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jlm11f's avatar

What are places I should visit and restaurants I must eat at when in Boston, MA?

Asked by jlm11f (12378points) January 11th, 2010

I will be there late next month but need to start planning things early. So Bostonites, both ex and current, give me all the advice you’ve got!

Some things I like – I’m a big foodie, and I do like most touristy attractions and shopping is good too. Anything unique to the city is a must of course.

The only problem is that I am there for work, so I don’t have much free time to devote – about one day really, so I need to prioritize. Luckily, I am a super efficient traveler.

Thanks =)

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18 Answers

eponymoushipster's avatar

you must go to Faneuil Hall. Historic stuff. Lots of great food and shopping there.
Try The Purple Shamrock. They’ll give you a Guiness at 8am with your irish breakfast.

Also go to Newbury Street. It’s like the 5th avenue of boston.
Tour a brewery or six.
Try coffee jello.

jlm11f's avatar

Boo on me for just searching the topic right now. If you’ve already answered this or this question, I’ll see your answer there. Mmm I think I shall flag this for removal.

Jeruba's avatar

How long will you be there (in terms of days, not free time)? And where will you be staying? I think much could be added that is not in those earlier threads.

Waltham is not Boston.

buckyboy28's avatar

If you want to hop on the T, Grendel’s Den, is an awesome hole-in-the-wall joint in Harvard Square in Cambridge.

Jeruba's avatar

Hey, that’s no hole in the wall. You want a worthy and venerable hole in the wall, try Charlie’s Kitchen.

But Harvard Square should definitely be on your Points of Interest list, @PnL. The Charles River isn’t very wide, and that plus an entire worldview are all that separate Boston from Cambridge. As a former Cantabrigian myself, I would be remiss not to recommend it.

The reason I asked how many days you’d be there and where you are staying is that with things so close together, you could do a lot in a few evenings and save your one free day for the things you really want to do in daylight.

MissAusten's avatar

I’m partial to the food in the North End. The absolute best meal out I’ve ever had was in a tiny Italian place up there. We purposely picked a restaurant that wasn’t big, crowded, and touristy. This place had maybe 8 tables, didn’t look particularly special, but was cozy and clean. And the food…just the best, freshest antipasto and most delicious entrees.

Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant. I think it might have been Pomodoro, but I’m not sure. :( I know it was close to Mike’s, the coffee and pastry place, which you should certainly visit for dessert.

I second Faneuil Hall!

susanc's avatar

You must eat at Durgin Park, a very old classic restaurant somewhere near the docks if I remember right (last time I was there was 1994, first time around 1960! and it was really old then). You sit at long checkered-tablecloth tables with everyone else and eat superb, unfancy food in mammoth proportions.
Warm, noisy, crowded, riotously cheerful – up a flight of steps in a very old building. It’s quintessential! You have to go!

marinelife's avatar

I second Newbury Street for shopping.

The Old North Church is interesting historically. There is also the monument at Bunker Hill. You can also walk The Freedom Trail, which has a bunch of revolutionary war sites.

I also second Faneuil Hall. While there, you may want to eat at Todd English’s restaurant King Fish Hall, which is a great seafood place.

Another good seafood restaurant although it is a chain is Legal Seafood, which has the famous Boston Bluefish.

You should definitely spend time in Cambridge, around harvard Square, where there is good Indian food! (actually, lots of great restaurants and pubs in Harvard Square.)

If you like museums, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the quirky Gardiner Museum are both worth seeing.

If you weren’t going in the dead of winter, I would say don’t miss the Public Gardens.

jlm11f's avatar

Thanks guys! I still have to check out the links many of you posted (I will do so after my exam that is this Friday). I’ll be staying in Park Plaza Hotel and I’ll be free for 2 nights and then one day. So I’m there for essentially Friday night, Saturday and then Sunday during the day. I’ll be busy with work all day Saturday but the night, after 10 pm, I should be free.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

If you’re into sushi and Japanese food, I must insist you go to Fugakyu! They are the best Japanese restaurant I’ve ever been to. I make a bit of a pilgrimage there every year, but only once because it is rather pricey. Still, the food, service and atmosphere of the place make it completely worth it.

