18 Essential Boston Bucket List Ideas: Food, Activities + More

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Boston has something for everyone. Whether you are into sports, history, or food, you’ll find a lot to entertain you in Boston. 

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Are you a local? If so, we’re sure you get irritated with all of the large tour groups clogging up your downtown sidewalks and streets. However, how long has it been since you have acted like a tourist in your own city?

Take a look at our bucket list of top attractions in Boston. Maybe you are visiting Boston and are eager to see the sights. On the other hand, perhaps you are a local who has become so absorbed in day-to-day living that you forget about all that Boston has to offer. Whatever your situation, here are some places to add to your travel bucket list

Unique Boston Bucket List Ideas for Locals

If you are from the area, you’ve probably gotten your fill of the local history. You may have visited the USS Constitution Museum each time your kid has a field trip, and you know that the inside of Cheers doesn’t look anything like the TV show. 

However, there must be a few popular tourist locations that you have never experienced. Or perhaps there are some activities that you have overlooked. So look at your hometown with a fresh set of eyes by enjoying these experiences. 

1. Take a Boston food tour

You probably already have your favorite Boston restaurants. However, by taking a food tour, you might uncover a hidden gem in your backyard. There are a lot of different Boston food tours located in neighborhoods all over the city. 

Most tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable about their “beat” and share their knowledge about the neighborhood. You might learn about the history of the area, the architecture and notable properties, celebrity sightings, and tidbits about local restaurateurs. 

Taking a food tour will also expand your palate. A food tour will expand your culinary horizons if you are in a rut or always frequent the same restaurants.

2. Look at a map from 1935

The Mapparium isn’t any old map. Located in the Mary Baker Eddy Library, the Mapparium is a three-story, inside-out, stained-glass globe. It is bisected in the middle by a glass walkway, and it glows with LED lights.

Besides being a beautiful sight, the map gives you a rare chance to see the continents from a different perspective, as the sizes aren’t distorted like they are on a globe. 

3. Visit Forest Hills

You probably have visited (or at least walked by) the Puritan cemeteries in downtown Boston. But, you may not know that Boston is home to another historical cemetery that looks nothing like the wonky graveyards you associate with the city. 

Cemetery historians label Forest Hills Cemetery as the first “rural” cemetery, which changed how burial was viewed in the U.S. and Europe. These Victorian-era cemeteries were gathering places for families during the era before public parks were available. As a result, rural cemeteries were full of statuary, wrought-iron chairs, and winding, tree-filled lanes. 

We know that visiting a cemetery for pleasure isn’t for everyone. However, if you aren’t bothered by hanging out among the deceased, pay for a tour at Forest Hills.

Must-Do Boston Bucket List Ideas for Visitors

Here are some of the most highly-rated Boston attractions for those of you who will be in the city for a short time.

4. Learn about revolutionary Boston by taking a tour on the Freedom Trail

When you arrive in downtown Boston, you’ll probably see mobs of tour groups led by a funny-dressed guy in a tri-corner hat. Those tour groups are on the Freedom Trail, and they are learning about the events leading up to the Revolutionary War. 

Take the tour. We know you can save money by reading all the same information online, but it’s much more entertaining to hear the information presented by an actor/historian. 

5. Take part in the Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum tour is another essential activity for those visiting the city. This experience is less “museum” and can better be described as a living history experience. Actors/historians will walk you through the events that lead up to the tea party. You’ll learn the details behind this famous American story, and you might be given the experience of even launching a crate of tea overboard.

6. Tour Old Ironsides

The USS Constitution, originally launched in 1797, is the world’s oldest ship still afloat. Her three-wooden masts are impressive to behold. During your visit, you can learn why she was nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” and you’ll learn about the ship’s contributions during the War of 1812.

Boston Bucket List Ideas for Spring or Summer

If you have the opportunity to visit Boston during moderate weather, do as many of the outdoor experiences as you can. All Americans know how bitter cold Boston can get during the winter.

Here are some mostly outdoor experiences in Boston during the spring and summer.

7. Watch the Sox at Fenway

You don’t have to be a Sox fan to enjoy watching a game at Fenway Park. This stadium was built in 1912, is the second-smallest park (by total capacity) in the league, and has a lot of unique features. 

Are the Sox playing in Kansas City when you are visiting Boston? Tours of Fenway Park are available all year round. 

8. Take a drive to nearby Salem

Salem High School’s mascot is the Witch, so yes, Salem has certainly embraced (and capitalized on) its history. Consider taking a tour of this unique town to learn about the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Of course, there are also plenty of haunted/ghost tour groups wandering the area each evening. 

9. Ride the swan boats

Even if you have never visited Boston, you probably are familiar with the swan boats. These boats have been a part of the Boston Public Garden landscape since the late 1870s. The swan boat business has been in the same family since its beginnings.

If you are visiting Boston with children, make sure to read Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings before you arrive. The swan boats are featured in the book, and there is a statue of the ducklings in the Public Garden.

Boston Bucket List Ideas for Fall or Winter

Dress in layers when you visit Boston in the late fall or winter. Here are some activities to consider. 

10. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts 

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts boasts the most extensive collection of Japanese art in the world outside of Japan. The museum also houses works by many European masters, including Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh. 

11. Enjoy interactive exhibits and see live animals at the Museum of Science

Boston’s Museum of Science is a unique combination of a science museum and an indoor zoo. It also has a planetarium and an IMAX theater. 

Boston Bucket List Ideas for University Students

We are sure that young adults won’t be bored when visiting Boston. Not to play into the drunk college student stereotype, but Boston is known for its breweries and has been named America’s drunkest city. 

Here are some other places to visit for young adults traveling to Boston.

12. Tour Harvard

You might have fun comparing your campus to that of Harvard’s. Take a tour of the grounds and buy a Harvard sweatshirt in the bookstore so you can impress your parent’s friends.

13. Grab a beer in Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall is part historical site and part public gathering place. There are shops, restaurants, and street performers in this indoor/outdoor location. 

Boston Bucket List Ideas for Kids and Families

Are you bringing the kids with you to Boston? Besides riding the swan boats at the Boston Public Garden, there are other child-friendly Boston activities. 

14. Visit the penguins at the New England Aquarium

What kid doesn’t love seeing penguins and seals at an aquarium? The New England Aquarium is located on Boston Harbor. The facility partners with whale watching tours, which operate from April through November.  

15. Let the kids run off some energy at the Boston Children’s Museum

Boston Children’s Museum gives kids an ample opportunity to climb, explore, and learn with plenty of interactive exhibits.

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Boston

We aren’t even going to attempt to make a food bucket list for Boston, as our list would be woefully incomplete. Instead, here are a few popular choices for those visiting Boston.

16. Clam chowder

Your server is probably tired of out-of-towners ordering “chowdah” in an attempt to embrace the local accent. However, you should probably try this signature dish when visiting Boston. Good luck finding the “best in the city” because it seems as if many restaurants claim that honor.

17. Lobster 

New Englanders are proud of their lobster. So whether you purchase a whole lobster or a lobster roll, this is definitely something to try when you are in Boston. 

18. Cannolis

While some may associate Boston Cream Pie as the dessert of choice in this New England city, we would opt for a freshly made cannoli from the Italian North End. Consider taking a food tour of the Italian neighborhoods to get a taste of several of the restaurants and Italian markets.

What’s Missing From Our List?

What are your favorite places to visit in Boston? If you are a local, what are your favorite non-touristy sites?

Learn more about how to make a bucket list and start marking items off your list. Whether your list focuses on travel, food, or accomplishments – you only have one life! Live it!

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