In Boston’s salad days, multiple hills—some say three, some say five—comprised what became Beacon Hill, one of the first settled areas on the Shawmut Peninsula nearly 400 years ago. So let’s just say that the enclave has some history.
Plus, with cobblestone streets and gorgeous townhouses as well as famed parks, it’s got some prime attractions as well. Here are the six must-visit ones. All are reachable via the Charles/MGH, Bowdoin, Park Street, and Government Center stops along the T’s Red and Blue lines.
Perhaps the most notable is the Frog Pond, which depending on the season is either iced for skating or filled with a few inches of water to create a particularly kid-friendly spray park within a park.
There are also several war memorials and monuments, including the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, which commemorates the sacrifices of the first documented African-American regiment to serve in the U.S. Army.
Public Garden. Right next to Boston Common is the lusher 24 acres of the Public Garden. It, too, is full of attractions, including statuary—the Make Way for Ducklings and the George Washington statues are probably the most famous—as well as (of course) flowers, foliage, and assorted other plantings.
During the warmer months, too, the Public Garden hosts the Swan Boats, which provide 12- to 15-minute rides around the lake in the middle of the park. Bonus: Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood is right to the west.
Acorn Street. Cobblestones? Check. Federal-style townhouses? Check. Narrow? Check. Almost always tastefully and seasonally decked out? Check. Yes, this Beacon Hill street—between West Cedar and Willow streets—is probably the most beautiful in all of Boston, if not the United States. Ready the Instagram.
Massachusetts State House. Finished in early 1798 and built on a cow pasture John Hancock once owned, the State House is one of the oldest such government hubs in the United States. Charles Bulfinch, a leading architect of his day and a pioneer in the federal style that dominates downtown Boston, designed it.
The wood shingles that originally comprised its dome gave way to copper and then to a 23-karat gold coating (which looks neat, yes, but was also practical: to prevent leaks). Under that dome are numerous paintings and memorials, giving the State House truly one of the most beautiful interiors in the city.
Louisburg Square. Greek revival and federal architecture dominate the exceedingly genteel architecture of this posh square. There is also a small park there that is sometimes open to the general public.
Granary Burying Ground. An estimated 5,000 Bostonians have settled in to this cemetery dating from 1660, including founding fathers such as Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock as well as the victims of the Boston Massacre.
The big obelisk in the middle is for Benjamin Franklin’s parents (he supposedly always assured them he would ditch Philly and move back to Boston). Interments in the cemetery ceased in 1880.
The Granary Burying Ground is next to the Park Street Church, which is across from the Park Street Red Line stop in Boston Common and which is pretty historic in its own right.