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This friendly but quirky New England town packs a lot into a fairly small space, which results in notoriously treacherous driving. Be sure to cross the river to sample the riches of Cambridge. Cambridge is home to Harvard and swan boats that charm all those who ride in the Public Garden. Delight in walking, shopping and eating at wonderful restaurants in the North End’s Italian neighborhood and Chinatown. History, art, theater and music; it is all here in abundance. Take the quaint "Green Line" to the MFA, take in a ballgame at Fenway, or people watch on the fashionable and funky Newbury Street and make fun the local accent.
(The New) Institute of Contemporary Art
955 Boylston Street
The new Institute for Contemporary Art is a waterfront structure that looks as though it is levitating above the water. The inaugural exhibition, Super Vision, hosts 27 visually stunning artists’ works.
The Freedom Trail
15 State Street (National Park Service Visitor’s Center)
Follow a self-guided tour or take a two to three-hour free Park Service tour, which includes 16 historic sites. The tour even visits Paul Revere’s House, the Bunker Hill Monument, the Old North Church and the Charlestown navy yard, home to the USS Constitution “Old Ironsides,” launched in 1797 and now the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Just follow the red painted sidewalks to cover 250 years of American history.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
280 The Fenway
Originally a private residence, this is a unique museum experience spanning thirty centuries. Three floors of cloister-like galleries filled with paintings, sculpture, tapestries, furniture and decorative arts surround a garden courtyard blooming with life in all seasons. Isabella Stewart Gardner first welcomed visitors to her museum on New Year's Day, 1903 and the museum has remained essentially unchanged since her death in 1924.
New England Aquarium
One of the country’s most exciting aquariums displays some of the largest mammals in the world. A high-speed catamaran whisks patrons safely to Stellwagen Bank, a busy feeding area for whales, dolphins, sea birds and other marine life just 30 miles east of Boston. Naturalists answer questions and explain how they collect information on whales. Best of all, whale sightings are guaranteed. In the rare event no whales show up, they will offer a complimentary ticket to another whale watch.
Museum of Fine Art
465 Huntington Avenue
The "MFA" has a collection of over 400,000 works of art ranging from early European to modern contemporary and includes fashion, textile and even musical instruments. It is a bit surprising that it is often overlooked as it is one of the finest museums in America.
3 Winter Place
The oldest and most romantic restaurant in town as well as New England is under the rule of Chef Lydia Shire. It received rave reviews as far back as 1883 and its history goes back even earlier. Now since Shire took over we are happy to report the food is a lot better. The beautiful setting includes hand-carved mahogany paneling, decorated ceilings, chandeliers and silver serving pieces. Its bill of fare combines the most popular American regional dishes and ingredients with French cooking methods, while also incorporating French classics.
1704 Washington Street
Forget the reservations at this packed tapas bar in the South End; but it’s worth the wait, thanks to Ken Oringer, the mind behind Clio, a Boston sashimi spot. The tapas offerings change frequently, and have included beef tongue with lentils, marinated oysters, and a potato omelet.
223 Columbus Avenue
Pure Boston flavor in the way reservations are handled and service is reserved, but you'd swear this black-clad crowd oozes the slightest touch of New York jet-set. This acclaimed French restaurant showcases chef/owner Jamie Mammano’s uncomplicated French Mediterranean cuisine, highlighted with the season’s finest ingredients. The restaurant’s décor, with French pottery, high ceilings and arched floor-to-ceiling windows, evokes a feeling of warmth and sophistication.
645 Massachusetts Avenue
Serious music collectors should not miss this place, which has been selling records since 1948. They do have CD’s; but they also have more than 100,000 vinyl LPs and just as many 45’s, with more in storage. Many, both new and used, are highly collectible. Allen Day, Cheapo’s owner since the late 1970s, says, “If...you collect New Orleans, Cajun, zydeco, country, blues, this, that, we probably have as good a selection as you’ll ever see.”
234 Berkeley Street
Louis Boston has been the epitome of good dressing in Boston for men and women for long enough to make his name reach far beyond the Northeast. With a Paul Smith sort of attitude to formal dressing, even Indie music diehard types might find a shirt or two.
Twentieth Century Limited
73 Charles Street
This shop is a stylist’s dream. Every corner is filled with lucite purses, vintage Kenneth Jay Lane, bakelite bangles, 1950s craft bags, rhinestone brooches, you name it. Don’t miss the discount bins where all the fabulous designer costume jewelry that didn't sell goes for cheap, cheap, cheap. There are bags here that are sure to be unique.
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The Best of Boston by Bike
They provide the bike, helmet and best routes, whether you’re interested in seeing the town or photographing it. They have a couples’ tour that includes a tasty picnic and beverages. Or you tell them what you want and they’ll put together a custom route for you.
An excellent resource for all things Boston. News, events, weather, and travel tips. This is one of the best regional websites in the country. Just ask the thousands of college students in the city who swear by it.
1667 Massachusetts Avenue
This is an all-ages club, so expect to deal with college students. But the jazz is great. They have all kinds of odd music, including random rock and bizarre bluegrass musicians.
64 Arlington Street
Park Plaza Hotel
This is yet another notch in Rande Gerber's belt. With an ultra-chic chocolate brown interior by of-the-moment designer Michael Czysz (who also did Lenny Kravitz' crazy pad in Miami), there is really no other place in Beantown for cocktails like this. It's about time Boston copped some attitude.
145 Ipswich St.
This enormous bar, located right along "the Mass Pike" in downtown Boston, is just plain fun. It's a classy twist on a pool hall on steroids. The club offers three floors of entertainment, with a dance club in the basement. There are seemingly hundreds of top quality pool tables, nice leather lounges and chairs, and even a bowling alley on the top floor if you want to revisit your college days.