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Boston

old state house boston For a taste of American history, walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path linking 16 historic sites. Start at the visitor information center on Tremont Street, where you can get maps and information. Audio tours are available, as are guided walking tours. Several operators also offer trolley tours. You really have to be into history to do the whole thing (it takes a day, at least). But don't miss a personal favorite, the gravesite of the woman believed by some to be Mother Goose. It's at the Granary Burying Ground on Tremont Street.

The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the finest art museums in the country, noted especially for its Impressionist collection. Monet lovers will rejoice!

There's a fine, quirky collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, located in the eclectic collector's former home, a 19th-century building designed to look like a 15th-century Venetian palace. The paintings, furniture, sculptures and other objets d'art are still displayed precisely as they were by Isabella herself.

The New England Aquarium has an excellent collection of sea critters, including African penguins, giant Pacific octopuses and Myrtle the green sea turtle (who is about 80 years old). The aquarium also offers excellent whale watching excursions.

Boston's Chinatown has an impressive gate as well as a good array of Asian restaurants and inexpensive gift shops. For dim sum, check out Empire Garden, located in the unusual venue of a former theater (it's at 690 Washington Street).

Tickets may be hard to come by these days, but a pilgrimage to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play is a definite must.

boston public garden garden autumn fall foliage tree Boston Common, this city's version of New York's Central Park, is absolutely lovely. It's a must-do, especially on nice sunny days. Don't miss the adjacent Public Garden, especially the lagoon where you'll find the city's famed Swan Boats. The ride takes about 15 minutes, but beware -- on nice days lines can be long. If you're a fan of the famous "Make Way for Ducklings" children's book, check out the statues of Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings.

If you've already explored Boston, head across the Charles River to Cambridge. Visit Harvard University, which in addition to hallowed halls has several excellent museums, and hang with the college kids in Harvard Square (home of the Coop, Harvard's famous bookstore, and other shops including Urban Outfitters and the World's Only Curious George Store).

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The Charles River used to be a big city embarrassment, but now it's clean enough to support living things and a great place to catch city views. Several companies run sightseeing cruises, including the Charles Riverboat Company and Boston Harbor Cruises. If you're lucky you'll pass by the Harvard and M.I.T. rowing teams out practicing.
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