So you are thinking about visiting Boston? Good for you. Most people overlook this historical city for its ritzy, over-priced neighbor to the South. I am looking at you, New York. But for those of you who are interested in US history and not so interested in paying $20 dollars for a cocktail, Boston is an excellent option. The city is filled with amazing restaurants, plenty of attractions to keep you busy, and super friendly locals. I had the pleasure of spending four days here, and if I could have, I would have extended it to a week or longer. I immediately fell in love with the red brick buildings, cobble stone streets, open air market and of course the Bahston accent.
However, not all that glitters is gold. Whenever I visit a new city, I make a point to find something that I dislike about it. Everyone wants to share the good stuff, but nobody wants to share the not so good parts of their travel stories. As someone who has had Boston on their must visit list for FAR too long, it was pretty difficult for me to find something about this city that I didn’t love. If I had to choose one thing, it would be that the main attractions of the city are spread out so far that it was hard to explore without a car.
I didn’t rent a car during my stay, mostly because I planned on doing a fair bit of drinking and knew that driving wouldn’t be a viable option for me. Thus, I ended up spending close to $100 on Uber’s during my 4 day stay. So my suggestion to you is to rent a car, limit your alcohol intake and spend the days cruising through some of the oldest streets in the country.
Eat Italian in the North End
So you are on a search for the best bruschetta this side of Tuscany? Wander through the North End of Boston and you are likely to find more than a handful of contenders. When I was in the city, the best Italian food I had was from a restaurant called Panza. It was a little place with maybe 10 tables. The Italian staff know exactly what you are looking for and are totally willing to suggest their favorite dishes on the menu. I ordered the bruschetta, obviously, as well as the baked ziti with meatballs. Though my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach (the portions are huge), I left completely content and full to the brim. I went for lunch, so I didn’t have to wait for a table, but their Yelp reviews suggest that it is fairly tough to get a seat here for dinner. They do take reservations though, so hit up OpenTable before you go, just to be on the safe side.
Eat a Canoli at Mike’s Pastry
Mike’s is a Boston institution and has been open on Hanover St. since 1946. Though locals will probably suggest a couple of other pastry shops that are a little less tourist centered, the experience at Mike’s is one for the books. You can spot the shop from down the block by the crowd of people gathering outside. We arrived at about 9PM on a Saturday night and stood in line for close to 30 minutes before reaching the pastry case. They have close to 20 different types of canoli as well as tons of other options.
However, since this is the home of the canoli, there was nothing else we would have ordered. The sweet flaky dough combined with the light, rich cream filling was like nothing I have ever tasted before (I haven’t been to Italy yet, so I can’t compare, but MAN was it good). We ordered pistachio, espresso, and chocolate chip canolis and each one was special in its own way. For me, espresso was the winner. Don’t forget to bring cash, as this establishment is Cash Only.
Take the Harpoon Brewery Tour
Before arriving in Boston, I had never even heard of Harpoon Brewery. I had come to Boston with every intention of taking the Sam Adams Brewery tour, but my travel partner mentioned that Harpoon was supposed to be cool. Though it is a ways from the center of the city, it was definitely worth the price of the cab ride. The brewery is huge and the tour was really interesting. I learned from the tour that it is the oldest and largest continually operated brewery in Massachusetts, and that they don’t sell their beer on the West Coast, which was a bummer since I got very attached to their Hoppy Adventure Double IPA.
When you walk into the building you will face the German crafted beer hall where you can enjoy a cold one and a pretzel which transported me back to my days in Munich. The tour only costs $5 per person and on Sunday’s it runs every half hour. I believe it is every 15 minutes on Saturdays and once an hour during the week. After the main portion of the tour, you enter the Tasting Room, where the tour guides will pour you as many samples as you like over a period of 20 minutes or so. I think I tried all 10 beers that they had on tap in 20 minutes, so my cab ride back to the hotel was interesting to say the least. Maybe don’t drink the IPA flight in the 20 minutes before the tour, like I did.