After having lived in Boston for the six years prior to my move over to Europe, this period gave me adequate time to really explore the city, both from the points of view of a tourist and a resident.
And I fell in love with it.
In fact, not just according to my own biased opinions, but Boston is actually rated as one of the top cities in the US to live in, being placed on a number of "top US cities to live" lists throughout the internet. According to Bloomberg Business.com, Boston is #4 in the country, for best cities to live.
Boston is FULL of charm, history, architectural beauty with a European twist, delicious food, peaceful and sunlit parks, cobbled streets and gas-lit streetlamps, an inviting harbor, museums of all kinds, numerous unique neighborhoods (Back Bay, Cambridge, Somerville, the North End, the South End, etc) all with loads of outstanding activities.
Therefore, I decided to make a big list of what are, in my opinion, the greatest of the great Boston experiences. Or more aptly titled, the most Bombastic Boston Experiences.
Without further ado...
1. Attending a Red Sox game in Fenway park. Even if you aren't a big sports fan nor a baseball fan, this is still a must. One isn't really going so much for the game (though if you are a fan, that is of course part of it). One largely goes for the atmosphere. The glow of the field under the lights on a rapidly cooling summer night, the cheering crowds, the charged atmosphere, the music and fun, the horribly unhealthy food and deliciously cold beers, the excitement and thrill of cheering with friends. This is a great Boston activity and a must-do at least once.
2. Dinner in the North End. The North End, otherwise known as "Little Italy" in Boston actually does have an atmosphere that makes one feel as though they have stumbled into a magical Italian city within Europe. Also, some of the top food in Boston is tucked into this neighborhood. I especially recommend Terramia for dinner.
3. Duck Tours!!! This is totally touristy, a bit cheesy and a tad cliche, but its something one should do just once when in Boston, even as a resident. Some of the history you learn about the city on this tour is surprisingly fascinating and fun. And the ride through the harbor offers ample opportunity for awesome panoramic photos of the skyline.
4. Wandering Beacon Hill JUST after dark. "Just" is the key word though, because if its too dark then the atmosphere is swallowed up by the shadows, unable to be seen. But in daylight, the atmosphere just isn't as good. However, right after the sun has set, the gas-lit streetlamps have been switched on, the red-bricked penthouse apartment buildings look oh-so new England, charming and picture perfect, the cobblestoned streets feel European and totally romantic. There is an air of mystery in the air. Undoubtedly, my dream neighborhood.
5. Dancing and bowling at Jillian's/Tequilla Rain. Jillian's is a huge, multi-floor complex where one can go play glow-bowling during a fun weekend night on the town. This club is HUGE, the music is great, there is loads of room, as well as pool tables spread throughout the club and a BIG dance-floor on the bottom level. This is a great place to go out with friends and get a little rowdy in the city on a Saturday night ;-p
6. Comedy shows at Remingtons Bar. This is LOTS of fun! Every week there are a number of stand-up comedy shows that take place here. Drinks and appetizers are relatively low priced, making for a fun, laughter-filled evening with friends.
7. Burgers!!!!!! Some of the best burgers I have ever eaten in my life were consumed right here in Boston!!! And that is saying something ;-) there is some weight to that statement, because I have sampled many burgers within numerous cities throughout my life.
Boston Burger Co, 5 Napkin Burger and Mr. Bartleys Burger Cottage are among some of the best I have ever eaten in my life, all right here in Boston. Boo yeah!!!
8. Newburyport, Massachusetts, or Nahant Beach. Both of these are within 45 minutes from Boston and are wonderful places! Nahant is a HUGE stretch of beach, which makes for a perfect beach day (or evening) being just a hop, skip and a jump away from the city. And Newburyport is a cozy, sweet little beach town with a number of delicious little seaside restaurants, shops and beaches dotting along the stretch of this town as well. In recent years, I really enjoyed celebrating my birthday in Newburyport with my family :-D
(I took this snippet from a real estate website online, regarding Newburyport, MA: Newburyport, Massachusetts is a charming seaport city at the mouth of the Merrimack River, in the northeast corner of the state. The smallest city in Massachusetts, Newburyport is rich in history and brimming with arts, culture and recreation. People come to Newburyport for first-rate dining, great downtown shopping, and festivals of all types, as well as lovely parks, beaches, conservation land, and boating)
9. The Boston Aquarium is always a great activity for either a cold or rainy day. Putting aside my mixed opinions about the ethics of both zoos and aquariums, the most enticing exhibit here is by far the penguins! These little guys are such fun to watch. One could wile away quite a bit of time observing them. There is also a gigantic cylindrical tank that stretches from the floor all the way up, through numerous levels, to the top of the aquarium. This is filled with fish of all sizes, including sharks. Way cool.
|Top of the Hub
10. Drinks at Top of the Hub for unquestionable the best views in all of Boston (though do not waste your time with food here, its forgettable and not great). As well as at Towne Bar, which is a trendy, sultry, inviting bar situated in Back Bay. Though Towne is pricey, the appetizers here are excellent and the atmosphere is fantastic.
