It’s funny how one of America’s oldest cities has the power to attract one of America’s youngest crowds. But that’s Boston for you.
Located on the convergence of a multitude of rivers (the Charles, Mystic, and Bass Rivers included) and inlets on Massachusetts’s northeast coast, Boston is the crown jewel of the Boswash corridor. It’s a city with an undoubtedly rich past but an even richer present- an amalgamation of British, Irish, and Italian influences forged with fiery American sentiment.
It’s the forty-something colleges and universities that cause Boston’s median age to drop 10 years every September and rise 10 years every May (a fact I learned, interestingly enough, on one of my six college tours last week); their students are really the city’s lifeblood. They’re the ones who stick around after graduation to watch underground improv, work in hipster hat stores, and splurge on heavenly 28-dollar lobster rolls.
You could stick to the obvious attractions: the Freedom Trail, a Duck Tour, a harbor cruise; that’s all well and good and historical, but do you really think that many Bostonians have done that stuff? Try the city’s more local spots, like Boston Common (Boston’s charming, much less daunting version of Central Park), Newbury Street (for glitzy, not kitschy, window shopping), or Seaport (a newly revitalized pocket of startups and high rises).
Don’t have a plan, and surprises will be around every corner. Like catching some last-minute $9 rush tickets to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra play Shostakovich and Beethoven. Or indulging in a bellhop-recommended, bank-breaking lobster roll at Row 34, Seaport’s hip raw bar (at which we had to put our name on a list just to get a table at the bar). There’s the Eddy Baker Library, home to one of the most accurate representations of our Earth: the Mapparium. Walking into this 3-story handcrafted globe, I was probably gushing a little more than I should have been (what can I say? I’m a total geography nerd). And almost every night, Bostonians crowd into an underground black box theater for the funniest show in Boston: the Improv Asylum’s mainstage production, a combination of sketch and improv comedy. It’s an escape from the bustling Italian joints of the slightly touristy North End, and from the particularly bitter winter (which was nearing its end at my visit).
Like in D.C., little jewels of history pop up every now and then in Boston, like the Old North Church (tucked between a cemetery and a laundromat in the North End) or the grave of Samuel Adams (of which I caught sight out of the corner of my eye while walking among sleek buildings downtown). Or one of the umpteen statues of Founding Fathers and other early American statesmen that dot the city.
Boston is truly a city of the past, enriched by denizens of the present. But let’s hope the future doesn’t decide to take the T’s infamous Green Line to get here.
If You Go…
- Stay at the Marriott Residence Inn Seaport for a distinctly urban experience
- Buy an unlimited “T” pass (Boston’s Metro) for the duration of your visit–Boston is definitely a city with accessible public transportation
- Take a walk along Newbury Street for some great window shopping
- Order Ethel’s Creamy Lobster Roll at Row 34 (get there before the dinner rush to avoid waiting)
- Visit the neighborhoods near Boston’s many colleges–you’ll find lots of interesting people, food, and things to do