As one of the most accessible cities in the United States, Boston attracts millions of visitors each year and the majority of its popular tourist attractions are wheelchair-friendly. First-time visitors should purchase the GoCity Boston All-Inclusive Pass, which provides unlimited access to the best wheelchair accessible Boston attractions at a steep discount. Whether you’re planning to explore the Freedom Trail or visit Boston’s world-class museums, this guide will help you plot the perfect accessible Boston itinerary.
Tour the USS Constitution, America’s oldest warship
The USS Constitution or “Old Ironsides,” launched in 1797, is the oldest commissioned warship currently afloat. She saw action in the War of 1812 during an engagement with the British ship HMS Guerriere. The Constitution was also utilized during the Barbary Wars in the West Indies, Brazil and the West African coastline.
Access to the main deck of the ship is provided via a boarding ramp (which is steep at high tide, but still manageable for wheelchair users with assistance). Although the lower decks are accessible only by stairs, the top deck offers wheelchair users the chance to experience a close-up view of the ship, its cannons and sails. It is certainly a tour to remember!
Just steps away from Old Ironsides is the USS Constitution Museum, which is accessible to wheelchair users. The museum recounts the story of the ship’s more than 200-year history with hands-on exhibits and more. While there is no entry fee to the museum, a donation of $5 to $10 per person is recommended.
For more information or to plan your experience, visit www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 1 mile from Orange Line, Community College Station
Visit the Old North Church, site of the “one if by land, two if by sea” lanterns
Christ Episcopal Church, or Old North Church, was opened in 1723 and is the oldest standing place of worship in Boston. The church is historically significant because its steeple was used by Paul Revere to display the two lanterns which alerted American patriots that the British would attack by sea.
The Church and its sanctuary can be accessed by wheelchair users. Episcopal worship services are held each Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Additional information on hours and ticket prices is available on the Old North Church website.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 0.4 miles from Orange/Green Lines, Haymarket station
Shop at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Boston’s old market building, built in 1742, later became the site of revolutionary activity, political discourse and historic free speech. Samuel Adams, Daniel Webster, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucy Stone and many others have spoken at Faneuil Hall in support of the causes of freedom throughout history. Today, the first floor is lined with merchants and shops, making the Hall a center of commerce to this day. Open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, Faneuil Hall is wheelchair accessible.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 2 blocks from Blue/Orange Lines, State Street station
Visit the Paul Revere House
Constructed in 1681 by wealthy merchant Robert Howard, the three-story North End residence was not owned by Paul Revere until 1770. Sold in 1800, the home changed hands many times until it was purchased in 1902 by Revere’s great grandson, John P. Reynolds Jr. In 1908, it opened to the public as a museum, and is an important stop on the Freedom Trail.
Today, the home remains open as a museum managed by the Paul Revere Memorial Association. 90% of the building’s structure is original, and period pieces are on display to depict what it may have looked like during Paul Revere’s ownership. Tours of the first and second floors are wheelchair accessible and self-guided, and interpreters are stationed throughout to answer questions.
Additional information can be found on the Paul Revere House website, including hours of operation and admission fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 0.3 miles from Orange/Green Lines, Haymarket station
Tour the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The MFA is one of the the most highly regarded art museums in North America, with pieces by Degas, Gauguin, Millet, Rembrandt, Sargent, van Gogh and other masters. The museum is a destination in its own right, attracting visitors from around the world.
On display in the Art of the Americas Wing are pieces from a collection of more than 5,000 artworks and artifacts, including the iconic silver Liberty Bowl by Paul Revere. Wall-sized paintings of George Washington and the founding fathers remind visitors that they are in Boston, one of America’s two cradles of liberty.
The MFA’s galleries are accessible, with push-button powered doors, wide pathways and abundant seating throughout. Manual wheelchairs and rollators are available free of charge, and admission fees are waived for personal care attendants accompanying disabled guests. The museum has invested in resources for visitors who are blind or have low vision, those who are deaf or hard of hearing, and for those who are on the Autism spectrum. Additional information on these programs and more can be found on the MFA Boston website.
Nearest MBTA Subway: Directly at Green Line, Museum of Fine Arts Station
Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, site of the greatest art theft in history
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, located in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, presents the art collection of the American art collector and philanthropist of the same name. Gardner, who died in 1824, left behind her Venetian-style mansion and collection of European, Asian and American artworks, along with a $1 million endowment, stipulating in her will that the museum’s collection should not be altered.
