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What is Boston Known For?
Whether you realize it or not, Boston is abundant with famous landmarks dating back to significant historical events during the founding of the United States. Boston features museums and performance venues that fully immerse you into the city’s unique culture and history.
Boston, Massachusetts is known for it’s famous baked beans, the annual Boston Marathon, Fenway Park, and the famous bar Cheers. Boston is known for it’s history, most notably the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre. The city is a leader in entrepreneurship and innovation with two top schools calling this city home, Harvard and MIT.
Today, we’ll be going over some of the most notable things that Boston is known for. From the best beans in the U.S. to sparking an American revolution, Boston is truly one of the most iconic cities in the United States.
16 Things Boston is known for
As one of the most prominent cities in the United States, there is a long list of things Boston is known for. From historical land sites to major public events, there are many different popular destinations and activities for visitors to look forward to.
Not only that, but Boston has some of the top academic institutions and universities with many public attractions that give visitors learning opportunities too. After taking a trip to Boston, you will discover why it is one of the most well-known cities in the United States.
Here is a list of 16 things Boston is known for.
A global leader in entrepreneurship and innovation
With top-ranking institutions like Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston is thriving with tech talent and new technologies.
And with thousands of startups, Boston’s startup ecosystem ranks among the top in the United States.
Businesses in Boston are optimistic about the future prospects and application of Cybersecurity, the cloud, and other technologies. This is greatly attributable to the local tech talent which excel in cloud computing and artificial intelligence. With artificial intelligence on the rise, this makes Boston a more attractive tech hub for entrepreneurs seeking new talent.
For statistics and a more comprehensive look at Boston’s tech and entrepreneurial environment, you can view the results of a recent survey conducted by Accenture and the Greater Chamber of Commerce here.
Boston Symphony Orchestra
The BSO was founded in 1881 by Henry Lee Higginson. As a part of the Big Five, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest symphony orchestra in the United States among five others.
Most performances take place in Boston’s Symphony Hall, a National Historic Landmark with some of the best acoustics of any concert hall across the globe. During the summer, these performances are held at Tanglewood, an outdoor venue in western Massachusetts.
Take a visit to the Boston Symphony Orchestra to enjoy the best musical talent Boston has to offer!
New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium hosts thousands of aquatic animals ranging from penguins to intelligent octopuses. The sheer diversity of aquatic wildlife is the primary reason this aquarium is broadly considered one of the main public attractions in Boston.
The aquarium is a goldmine of information for marine biologists and other scientists interested in getting first-hand experience with a vast plethora of different aquatic animals.
This aquarium features exhibits such as the Atlantic Harbor seal exhibit to give visitors an exciting opportunity to watch all different kinds of aquatic wildlife in environments that mimic their native habitats.
For visitors invested in the learning experience, aquarium educators are always present to answer any lingering questions you may have regarding the animals or the habitats they are situated in.
As the third largest chinatown in the United States, Boston’s Chinatown is a lively Chinese community where locals and tourists alike can enjoy dumplings and dim sum at asian eateries while immersing themselves in the unique culture.
The Chinatown gate is one of the main attractions. You can recognize the gate with the two dog statues placed on either side of the gate, which are said to ward off evil.
The Chinese-inspired architecture and uniquely-designed water fountains create a very pleasing aesthetic.
If you are interested in the cultural scenery of Asia, then visit Rose Kennedy Greenway. This park is flush with plants native to Asia, including cherry trees and chrysanthemums that mirror Asian landscapes.
The Boston Marathon is a marathon race annually held on Patriot’s Day in several cities in eastern Massachusetts. This event includes over 30,000 qualified runners from different age groups along with domestic and international elite runners. The high fitness standards expected of participants help put runners at less risk for injury during the race.
During the race, you can see swarms of people on the sidelines cheering the runners as they continue on their long journey to the finish line. The race starts in Hopkinton and ends in Boylston Street, Massachusetts.
This event originally started in 1897 in recognition of the first marathon competition organized in the 1896 Summer Olympics.
Due to limitations from COVID, a virtual run is open for registration to runners who wish to take part in the event to account for the reduced size of the in-person race held in Massachusetts. For more information about this event, you can visit the Boston marathon website.
A walk through the Freedom Trail is one of the best free activities you can do in Boston.
