A city crammed with history, sport and great food and less than seven hours away from London – Boston makes for a perfect weekend getaway. Due to its European influence Boston makes you feel at home straight away and we discovered a city full of charm that provides a very different experience to some of its east coast neighbours.
Boston is a great walking city and includes the Freedom Trail, a marked route that leads a tour of 16 historical sights and districts, which is a great place to start. Getting up early and grabbing breakfast in local favourite Flour Bakery before taking on the Freedom Trail is wonderful introduction to the variety on offer, from expansive city parks to the narrow historical streets around Little Italy. We particularly enjoyed following the route whilst taking regular coffee and shopping breaks along the way.
It’s worth stating now that we visited during February and whilst cold, both days we’re beautifully clear and sunny. After walking the majority of the Freedom Trail we meandered down to Newbury Street, for lunch at another local favourite, Thinking Cup. After a great lunch, we visited the Sam Adams brewery (1 hour tours, $2 charitable donation) for the highly educational and (most importantly) sample filled tour. Whilst the first part of the tour covered the usual tour format in how beer is brewed, we loved the taste room – where an informative and entertaining guide into the different types of beer brewed by this Boston institution and how to taste and identify the perfect pint.
After spending an hour strolling through Boston Common and taking in the charm of Beacon Hill, we headed for an early dinner at The Gallows, where the burgers and cocktails were well worth the trip. We then headed to TD Garden, home of the Boston Celtics, the winningest franchise in NBA history. Catching a basketball game is always a spectacle and none more so than in Boston, where the locals are known for the fanatic following of the Celtics and other sports teams – the NFL’s New England Patriots, the Red Sox in baseball and Boston Bruins of the NHL. We try and fit in a sports game to most trips to the US, it’s a great way to spend time like a local and see the true heart of a city.
Whilst food and sport may be popular, learning and education are what sets aside Boston from many other cities. Home to world renowned MIT and Harvard, the latter provides a perfect morning walk from downtown through Cambridge. Once we got there, and had stopped for the obligatory coffee at Thinking Cup along the way, we spent quite a bit of time wondering around campus, retracing steps from many films and TV shows which include Harvard as a backdrop. We loved this and it provided a peaceful getaway from the bustling downtown. Whilst on the Cambridge side of the Charles River we also visited the dock around the USS Constitution, which amongst other things provided some great photo opportunities out across the river.
We then headed for Newbury Street (don’t forget to pass by the Cheers bar on the way!) – a mile long street full of upscale restaurants and shops in the Back Bay district. This is a great place to get lost for a couple of hours, perusing the shops and grabbing something to eat. We had lunch in Stephanie’s on Newbury, a Boston eating institution which provides a sophisticated twist on American comfort food. The crab cake benedict and monte cristo sandwich were particular highlights! Don’t forget to book or there’s no chance of a table.
This was a short trip as we were heading up to Vermont to ski (post coming soon!) but we’d love to come back in Summer or Fall.
We stayed at the Intercontinental Boston – a 15 minute walk from Boston Common, but steps away from both the Boston Aquarium, Tea Party Museum and a MBTA subway station. Our room was huge and incredibly comfortable.
The practical stuff..
- Direct flights available from London (approximately 7 a day) – including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Delta and Norwegian (from Gatwick)
- Expect to pay upwards of £500 return from Heathrow in summer, fares as low as £350 available out of high season
- Norwegian offer fares as low as £250 from Gatwick
- Arrive into Logan Airport, which is only a 10/15 minute taxi ride into Downtown Boston (approximate fare – $25)
- Hotel rates when we visited in February were incredibly reasonable (we paid approx. £250 for 2 nights at the Intercontinental), however rates in the summer and particularly fall increase significantly.
- Food highlights
- Stephanie’s on Newbury (Newbury St) – in particular brunch
- Flour Bakery (multiple locations) – breakfast and baked goods
- Thinking Cup (Newbury St) –coffee, sandwiches and cakes
- The Gallows (Washington St, South End) –cocktails and burgers