And here’s why: the Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox for a start. There’s also history, hipness, convenience and great food. Need we go on? Oh, but we will… GrooveTravelers offers some quick tips to Boston.
Apart from practically giving birth to the US, Boston is famous for its sporting history. There are no better groups of sports teams on the planet right now. The Celtics are NBA champions while football’s New England Patriots played in a most recent Super Bowl and set a record for being undefeated during the regular season.
As for baseball’s Red Sox, the storied team recently broke their lengthy ‘curse’ by winning a couple world championships. There’s every indication they’ll continue that success this fall and into 2010, so be sure to catch one of the teams in action and experience the thrilling atmosphere generated by their amazingly passionate fans,
The Freedom Trail is one of the best ways to get a sense of the historical importance of the city. At one point marked down for a visit from the wrecking ball, the clearly marked two and a half mile stretch was created in 1958 after intense activism by concerned citizens who wanted to preserve the city’s vast history.
They don’t call this city the ‘birthplace of America" for nothing as it covers a group of fascinating churches, meeting halls, markets, monuments and cemeteries. Be sure to visit the Granary Cemetery where you will find the gravestones of historical figures like Paul Revere (who famously galloped on horseback to warn the residents of the oncoming British at the onset of the Revolutionary War in 1775), Samuel Adams and John Hancock (key signers of the Declaration of Independence).
Get on the city’s easy subway system and take a trip to Cambridge to see Harvard University, the oldest university in America, and one of the most respected and successful in the world. Steeped in history, the beautiful campus and various museums are a must-do. For that matter, walk around Cambridge, which offers plenty of fun boutique shops and great cheap eats. (www.harvard.edu)
In a centrally located part of the city, Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a restored historical venue that has now become the a haven for modern shops and bars frequented by students attracted by the nearly unheard of price of US$1.25 a drink. Get a sense of history and fun in one fell swoop. It’s located near the waterfront by the Government Centre.
Hop in a car and take a 40-minute trip to The Plymouth Plantation. When some of the country’s first settlers left Great Britain on the HMS Mayflower in 1620, they ended up at Plymouth Rock. This is a fully functional plantation, with museum exhibitions that have interactive stalls where actors speak and dress in the dialect of the times. Try putting them off their stride with a few witty remarks.
Newbury Street is jam-packed with trendy shops tastefully built into the ornate Victorian styled houses that dominate the neighborhood. Check out Johnny Cupcakes (www.johnnycupcakes.com), a homegrown designer boutique along with Emack & Bolio’s, (www.emackandbolios.com), the ice-cream parlor that has been there since the early 70’s and boasts a hundred different flavors, all made with natural ingredients, along with homemade sodas.
Newbury Comics’ original store is also there and with 27 outlets across the area, it is recognized as one of the country’s great record shops.
The Dropkick Murphys
Those rollicking, rowdy Celtic-punk sounds heard on The Departed soundtrack? They came courtesy of this veteran seven-member band, which blend Irish roots with the punk rhythms of The Clash to create a sound that sounds great even when it’s not St. Patrick’s Day. Check out their latest release The Meanest Of Times while gulping a pint of cold Guinness.
Boston is renowned for its seafood. With fishing ships loaded with lobsters and the like coming in every day, it doesn’t get any fresher. Jasper White’s Summer Shack has three locations with the main restaurant being in Cambridge. (www.summershackrestaurant.com).
With such variety, it’s easy to find quality places at more affordable prices too. The Grafton Street Bar & Grill in Cambridge takes its name from one of Dublin’s famed old streets and serves everything from pasta to Mexican to Greek. It’s a popular spot for Harvard students. (Grafton Street, 1230 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-497-0400).
The Hard Rock Cafe is packed with memorabilia from famed hometown bands like Aerosmith and, ahem, Boston, while tables are filled with energetic crowds lapping up the latest pop videos amidst their burgers and sundaes. (2224 Clinton Street, call (617) 424-7625)
Though originally from Italy, the Americans undoubtedly perfected the pizza and Cambridge 1, next to Fenway Park, specializes in them. With 13 different varieties, the crusts are divine and the toppings fresh and unique. It’s US$l3 for the no-frills choice up to US$24 for the Maine lobster topping. Fountain root beer is just a US$1.75 and specialty brews are only four bucks. (1381 Boylston Street, 617-437-1111)
Samuel Adams active brewery, the brainchild of Jim Koch, may only be 23 years old, but it has 21 distinct and seasonal varieties. The cozy in-house bar has served the likes of former US vice-president Al Gore and actors Kevin Costner and Matt Damon and features taps that offer unique flavors such as Cherry Wheat, Holiday Porter and Cream Stout. If you’re really flush, why not splash out for Samuel Adams Utopia, one of the world’s most expensive beers, which comes in a fetching copper kettle and is priced at US$l00-400 a pop. www.samueladams.com)
The Middle East is a restaurant, bar and one of the city’s great entertainment venues. Everyone from the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA to the rowdy sounds of Massachusetts rock act Dinosaur, Jr take to the stage here. Plus, they’ve got belly-dancing nights, film screenings and the food is good. Regularly voted one of the city’s best. (www.mideastclub.com)
The Longhorn Hotel offers the chance to experience another aspect of Boston’s endless history. Once a Federal Reserve Bank, this five-star palatial haunt oozes taste and class. With the extensive collection of historical maps adorning the walls and lavish interiors, it is one hotel you won’t regret shelling out for.
While there, be sure to check out Cafe Fleuri and its incredible Saturday Chocolate Bar Buffet. Chef Alejandro Luna holds court amongst 125 desserts that all bow in honor of the giant chocolate fountain that has diners regularly digging in for a sweet feast (250 Franklin Street, Boston, MA 02110, call (617) 451-1900).
Coming back to that sports theme, even if you don’t manage to catch a game, Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox is well worth a visit. Tours are just US$l0 to see one of the world’s most famous stadiums. It is a place steeped in deep baseball history. While the stadium is thoroughly modern, there are plenty of nods to history dating back to the 1934 season, with historic plaques, photos, restaurants and one of the largest sports souvenir stores you’ll ever lay eyes on. Whatever you do, don’t say you’re a Yankee fan. (Located on Yawkey Way Street, near Kenmore Square.)