What to do on a rainy day in Boston

Triceratops Skull

Triceratops Skull - Photo Credit: Harvard Museum of Natural History

You are visiting Boston and it rains. Not to worry. You are in one of the country’s foremost cities for wonderful museums.

Purchase a museum CityPass either from the Visitors Center on the Boston Common – or from any of the participating museums.  The pass includes the Museum of Fine Arts, Skywalk at the Prudential Center, Museum of Science, New England Aquarium and the Museum of Natural History at Harvard or the Old State House Museum.

At $46 for adults, $24 for children ages 3-11, the CityPass offers deep savings as these museums range in price from $10 to $22.95 per person.

Museums included with the CityPass

  • Museum of Fine Arts – Housed in the museums massive buildings are thousands of Asian, European, Ancient and American furniture, textiles and artifacts along with paintings by Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, and John Singleton Copley in the Art of the Americas Wing.  The Lynde Family Wing for Contemporary Art holds the works of contemporary artists from around the country.  Special exhibits this summer include Alex Katz Prints and Her Majesty Elizabeth II by Yousuf Karsh: A Diamond Jubilee.
  • Skywalk at the Prudential Center – Experience Boston from the fiftieth floor of the Prudential building.  Enjoy panoramic views over the city; Fenway Park, the Public Garden, Boston Common, and the neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Back Bay, South End and the North End while listening to the history of the development of Boston’s land on the Accoustiguide audio tour.
  • Museum of Science – The exhibit halls are filled with hands on exhibits that will delight people of all ages; take a virtual tour of Acadia National Park in A Bird’s World, observe thousands of bees going about their business in a massive glass beehive at the Bees exhibit, learn how doctors look at the human body at Beyond The X-Ray.  The Mugar Omni Theater hosts changing shows of flora, fauna, oceans and lands on its five story high IMAX dome screen.
  • New England Aquarium – Since 1969 the New England Aquarium has been a leader in the study and conservation of marine life.  Plan on spending at least a half day here as the aquarium offers something for everyone from age two to ninety-two.  Get up close and personal with the hundreds of marine animals in the center tank, and also lobsters, dolphins, penguins, seals and the cownose rays and bonnethead sharks that live in the new Shark & Ray Touch Tank.  Sit and relax viewing any of the daily shows presented at the IMAX 3-D theaters with screens that measure as tall as a six-story building.
  • Harvard Museum of Natural History –  is the only museum in America where you can view the world famous glass flowers.  These flora and fauna, made in the 18th century by glass designers Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka of the Czech Republic are so lifelike you won’t believe they are made of glass.

The exhibit halls are filled with skeletons of dinosaurs and mammals that date back 500 million years – you will come face to face with a 42-foot long Kronosaurus from 153 mya, a plateosaurus from -250 mya, a fossilized skeleton of a 3,200 pound Glyptodont and a 15-foot long ground sloth.

  • Old State House Museum– One of the museum’s most popular exhibits is The Boston Massacre Multimedia Presentation which explains in vivid detail the events of the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770.  Children will really get into the interactive Old State House – A Hands On History where they can recreate the museum’s walls using foam bricks, go behind the hidden doors of the façade and meet Otis, the museum’s mouse.  The Preservation of the Old State House shows visitors, through architectural exhibits how the Old State House, ca 1712, has been taken care of through its 300-year life.

    Art of the Americas wing at the Museum of Fine Arts

    Art of the Americas wing at the Museum of Fine Arts - Photo Credit: MFA

Freebies

  • Commonwealth Museum – This off-the-beaten-path museum is a gem brimming with artifacts detailing the state’s history. For example; the Boston Massacre copper plate designed and engraved by Paul Revere, along with original portions of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Massachusetts Constitution written by John Adams.  There are several interactive history exhibits, the newest one is Our Common Wealth; The Massachusetts Experiment in Democracy 1620 to today.  You can spend an hour or three hours viewing everything the museum has, and, it’s FREE.
     
  • Boston Women’s Heritage Trail – Follow any of the seven history trails that the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail has mapped out to learn about 200 Boston women.  They go all over the city from the Commonwealth Avenue Women’s Memorial that pays tribute to Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone and Phillis Wheatley to the Julia Ward Howe marker to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to Harriet Tubman Square.  Maps of the trail (with descriptions) can be downloaded for free at the BWHT’s website www.bwht.org.
     

Places to Dine

  • Atlantic Fish Company – Upscale seafood restaurant with outdoor patio on Boylston Street in the heart on Boston’s Back Bay.  Serves dinner daily, lunch Mon – Fri, Brunch on Sat & Sun.
  • Daily Catch – North End – This tiny storefront restaurant serves up some of the best in the city Sicilian style seafood and pasta dishes.  Don’t dress up, it’s very simple, even the food is served in the pan it is cooked in.
  • B&G Oysters, Ltd. – Barbara Lynch, one of Boston’s premier chefs does not disappoint with the freshest oysters, fried clams and decadent lobster rolls.  If you have never sampled an oyster, don’t worry about it, her knowledgeable staff will give you the low down on all the bivalves they offer.

Where to Stay

  • Best Western Adams Inn – Great for families, children 17 and under stay free with a paying adult, located in Quincy, the hotel offers free shuttle to the MBTA Redline train (15 minutes into Boston), free wireless internet throughout, free parking, free hot breakfasts in their restaurant, the swimming pool is open seasonally.
  • Back Bay Hotel – Housed in what was once Boston’s police headquarters this stylish hotel is walking distance to just about everything in Boston.  TripAdvisor has rated it #6 of 73 Boston hotels.
  • 463 Beacon Street Guesthouse – This 19th century Brownstone offers 21st century amenities; private baths, kitchenettes, free WiFi, cable TV and air conditioning. Its prime location in the Back Bay/Kenmore Sq. area makes it ideal for walking to all major attractions.

More Information
Boston Visitors Center

Frances FolsomGuest writer Frances J. Folsom lives and writes in beautiful New England. She has written for many print magazines and has contributed to a range of travel guides. Frances can be reached by e-mail or through her personal blog. She lives in Cambridge Massachusetts.

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