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Boston has it all: history, location and - above all - culture. Puritans founded the city in 1630 where the Charles River ran into a sheltered harbour. Now the capital of Massachusetts , Boston remains a power player despite its small size (580,000 people in 40 sq. miles).

Popular Boston places include:

North End: Narrow, winding streets and the smell of coffee in the air probably mean you're in the North End , Boston 's oldest neighborhood and home to much of the city's Italian population. Among the remnants of Boston's early days are Copp's Hill Burying Ground , serving stiffs since 1660 (look for headstones pockmarked by Revolutionary War musket balls); the tiny clapboard Paul Revere House , built in 1680 and the oldest house in Boston; and the 1723 Old North Church , where two lanterns were hung in the steeple to signal the Brits' arrival by sea, which was followed swiftly by the first battle of the Revolutionary War.

Faneuil Hall: Faneuil Hall and the adjacent Quincy Market form one of the country's first mixed-use commercial developments. The hall, built in the 1740s, has always been a market with an upstairs meeting hall; Quincy Market's three granite buildings were added nearly 100 years later to provide warehouse and retail space. The complex made the transition to tourist attraction in the 1970s, getting redubbed Faneuil Hall Marketplace in the process. Fishsellers and butchers still have stalls in Quincy Market's warehouses, but they now have trendy espresso joints and piano bars as neighbors. Jugglers and other street performers regularly perform outside.

Beacon Hill: When Oliver Wendell Holmes called Boston the 'hub of the universe,' he was thinking mainly of Beacon Hill . You can locate Beacon Hill easily by the gilt dome of the Massachusetts State House and the undulating rows of brick houses that surround it. Boston 's most affluent - one might almost say precious - neighborhood, Beacon Hill was once the stomping ground of the Boston Brahmin, the stereotypical member of the city's ruling class. Modern day young urban professionals now trod the brick sidewalks and cobblestone streets of the hill. The 1798 State House was designed by local architect Charles Bulfinch. You can watch the parliamentary maneuvers of the state legislature when it's in session. Some of the finest headstone carvings in New England are on view at the Old Granary Burying Ground , where Paul Revere, John Hancock and Samuel Adams rest in peace. Other historical buildings of note on the hill include the Old State House , from the balcony of which Bostonians first heard the Declaration of Independence read; and the Old South Meeting House , where a 1774 grievance session about a new tax turned into the Boston Tea Party.

Cambridge : There are college towns and then there are college towns - and then there's Cambridge . The double whammy of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) would make any burg's head swell. Just across the Charles River from Boston , Cambridge is a mix of ivy covered antiquity and nose-ringed youth. Just off the square is Harvard Yard, a quiet leafy quadrangle of vine covered brick buildings. Among the school's several museums is the Museum of Natural History , where over 800 life-like handblown glass flowers and plants are on display.

Charlestown : This neighborhood is a living museum of Boston 's shipbuilding past. At the river's edge is the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy, the USS Constitution (Launched in 1797), it got its nickname, 'Old Ironsides,' after surviving over 40 engagements during Thomas Jefferson's war against the Barbary pirates of North Africa . At the Charlestown Navy Yard , signs of its 174-year run as one of the country's major shipbuilding centers include one of the country's first dry-docks, an 1836 Ropewalk (where the Navy made its rigging) and a WWII destroyer of the type built here in the yard's heyday. Nearby are the Bunker Hill Monument where during the Revolutionary War a rebel commander warned his men not to fire until they saw the whites of British eyes. The blocks around the square are lined with restored Colonial and Federal houses. You can reach Charlestown via a short walk from the North End across the Charlestown Bridge , or by water taxi from the Long Wharf on the eastern waterfront.