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If You Only Have 48 Hours in Boston

Aug 27, 2018
Pamela Lawson

If you had only 48 hours in downtown Boston, MA, what would you do? Which activity, which museum, park or restaurant would you try to fit into your airtight schedule? You don’t want to fit an unrealistic number of things into it and make it a time-pernicious affair when you’re in such an amazing city! So, let’s start with being realistic. Second, prioritize. Third, plan ahead of time. These will be your three mantras when trying to organize your trip.

Boston, MA is a very walkable city, so, scope out attractions and what’s around them? You can either walk your way from one destination to another or if, in a group, a rented charter bus is ideal. The trolley is also a feasible mode of transportation. And besides, it’s a unique experience! With history spilling out from every corner of the city, its parks, theaters and museums, it provides a respite and the break you need from the humdrum of everyday life. It’s easy to get caught-up with it so, give yourself the deserving break in Boston.

1. Kicking Things Off at the Boston Commons

Even for those who have already BEEN to Boston, the Commons is a great place to launch into a happy 48-hour travel tour. Apart from being perfectly peaceful, it echoes of hundreds of years of American history. The oldest park in America, it is a must for history and nature lovers. The country’s early days of independence was celebrated at Boston Commons, the Civil War recruitment was run here in the 1860s, and anti-slavery meetings were also held on the grounds. A former utilitarian common ground for militia activities and grazings it may have been, the Commons has evolved as a part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace. A nice sounding name and it does not disappoint!

Sunny weather ☀️ Regram from @tammimcelroy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #boston #bostondotcom #bostoncommons #sunny #springweather #wednesday

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The Emerald Necklace comprises 1,000 acres worth of green space, connecting nine parks linked by resplendent walkways and waterways. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted during the country’s tumultuous colonial period, Boston Commons is connected to Muddy River and Leverett, Willow Ward’s and Jamaica ponds. In fact, a short distance away is Arnold Arboretum, an all-time favorite for young children and students.

Today, Boston Commons continues to be an important stage for activists to use in their efforts to push for free speech and public assembly. You can easily spend a few hours languidly strolling along taking pictures and feeding the cute little ducks in the ponds.

Boston Common
139 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02111
(617) 635-4505
Hours: Daily 24 Hours

2. Shopping and Dining Amid Historic Locations

The answer for your shopping needs is Newbury Street in downtown Boston, a 5-minute walk away from Boston Commons. You’ll find yourself surrounded by upscale shops, designer stores like Burberry, Tiffany, Daniela Corte, Alan Bilzerian, LIT Boutique, Revolve and many more. Along the way, stop by chic cafes like Thinking Cup for posh coffee, tea, sandwiches, and cakes, enjoy a glass of wine together with brunch at the eclectic Sonsie, or pop by Wired Puppy for an espresso which also has another branch in Provincetown.

Fenway Park, in the meantime, is a necessity for first-timers simply because it is home to the “Boston Red Sox” and it is also the oldest ballpark (surprise, surprise!) in MLB. A selfie with the sign on the front is obligatory if you’re a fan of the team. The streets near the ballpark are closed to traffic so you can REALLY take your time strolling along when there isn’t a game. Turn on your explorer mode and you can walk around at your own pace without being rushed.

And if you’ve previously missed some historic spots along the Freedom Trail, use a few of those hours going from one historic attraction to another. A usual walk along the Freedom Trail would take an hour and a half. One of the most must-visit spots along the trail is the New England Holocaust Museum but you need to submit a request for a guided tour 2 weeks in advance on their website so you won’t be disappointed. However, even without a guide, a self-guided tour would be just as memorable. It honors the lives of those affected by the event and places the focus on survivors who found new lives in Boston despite grave challenges.

Sailing into the weekend in style! #rodeodress #summertime #redhotalert

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And before calling it a day, you MUST drop by Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant and tavern in the country, for some chowder and seafood fares! First off, people are awed by the oysters all lined up as far as the eye can see. Then they would quickly take a selfie with Kennedy Booth which was his favorite booth whenever he was dining in this restaurant. They decorated every inch of the walls with memorabilia while regular patrons are watching and loudly cheering on the Red Sox.

eating clam chowder, oysters, seafood in Boston is a must
Source: Charlotte Coneybeer on Unsplash

  • LIT Boutique
    223 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116
    (617) 421-8637
    Hours: Mon to Fri 9am - 5pm
  • Daniela Corte
    211 Newbury St # 2, Boston, MA 02116
    (617) 262-2100
  • Thinking Cup
    236 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113
    (857) 233-5277
    Hours: Mon, Tue and Wed 7am - 10pm, Thur to Sun 7am - 11pm
  • Sonsie
    327 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115
    (617) 351-2500
    Hours: Tue to Fri 8am - 1am, Sat - Mon 9.30am - 1am
  • Wired Puppy
    250 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116
    (857) 366-4655
  • Fenway Park
    4 Yawkey Way, Boston, MA 02215
    (617) 226-6666
  • The New England Holocaust Memorial
    98 Union St, Boston, MA 02129
    (617) 457-8755
  • Union Oyster House
    41 Union St, Boston, MA 02108
    (617) 227-2750
    Hours: Sun to Thur 11am - 9.30pm, Fri and Sat 11am - 10pm

