Pros: Lots to do, historical, pretty, decent subway
Cons: climate, roads
The Bottom Line: Beantown!
Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, is the biggest city in New England. While it isn't as huge and exciting as New York, there are many fun things to do in Boston to keep you busy.
One great tourist attraction and a good place to start is the Duck Tours. You ride around the city on amphibious vehicles that were built for World War II. (Don't worry: they are pretty comfortable.) An entertaining guide points out Boston landmarks and tells interesting anecdotes. I have lived in the Boston area all my life, but learned new facts from the Duck Tours. Unlike the Old Town Trolleys, which are dry and factual, the Duck Tours are very kid-friendly, complete with souvenir stickers. Children especially like the part of the tour when the "Duck" goes into the Charles River. Usually the driver will let kids steer the boat for a while. Pick up the Duck Tours at the Prudential Center, an upscale mall. Cons: It is slightly pricey (over $20) and can be crowded, so you might have to wait around to get a ticket.
For a place to watch the rich and flamboyant walk by, head to Newbury Street (on the Green Line-- Copley Stop) where the ritzy shops and restaurants are. Also, check out the North End (the Italian section of Boston) for great authentic restaurants, shops, and people.
Near Newbury Street, just past Kenmore Square, is the famous Fenway Park where the Boston Red Sox have played since 1912. This charming ballpark is the oldest and smallest in the major leagues and features the Green Monster, a 37 foot tall wall in left field. Even if you have tickets to a game, definitely take a tour. They start from Gate D weekdays on the hour from 10-1 on game days and on the hour from 10 til 2. The price is very reasonable at $10 for adults. You get to see the press level, luxury seating, and (as long as it is not raining) you get to walk around the field on the warning track and sit in the dugout. (OK, I am kind of biased because I used to be a tourguide at Fenway, but believe me, it is a really fun experience. Don't forget the camera and a glove to pose with!)
On a rainy day, check out the Science Museum. Boston has one of the country's best science museums, featuring the Omni Theater which shows IMAX movies in a dome. (Warning: this is not for those of you who suffer from motion sickness.) There is also a planetarium and plenty of educational and fun exhibits.
The Swan Boats in the beautiful Public Gardens are a fantastic bargain and fun for adults and children alike. It only costs about $1.50 for a slow, leisurely, ride around the pond. Also in the Public Garden, you'll find the adorable Make Way For Ducklings statues.
For a taste of old New England towns head out to Lexington and Concord. If you are interested in the Revolutionary War, there are plenty of historical sites-- taverns, the minuteman statue, old North Bridge, etc. But even the non-historically inclined will appreciate the attractive centers of these two towns.
In terms of drinking, Boston is still rather Puritanical, but you can get free beer at the Sam Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain, a funky/ethnic/gay-friendly area. The Harpoon Brewery in South Boston also provides free tastings, but it's a bit of a trek to get there.
Boston has a plethora of Irish bars. There are several near historic Fanueil Hall, but those are real tourist traps, and you might have to pay $6 for a Sam Adams. One I recommend is The Burren in Davis Square. It's about a fifteen minute ride on the Red Line from Park Street.
For those of you who like scantily clad women, Boston features a Coyote Ugly right nextdoor to a Hooters near The Fleet Center and the Financial District.
The State House (Park Street "T") is a beautiful building and is open to the public, so it's definitely worth visiting. Beware that the inside is like a laborinth. I always get lost in there. While in that area, check out Finagle a Bagel for their "Bagel Buzz Saw." My brother wasn't exaggerating when he said it's one of the coolest things ever.
A short walk from Park Street is Downtown Crossing, which is a mecca for discount shopping. There's the DSW Shoe Warehouse, the biggest shoe store I've ever seen, H&M, Marshall's, TJ Maxx, and the original Filene's Basement. Just south of Downtown Crossing is Chinatown, where one can enjoy a fine meal and take a bus to New York for only $10. The former Combat Zone, it's best to avoid Chinatown at night if you are alone.
You can take a lovely walk along the Charles River and watch the boaters, but be careful of bikers and roller bladers. Along the river (The Esplanade), there are sometimes free concerts including the famous Boston Pops 4th of July extravaganza. Another great place for a stroll is the posh Beacon Hill neighborhood with gorgeous brownstones.
The North End will make you feel like your in Italy if you don't listen to the accents and ignore the disaster zone (The Big Dig construction project) just outside it. There are many wonderful Italian restaurants and cafes. Mike's Pastry is famous for its canolis. If you are lucky enough to be in town during one of the North End feasts that honors a saint, definitely check it out, as it's a colorful scene.
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