As a pedestrian trail that connects important local landmarks, the Freedom trail passes through 16 land sites that marked important events in United States history. This trail is a 2.5 mile-long red brick path with a segment that runs between Boston Common and the Bunker Hill Monument.
With over 16 land sites on the trail path, you can always stop to visit various historical land sites as you make your way through the trail. These landmarks are a short detour away, with each one representing a piece of history that is made easily accessible to you.
Whether you want to learn more about Boston’s history or want to experience nature, the Freedom trail is a great way to experience the outdoors.
Here is a list of the historical landmarks you can find on the Freedom Trail:
- Boston Common
- Massachusetts State House
- Park Street Church
- Granary Burying Ground
- King’s Chapel
- King’s Chapel Burying Ground
- Benjamin Franklin Statue & Boston Latin School
- Old Corner Bookstore
- Old South Meeting House
- Old State House
- Site of Boston Massacre
- Faneuil Hall
- Paul Revere House
- Old North Church
- Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
- Bunker Hill Monument
- USS Constitution
If you want someone to guide you through the trail, you can purchase a ticket for a full tour at a visitor information center. These tours start at the Boston Common, where the red brick line begins.
Boston Duckboat Tour
As a city built around water, Boston Duckboat Tours are a unique experience for tourists that wish to travel to different parts of Boston. This 80-minute tour takes you through the historic parts of Boston. The three departure locations for these tours are the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Science, and the Prudential Center.
Passing through the Charles River, the duck boat tour gives you a complete tour of Boston with beautiful sights of the city.
Want to learn a cool fact about where these duck boats come from?
These duck boats were originally renovated WWII amphibious vehicles. In recent years these vehicles have been replaced with modern replicas that are much more fuel-efficient and run on biodiesel.
Carrying over 600,000 passengers annually, these Duck tours are a prominent public attraction.
Famous Baked beans
If you like baked beans, then you need to try Boston’s famous baked beans during your next trip to Boston.
Boston baked beans are a sweeter variation of baked beans that includes molasses and salted pork or bacon for additional flavor. Some restaurants serve boston baked beans as a side to their main dishes.
These famous baked beans were originally made in the 18th century when they first introduced molasses into the local baked beans recipes. Since Boston was a large producer of rum, there was a surplus of molasses, eventually resulting in molasses becoming a key ingredient in Boston baked beans.
The Boston Common, also called the Common, is a public park centered in downtown Boston at the southernmost portion of the Freedom Trail. It is the oldest city park in the United States, dating back to 1634.
With plenty of history behind it, the Common was at the center of many events during the American Revolution. Not only did Colonial forces gather at the commons, but triumphs over stringent policies of the crown were celebrated here as well.
As a relic of the past, the Boston Common is an attractive destination for American history enthusiasts and people wanting to learn more about Boston’s beginnings.
Next to the Boston Common, the Public Garden is the first public botanical garden in the United States with a unique design reflecting its Victorian roots.
The luscious flower beds and the calm channels of the Swan boats through the serpentine pond make the Public Garden a scenic, tranquil place where you can rest and relax during your stay in Boston.
The unique public art contributes to the garden’s allure and authenticity as a culturally rich land site.
A bronze statue of George Washington is one of the largest and most stunning sculptures in all of Boston. During the spring, you can witness the statue surrounded by beautiful flowers and greenery.
The public garden is the perfect place for picnics, a stroll, and people wanting to take pictures of the photogenic scenery. This garden is well maintained and offers opportunities to learn about and appreciate the diverse display of different plant life.
Boston Public Market
The Boston Public Market is an active marketplace on Hanover Street where New England food producers and artisans sell fresh produce, fresh meals, and highly sought for specialty items. Depending on the season you visit, different fruits and vegetables are sold and distributed in the marketplace.
There are two seasonal outdoor farmers markets held each year with a high volume of vendors usually selling local produce and foods.
This market consists of many independent businesses selling food and other products they prepared themselves. Short-term and long-term vendors pay a fee to sell their goods to consumers.
The Boston Public Market can be broken up into eight different sections:
- Bakery: There are a variety of bakeries selling breads, muffins, cookies, cakes, and scones with other side items. The diversity of bakery goods and high-quality products available at these Boston bakeries creates a highly competitive environment but also makes them stand out compared to your average bakery.
- Beverages: Vendors sell New England craft beers, hand-crafted liquors, wines, and cider. Boston is known for its craft beers, with many different breweries selling some of the best craft beers you can find in the United States.
