Best historic walk: Boston's compact layout allows you to explore nearly all its historic tourist sites on foot. The 2.5-mile Freedom Trail (617-357-8300) includes 16 historic sites, beginning at the information booth on Boston Common, one of the country's oldest public parks. Red bricks or a red-painted path lead you to early American hotspots like Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church, the site where two signals shone in 1775, indicating to Revere that the British were arriving by sea and thus igniting the American Revolution. Look for bullet holes in the gravestones at Copp's Hill Burying Ground-the British used them for target practice. Across the way at 44 Hull Street, you'll see the narrowest house in Boston: a three-and-a-half story clapboard home that's only 10 feet wide.
Best jogging route: Boston is a city of runners. After all, its namesake marathon (run since 1897) is perhaps the world's most famous. Pack your jogging shoes, and trace a route around Beacon Hill that offers sightseeing along with hill climbs. Start at Charles Street and go up Mount Vernon, where you can gaze at the handsome homes that line your path. If walking is more your pace, stroll by the shops along Charles Street, where windows are filled with antiques, collectibles, and gourmet food items.
Best way to celebrate: Boston is the ultimate place to celebrate the Fourth of July. A weeklong extravaganza, Boston Harborfest (617-227-1528) attracts more than two million revelers to its waterfront. As a part of the city's celebration, watch "Old Ironsides" (the USS Constitution, the oldest ship still afloat) make its annual turnaround cruise, and listen to the Boston Pops perform on the Esplanade. Fireworks punctuate the event-a production so fabulous that it's televised nationally. To avoid the crowds, show up the night before and watch the Boston Pops rehearse. There are no fireworks, but it's a far mellower scene.
Best for baseball fans: You don't have to attend a game to tour famous Fenway Park (617-226-6666), where Boston's beloved Red Sox play. Tours will take you to the Green Monster, the 37-foot left-field wall that's the tallest in professional baseball.
Best wildlife watching: Whales congregate in the waters off Boston at feeding grounds every summer. You can spot humpbacks, minkes, finbacks, and the occasional right whale. For the best way to see them, take a three- to four-hour whale-watching cruise guided by professionals from the New England Aquarium (617-973-5281). In the rare event you don't see any whales, the aquarium will supply tickets for another day free.
WHERE TO STAY
Best way to save: Summer is high season in the city, so look for a package that includes tickets to a museum or exhibit, or other extras. The gilded Fairmont Copley Plaza (from $379 per night; 800-441-1414), for example, offers a "Just Ducky" package that includes a family pass to the Boston Public Garden's swan boats, four tickets for the popular Boston Duck Tour, a copy of "Make Way for Ducklings" (the classic children's book set in Boston), and, naturally, a couple of miniature plush ducklings.
Best location: If you'd like to explore the city on foot, Copley Square is an ideal area, since the shopping zones of Newbury and Boylston streets are at your doorstep, along with a T (Boston's subway system) stop. Copley Square's best bet is the historic, family-owned Lenox Hotel (from $239 per night; 617-536-5300). Eco-friendly efforts-heavily insulated windows and low-VOC paints are just two of their environmental initiatives-earn them bonus points.