Boston holds a special place in my heart. When I lived here, I resided on the busiest street in the city – Boylston – where the famous Boston Common park was my front yard. This chilly harbor-side city is where I turned 21, celebrated on the streets when the Red Sox and the Patriots won, weathered the most snowfall in recorded city history, and interviewed hundreds of individuals as a journalist. Covering every inch of the city as a reporter opened my eyes to all of Boston’s quirks, winding cobblestone streets, and rich history. Read on for the ultimate Boston to-do list…
PLAYLIST FOR THE WAY THERE
Ladies Of Cambridge by Vampire Weekend
I’m Shipping Up To Boston by The Dropkick Murphys
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa by Vampire Weekend
Amanda by Boston (ok.. I’m being selfish with this one)
The Freedom Trail – follow the red line of bricks to visit historical sites such as the State House, the Old South Meeting House, Ben Franklin’s birthplace, the original Boston Massacre site, Paul Revere House, the cemetery where Paul Revere and other greats are buried, the Old North Church, and more!
Faneuil Hall – beautiful old building filled with delicious casual food options inside. Walk around the outdoor cobblestone area to watch live performances from musicians, stunt artists, magicians. Good spot for buying souvenirs.
Boston Common – Boston’s central park featuring an ice skating rink, dog park, and views of the gold roofed State House.
Public Garden – next to the Boston Common and the more “European” park. Gorgeous flowers, the famous swan boats on the pond, and the iconic horse statue.
Beacon Hill – Take a scenic shortcut through the Common to reach Beacon Hill. Allow yourself to wander and get lost among the old cobblestone streets and charming classical houses. Louisburg Square is my favorite spot to take photos. I’ve also run into John Kerry here a couple times (his house is the huge one..)
Charles Street – charming street that’s part of Beacon Hill and lined with restaurants, one of a kind shops, galleries, and bars.
Newbury Street – an absolute must if it’s your first Boston visit. This street is always filled with people eating, chatting, and shopping. It goes all the way down to the Berklee College of Music campus, if you are really dedicated to walking that far! Stores range from reasonable to high end. And honestly, the best dog watching in town is on Newbury.
Museum of Fine Arts – my favorite art museum in Boston. It’s huge and filled with every kind of art you can imagine.
Fenway – home to the famous baseball field, Fenway Park. Catch a game here or come to the Fenway area at night, when the bars are filled with rowdy sports fans or music lovers hitting the House of Blues.
Copley Square – central area of the city among restaurants and shops. Go inside Trinity Church and feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Absolutely visit the stunning Boston Public Library – don’t forget to step into its gorgeous European style courtyard. Just across, peek inside the Fairmont Copley hotel, one of the most lavish hotels in Boston.
Boston Harbor Walk – walk along the harbor and admire the ships on the water. Especially romantic at night. There’s also the New England Aquarium if you want to see some adorable sea lions. It gets windy here!
The Esplanade – beautiful outdoor park right on the Charles River. Tons of people come here daily to jog, walk their dogs, bike ride, or sunbathe (during the short summer months). Really peaceful place to take a walk and see Cambridge across the water.
The Seaport District – lots to do all within walking distance. Visit the Institute of Contemporary Art (free entry). See the elegant decor at Empire restaurant. Have a drink at Whiskey Priest’s rooftop bar. Visit the Lawn on D, next to the Convention Center, which is like a park for adults with live music, games, swings, and more.
My favorite rooftop bar in Boston is here in the Seaport District: the Envoy Hotel’s “Lookout” rooftop bar, which is especially good at night.
The South End – this neighborhood was the Beat I was assigned to as a journalist and spent 4 months reporting on. I fell in love with this little part of town. Gorgeous old brownstones and a true neighborhood feel that makes you forget you’re in a city. My favorite brunch spots are all here: The Beehive, which has a live jazz band brunch; Masa, which has a $10 brunch deal; and Flour, great for bakery bites.
Boston Opera House – the performances and plays here are phenomenal. If you don’t have time to catch a show, at least just walk into the lobby and see how beautiful it is.
Emerson College – my alma mater! Walk around the strip of lively Boylston street facing the Boston Common that Emerson’s buildings rest on. Emerson also owns the top theaters in Boston’s Theatre District, including the Cutler Majestic, the Paramount, and the Colonial. All are worth peeking into! The Boylston x Tremont street intersection is the busiest and the windiest in the city, and was an everyday reality for me. Famous basketball players like the Golden State Warriors and the Lakers practice in our gym, so keep an eye out for them in passing. You’ll probably also see a lot of colorful hair and unique hip style.. That’s the Emerson students.
WERS – The radio station I worked at for 3 years, 88.9 WERS, is one of the top stations in Boston. It has a special place in my heart because it was here that I did my news reporting, interviewed and photographed bands in our studio, and helped select which songs get air time on the radio. If you walk by the station along Tremont Street, you can hear the station’s music playing.
Just across the bridge (the walk or drive across is especially beautiful at sunset) is Cambridge.
Definitely visit the Harvard campus and walk around. Don’t worry it’s not weird, everyone does it. Plus you may see Malia Obama!
Visit the Harvard Book Store for an amazing book collection and author signings.
Head over to MIT to view some futuristic looking statues and buildings – don’t miss the crazy dorm building designed by Frank Gehry! It’s one of my all time favorite buildings by him. There are also science, photography, and art museums on the MIT campus.
The city of Cambridge is quaint and pleasant, but with its share of good nightlife and restaurants. My favorite is Beat Brasserie, a gorgeous jazz club with live music and unique cocktails. The Red House Restaurant is reminiscent of an old farm house and has great seafood.
Don’t leave Boston without eating in Chinatown! Boston’s Chinatown culture is authentic and so are the dishes. Dumpling Cafe is open til 2 am and was where we would always find ourselves after a night out. Gourmet Dumpling House is another good dumpling spot.
Bastille – my favorite restaurant in the Seaport District is a warehouse turned romantic French restaurant. The food and drinks are amazing and the atmosphere is trendy.
Boston Public Market – Great if you want to sample some local food. Vendors fill the market with all different produce and gourmet treats.
Union Oyster House – America’s oldest restaurant. It’s been serving since 1826! Pop in for a New England clam chowder and take in the old fashioned decor. Plus, sit at the table where a certain iconic President was a regular…
The North End – Boston’s Italian quarter. I won’t even name a particular restaurant, because you really can’t go wrong with any of the choices. The best Italian food in the city, made by Italian families. Pastas, pastries, and pizza. Come here on an empty stomach! It’s also an adorable cobblestone area to wander around.
And last but certainly not least… It’s not a true Boston experience if you don’t eat a lobster roll!