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Top 10 Must-See Sights in Boston

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Boston is a one-of-a-kind American city that offers visitors opportunities to relive history, immerse themselves in the arts, cheer for hometown sports teams, explore museums, discover "hidden" harbor islands and imbibe at a famous brewery or an even more famous bar. If you're visiting Boston for the first time or if you've never spent an extended period in Massachusetts' capital city, here are my picks for Boston's must-see sights and attractions.

1. The Freedom Trail

Park Street Church - Boston Freedom Trail
© 2000 Kim Knox Beckius
A walk along the two-and-a-half-mile Freedom Trail is one of the best ways to get acquainted with Boston and to efficiently visit the city's bounty of historic landmarks. If you're in a hurry and in pretty good shape, you can cover the length of the trail in as little as an hour, but that won't really allow you the time to stop and visit any of the sites along the way. Your best bet is to allow three hours or more to walk the trail at a leisurely pace and see all of its Revolutionary landmarks.

2. Boston Public Garden

Boston Swan Boats
© 2000 Kim Knox Beckius
Boston Public Garden, located along Charles Street adjacent to Boston Common, is the nation's oldest botanical garden. The famous Swan Boats have returned to Boston Public Garden each spring since they were first invented in 1877 by Robert Paget. The business, which operates from mid-April through mid-September, is still operated by descendants of the boats' inventor. When winter arrives, the pond is open to ice skaters.

3. Quincy Market

Quincy Market Boston
© 2000 Kim Knox Beckius
Most people know it as Quincy Market, although its official name is the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Whatever you call it, this indoor-outdoor market is a great place for both shopping and dining.

4. Fenway Park

Fenway Park
© 2000 Kim Knox Beckius
On a sunshine-filled summer afternoon, there is perhaps no better place to be in all of New England than Fenway Park, historic home of Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox. Baseball fans have been energized and agonized by the exploits of some of baseball's greatest players at Fenway since 1912. If you can't score tickets to a Red Sox game, look into behind the scenes tours of Fenway Park.

5. Museum of Science

Boston Museum of Science - Dinosaur Photo
© 2007 Kim Knox Beckius
Boston's museums are as good as any you'll find in the world, and the most visited one is the Museum of Science at Science Park. It has more than 400 interactive exhibits including my favorite--the Virtual Fish Tank, an IMAX theater and a planetarium. Take the kids!

6. Sam Adams Brewery

Sam Adams Brewery Tours in Boston
© 2000 Kim Knox Beckius
These days, Samuel Adams is known as much for being a brewer as a Patriot. Tour the Sam Adams Brewery in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston for a glimpse at the microbrewery's beer-making process and a sample of the finished product. The brewery is also home to the Boston Beer Museum.

7. New England Aquarium

Sea Lion at New England Aquarium
© 2001 Kim Knox Beckius
Want to see sea lions smile and penguins play? Head to the New England Aquarium, one of Boston's perpetually popular family attractions. Once inside, you'll find yourself immersed in a watery world, where you can wave your flippers at cavorting sea lions and press your nose right up against the glass of the poisonous fish tank--if you dare!

8. Boston Harbor Islands

Boston Harbor Islands - Photo
© 2007 Kim Knox Beckius
Want to swim, hike, explore the ruins of an old fort and camp out under the stars at a national park? Believe it or not, you can do all of these things without leaving the city of Boston. The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area consists of 34 narrow isles scattered in New England's most historic harbor, and you can visit these "hidden" outdoor spaces by boarding seasonal ferries from Quincy and Boston's Long Wharf.

9. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts Boston Photo
© 2011 Kim Knox Beckius

The MFA is New England's largest art museum. It is known for its collection of works by Claude Monet--the largest assemblage of paintings by the French Impressionist outside of France, as well as for its enthralling Art of the Americas Wing, which opened in 2010. It is also home to spectacular changing exhibitions that never fail to attract attention.

10. Cheers Boston (formerly the Bull & Finch Pub)

Famous as the inspiration for the television show Cheers, the former Bull & Finch Pub, now officially known as Cheers Boston, is located in Boston's Beacon Hill District. It's definitely a tourist trap with souvenirs galore for sale and overpriced pub food, but it's still one of those places that fans of the show make a beeline for when they're in Boston.
Related Video
Tour of Quincy Market in Boston

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