Explore off the beaten path with Boston's best hidden gems

Tired of the usual tourist trail? Get to know Boston's secrets with these top hidden gems, from secret food tours to an insider’s look at Harvard

There are plenty of local landmarks and museums and exhibitions to see in Boston. However, if you're visiting for longer, you'll want to explore off the beaten track. The good news is that there are plenty of hidden gems in Boston waiting to be discovered.

Ready to discover the darker side of Boston? There are plenty of night tours that will guide you to the coolest corners of the city after dark. Looking to broaden your palate with new flavors? Boston's famous for its street food, but there's much more to savor than the usual seafood dishes and sweet treats. This guide has everything you need to spice up your schedule when visiting Boston.

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1. Head off the beaten path with a secret food tour

Boston's seafood scene is legendary, but clam chowder and lobster rolls aren't the only dishes to enjoy here. With more than four centuries of history behind it, there's a huge range of gastronomic delights to discover in Beantown.

Highlights:

With a North End: Secret Food Tour, you can learn more about the city as you sample local delicacies from independent eateries scattered around Boston's Little Italy. Learn more about the birthplace of American Independence as you feast on freshly-fried cannoli and authentic wood-fired pizza just off the stone.

Address and opening hours:

Boston Transit, Boston. Tour times and opening hours vary.

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2. Get a unique tour of America's most famous ballpark

Home of the Red Sox and one of the best-loved ballparks in the United States, Fenway Park is an essential stop for any sports fan. However, you don't need to be a baseball lover to enjoy what's on show at this brilliant Boston attraction.

Highlights:

With a Boston Fenway Park Guided Walking Tour, you can go behind the scenes to discover an expansive collection of sporting memorabilia and photographs that most spectators never get the chance to see.

Address and opening hours:

4 Jersey St, Boston. Open 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday-Sunday.

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3. Head through grisly history with a Boston ghost tour

As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston has its fair share of graveyards and cemeteries. Why not brave a walking tour of some of the eeriest corners of the city as you retrace the steps of long-dead natives?

Highlights:

With a Death and Dying Walking Ghost Tour, you'll learn more about the grisly fates of some of Boston's most unfortunate citizens. The standout of this tour is a trip to the King's Chapel Burying Grounds, one of the most haunted locations in the city.

Address and opening hours:

28 Beacon St, Boston. Tour departure times vary.

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4. Tour the best bakeries to see what Bostonians savor

Boston isn't short on bakeries and donut shops. However, if you want to beat the crowds and sample some of the most delicious desserts in town, you'll need some helpful insights from a local who knows what they're talking about.

Highlights:

With a Boston Underground Donut Tour, you'll learn more about the city as you navigate foodie meccas like Boston's Public Market and the North End District. Here, you'll be able to indulge your sweet tooth and sample local favorites.

Address and opening hours:

Kane's Donuts, 2 International Pl, Boston. Tour departure times vary.

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5. Capture your vacation like a pro with a photography tour of Boston

Most visitors flock to the usual tourist traps for photo opportunities. While you'll definitely want to squeeze the usual landmarks into your itinerary, there are plenty of breathtaking backdrops off the beaten path.

Highlights:

With a Private Walking Photography Tour, you'll visit locations with an expert guide who'll introduce you to some of Boston's best hidden places. What's more, your photos will be professionally edited before being returned to you so you have a first-rate record of your stay in the city.

Address and opening hours:

Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon St, Boston. Tour times vary.

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6. Enroll for the day with an inside tour of Harvard

Founded in 1636, Harvard has produced some memorable alumni, including US presidents, famous authors, and legendary scientists. The good news is you don't have to be enrolled here to learn more about its contributions to the arts, sciences, and society.

Highlights:

With a 90-Minute Tour of Harvard, you'll be guided through some of Harvard's lesser-known sights as you learn more about the students and faculty members who've graced this campus over the past 380-plus years.

Address and opening hours:

27 Holyoke St, Cambridge, MA. Tour times vary.

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7. Sip Boston brews as you explore the Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a popular option with visitors looking to brush up on the history of Boston. However, there's a lot more to discover about this historic route than local landmarks and heritage sights. Why not inject a little fun into the proceedings by stopping at historic taverns dotted along the trail?

Highlights:

With a Pub Crawl Tour Along the Freedom Trail, you'll be able to sample draft beers from taverns that once served the Sons of Liberty. As you work on your buzz, your guide will talk you through the most important chapters in the American Revolution.

Address and opening hours:

60 State St # 25, Boston. Tour times vary.

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8. Tread the boards at the Boch Center Wang Theater

Although this theater is an important part of the local performing arts scene, few people get to see what happens behind the scenes. Beyond the impressive music hall stage, there's the Folk American Roots Hall of Fame to discover.

Highlights:

This stage has welcomed some of the biggest stars on the planet. With a Boch Center Wang Theater Behind the Scenes Tour, you'll learn about what goes into putting on a show and be able to get up close with mementos collected over the past century.

Address and opening hours:

Biewend Building, 260 Tremont St, Boston. Open Monday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

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9. Uncover Boston Harbor's secrets with a scavenger hunt

Eager to learn more about the history of Boston Harbor? Why not bring a little fun to your trip to the city with a scavenger adventure? You and your traveling companions will be directed to hidden gems and secret places along the waterfront.

Highlights:

Perfect for those traveling with little ones, this Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure lets you learn as you laugh. You can access the tour with your smartphone, meaning you can fit this activity into even the busiest of schedules.

Address and opening hours:

Boston Harbor, Boston. Times vary.

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10. Trace Boston's silver screen history with a location tour

You don't have to be in New York or Los Angeles to feel like a movie star. In fact, Boston has been the location for a surprising amount of motion pictures and television shows. Films like The Departed, Good Will Hunting, and Legally Blonde were all shot here.

Highlights:

With a Movie Mile Walking Tour, you'll take all the guesswork out of finding out where exactly you're favorite films and television programs were filmed. Your guide is on hand to show you exactly where those iconic moments happened, making it easy to find the perfect spot for a photo op.

Address and opening hours:

139 Tremont Street, Boston. Tour times vary

FAQs

What are some lesser-known attractions in Boston that are worth visiting?

You might think you've seen it all, but Boston has plenty of secrets left to show you. The Boston Athenaeum is one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States, with a day pass allowing you to explore the entire collection. Need to stock up on some reading material? Head to Brattle Book Shop, one of the largest used bookstores in the country.

Are there any hidden or secret gardens in Boston that I can explore?

Just a short stroll from Fenway Park is Ramler Park. The perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Boston, this enchanting garden is lovingly cared for by volunteers. As well as being one of the most picturesque corners of the city, it occasionally plays host to intimate outdoor performances.

Can you recommend any hidden or secret viewpoints in Boston with great views of the city?

Looking for spectacular views of Boston Harbor? Head to Independence Wharf's Observation Deck for unmissable panoramas. If the weather is on your side, you'll even get a great view of the Inner Harbor Islands.

What are some lesser-known neighborhoods in Boston that are worth exploring?

Downtown gets a little overwhelming during the busy season. If you want to explore the more authentic side of the city, head to East Boston. This diverse neighborhood is the perfect place to idle away an afternoon as you dine at local eateries and admire the Boston skyline from afar. Pining for green spaces? Head to Jamaica Plain. This corner of Boston boasts a sprawling botanical garden and the largest body of water within the city limits.

Can you recommend any hidden architectural gems in Boston that are not as crowded as the famous landmarks?

The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library is bound to impress with its stained glass globe. Once you've marveled at the architecture, spend the rest of the day exploring the brownstones of Back Bay.