Best Things to do in 3 Days in Boston

CREATE AN AMAZING 3-DAY BOSTON ITINERARY

You are thinking of visiting Boston, Massachusetts, and are wondering about the best things to do in 3 days in Boston? Well, you have come to the right place. This 3-day Boston itinerary will help you decide the best way to spend your time and what to do and see in this historic American city.

It is located on the eastern coast of the US, north of New York. Boston is the largest city, and the capital, in the state of Massachusetts.

Founded in 1630, it is (by American standards) an old city. But Boston is even more famous for its part in US history, especially the events of the American Revolution. 

Though not as famous as San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Chicago, it is a great place to visit for a few days and one of the best places for a short weekend break in the US.

3 days in Boston will allow you to find many historic landmarks and sites, cobblestone streets, and buildings that date back to Boston’s roots.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

The post was written by Rebecca.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 3 DAYS IN BOSTON

Before we get to what to do in 3 days in Boston, here are some travel tips to make your stay smoother.

How to Get to Boston

  • BY AIR: If you are flying into Boston, you will be arriving at Logan International Airport (BOS), which is located only 4 miles from the city center. You can easily grab a taxi, subway, or even a water taxi from the airport to your hotel downtown. 
  • BY CAR: If you are driving in, then you can take Interstate 84 from the south, Interstate 90 from the west, or Interstate 95 from the north. Keep in mind that parking is hard to find in Boston, and your hotel will likely charge you per day to park in their garage.
  • BY TRAIN: Public transportation is great in Boston, so you can also take the Acela high-speed train into the city.
Boston, best cities to visit in spring
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Weather in Boston

The weather in Boston is really nice. It is a little humid in the summer but still the best time to visit (along with spring and fall). The average temperature at the height of summer in July is between 66ºF and 82ºF. Rain is moderate throughout the year.

If you decide to visit in the winter, it is definitely a bit colder. The average temperatures in January are between 22ºF and 37ºF. New England winters are no joke, and you will see the most snow in January and February.

What to Pack for 3 Days in Boston

  • If you are coming in the spring, summer, or fall, you can usually pack light clothes, like jeans, t-shirts, shorts, and dresses. Bostonians aren’t known for their high fashion and tend to dress according to the weather. Boston is also a big college town, so the basic jeans-and-shirt look works all year round. Sneakers are fine since you will be walking a lot (though locals prefer loafers).
  • If you are coming in winter, make sure to pack a warm jacket (preferably waterproof), scarf, gloves, and hat (bonus if it’s a Red Sox one – Boston takes their sports seriously). And boots are a must during the snowy winter weather. 

Where to Stay For 3 Days in Boston 

There are many possibilities for accommodations in Boston, some with a lot of charm and history. Here are a few suggestions for different budgets during your 3 days in Boston.

  • For a luxury hotel, try the Fairmont Copley Plaza, located in the Back Bay area, close to popular spots, like Newbury Street. It’s a historic building that’s been redone with modern décor and is particularly favored by couples. You can find out more here.
  • A mid-range option would be the Revere Hotel, which has a great location near beautiful Boston Common and the Visitor Center. It’s also very sleek and modern. Check it out here.
  • There are not many budget hotels in Boston, but the HI Hostel would be a great choice for couples and solo travelers, with breakfast provided and private rooms with en suite bathrooms. Located near Boston Common as well, it offers easy access to public transportation. Find more information here.

How to Get Around Boston For 3 Days

  • One of Boston’s nicknames (besides “Beantown”) is “the Walking City.” So, bring your walking shoes as you explore the city and the destinations on this itinerary that are nearby each other.
  • Other than that, public transportation is the way to go. Trains, trams, buses, and subways can be found all over the city and are the cheapest and most convenient way of getting around Boston.
  • You can easily buy one-way paper tickets (known as “Charlie Tickets”) at most stations for $2.75. If you want to get a Charlie Card, you can preload it, and rides are only $2.25. This also offers a free transfer to the buses.
  • If you drive your own car or a rental, expect an on-site parking fee at most hotels, as well as difficulty parking, as many areas require a residential-only neighborhood permit.

