What are the five best things to see and do in Boston?

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Boston may be a small city, but it is filled with endless sites and activities. Whether you’re here to taken in historical sights or feast your way through the wide variety of cuisines and restaurants you’ll find here, the list of things to see and do in Boston is long. Here are five of our favorites:  

1. Take a stroll. Boston is one of America’s most walkable cities (and you might miss something if you’re traveling by car) so ditch your wheels and hit the pavement. Begin with a cruise down Newbury Street for some of the best shopping around. The shops closest to the Public Garden tend toward luxury fashion and jewelry (think Chanel and Cartier), while those at the Massachusetts Avenue are decidedly more entry level (including independent music store Newbury Comics and Urban Outfitters). In between is a mix of mass market fashion (Banana Republic, True Religion, American Apparel) and independent boutiques.  

2. The Esplanade. One of Boston’s most delightful sights is actually free. The Esplanade is a swath of green space that skirts the Charles River for miles offering jogging paths, ball fields and picnic spots.  

3. The Freedom Trail. Boston’s famed features 16 official sites spread along a 2.5-mile trail marked by red bricks embedded in the sidewalks. If you stick to the trail, this attraction is also free (though entering some of the historic buildings will cost you a buck or two).  

4. Fenway Park. This legendary spot is more than a baseball stadium, it’s a temple to America’s favorite game. Even if you’re in town when the Red Sox are off-season, you can take a tour of this grand old ballpark, built in 1912 and lovingly restored. (Though you’ll have to wait until the Boys of Summer are in residence to sample a famous Fenway Frank.)

5. Faneuil Hall Marketplace. One of the city’s top draws, Faneuil Hall is filled with restaurants, shops and kiosks (if you’re looking to pick up a souvenir, this is the place to go). But this historic site is more than just a place to buy a keychain: The hall is remembered as the site of town meetings that produced the policy of "no taxation without representation."

  • On June 28, 2013
    Kaitlin Madden answered the question: Kaitlin Madden

    What are the most romantic restaurants in Boston?

    For the most romantic restaurants in Boston, just head to the North End. The historic streets of the city's "Little Italy" are packed with intimate, low-lit, cozy restaurants that offer some of the best Italian food anywhere.

    A few to try: L’Osteria, Mamma Maria, Trattoria Di Monica and Pomodoro.

    Finish off the evening with a stroll to a nearby cafe or bakery (wherever you dine in the North End, you won't be far from a strong espresso or a crispy cannoli). Though places like Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry are some of the neighborhood’s most famous, they’re often crowded and loud. For a romantic evening, try a smaller shop like Caffe Vittoria or Bread + Butter.
  • On June 27, 2013
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the best restaurants for a business lunch in Boston?

    Power lunches are making a comeback, especially in Boston. As start-ups continue to open their doors and more businesses make their way to the Bay State, business lunches are more and more popular. If you're in town for business and need a place to take a client - or just want a nice place to regroup with your team - check out a few of the best restaurants in town for a power-hour:

    The Bristol Lounge at Four Seasons Hotel, Boston, is a staple for business lunches. On any given weekday you'll find a table full of suits sharing the latest happenings in the boardroom, or a networking group planning the next big event in the city. The lunch team here has an hour down to a science, so don't worry about missing your after-lunch meeting. Just let them know when you need to be on your way and they'll make sure it happens.

    Visit Mooo at XV Beacon during lunch and you'll find plenty of State House staffers running through the latest bill on the floor, or talking about the next big campaign push. Mooo's lunch menu is simplified, ensuring plenty of time for good food and conversation.

    If you're entertaining clients from out of the town, take them to the Old Union Oyster House in Faneuil Hall. This Boston staple has been around for generations and is consistently praised for its clam chowder and traditional New England setting. 
  • On June 27, 2013
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the best events this weekend in Boston?

    Summer is one of the best times to visit Boston. If you happen to here over July 4th holiday, you'll be in for a real treat.

    The July 4 celebrations start July 3 with a dry-run of the events at the Esplanade. Anyone is welcome to join the fun. Head over to the Esplanade starting around 5pm and cop a squat anywhere on the lawn. You'll get the hear the Boston Pops warm up, all the entertainment perform, and even a few special readings that will happen for the 4th celebrations. Keep in mind that this is a dress rehearsal, though, so there will be a lot of interruptions and repeats, to ensure timing of the show. You can bring a picnic basket and enjoy a nice dinner while you're watching the events unfold.

