If you are reading this, you’re probably bored and afflicted with the same disease that I’ve had since the pandemic lockdown. Wanderlust is a powerful ailment that causes itchy feet, strong cravings, and a yearning to get out and go anywhere. But in today’s COVID-infected world, our travel destinations are limited. Where can you go?
Explore your own country. Look around the state, province, or city nearby and pick a destination that you can travel to in the safety of your own vehicle. For those of you in the USA, check out some things to do in Boston. It’s the capital city of Massachusetts and sits on the Atlantic seaboard. The city is also reachable by air or rail if you’re looking for alternate means of transport (pursue those at your own risk). Make sure to check for any travel restrictions before heading out on your adventure.
Things to Do in Boston
Delve into the History of the City
Boston is a city of firsts. The city built Boston Common, the US’ first city park in 1634. In 1635, the first public school in America opened, the Boston Latin School. After that, Boston built the first subway in 1897. Other firsts include the first inoculation, first telephone, and more. Born of the original New England colonies, it’s steeped in history and home to some of the country’s most important forefathers. Charles River outlines the city proper, which backs up against Boston Harbor.
When exploring a new city on foot, my wife and I like to stay in the old city center, if possible. The historic Omni Parker House is upscale and expensive, but we snagged a special rate that suited our budget. We saved a lot of taxi fare by staying in a central location. Additionally, a very helpful hotel concierge gave us invaluable tips and made tour bookings for us.
Boston has taken a unique approach to helping tourists discover their city. They offer several free walking tours that explore the historic downtown and harborfront. Explorers get a map outlining several different trails to follow, depending on what you want to see. Each trail is marked by a different color line marked on the pavement, and all you have to do is follow the yellow brick road.
We took the Freedom Trail and started at the Beantown Pub. Best to stay hydrated. And it’s the only place in town where you can drink Sam Adams and stare at his grave directly across the street. Being team players, we did both, then wandered through the graveyard continuing our tour. We wore off the beer on foot, ogling centuries-old buildings and exquisite architecture. The Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copeland Square was something to see, especially the cavernous study room inside.
Downtown is shouldered by the Boston Harbor, made famous by the Boston Tea Party, where American colonists protesting British taxes dumped crates of tea into the bay. If you’re looking for things to do in Boston, this stop should be at the top of your list. We strolled the scenic boardwalk connecting various wharves and restaurants that have been built into old warehouses. Fancy hotels with harbor-view patios and new condos offer sea views.
Tuck into Fresh Seafood and Wash it Down with Beer
Across the street from the Battery Wharf Hotel on Atlantic Avenue, we found a cool little beer garden that was neatly tucked into a city parkette. I ordered a couple pints of beer to quench our thirst and a homemade pretzel to nibble on. Still hungry, Cathryn found a place nearby that served up the best Lobster Roll we’ve ever had. Boston looked pretty awesome to us from our vantage point on the street corner. The cold beer and fresh lobster may have had something to do with it.
At least once in every place we visit, we treat ourselves to a nice meal. While exploring Long Wharf on the harborfront, we discovered a restaurant called the Chart House. Housed in the wharf’s oldest surviving structure, the John Hancock Counting House, the restaurant unquestionably capitalizes on its history. The brick and stone buildings have been beautifully restored. There is a cute patio that offers great views, but we chose to make dinner reservations and return later.
The exposed wood beams, brick, and stone interior of the restaurant offers olde-worlde charm. Soft lighting and nautical decor enhanced the mysterious romance of the Atlantic Ocean. We shared fresh-made crab cakes served with corn relish. Cathryn had lobster bisque and stuffed salmon that she found a tad overcooked for her liking. I love seafood but chose a thick and juicy slab of prime rib. The menu was pricey but the food was delicious and the atmosphere stellar.
Enjoy Park Life and Al Fresco Malls
We’d seen Boston Common while on the bus and decided to take a stroll through it on our way back to our hotel. It’s a beautiful park, consisting of fifty acres in the middle of the city. From its scenic bridges, one can usually spot swan boats in one of the many small lakes. There are public gardens, the New England Aquarium, and a museum that includes Boston Tea Party Ships. Tons of green space and picnic areas make it the perfect city oasis. This is another “can’t-miss” of things to do in Boston.
With our feet getting undeniably tender, we took a hop-on-hop-off tour that included a water ride on one of those silly-looking duck boats. The open-top bus offered fantastic views of the city that were a bit further out, and the boat tour gave us surprising views of the harbor and city skyline from the water. We planned a special stop at the end of our bus tour, hopping off at Cheers, the film location of the hit TV show. I’d hoped to share a beer with Norm, but he wasn’t there.
If you’re looking for a cool outdoor pedestrian mall, check out Quincy Market. Blocks of closed streets line themselves with unique shops, bars, and restaurants. You can spend hours wandering the area and not see everything it has to offer. It’s a great place to check out if you’re looking for things to do in Boston. If you are a baseball fan, you have to see Fenway Park, one of the only remaining original ballparks still standing, and home to the Boston Red Sox since 1912. Professional hockey and basketball also have a base in Boston in the guise of the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics. For a somber moment, visit the site of the Boston Marathon bombing. You can clearly see the race’s finish line marked on the pavement.
Explore the Shore of Massachusetts
If you get bored or don’t find enough things to do in Boston, or are looking for a secluded ocean-front beach, Cape Cod is less than two hours away by car. That was our next stop on this east coast trip. There are neat little towns to see along the coastal road and Provincetown is a totally cool place to kick back and enjoy the sun, sand, and sea.
If you enjoyed this article, please check out other travel stories on my personal website at www.edmondgagnon.com.