I love Boston, Massachusetts. I lived most of my life within an hour of it and even though I now live in the south, at least a few times a year I’ll wake up thinking “today is definitely a Boston day”.  It’s near impossible to visit this city and not enjoy have fun.  As a child I’d enjoy field trips to the museums and the New England Aquarium. Year after year our school buses, along with commuters would sit in traffic caused by the Big Dig- – the most expensive highway project in US history that scanned over 20 years.  As I teen I’d spend weekends shopping at Filene’s Basement and hanging out in the Common.  As college students my BFF and I would buy cheap bleacher seats in Fenway for Boston Red Sox home games as often as we could.  We had a running challenge to see how long it would take before some guys would ask ” You girls need a beer?” and we always wondered why more single women didn’t attend games.  I can’t tell you how many fun afternoons we spent cheering our team on, and we still attend a game when we can.

Over 12 million visitors head to Boston each year to enjoy theater, sports, dining, museums, boating, music, shopping and more. Boston is an ideal city to explore by foot, and public transportation is the way to go when you visit. Boston’s layout makes no sense even to residents,  traffic can be a nightmare and parking is expensive. You can easily take the subway system (“the T”) or public busses, and if you prefer a guide, tour companies will help you explore this city on foot, trolley, bus, bike, Segway, horse, duck boat and private car, many with the option of hopping on and off all day.

If you’re planning a trip to Boston you’ll want at least a couple days, and I  suggest you begin with a self-guided rooftop tour from the Skywalk Observatory located in the Prudential Building. From the 50th floor you’ll take in 360-degree panoramic views of Boston while listing to audio phones (available in child and adult versions in multiple languages) and get a bird’s eye view and learn about this city. From tales of famous Bostonians to fascinating stories such as the Great Molasses Flood of you’ll gain an appreciation of the city. Plan to spend about 90 minutes here, more if you want to explore that the many shops in the building. Consider moving one floor up to the Top of the Hub for a fine dining experience, or just to stop in and enjoy the menu’s most requested item: a basket of freshly baked cookies!

From there you might visit one of Boston’s many museums. The Museum of Science easily occupies a full day or more and boasts an impressive collection of hands-on learning plus rotating exhibits. I’ve been to this museum many times since I was a kid, and one of my favorite permanent exhibits is eggs and baby chicks which are always just being born. The Museum of Science also is home to the Mugar Omni Theater, a 3D theater with an impressive lineup of choices. You’ll also find a museum café with a good variety of family-friendly offerings, a gift shop, children’s museum area and more.

If you are traveling with children 12 or under the Boston Children’s Museum is one of the nation’s finest. Located walking distance from the Tea Party Ships and Museum, the Boston Children’s Museum boasts 3 Floors of active fun. This includes walls and tubes to climb, an art studio, water play and much more. Plan to allocate at least 3 hours or more here, and expect to drag your children out no matter how long you play! Tip: Check the schedule for free Fridays.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is another good choice. It houses works including Rembrandt, Matisse, and Botticelli and offers an impressive garden and jazz and classical music concerts throughout the year.  Animal and geography buffs will not want to miss the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge and this is another good choice for families.

Foodies should plan to visit Boston’s North End for great Italian. Seafood lovers can expect to be satisfied at any one of a number of Legal Seafoods locations, and if you’ve never experienced traditional new England Clam Chowder, Legal makes an award winning white chowder.  One of my favorite casual places is an old tavern called Jacob Wirth’s located in the theater district. Expect good sandwiches and German fare with fun sing-alongs to live piano.

You’ll want to be hungry when you visit Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and this is a great way to feed a group with multiple tastes. Dozens of restaurants offer you quick take out for any palette imaginable, and there are tables in the building center, or if weather permits you can take your meal outside and enjoy Quincy Market. The brick marketplace offers great people watching and an array of street performers. Shops ranging from the well-known to obscure and quirky offer some seriously fun shopping.

Faneuil Hall is very close to the New England Aquarium, a huge aquarium housing over 800 species of animals.  If you’ve never been to a world class museum, treat yourself to a half day or more here.

You can also pick up The Freedom Trail at Faneuil Hall, a 2.5-mile walking trail that will take you to 16 historic sites. Even if you choose not to walk the entire trail, it’s fun way to learn a little history about this fascinating city.

I may be biased since I think of Beantown as my city, but the city of Boston is a gem and offers something for every interest. Boston’s central location make it an easy option to tie in with a trip to Cape Cod, Plymouth Plantation, and Rhode Island.

Have you been to Boston?  What are your favorite places to visit there?