Boston’s Historical Activities To Add To Any Itinerary

You might be visiting Boston to enjoy its amazing sports teams, try out its delicious culinary scene, or to explore one of its many colleges. But you’ll be missing out on one of the best things the city has to offer if you don’t add a few of Boston’s historical activities to your list.

Whether you’re looking to learn about our founding fathers, the revolutionary war, many of our countries leaders of its history, especially the Kennedy Family, you’ll find Boston can help just about anyone finding their inner history buff. And as someone who was a history major, it was fascinating to get to explore so much of this history in person.

Shot down a public alley in Boston with light pull.

So make sure to get a little bit of your nerd on while trying out some of Boston’s historical activities.

Walking the Freedom Trail

This one is a no-brainer. The Freedom Trail walks you throughout the central city across many spots that played a role in the revolution. From Bunker Hill to Paul Revere’s House you’ll find many different historical spots where you can learn the stories of our founding fathers (and mothers) and the roles they played. It is also a good way to explore the city. You can plan a place to stop for lunch or for a coffee break and enjoy exploring the city.

Statue of Paul Revere on a horse in Boston with trees in background.

Many of the spots along the Freedom Trail are also free to visit. And those that aren’t, like Paul Revere’s House, are just a small fee. But you’ll want to grab a book, a guide, or look up information to get the most out of exploring this trail.

Taking  Boston by Foot Tour

If you’re looking to get more information while you’re exploring the historical parts of the city whether it’s the Freedom Trail or any other area consider taking a Boston by Foot tour. I wanted a way to hear more of the stories behind these places I was seeing without breaking that bank. Boston by Foot is the best way to do this.

Photo of tower of Old North Church in Boston.

Tours covering the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and more, are lead by well-educated volunteers who love their city and want to share it with you. Even better, tours start at just $13 and that fee is going to support an awesome non-profit. I was only disappointed that I hadn’t found them soon enough to take more than one.

Explore the Harvard Campus

There are some places that make you feel like you’re witnessing history as soon as you step onto them. Harvard’s campus is one of them. Countless leaders and inspirational figures have spent time on this campus. On top of that, it’s absolutely beautiful. Spend a morning wandering around campus or even take a tour.

Picture of inside of Harvard Library reading room.

Do note, that you can take a free official Harvard tour and visit the Harvard website to find those, they also have a self-guided walking tour. There are also paid tour companies that are supposed to be a lot of fun but unofficial.

Joining A Historical Pub Crawl

If you want to learn a little of the darker side of our founding fathers and have a little fun while you’re at it, another interesting one of Boston’s historical activities is the historical pub crawl. You’ll learn a little more about how things actually happened and not just what’s in the history books.

You’ll also have a chance to grab a drink in some of the country’s oldest pubs. Enjoy spending a night learning about Sam Adams while you’re drinking one! I thoroughly enjoyed my pub crawl with Boston Crawlings.

Visiting the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

While the founding fathers and the revolution are what Boston is best known for in the historical scene, my true love in American history is the 1960s and a big part of that is the Kennedys. I knew I had to make a trip over to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and I’m so glad I did.

You get to learn about JFK and his family on his road to the presidency and walk through many of the major moments of his presidency. They also honor the past of Robert F. Kennedy and his role in American history.

Photo of Profile in Courage award with flag in foggy background.

Now I know a lot about the Kennedys and I still learned a few new things. And I had a very moving moment when I got to the Profile in Courage Award where I saw my late-boss, David Cogdill, being honored.

Taking The Public Library Art Tour 

If you enjoy epic old buildings, a wide range of art, and free things, then the Boston Public Library’s free tour is perfect for you.  Once a day, at varying times, volunteers guide a group on an art & architecture tour of the library. While the book collection is impressive, the building itself and the art within it are even more interesting.

Statue of woman in front of Boston Public Library at dusk.

I particularly enjoyed the evening tour where you saw the exterior lit up beautifully as our guide talked us through the different aspects of the building.

Hoping On the Ferry & Exploring Salem

Before the Kennedy’s, before the library, and even before the founding fathers there were the witch trials in Salem. Massachusetts. And just a short ferry ride you can enjoy one of my favorite of Boston’s historical activities.

I visited Salem as a kid and have always found the witch trials as a fascinating piece of American history (one that isn’t as unique as we’d like to think it is).

Statue of man in Salem in front of Witches museum.

The boat ride from Boston is about an hour and a beautiful way to see the skyline, some of the islands, and relax a bit. Once you make it to Salem you can visit a variety of the historical spots. I particularly enjoy the House of Seven Gables which inspired Nathanial Hawthorne’s novel.

Getting Your History Buff on With Boston’s Historical Activities

With all of Boston’s historical activities, you’ll be able to fill up just about an itinerary. Take a few days to explore not only what is Boston, Massachusetts but also what it has been. But don’t forget to enjoy one of my other favorite things, Boston’s food scene.

Have you been to Boston? If so, do you have any other historical activities I should try on my next visit?

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.