The Cradle of Liberty. The Hub of the Universe. The Athens of America. These are big words for a mid-sized city. But Boston lives up to them. With its rich history, grand architecture and world-renowned academic and cultural institutions, the city retains and radiates the glory it has garnered over the last four centuries.
It was the Puritans who set out in search of religious freedom and founded Boston as their 'shining city on a hill.' In the following century, the Sons of Freedom were born in Boston, where they caroused and rabble-roused until the colonies found themselves in the midst of a War for Independence. A hundred years later, it was Boston's poets and philosophers who were leading a cultural revolution - pushing progressive causes like abolitionism, feminism and transcendentalism.
That's the stuff of history, but today's Boston fulfils these promises. Boston is among the country's forward-thinking and barrier-breaking cities. This is most evident politically, where Boston is at the forefront of controversial issues like same-sex marriage and universal healthcare. It's also visible in the changing landscape of the city, as Boston and environs are now home to some of the country's most cutting-edge architecture and innovative urban planning projects.
Culturally, Boston is shedding its staid and stodgy reputation, as artists, literati, thespians and filmmakers rediscover the city's rich resources and create new ones. With the recent explosion of avant-garde studios and the opening of the Institute for Contemporary Arts, Boston is poised to play a role in visual arts more prominent than ever before.
No single element has influenced the city so profoundly as its educational institutions. Over the years, Boston's colleges and universities have attracted scholars, scientists, philosophers and writers who have thrived off and contributed to the city's evolving culture. Contemporary Boston is no exception, especially as it draws students from around the world. From September through May, the city overflows with their exuberance. This renewable source of cultural energy supports sporting events, film festivals, music scenes, art galleries, coffee shops, hip clubs and Irish pubs.
The city is magnificent in late spring (May and June) or early fall (September and October), when parks are filled with flowering trees or colorful leaves. In summer, the city goes all out for Independence Day, with a week's worth of celebrations during Harborfest. Any time of year, the cultural calendar is packed.
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Boston city guide
A city with a Puritanical past but forward-thinking present, an iconic founding yet contemporary facelift, a beacon of learning, sport and the arts, Boston rewards the inquisitive traveler. This in-depth city guide gives you the historical background and local tips you need to rock in America's 'Cradle of Liberty'.
Top 10 US travel destinations for 2014
Planning a vacation in the US next year but aren’t sure where to go? After all, it’s a big place! For the fourth year running, our travel experts have scoured the States to make the decision a bit easier for you.
Boston - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Boston starts here. You'll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go, how much to budget, plus all the info you need on the locals' seasonal sporting passions.
Boston's reawakening: what's new in the 'Athens of America'
If you haven’t been to Boston recently, you’re in for a surprise. Or maybe not, as today’s trends are a re-ignition of ideas and identities that have long been integral to this historic city. Take the rediscovery of Boston’s waterfront: this city was built on maritime trade, so its connection to the sea has always been vital.
Boston - West End & North End (Chapter)
While physically adjacent, the West End and North End are atmospherically worlds apart. The West End is an institutional area without much zest. By contrast, the North End is delightfully spicy, thanks to the many Italian ristoranti and salumeria that line the streets.
Boston Freedom Trail Day Trip from New York
Take a day trip from New York to explore Boston, a city of culture and old world charm. You'll follow the famous red-brick Freedom Trail through downtown Boston, passing 16 sights including Paul Revere's House and Boston Common. Departing New York, you'll take a picturesque drive along the eastern coast through Connecticut to Massachusetts and its capital, Boston.
Boston Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour
Discover Boston at your leisure with a one-day ticket on the Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour. Create your own itinerary to see the most popular sights of Boston at your own pace. The Boston Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour is the easiest way to get around town. You can hop on and off at any of the 18 stops as often as you like.
A foliage tour of New England
Touring through small-town New England in search of autumn’s changing colours has become such a popular activity, it has sprouted its own enthusiastic subculture of 'leaf-peepers'.
Boston - Cambridge (Chapter)
Stretched out along the north shore of the Charles River, Cambridge is a separate city boasting two distinguished universities, and artistic, historic and cultural attractions galore. The restaurants, bars and clubs around Harvard Sq and Central Sq all rival their counterparts across the river.