Boston: 10 things

Before our recent trip, I read that Boston was ranked third snobbiest city in America by Travel & Leisure  as part of its annual America's Favorite City Survey. Just in case you're wondering, New York was #2 and San Francisco took 1st place.

Fortunately, we didn't come across any uppity people. We found Boston to be a proud and beautiful city rich with history. I love the energy of being in the heart of a real city. I was touched by this tribute to the Marathon attack victims.

{Arlington Street Church, Boylston Street}

The Mophead boys were tasked with keeping a travel journal. One wrote: "Birds, boats, churches, chairs, trees, food, drinks, hotels, people, ice cream, libraries and buildings." Pretty much says it all.

More specifically, here's what I would recommend for a family trip.

1) The Four Seasons. There's no denying I like to stay in a nice hotel. When planning a trip, I prefer to dedicate a large portion of the budget to lodging. Lucky for us, there was a problem with the room we reserved so we got updated to a posh suite. It makes such a huge difference having two separate rooms when traveling with children. Speaking of, the hotel could not have been any more child friendly. The boys were greeted with a welcome wagon full of toys to choose from at the front desk. And at turn down, a boatload of goodies and child-sized guest robes and slippers awaited them after a long, hot day of sightseeing. It was unseasonably hot -- like 98 degrees HOT. The best place to hang out in Boston in those conditions is at the Four Seasons pool overlooking the Public Gardens. Again, no one seemed to mind that kids were traipsing through the fitness center in bath robes or trying to surf on kick boards at the pool.

Let's take a quick look...

 {Ahhh, cool serenity}

{sweet, cold treats in the lobby}

{beautiful flowers as always in the lobby}

 {Sunday brunch food porn}

2) Boston Harbor Speedboats. We had planned to do a walking tour of the Freedom Trail, but wimped out because of the heat. We chose to the tour the city by wheels and boats instead. Mr. Mophead had already booked two Boston mini speedboats for a thrilling harbor tour. Thank goodness we had a guide. I had never captained a boat, and I'm not much of a thrill seeker. Mophead Jr. claimed I was a bad driver, but later announced he wanted to stay on the boat all day. I highly recommend the tour for adults and older children alike.

{Not us, but you get the idea}

3)  Boston Duck Tours is a another fun way to see and learn about the city. The ducks, referred to as WWII-stlye amphibious landing vehicles, travel the city from street to water. Pretty cool. Again, a crowd pleaser for both adults and kids. View the photo gallery for pics.

4) Parks and gardens. Some fun facts. In 1634, Boston Common became the first public park in America. Massachusetts purchased the land from a Boston settler for use as a livestock grazing area. The Frog Pond doubles as a skating rink during winter months.

The Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in the US and home to the city's famous Swan Boats. A popular sculpture of a family of ducks resides in the park as a tribute to the award-winning children's book -- Make Way for the Ducks by Robert McCloskey. It was created in 1987 for the garden's 150th anniversary.

5) Fenway Park. Opening in1912, Fenway Park is the oldest Major League baseball stadium in use today. Last year, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its 100th anniversary. You baseball fanatics might want to wow your friends with these 100 fun facts about the park. The Mophead boys enjoyed their 60-minute public tour. Tickets to Yankees-Red Sox games are hard to come by. Plan to buy them well in advance.

{the 37-foot green monster wall -- tallest in any ML baseball park}

6) Cambridge. After Fenway, the boys took the train to Cambridge to take a student-lead Harvard tour, which they enjoyed. Mr. Mophead mentioned that the guide milked the Zuckerberg/facebook connection. While in Cambridge eating ice cream is a must. Toscanini's on Maine Street is famous for its house-made ice cream in exotic flavors. Toscanini's was too crowded, so the boys went to J.P. Licks instead. If you have more than a few hours to stay in Cambridge, check out the New York Times 36 hour guide.

7)  Beacon Hill Walking Tour. While the boys went to the ball park and Cambridge I took a walking tour of Beacon Hill (more in an upcoming post). The program started with a tour of the Otis House -- the earliest intact mansion in the neighborhood. As an aside: Without fail, every time I do a group tour, there is always at least one annoying person. Wouldn't you know, out of the five people in my group, I was stuck with perhaps the worst offender: a know-it-all. I asked him if he was an architect or historic preservationist. No, he was an accountant from Philadelphia "who knew a little bit about everything." Ugh. Does that ever happen to you? After the house tour, I hit the streets with a very knowledgeable young docent. I got a private tour because no one else was willing to brave the heat. While I was up on the Hill, I was booted off the street where John Kerry resides by Secret Service. He was in town while Teresa Heinz was recently hospitalized.

8) Blue Man Group. The Blue Man Group originated in Boston, so it was cool to see it at the Charles Playhouse. The building -- originally built 1839 -- was first a Universal Church, turned first synagogue in Boston, turned speakeasy during Prohibition, turned fashionable nightclub until it became a playhouse in 1958. The boys loved the show, but were disappointed they didn't get splashed with paint or regurgitated Twinkies.

{Charles Play House}

9) JFK Presidential Library and Museum. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that Mophead Jr. is obsessed with the Kennedy's. He wanted to go to Hyannis Port, but he had to settle for the museum instead. Travel tip: If you plan to visit any museums during a summer stay in Massachusetts, the Highland Street Foundation sponsors Free Fun Fridays. Be sure to check the schedule before you go. We happened to visit the Kennedy Library on a Friday and it was free. Yay. I highly recommend a visit. We spent a few hours there with no whining or "I'm bored." Probably not so great for younger children.

{115- foot high memorial pavilion}

10) New England Aquarium. Meh. We were not impressed. It had a lot of interactive activities for young children. The boys were looking forward to seeing the little blue penguins. It was not until after we paid to get in that they told us the penguins were off site until the end of August. Bottom line: Skip it if you live in city -- like Atlanta -- that has a good aquarium.

There you have it. Have you been to Boston? What were your faves.?

1 comment:

  1. I was pretty much solo with the kids who were about 6, 5, and 1 when we went and managed to do the Public Garden (where we rode the carousel about five times and the swan boats twice) and the Duck tour, which I thought was great. I thought the aquarium was fine for what it was, but not as good as Atlanta's and we got to see the penguins. They featured so prominently, that I can't imagine what was left for you all to see. I'd love to go back and do the historical sites when everyone is older...and stay at the Four Seasons! It looks fabulous!


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