Boston is the "cradle of liberty" for the United States, scene of the first rumblings for independence from England. The city is proud of its heritage and has managed to preserve many reminders of this pivotal time in American history. Thus there are many locations within the city proper and nearby which make choosing a "best" ten sights difficult. There are also many excellent museums and Arts venues which vie with the historical sights for the tourist’s attention. Here are my choices, to be followed by a photo album.
1. Freedom Trail. Not one sight but a series of attractions woven into a walking trail through history, this self-or-guided walk is Boston’s top tourist activity. Highlights include the Old North Church, where lanterns initiated Paul Revere’s famous ride, Bunker Hill, scene of a famous battle for control of the city, and Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution, an important battleship of the early United States Navy.
2. Boston Museum of Science. This wonderful, interactive museum engages children and adults in an exploration of a wide variety of scientific principles and facts. It ranks as one of the top museums of its kind in the world.
3. Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market. Actually locations along the Freedom Trail (see above), these building comprise one of the top shopping destinations in the United States. The former consists of rows and rows of shops and restaurants, while the latter is the ultimate food court, with almost any kind of food imaginable.
4. New England Aquarium. Another of Boston’s remarkable museums, this venue is one of the first in world to exhibit sea creatures in a huge tank with a wide variety of creatures mixed together. Sharks roam the waters with sea turtles and rays, along with colorful reef fish. The main tank occupies the center of the building with individual displays along the outside walls.
5. Salem, just north of Boston. Salem was the setting for one of the most embarassing periods in American history. It was here that the famous "witch trials" were held which ended with the execution of numerous townspeople. The frenzy was documented in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and is now dramatized for tourists in numerous locations in town.
6. Museum of Fine Arts. Another of the city’s excellent museums, this building houses a world-class collection of Art from Egyptian mummies to Twentieth Century American paintings.
7. Italian dining in the North End. Boston’s "little Italy" has an excellent collection of Italian dining opportunities. Almost every restaurant has good food, and the people-watching is fine as well.
8. Drive along the Route of Revolutionary War. Check out the early days of the Revolutionary War by driving along the road from Lexington ("the shot heard round the world") to Concord, where the first battle of the war was fought. This area, just west of the city of Boston, has numerous stops which commemorate these beginnings of steps of independence for the United States.
9. John F Kennedy Memorial Library. Just south of the city center, this "museum" commemorates the life and death of one of America’s most beloved presidents. Displays cover his childhood, military service, and his time as Senator and then President, until his assassination in November, 1963.
10. Plimoth Plantation & Plymouth Harbor – Just south of Boston (perhaps 45 minutes to 1 hour) lies the city of Plymouth, famous as the landing site of the Pilgrims in 1620. Visitors can see Plymouth Rock, where the first footstep supposedly took place, and a replica of the Mayflower, the ship which brought these pioneers to America. A short distance from the harbor is Plimoth Plantation, an open-air museum which recreates this early colony. Townspeople in traditional dress make the experience come to life, speaking like the Pilgrims and engaging in activities typical of this time in American history.
Other sights considered: