Visit Boston's Waterfront

Sherry Mims/Sherry Mims
By AAA Travel Editor Sherry Mims
September 24, 2018
Let the phrase, “One if by land, and two if by sea” guide you to family-friendly places of interest around Boston Harbor. This will allow you to narrow down your list of things to do in Boston, Mass., and explore one of the country’s most famous waterfronts.
Front of Boston Children's Museum in Boston Massachusetts
Boston Children's Museum/Karin Hansen
Boston Children's Museum
308 Congress St.
(617) 426-6500
Let kids play and learn at this attraction. Found along the waterfront, the 100-year-old museum features everything from an exhibit on bubbles to a traditional Japanese home. There’s also a three-story sculpture to climb for a superb view of Boston.
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Boston Harbor Cruises takes passengers to sites around Boston Harbor. Islands visited include Spectacle, Georges and Peddocks. Bumpkin, Grape and Lovells are available Memorial Day to Columbus Day.
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Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
(617) 223-8666
The park encompasses 34 islands and peninsulas—some of which are accessible to the public. Depending on the island, you can explore trails, tide pools and historic landmarks just minutes away from urban Boston. Islands, including Spectacle, Georges, Peddocks, Bumpkin, Grape and Lovells, can be reached Memorial Day to Columbus Day from ferries operated by Boston Harbor Cruises.
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In the background is Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel, which overlooks Long Wharf.
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Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel
296 State St.
AAA Inspector Rating
(617) 227-0800
Next to Long Wharf, this spot—deemed a AAA Inspector Pick for the impressive lobby—provides a place to lounge and plan. In addition to the harborside activities, it's close to the Freedom Trail, where you can explore places steeped in American history.
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The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museums tells the story of the storied political protest of Dec. 16, 1773, when the Sons of Liberty threw tea into Boston Harbor.
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Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Congress St.
(617) 338-1773
History is hands-on at this attraction. Costume interpreters will guide your family to the Beaver and the Eleanor, two replica ships, and will relate the importance of the legendary political protest of Dec. 16, 1773, when the Sons of Liberty threw chests of tea into Boston Harbor.
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The 221-foot obelisk is on the hill where Colonial forces constructed a redoubt (fort) during the first official battle of the American Revolution. History buffs should note Breed’s Hill, where the monument sits, is where the majority of the battle took place.
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Bunker Hill Monument
Monument Square
(617) 242-7275
This is a bit of a walk from the Charlestown Navy Yard, but the historical significance makes it a worthy attraction to visit. The 221-foot obelisk is on the hill where Colonial forces constructed a redoubt (fort) during the first official battle of the American Revolution. History buffs should note Breed’s Hill, where the monument sits, is where the majority of the battle took place.
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The Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston National Historical Park, features a visitor center, the USS Cassin Young, the USS Constitution (aka Old Ironsides) and the USS Constitution Museum.
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Charlestown Navy Yard
55 Constitution Rd.
(617) 242-5601
This historic naval yard features a visitor center, the USS Cassin Young, the USS Constitution Museum and “Old Ironsides”—aka AAA GEM USS Constitution, America’s oldest commissioned ship, which was constructed and launched in the yard in 1814. Hearing stories from a U.S. Navy sailor while on the undefeated warship is a highlight. Remember to bring your ID to tour the USS Constitution and USS Cassin Young.
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Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston Massachusetts
AAA/Photo submitted by Maria White
Durgin Park
340 Faneuil Hall Marketplace
AAA Inspector Rating
(617) 227-2038
This longtime restaurant serves New England favorites, including clam chowder, lobster and Yankee pot roast. Though diners no longer eat communally on the second floor, one can expect hearty fare and a good time. Coming here also will allow you to explore Faneuil Hall, a must-do hub of shopping and dining in Boston.
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The New England Aquarium, as seen in winter, offers numerous exhibits on sea life as well as whale-watching tours and an IMAX theater by popular Long Wharf.
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New England Aquarium
1 Central Wharf
(617) 973-5200
Watching penguins being fed at the ground floor exhibit’s artificial islands is both fun and educational. Afterward, head toward the 150,000-gallon tank to see stingrays, sharks, sea turtles and fish. If you have extra time, buy fare for the New England Aquarium Whale Watch, where you are guaranteed to see marine life such as dolphins, seabirds and various types of whales.
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Exterior of Old North Church in Boston Massachusetts
AAA/Photo submitted by Maria White
Old North Church
193 Salem St.
(617) 858-8231
Built as Christ Church in the City of Boston circa 1723, the AAA GEM is not only the city’s oldest surviving church but also one of the sites on the 2.5-mile redbrick Freedom Trail. On April 18, 1775, two lanterns blazed—a signal from patriot Paul Revere—revealing that the British were going to Lexington and Concord by sea, not by land. This action, later immortalized in American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride,” helped spark the American Revolution.
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