May 26, 2015
It’s not hard to take pretty photos in Boston. So much of this historically and culturally-rich city, the capital of the state of Massachusetts, is ridiculously photogenic, thanks in part to the 19th-century architecture that coexist with the modern skyscrapers. Boston is known for its abundance of universities, including the world-renowned Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But there’s a lot more to the city than the pursuit of higher learning – there’s plenty to take in and learn about, since so many parts of the city are so rich with American history. It’s very much a modern tourist-friendly city as well, with an abundance of shopping and eating to do. Visit in spring when the cherry blossoms and dogwoods are in full bloom, and it’s warm enough to have clam chowder and a lobster roll outdoors.
Here are the 10 items you need to check off your Boston itinerary:
1. People-watch in Copley Square
Grab a coffee and sit by the fountains, and take in the buzz of activity and the surrounding 19th-century architecture in the form of the Old South Church and Trinity Church, that stand in stark contrast to the modern John Hancock Tower (also the tallest building in Boston and the New England region).
2. Go window-shopping along Newbury Street
Newbury Street is Boston’s version of Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive or New York’s Fifth Avenue, lined with shops of both the mass-market and independent varieties. They’re all nestled on the ground floors of the pretty brownstone houses that line the entire street. There’s also plenty to eat – we recommend Trident Booksellers & Cafe at 338 Newbury St, for a cosy space to enjoy a solid eggs benedict and a cup of coffee. There’s an adjoining bookstore, so take some time to wander through the shelves after your meal.
3. Take a ride on the Swan Boats in the Boston Public Garden
Sure, it might be touristy, but the scenery in this iconic historical park is pretty enough to make the US$3.50 fee to ride this boat very much worth it. Even the Swan Boats themselves are historic, having been in operation since 1877.
4. Spend an afternoon eating at Quincy Market
This has been termed “one of the best food courts in the world”, and we wholeheartedly agree. Two rows of food stalls fill the entire length of the Quincy Market, built in 1824, and you’ll be so overwhelmed by the inviting displays of all kinds of cuisines. Since you’re in Boston, go for the city’s trademark lobster rolls and “chowdah” (“chowder” said with a Boston accent), then finish off with a huge cup of decadent ice cream from Sprinkles Ice Cream.
5. Shop at Faneuil Hall
Once you’ve filled your stomach at Quincy Market, just head to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace right outside. There is plenty of good shopping to be done there, including at Abercrombie & Fitch and Urban Outfitters. If you’re still hungry, there are several restaurants to check out as well.
6. Snap away on the streets of Beacon Hill
There’s not much to do here since it’s a mostly residential neighbourhood, but Beacon Hill is known for its characteristic red brick houses and gas-lit street lamps that have been there almost as long as the city of Boston has existed, which will all make for very pretty photos indeed.
7. Go on the Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail is basically a 4km walking tour through Boston’s most historically significant sites, such as the Massachusetts State House. Maybe an activity more for the history buffs, but since Boston has so much rich history in its buildings and streets, the Trail is worth a go for an afternoon of increasing your understanding of American history and politics. Just follow the painted red lines or red bricks in the sidewalk.
8. Join the Hahvahd Tour
You’ll probably be visiting Harvard University, located across the Charles River from Boston in the neighbouring city of Cambridge. The Hahvahd (“Harvard” with a Boston accent) Tour is a student-led tour of this world-famous university’s iconic landmarks, such as the John Harvard statue. It’s a fun tour because the student guides are always animated, and keen to mix in historical trivia with student life anecdotes.
9. Take a walk along the Charles River
From Harvard, walk over to the Charles River for a picturesque view of Boston city. You might just catch rowers practicing as well.
10. Go grocery shopping at Whole Foods
We know this organic supermarket chain isn’t a Boston specialty, but we can’t get enough of the selection of goods they offer. Like we never knew that we needed flavoured coconut water, but when we saw it, we couldn’t believe we’ve lived so long without it. We also love that there’s a hot food and salad bar as well as coffee and a dining area at every Whole Foods store, making it a convenient place to have an actually-decent quick meal.