ETpro's avatar

Eat at historic Faneuil Hall one lunch. There are tons of choices. We’re not taling 5-strar here but all are FAR better than the typical mall food court, and the abbience is what makes it so much fine.

If you are here for a weekend, drop by The Haymarket, a wild-and-woolly open-air market held not far from Faneuil Hall on Fridays and Saturdays only. You may not want to buy anything but it’s just great fun to watch the street vendors and the crowd. And fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish are available in aild profusion at prices so low you won’t believe your eyes.

The New England Aquarium is a fun visit and particularly so if it’s iMax theater happens to have something good showing. Look carefully at the chambered Nautiluses. I might be there. Drop in from time to time.

There are tons of small museums, but two notable ones are the Museum of Fine Art and The Museum of Science. Pick what interests you.

To while away the days, catch a lunch on any of the trendy spots on Newbury Street in the Back Bay section. For fabulous Italian there are a legion of great spots on Hanover and Salem street in my own stopming grounds, Boston’s North End. Shopping is great on Boylston and Downtown along Washington St. The Prudential Center anchors the many fine spots along Boylston.

Enjoy your visit.

susanc's avatar

I forgot one! Go to Mission Church, in Roxbury Crossing. It’s where Ted Kennedy used to pray when he knew he was dying, and where they had his funeral. It’s an old miracle church, where the Virgen would take away people’s disabilities if they asked her to – festoons of old crutches in there, crutches people didn’t need any more. This was my neighborhood long ago. I worked in the Mission Hill Bakery across the street. See if it’s still there.

jlm11f's avatar

I realized I never told you guys what I ended up doing. First and foremost, thank you so much for all your responses :). As you know, I was in a bit of a time pickle, but I think my group did an excellent job if I do say so myself.

We saw Harvard and the area around it. Faneil Hall itself was underwhelming. The Charles River area around it is nice though. And the tourist shopping at Quincy place (right behind Faneuil) was pretty cool. There’s also a self cleaning rotating bathroom which isn’t really a tourist attraction but is rather fun haha. A group of us got inside (for 25c) and it was funny.

As for the all important food: we of course went to Mike’s place for dessert. I’m not usually a cannoli fan but oh my! Their cannoli’s are simply amazing. We bought an array of desserts and ate them over the night while walking around. Before dessert at Mike’s, we dined at North End with it’s excellent Italian food. It’s a lovely street with a quaint, homely feeling with casually arranged lights around the road and TONS of people. The atmosphere there is truly unbelievable.

We did go to Newbury street but we walked down there during the night so the shops were closed. If you like Middle Eastern food, I strongly recommend trying Jaffa’s Cafe in that area of downtown. We spent quite a few hours there our first night and the food was amazing. Oh and dessert at Finale (it was on the corner of our hotel) was excellent too.

I love museums but didn’t have the time, so I decided to spend my time walking all over town instead and I don’t regret that for a second :)

I loved Boston even though it is quite pricey (I spent 40$ for dinner the first night, that’s expensive for a grad student). My favorite part is that every single time we got off the T to a new station, that place looked completely different! Architecture and infrastructure-wise. It isn’t like most of our nation where all plazas look the same etc.

ETpro's avatar

@PnL Glad you enjoyed my home town. I live on a restaurant laden street in the North End.

MissAusten's avatar

@PnL Sounds like a great time! I never liked cannoli either, probably because growing up in Indiana the only connoli I ever had was at Olive Garden. Yuck! Once I had one from a real Italian bakery, I was hooked. Next time try the ricotta pie!

jlm11f's avatar

I think I understand why everyone recommends Faneuil Hall. I was taking it too literal, but I bet most of you mean the area in general. Because the hall itself has some exorbitant tourist shops, and some history plates. But right behind it is Quincy place which has a lot more shopping, and also has the numerous types of food present. Now that I reread some of your answers, I think you meant the area in general (since @ETpro mentioned the food in Faneuil, when there wasn’t any food there, it was in Quincy).

@ETpro – How lucky to live in North End!! You must have quite the dining experiences.

@MissAusten Ah yes, I definitely know what you mean. All this discussing of desserts is making me crave some Mike’s Place cannolis now. Maybe @ETpro can send us some? :)

ETpro's avatar

@PnL & @MissAusten Let me see if I can work this transporter to zap a few cannolis your way. Happy 4th!

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