New Zealand Herald, Travel

Boston: More than just a tea party

March 25, 2019

By: Julianne Gauron

Boston. Photo / GBCVB

Boston. Photo / GBCVB

Julianne Gauron has the lowdown on the old and new highlights of historic Bean Town.

Boston is one of the oldest cities in America, rich in colonial and maritime history, with architecture spanning many centuries. Less widely known are the modernization, growth, and food scene that have emerged in the past decade. In the summer, the city reverberates with festivals, live music, free outdoor activities, farmers' markets and endless ways to enjoy local culture. There has never been a better time to visit.

Because of its density of sites and experiences, Boston is great for walking — tackle it by section, bring comfortable footwear and use Uber and the subways to break up the journey. The Boston Harbor Walk is a recent addition that allows you to follow the water's edge from Charlestown, to Downtown, the Seaport to North End's Italian haunts. If you get ambitious you can walk south to the Fort at Castle Island in Southie and take a swim at Pleasure Bay, or M Street Beach, like the locals do.

Be sure to stop off for coffees or beers along the way.

Downtown
It's the smell of the apple-cider donuts that grab your attention when you walk into the Boston Public Market in downtown. This place is a recent addition to the city — what Faneuil Hall must once have been — showcasing the best artisanal foods of New England: honey, cheeses, beers, chocolates, fruit, fish, and those donuts. Show up hungry and plan to take gifts home with you. Vendors are knowledgeable and can give you a mini-culinary tour of New England, its farm and food culture. A new spin on old delights.

Another revamped experience in Boston is the beautiful Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park, a perfect summer activity. Ferries take you from the dock near New England Aquarium and the New England Greenway out to the various islands and forts. Although this has always been a part of the city, in the past decade the Parks have created engaging events for adults and children and better access. Today, you can rent a yurt on some of the islands and stay overnight (book well in advance for weekends, and check out REI Stores for gear rentals — rei.com).

The historic-registered high-end Ames Hotel, with its revamped interior is in the heart of the city. If you are aiming to really dig into the history and heritage of Boston (sans car) this is a great locale.

Courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Photo / GBCVB

Courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Photo / GBCVB

Seaport

The Boston Institute of Contemporary Art's Seaport building was one of the sparks in the recent redevelopment of the city. The site, once a wasteland of parking lots and dive bars, seemingly grew up overnight. Check out Lucky's which still remains. In 2018, the ICA Watershed opened in East Boston, which can be reached by a ferry ride across the harbour, included in your museum ticket. The trip is worth it for the views back across the Boston skyline alone. While in Eastie you can sneak into the Downeast Cidery and drink some of their free samples. And the Seaport ICA has wonderful live music events on their expansive deck on summer evenings.

If you are feeling hungry, you have great options. Flour is a famous bakery group founded by Joanne Chang, with pastries to die for. Drink is a high-end speakeasy where one-off beverages are created for the customer and of course there's Lucky's Lounge, the area's original dive bar.