John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

Activities & Programs

Things to Do

House tours: When the Kennedy family donated the house at 83 Beals to the National Park Service as a "gift to the American people,"the president's mother hoped that future generations would be able to visit and "get a better appreciation of the history of this wonderful country." Today visitors can experience Mrs. Kennedy's recreation of these early years on two kinds of house tours.

On guided tours, National Park Service rangers lead small groups back in time through the principal rooms of the birthplace, where Mrs. Kennedy personally assembled and arranged a collection of household furnishings, photographs, and significant mementos. Highlights of the collection include the bed in which John F. Kennedy was born in his parents' second-floor room, the bassinette that cradled him during his first nights in the nursery, the silver porringer bearing his initials, and the piano on which he later took lessons. Guided tours last 30 minutes; please contact the site for the current tour schedule.

On self-guided tours, visitors can view the principal rooms of the house at their own pace, following an audiotour in which Mrs. Kennedy shares her personal reminiscences of family life at 83 Beals Street when "life was so much simpler." The narrative—available in English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese—describes many of the objects that became nostalgic symbols of times past, including a baby bonnet embroidered with Irish shamrocks and an icebox in the kitchen. Mrs. Kennedy's voice evokes a different age, when the aroma of Boston baked beans, slowly simmering in the coal-burning range, summoned the Kennedy children from their play in the yard to supper. Self-guided tours are available Wednesday through Sunday, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and by special arrangement. Please contact the site for more information.

Neighorhood tours: Visitors can enjoy self-guided walking and special ranger-led tours of the neighborhood where Rose and Joseph Kennedy began their life together and joined their early hopes and ambitions to the promise of the vibrant and growing community in Brookline's Coolidge Corner. For 10 years these neighborhood streets linked the daily life of Jack Kennedy to those of neighbors, friends and schoolmates. Walking tours guide the visitor through much of the Kennedy-era streetscape and in the footsteps of a young boy whose future course would lead to the White House. Brochures for the self-guided walking tour are available at the park's Visitor Center. To schedule a guided walking tour, please contact the site.