Consistently ranked one of the top 3 most walkable cities in the US, Boston makes it easy to be a responsible traveler without sacrificing excitement or adventure. Surrounded by water and infused with rich American history, Boston satisfies every traveler’s agenda. Discover your perfect day in Beantown as an environmentally and socially responsible visitor.
Hugged by the Charles River, Boston has extensive waterfront destinations that capture the city’s spirit. Join the iconic rowing scene, by renting a kayak or paddle board. If you’d rather escape the hustle and bustle of the city, hop on a ferry and head to the Boston Harbor Islands. You’ll find beaches, hiking trails, and wildlife, as well as volunteer opportunities if you plan in advance. And if you just want to chill on the water, check out Boston Harbor Cruises for whale watching, water taxis, and sightseeing cruises.
Pro tip: Bring a small bag for your garbage, as trash bins are scarce.
Green Fact: 25% or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle! Carry a reusable bottle on your adventure and reduce your carbon footprint. Buy one with your favorite hostel logo here.
A View From the Top
There is no shortage of free, sky-high views in Boston. Start with a 10-minute walk from the hostel to State Street Station and pick up the 92 bus to the Bunker Hill Monument – the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. From the top you’ll see the entire city from the other side of the Charles River. Just be prepared to climb the 294 steps! For a view of Cambridge, walk 2 miles to Cambridge Center Roof Garden amidst the MIT campus. But don’t worry, this rooftop has an elevator! On your way back into the city, walk across the Longfellow Bridge for a bird’s eye view of the Charles River.
Pro tip: When you get hungry, check out HI Boston’s curated map of the best vegetarian and vegan friendly places to eat.
Green Fact: Walking 5 miles versus driving reduces your carbon footprint the equivalent of burning over 2 pounds of coal.
Take in all the historic sites of the American Revolution with the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail. Located just a few blocks from the hostel, a can’t-miss red line on the pavement will guide you to all 16 stops. Take a break and enjoy a cup of Boston-famous New England clam chowder at Union City Oyster House, a historic establishment frequented by President John F. Kennedy. For a change of pace, grab the T and check out Fenway Park, the oldest stadium for America’s favorite pastime.
Pro tip: Join hostellers every Friday for a Freedom Trail Tour.
Green Fact: Farming clams improves the water quality, and these New England staples are considered a sustainable seafood choice by Seafood Watch. Download the app to find more sustainable seafood options.
While you won’t find a wilderness experience in Boston, there are several spots to soak up natural beauty. If you plan right, you can enjoy a free show or event at the Hatch Shell, an outdoor venue located on the Charles River. As you take in scenic views of the water, you’ll feel a million miles from the city, even though it’s just a few blocks from downtown. If you really want to escape the city – literally and figuratively – head to the Arnold Arboretum. This National Historic Landmark is Harvard University’s 281 acres of trees, shrubs, and living vines, where you can get lost in nature. For ambitious hikers, you can actually walk a scenic 7-mile path from the Hatch Shell to the Arboretum along the Emerald Necklace, which connects 7 of Boston’s parks.
Pro tip: Pack a lunch and you’ll have endless places for a picnic with a million dollar view.
Green Fact: The 15,000 trees at Arnold Arboretum absorb 720,000 pounds of CO2 each year. That’s equivalent of enough fuel for 69 cars to run for a year!
If you want to see Boston through the eyes of a local, HI Boston has you covered. From neighborhood walking tours to the Unofficial Harvard Tour to brewery tours, local staff and volunteers lead daily outings that are free or low cost, sharing their personal insights and recommendations as true Bostonians. And with daytrips relying on your feet or the T, you’ll keep your footprints nice and green. Grab some fresh, local ingredients at the Boston Public Market and enjoy a home cooked meal at the hostel, sparing the waste of takeout packaging.
Pro tip: Take a look at HI Boston’s calendar before you make reservations and plan your stay around the tours you want to take.
Green Fact: HI Boston was the first LEED certified accommodation provider in Boston.
This is part of the HI USA Green Footprints series, offering fun, unique ideas for sustainable travel. Click here for more Green Footprints destinations.