No major alterations have taken place, save for the unfortunate one detailed in the book, The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft. On the morning after St. Patrick’s Day in 1990, a group of unknown thieves pulled off the largest art theft in history, stealing 13 works of art from the Gardner Museum. Among those were three paintings from the museum’s Dutch Room — Vermeer’s “The Concert,” Flinck’s “Landscape With An Obelisk,” and Rembrandt’s “Christ In The Storm On The Sea Of Galilee.” Despite a sizable bounty, the paintings have not been seen in more than 30 years. The frames that once housed the lost artworks remain empty on the museum walls to this day.
Though the museum is housed inside of a 19th century building, wheelchair accessibility is very good, with all levels reachable via elevator. My full-size power wheelchair made it through the museum’s galleries and exhibits without knocking over any works of art. The self-guided audio tour took about 90 minutes, but many visitors take additional time to consider every detail, each one meticulously planned by Isabella. Additional information can be found on the Gardner Museum website, including hours of operation and admission fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 3 blocks from Green Line, Longwood Medical Area Station
Attend a performance at Boston’s Symphony Hall, home to one of the 5 major American orchestras
Nearly every ranking of the world’s best orchestras recognizes the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the second oldest of America’s “big five.” Visitors and locals alike delight in the opportunity to see a BSO performance at Symphony Hall, a grand orchestral hall with incredible acoustics.
Wheelchair accessible seating in Symphony Hall is limited to the orchestra floor, which is where the priciest tickets are located. ADA seating is sold at every available price point to comply with the law, meaning a wheelchair space on the orchestra floor can be purchased for the cost of the lowest-priced ticket on the second balcony level. While these reduced prices are not available online, they can be secured by calling the ticket office — simply inform the agent you want to purchase a wheelchair space at the lowest ticket price.
Additional information can be found on the Boston Symphony Orchestra website, including performance dates and ticket prices.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 3 blocks from Orange Line, Massachusetts Ave. Station
Tour the Massachusetts State House
The Massachusetts State House, built in 1798 and designed by architect Charles Bulfinch, sits on land which was formerly a cow pasture owned by John Hancock. The building’s history doesn’t end there, as its cornerstone was laid by Samuel Adams in 1795 and its golden dome was installed by Paul Revere in 1802. Located just across the street from Boston Common, the State House is the center of Massachusetts government and is open to the public.
Visitors can explore the building’s marbled corridors, tributes to military heroes, and even the legislative chambers themselves, which are open when state representatives and senators are out of session.
Stunning and beautiful, the State House is wheelchair accessible and open to the public on weekdays from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The barrier-free entrance is located at the building’s Ashburton Park entrance off Bowdoin Street. Docents offer free guided tours from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, with each tour lasting approximately 45 minutes. The meting point for tours is in Doric Hall, located on the second floor. For more information on guided tours at the State House, visit the state government website.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 2 blocks from Red/Green Lines, Park Street station
Meet the sea lions at the New England Aquarium
Opened in 1969, the New England Aquarium features a 200,000-gallon giant ocean tank, with a habitat that simulates a Caribbean coral reef. The tank is cylindrical, and is surrounded by a multi-level circular ramp that is wheelchair accessible and connects the various floors of the aquarium. The habitat is home to sea turtles and hundreds of tropical fish.
The aquarium also contains a large penguin habitat, with both African and southern rockhopper penguins. At the rear of the facility in an open-air exhibit, visitors can see California sea lions and northern fur seals at the Marine Mammal Center, which features a wheelchair accessible viewing platform with a ramp.
Additional information can be found on the New England Aquarium website, including hours of operation and admission fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 4 blocks from Blue Line, Aquarium Station
Take the kids to the Boston Children’s Museum
Located on Fort Point Channel in the city’s Seaport district, the Boston Children’s Museum offers families a unique experience worthy of inclusion on the vacation itinerary.
Diverse exhibits will excite and challenge children of all abilities, with hands-on activities and play stations designed to be accessible to wheelchair users both young and old. For the most adventurous and physical children, climbing walls and a multi-story jungle gym are sure to entertain. A branded Arthur exhibit reminded me of my own childhood, where I spent many years watching the lovable aardvark on PBS.
Additional information on the museum’s accessible programs and resources can be found on the Boston Children’s Museum website, along with hours of operation and admission fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 3 blocks from Silver Line, Courthouse Station
Board a wheelchair accessible Boston Harbor Sightseeing Cruise
What better way to enjoy the sights and sounds of Boston Harbor than on a wheelchair accessible sightseeing cruise aboard City Cruise’s Frederick L. Nolan, Jr. tourist boat?