11. Beer Tasting at Boston Breweries. To name a few, Boston Beer Works (where one can find Blueberry beer and even a Watermelon beer!!), as well as Christopher's in Somerville which has excellent homemade brews.
12. Going Whale Watching in Boston Harbor. This is a really neat activity for a weekend afternoon during the summer time.
13. Bar-hopping on Boylston street. This is known as one of the more happening streets, with a stellar party atmosphere and great bars. I have done this a number of times with friends, and it never failed to be a blast of a night.
14. Delicious seafood can be found easily throughout Boston (which makes perfect sense as its on the ocean ;-)). I especially recommend the Barking Crab which is possibly my favorite (though Legal Seafoods is also great). The Barking Crab is situated on an actual barge, in the middle of the harbor! The ceiling is strung up with white lights, lending a whimsical and fun seaside atmosphere. The place is always filled with people. And the crab cake sandwiches are amaaaaazing.
15. Walking the Freedom Trail!! Though I am embarrassed to say I never did this (it is one of the very few things on this list I have not done), I have heard its a must do. Especially for history buffs. I believe the walk takes around 2.5 hours.
16. Spending time in Somerville. This is a great area on the outskirts of Boston. This is actually nearly where I lived during the six years I was living in Boston. In Somerville, one can find numerous delicious food options. My highest recommendations would go to: J.P. Licks for ice cream, Rudy's for fantastic Mexican food, Nicks pizza-some of the best pizzas I ever had in Boston, and finally the Danish Pastry Shop- possibly the best pastry shop in Boston. I worked here for a short while, but I loved it even before then. The bakery produces a number of authentic Danish pastries, as well as incredible cakes and other sweets.
17. Stroll for a couple of hours, window shopping and people watching, down Newbury Street. This is one of the most famous streets in all of Boston. The shops are unique, trendy, inviting and a number of them are much too expensive. The area definitely holds a European charm to it. A handful of the restaurants on this street are among some of the best in Boston.
18. Cupcakes from either Crumb Bakery or Georgetown Cupcakes. YUM!!!
19. Aerial Yoga!!! I did this with a few different girlfriends, as well as my sister once. This is incredibly cool!!!! One feels as though they are a sexy performer in Cirque du Soleil. Such a blast!!!
20. Wandering around the red-bricked, New England charm of Harvard Square. I especially love this square during the Autumn. The look of the square just reminds me of fall anyway. This area is bustling with smartly dressed intellectuals, trendy hipsters, Harvard students and a mixture of everyone else ;-) I would highly recommend Crema cafe for lingering over a sandwich, a sweet and a book (or with a friend for great conversation), the Harvard Coop bookstore (I spent a number of hours in here, browsing for books, studying with a friend for upcoming Nutrition tests in school, and reading on my own), and finally, Mr. Bartleys Burgers!!!!
21. Read or picnic outside in the sun soaked, serene fields of either the Boston Commons or the Boston Gardens. Both of these areas are really lovely and peaceful.
22. Attend a concert or sporting event in the TD Banknorth Gardens! This is great fun! And the location is super convenient, right next to the subway.
23. The Museum of Science is always a fun and educational way to spend a cold or rainy afternoon. The museum is huge. One could easily spend a few hours exploring the different offerings. And there is a way cool I-MAX theater that shows a number of different films on any given day.
24. Shopping in Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market. This little market also holds a very European charm to it. The pathways are cobbled. The shops here are much more affordable than on Newbury street. And there are a number of delicious restaurants within the market to stop for ones lunch break at.
25. Six Flags and Canobie Lake Park!!! Two wonderful amusement parks within pretty easy driving distance from Boston (though I actually prefer Canobie Lake Park. Despite the rides there being a little less exciting, the park itself is much prettier and more inviting to spend the day at).
26. Just an hour away by car or so...is New Hampshire!! (PS. this is where I am from!!!! Born and raised). People drive from all over the country during the autumn season to see the leaves changing color here in New Hampshire. The stunning White Mountains are also housed in this state, numerous beautiful lakes found abundant throughout New Hampshire, many options for places to go skiing, plenty of top-notch beaches, tons and tons of forest to go hiking and walking, etc. New Hampshire is a stunningly scenic place to live. There are also a number of charming and happening towns throughout the state to visit, live and explore!
27. Watching the 4th of July fireworks RIGHT by the Charles River in Boston. (No, not from your apartment balcony out in Cambridge ha-ha. This does not count. Just once, you MUST make the trek into the city and sit literally next to the river to see them). This is truly INCREDIBLE and absolutely worth it. My Mom and I did this together right before I left to move over here to Europe. Hands down, best firework show I have ever seen in my life. Best view. And best atmosphere.
Does anyone else have some favorite Boston activity which they would contribute to the list??