American History Boston Style (With Martinis)

WHY GO: Historic Boston will be forever linked to America’s revolutionary stirrings. Tea Party, anyone? The Old State House celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2013.  The Paul Revere House, built in 1680, is even older than that.

Even if you snoozed through history class in High School, there are plenty of engaging ways to learn about our nation’s birth here, from Tea Party reenactments to Ghost Tours.

Paul Revere statue at Paul Revere Mall.
Paul Revere Mall, with the statue and Old North Church, is one of the most photographed spots on Boston’s Freedom Trail.

Things To Do In Historic Boston

WALKING TOUR: Freedom Trail

Even if you only have 24 hours in Boston, you won’t want to miss the 2.5-mile Freedom Traila self-guided walking tour that ushers visitors by (and into) 16 highlights of the American Revolution. For an additional fee, hire your own personal (or group) costumed tour guide to take you along on an entertaining trip through history.  Start at the Visitor’s Center and sign up, or purchase a walking tour booklet. You can also book a history tour online.

Old State House in Boston

VISIT: The Old State House

Built in 1713, the Old State House is the oldest surviving public building in Boston. Initially it housed the Council Chamber of the Royal Governor and offices of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Within these walls, our Founding Fathers debated the future of what were then British Colonies.

The Boston Massacre took place right outside. Later, officials read the barely dry Declaration of Independence from the balcony to a celebratory crowd on the street. Listen to storytellers expound upon the history of the building, take a guided tour of the Boston Massacre site, and watch a thrilling multimedia presentation through Revolutionary Boston at the Old State House.

Boston Tea Party Ship Museum

VISIT: Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Get revved up by agitators. Dump bales of tea into the harbor. And stare agape at put-you-there holograms. But will you be tar and feathered?  That remains to be seen at this ingenious Living History museum that puts you in the middle of the action.  Learn about the original Tea Party in the very place it happened. $25 adults, $15 kids.

Restaurants In Historic Boston


North 26 gets high marks for libations like “Cupcake Tini,” and blue-cheese-stuffed martini olives that, when soaked in Chopin Vodka “opens heavens gates,” according to one fan.  You and 11 friends can hold court at the Chef’s Table adjacent to an 18 ft. tall glass wine case, and enjoy inventive bites like Mushroom-Onion Gallet and superb grilled calamari.

Neptunes Oyster - oyster shucker prepares shell fish

EAT: Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall is less known for its culinary star turns and more for its pubs, shops, pushcarts and tourist traps.  If you have never been there, go to say you have.

EAT: Neptune Oyster

Otherwise, wander to Neptune Oyster in the North End and slurp down a few of those pearl-makers.

Boston nightlife at Union Oyster House

DRINK: Historic Pub Crawl

Are you 21 or over? Is it Tuesday? Do you enjoy beer and stories of Boston’s treasonous events? Led by an 18th century costumed guide, this “Historic Pub Crawl” includes a tour of Boston’s oldest and finest bars (Union Oyster House, the Point, the Green Dragon, and Bell in Hand) and samples of a variety of Samuel Adams beers and light fare. The 90-minute outing offered every Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. Begins at the BOSTIX Booth at Faneuil Hall. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance. $43 per person.

Millenium Bostonian Hotel sign

Where To Stay In Historic Boston

STAY: Millennium Bostonian Hotel

The Millennium Hotel literally sits atop U.S. history, spitting distance from Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall. When first built 70 years ago, architects were required to preserve a maze of historically protected cobblestone alleyways – some only a few feet across – within the building’s footprint. To do so, they designed three separate structures, joined by enclosed skywalks, from which visitors can now peer into our nation’s past.

The stunning lobby is kited out in shiny red and black lacquered bookshelves, cherry-hued area rug, charcoal-grey floral brocade couch, and zebra-skin stools. Large gold apples accessorize the gateway into this service-is-key hotel right across from historic Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall.

Chic colorful hotel lobby - red lacquer bookshelves - zebra striped stools

Your sleeping quarters might front a cobblestone byway or Quincy Market and the Big-Ben like clocks of Faneuil Hall.  Huge travertine bathrooms feature rain-shower heads in a glass shower fit for two. And custom toiletries include an arm-sized loofa. Ask for Room 442, which provides dead-on views of the market. It’s also a perfect perch from which to catch street performers.

If you’re lucky, you’ll hear the sweet sound of a saxophone playing The Star Spangled Banner as the sun goes down. Room rates from $260-$600 in high season includes complimentary organic coffee in the morning and homemade lemonade in the afternoon.  Complimentary WiFi.

STAY: XV Beacon

Devotees of XV Beacon include politicos, celebs and refined-luxury hounds who check in to this 62-room boutique hotel for an Old World Boston Brahmin mansion experience complete with contemporary amenities. Within steps of the (new) State House, a stylish abstract black and white parlor that serves as lobby often buzzes with locals (and visitors) making plans.

Picture yourself post…..shower; in your Frette bathrobe, sprawled out on a luscious pillow-top contemporary four-poster, reading a delivered-to-your-door New York Times in front of a flick-of-switch gas fireplace.

Walls and floor, accessories and bedding, sport coffee colors of every permutation, from café au lait to dark Arabica. It’s the unexpected architectural details, though, like chunks of crown molding over the brushed nickel fireplace, that gives the crisp, modern aesthetic an interesting twist.

$375-$1500 per night for rooms and suites includes complimentary in-town chauffeured Lexus Sedans, complimentary shoe shine, free wi-fi.

Weekend Getaways In Boston

Historic Boston Pinterest Pin


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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4 thoughts on “American History Boston Style (With Martinis)”

  1. As someone who lived in Boston for quite a while, you’ve certainly covered the basics. XV Beacon looks like a lovely hotel – I hope to stay there on a future visit!

  2. Have only been once, but I have to say that Boston just “feels” like America and all the places you have mentioned are perfect. Neptune is a great place, but don’t ever forget Lucky’s little family bakery in the North End, either! Great post.

  3. Thanks for the shoutout, Tony!! Yes, Boston has such history. One of my favorite American cities! Malerie

  4. My husband and I visited Boston for the first time two years ago. We we pleasantly surprised that it was not what we expected. We were expecting a smaller version of Nee York City. What we discovered was a clean, quaint city that embraces tourism and makes tourist feel welcome. The park was spectacular. We could have sat there for hours relaxing. The historic trail is marked and easy to follow. We want to visit again!

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