With Georgian-style houses balanced by soaring glass and steel skyscrapers, Boston efficiently weaves past with the present. Here’s a checklist to help you go about the compact, clean and easily navigable harbour city
1. THE STORIED HARVARD UNIVERSITY
Doesn’t matter if you couldn’t get through Harvard; at least you can feel like a Harvardian for a day! Head to Cambridge, approx 5.5 km north-west of downtown Boston, and register for a 70-minute guided tour ($10 per person) of the Harvard University. Absorb every inch of ivy-leagued glory from your guide who is a fun-loving current Harvard student and enjoy an insider perspective on the history and culture of the institute. Go around the 210-acre main campus while popping into the Memorial Church and one of the eight interesting museums or get some dope on the king-size Widener Library, one of the largest college libraries in the country. Back outside the gates, you can gorge on cheap yet tasty food; try every Harvard student’s favourite thin-crust, Sicilian pizzas from Pinocchio’s Pizza & Subs. And if you’re a passionate bibliophile, keep a knapsack handy because you’re going to have a lot to take back. Stores like Grolier Poetry Bookshop, Schoenhof’s Foreign Books and Harvard Book Store boast of a collection that can leave you bewildered. Lastly, remember to buy a precious Harvard souvenir for yourself.
2. BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF BOSTON
Head to Prudential Centre Skywalk Observatory that offers a breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view of Greater Boston area and beyond. On a clear day, you can see up to 100 miles away — a great way to get acquainted with the city and appreciate the beauty of its symmetrical red-brick facades. Hancock Tower, Fenway Park, the Boston Common and Public Garden, the Esplanade and Hatch Shell, the Charles River, MIT and Harvard University are some of the countless landmarks you’ll see from level 50. This unique setting also offers engaging, interactive exhibits that provide the real flavor of the city’s distinctive culture and neighborhoods. Acoustiguide’s Opus Click multimedia player and the Dreams of Freedom Museum detail the city’s historic past and current sites. Hungry already? Climb up two more floors to indulge in a delicious New England meal combined with dramatic views of city vistas through floor-to-ceiling windows.
3. BOSTON TEA PARTY SHIPS & MUSEUM
An absolute must-do for a history buff, Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is an all-encompassing, multi-sensory adventure. It will transport you on an incredible journey back in time as you take part in the famous event that changed the course of American History! Meet the colonists, explore the ships and dump tea overboard with a shout of “Huzzah!” just as the Sons of Liberty did on that fateful night of December 16, 1773. Stop at Abigail’s Tea Room at teatime for a cup of tea and a chocolate chip cookie or shop for a special keepsake to remember your journey back to colonial America. A pretty, European-style tea set makes for a good option.
4. THE LUXURIOUS CRANE ESTATE
With its winding salt marshes, miles of barrier beach, and a beautiful hilltop mansion designed by famed architect David Adler, the 2,100-acre Crane Estate along the Essex and Ipswich rivers makes for a lovely one-day summer outing. The 59-room Stuart-style mansion, built in 1927 for Richard Crane — of the Crane plumbing company — and his family is worth a tour for its rich, simplicity-meets-elegance kind of interior. Everything from Chinese wallpapers and lavish yet contemporary bathrooms with painted glass panels to elaborate wood work define early 20th century upper class American luxury. Post the one-hour Castle Hill tour, you can have some fun in the sun at the secluded stretch of white sandy beach, learn about the local ecology or exploring the waters of the Castle Neck River by taking part in seasonal activities like fly-fishing or kayaking.
5. BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
If you’re classical music aficionado, you’re in for the most magical experience of your life and even if you aren’t, you shouldn’t miss attending one of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s world-renowned performances at Symphony Hall located at 301 Massachusetts Avenue. The BSO performs at Symphony Hall from September through April; around 250 shows a year that include everything from traditional concerts, lively Boston Pops filled with singing and comedy acts as well as Mozart-inspired family shows. What enhances the whole experience is the grandeur and impressive acoustics of the Renaissance-style Symphony Hall. You can also register for behind-the-scenes, guided tour of Symphony Hall to know more about the history and traditions of the Boston Symphony Orchestra as well as the hall.
Tip: Looking for a bargain? Buy BSO Rush Tickets at the BSO Box Office. These cash-only tickets are sold for $9 each on the day of the performance, one to a customer. Fridays – 10 am onward, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays – 5pm onward.
6. WALK INTO HISTORY WITH THE FREEDOM TRAIL
Reserve a day to discover the rich history of the American Revolution, as it began in Boston, where every step tells a story. Stretching across 4 km, the red-lined route of the Freedom Trail leads you to 16 historically significant sites — each one an authentic treasure. Explore museums and meetinghouses, churches, and burying grounds. While the trail is easy to navigate on your own, thanks to the downloadable Walk Into History audio guide and trail maps, you can also join the tour conducted by 18th-century costumed guides. Whether you choose to explore at your own pace or not, be sure to sport comfy shoes. Halt at all the key points on way – Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House, Bunker Hill Monument, the Old North Church etc.
7. EAT BREAKFAST LIKE A LOCAL
If you haven’t had your American breakfast, you haven’t been to Boston. Tatte – a cosy, rustic joint located on 70 Charles St – is a good bet. Try their biscottis or signature nut boxes – rectangular-shaped pastries filled with pecans, pistachios, almonds, cashews, and walnuts. In savory dishes, their avocado tartine – an open-faced sourdough slice with a poached egg, arugula, and radishes – and salads made from scratch, like the one served with halloumi, sliced green apple, golden raisins, toasted almonds, sesame, and mint, are a must try.
BASEBALL FANS, LISTEN UP!
If you’re a baseball fan, you’d know that the Fenway Park sits right in the middle of the Boston city. Buy a ticket to catch a Red Sox game or enroll for a tour of the stadium and grab a beer at either the Bleacher Bar that offers views of centerfield or Cask ‘n Flagon that boasts of a long beer list, pub fare and a ranking as “Top baseball bar in America”.
YOUR PHOTO OPP IS HERE
At sunset, walk along the harbour front on the Fan Pier, in particular near Northern Avenue, to take a gorgeous picture of the Boston Skyline.