Touching down at Boston Logan Airport and already planning what to do in Boston? With over 60 museums in and near the city, most of your vacation in Boston can be spent on museum hopping. And that is a good thing for all museum lovers out there. Boston museums and art galleries offer a little bit of everything for every history buff and art lover.
From modern and contemporary art to historic buildings, science and ships, you will not only learn a lot about American history but you will be entertained while doing so. But before you take a trip back in time, don't forget to drop your belongings at one of our locations for luggage storage in Boston.
Without further ado, here are some of the best museums worth visiting on your trip to Boston.
Paul Revere House
You can't think of Boston without thinking of Paul Revere and his famous ride. The house where he actually lived in the 17th century still stands and has been turned into a small museum in downtown Boston. It is pretty easy to recognize the 17th-century small wooden structure amongst the more modern buildings.
The rooms are filled with artifacts of the era and look as they did hundreds of years ago. You can walk up to get in, but there may be a long wait, so it is best to make reservations. Even if you are not into museums, this one is a must-see Boston attraction that is interesting for all ages.
Hours: Daily 10 am - 4:15 pm
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Often overlooked by tourists, the locals know and love this museum very much. Designed like a 15th-century Venetian palace, it is home to over 2,500 pieces of artwork, one of the largest private collections in the world. Collected by the Gardners on their travels around the world, the museum holds an impressive collection of European, Asian, and Islamic works of art.
If you can, try to get there on the third Thursday of the month when they serve champagne, have live music, and play gallery games in the luxurious courtyard. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is for people that love their art. And being only a few blocks from the Museum of Fine Arts in the Mission Hill area, art enthusiasts can really get their fill in one day.
Hours: Mon, Wed, Fri 11 am - 5 pm, Thur 11 am - 9 pm, Sun & Sat 10 am - 5 pm
USS Constitution Museum
You will come for the ship but stay for the museum. The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy and sits in the Charlestown Naval Yard next to the museum. Visiting an old ship and museum might seem a little boring, but not this.
The museum offers some fun activities for all ages, like swinging in a hammock, firing a cannon, and the thrill of commanding "Old Ironsides" in battle simulations. The museum also houses many of the ship's charts, logs, weapons, and more. This is a great family-friendly museum that offers fun activities for kids, live and online.
Ship Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 10 am - 4 pm
Museum Hours: Daily 10 am - 5 pm
Sports Museum of New England
Known as the "City of Champions" it is only fitting that there is a museum dedicated to sports in New England. Bostonians are fanatics when it comes to sports and they have had their fair share of iconic sports stars. Ted Williams, Tom Brady, Larry Bird, and Rocky Marciano just to name a few of the giants in their respective sports.
Visiting the museum you will walk along a half-mile of sporting memorabilia of the fifth and sixth floor in the TD Garden sports area in the West End. You might not be a sports fan, but after seeing and reading about some of the inspirational stories you might just want to check out a game or two. Visits to the museum are by tour only and there are no reservations and just four a day, so you may have to wait your turn.
Hours: Daily 12.30 pm, 1.30 pm, 2.30 pm, and 3.30 pm
Museum of Fine Arts
Considered not only one of the best museums in Boston but the world, The Museum of Fine Arts offers over 100 galleries and 450,000 paintings, sculptures, and other objects to explore. Works of art that span ancient times, including an amazing collection of Egyptian mummies and artifacts, to the contemporary. The Boston museum is especially proud of the comprehensive American art collection.
The Neoclassical granite building located on the "Avenue of Arts" in the Fenway region of Boston, is the perfect museum for art hounds. You could spend the entire day wandering the galleries! Be sure to check out their tours, films, bookstore, or even one of the dining options. There is the Studio Art Class and Workshop, a great program for families and kids, where they get to experiment, explore, and solve problems as they interact and create their own art.
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 10 am - 5 pm
The Fogg Museum
Located inside Harvard University, the Fogg Museum is the oldest museum out of the three that comprise Harvard Museums. Built in 1896, the museum is named after William Hayes Fogg, a successful Maine merchant who died in 1884. Best known for its marvelous collections of Italian Renaissance paintings, French art from the 19th century, modern American paintings, sculptures, and drawings dating back to the Middle Ages, this museum is surely not to be missed on your stay in Boston.
Famous works of art you will see include pieces of art by William Blake, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jackson Pollock, Sandro Botticelli, Rembrandt, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh. Especially worth taking a look at is the Maurice Wertheim Collection, a rich display of impressionist and post-impressionist works of art. This museum is one of the best Boston museums.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday from 10 am - 5 pm
Nichols House Museum
Just within a 3-minute walk from the Massachusetts State House, you will find Nichols House Museum, a historic house that will take you back to the 19th and 20th centuries, showing you how the upper-middle class lived on Beacon Hill at the time. Besides Georgian and Victorian art and architecture, you will find pieces from everyday life such as an 1897 dumbwaiter and a radio from the ’30s.
