Boston, Massachusetts: Ultimate Urban Walking Tour
By Renan Leahy
The best way to see the parks, historic sites and shopping areas of Boston is on foot. Besides being reasonably flat, the city offers many attractions close to one another, and even if you just walk around without a specific destination, you will always find something interesting along the way. But if you would rather plan your stroll in advance, just follow my suggestions based on what I found wandering the streets of the capital of Massachusetts.
Boston Common, Public Garden and Beacon Hill
The Boston Common is a great place to begin exploring the city. The first public park in the United States, founded in the 17th century, it was one of Boston’s first innovations, a city always marked by its avant-garde spirit. The Boston Common witnessed important moments in American history and is today a major meeting point for leisure and cultural activities.
Right beside it, yet another Boston innovation: the Boston Public Garden. Established in the 19th century, the Public Garden was the first botanical garden in the country and continues to beautify the city with more than 80 species of plants and its Victorian-style monuments and fountains. The swan boats on the lagoon have been taking visitors on rides for more than 100 years, and are among the most remarkable local attractions.
The two parks are surrounded by Beacon Hill, hands-down one of Boston's most charming neighborhoods with its cobblestone streets and houses with brick façades. I stood there for a minute imagining this place without the cars on the streets, and it was easy to picture life centuries ago – especially after I spotted some people passing by in colonial outfits.
Freedom Trail and Faneuil Hall
No, that was not my imagination! The Freedom Trail guides represent real characters of the American Revolution who dress up as such to ensure a more realistic experience while taking you to the 16 historical sites on the route.
One of the mandatory stops on the Freedom Trail is Faneuil Hall. It was in this building that the independence of the United States began to take shape. Adjacent to it is the Marketplace, a major center of trade in Boston’s past and present. This place is visited by thousands of people every day, going around local shops, souvenirs stalls, bars and restaurants. The street artists are an additional attraction, and before you know it, you are a part of the show.
Rose Kennedy Greenway, Newbury Street and the Esplanade
Walk a little further and you will find the modern Rose Kennedy Greenway, a perfect place to relax, have a snack from food trucks and for the children to have fun on the carousel.
Boston still offers a lot more. Some of the best shopping opportunities are on Newbury Street, with exclusive boutiques and stores with the best international brands, as well as cafes and award-winning restaurants. And to wrap up the day, my suggestion is a walk or bike ride along the beautiful Esplanade to take in a gorgeous sunset over the sailboats on the Charles River and the view of Cambridge.
Pack some light clothes and your most comfortable shoes and come experience Boston at its best!