Boston, off the beaten path

Jun 19th, 2007, 11:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 256
Boston, off the beaten path

Boston, off the beaten path

I am in Boston for the first time, looking for specific spots in and around the city. Please look over my list of places to visit, as well as my interest criteria. If you have an addition to make, I would appreciate reading it. Thx.

-landscape/architectural photography
-memorable scenary
-viewpoints, panoramas, sunsets
-the outdoors, hikes with a view,
-specialty/unique local cuisine
-unique, interesting experiences full of original character from the local area.

Public Garden
Sunset/night view of Boston skyline
Walk Boston neighbourhoods: --Beacon Hill/Charles Street, South End, Back Bay, North End/Hanover:
Harvard, Cambridge
Eat @ Durgin Park, Legal seafood, Union oyster


sandy456 is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 03:28 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,168
Okay. You tend to like the same things I do.

Your second list (beginning Public Garden) is actual places, all worth it. I would leave out Union Oyster House for an actual meal, though a dozen on the half shell in the front would not be amiss. People will tell you that Durgin Park is not worth it. It can be, depending on what you want. They actually have wonderful oysters, maybe the best in Boston, and there is a room on the top floor that dispenses with the zoo-like atmosphere. When you check in with the host/hostess, tell them you would like to be on the top floor.

A walk along the Esplanade from Mass Ave to the Hatch Shell gives you plenty of views. For architecture, cross the footbridge to the "flat" of Beacon Hill. Esplore the flat and the Hill itself, both the front (esp Cedar St, Louisburg Sq) and the back of the hill, where the servants lived (the side toward Mass General). This is all relatively standard guidebook stuff. What is not is Bay Village, tucked in between Chinatown and Back Bay. You will have to get directions to find it. The North End is well worth exploring for the architecture buff, not because it looks Italian (it doesn't except for restaurant names) but because it has buildings from every period of Boston's history, from the Revere house to the house where Rose Kennedy was born to lots and lots of 1900 tenements occupied by successive waves of immigrants.

Check out Boston neighborhoods in Wikipedia and follow up the citations.
Ackislander is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 04:12 AM
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Much of the real character of Boston is found in non-tourist areas - but even the areas most popular with tourists have some of the interests you list.

Get a copy of Thursday's Boston Globe and look in the calendar section (tabloid format) and find some community type things to see and do.

Even though it is a very common activity, much of older historical interest can be found along the Freedom Trail.

Sit on a bench, during daylight hours, in the Public Garden or Boston Common and watch Boston walk by. Eavesdrop on conversations.

Walk thru North End during the day - people actually live and work there. In the summer you may be able to chat with some older residents sitting on their front steps.

I would skip Durgin Park and Union Oyster House, unless you want to go for the history and not the food.

gail is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 3,125
since you mention architecture, you might want to visit MIT in addition to Harvard. MIT has, I think, 3 buildings designed by IM Pei, and the new Ray Stata Center designed by Gehry. It actually may be more interesting from and architectural photography standpoint than Harvard.

Also, you may want to walk along the harbor, and check out the new Institute of Contemporary Art. There's an interesting architectural structure as well.
china_cat is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 06:32 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 479
Consider South Boston
East Broadway from L Street to Marine Bay- Beautiful Old Homes near the water. Then go over to L street Beach and get a view of the city and the water.

The most attractive streets in the South End are Columbus Ave from Dartmouth St. to Massachusetts Ave.

Tremont Street at Dartmouth and Union Park (try to see Union Park after dark).
TKT is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 06:47 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 5,760
Try all the stellar local ice cream shoppes. You'll find them easily, usually a line of 15 people waiting for a scoop. Not a fan of ice cream? Then you haven't tried New England Homemade Ice Creams in summertime. Come to think of it, I've seen people lining up in WINTER for it, too.
tracys2cents is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 06:29 AM
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Posts: 375
For some nature, if you go to Cambridge check out Mt. Auburn Cemetery. It's a short bus ride down Mt. Auburn Street from Harvard Square (I am not sure of the exact bus number that goes there). There's great bird-watching there (if you are into that) plus it's very historic and beautiful.
MarieF is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 07:16 AM
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You will get a great view of the city from a Boston Harbor Cruise (about and hour and relatively inexpensive). They are sometimes included with the Boston trolley tours (several operators)-price often negotiable. Would recommend you not eat a Durgin Park or Union Oyster House, though taking a peak is interesting. Maybe just a drink...
peggybauer is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 07:48 AM
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You can also visit Boston Light on Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor. Built in 1716, it's the only remaining "manned" lighthouse in the US. Go to for more information.
MarieF is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 08:37 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 727
I second the suggestion to visit South Boston (my hometown!), but go all the way out to Castle Island for a gorgeous view of the harbor and the old Civil War fort, which is sometimes open into the inner courtyard. You can take a long walk around the lagoon on the jetty. If the wind is right, the planes landing at nearby Logan will be swooping in very low right over your head - that always thrilled me as a kid. Kelly's Landing serves take-out beach food, not high cuisine, but it works in this locale! You can take the City Point bus from Broadway T stop to get there. This is real local Boston, a part tourists seldom see!
tekwriter is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 10:52 AM
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Take a stroll along the Charles River (great views, people watching and sailboats). In May you'll start to see ducklings if you get over there early enough.

