by Kate Blake- admin, Travel Advisor WMPH Vacations
I have been calling Phoenix Arizona home since 2004 but I spent the ten years prior to that living outside of Boston and then about 4 years after leaving heading there regularly for work. Now I go for pleasure and to visit friends and family.
Whether you have ever been to Boston or not- there is always more to see and do every time you get to Boston. I am listing here a few of my favorite places to stay and eat as well as places to visit if you are in town for just a few days. There are so many reasons to visit Boston- business, vacation, you have a cruise beginning or ending in the city, someone is getting a medical consultation or treatment- or my favorite- you are checking out universities and colleges! No matter your reason for being in town- this is a quick list to get your Boston getaway going.
Where to stay
Stay in the city. Don’t stay in the suburbs if what you want is to see Boston and don’t stay at the airport as it is a pain in the rear getting in and out there.
Hotels that I like-
Boston Marriott Long Wharf
296 State Street, Boston
This is a great hotel right on the water front with easy access to the Italian district known as the North End. Great area for walking and seeing the town any time of year. Hop on hop off bus tours all go by here, there is easy access to downtown and great restaurants nearby.
The Colonnade Hotel
120 Huntington Ave, Boston
Elegant hotel near the convention center down the road from Harvard Medical School and the Longwood Medical and Academic Area in Boston. Good proximity to Fenway Park. This is in the Copley Place. Back Bay area.
Must do- go to the restaurant downstairs- Brasserie Jo. I will write more on that in a bit.
Sheraton Boston Hotel
39 Dalton Street, Boston
Just around the corner from The Colonnade. Stay here if you are working on getting points with Sheraton. Fantastic fluffy bedding, upper floors have nice views.
Where to eat
So many places are at your fingertips in Boston. Great dining options. I am going to list just a few of my favorites- new small local joints open all the time- I recommend you ask your concierge and explore!
I mentioned Brasserie Jo- this is a fantastic French bistro with great seafood as well as French specialties. I like the clams steamed in wine and when they have it- their lamb shank is amazing. This is great for a nice dinner either with friends and family or you can really make an impression if you are taking a client out. You will need reservations so plan ahead!
The Chart House Boston is next door to the Marriott- again this is a great seafood restaurant. Nice views and reservations are required.
Union Oyster House is the oldest restuarant in north America- fantastic traditional New England clam chowder and lobster are the specialties along with oysters. Again- reservations are suggested
A New England chain Legal as locals call it is hard to beat for a great bowl of chowder and whatever other delights the sea can offer. Less expensive than the choices above this is more casual and has a bar you can wait for a table. Great for business lunches. There are locations all over greater Boston including one on State St in Boston and another location across from MIT in Cambridge
If you are in the theater district catching a show- many broadway productions debut here or have top notch traveling productions that come to town- I recommend the chain Maggianos for a great pre or post show Italian feast.
If you are more adventurous- China Town in Boston offers tons of great little places for sushi, Chinese food, Chinese bakeries- you name it. Located near the Tufts University Medical School this is easy to get to and worth the trip.
There are a lot of ways to get around in Boston. One I do not recommend if you are planning to stay in town is renting a car. Boston drivers have their own way of doing things that is disconcerting to say the least if you are an outsider.
Taxis and Uber will get you to and from dinner reservations. The public transportation in the city is great. Buses, trains and trolleys are easy to navigate and reliable. You can use them to get all over the area including taking the Orange Line from North Station to Salem for a day of witchy sightseeing.
Amtrak runs from South Station with service to New York City and points south.
What to do
The USS Constitution is a must for history buffs- great for the kids and family. It is not wheelchair accessible but the museum at the Charlestown Navy Yard is
The Bunker Hill Monument is open year round and run by the National Parks System
Museum of African American History
Learn about the role of African Americans in the founding of our country and their fight for freedom. There are two campuses for the museum- one in Boston the other in Nantucket
Learn more about one of the most popular presidents in American history , his family, his work and the impact he continues to have on American lives and politics.
There are a number of fine art museums in Boston- be sure to check for current special exhibits before you go
Museum of Fine Arts Boston aka the MFA – if its raining- I recommend their restaurant for an elegant lunch. Easy access on the green line trolley
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Best known by many outside of Boston for a very famous theft some years ago- this is a local treasure. Many fine examples of contemporary art as well as more familiar masterpieces.
The Institute of Contemporary Art/ Boston
Hours Tues- Sunday, kids under 17 free
Gorgeous facility on the harbor
The Boston Children’s Museum
Full of interactive exhibits to fuel children’s imagination
Museum of Science
For all ages- check ahead for IMAX events and special exhibits
New England Aquarium
One of the best aquariums on the east coast- a must if you love penguins!
Grayline offers a wide variety of day tours including hop on hop off buses in the city and day long excursions all over the region. Perfect for spots outside of the MBTA trains routes.
Plymouth is a popular tour to see where the Pilgrims landed. I am a fan of heading to Salem and checking out the witchy history- there are nice tours if navigating public transportation is not your thing. The mansions of Newport are gorgeous when the weather is good- ditto for Cape Cod. Freedom trail tours through Cambridge, Lexington and Concord are interesting year round.
Duck Tours are very popular in the summer- I personally had a horrible experience with a duck tour in Grand Cayman and will not do this again – but if you are brave and can swim- you may want to try it out.
Boston is a big sports city.
You can catch a ballgame at Fenway Park and see the Red Sox play, you can watch the Boston Bruins play hockey or head to Foxboro and see The Patriots play or my favorite- catch an NBA game with the Celtics.
Other things to note- oh yeah- the state of Massachusetts just made marijuana legal though there is not anyplace you can buy it as of today when this is being published. If pot is not your thing- Sam Adams Brewery is a Boston favorite along with numerous craft beers that call this venerable city home.