Whether you’re in the middle of planning your gap year or you’re just organising a brief trip between terms at uni, Boston is brilliant to explore. What I like about it is that it makes a really nice addition to wider tours of the US, since it’s a great place to learn about the country’s history, but it’s also got so much to see and do that it is perfect for single-destination trips too.
Of course, if you’re a student, you’re bound to need to stick to quite a strict budget. Flying to the US is rarely cheap, so what you should do is focus on snapping up bargain accommodation (you can find decent hostels through companies like Hostelbookers) and visiting free or low-cost attractions.
Here are some of my top five landmarks – bear in mind that they’re not all free, so you should pick and choose according to your budget.
1) Samuel Adams Brewery
Being one of the US’s founding fathers, Samuel Adams was one of the country’s most famous patriots – and he was also a great brewer. Today, the Samuel Adams Brewery is famous for making Boston lager, and it really is delicious. I usually drink real ale rather than lager, so for me to say I’m a fan, you know it must be pretty good!
Tours of the brewery run on Mondays to Saturdays, usually departing every 45 minutes (the times do vary from day to day, though, so check the website before you go). You can learn all about Samuel Adams himself, as well as how the lager’s made.
Of course, a small catch is that you do need to be over 21 to drink in the US and visit this attraction. And, if you fit the bill, you’ll need to bring your passport along as ID.
2) The outdoor seal exhibition
I absolutely love visiting aquariums, but they’re not exactly wallet-friendly, and the New England Aquarium is no exception. That said, there is a way you can enjoy it for free, and that’s if you confine yourself to its outdoor seal exhibit.
Here, you can watch loads of Atlantic harbour seals playing in a 42,000 gallon tank – and you won’t have to pay a penny to do so. Be warned, though: you may come away with a strong desire to own a pet seal.
3) The Museum of Bad Art
Next on the list is the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA). Yes, that’s right – bad art. MOBA claims to be the only organisation in the world dedicated to the collection and preservation of bad art and, I’ve to say, I think it’s a stroke of pure genius.
What I love most about coming here is that there are little narratives next to all the ‘artworks’, which are always good for a giggle. MOBA has three locations in the city; one’s currently closed, but the two that are open are in the lobby of Brookline Access Television and the basement of Somerville Theatre.
4) The Freedom Trail
I think it’d be a real shame to come to Boston and not check out some of its historical attractions, since there are just so many important sites here. An easy way to see the best is to follow the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walk that covers 16 top historical sites.
This includes Boston Latin School, where the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams and two other signers of the Declaration of Independence went to school. You can opt to follow the trail independently or take a guided tour – it’s up to you.
5) Skywalk Observatory
Last on my list is the Skywalk Observatory, which you’ll find on the 50th floor of the Prudential Center. What I love about coming here is that you can not only see out for miles and miles, but you can actually enjoy 360-degree panoramas, which makes it all the more incredible.
I’d also recommend splashing out on the audio tour if you fancy finding out more about local history – it’s pretty informative! And don’t be forgetting that US Visa or you won’t be getting very far! We highly recommend ESTA for a quick and reliable American Visa service.