Boston Skyline
Boston Skyline © Dennis Forgione

How to Explore the Best of Boston in Just One Day

Blue Man Group, Whale Watching, the New England Aquarium … we’ve seen a lot of Boston this year, thanks in large part to our role in the Viator Ambassadorship. But we’ve always loved the city and figured, why not see a bit more? So we grabbed Viator’s Boston CityPASS and took another day trip to the city.

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The gist of CityPASS is simple: you get one deeply discounted pass that provides access to some of the city’s best, most popular attractions. For Boston, these include:

  • New England Aquarium
  • Museum of Science
  • Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center
  • Museum of Fine Arts Boston
  • Harvard Museum of Natural History OR The Old State House – Boston’s Revolutionary Museum

Once the pass is “activated” (i.e. used for the first time), you have nine days until it expires. It’s an ideal way to see a whole lot of the city in just a few days or a long weekend away.

View from Skywalk Observatory at Boston's Prudential Center
View from the Skywalk Observatory at Boston's Prudential Center © Mike Richard

With just one day in the city, it’s pretty much required to limit yourself to no more than three stops …

First up for us was the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center. I’ve long had a fascination with visiting really tall (or the tallest) buildings in every city I travel to. Boston’s Prudential Center takes the cake as the city’s tallest skyscraper and, not surprisingly, the observation deck at the top provides an incredible, panoramic vantage point for viewing and photographing all of downtown.

Info Panels at the  Skywalk Observatory, Prudential Center in Boston, Massachusetts
© Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

The Observatory provides several installations that offer history and insight into the city’s colonial past, its rich and often tragic sports heritage, and info on many of its buildings and landmarks.

It’s an amazing view for sure. But, at $16 USD per ticket ($32 per couple!), it’s not worth buying on its own. Bundle it in with CityPASS however and it’s a whole lot more attractive!

T-Rex Attack! (Boston Museum of Science)
T-Rex Attack! (Boston Museum of Science) © Mike Richard

From there, we headed to Boston’s Museum of Science. It’s the best of its kind in New England and a staple of the elementary school field trip scene for many kids growing up in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The multi-level complex offers a consistently amazing crop of regular and rotating exhibits making it the ideal spot for geeks of all ages to wander and wonder. From lunar landings and life-sized dinosaur replicas, to the planetarium and IMAX theater, to exhibits that explore the human body and natural world … it’s easy to get lost here for a full day. Oh, and the waterfront location provides lovely views to downtown Boston as well!

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston © Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

We rounded out our trip with a stop to the city’s Museum of Fine Arts. It’s a world-class museum in every sense of the word with more than 450,000 (!) artifacts. The long list of collections includes works from almost every medium imaginable, including textiles, photography, painting, sculpture, jewelry, and more. Even if you’re not an art aficionado (*ahem* me *cough*), it’s easy to get lost here for several days. At an absolute minimum, plan for at least three hours and that assumes that you’re almost running through the exhibits. Realistically, it’s worth a full, dedicated day trip all by itself.

Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts
© Lindsay Attaway

Perhaps the most exciting exhibits are the museum’s rotating collections. The museum recently unveiled Inside the Box Massachusetts State House Time Capsule Revealed as well as a comprehensive collection of fashion photographer Herb Ritts’ that chronicles much of his life’s work.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, even just the three places we saw were collectively worth the $49 admission price through Viator. And, as an added bonus, we never even had to wait in line!

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