3. Making Every Second Count with Only a Few Hours Left on the Clock

Time is of the essence when you only have a short trip to Boston but we think you can make full use of every second you’re here when it is well-planned and you have your Boston ground transportation sorted out. The charter bus can drop you off at Boston Harbor for a languid stroll early in the morning where you cross the bridge to the other side. A natural estuary, you will either spot a whale swimming past or breaching or get a good look at Georges Island, Spectacle Island, Peddocks Island, Thompson Island, Deer Island, Lovells Island, Bumpkin Island and many more along the way. The walk is peaceful, filled with lively people and music.

the beautiful night scene at Boston waterfront
Source: Lance Anderson on Unsplash

Since this is the last leg of your journey, we have to make every second count and I know this sounds a little frantic, we promise if you look at the list below and put your finger on the attractions you think are worth checking out during THIS trip, it WON’T be rushed. No panicking.

If you like beautiful surroundings and enjoy in a lovely way, old buildings, heading over to Cambridge at Harvard Square is a must. It’s just a nice blend of young and old, eclectic and historic, antiquated and contemporary. Everywhere you look is illuminated at night, making it perfect for a romantic stroll with your loved ones just to get your appetite going.

If you asked the young people hanging around the Cambridge and Boston University campus areas, they’d give eating at Oleanna big thumbs ups. Accordingly, it’s the NUMBER ONE restaurant for falafel and other creative eastern Mediterranean dishes. Book a table ahead of time (we have the number and link to the website below), you’ll even get a spot on its peaceful garden patio! In a college area like this, there are hip cafes, trendy restaurants, and strings of bars all around, so, check them out if there’s time. For kids from the 1970s and 1980s, you’d remember the name “Cheers”. Cheers is right around the corner on Beacon Street and it will transport you back in time as everything about the place will make you feel like you’re reliving your favorite sitcom. And if you use the Hashtag #cheersboston on your Instagram posts, your picture could line up along the Cheers Wall someday! We know it's cheesy but it's an iconic place.

Well Hello @teddanson Cheers to you Sunday! #cheers🍻 #cheersboston #cheerstvshow #teddanson #sammalone #handsome

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  • Cambridge College
    500 Rutherford Ave, Boston, MA 02129, USA
    (617) 868-1000
  • Boston University
    1 Silber Way, Boston, MA
    (617) 353-2000
  • Oleana
    134 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, MA
    (617) 661-0505
    Hours: Sun to Thur 5.30pm - 10pm, Fri and Sat 5.30pm - 11pm
  • Cheers
    84 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108
    (617) 227-9605
    Hours: Daily 11am - 11pm

4. Unique Boston Attractions to Think About

Here are a few uniquely-focused attractions in Boston, MA which is within an earshot away from the city center, to add to your itinerary if you’re looking for something memorable to do apart from visiting historic mansions and museums.

The Warren Anatomical Museum is, if nothing else, one-of-a-kind. A Boston Medical Museum, it showcases everything from the skull of Phineas Gage to a pair of conjoined skeletons. Just 11 minutes from Boston Commons, it is located on the 5th floor of the Countway Library of Medicine, hence, a little hidden gem in a tidy little corner of a bigger attraction. It’s a unique experience getting to know the collection of anatomical and pathological specimens sitting in Dr. Warren’s 15,000-strong collection (note that not all of them are on display). Really...if you’re not the queasy kind, this is an mind-blowing find.

Another interesting attraction to check out would be Mapparium, an inside-out glass globe built in 1935. It is located in the Mary Baker Eddy Library, a site named after the founder of Christian Science. Views of certain areas of the globe might not be up-to-date but when it is illuminated by LED lights, the view of the stained-glass globe is nothing short of awesome. The acoustics of Mapparium has stunned visitors; if you stand at the center of the sphere, a whisper would come a full circle back to you perfectly. The curvature of the glass absorbs no noise, hence, reflecting it back to you in the center!

see the world through a unique globe in Boston
Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

The French Revolution may have introduced an interesting way to bind books to Americans - an anthropodermic bibliopegy evidence kept at the Boston Athenaeum. The human skin of the French enemies or the New Republic opposers were used to bind books. This “secret evidence” lies in the form of a normal paperback memoir of the career criminal, James Allen, also known as George Walton. He spent many years of his life in jail despite being released several times. He would habitually go back to his old burglarizing and highway-robbing ways and end up behind bars throughout his life. Such was the old days.