The Historic Boston Harbor Cruise is a one-hour journey that departs from Long Wharf, passing by iconic sights like the Boston Harbor Islands, USS Constitution, Bunker Hill Monument, the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The tour is narrated by a guide, sharing historical tales from the Revolutionary War to modern-day Boston.
Wheelchair access to the ship is provided via a curved boarding ramp, which is easier to navigate at low tide. Inside the ship, only the first level is accessible, with two dedicated wheelchair spaces next to windows that can be opened. The ship has an onboard bar, with drinks and light snacks available for purchase. The ship’s bathrooms are not wheelchair accessible. Additional information can be found on the City Experiences website, including departure times and fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 4 blocks from Blue Line, Aquarium Station
The GoCity Boston Pass includes access to the historic sightseeing cruise, View Boston observatory, the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Fine Arts and so much more!
Marvel at the Boston skyline from View Boston, the observatory at the Prudential Center
View Boston is the reimagined observatory at the top of the Prudential Tower, Boston’s second-tallest building, offering visitors unparalleled views of the city skyline.
Visitors will first take an elevator to the 52nd floor for indoor panoramic views of the Boston skyline. This level features ramps to elevated platforms and provides wheelchair users with direct access to the glass for the best shots. Tactile models of some of the most impressive structures are provided for blind visitors and those with reduced vision.
Next, visitors head down to the 51st floor to explore a 3D model of the city accompanied by a light show that reveals the history and communities that make Boston unique. Visitors can also access a 360-degree outdoor deck, or enjoy a meal in the Stratus restaurant and bar. Each floor of the View Boston experience is wheelchair accessible.
Additional information can be found on the View Boston website, including hours of operation and admission fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: Directly at Green Line, Prudential Station
Visit the Old South Meeting House, the place where the Boston Tea Party was organized in 1773
Built in 1729 to replace an earlier Puritan Congregational church, the Old South Meeting House became an important meeting place for those protesting British actions in colonial Boston. Located on the corner of Milk and Washington Streets in Downtown Crossing, it is truly at the center of the city and is wheelchair accessible from the left side of the building.
Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the meeting house was a crucial gathering point for those who would carry out the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773. In 1877, a group of residents inspired by the building’s role in American history, saved it from demolition and established it as a place of free speech.
Today, visitors can tour the meeting house and view exhibits detailing the history of the Boston Tea Party and other events that have taken place there in the years since. Accessible restrooms are located on the basement level, which are accessible via elevator.
Additional information can be found on the Old South Meeting House website, including hours of operation and admission fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 3 blocks from Orange/Red Lines, Downtown Crossing Station
See the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library
The Mary Baker Eddy Library is a research library, museum, and repository for the papers of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. It is also home to the wheelchair accessible Mapparium, a three-story stained glass globe that provides a snapshot of the world as it was in 1935.
Inside the globe, visitors will enjoy a narrated light show that “lets you consider the world before World War II from an entirely different perspective—from the inside of the world looking out.” Following the show, visitors pass into the “Our World: Mapping Progress” exhibit, which shares more recent stories from around the world of human progress, ingenuity and exploration.
For those interested in learning more about the library’s namesake, Mary Baker Eddy, additional exhibits document her life’s journey, from childhood through the founding of the Christian Science movement. Visitors will appreciate the no-pressure environment — this is not a place of evangelization, but one of discovery for the curious.
Additional information can be found on the Mapparium website, including hours of operation and admission fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 4 blocks from Green Line, Hynes Convention Center Station
Visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, designed by legendary architect I.M. Pei, opened in 1979 next to the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Boston. The museum celebrates the life and legacy of the 35th President of the United States, and is filled with historical exhibits that share the story of a presidency that ended in tragedy.
The museum exhibits are wheelchair accessible and include traditional displays, artifacts, and multiple films. Seven permanent exhibits detail important moments in Kennedy’s political career, including his 1960 campaign and his role in the “Space Race.” Attention is also paid to his family, including First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Guided tours are provided regularly by docents who share context and insights beyond those included in the exhibits themselves. The guided tours last about an hour, and visitors are free to extend their visit. Additional information can be found on the JFK Presidential Library website, including hours of operation and admission fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 1 mile from Red Line, JFK/UMass Station (Free shuttle bus to museum available)
Take a wheelchair accessible tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery
Contrary to what many believe, the Samuel Adams beer company does not trace its roots back to revolutionary America, but was instead founded in 1984. Still, the brewery has become a popular stop on tours of Boston and rightly so!
