Boston wears its history on its sleeve: Just look at its brownstone architecture or take a stroll down its craggy, cobblestone streets. Less visible is its role as a global leader in the high-tech and medical industries. Waves of students pour in each September to attend its colleges and universities, and many stay to work in the region’s world-renowned corporate and health institutions. The result is a cosmopolitan city in a state of continual rejuvenation.

In the downtown and waterfront, old meets new. Many visitors walk the 2 1/2-mile Freedom Trail to tread in the footsteps of the country’s Founding Fathers—and then head to the newly thriving Seaport District to eat and play. The posh neighborhoods of Beacon Hill and Back Bay recall the city’s colonial past and are charged with the full pulse of city life. Cambridge, across the Charles River, offers both academic intensity and a laid-back casualness.

Rich cultural and artistic experiences beckon, of course. Boston’s major institution is its Museum of Fine Arts; just a block away is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a spectacular Venetian-styled palazzo. And you may have heard that Boston has a thing for sports, with often-exemplary pro teams in baseball (Red Sox), basketball (Celtics), hockey (Bruins), and football (New England Patriots). Every April, as well, it hosts elite runners who gather for the Boston Marathon, an inspiring city-wide event. So look around for a place to join in—you’re sure to find something to cheer.