Boston City Guide


Suggested Itineraries for Visiting Boston
©2006 istockphotos.com           The USS Constitution, also known           as "Old Ironsides," is one of           Boston's must-see attractions.          

A visit to Boston affords a unique experience: the advantages of a big city in a conveniently smaller-size city. To help you tailor the perfect trip, the itineraries below focus on particular interests.

                 

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries

for Special Events & Attractions in Boston

for Special Events & Attractions in Boston

From the historical to the aquatic, Boston has so many special events and attraction that it's difficult to plan your days. Here's some help:

1 day: Where to start? If you are on a tight schedule, concentrate your sightseeing along the Freedom Trail, the red brick path that winds through the important sights of the American Revolution. Break for lunch at Quincy Market (33 Washington St, 617-786-7650) and follow the suits -- the men and women who work in the Financial District -- to line up at Bombay Club (1 Faneuil Hall Market Place, 617-723-6001) for dosas, a footlong Indian crepe stuffed with potatoes, lentils, and peas. In the afternoon, give your feet a rest and continue on the Freedom Trail by taking the "T" ferry at Long Wharf across the harbor and tour the USS Constitution (Charlestown Navy Yard), the world's oldest commissioned warship.

2 days: Head to the New England Aquarium (1 Central Wharf) and spend some time at sea. The adventurous may want to go on a whale watching expedition. During the season (April to October), a high-speed catamaran leaves from the Aquarium dock for the 90-minute round-trip to Stellwagen Bank, a feeding area for marine mammals. Landlubbers may opt to explore the Aquarium's four-story GOT (giant ocean tank). GOT talks take place on the top of the viewing staircase, so check out the times at the information booth when you arrive. Continue the nautical theme at Jasper White's Summer Shack (50 Dalton St), where it's always an August day on Cape Cod. The lobster roll is not to be missed.

3 days: See how smart you can be. For families, a visit to The Museum of Science (1 Science Park) is a must. You could easily spend an entire day here, but come in the morning and leave by lunchtime because it can get quite crowded on weekends and during the summer. For little ones there are loads of hands-on activities and live animal presentations. For older kids, cool exhibits on biotechnology, computers, and a theatre showing the latest IMAX films. Take the MBTA (Red line) across the Charles River and hang out in Boston's quirky sister city, Cambridge. You don't have to be a die-hard fan to enjoy a close look at one of the oldest and rich-in-history ballparks -- Fenway Park (4 Yawkey Way).

                 

©2006 istockphotos.com           Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox, is the oldest major league           stadium. Behind-the-scenes tours are offered seven days a week.          

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Arts & Culture in Boston

Boston's arts and culture scene is unsurpassed. Here are some itineraries that will enable you to experience all of the highlights:

1 day: Concentrate the day on Boston's "Avenue of the Arts", the area around Huntington Avenue. You could easily spend the entire day at the Museum of Fine Arts (465 Huntington Ave). But don't overdo it. Hone in on your favorite art period. If you simply cannot choose, take one of the free, docent-led guided tours offered throughout the day. The one-hour introductory tour is an overview of the MFA's very best.

Have an early dinner, but nothing too heavy, before the Symphony. Finale (15 Columbus Ave, 617-423-3184) serves an elegant two-course (one starter and one dessert) Prix Fixe menu before 8 pm. Their white pizza, grilled chicken with caramelized onions and feta, and lemon cream is light done right. Definitely pick their signature molten chocolate cake for dessert. In the evening, attend a concert at Symphony Hall (301 Massachusetts Ave), where the setting and acoustics are superb. The Boston Symphony plays September to November and January to May; the Boston Pops performs December, June, and July.

2 days: Head back over the river again. Spend the day in Cambridge, exploring Harvard University's Art Museums (371 Harvard St, Cambridge). The Fogg (32 Quincy St) is the best-known gallery, and holds an impressive collection of Renaissance and French Impressionist art. The Sackler (371 Harvard St) specializes in the art of the ancient world, Asia, and an important Islamic Art collection. The Busch-Reisinger Gallery (32 Quincy St) is the only museum in the United States that focuses on German Art.

Toscanini's (1310 Massachusetts Ave.) is where Harvard students take an ice cream break, and you should too. Their burnt caramel ice cream is incomparable.

There's always something (very) new playing at The American Repertory Theatre (64 Brattle St, Cambridge). Unlike many theatre venues, the A.R.T. has performances year-round. And as you would expect from a Harvard-affiliated arts institution, A.R.T.'s repertoire emphasizes innovative contemporary plays and adaptations of the classics.