- Dairy: Features a broad variety of New England-made brands that sell signature milks, cheeses, and other dairy products, including imported favorites like Aged Gouda, Manchego, Gruyere, and others.
- Meat: There is a large variety of different high-quality meats sold in the marketplace. Many of these meats include poultry, lamb, goat, grass-fed beef, eggs, and all-natural rubs..
- Prepared Meals: Depending on the time of day, there are vendors selling fully prepared meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These prepared meals are fast and convenient when you are on the go and trying to make your way through Boston’s many well-known destinations.
- Produce: Local produce is sold by many vendors, including a wide range of different vegetables and fruits that vary season by season.
- Seafood: Fresh and local catch from New England Fishermen are sold in the marketplace. One of the most well-known seafood chains is Legal Seafoods, which sells a lobster bake that is very popular. This seafood chain also sells dishes such as clam chowder, mussels, and steamed lobster.
- Specialty and Other Products: There are various specialty foods sold by many vendors. Some of the best artisanal specialty foods and other unique products are sold in this section of the marketplace.
Museum of Fine Arts
As the 14th largest art museum in the world, the Museum of Fine Arts possesses over 450,000 art works, one of the largest collections in all of the Americas.
This museum’s collection captures the diversity of artistic expression and cultural breadth spanning from prehistoric times to modern-day.
If you are interested in creative works of art, then make sure to visit the Museum of Fine Arts on Huntington Avenue.
In 1770, the Boston Massacre marked an important event that sparked early escalating tensions between colonists and Great Britain.
Although bloody, the Boston Massacre was not a massacre. British soldiers were hit by clubs and stones. One of the soldiers being harassed by the mob fired without an order by the commanding officer. This caused the other soldiers to fire as well, with the ensuing casualties resulting in several deaths.
This confrontation between British soldiers and the mob later received a lot of publicity. Of the eight soldiers involved in the shooting, two were convicted of manslaughter while the others were acquitted.
Paul Revere’s colored engraving of this event inaccurately captured the event by depicting the British soldiers shooting helpless colonists. Casting the mob as the victim changed many colonists’ perception of the Boston Massacre.
Propaganda efforts and gruesome depictions of this event raised tensions throughout the thirteen colonies, making this an important event that would eventually result in the Revolutionary War.
Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party was an iconic event in American history rooted in a resistance movement against the British Parliament. Although the Boston Tea Party didn’t cause the American Revolution, it certainly played an important role in the mounting tension between the American colonists and British rule.
Ninety-thousand pounds of tea were dumped in contempt for the Tea act, which resulted in colonists being taxed solely by their elected representatives and not by the British Parliament. This is when the famous phrase “No taxation without representation” first came about.
As a result of the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament inflicted punishment on the colonists through the enactment of the Intolerable Acts. The Intolerable Acts put an end to local self-government in Massachusetts and stopped all commerce that went through harbors in Boston, thus dampening economic activity in Boston.
Unsurprisingly, colonists lashed back and began to coordinate resistance against British rule. This eventually led to the start of the American Revolution, which began near Boston in 1775.
The USS Constitution
As the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy, the USS Constitution is a historic site that protected American merchants during the Quasi-War with France.
The USS Constitution is mostly remembered for her role in the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom. During this war, the USS Constitution captured several merchant ships and defeated five British warships, including the HMS Guerriere, thus earning her the nickname “Old Ironsides.”
This name is especially significant considering how public adoration for this ship saved her from being scrapped on multiple occasions.
Today, the USS Constitution remains as a symbol with the purpose of encouraging a better understanding of the Navy’s role during wartime.
The Navy still operates the ship today as a historic site available to visitors with the assistance of the National Park Service.
Bunker Hill Monument
As a part of the Boston National Historical Park, the Bunker Hill Monument is commonly associated with The Battle of Bunker Hill. This took place in June 1775 where New England troops had their first battle against the British army.
Fifty years later after the battle, this monument was built to commemorate The Battle of Bunker Hill. This was a difficult project at the time. This 221-foot tall monument was built only using quarried granite and took 17 years to complete.
Boston is a city rich in history as well as fostering up and coming talent in tech and other industries. The city played a key role in gaining US independence and forming the country of the United States of America as it is known today.
If you’re planning a trip to Boston we recommend checking out Hostel World here for affordable accommodation and for more information on things to do and see be sure to check out Fodor’s Travel Guide here.