40 Hours in Boston 

What to see and do

click to enlarge Sail boats catch the breeze on the Charles River against the Back Bay skyline. - PHOTO BY KYLE KLEIN
  • Photo by Kyle Klein
  • Sail boats catch the breeze on the Charles River against the Back Bay skyline.

Forty hours before boarding a ship in Gloucester, Mass. for a New England cruse, my husband and I flew into Boston's Logan airport. Travellers visiting Boston pre-cruise, post-cruise or for only a day can select from a plethora of fun attractions. Boston is a very walkable city. Its narrow streets, historic buildings and downtown waterfront are worth exploring.

Like other savvy visitors, we chose a hop-on/hop-off tour with Old Town Trolley, a fully narrated experience with 18 popular stops encompassing much of this compact historic city. Trolley drivers are well versed in local history and folklore. Stops include the Freedom Trail, Fenway Park (home of the beloved Red Sox), Boston Garden, New England Aquarium, Seaport, Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Cheers plus North and South Stations. (www.trolleytours.com.)

Like history? Walk your way through time on the four-kilometre Freedom Trail. Along the way visit some of 16 colonial and revolutionary landmarks including the Old State House, Paul Revere's House, plus the Old North Church where in 1775 two lanterns were hung to warn colonists of arriving British troops.

Faneuil Hall, considered the cradle of liberty for the U.S., was gifted to the city in 1742 by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil specifically for use as a free public meeting hall and gathering place. Spirited conversations were held here in colonial times. Today a National Park Service visitor centre is the starting point for ranger-led tours of the Freedom Trail and Black Heritage Trail.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace includes Faneuil Hall plus North and South Markets (for brand-name shopping) and Quincy Market, a 19th century complex with 125 restaurants, stores and retail pushcarts. (Trolley stop 1.)

The complex is surrounded with brick and cobblestone alleys and sidewalks. Hint: wear sturdy walking shoes—in some places red brick and cobblestone pavers are uneven. Some older buildings may lack elevators or have steep stairs without railings.

Quincy Hall is home to the famous food colonnade with 30 tempting options from around the globe. In this huge food court, we found the best ever New England clam chowder and other delectable sea food. We ate at communal wood tables in the casual central dining area. Outdoor seating also is available with entertainment from street performers ranging from musicians to jugglers and magicians.

Boston uniquely blends colonial history with cutting-edge innovation. Near centuries-old buildings, visitors may find hip restaurants with trendy menus and stunning glass-enclosed galleries.

click to enlarge Paul Revere statue. In the background--the Old North Church where two lanterns hung in 1775. - PHOTO BY KYLE KLEIN
  • Photo by Kyle Klein
  • Paul Revere statue. In the background--the Old North Church where two lanterns hung in 1775.

A must see is picturesque Boston Garden, where large leafy trees, flowering shrubs and gorgeous flower beds provide an idyllic setting for stress reduction and strolling. The lagoon with seasonal swan pedal boats and resident ducks is a favorite for all ages. (Trolley stop 13.)

For a visual overview of the city, visit Skywalk Observatory on the 50th floor of the Prudential Building. On a clear sunny day the 360-degree view of the city that extends out to sea is remarkable. Even on a rainy day you can see Boston's many green spaces and how it differs from other U.S. cities. The well-organized structure of the city with hundreds of red brick buildings resembles older European cities. Audio guide units suggest what to look for. Admission includes films on how immigration influenced Boston's development and interesting artifacts displays. (www.skywalkboston.com.) (Trolley stop 9. )

Boston offers a bevy of land, water and sports tours such as Fenway Park, home of the beloved Red Sox, World Series champs in four of the last 15 years. Water options include harbour and whale watching tours.

The fastest growing Boston neighbourhood, Seaport District offers a vibrant mix of hotels, dining venues, museums and parks, as well as stunning harbour views. (Trolley stop 18.)

Because Boston is home to more than 50 colleges and universities, as well as numerous theaters and galleries, visitors will find a vibrant performing arts and culture scene. Bean Town also is blessed with four professional sports teams.

click to enlarge Rainy day view of Boston's popular Fenway Park shot from Skywalk on the 50th floor of the Prudential Center. - PHOTO BY PAT WOODS PHOTO
  • Photo by Pat Woods photo
  • Rainy day view of Boston's popular Fenway Park shot from Skywalk on the 50th floor of the Prudential Center.

An old adage says eat where the locals do. A Boston friend highly recommended Nebo, a trendy Italian restaurant at 520 Atlantic Avenue in the Financial District. A favourite after-work hangout for business clientele, Nebo is owned by two Italian sisters. They raise the bar on quality food and stellar customer service.

We enjoyed every delicious bite of the signature zucchini lasagna. Graziella, our attentive server, recommended octopus appetizers, which were succulent and exceptional. Nebo also is known for delicious pizza and lovely outdoor seating. (www.neborestaurant.com)

My happiest Boston memory is the wonderful friendly locals who assisted with directions in and around the city. They also helped with directions and luggage on the subway and on the commuter train from North Station to Gloucester ($5.25 per person for a 77-kilometre ride!), where we boarded the small ship Victory II for a New England cruise. Other cruise guests had similar experiences with helpful Bostonians. They make Boston strong!

Get more Boston information from www.bostonusa.com.

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