Pahty time in Boston: 10 awesome things to see


Goooood clam chowder, and "Love means never having to say you're sorry."

These two things pretty much summed up everything I knew about Boston before I visited the city recently. The first thing is self-explanatory. I had thought the clam chowder would be good; in fact, it's extraordinary in Boston. The second thing is the tagline from the classic movie Love Story, starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw and their tearjerker of a story set at Harvard College.

But as I learned quickly, Boston is a great tourist town for a lot of reasons. There are SO MANY things to do, a lot of it free or very low-cost to see. The city is also incredibly walkable, and the T subway system -- the oldest in North America -- is intuitive, efficient and cheap.

The GBCVB is a great site to start planning your trip, but if you're looking for a quick Top 10 here, in no particular order, are mine.


1. Faneuil Hall Marketplace: You'll easily spend the better part of a day here exploring Faneuil Hall and the three adjacent buildings that make up the marketplace. Faneuil Hall is where civic leaders first met to discuss independence from Great Britain so it's drenched in history. The other three buildings have lots of shopping (chains and independent stores) and restaurants (all price points).
Tip: Don't broadcast your touristy-ness: It's pronounced Fan-yul, like Daniel.


2. Old State House: I love this building so much. Built in 1713, the Old State House is the oldest surviving public building in Boston, and the site where the seeds of the American Revolution were sown. The Declaration of Independence was first read to the public from this building! Now surrounded by skyscrapers, the building is part museum and also the entryway to a T subway station. It is also the site of the Boston Massacre and there is a memorial in the front marking that tragedy.
Factoid: Five colonists died in the Massacre but the population of Boston was only 20,000 at the time. Proportionally speaking, five deaths would be like hundreds today.


3. Boston Common: Founded in 1634, this is the oldest public park in North America. It's massive and you should take the time to stroll through it properly.


4. Harvard University: It's super easy to get to Harvard on the T, and their free student-led tours are informative and interesting. The name-checking is awfully fun, as of course anyone who's anyone went to school here. ("When Bill Gates attended, he stayed in that residence; of course, he dropped out after his first year to found Microsoft." "When Matt Damon attended ..." "When Nelson Mandela gave the commencement speech ...")


5. Sports, sports, sports: Bostonians love their sports! See a Celtics game, a Bruins game or a Patriots game. TD Garden is a wonderful venue, and the T takes you there in 15 minutes from downtown. You can actually enter TD Garden right from the subway.


6. Freedom Trail: There are a lot of Freedom Trail tours in Boston. The one that we took was led by a direct descendant of a man who fought in the American Revolution and I highly recommend it for the knowledge that's shared as well as the entertaining nature of the tour. The tour comprises a 4-km walk that stops at 16 locations that are an integral part of the history of Boston and of the United States. You'll see Paul Revere's grave, hear about how Americans camped on what is now Boston Common as they rose against the British, the Boston Massacre, and so much more.  



7. Paul Revere House: It's small but well worth seeing. Paul Revere was the third or fourth owner of the home, and a lot of people lived here in very cramped quarters. There is a guide in each room who is able to answer questions about Revere's life and times. From here, walk on to visit the North End, the city's oldest residential area, and savour a delicious Italian meal.


8. Boston Public Library: Book nerds will love this, but it's worth seeing even if you're not one, just for the fabulous Reading Room.


9. The food! Clam chowder, lobster rolls and Boston cream pie in the city that invented it! Here are my top five restaurants in Boston.


10. Cheers bars: There are actually two Cheers bars in Boston. If you only have time for one, visit the replica bar at Fanueil Hall Marketplace because the fake re-creation is actually more complete than the real bar. Don't forget to have your photo taken with the giant cardboard cutouts of Cheers characters like Norm and Woody. There's a great gift shop, too; I loved the T-shirts that say: "I don't even know my name."

MORE:
Where should I eat in Boston? Chowder, lobster rolls and more: My favourite Boston restaurants.
Where should I stay in Boston? Check out Marriott's Moxy Boston Downtown.



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