If you’re like most avid travelers, you prefer to travel at least a week at a time, which really gives you the opportunity to fully delve into your location, see the sights and discover things you might not get the chance to see if you had a shorter amount of time.
But what if you only have 24 hours to explore a city?[find-an-apartment]
With some planning and a little guidance, you can still get a good taste of a city, even if you only have one day to do so. As one of the largest and oldest cities in New England, characterized by a unique urban personality peppered with history, culture and natural beauty, Boston is a prime travel destination. So if you happen to find yourself in Boston with only 24 hours, read on to find out how to plan your day to hit the top local hotspots.
Early Morning: The Freedom Trail
It’s only appropriate to start your 24 hours in Boston with the historic Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile long foray into 16 sites that played an important part in the Revolutionary War. Start at the centrally-located Visitor’s Information Center on Tremont St., where you’ll be able to walk north and pass Boston Common, Faneuil Hall and more. You’ll end your historical tour at the Old North Church in Boston’s North End neighborhood, which also happens to be Little Italy, so head on over to Parziale’s Bakery, a modest, Italian family-run bakery where you can pick up pastries like cannoli and biscotti for a quick breakfast.
Late Morning: Back Bay
Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood is one of the most scenic in the city, most recognizable for its rows of Victorian brownstone homes, so you’ll want to spend some time just wandering around in this historic district. There’s great shopping on Newbury Street, ranging from small boutiques to higher-end stores. You’ll also find the Boston Public Library in Back Bay, and while you may think that a library isn’t a prime destination while on vacation, you might want to give this one a second glance. Opened in 1895 (with an addition designed by Philip Johnson added in 1972), the library houses a dizzying array of volumes in addition to several murals by notable artists, such as John Singer Sargent, and an Italian Renaissance-inspired courtyard with soothing fountains and beautiful arched pathways.
Afternoon: Harvard Square
You’d be remiss if you went all the way to Boston without perusing the grounds of this prominent institute of higher learning. If you’re traveling to the city during the academic year, you might get the rare chance to rub elbows with the world’s future brain surgeons, astrophysicists and politicians. If not, you can still enjoy the view, as this is one of the most picturesque campuses in the nation. Take in some of the school’s history at Memorial Church before checking out one of the university’s small museums, such as the Harvard Museum of Natural History or the Fogg Museum, a small yet prestigious museum that is the oldest of the university’s art museums. If you’re in the mood to pick up a unique souvenir, make sure to stop in Black Ink, where you’ll find everything from quirky gifts and lifestyle items to cards and stationery.
Early Evening: Central Boston
If you’re a baseball fan, it goes without saying that Fenway Park is one of the most impressive baseball parks in the nation, as it is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium currently in use. If baseball isn’t in season or if you can’t get a ticket, the good news is that you can still tour the stadium. You can’t leave Boston without having a cup of ubiquitous clam chowder, and Boston Beer Works, which is conveniently right next to Fenway Park, is just about the best place to do it. The ambiance inside is lively and exciting, and the service is excellent. If you’re a fan of oysters on the half shell, sit at the oyster bar, grab an ice cold beer and watch the oyster shucker on duty work his magic. From here, it’s only a short walk to the Museum of Fine Arts, one of the largest art museums in the United States, which features an impressive collection of Egyptian artifacts, French impressionist and American works. If it’s Wednesday, you’ll get in for free.
After Dinner: Waterfront
You could follow up your dinner with a trip to The Bull and Finch, now famous for its appearance in the popular television series Cheers, but with so many other great (and decidedly less touristy) options in the city, why would you? Instead, head off in the direction of Boston’s Waterfront neighborhood and saddle up to the long, snaking blond wood bar at Drink, one of the best in town. The expert mixologists at Drink can whip up an amazing Sloe Gin Fizz or an Old Fashioned in a matter of mere seconds, although watching them craft their expert concoctions is impressive in its own right. After knocking back a few, head to the Boston HarborWalk, which is perfect for getting a great view of the city and checking out the contemporary public art.
Late Night: South Street Diner
If you’re still hungry after your sojourn to Drink, you won’t have to walk (or stumble) far from the bar to get to one of the best open-24-hour joints in the city which also provides for some of the best people watching. Also located in the Waterfront neighborhood, South Street Diner is where Boston’s bar hoppers, night owls, local characters and early morning commuters come together to break late-night bread. The lightning-fast grill masters serve up anything from French toast and eggs over easy to tuna melts and turkey clubs. It’s uncomplicated and satisfying, the perfect way to end 24 hours in Boston.
Photo credit: Shutterstock / Jorge Salcedo