Boston in One Day – A Top Ten List

October 15, 2012  •  Boston, North America, Travel

I love a long, leisurely vacation – a chance to really soak up the local flavors of a new place, or a favorite place revisited. But sometimes our travel plans leave us with just a small snippet of time in a pretty cool spot. Such was the case when I ended my 10 day Canadian cruise in Boston and had just 24 hours to enjoy the city. You can’t see all of Boston in a day – nor would you really want to – but you can pack a lot in with a little planning, so here’s my top ten list.

1. Stay in a Great Location
Like most large cities, Boston has distinct neighborhoods, none, in my opinion, more charming than the Back Bay area (where the land was reclaimed from the sea) that houses the gorgeous (and very expensive) brownstones along Commonwealth Avenue and Newbury Street. The Newbury Guest House is exactly what they advertise – 19th century charm with 21st century comfort.Ask for one of the rooms on the front of the hotel if you want a lovely bay window view over Newbury Street (if the weather is right you can open your windows and listen to the music of the early evening at the many venues around you), or ask for a room on the alley side if you prefer it a bit quieter.

2. Take a Tour on Boston Trolley Tours or Boston Duck ToursThese tours are quite popular in Boston, and they sell out, so reserve your tickets ahead of time and take the tour without hopping on and off to conserve time. (If you’re in Boston for several days, do take advantage of the hop off option on the Trolley tours to spend more time in any given location.) You’ll get a good little history lesson, travel throughout the city including across the river to Cambridge, and see a good bit without ever leaving the comfort of your seat. You can try to snag an open window spot if you want to take any photos, but be warned that since you are mostly on the move, and within a vehicle, it’s hard to get many great photos from the tour. Better to just relax, see the sights on the way, and listen to the guide.

3. Walk the Freedom Trail
Boston is loaded with history, and the 2.5 mile freedom trail (marked on the sidwalk) takes you past historical sites like Fanueil Hall, City Hall, and more.

4. Shop
Whether you are wandering through the Friday market on Boylston St. or into the many stores along Newbury Street and throughout the city, Boston offers some great shopping. And did you know they don’t have sales tax on clothes? Just make sure you have enough room in your luggage for any purchases or you’ll be struggling to close your suitcase like I was!And while you’re walking around shopping, stop in at the newly opened Georgetown Cupcake (of the show DC Cupcakes on TLC) for a dazzling array of flavors.

5. Experience Many Chefs at One Restaurant
At Parish Cafe and Bar on Boylston Street, you’ll find a menu loaded with sandwiches created by local Boston chefs of renown – and I don’t mean just any sandwich, but really creative things like the Chipotle Meatloaf Sandwich with bacon that’s served with garlic mashed potatoes and gravy. The salads are great too (try the nicoise with a lovely seared ahi slab over the top of the mix), and if the weather is warm, the outdoor patio with umbrellas is irresistable.

6. Savor the Early Evening on Newbury Street
Newbury Street goes from funky little shops and cafes on one end to higher priced venues as you get closer to Boston Commons. If you happen to be there at happy hour on a Friday night like we were, expect crowds, but find a way to join in the fun. Stephanie’s on Newbury has a large outdoor dining space for warm weather, but also a sizeable bar and lounge area should you find yourself waiting for table which is common if you don’t have a reservation.

7. Relax in Boston Commons
Like most big cities, a lovely park in the middle provides welcome respite from traffic, noise, and crowds. Crab a cup of coffee and relax on a bench for a little serenity in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Boston.

8. Check Out Some Churches
Boston is home to some spectacularly beautiful churches, many open to visitors, so wander in and out of a few while you’re walking around.

9. Relive History
If you’re a history buff or just looking for something fun to do, you can relive the “single most important event leading up to the American Revolution” at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. If you take the Boston Trolley Tour I believe your entrance fee is even free with your trolley ticket.

10. Take an Architectural Tour of the Back Bay Area
Boston has some lovely old buildings sitting side by side with huge skyscrapers like the Prudential Center. Old brownstone buildings like the Ladder 15 fire station in the Back Bay are not only lovely to look at, but are filled with history.

There are plenty more things to do in Boston if you have more time, but if you find yourself there for 24 hours only like I did, I hope this helps you enjoy as much as you can in a short time!

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