Step back in time in one of the most unique museum houses in Boston, and learn about the life of Rose Standish Nichols and her family, the last residents of this hidden gem on Beacon Hill. And all that through lectures, programs, and events held by knowledgeable and fun guides. It is a great change from the usual museums in Boston and a perfect way to spend a few hours on a rainy day. After some time here, go for a fantastic Boston brunch and talk about what this great museum had to display.
Hours: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 am - 1.45 pm (check their website for updates in schedule)
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
If you want to learn about the life of the 35th president of the United States, head down to Dorchester, near the University of Massachusetts for a 3-hours tour inside the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library and Museum. Your tour starts with a short biographical film and then you can explore the grandeur museum on your own checking out many exhibits as you go. Learn about the most important events in John Kennedy’s presidency such as the Kennedy-Nixon debate, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the space program, and a lot more!
The fascinating building was designed by architect I.M. Pei and overlooks Boston Harbor where you see the president’s boat docked. Getting to the Presidential Library is easy. How to get here? You can either take a shuttle bus or walk from the JFK/UMass stop on the Red Line of Boston's MBTA system.
Hours: Saturday and Sunday from 10 am - 2 pm
Boston Children's Museum
A very special museum indeed, the Boston Children's Museum is an absolute must if you have kids under the age of 12. To be honest, you will probably enjoy it just as much as your children. With so many hands-on and interactive activities it seems more like a playground than a museum.
Through art and science, your children will be learning about the world around them while having a tremendous amount of fun. They will learn about physics and nature while playing with bubbles. Improve their motor skills by dancing, climbing, and balancing on a waterbed.
There is a giant maze with tubes and chutes connecting platforms and a workbench where they can build stuff. You will find all the fun and laughter in the second oldest children's museum in Boston, located in the Seaport District near the Seaport Channel.
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 9 am - 12 pm or 12.30 pm - 4.30 pm
Museum of Science
Located in the Science Park along the Charles River, this is one of the best child-friendly museums in Boston. What makes it different from the rest of the museums is that it is also a zoo, a planetarium, and a theater, and with over 700 interactive exhibits you will need an entire day to see it all.
Kids and adults alike can enjoy watching a 4D movie on an IMAX screen in a five-story Omni theater or take part in multimedia exhibits at the Charles Hayden Planetarium, like building a spacecraft. When you are done with immersing yourselves in scientific discovery, visit the zoo and aquarium, home to over 100 animals.
For those who want to pick up a souvenir, there is a huge gift shop, and if you get hungry you have lots of snack options that you can enjoy with a view of the river.
Hours: Monday-Thursday & Saturday and Sunday from 9 am -5 pm, Friday from 9 am - 9 pm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum
This museum houses some of the world's most renowned collections of technology, science, architecture, design and engineering. Located in Cambridge, the museum was built for those who like to be challenged in their thinking. The exhibitions showcase those technological advancements that also incorporate artistic design and movement.
Although most of the exhibits and displays are not hands-on, there are special programs that the museum hosts for teens and families.
Note: The Museum building at 265 Mass Ave is permanently closed. The new museum is opening in spring 2022 with a new location at Kendall Square.
What are the Best Free Museums in Boston?
In Boston you can find many museums that have free admission, are sometimes free or take small donations. Some of the best free museums in Boston include:
- The USS Constitution Museum (they accept any donations, but they are not required).
- The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (This museum has free admission on your birthday with your ID; if your name is Isabella, you get free admission for life).
- The Institute of Contemporary Art is free on Thursdays from 5 pm - 9 pm.
- Harvard Museum of Natural History is free for Harvard students and Massachusetts resident every Sunday morning from 9 am-noon, and Wednesdays from 3pm - 5pm from September till May.
Which are the Best Museums in Downtown Boston?
There are many museums located in Downtown Boston. Some of the best include:
- Museum of African American History
- Otis House Museum
- The West End Museum
- The Sports Museum
- The Boston Tea Party & Ships Museum
Are There any Cheap Museums in Boston?
While most Boston museums are not expensive to get in, there are some that may cost more than the other especially if you have a big family. Some museums offer free and discounted prices, so if you want to save money, make sure to visit them on those days only.
- Boston Children's Museum offers $1 admission every Friday night from 5 pm - 9 pm.
- The Museum of Science is a part of the Boston CityPASS.
Enjoy Museum Hopping
When visiting Boston you don't have to worry about what you are going to do. With so many museums and most located in Downtown Boston, your days will be filled to the max. From interactive displays at a museum to rotating exhibits at a gallery, the museum scene is ever-evolving and always exciting!