Boston really does have something for everyone. Choose from a variety of exciting tours to discover this American city.

You are not the average tourist. Sure you like to eat at some nice restaurants. Maybe visit a museum or two. But you have no interest in seeing the city through a bus window. And another thing: You like to walk. Well, Boston has tours that will exercise both your brain and your body. You can take steps to learn about the literary scene, food, movies and photography. In one of the US's oldest cities, history is a given.

Culture vultures

Most visitors only sample Boston's early American history, cream pie and beans. The 19th century literary scene is a nice respite and you don't have to be a bookish guru to enjoy it. The Literary Trail of Boston (website: begins at the Omni Parker House Hotel. Not only the birthplace of Boston cream pie and Parker House rolls, it's where the 'Saturday Club' once met. Such notables as Longfellow, Thoreau, Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Harriett Beecher Stowe and Nathaniel Hawthorne were regulars. Charles Dickens would always drop by when he was in town. He performed his first reading of The Christmas Carol there.

The tour moves to the Boston Athenaeum (a 19th century library). Amid shelves, balconies and alcoves, this literary haunt houses 700,000 original volumes and manuscripts, as well as the sculpture and artwork. To see poet Longfellow's home, you must ride the 'T' (the train) to Cambridge.

When he was a language professor at Harvard, Longfellow lived at 105 Brattle Street. He was a fan of George Washington, and this house was extra special to him. It once served as general's headquarters during the siege of Boston between July 1775 and April 1776.  Wandering through the home and seeing some of his possessions will give you an understanding of Longfellow, the man.

The literary legacy of Greater Boston still thrives. Many well-known authors, such as Sylvia Plath, Eugene O'Neill, John Updyke and Doris Kearns Goodwin, have called the area home. 


So do many Italians. The three-hour North End Market Tour (website: combines history, Italian culinary with lots of yummy tastings and handouts such as an explanation of different Italian pastries. Strolling through narrow streets in the country's oldest ‘Little Italy,' you will likely hear the sounds of Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin and see senior citizens sitting on the front steps gossiping, just as you might envision in the old country.

A chef/guide explains that, to Italians, food is a very big deal. So is digestion, which is why fennel, liquorice and anisette are frequently used. While visiting ethnic, family-owned bakery, cheese, wine  and spice shops, you will learn about regional cooking and foods. For example, bakery goods that contain sesame seeds reflect Arab influence and are from southern Italy. At Alba's Produce, guests discover how to tell the difference between a male and female aubergine. (Who knew such things existed?)

Film buffs

The 90-minute Boston Movie Tour (website: is also fun. It weaves through Beacon Hill with a running commentary of behind-the scenes skinny and visits film locations from such hits as The Firm, Mystic River, Fever Pitch and Legally Blonde. Imagine sitting on the park bench or dropping by the L Street Tavern featured in Good Will Hunting.  

Pause at the street where the runaway car crash from Blown Away was filmed or at the building where Ally McBeal and Boston Legal were shot. The ultimate TV-theme experience is the drink stop at the Bull and Finch Pub. The watering hole, originally shipped over from England, became the inspiration for the TV series, Cheers. Note that the inside doesn't look much like the TV bar. That was filmed on a TV set.

Find off-the-beaten-path stuff with Audissey Guides (website: With music, sound effects and locals spinning tales of their city, it's you and your MP3 or iPod. Wander down secret alleys and hidden paths to such sites as the former headquarters of the Boston Mafia, the restaurant where Malcolm X bussed tables and Ho Chi Minh worked as a pastry chef or to the site of the Boston Massacre. The narration even leads you to a cappuccino stop at the North End. Twenty- and thirty-somethings love this excursion.


But let's face it, when sightseeing in Boston, it is impossible to escape its history. If you are travelling with the kids, try Boston By Little Feet (website: The hour-long version of the downtown Freedom Trail (probably the city's most popular attraction) is aimed at 6 to 12 year-olds. It comes with an Explorer's Map that has footprints directing the children to each location. 

Improve you photo skills with Boston Photo Walks (website: Grab your camera and follow Saba Alhati. She reviews the history of Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the Freedom Trail, the Common Garden or the North End, while sharing very useable tips on photo composition. As in any of these excursions, you will learn something new and have fun doing it.

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