We spent a wonderful five days in Boston for New Year and absolutely loved it. It really surpassed our expectations and we will definitely visit this beautiful New England city again!
When we visited, the city was experiencing the coldest weather they’d had in around 100 years. It was around -11 degrees Celsius during the day and on two days the wind chill made it feel much colder! This did impact a little bit on our exploring as it was bitterly cold but we did our best to explore as much as we could. There were some areas we didn’t get to see but as I said, we’ll be back!
Where to stay
We stayed at The Taj in Back Bay, which was the perfect location and I’d highly recommend considering this area when booking a hotel. The Four Seasons and the Park Plaza were just around the corner. It’s only around a 20 minute drive from the airport too and is in close proximity to almost all the sights below. If you book your hotel through Booking.com using my referral link, you’ll get £20 off.
Here are our recommendations of what to see and do in Boston:
Boston Public Library
Dating back to 1848, Boston Public Library was built as a ‘shrine to letters’. We loved it so much, we visited it twice. It is an absolutely stunning, architectural delight with many beautiful artworks inside. Bates Hall Reading Room is an absolute joy to behold and looks like something out of the movies with the green reading lamps.
Boston Public Library is situated in the Back Bay neighbourhood and is opposite Copley Square. It’s free to visit and they offer free, guided art and architecture tours. They also offer a host of events from family yoga to conversational Spanish classes.
You cannot visit Boston without going to see Harvard University! Situated in Cambridge, it’s just a short ride from central Boston on the metro (take the red line to Harvard).
Start at Harvard Yard and walk around the campus. When we visited there was loads of snow, making it even more pretty. I can imagine during Spring and Summer the campus must be bustling with students sitting on the lawn eating, drinking, talking or maybe studying!
Then head out and explore Harvard Square and the side streets and pay a visit to Harvard Bookstore, which is the oldest poetry bookstore in America. Apparently T.S Eliot, EE Cummings and more famous names have passed through these doors. Talking of famous names, grab a burger at Mr Bartley’s Burger Cottage where Al Pacino and Johnny Cash have eaten. It wasn’t the best burger we’d ever had but it’s a Harvard institution that has been around since 1960 and the decor is really quirky.
Beacon Hill is the neighbourhood that’s most featured on postcards of Boston due to the gorgeous, historical buildings and cobbled streets. Beacon Street is also where you’ll find the impressive Massachusetts State House with its gold dome and the Cheers bar! It’s a lovely area to stroll around and is right by Boston Common.
It’s the bar where everybody knows your name! If you’re a fan of TV sitcom Cheers then you simply must visit the site which features in the show’s opening credits. Previously the Bull & Finch, this Boston pub became the inspiration for the hit TV show and fans flock to sit at the bar as it’s now a restaurant. I grew up watching this show so I loved seeing it in real life!
Boston Common and the Public Garden
Our hotel was opposite the Public Garden which backs on to Boston Common. As it was covered in snow, it was such a pretty sight. This was the view from our lounge window at The Taj on Arlington Street.
In Winter you can ice-skate on Frog Pond but as it was so cold this year, the lagoon froze over too and people were ice-skating, playing ice-hockey or simply sliding with their boots! It was fun to watch from the comfort of our warm, hotel room. My husband did venture out on to the frozen lagoon, however I was too chicken!
In Summer I can imagine it filled with picnickers and people enjoying the park in the sunshine.
I’m sure the waterfront is bustling during Spring and Summer but during the coldest Winter in 100 years, it was unsurprisingly quiet. Check out Quincy Market, which is an indoor food market where you can get everything from clam chowder to pizza. For entertainment, there’s the New England Aquarium, the Institute of Contemporary Art and of course the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.
Boston’s Chinatown overlaps with the Theatre and Leather district. It’s fairly small but very characteristic. We had lunch at Hei La Moon and it made me feel like I was in China as many of the staff barely spoke English and it was packed with Chinese locals. There were carts of food, such as dumplings and chicken feet, being wheeled around, making us feel like we were in a lively market. It was a very interesting experience!
The Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile-long walk through downtown Boston, which passes by 16 locations that have historical significance. Some of the locations include the Paul Revere House, Bunker Hill Monument, Massachusetts State House, Old South Meeting House and The Old State House (pictured below). Print off a map on their website or book a guided tour to explore Boston’s history.
Boston is famous for being America’s seafood capital and home to clam chowder and lobster so be sure to visit some seafood restaurants and try the local specialities. We tried clam chowder and lobster rolls from Row 34 and they were delicious. I am not a fan of oysters but I gave fried oysters a go at Davio’s and loved them! I might brave a raw oyster next…
Boston Opera House
We saw The Nutcracker at the Boston Opera House and absolutely loved it. If you can, book a show as the theatre itself is spectacular. Opened in 1928, it’s designed in a combination of French and Italian styles and is a tribute to the Vaudeville era. The Nutcracker was absolutely charming – the set was stunning and the dancing was mesmerising. A real treat!
Boston is a really pretty, historical, fun and friendly city with great places to eat and drink. We knew we would like it but didn’t expect to like it as much as we did. We can’t wait to return!