Last Updated on April 14, 2023 by Nicole
My oldest daughter went to College outside of Boston. Over the years, I spent a fair number of days wondering around Boston either with her, or with my other 3 kids. We have eaten at some amazing restaurants, learned about early American history, and much to my teenagers’ delight, done some serious wallet cleansing shopping. After this last trip, I thought I would put together an epic one day itinerary with teens in Boston in fall. This itinerary is packed with the best things to do with teenagers in Boston in September, October and November.
Warning: This itinerary is heavy on eating, shopping and fun!
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If you are keen to visit cool cities in the United States that will capture the attention of your teens, then you are in luck. There are lots from which to choose!
For other amazing destinations, please see:
- 10 Best Things To Do With Teens In Summer In New York;
- An Action Packed 3 Day New York City Itinerary In Summer With Teens; and
- Best 5 Day Itinerary In Winter In New Orleans With Teens.
Boston In Fall With Teens
Boston has a terrific vibe. It is great walking city. It is relatively flat with a lot of the major tourist attractions being an easy 30 minute walk between each other. There is a lot of interesting architecture, shops and history on almost every block.
Even though it’s a major city, Boston has a laid back feeling to it. Even in the centre of the city, you sense that people are busy, but not too stressed about it.
Accommodation and Transportation Tips In Boston
Two things about Boston that you should know before embarking on this fantastic one day Boston Itinerary with teens – Accommodation can be expensive and travel by car is a hassle. I have two recommendations.
Try to Stay Outside the City
On my last trip, we stayed at The Lodge at Brandeis University. Brandeis University is located in Waltham, a suburb of Boston. It is located on the Fitchburg line on the Commuter Rail and only takes 25 minutes to reach North Station in downtown Boston. There are lots of trains all day and into the night.
The Lodge offered 6 standard rooms at $90 USD (taxes included) and 2 suites at $120 USD (taxes included). Two of us stayed in a standard room which was comfortable with a nice bathroom, a fridge and microwave. I would stay there again.
Of course, if you have a decent budget, then there are several hotels in downtown from which to choose, including some Boston hotels with rooftop pools or Boston hotels with indoor pools for something extra special.
Avoid Travel By Car
There is nothing wrong with travelling by car. It is just not the most economical or timely choice in Boston. Boston has an excellent train and subway system that is inexpensive and much faster than travel by car.
Boston is an old city with a road system that does not always offer the most direct route to a destination. In addition, most travel within the city are on streets with only a couple lanes of traffic. There are highways but they circumvent the city or go underneath through tunnels, getting you to your destination through roundabout routes.
On several trips to Boston, I have been surprised by the cost of an Uber or a Lyft because the distance on the map does not represent the actual route a car has to take to get to that destination.
One Day Itinerary With Teens In Boston In Fall
Granted this one day Boston itinerary is jammed packed with amazing things to do. It is entirely possible to do all of it in one day – we did. But you can also spread out these activities over a couple days or long weekend. They are all fantastic things to do with your teenagers in Boston and a wonderful way to spend some time together in this beautiful city, especially in fall when the fall foliage begins to come out.
Start With The Boston Secret Food Tour
We did the Boston Secret Food Tour and it was fantastic. It started at 11:00 am a couple of subway stations away from the North Station and lasted for approximately 3 hours.
We spent most of our time in the North End of Boston, also called “Little Italy”, but also explored nearby Boston Public Market.
Boston Public Market houses approximately 35 businesses that produce locally sourced ingredients or prepared meals or foods. It also offers public education, accessibility and affordable food for the community.
The cost was $65 USD for the tour. For the amount and variety of food that we ate, it was well worth the cost. You won’t need breakfast or lunch, and you won’t want an early dinner either! It was an absolutely fantastic tour.
In Little Italy, we did the following:
- Had pumpkin ravioli with cream and pancetta (unbelievable!) and pizza at Bencotto.
- Had a coldcut, cheese, and muffaletta spread on fresh crusty Italian bread at Salumeria, one of the most popular Italian grocery stores in the North End.
- Tasted local beer and cider at the Golden Goose Market and Cafe.
- Finished off the tour with a freshly made cannoli at Modern Pastry, an old established Italian bakery with a long history of baking.
Boston Public Market
In the Boston Public Market, we did the following:
- Tasted honey at the Boston Honey Company. (Who knew that there were so many different flavours of honey depending on what flowers the bees pollinate???)
- Ate artisan nuts at Q’s Nuts. The flavours, like Mexican chocolate almonds or Cayenne Mango cashews, were insanely good.
- Ate a lobster roll at Red’s Best. The lobster was literally a few hours out of the ocean and exceptionally fresh.
