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Boston Vacations: Four Ways To Experience Beantown

Boston is a great destination city for a vacation. There's plenty on tap to see and do, and it's an easy city to get around on foot. And you'll find Boston vacations a refreshing mixture of old and new.

You can experience the start of the revolutionary war, take a bus on a river, and see a coral reef ? and all before dinner.

The best way of getting around during Boston vacations is walking. That's right the ole soft shoe shuffle. You'll save time and see more by expending some shoe leather.

But for first time visitors I highly recommend an orientation tour first.

A SPLISH-SPLASH DUCK TOUR

One of the best, and most unique tours is the Duck Tour ride.

The tour is done in a renovated World War II amphibious vehicle. You get to not only experience Boston from the streets of the city, but also from the Charles River.

That's right, during the tour, the bus you're on will become a boat, and you'll see the beautiful Boston skyline from the river that separates Boston from Cambridge.

You can pick-up and buy tickets for the tour at two places: The Museum of Science, and The Prudential Center in Boston's Back Bay. During the summer the tours are usually sold out by lunchtime. The tour lasts about 80 minutes, and there's no stops.

It's a great tour and you'd have to be "quackers" not to do it! Sorry couldn't resist it.

THE FREEDOM TRAIL

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile easy-to-follow red brick line that links 16 historical sites together around the streets of Boston. It's a one-way route starting from Boston Common and ending up at the Bunker Hill monument in Charlestown.

If you do the whole thing, plan on at least 2?3 hours, or better still take the whole day. You'll pass by many landmarks on your trip, such as: The Boston Common, Boston Massacre Site, Paul Revere's House, and USS Constitution.

The route takes you through Boston's famed North End, where you'll be sure to return during your Boston vacations to sample the superb Italian restaurants.

THE NEW ENGLAND AQUARIUM

As San Diego has its world famous zoo, then Boston has the New England Aquarium.

New England and its coastline have a history of fishing and whaling. But today instead of slaughtering whales, New Englanders spend most of their time saving them.

And the aquarium is a vital link in the area's ocean preservation movement.

The centerpiece of the aquarium is the giant tank. The floors of the aquarium run around the tank and up four levels. At the top you get to peer down into a coral reef and listen as the staff explain about the tank and the fish that live in it.

You'll get the answer to questions such as: "Why don't the big shark fish eat the little tasty fish?" or "How old are those huge sea turtles swimming around down there?"

Your ticket will include a visit to the Discovery next to the main building, where you can see and learn about sea lions during an amazing show. A few years ago the Aquarium opened an IMAX theater that shows a mixture of sea-related and general science films.

A word of warning ? this is a favorite Boston vacations attraction for families. But you'll always get in, even when the ticket line seems to stretch for miles.

BEACON HILL

Sandwiched in a small area between Boston Common, and the Charles River, are alleys and narrow red brick cobbled streets, where time has stood still for the last century.

This is Beacon Hill, and one of the most popular walks for people on their Boston vacations.

Quiet and bewitching, it's a delight to walk. You'll find walled gardens and an authentic 19th century neighborhood feel. Even the original gas lights remain on streets lined with ancient elms.

A favorite haunt for taking pictures is Louisburg Square. A picturesque block of residences perfectly preserved.

After you ramble up Mount Vernon street, wind your way back across to the Massachusetts State House that sits atop Beacon Hill and get your camera out again.

AND THERE'S MORE?

Three other places to visit on your Boston vacations are Cambridge, just across the Charles River, and home to the universities of Harvard and MIT ? THE J.F.K Library and Museum at Columbia Point in South Boston ? and the Boston Harbor Islands, tours to the islands leave from Long Wharf and Rowes Wharf, both located near the aquarium.

Boston has tons of things to do and see, and I've really just started to scratch the surface for you. The rest is yours to discover and as close as your favorite search engine and booking on the Internet.

Cliff Calderwood is the owner and contributing writer of the New England vacations guide . You can read more about Boston vacations and get a free travel report at his New England vacation site.

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