If you’re looking for an exciting day trip, there is no better place to visit than Boston. I love this city. With its rich history and vibrant culture, there is something to do and see for everyone. It’s a great place to visit in warmer months because it is a perfect place to walk around.
How to Spend One Day in Boston: An Itinerary
Whether you are a history buff or simply looking for a fun outing, here are some ideas on how to spend one day in Boston. Everything on this one-day itinerary is within walking distance in downtown Boston.
1. Visit the Freedom Trail
No trip to Boston would be complete without exploring the iconic Freedom Trail. This two-and-a-half-mile walking tour takes visitors through some of the most important historical sites in all of America.
You will pass by 16 monuments and landmarks, including Paul Revere’s House, The Old State House, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and more—all while learning about the city’s role in the Revolutionary War.
Many of these locations are directly connected to some of America’s earliest moments of struggle for independence from Great Britain. Here are just a few of the spots you’ll see along your journey:
The Old State House
Built in 1713, this is one of the oldest public buildings still standing in the United States. It was here that British governor Thomas Hutchinson famously declared “Taxation without Representation Is Tyranny,” in response to protests against British rule.
Paul Revere House
This quaint abode was home to Paul Revere during his famous “Midnight Ride” from Charlestown to Lexington. It stands today as one of America’s oldest surviving houses.
Bunker Hill Monument
Construction on this 221-foot granite obelisk began in 1825 and was finished 11 years later, marking the site where colonists were defeated by British forces at Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary War.
The Massachusetts State House
Designed by Charles Bulfinch, the ‘new’ and current State House has served as the seat of Massachusetts government since its opening in 1798. Holding the legislative and executive branches, it sits adjacent to the former site of the historic John Hancock mansion.
Freedom Trail visitor information centers are located at Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, and the Charlestown Navy Yard.
2. Check Out the Harbor Islands
Boston Harbor is home to 34 islands, ranging from large recreational areas like Spectacle Island to historic sites like Castle Island. If you have time (and weather permitting), take a ferry out for a day trip and explore some of these beautiful spots.
Whether it’s lounging on a beach or taking a guided tour at Fort Warren, there is something for everyone here.
Hop on a ferry at 191 W. Atlantic Avenue in Boston, MA 02110.
3. Eat and Shop at Quincy Market
If you’re looking for a great way to end your day, head over to Quincy Market in Downtown Crossing. This popular spot features dozens of eateries offering everything from classic New England fares such as lobster rolls and clam chowder to international cuisines like tacos and sushi.
There are also plenty of local bakeries with fresh pastries that make perfect souvenirs after your day in Boston.
When we visited in the summer of 2022, we ate here a few times and I did some shopping and bought myself a Harvard University shirt.
For walking to and from everything on this list, staying at Hyatt Centric Faneuil Hall is a must!
Make sure you visit in the evening. That’s when you can hear musicians playing instruments and singing. I was impressed by all the ones I saw.
Stop by Quincy Market at 4 South Market Street in Boston, MA 02109.
4. Boston Common
Boston Common is full of history and culture — from Revolutionary War meetings to protests against slavery — and taking a tour can help you learn more about this fascinating park. Guided tours provide insight into the events that have taken place on the grounds over its 400-year history; they often include an exploration of monuments and other historic sites like Frog Pond and the Soldiers & Sailors Monument. Tours may also include stories about famous characters who frequented Boston Common such as Herman Melville and Paul Revere.
If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, Boston Common offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation in nature. Take a stroll through the gardens or along pathways lined with trees. Sit by Frog Pond or bring a blanket and relax in one of the many grassy areas throughout the park. You can also take advantage of free fitness classes offered throughout the summer months like yoga, Zumba, Tai Chi, and more.
You don’t have to look far to find culture at Boston Common either! There are plenty of things to do within walking distance from the park including numerous museums, galleries, restaurants, shops, bars, and clubs.
The Downtown Crossing area is especially bustling with activity – it’s filled with street performers, artisans selling handmade wares, food trucks offering tasty treats, and more.
Visit Boston Common at 115 Boylston Street in Boston MA 02116.
