Monday, September 8, 2014

Visitor's Guide to Boston in 48 Hours

When I moved away from Charleston after six years, I left behind this guide to the city. Now that I'm leaving Boston, I thought I should do the same. I was here just over a year, but I got pretty good at showing visitors around (especially after working as the editor of a visitor's guide). So here it is: Whiskey Kittens' Official Guide to Boston.

Liberty Hotel

There are so many nice hotels in this city, but I always recommend choosing one with a bit of character and history attached to it. The Liberty Hotel, located at the foot of Beacon Hill, once served as the Charles Street Jail. Today it's a super stylish, luxurious place to rest your head — or grab a drink. If you're more cop than robber, the Loews Boston Hotel is in the city's old police headquarters. The newly renovated limestone building is located right in the bustling Back Bay. For something a little more luxurious, try the Fairmont Copley Plaza overlooking Copley Square, which has been in business since 1912. The hotel has a "canine ambassador," a fancy bar, and it's also where they filmed some scenes from American Hustle. None of these hotels are cheap, so if you're on a budget, just try Priceline or the Hotel Tonight app to find a deal. 

After a year in the city, I didn't even begin to scratch the surface of the restaurants here. With new restaurants opening up constantly, it's nearly impossible to stay on top of it. But I did discover a few favorites. My number one Boston restaurant is Toro, a dark, always-crowded tapas spot in the South End. Try to snag a spot on the sidewalk patio, order a bottle of Spanish wine, and order more tapas than you think you can eat. You won't regret it. Keep the multicultural theme going by heading to Chinatown for some noodles (Gourmet Dumpling House or Peach Farm), and for authentic Italian, follow your nose to the North End, the oldest neighborhood in Boston. 

Neptune Oyster
Of course, you can't visit Boston without getting some seafood. I recommend hitting up an oyster bar like Neptune, B&G Oysters, or Row 34 for some New England oysters and a lobster roll. For dessert, my favorite bakery is by far Flour, and luckily there are locations all over the city.

A word of warning: Cocktails are not cheap in Boston. Just how expensive are they? I accidentally paid $22 for a gin gimlet once, but they average around $15. But if you're a sucker for fancy cocktails, like me, you'll want to splurge a bit. Wink & Nod is a cozy speakeasy-style bar in the South End, and Drink is highly acclaimed for its custom creations. Over in Cambridge, both the food and drink menu at Commonwealth is playful and innovative, and Charlie's Kitchen has some of the cheapest drinks and food I've found in the area — plus they have a beer garden.


Acorn Street, Beacon Hill
Boston is a small city, and very walkable — you can easily see the highlights on foot in just a day or two. The city's must-see sights are anchored around the Back Bay, from the shops of Newbury Street to the meticulously landscaped Public Garden. Visitors love to take a ride on the amphibious Duck Tours that take you past all of the key attractions and into Boston Harbor. If you love art, a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and/or the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are in order. If you'd rather just mosey, check out Faneuil Hall, the North End, and Beacon Hill (Acorn Street, pictured above, is quite possibly the most photographed street in America). 

Depending on the season, there's likely some sort of sporting event going on, whether a Red Sox game at Fenway Park or a Celtics or Bruins game at TD Garden.

Boston Public Library
A few other places to see if you have time: the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, the Esplanade, Top of the Hub, and the SoWa Market on Sundays.

Enjoy your visit to Boston!

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