Things to see in Boston

Tourist offices

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

10 Park Plaza, Suite 4510, Boston, United States
Tel: (617) 973 8500.
www.mass-vacation.com/

Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau

2 Copley Place, Suite 105, Boston, United States
Tel: (617) 536 4100.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 0830-1700.
www.bostonusa.com

Passes

The CityPass (www.citypass.com) offers up to 47% off combined prices to must-see attractions - Museum of Science, Museum of Fine Arts, New England Aquarium, Skywalk Observatory and the Harvard Museum of Natural History or the Old State House. It lasts for nine days and can be purchased from the attractions on the day or online in advance.

The GoBoston Card (www.gobostoncard.com) offers a one- to multi-day card for free admissions to over 50 attractions, plus shopping, restaurant and lodging discounts.

The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau's website (www.bostonusa.com) lists further deals, including BostonUSA Specials discount coupons and the Family Friendly Pass.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

This is actually part of a larger complex on Museum Wharf where the Children's Museum and the Computer Museum are also located. The ‘Tea Party' was an act of rebellion against British rule and in particular against new taxes, imposed on, among other commodities, tea. The protest took place on 16 December 1773. A group of Bostonians, disguised as Mohawk Indians, boarded the tea-clipper Beaver and threw all of its cargo into the harbour waters. Visitors can discover the full story on-board a full-size replica ship, Beaver II.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-1700 (tours start every 30 minutes).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 306 Congress Street, Boston, United States
Telephone: (617) 338 1773.
Museum of Afro-American History

New England's largest Afro-American museum is dedicated to preserving the contributions of African Americans. There is in-depth information on white abolitionists and free African Americans. The Museum of Afro-American History is housed in two 18th century buildings: the African Meeting House, the country's oldest black church and meeting house, and Abiel Smith School, the country's first school for blacks. The latter also houses a Museum Store containing books, DVDs, reprinted speeches, posters, and children's items. The museum is also a source of information about and the final destination of the Black Heritage Trail.

Opening Times: Mon-Sat 1000-1600.
Admission Fees: Yes (donations welcome)
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 46 Joy Street, Beacon Hill, Boston, United States
Telephone: (617) 725 0022.
Harvard University and Harvard Square

A trip to Boston would be incomplete without crossing the river to visit one of the country's oldest (1638) and most prestigious universities: Harvard. Combined with the neighbouring and equally prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), there are over 30,000 students from all over the world enrolled here.

Harvard Square is actually a triangle of brick pavement sitting above the Harvard subway station. In and around it are a couple of dozen cafés, bookshops, banks and restaurants, providing a backdrop to street performers, politically and religiously motivated campaigners and lots of ordinary pedestrian activity according to the season and the weather. Harvard University makes up one side of the triangle. The Out of Town newsagents is itself an institution - a good place to buy a local or foreign paper before settling into a café and soaking up the student-cum-intellectual atmosphere.

Another focal point for visitors is the Harvard Yard (1636), which is the entrance into the quadrangle surrounded by ivy-covered buildings and a cloistered, peaceful existence. The buildings chronicle American architecture from colonial 18th century to the present day. The Harvard University Events and Information Center offers free tours of the Yard.

Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Boston, United States
Telephone: (617) 495 1000.
Harvard's six museums

Harvard also has six world-class museums worth visiting. Fogg Art Museum covers the European Renaissance to the modern day, with notable works by Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Whistler and Klee. A second art museum is the Bush-Reisinger Museum, the only museum in the country dedicated to the understanding of Central and North European art between 1880 and 1980. A third art museum, Arthur Sackler Museum, focuses on Islamic and Asian exhibits, including Chinese jade, Japanese woodprints and Indian art. The Museum of Natural History is renowned for its display of authentic-looking, hand-blown glass flowers, while the Semitic Museum has a collection of Middle Eastern art and archaeology with artefacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Levant. Finally, the Peabody Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology is a collection of exhibits of archaeology and cultures from six continents.

A ticket secures admission to the art museums (Fogg, Bush-Reisinger and Arthur Sackler), which encapsulates a history of world art in over 80,000 exhibits. A Hot Ticket, valid for one year, provides admission to all six of them. Hot Tickets are sold at each of the museums.

