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Boston by Boat

You’re standing on Boston Harbor and all of a sudden you feel the urge to re-enact the iconic moment taught in every American history class: the Boston Tea Party. Luckily, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum not only educates guests on this iconic event, but also encourages participants to grab a tea chest and heave it overboard, just as the founders of the country did in 1773.

Groups can connect with Boston Harbor’s past at the museum, as well as through numerous other adventures along Boston’s coastline. The 1630 town sits on a peninsula and alongside the Charles River, which has led to a long list of potential coastal activities.

Visitors enjoy history lessons at the Boston Tea Party Museum, as well as at America’s oldest light station. Scenic coastal tours also have ties to the past on the Architectural Cruise of Boston Harbor and on a canoe trip next to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus.

Educate your group on Boston’s far-reaching history with one of these standout coastal tours.


Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

In 1773, demonstrators disguised as Native Americans heaved an entire shipment of tea from England overboard, ruining the tea and jump-starting the American Revolution. Visitors to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum relive this fateful day next to costumed interpreters on authentically replicated tea ships.

“You get to throw the tea over yourself,” said David O’Donnell, special projects and media relations manager for the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s fun and comical. The Colonial characters on board with you encourage you to get rowdy and throw tea over.”

The museum experience begins at the replicated Meeting House, which is where the Sons of Liberty first decided to stage the Boston Tea Party. Costumed interpreters that speak at the pulpit convince the crowd to dump tea overboard with them. Afterward, the interpreters hand out historically re-created Native American costumes and board the ships.

After tossing fake tea chests, groups can see a real one. The 1773 Robinson Half Chest is one of the oldest Boston museum artifacts and is one of only two known tea chests still in existence from the Boston Tea Party.

Visitors can then explore the rest of the museum’s exhibits, including a short film, 3-D holographic characters and displays of historic artifacts. Many groups relax after absorbing so much history at Abigail’s Tea Room and Terrace, which serves teas and snacks from another era.


Architecture Cruise

With Boston’s history dating back further than most U.S. cities, the local architectural variety stands out prominently. The best vantage point for viewing Boston’s skyline can be found on Boston Harbor and the connecting Charles River.

Groups can sit back and soak in the historic views on the Charles Riverboat Company’s Architecture Cruise. The 90-minute tour partners with Boston by Foot and BSA Space, a center for architecture and design, to provide a fresh look at Boston’s architectural landmarks.

“It’s an interesting collaboration between tour companies,” said O’Donnell. “They normally run very different tours, but this is a great opportunity for them to get together and really enhance the tour.”

Along the route, guides point out a range of famous buildings, such as 200 Clarendon (formerly the John Hancock Tower), which has been the tallest building in Boston for more than 30 years. Guides will educate guests on the differences between this modern skyscraper design and some of Boston’s historic buildings, such as the 1849 Custom House, a Neoclassical clock tower.

MIT’s campus lies on the cruise route, which also showcases varying architectural eras such as Neoclassical, Modernist, Brutalist and Deconstructivist.

Groups desiring a more laid-back cruise can choose from the Charles Riverboat Company’s Boston Harbor Sunset Cruise, the Charles River Sightseeing Tour and other custom cruises.