While most Sam Adams beer is brewed in larger facilities across the United States, the Boston location is the original one and the place where all new recipes are developed and tested. Wheelchair accessible tours lasting about an hour are offered daily. The most popular tour, the Sam Signature Experience, provides a quick overview of the Sam Adams story, introduces visitors to the brewing process, and offers an opportunity to taste the flagship Boston Lager and two R&D brews. Following the tour, guests can enjoy a pint and a meal in the tap room. Wheelchair accessible bathrooms are located in the tour check-in area; those closest to the tap room are not wheelchair-friendly.
For more information on the tour and the times it is offered, visit the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery website.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 0.3 miles from Orange Line, Stony Brook station
Enjoy Boston Common, the city’s public park
Opened in 1634, Boston Common is America’s oldest public park. Covering 50 acres in downtown Boston, the park is bounded by Tremont, Park, Beacon, Charles and Boylston streets. Steeped in almost four centuries of history, Boston Common is now a center for public activity and serves as a host site for concerts, performances, protests, softball games and ice skating. It is also host to the Embrace sculpture, which commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
Major accessibility upgrades are planned for the park over the next decades, including new accessible pathways to replace the often cracked and broken sidewalks that criss-cross the park. Despite some of the pathway challenges, I have been a regular visitor to the Common as a Boston resident, and enjoy spending time there on a sunny day. Additional information on Boston Common, its features and amenities is available on the City of Boston website.
Nearest MBTA Subway: Directly at Red/Green Lines, Park Street station
Explore the Museum of Science, Boston
The Museum of Science, founded as the Boston Society of Natural History in 1830, became the nation’s first true science museum in 1951 when it inhabited its present location along the Charles River. With three wings and multiple levels, it is one of the largest science museums in the world, and its exhibits appeal to both children and adults.
Live educational presentations are offered daily from a wheelchair accessible stage in the Blue Wing, while the Red Wing is home to a planetarium and the largest Omnimax theater in New England.
A wide variety of hands-on exhibits showcase new technologies, including robotics and artificial intelligence, while offering unique learning opportunities that build important skills like design and analysis. Some of the most popular exhibits include Colossal Fossil: Triceratops Cliff, a 65 million year old fossil discovered in 2004, Theater of Electricity, featuring the world’s largest Van de Graaff electrostatic generator, and an exhibit that allows visitors to design for and solve engineering challenges.
The majority of the museum’s exhibits are wheelchair-friendly, including the hands-on experiences mentioned here. Families should plan to spend an extended period of time at the Museum of Science, as children discover the many unique experiences inside.
Additional information can be found on the Museum of Science website, including hours of operation and admission fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 3 blocks from Green Line, Science Park/West End Station
Enjoy an outdoor adventure at the Franklin Park Zoo
The Franklin Park Zoo, located on 72 acres in the Roxbury neighborhood, is home to more than 1,000 animals across 200+ species. The zoo opened in 1912 and has seen significant expansion, with more than 60 exhibits on property. The zoo is best visited in the warmer months, as some animals are sheltered during cold weather.
The zoo is largely outdoors, with paved pathways throughout to provide wheelchair accessibility. Electric mobility scooters are available for rent for $20. Additional information can be found on the Franklin Park Zoo website, including hours of operation and admission fees.
Nearest MBTA Subway: Fairmount, Franklin/Foxboro, Providence/Stoughton Commuter Rail Lines at Four Corners/Geneva Station
Visit the Bunker Hill Monument
Completed in 1842, the 221-foot granite obelisk stands as a memorial to those in the colonial militia who fought and lost their lives on June 17, 1775 in the first battle of the Revolutionary War. Despite being referred to as the Battle of Bunker Hill, the battle actually took place on Breed’s Hill, which is where the monument stands.
While the colonial force lost the battle, they stood tall against a force of 3,000 British Redcoats. The Bunker Hill Monument is wheelchair accessible only on the ground level (there are 294 steps to the top). The adjacent Bunker Hill Lodge wheelchair accessible, and it features a statue of General Joseph Warren statue and a selection of images and maps related to the battle.
Additional information can be found on the National Park Service website, including hours of operation and details about the nearby Bunker Hill Museum, now housed inside of an old library.
Nearest MBTA Subway: 0.6 miles from Orange Line, Community College Station