20 Famous Landmarks in Boston, Massachusetts You Must Visit


8 min read
Monument in the center of a park surrounded by trees, with skyscrapers behind
Boston played an important role in American history and has many important sites

Boston is one of the relatively few American cities whose history spans hundreds of years. It's accordingly a complicated place, being both the birthplace of American liberty and an important port in the American slave trade.

These 20 famous landmarks in Boston, Massachusetts, will allow visitors to observe and honor the birth of modern democracy as well as the country's many struggles, with some lobster and baseball thrown in along the way.

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20 Famous Boston Landmarks

Boston Landmarks Map

Using the map of Boston landmarks, you can explore all the landmarks.

Museum of African American History

The African Meeting House and the Abiel Smith School are the two buildings comprising the Museum of African American History in Boston.

The African Meeting House was built in 1806 as an important center for Black Bostonians in the early United States. It served as a school, a church, a civic center, and a stop on the Underground Railroad.

In 1835, Boston's Black children moved next door to the newly constructed Abiel Smith School. Today, it commemorates the African American quest for educational equality. Both the school and the meeting house are stops on Boston's Black Heritage Trail.

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Symphony Hall

Opened in 1900, Symphony Hall is one of the most famous Boston buildings and is considered one of the top concert halls in the world.

It's best known for performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but visitors can also catch other shows. Traveling orchestras, quartets, and world-famous musicians all seek audiences here, so check the calendar to see what's going on during your visit.

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Barren trees in a park with modern buildings and blue sky behind
Boston Common is one of the famous landmarks in Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Common

Boston Common is America's oldest park, stretching back to colonial and pre-revolutionary times. Before it was full of frog ponds and ballparks, it was alternatingly an encampment for the British Redcoats, a common grazing area, and the town gallows.

It's an integral part of Boston's Freedom Trail, a guided or self-guided walk through important monuments and landmarks that highlight the city's role in colonial history and the fledgling United States.

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Boston Irish Famine Memorial

When famine struck Ireland in the 1840s, Boston became a major entry point for the refugees flooding into the country. There are eight monuments in the 1998 memorial with inscriptions describing the Irish experience.

The overwhelming numbers in which they came led to the rise of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic pushback from the overwhelmingly Protestant, Anglo-Saxon population of New England. That's changed in modern times, and roughly one in five Bostonians now identify as Irish-American.

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The Boston Public Garden is one of the famous landmarks in Boston, Massachusetts
Boston Public Garden is the oldest botanical garden in the US

Boston Public Garden

This landmark in Boston is the oldest botanical garden in the United States. Unlike the more practical Commons, the Boston Public Garden's meandering paths were built for enjoyment alone.

At one point, the garden was the home of exotic flora and independent hybridization projects that made it a spectacular but somewhat garish sight. Today, there is a more coordinated symphony in the sights and smells of its more than eighty species.

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People seated in a high-arched library hall with desks and lighted lamps
Boston City Library was the city's first and only free municipal library

Boston Public Library

Boston is a city of "firsts." The first large, free municipal library in the United States was Boston Public Library. It was the beginning of a movement that would lead to tax-supported public libraries as cornerstones of education and information in American towns and cities.

The Boston Public Library is now found in the historic 1895 McKim building and the adjacent Johnson building, built in the 1970s to provide more modern facilities.

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A boat docked in a pier with buildings and skyscrapers in the background
The Boston Tea Party replica ship is both a museum and a famous landmark

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

The Boston Tea Party is one of the most memorable events of colonial America. The original ships involved in the event no longer exist, but the replica ship created for the museum makes this among the most iconic Boston landmarks.

Live actors and interactive exhibits recreate the circumstances that led to the act of defiance against the British crown, letting visitors experience history rather than just learn about it.

Book your tickets for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.

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Cars on a highway with buildings on one side and a view of a lagoon on the other
The Esplanade is a three-mile green stretch with pathways for running and cycling

Charles River Esplanade

The three-mile stretch of the Charles River running from the Boston Museum of Science to the Boston University Bridge is a protected green space called the Esplanade.

Each side is lined with pathways for running, cycling, or walking through the recreational area along the river. Its public art installations, children's playgrounds, and musical performances are all part of this project's goal of promoting the well-being of Bostonians.

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Faneuil Hall Marketplace was a marketplace and gathering spot for Patriots

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Faneuil Hall has been called the "cradle of democracy" for its utility as a meeting place for revolutionaries before American independence. Contemporarily, it has become the backdrop for the thriving marketplace that makes its home on the cobbled promenade at its steps.

The Quincy Market Colonnade within the marketplace provides patrons with a wide selection of pubs and restaurants to keep them well-fed while they shop.

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A path and tombstones are set on a lawn with trees and an obelisk in the center
3 Signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in the Granary Burying Ground

Granary Burying Ground

Another of the Boston monuments on the Freedom Trail is the Granary Burying Ground. It's the final resting place of three signatories of the Declaration of Independence, including John Hancock, whose name has become synonymous with signatures.

The other two are Samuel Adams and Robert Treat Paine, and the graves of many other Boston notables can be also be found here.

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Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner opened this Venetian-style museum to the public in 1903. The impressive collection includes immortal works from the likes of Botticelli, Raphael, Michaelangelo, Vermeer, and Rembrandt and inspired American artist John Singer Sargent.

