Boston is such a historic and beautiful city. We spent a long weekend here with some of our friends over Labor Day one September. The food was amazing, the weather was great, and the company was even better.
Andrew and I arrived in Boston the day before our friends met us in the city. We decided to visit two attractions they were indifferent about so they didn’t miss out:
Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum (11 min walk from the hotel). This was a really amusing museum and tour. The tour begins every 30 minutes, which allows great flexibility in your schedule. We were able to walk right up when we were ready for our visit. When you first arrive you are given a feather and an index card with a character that you will impersonate during the first portion of the tour. During this part of the tour you sit in a town hall and participate in a re-enacted town hall meeting from before the Boston Tea Party. I am not a fan of participating in skits or being a part of re-enactments. During the town hall meeting certain characters had to say lines that important participants in the tea party exclaimed, or they had to knock on the door, or other random tasks. Luckily my character, along with several others, just had to chant or yell “boooo” or hiss (as people used to do in the 1770s) during some planned speeches of the actors in the tour. It ended up being very funny and entertaining. After practicing our acting skills we took a tour of the museum and ship, learned some history about the events leading up to the famed tea party, and even got to through some “tea” overboard.
Massachusetts Bay Line Sunset Cruise (9 minute walk from Tea Party museum). As you know, I love harbor tours, and we try to take one in every city that is located on the water. This sunset cruise is about $25 per adult, but be sure to check out Groupon, because we got discounted tickets for a great price. I think it ended up being $35-40 for both of us. On this tour there were only a few people on the boat, we got to see the city from the water, relaxed with a beer, and watched the sun set. So you know how people say, “You get what you pay for.”? Well with the cheap price came with a tour that was not very informative. The guide at one point literally said, “and to your right… you see some boats.” We still say this to this day because it was hilarious. If you want a relaxing cruise at sunset then this is for you- if you want to learn about the city while on the cruise, you may want to check out some other options.
Our first day in Boston was such a success, starting off with lunch in the Quincy Market and a quick visit at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, walked around the hotel area to take in the sights, and ended the evening with a stroll along the Harbor and a light dinner at Granary Tavern after our sunset harbor cruise.
We began our morning with some doughnuts from Kane’s Donuts. Good donuts, the worst coffee. Shortly after, our friends joined us. We continued our day with another visit to the Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall Marketplace so everyone could fuel up before we started The Freedom Trail tour which is about 2.5 mile walk. This tour was great, the guide was in character as a slave from the 1700s, and she showed us dozens of landmarks, historic sites, and graves of important people.
Later we walked past The Paul Revere House, about a 12 minute walk from our hotel. Tickets are $3.50 for adults, and the average visit is 30-45 minutes, however I am pretty sure we were there for about 15-20 minutes. If you have some time and a few dollars to spare then it is neat to visit, to say that you did, however totally not worth going terribly out of your way to visit- in my opinion.
That night we had dinner reservations at the famous Union Oyster House, we were seated in the Kennedy Booth – JFK’s favorite booth in the restaurant. After some delicious Oysters Rockefeller we took a stroll across the street to stroll through the Holocaust Monument and Memorial. We ended the night with drinks at the Bell in Hand and some other local bars nearby. Several bars had live music which is always a treat. At one bar there was a great folk band playing music, which is right up my alley, Andrew saw they had a drum not being used and asked if he could join them for their next song. It just so happened the next song they were planning to play was our wedding song: Stand By Me. Perfect timing!
On our third day in Boston we took a tour of Fenway Park. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time and tours are daily on the hour, from about 9:00am-5:00pm. I am not really a sports fan, but I do love learning. So we got to explore the field and learned about some historic events and plays. We also got to visit the room where the scoring takes place. And Andrew got yelled at for pushing buttons that made the score appear on the board. Typical.
Later we visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This wasn’t really one of the things we planned to do, but I am so happy we did. We decided to limit ourselves to two hours because it was huge. We all split up to see our favorite exhibits and met back up later. There was still so much that we didn’t see, but here are some highlights:
I love to check out the campuses of other colleges and universities, so with some extra time after the art museum, we strolled through the Harvard Yard. As someone with a doctorate in higher education, being able to visit our country’s first university (established in 1636!) was a major nerd moment. The campus is absolutely beautiful and is home to the largest academic library in the world! While exploring the campus, you can also check out the Mineralogical & Geological Museum if you like to look at rocks like Andrew.
Our friends left early in the morning and we had the day to explore before heading home ourselves. Andrew loves zoos and aquariums and really wanted to visit the New England Aquarium , so we did. It ended up working out because it was super cold and rainy on this last day in Boston. The tickets are $32 for adults, which is pretty expensive I think, but that is probably because I am not really a huge fan of aquariums. I can only see so many fish before I get bored. The best part is that they have penguins, and penguins make everything better. Later we also visited the Samuel Adams Brewery and Harpoon Brewery. The Sam Adams tour was very informative, interactive, and interesting. It also ended with a fun tasting, which included a beer only sold at the brewery!
We could not leave Boston without a stop at the Omni Parker House for their famous Boston Cream Pie and homemade rolls. Settled in a gorgeous room, the restaurant is beautifully decorated, and the service impeccable. It was absolutely kismet, because the night before we were watching the Food Network, our go to vacation TV, and the Omni Parker House was one of the featured restaurants on the show we happened to be watching. Perfect timing.
Places to Eat and Drink
- We ate at Granary Tavern on our first night after the Harbor Tour. We were not that hungry so we split a charcuterie board and lobster mac and cheese. Very cool ambiance and near the water.
- The Union Oyster House claims to be the oldest Restaurant in the United States as it was established in 1826. It was only a 9 min walk from our hotel, and a fun place to have dinner.
- The Warren Tavern is the oldest tavern in Massachusetts. It is located a bit outside the center of Boston. It is near the USS Constitution, and Bunker Hill, so if you plan to visit either of these landmarks then it is worth a stop.
- Be sure to go to Omni Parker House for their famous Boston Cream Pie and homemade rolls.
- Bars / Breweries
- Bell in Hand Tavern was established in 1795, and is the Oldest tavern in Boston. It is located right across the street from the Union Oyster House, and is a great place to grab drinks and listen to live music.
- Harpoon Brewery was a last minute decision since we had some time to kill on our last day in town. I am so happy we decided to stop here. it wasn’t the beer. It wasn’t the ambiance. It was the soft Pretzel that will bring me back to this brewery! They are huge, soft, and so delicious!
- The Samuel Adams Brewery is a super fun tour, and definitely worth a visit even if you don’t like beer.
Food Boston is known for:
- Boston Baked Beans
- Boston Cream Pie
- Clam Chowder
- Lobster “Lobsta” Rolls
- Lobster Mac and Cheese
- Lobster anything
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Hilton Boston Downtown/Faneuil Hall. This was a very pretty and clean hotel and is in the perfect location for walking around the city. We only used alternative transportation a couple times on this trip because everything is within walking distance.
Other things still on the list
- Charles River Esplanande Park
- Boston Public Garden was established in 1837, making it America’s oldest public botanical garden.
I am sure there is so much more that we missed, so I am collecting additional ideas for our next trip to Boston. What should I add?