|American History & Bostonian Culture...
Bostons not the kind of city where you take a tour just out of a sense of obligation. Wander this architectural theme park of cobble-stoned paths, antique brownstones and 18th century buildings. Follow quaint neighborhoods to quiet corners within the city. Theres so much to explore, learn and discover, by land or water, on buses, trolleys or on foot. For excellent discounts and group passes check out a City Pass. The Boston National Historic Park Visitor Center is another great way to find out about the best tours in Boston.
Make way for ducklings...
Theres one tour that lets you see Boston by both land and water: the ever-popular Boston Duck Tours. Amphibious craft from World War II take you on a 90-minute ride along the citys byways and waterways. Be prepared to get wet and, yes, people really will quack back.
Tour by land...
Another of the citys famous tours is the self-guided walking path, the Freedom Trail. You can begin at Faneuil Hall, meander through the historic North End and eventually end up in Charlestown Navy Yard at the U.S.S. Constitution. Some of the worthwhile (and free) sites along the way include the Massachusetts State House, The Bunker Hill Monument, Boston Common, Kings Chapel Burying Ground, Old Granary Burial Ground and Copps Hill Burial Ground. Old North Church and Paul Reveres House are also on the trail, and offer an excellent excuse to duck into the pastry shops on nearby Hanover Street. If you'd like an authentic guide with real character, groups can sign up for the Freedom Trail Players, who will personally escort you around the 2.5 mile trail.
For a guide to walk along with you try Boston By Foot or, from the same company, Boston By Little Feet, a tour customized for children. Have a culinary groupie with you? Try the North End Market Tour and explore the markets and restaurants of this Italian neighborhood. For a real workout theres Boston Bike Tours. Open-air Trolleys are a pleasant touring alternative during warmer months. Discover Boston Trolley tours and Old Town Trolley are two popular companies that take you along many Freedom Trail spots-sans the walking. Many trolley companies have pick-up spots at various hotels.
One if by land, two if by sea...
Don't forget to take a look at Boston Harbor. Touring by boat can be inexpensive and a relief from the humid weather that overtakes the city in July and August. A shuttle from the North End to East Boston and the Charlestown Navy Yard is a mere dollar. Boston Harbor Cruises offers half-hour tours from Long Wharf to the Bay and back. See those amazing whales up close and personal when you board the Boston Harbor Whale Watches. Or maybe a pit stop at the Boston Harbor Islands State Park is more to your liking. The Charles Riverboat Company(Bostons only riverboat company) offers an hour tour from the CambridgeSide Galleria, down the Charles towards Harvard Square, then back again. They also offer private charters.
For excursions that take you further from the city, AC Cruise Line
on Northern Avenue offers a two-hour trip to Gloucester. They also offer whale watching and moonlight cruises. Discover the great pilgrimage of the Mayflower Ship and Christopher Columbus at Plimouth Plantation.
A different view...
To tour Boston from above, try the Prudential Center Skywalk or the John Hancock Observatory. Or you can settle in for a drink in the Bay Tower Room near Faneuil Hall and look over the water and surrounding areas.
The Gibson House, Nichols House Museum and the Harrison Gray Otis House let you see whats inside those beautiful Victorian row houses that comprise much of Beacon Hill, home to Bostons upper crust for generations..
Calling all beer lovers...
On the other end of the spectrum, there are several brewery tours for beer connoisseurs. You can witness the beer brewing process, learn the history of your favorite ale and get free samples at the end. Boston Beer Museum and the Harpoon Brewery are two popular spots. If your taste runs to wine, go outside city limits to tour the Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery.
The Boston Tea Party Ship &Museum, The Arnold Arboretum, The Franklin Park Zoo, Museum of Afro-American History and John F. Kennedy Museum offer guided and self-guided tours.