In 1990, a robbery occurred that saw thirteen priceless works of art go missing, including several by Rembrandt. The crime remains unsolved and is considered the most valuable single theft in known history.

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Sun shining on a gold dome building top with a fence in front
Massachusetts State House was built in 1798 in Boston's Beacon Hill

Massachusetts State House

The Massachusetts State House is where the Senate and House of Representatives meet today, just as they did when it was built in 1798.

The State House is found in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood. Like many early American government buildings, it was inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, and its gleaming copper dome was installed by none other than Paul Revere and Sons in 1802.

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Water flowing from a fountain with buildings and blue sky around
Old North Church is one of the most historically important sites in Boston

Old North Church & Historic Site

"One if by land, two if by sea," goes Longfellow's famous line describing Paul Revere's secret code. When the British Redcoats left their encampment in Boston Common through the Charles River, sexton Robert Newman climbed to the steeple with two lit lanterns, transforming the church into one of the most important historical sites in Boston.

Paul Revere's famous ride to Concord ensued, warning of the manner of the British approach and readying forces for what would become the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the start of the war for independence on April 19, 1775.

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A pointy church top with a tree on the right and surrounded by buildings
Old South Meeting House was converted into a museum in 1877

Old South Meeting House

In December 1773, five thousand colonists met at the Old South Meeting House to plan the Boston Tea Party. At the time, it was called a "mouth-house," a place where people could speak freely about important issues.

By 1877, the building had become a museum. Today, it celebrates the tradition of protest and free speech that permeated revolutionary Boston.

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The Old State House is a historical site that recalls the tragedy of 5 protesters

Old State House

On March 5th, 1770, five colonists were killed by British Redcoats outside of the Old State House in Boston. It was described as the murder of innocent protesters by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, and as necessary action against a dangerous mob by British officers.

Those that were killed are now viewed as the first casualties of the American Revolution. The museum inside the Old State House commemorates the incident with the stories of the people who lived it and offers tours that walk guests through the day's fatal events.

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A small wooden home along a bricked road on a gloomy day
90% of Paul Revere's house is still intact and is a historical site in Boston

The Paul Revere House

Paul Revere figured prominently in the early events of the American Revolution in Boston. Still, his role was little known until Longfellow's 1861 poem, "Paul Revere's Ride," installed him in almost every subsequent American history book.

His house has been preserved, allowing visitors to peruse the old silversmith's living quarters in Boston's North End. An incredible ninety percent of the home still has its original building materials, making it one of the historical landmarks of Boston as an eighteenth-century time capsule.

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Surrounded by a lawn is a granite pathway with tall glass towers filled with mist
The New England Holocaust Memorial towers represent the 6 major concentration camps

The New England Holocaust Memorial

The New England Holocaust Memorial comprises six glass towers that visitors can pass beneath as they walk through Carmen Park. The towers are representative of the six major extermination camps, the six million Jewish people killed, and the six years during which the Holocaust occurred.

The glass panels are inscribed with numbers representing the murdered prisoners, and each tower has a quote from a survivor of that camp, including author Elie Wiesel. As he poignantly reminds, "We cannot give evil another chance."

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Facade of an old restaurant along a bricked road with people walking in front
Union Oyster House was built in 1826 and is the oldest restaurant in America

Union Oyster House

Established in 1826, Union Oyster House styles itself as America's oldest restaurant. It's located on the Freedom Trail (though not a part of it), but its more important location is that it's near Boston's famously fecund and productive harbor.

Tons of oysters, lobsters, clams, mussels, scallops, crabs, and shrimp are hauled in daily, and people still come from all around for Boston's seafood scene.

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People standing near a three-masted wooden-hulled heavy frigate docked in a pier
The USS Constitution, which was built in 1797, is the oldest surviving US ship

USS Constitution Museum

The USS Constitution was commissioned in 1797 and is the oldest surviving US ship. It received the nickname "Old Ironsides" in the War of 1812 for its thick, oak hull that British firepower couldn't penetrate.

The ship is maintained by Boston National Historical Park in Charlestown Naval Yard, one of the most historic places in Boston to visit. Every Fourth of July, the old frigate proves it's still seaworthy by sailing around Boston Harbor.

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Baseball stadium with a big green wall on the left of the field
Fenway Park is the oldest active stadium, known for the Green Monster in left field

Fenway Park

No trip to Boston would feel complete without a visit to the storied Fenway Park. This Major League stadium is the oldest in the league but is perhaps more famous for the distinct 37-foot tall "Green Monster" wall in the left field.

While people now come from all over the world to see the Green Monster, it was initially built to prevent the people living behind it from catching a game for free.

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Conclusion

Boston is a history buff's dream, but what's most amazing about this city is the way it's grown and evolved through the centuries into what it is now.

Visiting Boston is an experience that should be on every traveler's bucket list, and the 20 famous Boston landmarks and monuments in this article can help jumpstart your plans.

This article was edited by Loredana Elena.

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Written by Andrew Sayles

atsayles WRITER Traveler, teacher, and blogger. I have lived in 5 countries, traveled to 60, and crisscrossed the continental US an unhealthy number of times.