Travel to Boston?
This is the best preserved historic
city in the USA,
the godfather of independence and mostly in a small, clean, safe,
Boston is also home to perhaps the most intellectual-cultural environment
in the USA, with many top educational establishments, superb museums, avante-garde art galleries and live shows to satisfy most tastes.
out 800,000 people and preserve it as a museum piece.' Frank
The 19thC National Historic District of Beacon Hill, with gas street lighting!
Best: May, June, September, October (Fall)
OK: July, August (will be oppressively humid and could be extremely hot)
Worst: Dec-March (very windy, cold, with snow or rain)
of stay not inc. flights:
Minimum worthwhile stay 2-3 days for a brisk exploration or romantic break.
Recommended: a week to take in city sights, museums,
cultural events and short trips out of town.
Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall Marketplace is Boston's #1 attraction, a cobbled pedestrian area linking four historic structures - Quincy Market, North Market, South Market and Faneuil Hall. The Market place is awash with much varied but quality street theatre (performers have to audition!), interesting shops and stalls and unusual foods and drinks. Faneuil Hall Marketplace is in the centre of Boston, adjacent to the waterfront, Financial District and Haymarket, as well as being one of the highlights of the city's Freedom Trail.
Freedom Trail: The
2.5 mile (4 kms)Freedom Trail linking 16 of the city's historic sights with red paint/bricks embedded in the walkways. The trail starts at Boston Common. Also
The Black Heritage Trail and Harbor Walk for walkers.
North End is the oldest section of the city, with buildings dating back to the
17thC, now colonised by Italians.
Boston Public Garden, a pleasant 17th century parkland and garden, with statues, memorials and
lakes near to many historic sights. The gardens are especially dramatic in the Fall.
Boston Public Garden, photo Rick Harris
Cambridge: just like its namesake in England, this area is tied to the country's
intellectual elite - in this case Harvard and MIT. Here you can see
why top, greenery-shrouded American universities are called 'Ivy League'. Or is it 'IV League' (i.e. the top 4)?
Whatever, it's a lively area buzzing with active culture (and that's just the yoghurt).
Walking: One of USA's best city walks
is the Freedom Trail, see above.
Biking/Inline skating: The Emerald
Necklace of parks, Back Bay Fens and Shining Sea Bike Path offer
pretty multi-mile routes.
Windsurfing, boating, canoeing: Charles
River or Cape Cod.
Bird watching: Plenty of wildlife refuges
on Cape Cod.
Beach life: Cape Cod again for good
Boston State House
Museums: The city is home to a mass of high quality museums. Among these four of the best are the Museum of Fine Arts, Children's Museum, the New England Aquarium (kids love it) and the Harvard Art Museum.
world class performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston
Popular Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Boston Ballet and Opera.
Boston Public Garden in winter
Rule #1, Don't Drive! Or if you have wheels leave them at a suburban subway station and let the train take the strain. Driving in Boston is a nightmare of one-way streets, poor directions, missing street signs, dense traffic, crazed drivers and expensive parking.
On the other hand the city's public transit system is efficient, convenient and not expensive - especially if you take the time to acquire the free, smart 'CharlieCard'. Visit MBTA for more information on rail, bus, subway and boat services.
MBTA runs a useful water shuttle boat for tourists from Long Wharf to Navy Yard, i.e. from the USS Constitution Museum to
Faneuil Hall Marketplace area.
Central Boston is a moderately cycle-friendly city with few dedicated bike lanes or parking racks but generally flat surfaces and limited size. Bikes can be carried on MBTA buses that have bike racks, on any boats/ferries and on some subway lines outside the rush hours. The Minuteman Bikeway is a famous 11 mile path enjoyed by bikes, inline skaters and walkers, following a Revolutionary War route; it's accessible from Red Line subway stations of Davis and Alewife.
Taxis are expensive, particularly at night
(subways don't run 1-5 am).
Walking is the most favoured system in Boston with its compact centre
and car-free zones.
Festivals and Events
Chinese New Year, Chinatown.
March, St Patrick's Day
April (third Monday), Boston Marathon, the oldest in America, started in 1897.
4th July, week-long Harborfest, Boston's Independence Day celebrations, including the Chowderfest.
October, Head of the Charles Regatta, rowing festival along the Charles river.
The Old State House, photo Daniel Schwen
New England specialty is seafood with dairy products a close second, so expect plenty of creamy sauces.
Massachusetts is famed for its clams and haddock (cod too but sadly that tasty fish has been practically wiped out by over-fishing). Popular meat-oriented dishes in the Boston area include potatoes, pies, baked beans, roast beef sandwiches and bulkie rolls (like a burger but bigger with a crispy exterior).
international fare is as expected from a top American city - especially Italian in North End, Chinese and other Asian foods in Chinatown.
As for drinking Beacon Hill's Bull & Finch Pub inspired the TV sitcom 'Cheers'
and makes for an interesting if pricey watering hole, although Faneuil Hall hosts a replica Cheers.
Cape Cod: a
stunning 60 mile peninsula, 2/3 hours south of Boston, with beaches,
nature reserves and historic towns, particularly Falmouth and Provincetown.
The latter is also a thriving arts and gay centre. Reachable by
ferry direct from Boston or a 3 hour drive.
Pilgrim fathers decided to stay here in 1620; see a replica of the
Mayflower ship and a 17thC style plantation.
Salem: traditional houses and spooky
17th Century witch-trial exhibits. A must for horror fans; 20 miles
View Larger Map
Boston Map | USA Map
England Travel Guide | Boston Map | USA