Do's and Don'ts: Guide to One Day in Boston

By Amy Curtis; Updated June 08, 2017

Hitting the highlights: A whirlwind tour of Boston in a day

Do's and Don'ts: Guide to One Day in Boston

One of our nation’s oldest cities, Boston has much to offer. From museums to historic sites from sporting events to excellent eateries and world-class shopping, there’s something for everyone. Having only one day to spend in Boston doesn’t offer much opportunity to indulge in its smorgasbord of history and culture, but some careful planning can yield a satisfying sample.

Three things you must do and how to do them

Choose activities carefully to make the most of your limited time. One school of thought is to choose history, culture and cuisine, hitting one or two spots in each category. Prioritizing is the secret to a successful one-day visit.

  • Start the day with a walk through history. The Freedom Trail offers a great way to see a bunch of historical sites, which are really Boston’s big draws. It can also be a time-waster because of all the tourists shuffling along the route. A better way to walk it: Check out the side streets and explore the non-touristy bits.


An alternative to the Freedom Trail is the Heritage Trail, which focuses on African American history. Starting at Boston Common, it hits several historic sites before reaching the African Meeting House, where Frederick Douglass spoke out against slavery in 1860.

  • Break up the afternoon reveling in something beautiful. Whether it’s the New England Aquarium, the Institute of Contemporary Art, a stroll in the Public Garden, a ride in the Swan Boats or a Harbor Cruise to see the sights, do something that feeds the soul and soothes the mind.
  • Experience flavors that are uniquely Bostonian. Boston and seafood are synonymous, so a lobster roll is a good choice. Don’t fall for the over-hyped and over-priced eateries – Yankee Lobster Company is a no-frills place with amazing lobster rolls for about half of what the fancier places charge. Not a fan of seafood? Just about every kind of cuisine you want is available in Boston, from wood-fired pizza on the patio at Brewer’s Fork near Bunker Hill to Asian fusion at Shojo in the Theater District.

Two things you can skip and what to do instead

  • Skip Faneuil Hall. It may be one of the most famous places in Boston, but unless draining your wallet is the goal, it’s really not all that exciting. Give that time to a worthier attraction, like the Boston Tea Party Ship Museum. It takes only an hour to visit and features restored sailing ships, artifacts, historical reenactments, interactive exhibits and holograms. Who doesn’t like holograms? If you have more than an hour to spare, visit Abigail’s Tea Room for lunch, treats, “historically inspired spirits” and the five kinds of tea that were thrown overboard during the Boston Tea Party.
  • Don’t go to Cheers. Please don’t. Instead, hop on the MBTA Green Line and head for the Publick House in Brookline for some of the best craft beer in the city. Not only are the brew choices carefully selected, the ambiance is good, and the food is excellent.

One day is not enough time for all the must-dos in Boston. But with careful planning, a day can hold a lot of activity. The trick is to plan to come back another day and another, until the city feels like home, knowing full well that you’ll never see all there is to see in Boston.

About the Author

Amy Curtis