How To Spend One Day in Boston

I’ve visited Boston a handful of times in my life. It’s a city that always excites me and always draws me in and has me wondering, “Could I call this place home?” So when I had the opportunity to show off the city to my friend from London as our first stop on our great East Coast America road trip I wanted to make the best of what to do with one day in Boston!

If you’ve only got one day, either you’re flying in or out or passing through on your way elsewhere, I hope these tips will help you to make the most of your one day in Boston!

Where to Stay:

North End:

If you’ve only got one day, I highly recommend staying somewhere central in the North End. If you want to focus your one day on the historical side of Boston, The North End is exactly where it’s at. This is where all the American Revolution hot spots and the Freedom Trail are located. If you want to be within walking distance to the Boston Common, Paul Revere’s house and Quincy Market, choose a place to stay here.

HI Boston:

Hostelling International USA chose to nestle their hostel between the Theater district and Chinatown and simply put it’s in one of the most perfect locations for exploring Boston. I’ve stayed at a few HI USA properties now, and every time I am WOWed and this was no exception! We stayed here in a private room that was perfect for the two of us for one night! And starting at $210 a night for privates and $39 a night for dorms, you can’t beat the price for that part of town.

HI Boston was within walking distance of Boston Common, South Station, Quincy Market, parts of the Freedom Trail and even Boston Harbor! HI Boston offers free breakfast, free WiFi, free tours and so much more! It was a super hip and trendy space with a giant second floor common area that I could totally see hanging out in and making friends if you stay for more than a day! Lol

A few other hotel options:

Back Bay:

Back Bay is another great option if you want to get a smidge away from insanely expensive downtown and it’s still within walking distance to most of the major sights I’m going to recommend in your whirlwind tour. It’s well connected on public transportation so you can get to all the interesting Boston neighborhoods quickly and easily like South End, Theater District and even Fenway.

A few other hotel options:

  • Loews Boston Hotel – Copley Square and Boston Common are within walking distance!
  • No. 284 – Close to Fenway, shopping, beautiful architecture, and the Boston Public Garden.
  • Hotel 140 – Stay in an iconic landmark in Boston!

How To Spend Your One Day in Boston:

Kane’s Donuts

If you’re gluten free or even if you love all the gluten, this spot is the perfect place to begin your day. They always have a few varieties of gluten free donuts and a ton of full gluten varieties! I believe there are multiple locations but I visited the one on Oliver street right next to Boston Harbor and pranced with spoils over to the piers and sat basking in the sunshine watching the boats and gloriously munching on the most delicious donut [possibly the only donut] I’ve had in ten years. Standing ovation to you Kane’s, can you come to my backyard, please? Or at least send donuts!

Freedom Trail

This is pretty obvious but needs to be mentioned. It’s easy, takes only a couple hours depending on how many places you want to stop and have a look around in. It’s a 2.5 mile stroll through the most historic parts of Boston. It includes Boston Common, Paul Revere’s House, Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church, Old State House, Old South Meeting House, the Bunker Hill Monument, Faneuil Hall, Granary Burying Ground, USS Constitution and so much more. Don’t forget your camera! You can find more info here

Exploring America with this gal!

Winthrop Lane

As an added bonus make sure to seek out this charming little walking lane nestled nest to St. Anthony Shrine church and make sure to look down! It’s filled with inlaid bricks that have intricate, incredibly detailed designs and illustrations on them. Some mark significant people, others mark events in time or locations. Which one is your favorite?

Duck Tour or Swan Boat Ride

Depending on what you’re into, hop on a Duck Boat or a Swan Boat through the Boston Public Garden. Duck Boats go down the Charles River and offer breathtaking views of Cambridge and Boston. It’s a great way to see the rest of Boston that you don’t see on the Freedom Trail and from a different perspective AND you get to rest your tootsies for awhile! I think you even get to pass by the infamous Cheers! Bar too!!

This tour is the original Duck Tour company.

Swan boat rides date back to the 1800s in Boston, believe it or not. You could legitimately swing doing both as these are only 15 minutes max. The scenery is great and it’s a wonderful little escape from the city for a bit! Here’s more info if you’d like!

Eat at Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market: It’s lunchtime!

This market is one of my favorites in the USA. Think about every single type of food you can imagine, add in the freshest of fresh New England seafood, in an insanely historical venue and you’ll have an idea what Faneuil Hall is like.

Get a City Pass And Spend the Rest of Your Afternoon Your Way for CHEAP!

I love getting City Passes when I know I want to see a lot of the major attractions in a city. They are an insanely good deal, you can get them mailed to you before you even go so you don’t have to monkey around with tickets and, did I mention they are a REALLY good deal? The Boston pass includes admission to The New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, the Skywalk Observatory and either the Harvard Museum of Natural History OR a Boston Harbor Cruise. All of these things individually would cost you $107 on a good day, but with the pass, they are all only $59 for an adult! (even cheaper for kids!)

Get your City Pass for Boston here

Sam Adams Brewery

If you’re a beer lover, I’m not sure you can miss spending a couple hours wetting your whistle at the Sam Adams Brewery. It’s a bit out of the city center so you’ll have to be committed to it but it’s essentially right on the orange line of the T (Boston’s metro system) so it isn’t terribly difficult. They offer tours, tastings and everything in between! Go and learn about the history of the brewery and how it became known as Sam Adams!

The Beehive:For dinner and starting your evening off right!

I keep returning to this bustling joint, called The Beehive, mostly because it’s a place I know and trust but also just because it’s that fun and GOOD! Located on the northern edge of The South End, this spot is within walking distance or even just a short uber (<use code megans1962ue when you sing up for $5 off your first ride!) from both Back Bay and The North End. Their menu is constantly changing and evolving but always includes a little bit of something for everyone. I had the Thai curry and my friend had a strawberry salad! They have a massive drink list too! But my favorite thing is the atmosphere. They have live music almost every night, and the main dining room is downstairs and makes you feel like you’re in a speakeasy of sorts. Just take my word for it and go!

This isn’t meant as a comprehensive guide by any means, these are most of the things I dragged my friend to on our quick stop in town! If you’ve got more time in Boston, there’s plenty more out there to fill your days! Like doing a food tour of Boston’s Italian North End or anything on this list from Our Escape Clause of things to do in Boston.

Megan Stetzel

Megan is a girl that shouldn’t travel. She’s gluten free, allergic to everything else, falls off motorcycles, poops her pants, gets bit by stray dogs and yet she’s still been traveling the world. She's the co-founder and editor of Why Wait. Read More About Megan here.

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3 thoughts on “How To Spend One Day in Boston”

  1. I’m moving to Boston pretty soon! I would definitely recommend many of these as well for a day in Boston, but there’s also some that I need to try. Next stop… Kane’s Donuts. Thanks!!!

    Sarah

  2. Good trip and I hope you like Boston! If you have two or more days in Boston, visit the Boston Pier in the morning or afternoon and visit the Boston Aquarium, the New England Aquarium, one of the biggest attractions in Boston with more than one million visitors per year.

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