What Is Boston Known For?

- This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

Known among locals and throughout New England as Beantown, Boston is among the most storied and cultured cities in North America, having first been settled as early as 1630 when English Puritans arrived in Boston Harbour seeking freedom from religious persecution in the New World. Boston has served as the setting for some of the most important moments in US history and is even recognised as the birthplace of the American Revolution, which was kicked off following the Boston Tea Party of 1773.

More than just a dream destination for history buffs, Boston is also among the world’s leading educational hubs, with the main campuses of Harvard University and MIT both situated in Cambridge just across the river from downtown Boston. From the Freedom Trail which takes travellers on a journey through America’s past to the Boston Harbour where visitors can stop by the USS Constitution and try some clam chowder, It’s easy to see why Beantown is such a popular travel destination on the East Coast, and one which has provided the world with great actors, food and even a Founding Father.

What Is Boston Known For

Top Tours

1- Boston Tea Party

Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party is what Boston is known for.

The Boston Tea Party is without question the most defining moment in Beantown’s history, which saw a group of fed-up Sons of Liberty colonists dump 340 chests of tea from the British East India Company into the Boston Harbour in protest against the British taxes imposed on them.

The event took place on 16 December 1773 and is regarded as the biggest moment leading to the start of the American Revolution, with many historians portraying it as one of the most significant moments in US history.

The Boston Tea Party and its legacy have continued to shape the nation’s politics centuries after the event took place and is commemorated at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum in the Boston Harbour.

Interested travellers can learn all about the build-up to the event as well as the role it played in starting the American Revolution.


2- The Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail Sign
The Freedom Trail is what Boston is known for in history.

Spread out across a 2.5-mile-long (4 km) stretch of Boston’s city centre is the Freedom Trail, an open-air attraction whisking urban explorers and history buffs past some of the city’s most important historic sites and landmarks.

Easy to traverse and packed with fascinating tales detailing the very founding of the United States, the Freedom Trail stops by about 17 different historical sites between Boston Common, the North End and Charlestown.

Created in 1951 as a simple way of letting people learn about and engage with Boston’s past, the trail follows an easily accessible brick-covered pathway past several free-to-enter Boston landmarks and even a visitor’s centre in Faneuil Hall.

3- Fenway Park And The Red Sox

Fenway Park Aerial
Fenway Park and the Red Sox are what East Boston is known for.

No other sport is as synonymous with the city of Boston as America’s favourite pastime, baseball, which has been played professionally by the Red Sox in Beantown’s Fenway Park since 1912.

In Boston’s Fenway-Kenmore district near the Museum of Fine Arts, the 37,755-capacity Fenway Park is among the most sacred American ballparks among baseball fans and a true icon of Boston, having played host to the World Series 11 times throughout its storied history.

A recognised Boston landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Fenway Park is the best place in the world to catch a Red Sox game live and among Beantown’s many must-do activities for anyone visiting Boston for the first time.

4- Harvard And MIT

Harvard and MIT are two of the most prestigious and respected universities in the world, and both call the city of Boston home, with their main campuses in Cambridge responsible for shaping Boston’s politics, culture and increasingly tech-centred economy.

A member of the illustrious Ivy League schools of the northeast United States, Harvard has attracted the world’s best and brightest minds to Boston since 1636, making it the oldest higher learning institution in the nation.

MIT on the other hand is the much younger, non-Ivy League Cambridge School which has excelled in the fields of science and technology since its founding in 1861, some 200+ years after Harvard.

Both schools have garnered international recognition for their world-leading education, successful alumni and lofty entrance requirements, and are classy Boston landmarks well worth stopping by to take in their prestige, history and beautiful campuses.

5- The USS Constitution

USS Constitution Boat In Boston
The USS Constitution is what Boston, Massachusetts, is known for.

Occupying a spot in the Boston Harbour since 1797, the USS Constitution is the pride and joy of the United States Navy and the world’s oldest commissioned naval warship still afloat.

Built in Beantown’s shipyards and launched into Boston Harbour on 21 October 1797, the USS Constitution remains in active service and has been deployed in two official wars and one undeclared war over its time in service.

Still used by the US Navy for training and special ceremonies, the USS Constitution is a popular tourist attraction and important landmark in Boston, with the ship regularly open to the public for guided and virtual tours.

Also read:

6- The Boston Harbour

Boston Harbor Skyline
Its harbour is what Boston is known for.

The site of the Boston Tea Party and the long-term home of the USS Constitution, the Boston Harbour is perhaps the city’s most prominent feature, having served as the setting for most of Boston’s most important moments throughout the city’s history.

An estuary and natural harbour within Massachusetts Bay, the Boston Harbour has been among the busiest and storied ports since John Smith first sailed into it in 1614 due to its depth, natural defences and access to three major nearby rivers.

The best way to experience and explore Boston Harbour is by boat, however, if you prefer the comforts of dry land over seasickness, then be sure to hike along the 43-mile-long (69 km) Boston Harborwalk, which connects the harbour to the city’s waterfront neighbourhoods and allows visitors to take in the harbour and Boston skyline all in one go.

Recommended tour: Boston: Buffet Lunch or Dinner Cruise on Boston Harbor

7- Boston Common

View Of The Boston Common, A Central Public Park In Downtown
The Boston Common is what Boston is known for.

In the heart of downtown Boston is the Boston Common, a 50-acre (20 ha) urban outdoor oasis which is recognised as the oldest city park in the United States.

The Boston Common can trace its roots back to 1830 when it was first established by the city and was used for everything from military training to public executions throughout its history.