3 days: Irish immigrants have had a huge influence on Boston life. To many, Boston is Kennedy country. Overlooking Boston Harbor, The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum (Columbia Point) is a tribute to Kennedy's life and legacy. The museum also chronicles important mid-20th century American political events, such as the Civil Rights movement, the Cold War and the space program.

 

In the afternoon, poke around the art exhibits at Fort Point (300 Summer St). The Fort Point Arts Community is a thriving artist colony, where 500 artists maintain studio space. The Fort Point Gallery space is open Monday through Friday. Throughout the year, Fort Point also hosts evening art receptions and open studio tours.

                 

©2006 istockphotos.com           The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum pays           tribute to the United States' 35th president.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Architecture & Landmarks in Boston

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Architecture & Landmarks in Boston

Boston is steeped in history, so it has plenty of architectural landmarks. If you follow these suggestions, you won't miss anything.

1 day: The Freedom Trail is essentially a tour of 16 Boston landmarks.  The 2-mile trail covers two and a half centuries of early colonial history. You can take a self-guided tour or you can take one of the free 90-minute tours offered by the National Park Service, which begin at the Old State House (15 State St). There are also walking tours offered by The Freedom Trail Foundation, which begin at the Boston Common Visitor Center.

Not-to-be missed highlights of the trail include The State House, with its 23-carat gold dome (painted grey during World War II) and now dominates Beacon Hill, the First Public School Site, and The Boston Massacre site. The Paul Revere House, which was built in 1680, is the oldest building in downtown Boston. Old North Church of "One if by land, two if by sea" fame, the USS Constitution, and The Bunker Hill Monument should not be missed. Have dinner in the North End, where there are more than 80, mostly Italian, restaurants to choose from. Of late, Mobil Two-Star Terramia (98 Salem St) is getting raves for its creative cuisine like grilled calamari with basil pine nut pesto. Terramia is small -- so small that it doesn't serve coffee or dessert.

2 days: The 19th century townhouses, secret gardens, gas lamps, and brick sidewalks of Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood have changed little in the past century. From the State House you can wander down Mount Vernon Street. Fans of Federalist architecture will want to check out the Nichols House Museum (55 Mount Vernon St) for an inside look at the Boston Brahmin lifestyle. Further down Mount Vernon Street are the large Greek Revival homes of some of Boston's wealthiest residents. Nearby is pretty Acorn Street, with its neat little row houses, flower boxes, and cobblestones.

Beacon Hill also has an important role in 19th-century African-American History. The 15 sites of the Black Heritage Trail lead through the heart of Beacon Hill and are part of the National Park Service. Begin at the African Meeting House (8 Smith Court) near the State House. Ranger-guided tours are also available by appointment.

At the base of Beacon Hill (84 Beacon St) there's a place where everyone knows your name. Cheers Beacon Hill (they don't even bother calling it the Bull & Finch anymore), is the Boston pub that inspired the wildly popular television series.

                 

©2006 istockphotos.colm           Trinity Church has appeared on           architectural "top 10" lists for           decades. Guided tours of the church           are offered every Sunday.

3 days: Stroll wide, tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay and you'll think you're in France. The Back Bay was created by adding fill to the flats of the Charles River in the late 1800s. Nearby is Copley Square, where you'll find an interesting mix of architectural styles bordering Boston's largest public square. The Boston Public Library (700 Boylston) is a fine example of neo-classical architecture and the building's facade has the look characteristic of an Italian palace.

Across the square, Trinity Church is one the America's finest examples of Romanesque architecture. Trinity's stained-glass windows dazzle. The New Old South Church (645 Boylston) is in the High Victorian Gothic style. On the far side of the square, you will find the striking John Hancock Tower (200 Clarendon St), the glass skyscraper that dominates Boston's downtown skyline. Designed by architect I.M. Pei, it is the tallest building in New England, but its observation deck has been closed to visitors since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries

for Shopping in Boston

In Boston, you're never far from a chance to shop. Here are ways to plan out your shopping expeditions:

1 day: A stroll down Newbury Street (I-361 Newbury St) in the Back Bay is the best Boston shopping experience. The brownstone buildings that line the street are filled with charming boutiques, art galleries, salons, and restaurants. Haute couture is here, as well as Armani, Chanel, and Versace. If the weather is fine, dine al fresco at Armani Cafe (214 Newbury St). Try the veal Milanese with watercress and arugula. Newbury Street is a great spot for people-watching, too, since it has a reputation as an upscale shopping experience.

2 days: Dedicated shoppers need to indulge their passion despite the vagaries of Boston's weather. The Shops at Prudential (800 Boylston St) and Copley Place (100 Huntington Ave) are much more than a mall. Together these two complexes, connected to each other by a glass walkway, contain 175 shops and restaurants. Shops among them include Neiman Marcus and Saks, as well as national chains stores and boutiques Louis Vuitton and Jasmine Sola. You can easily make a day of it here. If anything, make sure to visit the top of the Prudential Center, the Skywalk, which offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city from the 50th floor.

