Boston, Massachusetts, is America’s living museum where the past and the present live happily side by side. In this vibrant east-coast city, you can walk in the footsteps of an 18th-century revolutionary one minute, and soar up a 50-storey skyscraper the next. If you’re looking for a city packed with things to see and do, Boston is for you. And afterwards, you can recharge your batteries in beautiful Cape Cod.
Begin your adventure with a walking tour along the Freedom Trail, which starts at Boston Common and winds its way around the city centre, taking visitors through the city’s colonial and revolutionary past. Many locals recommend the Skywalk Observatory as your first stop. The 50th floor views of the city take in many landmarks, including the harbour, the Charles River and Boston Common. The 50-acre common, the world’s first city park, is a must-see. It’s an easy oasis, family-friendly escape from the city, and is always abuzz with hikers and bikers, runners and sunbathers. A few streets away, the big highlights of summer are the free concerts and movies at the Hatch Memorial Shell. This is also where Boston’s Independence Day celebration takes place on 4 July. And, of course, no visit is complete without watching the famous Boston Red Sox baseball team play at Fenway Park – a national pastime in one of the country’s oldest stadiums that all the family will enjoy.
Across the river is the world-famous Harvard College, which is well worth a visit. We’d suggest having a guided tour, especially as your guide could be a current student. It’s a stunning place, and the list of greats who have attended include Bill Gates, John F Kennedy and Barack and Michelle Obama. Here, you’ll gain an insight into what it’s like to be one of the 20,000 most academically gifted young people in the US. You’ll also get some great recommendations for local bars and restaurants, which will come in handy as the area is a foodie’s heaven, especially if you love seafood. Enjoy dinner on the waterfront eating lobster and clam chowder in the stunning harbour setting, then head to the Bell In Hand, America’s oldest tavern, for a night cap.
Explore the Cape
Escape the city and head to the beautiful sandy beaches and relaxed vibe of Cape Cod – a summer playground for many Bostonians, including the Obamas. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive, or ride the CapeFlyer, a seasonal passenger train service that runs from the city between late May and early September. Alternatively, skip the traffic and board the boat from Boston to Provincetown for just £45 for a one-way ticket.
Expect to see beautiful white-washed houses with a rustic feel, or check out of the many New England lighthouses in the area, all with fabulous sea views. The biggest draw is the beaches. The Nantucket Sound on the south coast offers warmer waters for swimming, while the Outer Cape beaches on the Atlantic have giant sand dunes and are great for surfing. Enjoy paddle-boarding or kayaking in Cape Cod Bay, or take a whale-watching trip to view the humpbacks in their natural habitat. If you’re not a beach person, head to one of the hundreds of kettle ponds dotted around the cape. These fresh-water swimming holes are an amazing escape and offer as much or as little privacy as you want – you just have to look in the right place. One of our favourites is Cliff Pond in Brewster.
Enjoy some retail therapy in Provincetown and Chatham, but also make time for a trip to Harwich Port, which was voted the second happiest seaside town in the US. With its picturesque main street and homemade ice cream from Sundae School, the port’s summer nights can be enjoyed with live music, street vendors and local hospitality.
Just a ferry ride away are the stunning islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, which can be easily visited for the day. Here, you could rub shoulders with celebrities in the many markets or restaurants and get a feel for how the other half live!
Need to know
• Stay at The Envoy Boston, from £315 per night for a classic room. Book direct at Theenvoyhotel.com. In Cape Cod, stay at Chatham Bars Inn from £210 a room per night. Book direct at Chathambarsinn.com
• Boston is easily walkable, but use the subway system known as the “T” to get about. The standard fare is £2.50 a trip and will take you to all parts of the city.
• If you’re driving, take a road trip along Route 6A all the way from Provincetown, the tip of the Cape. It’s six miles long and one of the most scenic routes in the US.