Escape the heat and humidity with a good book and a gallery talk! We’re open until 5 tonight. #FreeFunFridays10 is supported by @highlandstreetfoundation #summerreading #goodbook #iglibraries

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  • Warren Anatomical Museum
    10 Shattuck St, Boston, MA 02115
    (617) 432-6196
    Hours: Mon to Fri 9am - 5pm
  • Mapparium
    @ The Mary Baker Eddy Library
    200 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115
    (617) 450-7000
    Hours: Daily 10am - 5pm
  • The Boston Athenaeum
    (617) 227-0270
    10 1/2 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02108
    Hours: Tue 12pm - 8pm, Wed to Sat 10am - 4pm

5. Rounding Things Up with a Charter Bus Ride around Boston’s Historic Neighborhoods

With a charter bus at the ready, you can explore Leather District which came into the spotlight after the Great Boston Fire of 1872 nearly leveled it, and introducing commercial fire codes.

They built a rather large number of buildings in the district between the economically-challenging 1880s and the elbow-grease-filled 1920s. Due to the times and the booming leather-making industry, visitors come into the ground floor of the building knowing full well that all the action of administration, storage and development was taking place in the living-cum-working spaces upstairs. Notable buildings, with their distinct Richardsonian Romanesque-style, were designed by Peabody and Stearns together with Willard T. Sears

Which Boston neighborhood is the most homogeneous 19th-century commercial district in the city? Many of its buildings were designed by architects, notably including Peabody and Stearns and Willard T. Sears, with a significant influence of the Richardsonian Romanesque style. 😇🥁✡️🎄🕌✨⛸❣️⛪️🙏🕊⭐️ The Leather District is a small neighborhood just east of Chinatown, nestled between Dewey Square and Kneeland Street. The nine distinct blocks are noted for their nineteenth century brick warehouse structures. Due to recent development and the creation of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, the Leather District has emerged as a distinct Boston neighborhood. Residents cherish the "loft living" options that characterize the community. The short distance to the major rail transportation hub, Boston's South Station, makes the Leather District a very accessible neighborhood. It is home to a wide arrange of industries from small restaurants to large corporations. ⬆️ #LinkinBio Please check out listings for sale in the Leather District and feel free to contact us with any questions or to schedule a tour for any listing. 📸 Leather District, Boston, MA. Courtesy: Joseph A. / flickr

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You can also take the rented coach to explore the city’s oldest residential community, North End. Small as it may be, the neighborhood boasts of hundreds of popular, mostly Italian-American, establishments and a large number of tourist attractions which includes landmarks like Copp’s Hill Terrace, Ozias Goodwin House, Mariners House, Old North Church, Paul Revere House and Union Wharf, just to name a few.

You can also visit the former horse-drawn street railway hub between Forest Hills and Dedham called Roslindale or make your way to Mattapan which is a green space haven! Both Roslindale and Mattapan grew exponentially through streetcar expansions and the meteoric rise of Boston as a commercial hub. With its distinctive old-school vibe mingling in with modernization, you’re often left slack-jawed with what’s around you. Mattapan, for instance, is home to Harambee Park, the Franklin Park Zoo, the Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, Clark-Cooper Community Gardens and Forest Hill Cemetery.

two birds kissing in a tree, nature green space in Boston MA
Source: Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Anyone would feel the urge to get off the charter bus, take off their shoes and just thread barefoot through some local parks. Forest Hill Cemetery and Harambee Park (formerly known as Franklin Field - named after none other than Benjamin Franklin, of course) are taken seriously as historical sites while The Franklin Park Zoo, founded in 1912, is the beveled jewel sitting on the crown of the Emerald Necklace Park System. The commendable Clark-Cooper Community Garden project admirably provides fresh food and green space for over 250 families in the community.


Honestly, if you manage to complete 3/4 of what’s suggested here, you’re already a champ! What with only 48 hours to spend in Boston, every second count for something. And while not everything is for you, don’t skimp of hitting the parks, checking into college towns, trying out the classic (and gastronomically delicious) clam chowder, and taking a charter bus ride around Boston’s unique neighborhoods...even if you’re seeing it from behind the windows of the bus. Get off if you can but a look at these communities is insight enough to show you that Boston is as unique, tough, and gritty as they come.

rent a school bus for a field trip in Boston MA
Source: Nico BHLR on Unsplash

Renting a Charter Bus for your Quick 48-Hour Tour around Boston, MA

You can now get your own comfy, cozy charter bus at an affordable price when you engage Charter Bus Boston as your ground transportation service provider! Just talk to our customer service representatives and convey your needs and preferences. Within minutes, we’ll narrow your options down for you based on your budget.

Yes, it’s as simple as that! Call us now at 1-800-304-1993 or complete this simple contact us form on our website and let your exciting journey around Boston begin!

Visit our Articles page for more useful tips, travel ideas and articles on visiting Boston!