Discover The Secret Shop
After the tour, head to Bodega, a short subway ride away. Bodega is an expensive and trendy men’s clothing shop. However, what makes this store a fun destination is that the store is hidden behind an intentionally scruffy convenience store. The only way to access the men’s clothing shop is to go into the convenience store and know where to find the door and how to open it. Once through, you are in a modern hip space that is fun to explore, even if you shake your head and say “no” to every single expensive thing your teenage son picks up.
Explore Boston Common
Hop back on the subway and head to Boston Common. This is a beautiful 50 acre park in the middle of Boston and the historical district. I don’t think any Boston itinerary would be complete without visiting Boston Common.
This is where we started our Freedom Trail tour on another trip to Boston, something that I would highly recommend doing if you have more than one day to explore Boston with your teen.
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile path that you follow which takes you on a journey into and through key moments of the American Revolution. You can do a self guided tour, a free walking tour, or paid tours. A self guided tour would allow you to spend a little bit of time on the Freedom Trail and then, get back on this one day Boston itinerary.
Regardless of whether you do some or all of the Freedom Trail on this day, I would recommend spending a little bit of time walking through this park. It is filled with trees and grass with lots of things for both kids and adults to enjoy.
Shop Along Newbury Street
Just off Boston Common is Newbury street, a mile long street filled with gorgeous 19th century brownstones, shops and restaurants. The shops close to Boston Common are high-end and expensive, but don’t let that deter you. They are certainly beautiful to look at, but as you walk along and away from the park, less expensive yet cool boutiques start popping up. There are a few standard stores that you expect to see in every major city, but for the most part, these shops are small, unique and definitely fun to explore.
A perennial favourite of my kids is Nordstrom Rack Newbury, one block up on Boylston Street. I can’t remember ever walking out of that store without someone carrying a bag or two.
Treat Yourself At Georgetown Cupcake
By now, you might want to sit down and rest your feet so you might as well go and have a gourmet cupcake at Georgetown Cupcake on Newbury Street.
There are dozens of flavours from which to choose. The good news is that they are not too big, so you won’t have any problem rationalizing having another treat.
If you want to make friends, tune into the “fridge” cam in the morning to find the “Secret Flavour” of the day for a free cupcake and let your friends know. There is a limited supply so perhaps you should stop here in the morning on your way to the food tour. Just saying…
Eat A Late Dinner At Giacomo’s Restaurant
It’s dinnertime, right? Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best Italian meals that I have ever eaten was at Giacomo’s Restaurant back in the North End. Be prepared to wait for your table, even with a reservation. I’d list all the must have entrees but there is no point. I have yet to eat anything that wasn’t mouth watering and utterly worth the wait.
Laugh At Improv Asylum
Also in the North End is the Improv Asylum, a comedy theatre featuring improvisation and sketch comedy. There are a couple shows a night that are family friendly (my 13 year old daughter had a blast), with a midnight show that is not! Tickets are well priced. It is a really fun way to bring your night and this epic one day Boston itinerary with your teens to a close.
***For a handy list of these Boston things to do, with links to relevant websites, and helpful hints, please fill out the form below and then click “Subscribe”.
Try A Cannoli At Mike’s Pastry
Ok. Almost bedtime…
Just in case your teenagers with hollow legs need a bedtime snack, walk about 8 stores down from Improv Asylum to Mike’s Pastry, for your final cannoli of the day. Mike’s Pastry is probably the most famous cannoli place in Boston. There is always a line up and only takes cash.
The cannolis are not any better than the ones from Modern Pastry (which funnily enough is across the street). However, what Mike’s Pastry offers are some amazing flavour combinations that you won’t find anywhere else. Plus, the cannolis are HUGE. Or at least it felt like that after the marathon day of eating, eating and more eating.
What is the moral of this very fun one day itinerary in Boston with your teens? Wear comfortable shoes and pants with an elastic waistband!
You will spend most of your day eating and walking (and I think in that order). You will get to see a huge part of what makes Boston such a beautiful, welcoming and interesting city while eating your way through some extraordinary food.
For some strategies for keeping your teens off of their phones and social media while on your family vacations, please refer to my article Teenagers: 7 Ways To Limit The Effects Of Social Media On Your Family Holidays.
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Great reading. Your blogs about food always make my mouth water! Now I have a super intinerary when in Boston!
Thanks Anne. It is a great place to visit, especially with kids.
Far too much to do for one day but next time I am there I shall try to do half perhaps….. Ivan
It is a little jammed pack. Doing it over two days would also be a good idea.
Hubby says that Boston is a great city and lots of fun. He went to Uni there more years ago than he’d like to admit. We went there several years ago and followed a history trail. Cambridge is across the river which has it’s own set of fun from visiting the Ivy League schools to dining around Harvard square.