More Travel Tips For Your 3-Day Boston Itinerary

  • When you stay in Boston for 3 days, you should know that Boston is an expensive city. And hotels are no exception. The most expensive time to visit Boston is in mid-May (when many of the colleges are having graduation ceremonies) and in September/October (conferences in town and visitors coming for the changing of the leaves/fall foliage).
  • Many buildings and hotels in Boston are historic and converted over the years, but they still retain things like no elevators, steep stairways, etc. Europeans may not find this unusual, but Americans from other cities may be surprised. If you need accessible hotel rooms or want central air conditioning, check before you book.
  • Boston also has many brick and cobblestone streets, which can be tricky when wearing high heels or when there is snow. Just be aware as you make your shoe selection where you will be sightseeing.
  • It is actually illegal in Boston to have happy hour drink specials. Instead, they offer food specials from 4 pm-6 pm.
  • Smoking marijuana is illegal in public, but the purchase and possession of it are legal in Massachusetts. Just don’t take it over state lines.
  • This is not a 24-hour town. Boston mostly closes up by midnight (bars at 2 am), and the last subway leaves at 12:30 am. There are, however, a few all-night supermarkets, restaurants, and nightclubs.
  • Boston is a safe city, so long as you use common sense and proper precautions. Avoid side streets after dark and subway stations late at night if you are alone. Keep your possessions close to you at all times. And probably avoid the more crime-ridden areas of Roxbury and Dorchester.

WHAT TO DO IN 3 DAYS IN BOSTON

After all the travel tips, let´s get started with the 3-day Boston itinerary.

Day 1 of 3 Days in Boston

Day 1 in Boston starts with walking the Freedom Trail. There are many sights along the way, and I will focus on a few only. The last stop is not part of the Freedom Trail.

Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a path lined with red bricks and connects many famous historical landmarks of the city, and it is a must-see/do activity for 3 days in Boston. 

Freedom Trail in Boston is a must in 3 days
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It tells the story of the American Revolution. The trail is about 2.5 miles (4km) long, and the best way to see the trail is on foot. It is well marked throughout the city. Of course, you do not have to walk all the way but can just start or end it at any point – the trail is largely marked with bricks.

You will pass 16 locations significant to the history of the United States if you walk the whole trail. It really depends on how much time you spend at certain stops – walking the Freedom Trail can take from 3 hours to almost a full day. So, assuming it takes about 4-5 hours, you will still have some time for other activities on day 1.

Some of the sights you will see are the Park Street Church, Old State House (the oldest public building in the city), and the Benjamin Franklin statue.

Here are some of the main stops of the Freedom Trail.

Old North Church

The Old North Church could be the first stop of the Freedom Trail. If you like historic churches, then the Old North Church is a good stop. Founded in 1722, it was made famous as the place from which Paul Revere received the British’s signal, which led to the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and ignited the American Revolution.

Old North Church in Boston, visiting is one of the best things to do in 3 days
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The church attracts over 150,000 people from all over the world who want to find out more about its history.

  • There is a $5 admission fee to do a self-guided tour of the church.

After a half-hour here, you will probably be ready for our next stop on this Boston itinerary. Continue walking the Freedom Trail and stop at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

The Faneuil Hall Marketplace is also part of the Freedom Trail. It is huge, encompassing four different historic buildings from the early 1800s converted into a place for shops, restaurants, and even a promenade. Faneuil Hall is an indoor/outdoor mall and eatery

Faneuil Hall Marketplace a must on a 3-day Boston itinerary
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  • Besides the North and South Markets, the other famous building is Quincy Market (a favorite among locals and tourists).
  • Quincy Market is a lively and exciting place, perfect for souvenir shopping, tasting local delicacies, and just wandering.
  • There are tables set up for anyone who wants to stop for a game of chess.
  • And if you have ever seen the American TV show Cheers, a replica of the bar is here, too.

This market deserves at least a few hours of your time. It’s a lot of fun and a great place to eat a meal. Then, head to our next destination, about 10 minutes away on foot.

Boston Common

Boston Common is part of the Freedom Trail and our first stop. The park is actually the oldest city park in the US, dating back to 1634. Puritan colonists purchased the land rights to the Common’s 44 acres from the first European settler of the area.

  • While it is now a tranquil area, it had not always been like that – so were pirates, murderers, and witches hanged from the tree known as “The Great Elm.”  This tree stood there until 1876.
  • In the center of the park, you’ll find Frog Pond, a reflecting pool that makes a nice place to sit and enjoy the early morning light.
Boston Common and Frog Pond
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  • It’s turned into an ice skating rink and even has a skating school nearby in the winter. In summer, it’s a spray pool.
  • There’s also a children’s carousel, so this is a great stop for families, too.

After an hour or so at Boston Common, we can head to our next Boston attraction. Esplanade is about 1miles away.

Esplanade

The Charles River Esplanade is a park located in the Back Bay area of the city. It is also located on the south bank of the Charles River Basin. This park is a nice place to picnic or relax and wander. 

Take a breath and enjoy the cute, picturesque bridges, lush grassy areas, and view of the water.

This is all for day 1 in Boston. After dinner and all the walking on day 1, you might want to take it easy and not squeeze in more activities.