One of the best free places to visit in Boston, the Boston Common’s myriad of rolling hills, ponds, statues and park amenities make it a top outdoor destination to explore in Beantown which has been the go-to gathering place for Bostonians since the 17th century.

8- Beacon Hill And The North End

Boston's Historic North End
Beacon Hill and the North End is what Boston is known for.

Steeped in history and the cultures of the many immigrants who made the city their home over the centuries, Boston boasts some of the oldest, most colourful and most charming neighbourhoods and districts in the nation, none more so than Beacon Hill and the North End, two of Beantown’s most famous areas.

Established during the late 1790s, Beacon Hill sits just outside downtown Boston and is renowned for its preserved Victorian brick row houses, with famous Boston attractions such as the Boston Common and the Massachusetts State House found within Beacon Hill.

Overlooking the Boston Harbour is the North End, a storied slice of Beantown which is recognised as the oldest neighbourhood in Boston, dating back to the 1630s and boasting many of the city’s oldest buildings and landmarks.

9- Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder
Clam Chowder is the food Boston is known for.

With its long and deep relationship with the Atlantic, it’s no surprise that Boston is home to a thriving seafood scene, with fish and shellfish-based dishes dominating Boston’s most popular culinary exports.

No seafood dish is quite as popular and famous in Boston as clam chowder, a soup-like chowder made primarily from clams, potatoes, milk or cream and a pinch of salt.

Originating from the Northeast, clam chowder has spread to every corner of the United States with the dish served in restaurants and seafood joints across the nation, yet it remains a real treat to dig into a hearty serving of clam chowder in Beantown while overlooking the Boston Harbour’s bustling port.

10- The Boston Marathon

The greatest annual sporting event in Beantown is the Boston Marathon, a yearly marathon race which sees the best distance runners in the world descend upon Boston for a 26-mile-long (42 km) road race through several neighbourhoods of greater Boston.

First organised in 1897, the Boston Marathon is the oldest yearly run marathon in the world and one of the six events making up the World Marathon Majors, with the traditional running route stretching from Hopkinton to Boston’s Copley Square.

The darkest moment in Boston’s history occurred during the 2013 Boston Marathon, when terrorists detonated two homemade bombs just a few yards from the marathon’s finish line, killing three spectators and injuring hundreds more.

11- Museum Of Fine Arts

One of the top 20 largest art museums in the world, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is the major cultural institution in Beantown, attracting more than 1.2 million visitors on average every year.

Opened to the public in 1870 at Copley Square, the institution moved into its neoclassical style, Guy Lowell-designed home in Boston’s Fenway-Kenmore neighbourhood in 1909, where it has remained ever since.

With more than 8,000 paintings and 450,000 individual works of art under its curatorship, the Museum of Fine Arts’ collection is as grand as the museum’s 500-foot (150 m) granite facade and well worth touring the next time you’re visiting Boston.

12- Tremont Street Subway

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark, the Tremont Street Subway is the oldest subway tunnel in the United States, entering service way in 1897.

Originally intended to get rid of streetcar lines on Boston’s busy roads, the subway tunnel is today a critical part of the Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority’s Green Line between Park and Boylston Streets.

Not only is the Tremont Street Subway the oldest in the United States but it is recognised as the world’s third-oldest electric traction subway tunnel still in use, making it one of the many important landmarks gracing the streets of Beantown.

13- Mark Wahlberg And The Affleck Brothers

Boston has produced several stars and celebrities in the American entertainment industry, with Mark Wahlberg and the Affleck brothers desevedly right at the top of that list.

Born Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg in Boston on June 5, 1971, Wahlberg spent his entire childhood growing up in Beantown before kicking off an incredibly successful acting career which has seen the Bostonian win a BAFTA award and establish himself as one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors.

Ben and Casey Affleck are two fellow Bostonians who have also achieved great success on the Hollywood silver screen in their own right, with several BAFTA and Academy Awards received by the Boston-raised siblings who have produced acted and directed films such as “Good Will Hunting”, “Argo” and “Interstellar”.

14- Boston Pops And Boston Symphony Orchestra

Acorn Street is a famous street in Boston.

Specialising in performing pop and light classical music, the Boston Pops orchestra has been delighting patrons of the arts since the orchestra’s founding in 1885.

Hosting regular performances and special events at Symphony Hall in downtown Boston, the Boston Pops has been hosting annual concerts on the 4th of July, over the December holidays and during the spring season, with shows incorporating everything from Howitzer cannons to the American flag.

Those seeking a more buttoned-down musical experience can see the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops’ Symphony Hall roommate, live performing more traditional classical music pieces which have even been featured in the soundtracks of films such as “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan”.

15- Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin is what Boston is known for.

The star of the $100 bill and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was a revered diplomat, statesman, writer, poet, publisher, printer, scientist and philosopher who was born in Boston on January 17, 1706.

Franklin started his career with the founding of “The New England Courant”, Boston’s third newspaper at the time, when he was just 15 years old before running away to Philadelphia at age 17 where he began working in the city’s printing presses.

Despite his humble beginnings, Franklin became one of the 18th century’s most influential figures and played a crucial part in the founding of the United States, with Franklin chosen as the figurehead for the US $100 bill in 1914.

You may also be interested in:

Plan Your Trip

best car rental

Rent A Car – Find the best car rental rates at Discover Cars. They compare car hire companies to provide you with the best deal right now.

Find A Hotel – If you’re curious about this article and are looking for somewhere to stay, take a look at these amazing hotels.

Previous articleWhat Is Seattle Known For?
Next article20 Things To Do In Reims
Mark Westwood
Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.