Updated Oct 19, 2023 - Things to Do

A guide to Boston's Tourist Traps

Photo: Joe Sohm/Getty Images

Boston is chock-full of tourist attractions that the rest of us often forget about.

  • Some might be worth recommending and some might be a waste of time and money.

Driving the news: Here's our take on what to avoid — and what to make time for.

Cheers - Beacon Street

TV's most famous pub.

Zoom in: There's a bar that passes for a replica of the TV set at street level, while the former Bull & Finch Pub, the inspiration for the show, is down the iconic cellar stairs.

  • Both bars are glorified gift shops for a show that ended its run over 30 years ago.

Details: The menu has standard pub fare with kitschy headings like "Sam's starters," "Lilith's Pan Asian Salad" and "Carla's Meatballs & Linguini."

  • Cheers charges tourist-level prices for the food. All the sandwiches are $19.99 aside from the $28.99 "Giant Norm Burger."

For drinks, it's the standard domestic beer taps with a few local IPAs from Castle Island and Offshore Brewing.

  • Cheers doesn't exactly have a craft cocktail menu, but they do make a "Screaming Viking," a drink featured on the show.
  • Keep the commemorative mug for $13!

Is it worth it? Of course not.

  • Any tourist visiting Beacon Hill should check out The Sevens Ale House for a true pub experience (with sandwiches for half the price) or walk over to one of the many great restaurants in the Back Bay.
  • You can also walk around the block to Cheers' sister restaurant 75 Chestnut for a higher-end experience.
A Museum Tea Party Museum actor dressed in a ratty dress takes tourists aboard the Eleanor.
You'll learn all about the participants, cargo and ramifications of the Tea Party from genuinely hilarious actors. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

Boston Tea Party Museum - Fort Point

What's happening: The Tea Party Museum informs visitors all about the fateful night in 1773 when irked colonists — soon to be revolutionaries — disguised themselves and dumped 300 crates of tea into the harbor.

  • The highlight of the experience is the chance to throw your own crate over the side of a ship into the channel. (They're retrieved on ropes.)
  • Costumed historical interpreters are on hand to educate visitors about the demonstration, answer questions and give a little revolutionary encouragement to acts of rebellion.

Yes, but: A hidden gem inside the museum is Abigail's Tea Room, a lunch spot with water views where you can get some Sam Adams beer, a dark and stormy cocktail or, yes, tea.

Is it worth it? It is for history nerds. Basic tourists might get a little lost when the attraction turns from tea-throwing to a film about Lexington and Concord.

  • Admission is $36 and can be bundled with tours from Old Town Trolley.

Be smart: The real Tea Party is coming up on its 250th anniversary this Dec. 16.

Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

Codzilla - Long Wharf

It's the loudest, wettest ride in town.

Details: A 2,800 horsepower, twin-engine, extra-large speedboat blares music while doing doughnut spins in the harbor.

  • You will get wet.
  • A Boston Harbor City Cruise attraction, Codzilla costs $43 and lasts 40 minutes.

Is it worth it? Boat rides are always worth it, and this one certainly puts smiles on passengers' faces.

  • The speed and splashes of Codzilla don't disappoint, even if the host's jokes are incredibly cheesy.

Yes, but: At nearly $50 for the 40-minute ride, it might be beyond the price range of many families.

Boston, ya pretty. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

View Boston - Prudential Center

The observation deck on top of the Prudential Tower is the Hub's newest major attraction.

What's happening: The new three-floor experience opened in June, replacing the Top of the Hub restaurant and the Skywalk observation deck that had been closed since 2020.

Details: Floor 52 is the expansive glass viewing deck with views of the Back Bay and downtown in the foreground and the Charles River, Harbor Islands and Blue Hills behind.

  • The views are as stunning on a clear day as you'd expect.

Yes, but: Down one flight is the real star of the show: the outdoor lounge deck, where you can feel the breeze and hear the sounds of the city while enjoying the same sights.

  • And it features what must be Boston's highest altitude bar.

The third floor below offers a fancy restaurant called The Beacon, panoramic videos of city sights, a 3D multimedia model of Boston and kiosks about other activities tourists might want to visit.

Is it worth it? Surprisingly, yes it is.

  • The cheapest admission ticket was $32.99, but I spent over an hour on the exhibits and gazing out at a city that's a lot prettier than you might realize every day.
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