5. Boston Public Garden
Boston Public Garden opens at 6 am so you can get there before the crowds arrive and really take in all of its beauty. Whether you’re an early bird or not, it’s worth it to get up early if you want to experience the garden without hordes of people milling around. Plus, you can watch as the sun rises over the lake and admire all of its natural beauty without interruption.
To get a better understanding of this beloved landmark, consider taking a guided tour. You can book tours through local companies like Beantown Trolley or Historic Tours of America. These tours will give you insight into the history of Boston Public Garden and teach you about some of its more famous features such as Swan Boats, the George Washington Statue, and The Make Way For Ducklings statues. Plus, they often include snacks or refreshments which will give you energy for your next activity!
Take a peaceful stroll around the lake or rent one of those iconic swan boats for a leisurely ride around it. Stop by one or two gardens depending on their location (the Shakespeare Garden is particularly lovely) and relax with a picnic lunch under one of its many trees.
If you have enough time left over after exploring, try visiting nearby attractions such as Beacon Hill Park or The Freedom Trail, mentioned above. Both are just a short walk away from Boston Public Garden.
You can visit Boston Public Garden at 4 Charles Street in Boston, MA 02116.
6. New England Aquarium
The main attractions at the New England Aquarium are its exhibits and displays. Visitors can wander through underwater galleries filled with exotic fish from around the world, watch penguins dive into their pool habitats, or observe majestic sea turtles swimming gracefully in their tanks. There’s also a 4-story giant ocean tank that houses more than 600 sea creatures, including sharks and stingrays, and allows visitors to get a unique perspective on life below the surface.
Get Up Close With Animals
The New England Aquarium offers more than just exhibits and displays. It also has several up-close animal interactions available for guests. For an extra fee, visitors can get an up-close look at some of their favorite creatures like seals and sea lions, parakeets and toucans, or even dolphins. Guests can also have one-on-one encounters with friendly beluga whales or take part in educational programs where they’ll learn about different types of animals and conservation efforts.
For those looking for a more educational experience, there are plenty of educational programs offered at the aquarium. From guided tours to hands-on activities to lectures by experts on topics like ocean conservation, there’s something for everyone here! The aquarium also offers special events throughout the year such as concerts, holiday celebrations, movie nights under the stars, and more.
Visit the New England Aquarium at 1 Central Wharf in Boston, MA 02110.
7. Little Italy
Little Italy has been home to many immigrants from around the world since the 1800s. Its colorful streets are lined with beautiful buildings, some of which date back to the 19th century. Make sure to explore some of the famous churches like St. Leonard Church or St. Stephen Church. These iconic landmarks have been standing for over 150 years and their architecture is truly breathtaking.
Sample Delicious Cuisine
Italian food is renowned worldwide for its flavor and quality, so it’s no surprise that one of the best things to do in Little Italy is try out its amazing restaurants. Whether you want a classic Italian pasta dish or something more adventurous, you’ll find it all here.
Enjoy Art and Culture
No trip to Little Italy would be complete without taking in some of its incredible art galleries and cultural attractions. The neighborhood boasts an array of museums dedicated to Italian heritage, as well as numerous art galleries showcasing local talent.
Locals refer to “Little Italy” as the North End. The North End is located in the area of the peninsula north of where highway 93 runs through and under the city. Because parking is a hot mess, take the T (the local subway train system) to Haymarket Station.
Another thing that should be mentioned, but is not within walking distance, is Fenway Park. My kids and I had the best time at the Little Free Library located at John F. Fitzgerald Surface Road and North Street.
There are also so many things to do along the Charles River that runs through the city of Boston. I also mentioned the subway system. That’s perfect for a trip to LEGOLAND with the kids at 598 Assembly Row in Somerville, MA. 02145.
Spending one day in this historic city can be an incredibly rewarding experience regardless of your interests or budget.
From seeing American history by exploring historical sites on the Freedom Trail tour to sampling local cuisine at the North Market and Quincy Market, there are plenty of ways to make lasting memories during your visit to one of the oldest cities in the USA.
Get out there and explore all that Beantown has to offer. After you walk the cobblestone streets and admire the historic neighborhoods along Newbury Street, find me on Instagram at @ChristinaAllDay and let me know the best place you visited.
If your next trip takes you farther north, check out all the things you can do in Halifax, Nova Scotia here.