It’s a great college town! Next time I will have to head to the Cambridge area. It’s just so hard to tear myself away from the North End and Newbury street. But, I’m definitely curious about that part of Boston.
My daughter lived in Boston for 3 years so we were able to visit many times – it’s a fun city to visit especially if you’re a history buff. My favorite area is definitely the North End – you can’t go wrong with all that good food, cannoli’s included! I always wanted to attend a festival there but never made it. Great tips and places to visit – I’m going to need to go back to do a few that I haven’t already done.
I would love to attend a festival there too. Any excuse to go back and eat some more!
I’ve only been to Boston once, but it has been on my mind to visit again soon. The food tour and Boston Public Market sound right up my alley. The pumpkin ravioli sounds absolutely delightful. And, I never did make it to Mike’s or Modern Pastry for cannoli on my last visit. Definitely need to fix that! #WeekendWanderlust
Definitely need to fix that! It’s a really lovely city with an amazing food scene. You will enjoy yourself immensely!
Looks like there is a lot to do in boston in just one day. I would definitely love to do the food tour…
It is a wonderful city. I normally prefer to spend a few days exploring but sometimes time is short. And of course, eating one’s way through any city is a ton of fun!
I see that you guys have a sweet tooth! I would not mind eating tons of cupcakes, cannoli, and honey! I would like to see the historic side of Boston but I want to get into the food scene too. I love, love the markets on the East Coast. They are very different from what we have in California. Thanks for reminding me I need to visit Boston. #WeekendWanderlust
It is so easy to indulge (and over indulge) on holiday, isn’t it?? I kind of think if you are going to blow through your calories you might as well do it in style!
Boston is one of my favorite cities! Last time I visited, we walked the Freedom Trail and saw the sights along it. That took the day! I would love to go back and visit some of these “secret” places and sample those cupcakes! It looks like your teens were happy!
I agree. Boston is one of my favourite cities too. It feels very welcoming and friendly and of course, the food is fantastic!
This is really an epic itinerary! I haven’t been to Boston when in the US but it looks wonderful. Georgetown Cupcake looks amazing, and I appreciate the tips on the transportation methods too. I hope to visit the next time I’m back.
It’s definitely a city that you should try and get to at some point in your life. I might avoid it in winter – it can get quite cold – but the rest of the year, it can be quite lovely.
Oh I love Boston!! Don’t forget a duck boat tour and if you have teens, a trip to Harvard might be awesome as well. Thanks for sharing, makes me want to go back to Boston!
My daughter has done the duck boat tour but I haven’t gotten around to it. It must be good because there are duck boats EVERYWHERE in Boston. Thanks for the ideas.
I have never been to Boston but it looks like a fun city. The Secret Food Tour is totally up my alley. I would love it. Also, a visit to Georgetown Cupcake would be very interesting.
It is a very nice city to spend time in and eat!
Very nice place! Some of my relatives actually live in Boston. It’s great that you took those girls on a trip. It opens their eyes to the world beyond their cellphones and tablets.
I am lucky. My girls have been to close to 40 countries so they have the travel bug like me!
Walking and eating are two of my favorite things to do when I travel! Have yet to visit Boston but sounds like I would really enjoy it.
LOl! I think walking and eating are two of my favourite things as well!
I haven’t had the chance to visit Boston yet and now I can’t wait to go, there are so many interesting things to see…and eat! Ahah! The secret shop is so cool and the Boston Common Park looks great! Oh and I wouldn’t miss some shopping in Newbury St 😉
It sounds like Boston would be an ideal location for you!
Boston isn’t actually somewhere I’ve ever really considered before – one of my friends has been and loved it, so maybe I should reconsider. Looks like there is a lot more to see and do (and eat!) there than I thought there was! x
Boston is a very lovely laid back old US city. It is definitely worthwhile to visit one day when you can. But I understand what you mean. New York or even LA seem to be cities that make the top of the list.
Very interesting article! But we traveled with family and children on this we preferred to rent a car https://14cars.com/car-rental/usa-boston-airport-bos-ma . Boston is an interesting and contrasting place. Here, convenient car rental and many beautiful places. But here accommodation and food cost more than in neighboring cities. I think that traveling to travel is to plan everything in advance.
I think renting a car is an excellent decision although I don’t know if I would want to worry about finding and paying for parking in downtown Boston. I also think you are correct – downtown Boston is more expensive than the surrounding areas so staying outside of Boston is a good way to save money.
This looks like a great itinerary for teens visiting Boston! I’m sure they’ll have a blast exploring the city and all the attractions you’ve listed. Thanks for sharing! explore boston: https://bostonsightseeing.us/
Thank you! My son loved it and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending all the attractions that we experienced.