By Helen Racanelli and Mick Timony
Traveling to Boston for a vacation, either for business or with the kids? From Montreal it’s about a six hour drive, from Toronto, about 9 hours. Here are some ideas of what to do, where to go, and where to stay in Boston.
1. Boston’s museums are top-notch
What’s a vacation without a little culture-vulture action? Boston’s museums are among the finest in the United States. If you can only check out two, try the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), and the Children’s Museum. Here’s how to get there: From South Station, where Amtrak has a big station, and the Red Line on the T (Boston’s subway) has a stop, you can walk about two blocks to the Children’s Museum where you can also have an ice cream cone.
From there, the adults can go to the ICA (Institute for Contemporary Art), which just moved to a really cool building that overlooks the waterfront. Depending on their age, kids might enjoy it too.
2. Boston’s neighbourhoods are colourful
Boston is an excellent walking city, with many of its ethnic neighbourhoods intact. Bring your walking shoes! Boston has a small but active Chinatown, which is near Boston Theater district. On a side note, oftentimes the Theater District, which is a short walk from Boston Common, (the oldest park in the United States), will have plays before they get to Broadway, but usually it gets them after Broadway. There is an Italian neighbourhood, the North End, which has many Italian cafes and restaurants, and the beautiful Old North Church.
3. It’s easy to get around
You can walk, or “T” (short for MBTA: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) to almost all the things you’ll want to see. Taxis are expensive in Boston. For the MBTA, ask the attendant for a “Charlie Card”, fares are cheaper with this credit-card-like T pass, versus the paper “Charlie Ticket”. Alternatively, ask about tourist passes if you’re in town more than a day or two.
4. There’s more to Boston than Fenway Park
There’s lots to explore whether or not you’re a Red Sox fan. (Though if you are a baseball fan, could anything beat seeing a game at Fenway Park?) Love the bustle of a food market? Sample gourmet fast food at Quincy Market, a can’t-miss indoor market in the city centre. It’s touristy, but not tacky. Into shopping? Check out the one-off boutiques on Newbury Street. Near Newbury street is Boylston street, that’s where the shopping really heats up with shops we don’t have in Canada, such as Anthropologie, Crate Barrel, and Filene’s Basement to name but a few.
5. Harvard is nearby
If you’ve always secretly harboured Ivy League dreams for yourself or your kids, you’re probably aware that Cambridge, Massachusetts is where the famed Harvard campus resides. It’s very near Boston: you can get to Cambridge by the T (subway) with no extra toll, and it takes only about a half-hour to get there. Stroll around the historic campus, take in the beautiful buildings, and enjoy the town where you’ll find lots of pubs, a smattering of shopping (and another Crate & Barrel) and cheap student-thronged restaurants.
6. There are lots of free events in Boston
Similar to Toronto’s Shakespeare in the Park, is Boston’s Shakespeare on the Common, during the summertime, in Boston Common. The MIT Museusm is free the 3rd Sunday of every month. The Harvard Museum of Natural History is free on Sunday Mornings to Massachusetts residents (so don’t look like a tourist, hint, hint). The Freedom Trail is also free: it takes you around all the major tourist and historical sights in Boston.
7. Hotels range from affordable to fancy
Whatever your price range, you’re likely to find something suitable in a good neighbourhood of Boston. For a special trip, like an anniversary or perhaps a honeymoon, Boston’s Kimpton Hotels, The Nine Zero and the Onyx are both the epitome of chic, friendly, comfy boutique hotels with a splash of luxury.
The new Westin at the waterfront can have some amazing deals on rooms when there are no conventions on at the neighbouring convention centre. For those with kiddies in tow or on a tighter budget, La Capella Suites are family friendly with washer/dryers, fridges, microwaves and a self-serve breakfast included in the rate.
All of the photographs shown here (and not in the original article) were taken by myself.