To see Boston in a day or even a long weekend is a tough task. However, it can be done. Having just completed a weekend in Beantown, I have a series of tips for those of you wanting to see Boston and the surrounding area called See Beantown Like Nobody’s Business.
As the picture above shows, there is a red line that winds through the streets of Boston. It is called the Freedom Trail. It starts in the Boston Commons and weaves a 2.5 mile path throughout the city to allow tourists to easily navigate past famous burial sites, churches, marketplaces, and memorials. Although the Freedom Trail takes you on the beaten path, let me suggest spending a little extra time exploring a little off the path with Ms Traveling Pants’ recommendations.
Start at the Commons and walk to the State House. Famous for its golden dome, the State House is one of Beacon Hill’s most famous attractions seen in many movies such as The Departed (one of my favorites). Walk down the trail to the Park Street Church on the corner of Tremont and Park, within steps of the church you will see the Granary Burying Ground. This is probably America’s equivalent of Westminster Abby with such historic heros as John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Sam Adams laid to rest there.
Continue on the Freedom trail and make your way past the site of the Boston Massacre and to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. Take at least an hour to visit the various artists that range from jugglers and singers to ethnic bands, mimes, and people of stilts. This area is an absolute people watcher heaven. If you want to do some shopping or grab a bite to eat, there are many options. Although the original Cheers in located near the Commons, there is a second location at Faneuil Hall to grab a quick beer. Please support the local Sam Adams brewery and try either their standard or seasonal brews. However, if you are in the mood for fresh shucked oysters or a taste of New England Clam Chowda, you must pay homage to the oldest restaurant in Boston, the Union Oyster House which is just steps from Quincy Market.
In front of the Union Oyster House, I would recommend a brief stop to visit the Holocaust memorial. The memorial consists of six pillars of beautiful etched glass with quotations of survivors of the sad events. Each of the pillars represents one of the six death camps from WWII.
From the memorial, continue on the red line to the North End, which is Boston’s Little Italy. Step off of the path to check out the aromas of freshly baked breads, bistros and markets with prosciutto, cured olives, and parmesan reggiano. If you chose to skip the Union Oyster House, I would recommend Rabia’s Ristorante on Salem St. They offer a nice selection of anitpasto such as baked figs stuffed with prosciutto drizzled with gorgonzola sauce to traditional bruschetta and more.
If you are looking for not a meal, but a pick me up. You must venture down Hanover Street (pictured above) to Mike’s pastry. You will see that it is famous for its canolis, but don’t be afraid of their lobster tails, tiramisu, or even the detailed marzapan. And no one does coffee better than Mike’s. The coffee is to die for. My suggestion is a cappuccino with a pastry to share.
After your refueling, one of the most remembered historical sites is Boston’s oldest church, the Old North Church. My history teachers would be pleased that I still remember that this was the site where two lanterns were placed in the steeple to alert the Patriots that the British were coming. Along this same theme and still in the North End is Paul Revere’s home.
And that is where I would call it a day! One great thing about doing a walking tour is that you can do it at your pace, but you also need to remember that what you walk, you must also return. There is no need to feel guilty about the creamy clam chowda or the extra canoli after a day of over 5 miles of walking the Freedom Trail.
I will be posting another part in this series regarding the Commons, Newbury Street, and Cambridge.