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How to Get Off the Beaten Path in Boston

Discover the hidden gems of Boston at these off-the-beaten-path highlights.

A woman walks through downtown Boston in Massachusetts
Hi, I'm Michele!

Michele Laufik is a writer and editor, covering topics such as travel, beauty and wellness, and the events industry for various print and digital outlets. She recently moved from New York City and now calls Lexington her new Kentucky home. Michele has written for Glamour, NBCUniversal, Martha Stewart Living, PureWow, BizBash, among others.

Filled with historical landmarks and a diverse mix of restaurants and bars, Boston offers plenty of sightseeing options. But if you want to venture beyond Fenway Park, here’s how to get off-the-beaten-path in Boston.

Travel back in time at the Mapparium.

A view of the Mapparium Museum, a hotspot in Boston.
The Mapparium museum as seen from the inside.Foto: bianso / Tripadvisor

See the world at one moment in time.

Located at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, the Mapparium is a stained-glass globe that represents how the world looked in 1935, when the structure was built. Travel through the globe via a 30-foot (9-meter) glass bridge; watch a light-and-sound show that explains how the world has changed; and experience the acoustics of the whispering gallery.

Browse for books at Brattle Book Store

A browser enjoys checking out the books, outside, at open-air Brattle Book Shop in Boston.
An open-air sale at the Brattle Book Store.Foto: NoyanYalcin / Shutterstock

Pick up a book bargain.

Boston is home to several prestigious universities, which means there’s no shortage of bookstores. Selling used books since 1825, Brattle Book Shop is one of the oldest used bookstores in the US; you’ll find collectibles and first-edition books beside discounted books on the lot outside of the shop.

Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The beautiful lush courtyard at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, off the beaten path in Boston.
Interior of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.Foto: LnP images / Shutterstock

Check out an ecclectic collection.

Whether you consider her an avid collector or a hoarder, there’s no denying that philanthropist Isabella Stewart Gardner liked stuff. This museum displays more than 2,000 artifacts—including paintings, sculptures, textiles, drawings, manuscripts, and photographs accumulated during her global travels—in a 3-story building that’s been open since 1903.

Catch a film at the Coolidge Corner Theatre

The retro neon sign on the corner of the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Boston.
The Coolidge Corner Theatre exterior.Foto: Michael S / Tripadvisor

Enjoy some movie entertainment.

Originally a church, Coolidge Corner Theatre was converted to an art deco movie theater in 1933; today, it maintains its early 20th-century decor—think: red velvet seats—while screening both classic and contemporary films. Catch lesser-known flicks or take part in singalongs here; beer, wine, and popcorn are served on-site.

Enjoy the views of Boston Harbor Islands

An aerial view of Georges Island Winter Fortress in Boston Harbor in Boston, a fun off-the-beaten-path spot.
Georges Island Winter Fortress in Boston Harbor.Foto: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

Take a day trip from the city.

Accessible via ferry from Boston city center, and comprised of 34 islands and peninsulas, this national park features hiking trails, campgrounds, and public beaches. It’s also home to a Civil War-era fort and Boston Light, the first lighthouse in the US; book a lighthouse tour for the best views of Long Island Light, Graves Light, and Boston Light.

Explore U.S. history at the old burying grounds.

Copp's Hill Burying Ground cemetery on a sunny day, off the beaten path in Boston.
Copp's Hill Burying Ground cemetery.Foto: Diego Grandi / Shutterstock

Visit Boston's historic tombs.

Nestled among brick buildings and bookstores, you’ll find several historic cemeteries in downtown Boston, including Granary Burying Ground and King’s Chapel Burying Ground. Wander through to see marble, granite, and slate headstones, some of which depict skulls with wings. At the Granary grounds on Tremont Street, see where Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere are laid to rest.

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