Are you planning a trip to Boston? Don’t miss the chance to visit the Massachusetts State House, a historical and architectural marvel that provides a glimpse into the state’s rich history. Perched atop Beacon Hill, this iconic building is not only a functioning government center but also a popular tourist attraction. From its stunning golden dome to the renowned Hall of Flags, this comprehensive guide will take you on a virtual tour through the Massachusetts State House, highlighting its fascinating history, remarkable features, and must-see attractions. So, grab your virtual map and get ready to explore this iconic landmark!

Getting to the Massachusetts State House

Public Transportation

Getting to the Massachusetts State House is easy with the convenient public transportation options available in Boston. The State House is located in the heart of the city, making it accessible to both residents and tourists alike. If you prefer to take public transportation, you can hop on the subway or bus to reach your destination. The closest subway station to the State House is Park Street Station, which is served by the Red and Green lines. From there, it’s just a short walk to the State House.

Driving and Parking

If you prefer to drive to the Massachusetts State House, there are several parking options available in the area. There are both metered street parking spots and parking garages nearby. However, it’s worth noting that parking can be quite expensive in this busy part of the city, so be prepared for the possibility of high parking fees. Additionally, traffic can be heavy during peak hours, so plan your visit accordingly to avoid any delays.

History of the Massachusetts State House


The Massachusetts State House has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to its construction in 1795. Designed by renowned architect Charles Bulfinch, the State House is a beautiful example of Federalist architecture. The building was constructed using Quincy granite, giving it a stately and imposing appearance. Over the years, the State House has seen many important historical events unfold within its walls and has become an iconic symbol of the state of Massachusetts.

Architectural Features

One of the most striking features of the Massachusetts State House is its iconic golden dome. The dome, which is covered in 23-karat gold leaf, is a symbol of the state and is visible from many parts of the city. Inside the State House, visitors can admire the impressive rotunda, which is adorned with beautiful murals depicting scenes from Massachusetts history. The building also features a grand staircase, intricate woodwork, and stunning architectural details that showcase the craftsmanship of the time.

Renovations and Additions

Throughout its history, the Massachusetts State House has undergone several renovations and additions to ensure its preservation and functionality. In the early 20th century, a number of expansions were made to accommodate the growing needs of the government. Today, the State House stands as a blend of historic and modern architecture, with additions seamlessly integrated into the original structure. These renovations have helped to maintain the integrity of the building while allowing it to serve its purpose as the seat of government.

A Guide To The Massachusetts State House In Boston

Exploring the Massachusetts State House

Visitor Center

The Massachusetts State House Visitor Center is the perfect place to begin your exploration of this historic building. Located on the ground floor, the Visitor Center offers a wealth of information about the State House and its history. Knowledgeable staff members are on hand to answer any questions you may have and provide you with maps and brochures to help you navigate the building.


Guided tours of the Massachusetts State House are available for visitors who want to delve deeper into its history and significance. Led by experienced guides, these tours take you through the various chambers, halls, and corridors of the State House while providing interesting anecdotes and historical context. The tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the government and are a great way to learn more about the State House’s role in shaping Massachusetts history.


The State House is home to a number of fascinating exhibits that showcase the state’s rich heritage and political history. From interactive displays to historical artifacts, these exhibits offer a glimpse into Massachusetts’ past and provide a deeper understanding of the state’s government and culture. Whether you’re interested in politics, history, or simply want to explore something new, the exhibits at the Massachusetts State House are sure to captivate and educate.

Artwork and Monuments

The Massachusetts State House is adorned with a variety of artwork and monuments that pay tribute to the state’s history and important figures. From statues and busts to murals and paintings, the building is a virtual gallery of artistic expression. Be sure to take the time to admire these beautiful works as you explore the State House, as they offer a unique and valuable perspective on Massachusetts’ cultural heritage.

Important Landmarks Near the Massachusetts State House

Boston Common

Situated just a short walk from the Massachusetts State House, Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States. This sprawling green space offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city streets and is a popular spot for both locals and visitors. Take a leisurely stroll through the park, have a picnic on the grass, or simply sit and enjoy the scenery. Boston Common is a must-visit landmark for anyone exploring the State House.

Boston Public Garden

Adjacent to Boston Common, the Boston Public Garden is another picturesque landmark worth exploring. Known for its stunning botanical displays and iconic Swan Boats, the Public Garden is a tranquil oasis in the midst of the city. Take a relaxing walk around the beautifully manicured gardens, snap photos of the vibrant flowers, or enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the lagoon. The Boston Public Garden is a favorite destination for nature lovers and offers a peaceful respite from the urban chaos.

Beacon Hill

Located just north of the Massachusetts State House, Beacon Hill is a historic neighborhood known for its charming architecture and cobblestone streets. Take a stroll through the neighborhood and admire the elegant 19th-century townhouses, many of which are adorned with colorful doors and flower boxes. Beacon Hill is also home to several quaint shops and restaurants, making it the perfect place to grab a bite to eat or indulge in some shopping after your visit to the State House.

Granary Burying Ground

For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Granary Burying Ground is a must. Located just a short distance from the Massachusetts State House, this historic cemetery is the final resting place of several key figures from American history, including John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams. Take a walk through the graveyard and pay your respects to these famous individuals, while also taking in the beautiful and peaceful surroundings. The Granary Burying Ground is a solemn and thought-provoking landmark that offers a glimpse into the past.

A Guide To The Massachusetts State House In Boston

Interesting Facts about the Massachusetts State House

Golden Dome

The iconic golden dome of the Massachusetts State House is more than just a beautiful feature. It was originally made of wood when the building was first constructed, but it was later covered in copper and replaced with a golden dome in 1874. To this day, the dome is covered in 23-karat gold leaf, which is periodically replaced to maintain its shimmering appearance.