    On July 4, the lawn is open on a first-come, first-served basis. The line starts early so if you want front row seats for the nighttime event, you'll need to get here early (6am is the start-time for line-up). Gates open at 9am and the rush for the Oval seating starts. The Oval is usually full by 2pm, and everyone who’s admitted into the Oval receives a wristband allowing access in and out of the area throughout the day. If you don't make it in time to reserve a square of space in the Oval, there's plenty of open park space left to enjoy. No matter where you sit, you'll be able to see the fireworks and hear the concert, but if you want to see the musicians and entertainment, you'll want to get here early for Oval seating. 

    If you're planning to bring food to the Esplanade, there are a few new rules you need to follow: No backpacks or coolers on wheels are allowed. Anything perishable will need to be carried on a shouder strap or single handle bag (like a beach bag). You will find some cash concession stands, which will certainly help out if you don't want to lug a day's worth of water with you.  All liquids must be carried in sealed clear plastic containers not to exceed 2 liters in size. Paper plates, plastic ware is OK, but silverware is not permitted. It's a good idea to also bring a small trash bag so that you can clean up around you during the day. 

    As for the main event: The Boston Pops Fourth of July concert begins at 7:30pm, and the fireworks kick off at 9:30pm. 
  • On June 27, 2013
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are quirky local customs in Boston?

    Every city has its own special way of doing things, and Boston is no different. When you're here, there's a few things to be sure you're in-the-know on, so you don't get caught off guard:

    If you hear quacking, it's OK to quack back. The quacking isn't just from the ducks swimming in Frog Pond, but it's from the Duck Tours that parade around Boston every day. Each Duck Tour rider gets their own "quacker", so they can quack at people during their ride. It's part of the fun, so just quack back - everyone else does!

    If you're planning to take in a game at Fenway Park while you're visiting Boston, be sure to loosen up your vocal chords ahead of time. Aside from screaming for the Red Sox, you'll join the masses in the seventh-inning stretch song: "Sweet Caroline." The Neil Diamond favorite has been a staple at Fenway for generations, so make sure to sing along!

  • On June 26, 2013
    Kaitlin Madden answered the question: Kaitlin Madden

    What are the best day trips near Boston?

    Without a doubt, one of the greatest things about Boston is its proximity to so many other great places. Within a few hours' drive of the city you can find gorgeous beaches, world-class ski resorts, dozens of historic landmarks and postcard-worthy towns. Here are a few day trips to consider:

    -Plymouth Rock. One of Massachusetts' most-popular tourist destinations is a must-see for any history buff. Plus, the Mayflower happened to land in a pretty idyllic spot. Plymouth, Massachusetts, about an hour south of Boston, is a beautiful coastal town full of restaurants, shops and beaches.

    -Salem. Another historically and culturally significant town just north of Boston, home to The House of Seven Gables, The Peabody Essex Museum, and all sorts of attractions related to the infamous Salem witch trials that happened there in 1600s.

    -Portsmouth. Just an hour north of Boston is the seacoast city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Take a walking tour, or spend the day exploring the quaint shops, inventive  restaurants and antiques stores and art galleries that line the streets.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Kaitlin Madden answered the question: Kaitlin Madden

    What are the best coffee shops in Boston?

    Though you can throw a rock and hit a Starbucks from most spots in the city, Boston is also home to plenty of unique, independent coffee shops that are guaranteed to serve up a delicious brew. A few to try:

    -Boston Common Coffee Company has three locations in the city, in the North End, Downtown Crossing and the Financial District. All offer locally roasted coffee, items from their in-house bakery (which sometimes include vegan doughnuts), lots of seating and the hallmark of any good coffee shop: free wifi.

    -Blue State Coffee, on Commonwealth Avenue, is as virtuous as coffee gets: It's small batch, fairly traded, organic, and transported in the most sustainable ways possible. It's also really, really good.

    -If you're looking for a strong espresso or a frothy cappuccino, the North End is chock-full of small Italian bakeries and cafes that make great ones...and offer any number of pastries to dip in it.
  • On June 25, 2013
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the best family hotels in Boston?

    Boston is one of the best family-friendly cities in the U.S. From Faneuil Hall to Fenway Park, there's something for every age group in Boston! The biggest question is where to stay with your brood when you're in Boston.

    Four Seasons Hotel Boston: The Five-Star hotel is located right at the corner of Boston Common and Boston Public Garden, making it an ideal location for just about anything you want to do while you're in the city. The hotel also has a kids concierge, kids check-in deck, and special amenities for kids, like child-sized robe and slippers, books and games. When you check in with your kids, the Four Seasons Hotel Boston will be sure to have an amenity pack waiting, filled with everything your little one could want (think: maps, postcards, coloring books, coupons and more). There's even a kit just for teens, filled with shopping credits, restaurant deals and more. For a fun-for-all experience, ask for the Ice Cream Man to make an appearance at your guest room. Complete with a loaded ice cream cart, everyone in the family can make sundaes and enjoy some sweets any time of the day.

    Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston: The grande dame hotel located in Copley Square offers special in-room amenities for kids, including discounts at nearby stores and restaurants. The hotel is also pet-friendly, so if your little can't bear to be apart from their furry friends, you can bring everyone on vacation!

    Boston Harbor Hotel: Located on Boston Harbor, the Boston Harbor Hotel is a bonafide playground for kids. There's complimentary board games (including Chutes and Ladders, Checkers/Chess, Uno and Scrabble), activity books and puzzles. If you want to chill out in yoru room, the hotel will offer a complimentary in-room movie for one night of your stay. The movie comes with your kids’ choice of hot cocoa, milk or Shirley Temples, as well as cookies and sweets.
  • On June 23, 2013
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    Where is the best architecture in Boston?

    If old, ornate architecture is what you seek, head over to Beacon Hill and begin your exploration of some of the best - and oldest - architecture in Boston. The buildings in Beacon Hill date back centuries, and many still have obvious reminders of times long ago.

    For example, on some of the Beacon Hill brownstones, you'll notice steel rods on the steps. These square-shaped rods were used to kick the mud off boots after a horsemen arrived home. Next to them you'll also see hooks for horses, where they could feed and drink water while waiting for their next ride, back in the day.

    Look up at the windows along Beacon Street, overlooking the park. Did you notice the purple glass on the windows? This purple tint was caused years ago by the sun's angle on the glass. 
  • On June 23, 2013
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What’s new in Boston?

    Boston is equal parts traditional and cutting-edge. Thanks to touring companies, celebrity chefs, new exhibits and a booming theater district, it's easy to find new things in familiar places in Boston.  No matter what time you visit Boston, you're sure to find something new that's happening around town. Here's a few things to look for:

    Mandarin Oriental, Boston launched their pop-up eatery, which changes every three months. Currently, the luxury hotel is hosting a cake pop-up. They previously hosting a Pho pop-up, featuring the famous soup. The pop-ups are located in the lobby of the hotel daily from 11:30am to 1:30pm  

    The Four Seasons Hotel Boston is also launching a pop-up shop, Four Seasons Scoops. Starting July 3 and running through September, stop in for ice cream on a hot day.

    In Copley Square, you'll find the Boston Marathon Memorial. This make-shift memorial is set up to honor the victims of the April 15, 2013 bombings. Stop by and pay your respects, then walk up Bolyston Street two blocks and stand on the Boston Marathon Finish Line.

    The Rose Kennedy Greenway continues to evolve and add more enchanting elements each season. Take a stroll through the Greenway and you'll find food trucks, Farmer's Markets, a carousel, art shows and more.
  • On June 23, 2013
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the best Italian restaurants in Boston?

    If fresh pasta, sweet and spicy marina sauce, and fluffy potato gnocchi is what you crave, Boston has your answer: the North End. 

    Boston's North End, also known as Little Italy, is where you'll find some of the city's best Italian restaurants. Come here for everything from a simple spaghetti dinner to a fine dining Meditteranean dinner. Check out Dolce Vita for the best chicken parmesean, Pellino's for the freshest cheese ravioli, and Prezza for a stellar wine list. Antico Forno has great brick-oven based pasta, and Pizzeria Regina is widely known for the best pie in the city.

    While you're in the neighborhood, indulge your sweet tooth at one of the many cafes and pastry shops. Modern Pastry is a favorite for canollis, while Mike's Pastry is where you'll find rows of cookies and cakes. Be aware: the lines at both these pastry shops are always long, but it's worth the wait!

    Grotto in Beacon Hill is a little known gem, and where you'll find favorites like smoked meatballs, caprese salads and a full Italian wine list. 

    Rialto in Cambridge is where Chef Jody Adams, known for her handmade pastas, stirs up seasonal menus with vairous pasta, meat and seafood dishes. 
     
  • On June 23, 2013
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the best yoga studios in Boston?

    Yoga isn't just a form of exercise, it's a way of life. Whether you're into vinyasa or Baptiste, hot or meditative, there's plenty of places to get your zen-on in Boston.

    Exhale is part spa, part fitness center. You can take yoga or Core Fusion classes here, then enjoy a massage or facial - a perfect way to spend an afternoon or start your morning in Boston. Exhale has locations in Back Bay, directly around the corner from the Four Seasons Hotel Boston, and on Battery Wharf, adjacent to the Fairmont Battery Wharf. Classes can be booked online and paid for individually.

    Each neighborhood has a yoga studio to call their own. North End Yoga, Back Bay Yoga and South End Yoga offer classes daily, and walk-ins are accepted. 

    It's a good idea to call ahead or book a class online, especially if you plan to practice over the weekend or after work. These prime times are when classes fill up fast, and most are first-come, first-served.
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