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Plan Your Day at Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum [2020] | 👉 Guide & Tips

Boston is one of America’s most historic cities with historic sites and museums seemingly around every corner. From its cobblestone streets and 17th century cemetery to its famous Emerald Necklace of parks and attractions, you’ll always find something new to discover. Whether you’re just visiting Boston for a day or looking for one of the best things to do in Boston with kids on the weekend, you won’t want to overlook the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, a unique museum that combines history with live reenactments. Here’s a complete guide covering everything you want to know ahead of your visit!

The Boston Tea Party Ship Experience – Plan Your Visit

Step back to 1776 and experience the event that started the American Revolution. Your interactive tour will last 60 to 75 minutes as you explore the exhibits aboard two full-scale replicas of 18th-century ships.

The museum is an attraction for people who don’t like museums: the experience is interactive and allows you to take on the role of a historic figure as the talented cast reenact the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party.

There are several components to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum experience.

The Meeting House

The Meeting House is where your Boston Tea Party experience begins. In late November 1773, Samuel Adams, the leader of the Whigs, called a meeting at Faneuil Hall which was moved to the Old South Meeting House when thousands showed up. On December 16, up to 7,000 people out of a city of 16,000 gathered around the meeting house and moved into the harbor where three ships – the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver – were docked and loaded with hundreds of chests of tea.

The Sons of Liberty were urging the Dartmouth captain to send the ship back without paying an import duty on the tea and attempting to block the delivery of the tea which was being taxed by Britain without representation by the colonies. Massachusetts Governor Hutchinson refused permission for the ships to leave and ordered the tax to be paid. Many wearing disguises, the Sons of Liberty boarded the three ships and dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor from Griffin’s Wharf.

 

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This event helped launch the Revolutionary War as Britain instituted the Intolerable Acts in the colonies to restore British authority and punish Boston for the destruction of the tea. After the Boston Tea Party, many Americans viewed drinking tea as un-American and this helped shift the American preference for coffee. By September of 1774, the First Continental Congress was called.

When you visit the Meeting House at the museum, live actors will tell you the story leading up to the famous Tea Party. Visitors are assigned the names of real historic participants and “Samuel Adams” will give a speech to protest the tax on the tea that pushed the Sons of Liberty into action.

You can check out the Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum learning library before you visit for great overviews on topics related to the American Revolution and Boston Tea Party.

Griffin’s Wharf

The next stage of the experience takes you to Griffin’s Wharf to board the ship. Participants can take turns throwing the “tea crates” into the water – a definite hit with kids! A highlight of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is the live reenactment. This is one of the best reasons to visit Boston with kids who get to participate in history. You’ll be part of the live debate and may have speaking parts as you find yourself on Griffin’s Wharf the morning of the Tea Party.

 

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Tea Ships

One of the highlights of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is the two tea ships: painstakingly built replicas of the Eleanor and Beaver involved in the Boston Tea Party. You can see what life was like on a sailing vessel in the late 1700s.
The original Eleanor was owned by Boston smuggler and merchant John Rowe who also owned Rowe’s Wharf and several stores in Boston. He was also one of the primary instigators of the Stamp Act riot in 1765. At the time of the Tea Party, the ship was commanded by Tory sympathizer Captain Bruce.

The replica was made by completely gutting a retired fishing vessel built in 1936, dismantling the framework and planks to transform the shape.

 

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The original Beaver was owned by the Nantucket Quaker family the Rotch’s. Originally a whaling ship built in 1772. At the time of the Tea Party, it was commanded by Captain Hezekiah Coffin. It, along with the Dartmouth, were in London after delivering whale oil and searching for return cargo to the colonies when they unwittingly agreed to transport tea back to Boston.

The replica of the Beaver was originally a schooner from 1908.

Robinson Tea Chest

The crown jewel of the museum collection is the Robinson Tea Chest, the only known tea chest to survive the Boston Tea Party. Almost 250 years old, this artifact traveled from China and into Boston where it has been handed down for generations.

After the discussion about the tea chest, kids love the holographic “moving” portraits of Samuel Adams and King George III in debate using language from actual correspondence between the two. It’s like Harry Potter come to life!

Minutemen Theater

Don’t forget to watch the award-winning documentary, “Let it Begin Here.” The documentary explores the American Revolution, including Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, as minutemen rallied 16 months after the Tea Party and fired “the shot heard ‘round the world.”

Abigail’s Tea Room & Terrace

Sample some of the varieties of tea that were thrown into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party as well as apple cider, pies, and scones at Abigail’s. The tea house even serves beer from Boston’s Harpoon Brewery and a selection of wines. It’s the perfect way to end your day at the museum or you can stop by when you’re in the area to take in the waterfront views.
The tea room is open to the general public and does not require admission.

 

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Where Is the Boston Tea Party Ship Located?

The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is located on the Congress Street Bridge along the Fort Point Channel close to the South Station train terminal. The ships and museum are located as close as possible to the site of the original Boston Tea Party.

After your visit, you can check out other nearby things to do in Boston like the adjacent Children’s Wharf Park and Rowe’s Wharf which was owned by the man who owned the original Eleanor ship. The museum is located next to the Fort Point neighborhood which is home to the Children’s Museum and Trillium Fort Point Brewery.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, 306 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210 (617) 338-1773

How to Get to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

The easiest way to reach the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is on the MBTA. The museum is just 0.3 miles from the South Station, Boston’s busiest transit hub which serves the MBTA subway, bus, and commuter rail lines. You can ride the Red or Silver line to South Station.

South Station, 700 Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02110 (617) 523-1300

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum Parking

Planning to drive? If you park at the Farnsworth Street Garage or the Stillings Street Garage, you’ll get $2 off your parking if you bring your ticket to the museum ticket booth for validation.

Farnsworth Street Garage, 17-19 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA 02210 (617) 737-8161
Stillings Street Garage, 11 Stillings St, Boston, MA 02210 (617) 451-0929

There are also three parking lots closer to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum on either side of the Congress Street Bridge. You’ll find a parking garage at 280 Congress St and a parking lot at 282 Congress St, both in Atlantic Wharf. There’s also a parking lot at 11-13 Sleeper St on the other side of the bridge.

 

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Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum Tickets: How Much Does it Cost?

How much is admission to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum? Tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket booth. Adult admission is $29.95 and admission for children is $21.95. If you buy your tickets online, you can save up to $1.50 per ticket.

General admission includes a guided experience, a tour of the restored tea ship and museum, and the chance to explore the replica vessels and open air deck.

Boston Tea Party Ship Hours

Before you visit, make sure you know if you’re in the off season when hours are shortened. The museum and experience is open from 10 am to 5 pm from April until November. Starting in November, hours are 10 am until 4 pm. You can book a tour up to closing time with tours starting every 15 minutes.

During the busy season when the weather is warm, the museum can get crowded. It’s usually a good idea to book your tour in advance online to make sure you can get in.

Tips for Visiting the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Before you head out, here are some fast tips for getting the most from your visit.

  • If you’re in town, visit the museum on December 16 when it hosts a massive reenactment of the Boston Tea Party.
  • If you’re a Massachusetts resident, you can get a free ticket when you bring someone who buys a full price adult ticket. You need to sign up for the Hometown Pass program here.
  • The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is one of the best Boston attractions for kids. Even young kids who can’t appreciate the history will enjoy the ships, live reenactment, and talking portraits.
  • Be sure to check out the gift shop which has some unique and fun finds.

Whether you’re visiting Boston or you’ve been living in Boston for some time, the whole family is sure to love the interactive experience at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Just make sure you book your tickets in advance if you plan on going during the busy season!