No visit to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts would be complete without seeing the 3,000 years of history housed in the Art of the Americas wing. Covering four floors, you can tour North, Central, and South America in just a couple of hours… but our favorite exhibits feature Revolutionary-era Boston! The museum is open seven days a week, with free admission (donations always welcome) Wednesdays after 4pm.
1. John Singleton Copley’s famous portraits of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Joseph Warren, and Mercy Otis Warren
Copley painted these players in Revolutionary Boston as events heated up in the late 1760s and early 1770s (to learn more, join us on a Freedom Trail tour)! Copley was born in Boston and was the town’s preeminent portrait painter, but he married a loyalist and set sail for London in 1774, never to return. Our podcast, Beer Makes History, episode #7 talks more about Copley and the men and women he painted.
2. Paul Revere’s Sons of Liberty Bowl and other metalwork
Made of silver and engraved in 1768, this bowl honors the “Glorious Ninety-Two,” members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter they signed protesting the Townshend Duties of 1767. You’ll find more of Revere’s work encased nearby this national treasure.
3. 18th-century Furniture
You'll have serious design envy when you see some of the gorgeously intricate furniture pieces. The MFA has several different items that were created in New England and are in amazing condition. This bookcase and desk will make you want to take out some paper and quill and write an actual letter.
4. “The Athenaeum Portrait” of George Washington
You'll be able to spot this painting pretty easily--you've definitely seen it before. Artist Gilbert Stuart first painted George Washington in 1795. Martha Washington liked the painting so much, she asked her husband to sit for another portrait, but Stuart left the painting unfinished so he wouldn’t have to part with it. This image of Washington appears on the one-dollar bill.
Ye Olde Tavern Tours is excited to create and sponsor a new podcast – Beer Makes History! Each episode pairs Boston’s revolutionary (and drunken) past with a craft beer. We hope you’ll drink, learn, and laugh along with us as we explore events from 1763 to 1776. If our fun co-hosts get you in the mood for more history, check out these other historical podcasts we enjoy:
This Washington Post podcast tackles each US president, one-by-one. Host Lillian Cunningham brings on expert biographers, like Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, to recap the life and legacy of every president. It’s understandable to go in order or start with the big names, but we recommend checking out some of the more obscure presidents (like Episode 13’s Millard Fillmore) to learn something new and find out why they remain in the shadows.
2. The Dollop
Two comedians get together to talk history. The catch? One does the research and one is hearing about the topic for the first time. Hilarity ensues. Topics run the gamut from “Ten Cent Beer Night” (Episode 15) to the “1919 Boston Police Strike” (Episode 256). Spoiler alert: they both end badly.
3. Hardcore History
Dan Carlin’s podcast has been around since before podcasts were cool, and a lot of his deep dives go back way further than that. From the Mongol Empire to a six-part series on the First World War, Carlin’s episodes incorporate history, thought experiments, and personal touches that bring history to life.
4. Back Story and Past Present
In both podcasts, historians explore the history of current events. Back Story focuses on a single issue each week, including major topics like reparations and more niche explorations like the history of solitude. Past Present tackles three issues in politics or pop culture, like Episode 177 titled “Ancestry.com, Vigilante Border Patrol Groups, and Cargo Shorts.” Both provide excellent fodder for dinner conversation with friends!
Our tour guests are sometimes interested in visiting the plentiful history outside of Boston. If you're a fan of John Adams or John Quincy Adams, we recommend a trip to Quincy to see three Adams Family homes at the Adams National Historical Park. Take the Red Line subway to Quincy Center to get your tour started.
Since you're out in Quincy, it's worth the short walk from the Adams Visitor Center to the Quincy Historical Society. There is a small museum about the history of Quincy, which is located at the site of John Hancock's birth.
A short walk from the Quincy Historical Society is the Dorothy Quincy Homestead, future wife of John Hancock. The house is rarely open to the public, but sits on beautiful grounds and can be viewed from the street. The original house was built in 1686 and has been expanded over the years.
Give yourself about 3 to 4 hours to enjoy it all. The Adams Park is closed during the winter, so be sure to check online that the sites will be open before trekking out. Enjoy!
Boston is a great city to enjoy with your friends before the big day. It has ample opportunity for pairing libations with fun, and of course a little bit of history for our well-rounded brides-to-be!
1. Ye Olde Tavern Tours
Join us on a Freedom Trail tour where we’ll tell the story of Boston in the buildup to the American Revolution and stop at historic taverns for some local craft beer! Our tours happen in the afternoon, so get started with us and then head to one (or more) of our ideas below.
2. Drunk Shakespeare
Need I say more? Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare runs at the Rockwell Theater in Davis Square. Check here for the current lineup, but regardless of what’s showing, you won’t want to miss it! You can sip on drinks with your friends while an actor or actress gets legitimately drunker than you and your crew. Hilarity ensues, with audience participation of course!
3. Jacques Cabaret
They say all roads lead to Jacques, so continue on after the Freedom Trail to this evening cabaret bar! They have shows seven nights a week, including Sassy Sundays, WTF Wednesdays, Throwback Thursdays, and No Filter Fridays. You can walk in or but we recommend making a reservation for a table.
4. The Donkey Show
Every Saturday Night, the Oberon in Harvard Square turns into a 70s disco to re-tell Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream…with a bit more gusto! Get dressed up in club attire, disco flair, drag, or whatever is left in your suitcase to enjoy a uniquely Cambridge experience. You can join the rest of the party on the dance floor or book table seats for a more relaxed viewing.