5 things to do on a weekend trip to Boston
Boston is one of my favorite cities for a short weekend trip, so much so I’ve been 3 times in the past year. Clusters of distinct neighborhoods are tied together by Boston’s ubiquitous red brick, each equally proud of their own unique charms and of being a part of what makes Boston great. This is a city with working class roots and Ivy League pedigree with restaurants that offer far more than lobster rolls and chowder (though those are certainly worth seeking out while you’re here). The city’s core is highly walkable and the T(Boston’s train system) will get you anywhere else you want to go making Boston the perfect city for a quick sojourn. Here are my recommendations to get a taste of Boston in just a few days.
Boston Common and the Public Garden
Boston Common and the Public Garden are a green retreat in the heart of Boston’s downtown. Founded in 1634, Boston Common is the oldest park in America. In Colonial times, it served as a pasture, military training field, and a meeting place for the people of Boston; and has also hosted everyone from George Washington to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and Pope John Paul II. As America’s first public botanical garden, Boston’s Public Garden is showier than the more laid back Common, with its bright blooms and iconic Swan Boats giving a touch of whimsy to Boston’s downtown. These parks are a great place to people watch; on any given day you’ll find young families enjoying the Frog Pond, well-heeled Bostonian’s from the tony Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods out for a stroll, Harvard students enjoying a run in between classes and visitors from around the world experiencing this peaceful oasis in downtown Boston.
The Freedom Trail
Truth be told, I’m kind of cheating with this one as Boston’s Freedom Trail is actually 16 of Boston’s most famous and historically significant sites. Starting at Boston Common the 2.5 mile red brick path winds through downtown, past Quincy Market, through the North End and over the Charlestown Bridge before ending at the USS Constitution. Get a glimpse of where modern lawmakers shape policy at the Massachusetts State House or explore where the seeds of revolution were planted at The Old State House. Stop by Faneuil Hall, where the phase “no taxation without representation” was born; or check out the Paul Revere House, where one of the Revolution’s most famous sons lived and worked. While most of the sites are free the Old South Meeting House, the Old State House, and the Paul Revere House do charge admission. There are a number of books and apps to help you explore the Freedom Trail on your own or you can go on one of the many guided tours available.
The North End
The North End, originally established in 1630, is Boston’s oldest residential community and today is best known as a vibrant Italian-American neighborhood (aka Boston’s Little Italy). This is one of my favorite neighborhoods to visit; not only for the numerous Italian restaurants and cafes,this is a tightly knit community that cherishes its traditions and where something is always going on. I’ll never forget leaving my favorite North End restaurant, Panza, at 7 o’clock on a Thursday evening last August to find a parade going down the street. Turns out I stumbled upon the Festival of Saint Agrippina, a Catholic celebration with several blocks of festivities, processions,music and food. While who makes the better cannoli, Mike’s Pastry vs. Modern Pastry Shop, is a hotly contested topic of debate; I prefer to get my Italian pastry fix a few doors down at the unassumingly charming Cafe dello Sport. This cafe/bakery meets sports bar always has the latest soccer game, pulls a mean espresso and makes locals and visitors feel like family.
Museum of Fine Arts
I’m picky when it comes to art museums, too many are limited in their offerings or their collections seem haphazard. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has one of the most comprehensive collections of art in the U.S. and is a museum I’d happily spend the better part of an afternoon. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to modern artists creating tomorrow’s masterpieces and everything in between there is something here for every artistic taste. The Museum of Fine Arts offers much more than a chance to view its collections; studio art classes for children and adults, thought provoking lectures and independent film showings will leave surely leave you inspired.
TIP: If you plan to visit on a Wednesday admission is free after 4 pm.
Samuel Adams Brewery
A short train ride on the Orange Line to the Stony Brook T stop will deliver you to the Samuel Adams Brewery, which opens it’s doors for tours Monday-Saturday. Tours are free and last about an hour and you’ll learn about the brewing process from hops to glass. Then you’re whisked off to the tasting room where you can sample the delicious fruits of their labor. Aside from the popular Boston Lager and seasonal ales you’ll have a chance to try limited edition brews only available at the brewery.
While this list is by no means extensive it will give you a taste of why Boston is a city I find myself returning to again and again. Do you have any Boston activities you’d add to the list?