Destination Articles

Boston - From the Outside Looking in

Boston - considered by many the capital of all of New England, is truly a national treasure. As one of America's oldest cities, Boston gushes with historical intrigue and old-world charm that even a 7-year-old would find interesting, while tantalizing adults with fine dining, antique shops next to trendy boutiques, world-class theater and professional sports teams steeped in tradition. Boston's beautiful streets, wear comfy shoesWhether you choose to visit the historic landmarks along Freedom Trail, rummage around the bookshops of Harvard Square or grab a pint in a pub on Beacon Street, keep one piece of advice in mind: don't drive around town. Bostonians take great pride in the chaos on Cambridge Street, so pack a comfy pair of sneakers and leave your car at the hotel.

And while walking around Beantown is a great way to take in the sights, it's not the only way. Boston is a water town, a river city, a seaport. From the Charles River up to the Mystic, from Boston Harbor out to the Massachusetts Bay, the town was first built on the shorelines and worked its way inward.

To truly gain a unique perspective of both the landmarks and the culture, take to the waters. Sightseeing by boat allows you to drift away into history as you explore Boston the way it was originally, whether it's your first time in the city or you've lived there your entire life.

As any good travel agent can attest, a cornucopia of ship-shape options await all travelers, from the adventurous to the nautical, from the serene to the peculiar. We begin our journey on the Charles River.

Boston's historial treasuresThe Charles is a beautiful river offering spectacular views of the Boston and Cambridge skylines. Cruising through the turns, riverboats reward their passengers with views of Beacon Hill, Esplanade Park, Boston University, M.I.T. and Harvard. Drift past these revered institutions, where the footsteps of America's elite still echo, and wonder if their freshman dorm rooms were as tiny as your university's.

To live the experiences of a Harvard man, jump in a racing scull, a one-person row-boat built for speed with a hull not much wider than your blue jeans, and zoom down the river, pondering the physics of balance and weight-to-hull ratios, until you tip over. Wider, more stable recreational sculls also are available. Or make seven friends and try sweeps rowing like they show in every Ivy League movie. Just don't sit too close to the coxswain holding the megaphone shouting "Stroke!" into your ear.

Boston HarborAs the waters of the Charles empty into many directions into the Boston Harbor, so do your choice of tours. The most traditional, and always a crowd pleaser, is a sunset cruise. Witness as the sun's last rays set the Boston skyline afire as the canons from the U.S.S. Constitution, "Old Ironsides," the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, serenade the end of the day.

Or blend two Boston treats together and experience theater on water. Take in a first-class production while smoothly cruising around the harbor. Or, if you prefer theater with more interaction, let a mystery cruise inject intrigue into the air, as all the other passengers suddenly look guilty in this classy who dunit! You might be surprised at how excited children become during the game, racing from bow to stern in the hunt for the next clue.

Want a cruise that's a little bit spicier? Jump on the Fort Independence ship for salsa lessons and tropical cocktails, where the rhythm of the waves help keep your hips moving to the tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap of the drums. Bring along a hot-footed partner or meet a mysterious and intoxicating stranger on the dance floor.

BostonIf you like your salsa mild, very mild, so mild that it makes your heart sink, then try a Blues Cruise. You can tap your toes and pretend you grasp the lyrics to some of the hottest national blues artists while your eyes get a beat on the scenery.

If the blues are getting you down, then a comedy cruise will lift you back up. National and local comedic talent will keep you in stitches as you're whisked around the harbor at night enjoying the electrical flora of the city lights.

If the city lights are too bright, then hop in a cruise that points away from the traffic and into the harbor to explore the Boston Harbor Islands, a 34-island national park shrouded in lighthouses, forts and natural wonders. Or motor past the islands into the Massachusetts Bay where the whales watch you as much as you watch them.

With your itinerary overflowing with aquatic possibilities, consult an ASTA travel agent to get your land-locked legs to Boston and find a great hotel close to the water. With a wide range of knowledge on the myriad of options, travel agents are able to match each tour with your personality, saving you both time and money.

Boston by boat—sit back and enjoy the ride.

Click here to find a travel agent to help you plan your ideal Boston getaway.