Day 2 of 3 Days in Boston

Day 2 in Boston starts with another charming outdoor area in the middle of Boston – let’s head to one of the city’s most popular public gardens.

Boston Public Garden 

The Boston Public Garden was created in 1634 and went through a few changes in the Victorian Age to become the haven of plants and flowers today. It is located right next to Boston Common that was listed on day 1 of your Boston itinerary.

Boston Public Garden
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  • You’ll find over 80 different local species, some a result of new techniques like hybridization, as well as exotic trees and plants. All of this gives the garden a gorgeous, colorful, and vibrant feel that is really nice to stroll through.
  • Besides the plant life, another very popular thing to do here is taking a ride in the lake’s Swan Boats. Over 100 years old, these boats are a fun activity for adults and kids alike. If you want to sit back and relax, though, grab one of the many benches and enjoy the morning. 

This stop should take a couple of hours.

Then head to Mary Eddy Baker Library – it is a research library, museum, and repository for the papers of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. It is about 15 minutes away by train from Boston Garden.

The Mapparium at Mary Eddy Baker Library

The Mapparium is a free area within the Mary Eddy Baker Library. The Mapparium is a popular spot with its 1930s neo-classical architecture. This fascinating section is a must-see in Boston.

Built by map-guru Rand McNally in 1935, the Mapparium is a 3-story, stained-glass globe. The Mapparium’s three-dimensional perspective of the world is enhanced by A World of Ideas. This is an original presentation that features a rich orchestration of words, music, and LED lights to illustrate the changes that have taken place in borders and even country names over time.

But even if you aren’t a huge geography buff, the Mapparium is breathtakingly beautiful and too pretty to skip. Half an hour is all you need to take in its charms.

After visiting the Mapparium, you may also want to stop and get a bite to eat.

Grab the train for 10 minutes to the west or walk for 15 minutes to get to your next stop.

Fenway Park Tour

I mentioned that Bostonians take their sports seriously, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone here who isn’t a Red Sox fan. And Fenway Park is where they play, and a Fenway Park Tour is an amazing activity for any sports enthusiasts or anyone curious to learn more about baseball.

Fenway Park in Boston is a must on Boston 3 days itinerary
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  • This baseball stadium is the oldest in the country. It is relatively small but has hosted numerous baseball, soccer, hockey games, and religious and political rallies.
  • Take a fun tour of the stadium and see the players’ clubhouses, the press room, and the seats that are above the infamous “Green Monster,” which is the 37-foot-high wall in left field that is very difficult to hit a ball over because of its proximity to home plate.  
  • Tours last about 1 hour – you might have to tweak your itinerary, depending on what time tours are offered. Check out prices and tour dates here.

When you’re done seeing Fenway, let’s head over to another cultural landmark in the city, albeit of a very different sort. It is an art museum.

To get to the Museum of Fine Arts, you can either take a 10-minute train ride, but I suggest walking it for the same amount of time through the “Emerald Necklace,” a series of city parks.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is one of the oldest in the country and one of the most comprehensive. It houses 450,000 pieces of art, so I don’t think you’ll get through it all today!

Museum of Fine Arts Boston is a top in 3 days in Boston
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  • Your ticket does allow for a free re-entry within 10 days of your first, so if you can’t get enough on Day 2, you can come back the next day. 
  • Take in the vast collections, galleries, and architecture of the building itself.
  • This is a great destination for solo travelers, couples, and families that enjoy art and strolling through beautiful things.
  • TIP: To save on the $25 entrance fee, consider planning your trip for a Wednesday after 4 pm when the museum is free and open late, until 9 pm. Also, check their website for any free days that are coming up.
  • This stop could take you a few hours, depending on how much you love fine art. But take your time because our last stop of the night is open late.

Stop for dinner and then grab the train 10 minutes east.

Wally’s Café Jazz Club

This cozy Jazz club is a great way to end your evening. One of the oldest continuously-running jazz clubs in the US, old-school jazz and blues are performed here nightly by students and locals.

  • Sit back, have a cocktail, and enjoy the talents of the local musicians.
  • Tip: Bring cash. They may take cards, but cash is easier at this little spot.
  • If you’re visiting with family, Wally’s may not be the best spot for you and your kids, so my alternate suggestion is to take the family about 30 minutes east by train to try a Boston tradition. South Boston Candlepin Bowling is tougher than regular bowling and fun nighttime activity for pretty much anyone, but kids especially will love the challenge.
  • Check out the website of Wally´s Cafe Jazz Club here.

And that’s the end of Day 2. 

