Boston Athenaeum

Lonely Planet review

Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenaeum is an old and distinguished private library, having hosted the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as less traditional members like Amy Lowell.

Its collection has over half a million volumes, including an impressive selection of art, which is showcased in the on-site gallery. Unfortunately, the library itself is open to members only, but tourists can visit the gallery. Tours of the whole library are conducted at 3pm on Tuesday and Thursday, but you must reserve your spot in advance.