Boston: Guide to the City

Bean town! As the site of many different important events that led up to the American Revolution, I’ve been wanting to visit Boston for quite some time now. I only stayed in Boston for 4 days, but I got to cram in pretty much all I wanted to see!

Was the trip worth it? Yes! If you’re interested in Revolutionary American history at all, this is one of the great cities to learn more about it by visiting all the historical sites.

All About Boston!

(click for more info)

Weather

My god, it was hot when I arrived. The whole time I was here, I was sweating constantly and neither of the places I was staying at were air conditioned. Definitely t-shirts (or tanks) and shorts weather here, and wear lots of sunscreen!

Where I stayed

Airbnb was a little pricier than I had planned for, so I shortened my trip to 4 days and decided to stay with a Couchsurfing host and a friend for my stay. Haven’t heard of Couchsurfing before? It’s a travelers’ website that helps you connect with people and literally sleep on someone’s couch for a couple nights. Read more about my thoughts on Couchsurfing here.

I stayed with the Couchsurfing host for 2 days in Somerville (right by Harvard University), then stayed with a friend in South Boston. It seems summer in Boston can get pricey, depending on when you book your stay!

Transportation

Arrival and Departure

I left NYC and arrived to Boston via Megabus. If you haven’t already heard, Megabus is my favorite inexpensive way to get around on the East Coast (and Canada!). Read more about Megabus and how I use it here.

I left Boston via the same method–Megabus. Again, super inexpensive (we’re talking under $20 a ride) and simple way to get around on the East Coast. Depending on where you’re going, it may take a few hours, but if you add together the time it takes you to get to/from an airport and through security, it’s about the same without the crazy hassle.

Getting Around the City

I mainly took public transportation to get to places in Boston. Lots of walking and bus rides. Boston’s public transportation system is called the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) and is pretty efficiently. You can check out fares here. While I was only in Boston for 4 days, I found it was most cost efficient to buy a 7-day pass since it was only $21.25, which is $2.75 less than 2 day passes. Single rides for local bus was $1.75 and was $2 for subway, so you’d just need to take at least 10-12 rides to make your pass within a week to make it worth the cost. Trust me, worth the cost!

Pro-tip: Keep your CharlieCard (the little paper card you get when you get the 7-day pass) in your wallet or some place where the ticket remains FLAT and cannot be bended. I kept my pass in my pocket a few times, and the ticket got too bent and got stuck in the machine when I was trying to enter the station.

Sights and Attractions

Boston Tea Party Museum

This is probably my favorite attraction in Boston. If you’re a huge American history buff or just enjoy being in an immersed experience, this attraction is fantastic. The premise of the whole thing is to bring you back into the time of turmoil where the angry colonists wanted to protest against the tyranny of the British Empire and their latest infringement on colonial freedoms with the taxation on imported tea. You sit in and listen to the town hall meeting where grievances are raised (and you may even get a small role in this!), learn about the stories of the colonists and why they were so upset, and get to board a model ship where you get to throw tea overboard! I would say, if you wanted to go to 1 museum in Boston, this would be the most fun and interactive.

Harpoon Brewery tour

Brewery tours are always fun! I went to Harpoon Brewery, and while I did not get to go because it was too full by the time I got there, my friend has vouched for it so I thought I’d mention it to you. You can check out more about tour times here.

Salem, MA – the town of the Salem Witch Trials!

Taking the commuter rail to at least take a day trip to Salem, MA is highly recommend if you’re at all interested in the stories about the Salem Witch Trials. Not sure what the Salem Witch Trials are? Long story short, the Salem Witch Trials were about the Salem villagers in the 1600s accusing each other of witchcraft, probably to steal each other’s names and sully reputations. Check out the longer version of that story here!

Word of warning: Salem is SUPER touristy, and they really play up the witch thing here. You can go through Salem on a self-guided walking tour (check out the map here) and see all the cool stuff without paying a buck. If you’d like a guided tour, I highly recommend checking out Spellbound Tours. I really like ghost stories, and Dr. Vitka, the tour guide, for this tour is a fantastic storyteller. I was creeped out, even in broad daylight! I went on a weekend so was able to catch one of their 2PM tours, but if you really want the full experience, you can spend a night in Salem and take one of their evening tours.

Notable Neighborhoods

I can’t say I know anything about these neighborhoods here since I feel like I wasn’t here long enough to distinguish between neighborhoods, but I really did enjoy the North End, aka Little Italy for all the Italian restaurants there.

Eateries

Eateries in North End

I’m usually not one to go out for Italian food, but there are a lot of Italian restaurants in this area of Boston. If you’re looking for lobster, I heard Neptune’s is the place to go. Personally I haven’t gone, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered with the line. I would say, check Yelp, look at some menus, and take the leap! I went to a couple while in Boston, and there wasn’t any restaurant that I didn’t like 🙂

Modern Pastry and Mike’s Pastry Shop 

From my understanding of walking around this area, these 2 are competing pastry shops since everyone that visits here always leaves with a pastry box stamped with one of these names. As a tourist in the Boston area, you’re pretty much obligated to go to both and decide on which place you like better 🙂 I usually don’t like huge portions so the mini cannolis are the perfect after-dinner bite!

Pauli’s

My first lobster food item on the East Coast! I was going to wait till Maine, but I decided to prep myself with a lobster roll here. Pauli’s is much less crowded than Neptune’s, but I thought it was simple and delicious. No frills here! They serve two types of lobster rolls here: Maine-style (cold, tossed in mayo) and Connecticut-style (warm, tossed in butter). Funny thing is, I had a Maine-style lobster roll here, but when I got to Maine, I ate Connecticut-style rolls. SO WEIRD. Anyway, the smaller size roll was sufficient enough for me to get a nice bite of lobster without breaking the bank.

Harpoon Brewery

This Boston craft brewery has some pretty good beer! Like I mentioned up top, I intended to go here for the beer tour, but alas, things didn’t line up for my friend and I, so we just ate and drank at the taproom instead! While all of the pretzels here are generally delicious, I highly recommend their savory pretzels. If you get a salted pretzel, you only get a choice of 2 sauces for your pretzel. Because I care about providing the best info for you, I tried ALL the 3 pretzel types and ALL 4 sauces (if you count the marinara, that’s 5!). My sauce choices: ale mustard and bacon ranch. You’re welcome 🙂 The parm pretzel is okay, could go without. I think the sweet pretzel, while delicious, wasn’t my thing since I don’t tend to like pairing sweets with beer. Speaking of beer, there’s a lot of choices, but I would say go for the sampler to get a range of the different varieties. There are a lot of sampler choices but you can’t really go wrong with any of them. I’d recommend asking your bartender to help you pick according to your beer preferences.

Aeronaut Brewing Company

This little brewery is much smaller than Harpoon, but it’s charming and has some fun beers. My new judo buddies from Tohoku Judo Club invited me to hang out with them here, and it was a really great spot just to hang out with friends and drink some beers. It does have more of a hipster-vibe than Harpoon, but I suspect it’s because it’s a smaller microbrewery, and it’s in an industrial-type building with white Christmas lights. My favorite beer here was the Pokemon Gose, obviously named after the Pokemon Go craze that was going on during this time.