Sacred Cod

Inside the House of Representatives chamber hangs a large wooden carving known as the Sacred Cod. The codfish has long been associated with Massachusetts and was once a vital part of the state’s economy. The Sacred Cod serves as a reminder of the importance of the fishing industry to the state’s history and culture.

Third Oldest State House

The Massachusetts State House holds the distinction of being the third oldest continuously occupied state capitol in the United States. This impressive feat is a testament to the significance and longevity of the building, which has stood the test of time for over two centuries.

Legislative Practices

The Massachusetts State House is known for its rich legislative practices and traditions. One unique tradition is the State House bell, which rings at the conclusion of each legislative session. This bell is a symbolic reminder of the democratic process and serves as a call to attention for those inside the building.

Notable Events at the Massachusetts State House


The Massachusetts State House has been the location of many important inaugurations throughout its history. Countless governors, legislators, and other elected officials have taken their oaths of office within its walls, making it a significant venue for political ceremonies.

Legislative Sessions

The Massachusetts State House is where the state’s laws are made. The House of Representatives and the Senate convene here to debate and pass legislation that impacts the lives of Massachusetts residents. Legislative sessions are held regularly, and visitors can witness the lawmaking process in action by observing from the public galleries.

Protests and Rallies

Over the years, the Massachusetts State House has witnessed its fair share of protests and rallies. Advocates for various causes often gather outside the building, exercising their right to free speech and demonstrating for change. The State House has become a symbol of democracy and has been a focal point for those seeking to make their voices heard.

A Guide To The Massachusetts State House In Boston

Massachusetts State House in Movies and TV

The Departed

The Massachusetts State House makes a brief appearance in the 2006 Martin Scorsese film, “The Departed.” In one scene, the building serves as a backdrop for a meeting between two main characters. This cameo showcases the State House’s iconic architecture and its role as a recognizable landmark in Boston.

Ally McBeal

The popular television series “Ally McBeal” featured the Massachusetts State House prominently in its opening credits. The show’s theme song played as the camera panned over several Boston landmarks, including the State House. This portrayal highlights the building’s significance as a symbol of the city.

Spenser Confidential

The 2020 action-comedy film “Spenser Confidential” also includes a scene that takes place at the Massachusetts State House. The movie, which is set in Boston, utilizes the iconic building as a backdrop, showcasing it as an integral part of the city’s landscape.

Guidelines for Visitors at the Massachusetts State House

Security Measures

As a government building, the Massachusetts State House has security measures in place to ensure the safety of its visitors and occupants. Before entering the building, you will be required to pass through a security checkpoint. Be prepared to show a valid form of identification and allow for any necessary bag checks. It’s advisable to arrive early to allow for these security measures and to avoid any delays.

Photography Policies

Photography is permitted inside the Massachusetts State House, but there are certain restrictions. While you can take photos in most areas of the building, there are areas where photography is not allowed, such as the House and Senate chambers. Be sure to respect any signage or instructions provided by staff members and refrain from taking photos in restricted areas.

Restricted Areas

While visitors are welcome to explore many parts of the Massachusetts State House, there are areas that are off-limits to the general public. These areas are typically reserved for legislators, government officials, and authorized personnel. Be sure to abide by any signs or barriers indicating restricted access and do not attempt to enter these areas without proper authorization.

Local Restaurants and Café near the Massachusetts State House

Union Oyster House

If you’re looking for a classic New England seafood experience, look no further than Union Oyster House. Located just a short walk from the Massachusetts State House, this historic restaurant has been serving up fresh seafood since 1826. From clam chowder to lobster rolls, the menu features a wide array of delicious dishes that are sure to satisfy any seafood lover.

Parker’s Restaurant

For a more upscale dining experience, Parker’s Restaurant is a top choice in the area. Located in the historic Omni Parker House hotel, just a stone’s throw away from the State House, this elegant restaurant offers a refined menu featuring classic American dishes with a modern twist. From prime steaks to fresh seafood, Parker’s Restaurant is a great option for a special meal in a sophisticated setting.

Cheers Beacon Hill

For fans of the popular television show “Cheers,” a visit to Cheers Beacon Hill is a must. Located near the Massachusetts State House, this iconic pub offers a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, reminiscent of the fictional bar in the show. Enjoy a pint of beer, indulge in classic comfort food, and soak in the Cheers-themed memorabilia that adorns the walls.

Souvenir Shops at the Massachusetts State House

State House Gift Shop

Before you leave the Massachusetts State House, be sure to stop by the State House Gift Shop to pick up a souvenir of your visit. The gift shop offers a wide range of items, including t-shirts, mugs, magnets, and other memorabilia featuring the State House and the state of Massachusetts. Whether you’re looking for a small trinket or a unique gift, you’re sure to find something to commemorate your trip.

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum Store

Located nearby, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum Store offers a variety of souvenirs related to the famous event that played a crucial role in American history. From tea sets to books and apparel, this store is a great place to find unique and educational mementos of your time in Boston.

Beacon Hill Chocolates

For those with a sweet tooth, a visit to Beacon Hill Chocolates is a must. This gourmet chocolate shop, located in the heart of Beacon Hill, offers a delectable selection of handmade chocolates and confections. Treat yourself to a box of truffles or pick up a gift for a loved one. Either way, you won’t be able to resist the rich and delicious treats available at Beacon Hill Chocolates.

In conclusion, the Massachusetts State House is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, government, or simply exploring the cultural heritage of Boston. From its rich historical significance to its stunning architecture and vibrant surrounding landmarks, the State House offers a wealth of experiences for visitors. Whether you choose to take a guided tour, explore the exhibits, or simply admire the beauty of the building and its surroundings, a visit to the Massachusetts State House is sure to be a memorable and educational experience.