3 days: Shopping in Beacon Hill is a singularly Boston experience. The shops on Charles Street are best known for their distinctive gift shops, antiques, and quaint cafes. Beacon Hill shopping can be pricey, but there are a few less expensive options. Check out Black Ink (101 Charles St) for fun gifts, Rugg Road (105 Charles St) for handmade paper, and Eugene Galleries (76 Charles St) for prints and maps.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Nightlife & Entertainment in Boston

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Nightlife & Entertainment in Boston

If you're looking for things to do after the sun goes down, we can point you in the right direction. Check out these suggested itineraries:

1 day: The leading jazz clubs in Boston are actually in Cambridge. Overlooking Harvard Square, the Regattabar (One Bennett St, Cambridge) is located in the Charles River Hotel. Scullers is located in the Doubletree Suites Hotel along the Charles River. Both venues feature local and international jazz stars.

2 days: Boston has some swanky lounge clubs to offer for those who want to stay out late. Saint (90 Exeter St, at the Mobil Two-Star Copley Square Hotel) is both trendy and upscale, featuring contemporary food with a global slant. Peking duck pot-stickers and Lychee Martinis appeal to the oh-so-hip crowd. Cap off your night with a cappuccino in the North End. Cafe Pompeii  (280 Hanover St) is one of Boston's few late-night haunts that's open until 4 am.

3 days: Dance under the stars on the Odyssey, a luxurious yacht that sails year-round on Boston Harbor. The four-hour dinner cruise includes a four-course meal, music provided by a live five-piece band, and dancing. But don't be left at the dock; plan ahead because reservations are a must.

                 

©2006 istockphotos.com           For some visitors, the quintessential           Boston experience is a Swan Boat tour           of the lake at Boston Public Gardens.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries

for Relaxing & Unwinding in Boston

If you're seeking peace and quiet, you'll find it in Boston. Follow these suggested itineraries for relaxing and unwinding.

1 day: The natural beauty of a "deserted" island, an abandoned Civil War fort, and an ocean cruise is a relaxing way to explore. For a quick get-away, Bostonians head out to George's Island, located a short 20-minute passenger ferry ride across Boston Harbor. Ferry boats leave from Boston's Long Wharf from May to October.

Explore Fort Warren's labyrinth of tunnels and climb its ramparts on your own or take a free ranger-led tour. There is a snack bar on the island, but better yet, ask your hotel to prepare a "box lunch" to enjoy on the island's grassy meadows or picnic tables. Swimming is not allowed because of strong currents, but you can walk along the shore to search for smooth rocks (perfect for skipping!) and take in the terrific view of the Boston skyline.

2 days: Few things in life are as enchanting as a Swan Boat ride on Boston Public Garden's Lagoon. The 20 passenger boats run on pedal power provided by very fit college students, which some describe as a quintessential Boston experience. Afterward, take a stroll through the Public Garden, the formal floral gardens are a delight.

3 days: Combine two relaxing and rejuvenating activities together by planning an early afternoon spa treatment to coincide with afternoon tea. Book your favorite spa treatment at either Daryl Christopher Salon and Day Spa (37 Newbury St) or Bella Sante (38 Newbury St). As befits a city with strong British roots, the tradition of afternoon tea is strong in Boston. In the Back Bay, the Mobil Five-Star Four Seasons (220 Boylston St), the Taj Boston (15 Arlington St), and the Park Plaza  (64 Arlington St) each offer afternoon tea. Be advised that you should make reservations.

For Revolutionary War history, the city of Boston can't be beat. But Boston has much more to offer than history. Whether you're an architecture buff, a shopaholic, or an arts connoisseur, you can enjoy a wide array of activities in this charming New England metropolis.

©Publications International, Ltd.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maria Olia is a freelance writer who has lived in the Boston area (trolley stop distance!) for the past 25 years. Of the many travel destinations that she writes about, Boston is always a thrill.

Related Links

American Repertory Theatre

Boston Light

Boston Marathon

Boston Park Rangers

Boston Pops

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Cambridge Office of Tourism

Charles River Regatta

Fort Point Art Community

Freedom Trail Foundation

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Harvard University Art Museums

Institute for Contemporary Art

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

John F. Kennedy Library and Museum

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Science

New England Aquarium

Nichols House Museum

Paul Revere House

Shirley-Eustis House

Symphony Hall

Trinity Church Boston

USS Constitution Museum

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