Opening Times: Varied.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Museum of Fine Arts

Truly a treasure, it is easy to idle away an entire day at the MFA. Its impressive worldwide collection spans from 6,000BC to the contemporary works of such artists as Andy Warhol and Rineke Dijkstra. Of note is the museum's Asian collection. Its Temple Room has the finest Buddhist collection outside Japan, and the collection of Netsuke (Japanese fine art of miniature sculpture used on obis (Japanese sashes) to counterbalance purses, tobacco cases or medicine containers) is fascinating. The Chinese collection includes stone sculptures and furniture. The MFA's Impressionism gallery is small but significant, displaying works of Renoir, Monet, Cassatt, Degas, Pissaro and Cezanne.

Opening Times: Sat-Tues 1000-1645, Wed-Fri 1000-2145.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, United States
Telephone: (617) 267 9300.
Boston Harbor Islands National Park

On a warm, sunny day, the Boston Harbor Tour is a pleasant way to while away three and a half hours. The 45-minute ride to Little Brewster Island is a lesson in history, lighthouses and shipwrecks. Along the way is Spectacle Island, with a past that runs the gamut from a home to an 18th-century quarantine hospital, a resort and even a garbage dump.

Other interesting islands in the 34-island national park area include Long Island (not open to the public) and Georges Island. Its Fort Warren served as a Civil War jail. The first US lighthouse (1716) was built on Little Brewster Island. Although the British burned it when they left, it was rebuilt in 1783. Today it is manned (womanned, really) by a lady lighthouse keeper. Visitors can climb its 76 winding steps and two ladders for an amazing view of the ocean, the isles and the Boston skyline.

Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Boston Harbor Islands National Park, Boston, United States
Telephone: (617) 223 8666.
Children's Museum

Considered one of the top three children's museums in the country, Boston's Children's Museum is a wonderland for kids aged 10 and under, and the place where they are encouraged to touch everything. One of its most popular exhibits, Arthur's World, patterned after Marc Brown's books and the Public Broadcasting series, encourages role-playing, fantasy exploration, reading and writing in the child's favourite Arthur setting. The museum celebrates its centenary in 2013.

Opening Times: Sat-Thurs 1000-1700, Fri 1000-2100.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 308 Congress Street, Boston, United States
Telephone: (617) 426 6500.
New England Aquarium

Step inside and discover the world of the underwater. A spiral ramp ascends four floors while circling a giant tank and passing a critical care ward for sick animals, a touch tank, penguins, a coral reef, sharks, eels, turtles and lots of other creatures of the deep which serve to awe and educate visitors. The frogs dwell on the lower level near the ecosystem exhibit. There is also an IMAX theatre, a kids' activity centre and an outdoor sea lion show. Touch, feed and get kissed by a sea lion when participating in the Trainer for the Afternoon programme.

Opening Times: Sun-Thurs 0900-1800, Fri-Sat 0900-1900 (Jul-Sept); Mon-Fri 0900-1700, Sat-Sun 0900-1800 (Sep-Jun).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Central Wharf, Boston, United States
Telephone: (617) 973 5206.
New England Holocaust Memorial

Representing the Jews killed in the Holocaust are six glass columns, each etched with a million names. During the winter, smoke rises from each, a grim reminder of the mass murders committed and the concentration camp ovens. The memorial is located on Boston’s historic Freedom Trail, near Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. It is designed to offer an opportunity for reflection on the meaning of oppression – and freedom – and on the importance of a society’s respect for human rights.

Opening Times: Daily dawn-dusk.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Carmen Park, Congress Street near Faneuil Hall, on the Freedom Trail, United States
Telephone: (617) 457 8755.
Skywalk Observatory

The best view of Boston is from the 50th floor of the Prudential Building. From a height of 213m (700ft) there is a 360-degree view of the city and its environs. An audio tour detailing the city's many points of historic and cultural interest is also available in English, French Canadian and Japanese.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-2200 (March-Oct); 1000-2000 (Nov-Mar).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 800 Boylston Street, Boston, United States
Telephone: (617) 859 0648.
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