A vibrant port for over 400 years, Boston is a marriage of the past and future, a place where you can trace America’s history through its cobblestone streets while across the river, students at MIT are developing the cutting edge of technology. Nicknamed the “Athens of America” for its cultural clout, this breeding ground for fine art and pop culture offers something for everyone, from the baseball and craft beer crowd to foodies and history buffs. Here are some suggestions for enjoying the best that Boston has to offer.
For Foodies Exploring Boston
Kick-start your day with coffee and pancakes at beloved breakfast nook The Paramount, the worst-kept secret in Beacon Hill. On weekends the line for this tiny diner regularly stretches down the block, but the efficient staff manage to keep the customers flowing through as if by magic, serving up hearty omelets, corned beef hash, and buttery brioche French toast.
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The tastiest hamburger in the city can be found at Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage, a Harvard-adjacent landmark with famous fans including Johnny Cash, Al Pacino, Bob Dylan, and Jackie Onassis. Order up one of their irreverently named creations for a juicy, marbled burger cooked to order, with a salty tangle of onion rings. Seafood lovers can find fresh, silky oysters at Neptune Oyster or the Island Creek Oyster Bar.
For dessert, take a walk amidst the brownstone buildings of the North End, Boston’s own Little Italy. Pizza and pasta abound, but the neighborhood is best known for its pastry shops, which churn out biscotti, cannoli, and cupcakes of every variety. For an especially decadent treat, try a foot-long lobster tail, an Americanized version of the classic sfogliatella. The folks at Mike’s Pastry have perfected the recipe, offering enormous crunchy shells stuffed with rich diplomat cream.
For View Seekers
In the heart of downtown Boston sits the Prudential Tower, a 52-story skyscraper that offers visitors a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the city. On a clear day, the view from the Sky Observatory stretches 100 miles in every direction. Admire the skyline in sophistication while dining on steak and lobster in the adjoining lounge at The Top of the Hub.
The Esplanade is a leafy public park on the south bank of the Charles River that offers romantic views of the water, especially at dawn. Rent a sailboat, kayak, or paddleboard to navigate the basin, or bicycle down the three-mile path that runs parallel to the waterway. On warm spring and summer nights, spread a picnic blanket over the lawn at the water’s edge and enjoy an outdoor concert at the Hatch Memorial Shell, the favorite venue of the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Another favorite water spot of locals and tourists is the Reflecting Pool that lies alongside the Christian Science Church. A spot of tranquility in the midst of the bustling Prudential shopping district, the long pane of water is so smooth and clear that it could be mistaken for a mirror. Admire the reflection at sunset, when the silhouettes of the buildings stand out against the pink and golden sky.
For Culture Vultures
Like any self-respecting college town, Boston is home to a flock of wonderful museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts with its world-renowned Impressionist Gallery. Just a few blocks away from the mighty MFA sits the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the unique collection of a wealthy and eccentric woman who started curating during the Gilded Age. Gardner’s house, designed after a Venetian palazzo, is home to a stunning assortment of pieces by Titian, Rembrandt, and John Singer Sargeant. What you will not see is Vermeer’s The Storm, which was famously heisted in 1990, though the empty picture frame still hangs mysteriously upon the wall. There is a….
By Sarah Diamond
Photo: Greater Boston Convention and Visitors’ Bureau