Take the water shuttle
The most economical way to see Boston is to take the MBTA Harbor ferry from the Aquarium Long Wharf to the Charlestown Navy Yard and back.
The Ferry runs every 15 minutes and gives you an excellent view of the city not unlike a harbor cruise.
For many travelers unaccustomed to water travel, as well as children with autism that love the repetitive activity, it can provide a real adventure.
Promote map reading skills for the subway
The Red and Green lines are most useful for seeing the sights while the Blue and Silver are useful for getting to and from the airport.
Boston boasts the Tremont Street Subway – the first active subway in the States that started operating last century.
For travelers with autism, this is an excellent opportunity to learn and practice reading maps and coordinate multiple means of transportation such as buses, ferries, and subways to get to the required destination.
Walk the U.S freedom trail and relive history
Check out the NPS free tour by following the red brick road!
Many kids with autism will enjoy seeing the historical Revolution places up close and personal instead of merely reading about them in school books.
Start with Paul Revere’s family home
built around 1680 that qualifies as one of oldest buildings in downtown Boston.
It served as a dwelling to Boston’s pre-revolution silversmith who became famous for his “midnight ride” to Lexington, Massachusetts informing Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming to arrest them.
Continue to the Old North Church famous for the evening of April 18, 1775, when the church sexton, Robert Newman, climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns as a signal, after being informed by Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea and not by land.
Next visit the Old South Meeting House best known as the site where the Boston Tea Party began in the winter of 1773. Envision Samuel Adams announcing, “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country!” and loads of protesters dumping three shiploads of tea into Boston Harbor.
Culminate the historical adventure at the King’s Chapel, and Granary Burying Grounds.
The grounds as the name suggests were used for grain storage but later became a cemetery for many famous clergymen and politicians like Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.
An interesting fact to know about the Granary Grounds is that although over 5000 people are buried there, there are less than 2000 headstones since in many cases families used a single one headstone for several family members to override the high costs.On select
On select dates, volunteers dress up as historical characters and speak to visitors ‘in character.’ For details, guests should contact the National Park to find out more information about their Revolution reenactment dates.
Relax in the Commons and make room for ducklings
The fifty acres Boston Commons is
the oldest park in the country.
In the past, the park was used for many purposes ranging from cattle grazing, public hangings to historical speeches. Nowadays it serves as a recreational heaven.
The park is one of these multi-sensory places where visitors with autism can enjoy and create memories.
Kids can climb Nancy Schon’s statues of Mother Duck and her ducklings traveling to their new home on a lagoon island in Boston’s Public Garden after reading or the book by Robert McCloskey,(makes a great souvenir), or just run around the grounds.
Another Bostonian staple is riding the park’s Swan Boats.
Inspired by Wagner’s opera Lohengrin in which a knight of the Holy Grail crosses a river in a swan-drawn boat to defend the innocence of his heroine, Princess Elsa.
The park ride, originally introduced by Robert Paget as a foot-propelled catamaran in the shape of a swan could carry eight visitors. The current boats are replicas of the originals, but are more spacious with five or six benches, carrying up to 20 passengers.
Have a beer or burger where everyone knows your name
The actual bar that inspired the famous TV show, Cheers, formerly known as Bull and Finch Pub, is located on Beacon Hill across from the Swan boats and the public garden.
A second location of the bar, in the renovated Faneuil Hall, features a replica of the TV show bar interior.
For travelers with autism that enjoy TV trivia or huge burgers like ‘the NORM’, it is the perfect place to eat, look around and buy souvenirs!
Have Pizza at Regina’s North End – the Original Boston
The evening that we visited, the line was around the block, and locals assured us it was a slow night!
Apparently, even law enforcement officers and first responders frequent the place and don’t hesitate to park haphazardly on the street to get their coveted slice. We found the servers and cooks very friendly, and grateful they even took our kids for a ‘behind the scenes’ kitchen view!
Have chocolate cannoli
“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli!” Peter Clemenz says to Rocco, in The Godfather
, after killing Paulie in the car.
The Modern Pastry Shop on 257 Hanover Street is mentioned on many travel sites, including Tripadvisor and Yelp as the best, and rightfully so.
This place, too, has a huge line to walk through until you get inside to choose a cannoli.
What we liked less was that once we finally got to the counter to order, we were somewhat rushed into making a decision .We understood the servers at the cash register wanted to help as many customers as possible, but our son with autism found it a bit daunting.
With that said, this bakery makes the most incredible chocolate and ricotta filled cannoli you can imagine. In fact; our kids were very disappointed to find out that they couldn’t find any similar ones during our cruise around Italy the following year!
Turns out, the Italians do make fabulous cannoli, but they don’t use chocolate in any of their recipes; So, the chocolate cannoli is a Bostonian spin on the original concept.
Catch a free Boston Pops Orchestra concert
Best known for its July 4th extravaganzas, the BPO was founded in 1885 as a summer alternative of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
The Orchestra that achieved world fame under Arthur Fiedler, its long-time director specializes in performing popular and light classical music in casual settings at Symphony Hall, and outdoors at the Hatch Shell.
Our son with autism enjoyed the concert so much that he forgot to complain about sitting on the grass and being surrounded by bugs, a rare occurrence in his case!
Gaze at the skyline or catch a sunset
You cannot leave Boston without taking a step back and enjoying the skyline.
Consider staying in a hotel like the Hyatt or the Marriott on the city wharf.
We stayed at the Hyatt that has excellent grounds, including a paved veranda that overlooks the harbor, where kids loved running around. On late afternoons and early evenings, we pulled up lounge chairs and just gawked at the beautiful sunsets!