Day 3 of 3 Days in Boston

For day 3 in Boston, let’s begin in a fun and lively area of the city. 

Beacon Hill

This area is full of Federal-style row houses and is often what you see depicted in movies about the city. It’s also the most desirable part of Boston to live in.

Beacon Hill in Boston
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  • Stroll the brick sidewalks and narrow streets that run through Beacon Hill, Charles Street, and Louisbourg Square.
  • Adorned with charming lampposts, the area is full of cute cafés and small shops, as well as luxurious residences.

After an hour or so, you can head to a unique park that is not like any other park – the Lawn on D is about 2 miles away (30-minute walk or 30-minute train ride).

The Lawn on D

Morning outings to the green areas of Boston seem to be a theme, but don’t skip the Lawn on D because it isn’t like other parks here.

  • This grassy area is nice for picnics and relaxing, but people really come here for the events and games. If you’re coming in the warm parts of spring or fall, and especially in summer, you can enjoy an area devoted to fun and silly lawn games, as well as oft-scheduled outdoor events.
  • There are also kiosks, so you can grab a snack when you work up an appetite.
  • Speaking of food, I hope you have been trying some of the local cuisines. And if so, I suggest either Flour Bakery or Mike’s Pastry for a chance to try one of Boston’s most famous desserts: Boston Crème Pie.

The Lawn on D can be a lot of fun, but we still have other stops – so after a couple of hours, let’s head north for a different kind of museum – one on the water! You can walk or take the train. Either way will take about 15-20 minutes.

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

The Boston Tea Party at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston was an important event in American History. The Boston Tea Party was a political protest that occurred in 1773. American colonists, frustrated at Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” dumped 342 chests of tea imported by the British East India Company into the harbor. This event was the first major act of defiance to British rule over the colonists and rallied American patriots across the 13 colonies to fight for independence.

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is one of the best places to go in 3 days
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Now you can visit the museum that’s been created to share artifacts and information about it – on a ship!

This is a fun stop, with interactive exhibits, actors playing out the scene, and even the chance to throw some tea overboard yourself. There is a café and gift shop on this restored ship that you can check out when you’re done. This stop takes about 1-2 hours.

Then it is time for another museum – a particular favorite of families, or for those of us who are kids at heart (about 25 minutes by train) – the Boston Children´s Museum.

The Boston Children’s Museum 

Created in 1909 by local science teachers, the Boston Children’s Museum is a fun, hands-on learning and playing environment popular for locals and tourists.

  • It is dedicated to providing new resources for teachers and students to exchange materials and ideas to advance teaching. The focus is on science, culture, environmental awareness, health & fitness, and the arts.
  • There are tons of exhibits, and the educational aspects are perfectly complemented by the fun of digging in and doing a wide variety of activities. 
  • Check out the sculpture on the first floor that children can safely climb – up 3 floors!
  • This is a great place for families, as it’s clean, safe, and well-run.
  • It’s also a lot of fun, especially if visiting in the winter to warm up.

Our last stop for Day 3 is the picturesque Harborwalk, located about 30 minutes north and across the water.

Harborwalk

If you’ve had dinner, this is a great place for an after-meal walk. The waterfront skirts along the edges of piers, wharves, beaches, and the shoreline.

Boston Skyline from Downtown Harborwalk
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The Harborwalk is actually in the process of being expanded, and once done, it will be almost 46 miles long in total. But for now, enjoy the walk, the views, and the art that is placed throughout.

  • Particularly on a warm summer evening, this is the place to go.
  • Join other locals and tourists, from families to couples to singles, who are enjoying some fresh sea air and exercise while taking in some lovely areas of the city that you haven’t yet seen.

Take in a sunset or see the glitter of the city lights from this new vantage point. This is a lovely way to end your visit to the city of Boston.

MORE THINGS TO ADD TO YOUR BOSTON ITINERARY

Another interesting place to visit in 3 days could be the world-famous Harvard University.

Who hasn’t heard of this iconic university? If you are interested in spending time on the campus, you could easily visit yourself – it is quite close to the city center – or you could do guided tours to learn more about this special university.

CONCLUSION: HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN BOSTON

I hope this 3-day Boston itinerary has given you a good idea of where to go and what to do.

There is a lot of history and fun to be had in this popular American city, and 3 days in Boston may not be enough to see it all, but this list gives you the highlights and will hopefully enable you to plan your own exciting Boston trip soon.

About the Author:

This post was written by Rebecca, who runs her own blog at The Journey at Home – where she writes about her life as a mother of 5 with everything that comes along with it. She lived in New York for a long time before she moved to Las Vegas. She also works as a freelancer for Arzo Travels.

Safe Travels, Arzo
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