- Walk down Charles Street (quaint shops) and Newbury Street (pricey shops)

- Walk through the Boston common (see the frog pond - and public garden and take a ride on the Swan Boats (get there early in the morning so you don't have to wait in line)

During your walk through the public gardens (Charles Street entrance), don’t forget to stop by the duckling monument put up to honor the classic story of a family of Mallard ducks in downtown Boston from the book -Make Way for Ducklings- by Robert McCloskey, Viking, 1941, A Caldecott Medal winner - if you are there on mother's day there's a kids parade through the park.

A copy of the book makes a great gift for kids. It can be found at most Boston gift shops. I give it to all new mothers as part of the shower or christening gift.

- Spend an afternoon in Harvard Square (lots of shops, really great people watching and lots of history)

- Take a Duck Boat Tour. This is the best way to ride by all the sights. It is a land and water tour which you can catch at the Prudential or Science Museum (reserve ahead). Not only do you get to see the harbor but you get to ride in it (all kids on board get a chance to drive the boat for a minute or two). The guys who ride are really animated, in costumes and tell little known historical stories (like the great Boston molasses flood).

- Eat dinner in the North End (Italian section) and then have desserts at Mike's Pastry (or look for a quaint coffee shop). Over by the water there is usually a group of older Italian men playing outdoor bocce ball - it's great to watch – on a hot summer night I have watched them for hours. They don’t seem to mind being photographed.

- Depending on what you like, stop by Charleston to see the Constitution, Bunker Hill Monument and then stop by the Warren Tavern for lunch or dinner (small, quaint and great food - gets a little too crowded for me on Wednesday nights) – Tavern on the water (same owners) in the Charlestown Navy Yard is also fun.

- See a Red Sox Game and get a tour of Fenway Park (sometimes you can get tickets using the Craig site website – kind of like EBay but free and organized by location -

- Head up to Gloucester (whale watches), Newburyport (shops/food), Portsmouth NH (shops/food), Salem MA (check out some of the witch museums), Rockport (quaint shopping and picture taking ) or down to Cape Cod or Newport RI – there is a ferry service found in between the aquarium and the Marriot Longwarf you can go out to the harbor islands and hike (mostly flat) or take a fast ferry to Provincetown.

Side trip websites:
Rockport: (day trip)
Newburyport: (day trip)
Portsmouth: trip)
Salem: trip)
Gloucester: trip)
Newport: (stay overnight)
Cape Cod: (stay overnight)
Nantucket: (stay overnight)
Martha’s Vineyard: (stay overnight)
White Mountains, NH (need at least 3 days):

- If you do a day trip to Salem to visit the witch museums (take a train/blue line – the traffic is crazy all summer) visit the Rockmore Floating Restaurant. You catch a small boat out to it from Pickering Wharf – they have burgers, salads, etc. The best is throwing your French fries to the fish swarming the area (because they know about the French fries) – also great views back to Salem.

- Boston has a lot of great parks. My favorite is the Back Bay Fens. Local residents who don't have a yard take a spot and turn it into their own garden. There are literally hundreds of these, all beautiful (near Kenmore Square).

This site lists many of the parks:
Another favorite: The Arnold Arboretum is a 265-acre botanical garden and educational research facility run by Harvard University. Over 5000 kinds of trees, most originating from northern temperate forests, are featured. Two of the arboretum's highlights include the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection and the Lilac Collection. In 1872, the Arboretum's first director, Charles Sprague Sargent, designed the grounds in collaboration with the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted as part of Boston's Emerald Necklace park system

- You may also want to consider a day at the Science Museum. If you don't want to take the entire day you can get tickets to their Omni theater which is quite good (a few hours for a show).

- The JFK library is also great.

- Then there's the aquarium & IMAX theater (although I have been to much better aquariums in other cities - the best in Valencia, Spain)

- The Museum of Fine Art and the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum are also nice.

- I'd skip Fanuel Hall and the Cheers Bar and stay away from all the dives on Route 1 and Revere Beach.

One other thing, check out:

Formaggio Kitchen
244 Huron Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
tel: (617) 354-4750
toll-free: (888)-212-3224

It's just outside of Harvard Square (maybe a mile? - you can walk, drive or take a bus) and has amazing stuff!!! Granted none of it seems to be native to Boston but they have tons of stuff from Europe (mach of which is exclusively distributed to them) - cheeses (that you can taste), wines, olive oil, pasta, bread, pastry....

Great sandwichs too - good little shop to stop at for picnic food and sample some cheeses....

They also have other locations in South Boston & NY, although I have never been to them.
adnil1962 is offline  
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