as Peacefield, the stately Adams mansion that was the summer White House of both Adams presidents.
Walk the city
Unlike cities in Europe, where the old towns are usually preserved within a distinct boundary, Boston is an eclectic fusion of gleaming skyscrapers and stately historic architecture.
The Boston Common is the US’s oldest public park and is the social hub of the city.
The lawns are packed with people walking, cycling, picnicking and wedding parties posing for photographs around the lovely lake in the public gardens section.
Many of Boston’s buildings have a historic past. The Langham Boston is a few blocks from Faneuil Hall, where America’s first town meeting was held.
The hotel itself is part of Boston’s history and was once the Federal Reserve Bank’s headquarters for New England. The chandeliered BOND lounge is a hotspot for Boston’s beautiful people.
Take a tour of Boston’s movie locations
Looking for movie stars in Boston is not silly at all, as there is a constant supply of Hollywood faces in town.
Around 400 movies and TV shows have been filmed in Boston including The Social Network, Knight & Day, Shutter Island and The Proposal.
Sarah Jessica Parker had a room in The Langham for three weeks while filming I Don’t Know How She Does It and the tongues are wagging about Ben Affleck holding up traffic while photographing Boston’s streets on his iPhone.
A tour of movie locations with Movie Mile Walking Tour will have you sitting on the park bench used in Good Will Hunting or having a beer at the original bar from Cheers or exploring Jack Nicholson’s mob hangouts in The Departed.
Touring Boston’s movie locations is certainly one of the most novel things to do in Boston on a weekend.
You might even be lucky enough to be there while there’s a Hollywood crew filming in town.
Christina Pfeiffer visited Boston as a guest of The Langham, Boston (250 Franklin Street, Boston, tel: +1617 451 1900). The hotel is within walking distance of most historic sites.
If you’re in the region it’s worth taking a trip to Cape Ann for clams and craft shops.