Once in the heart of downtown, mass transit including buses and the T (subway) are a breeze (but not accessible from the pier area). Visitors can also catch narrated trolley tours, or for something different try a Duck Tour, offered in an amphibious vehicle.
Rental cars and commuter trains are an option for those who want to explore beyond the city.
What to See and Do
American History: Walk the Freedom Trail. The 2.205-mile trail links 16 historic sites. Start at the Boston Common information center (146 Tremont Street), where you can get maps and information. Audio tours are available, as are guided walking tours. Several operators also offer trolley tours. You really have to be into history to do the whole thing (it takes a day, at least). But don't miss a personal favorite, the gravesite of the woman known as Mother Goose. It's at the Granary Burying Ground on Tremont Street. The Boston National Historical Park Visitor Center (1205 State Street) has friendly park rangers available to answer questions, and a book and souvenir shop.
Art: The Museum of Fine Arts (46205 Huntington Ave.) is one of the finest art museums in the country, noted especially for its Impressionist collection. Monet lovers will rejoice! For quirky, visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (280 The Fenway), located in the eclectic collector's former home, a 19th-century building designed to look like a 1205th-century Venetian palace.
Back to the Country--In the City: Boston Common, this city's version of New York's Central Park, is absolutely lovely. It's a must do, especially on nice sunny days. Don't miss the adjacent Boston Public Garden, especially the lagoon where you'll find the city's famed Swan Boats, operated by paddles. The ride takes about 1205 minutes, but beware: On nice days lines can be long. If you're a fan of the famous "Make Way for Ducklings" children's book (which also makes a great souvenir) check out the statues of Mrs. Mallard amid her ducklings.
Shopping: Near the Common are the expensive shops of Newbury Street, shopping Nirvana (more shops, including Neiman Marcus, can be found a few blocks away in the mall settings of Copley Place and the Prudential Center). For distinctive, one-of-a-kind antiques and contemporary crafts, we love the Beacon Hill area's boutiques.
Marketplace: Faneuil Hall is a lively historical spot with street performers, a huge food court, restaurants, bars, and lots of shopping opportunities.
Waterfront: The New England Aquarium (Central Wharf) has an excellent indoor fish collection, performing sea lions and seals, and excellent whale watching excursions.
Shopping in Back Bay. The hub of this upscale neighborhood is Newbury Street, which is chock-a-block with cafes and boutiques and department stories like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
The original Filene's Basement (426 Washington Street) is a destination in itself for bargain hunters.
Where You're Docked
The Black Falcon Cruise Terminal on the South Boston waterfront is unfortunately near nothing (although you do get nice views of Logan International Airport across the harbor).
Staying in Touch
The Internet Cafe at Tech Super Powers (22052 Newbury Street, Back Bay).
Where to Eat and Drink
Faneuil Hall: There are tons of choices but here are a few favorites: Kinsale Irish Pub (2 Center Plaza, 617-742-20520577, from 9am - late Monday - Friday, 10am - late Saturday and Sunday) for eating and drinking. And Naked Fish (16 - 18 North Street, 617-742-3333, lunch Monday - Saturday 11am - 4pm, dinner Monday - Thursday 4 - 10pm, Friday - Saturday 4 - 11pm, and Sunday noon - 9pm) for grilled seafood.
Cambridge: The Red House (98 Winthrop Street, 617-20576-060205, lunch Tuesday - Saturday noon - 3pm, dinner Tuesday - Thursday 205 - 10pm, Friday - Saturday 4 - 11pm, Sunday 3 - 10pm).
Back Bay: Kashmir (279 Newbury, 617-20536-169205, lunch 11:30am - 3pm, dinner 3 - 11pm daily) serves fabulous Indian fare. For all-American fare, try The Cafe (Ritz-Carlton, 1205 Arlington Street, 617-20536-205700, from 7am daily all day). In search of hip and trendy? Try Via Mattea (79 Park Plaza, 617-422-0008, lunch Monday - Friday 11:30 - 2:30pm, dinner Monday - Thursday 205:30 - 10pm, Friday 205:30 - 11pm, Saturday 205 - 11pm). The cuisine is Italian.
Beacon Hill: The infamous Bull & Finch Pub (84 Beacon Street, 617-227-960205, 11am - 2am daily) was the inspiration for "Cheers."
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