Boston tours and excursions
The Freedom Trail is a self-guided, 4km (2.5 miles) walking tour that starts at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center and follows a red-brick line on the pavement. Its historic sites are associated with the movement to free the colonies from British control and information is provided at every point. Many of its highlights, including the Park Street Church and Old South Meeting House, have their own admission conditions and opening hours. A two-hour Freedom Trail audio guide of the trail is available at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center.
The Black Heritage Trail is a 2.5km (1.6 miles) trail that celebrates 19th-century African-American history and contributions, and includes 14 historic sites, most in the Beacon Hill district. Attractions include the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial, a commemoration to the first black regiment of the Civil War, the Phillips School, one of the first mixed-race schools, and the home of the black abolitionist, John J Smith House. Tours can be arranged by contacting the Boston African National Historic Site.
The Freedom Trail
Telephone: +1 617 357 8300
The Black Heritage Trail
Telephone: +1 617 742 5415.
Massachusetts Bay Lines runs a variety of boat tours including historic, whale-watching and music cruises. The Charles Riverboat Company (www.charlesriverboat.com) operates sunset cruises and architecture-themed tours on the river and the harbour, while Boston Harbor Cruises operates cruises to the offshore Harbor Islands - the Inner Harbor Cruise and the Outer Harbor Cruise as well as whale watching cruises.
Massachusetts Bay Lines
Telephone: +1 617 542 8000
The Charles Riverboat Company
Telephone: +1 617 621 3001
Boston Harbor Cruises
Telephone: +1 617 227 4321
Although Cape Cod feels like an island, it is actually a 105km-long (65 miles) peninsula with 15 small towns, numerous villages and around 960km (600 miles) of distinctive, beautiful sandy coastline. The gateway town, Sandwich, is also the Cape's oldest, founded in 1637. Route 6A, better known as the Old King's Highway, forms the spine of the peninsula taking in many historic settlements on its way up to New Beach.
Just before New Beach is Provincetown, long renowned as an artistic colony and known also as the gay centre of New England. Falmouth in the southeast has a classic village green, white church and 19th-century houses. On the south side is Hyannis, famous for being a home of the Kennedy family, and where you will find the JFK Memorial & Museum. Wellfleet, halfway up the western coastline, is popular for its oysters. Nearby Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are also worth exploring.Tel: +1 508 362 3225.
Concord, only 35km (22 miles) northwest of Boston, is the poster child for New England's historic small towns. This is the place where the advancing colonial British troops (the 'Redcoats') first encountered the speedy defence capabilities of the 'Minutemen', so-called because they were ready for battle in only 60 seconds. The first American victory, of what was to become the American War of Independence, was here at North Bridge. An idea of what they were firing at each other is to be found at Bullet Hole House, pierced by a Redcoat musket ball.
Literary culture also abounds in Concord. Ralph Waldo Emerson's house is now a public museum, not far from the town's central Monument Square. Nearby are the Orchard House and the Wayside of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Just south of the square is Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond. All three are buried in Author's Ridge at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Concord can be combined with a stop at Lexington to make a full day's excursion.