Things to do in Boston this weekend?
June 6, 2005 1:22 PM   Subscribe

In Boston Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Best way to get around? Best museums? Best place for lunch, dinner?

Good music? We're staying at the Lenox, she's in a conference Thurs. afternoon & Fri. morning, and I don't know beans about Boston....
posted by Floydd to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best way to get around: T. Or, as a tourist hitting the main sites, the trolleys that run around town are actually not a bad deal - $15-20 to get off and on all day whenever you want with banter along the way. Whatever you do, don't get a car - traffic's crap, roads are messy and badly signed, and parking is difficult and expensive.

Eating: The Lenox is in a prime eating zone, but what do you like?! Right on Boylston there's Chili Duck (across from the Prudential, lower level) and a Legal Seafoods (in the Prudential). Hit up Muqueca in Inman Square (Cambridge) for great Brazilian food, or Ginza (several locations) for Japanese and of course sushi and sashimi. Of course, if that's what you want, Porter Exchange (also Cambridge, at Porter Square) has excellent every-Japanese-food. For something quick on a historic walk, stop at Bova's (24 hours!) in the North End for awesome calzones, sandwiches, and cannoli. Oh yeah and dim sum - weekends, Chinatown - the best places are China Pearl and ChowChow City, but Emperor's Garden will have less wait. If any of these strike your fancy, I can give more specific dish comments, too.

Museums: There's lots of art - besides the Museum of Fine Arts (obvious), there's the Peabody-Essex (Salem - nice taste of the suburbs/coast, good museum) Isabella Gardner (cozy) and deCordoba (sculpture, suburbs). The MIT museum is awesome with lots of holograms and kinetic sculptures, plus the engineering type stuff. The Science Museum is pretty typical, but currently has a big live butterfly exhibit. If you're interested in other things, try Walden Pond, the beach at Revere, the Arboretum, or just walking aimlessly around town.

Send an email/later comment if you want anything further on these, I'll be in town until Friday.
posted by whatzit at 1:39 PM on June 6, 2005

A few off-the-beaten-path sort of things I like to do in Boston are:

-The Mapparium
-The Harbor Islands (which have some pretty cool camping if you're into that sort of thing).
-The MIT Museum
-Walking through the old part of the Boston Public Library in Coply Square.
-Eating at the Elephant Walk.

There's no real need for a car - the T can get you everywhere
posted by Staggering Jack at 1:43 PM on June 6, 2005

Oh music. There's lots of free stuff starting up for summer, try searching key words like "esplanade" "hatch shell" and "copley square." Don't know much about clubs but the Middle East often has good groups coming through.

And I totally failed on transportation by forgetting to specifically mention walking. This has to be one of the most walkable cities in the US because of the dense layout and omnipresent sidewalks. Weather looks great for the end of the week, too.
posted by whatzit at 1:45 PM on June 6, 2005

Bova's cannoli++++

Also, while it's usually true that the ugly restaurants in the Italian-Restaurant-Neighborhood-of-a-city serve the best stuff, the rule does not hold for Boston's North End.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:45 PM on June 6, 2005

I grew up outside of Boston and have just recently begun to explore some of its more tourist-y stuff. I agree, the T is the way to go almost everywhere, easily, BUT it doesn't run much past midnight. Be forewarned.

There are a few nifty discount cards that can get you in to a bunch of interesting Boston and Boston area stuff for one price which is sort of neat if you want to do a lot of things within a few days. Check out the Go Boston card which is the one I was eyeballing for my next trip down there.

A few things I saw in Boston recently that I really liked, and that are pretty unusual

- Glass flowers at the Peabody museum
- Boston's Freedom trail and the Granary Burying ground if the weather is nice. [and walking distance from the BPL which is lovely AND has free wifi]
- I second the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum

You can check craigslist boston for sort of a firehose intro to the place, and my pal Andrea has a neat little free stuff to do in boston calendar if you're on a budget.
posted by jessamyn at 2:01 PM on June 6, 2005

As a former N. Ender, I can tell you that the only reason you'd go to Bova's is because it's open all the time. If you want a real cannoli, you go to Modern Pastry. Either way, avoid Mike's like the fucking plague.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:05 PM on June 6, 2005

If you find yourself on Newbury St., drop by Shinto Express for cheap but good sushi. (Especially if you are an eel person.)

I third Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
posted by of strange foe at 2:42 PM on June 6, 2005

The T is $1.25 per ride - definitely the cheapest way to get around [barring walking]. Really, though, you can walk pretty much anywhere in Boston [or Cambridge] in 45 minutes or less.

Food-wise, I'd suggest avoiding dim-sum unless you have someone who speaks some Chinese along with you... I've only had good experiences with dim-sum when that's the case. Most of the above suggestions are pretty good, though.

I third the MIT Museum - it's relatively small, so it won't take up too much time, but the exhibits on holographs and also Arthur Ganson's kinetic sculptures are very cool. The Isabella Gardner Museum is worth checking out, and not too far away both MassArt and the Museum School sometimes hold interesting shows. The bigger museums [MFA, science museum, aquarium, etc.] are also very good, of course.

Good music? If you mean this weekend, check out the WZBC and WMBR concert lists. Those listings cover mostly rock/experimental stuff. Enon's playing Thursday at TT the Bear's [in Cambridge] if indie rock is something you're interested in.
posted by ubersturm at 2:53 PM on June 6, 2005

This weekend is Boston Pride and Saturday is the parade, so when you wake up on Saturday morning and see people lining up in front of your hotel that will be why.

Newbury street - one block down from Boylston where the Lenox is, has a bunch of cool (and some overpriced and trendy) shops and a number of interesting restaurants. Also near by is the Prudential Building and if it's a clear day, there's a nice view from the top.

You're steps away from the Copley T stop on the green line. There are entrances across the street from each other and they don't connect underground so make sure you go in the right one to end up where you need to. The North End (Park St, Goverment Center) would be "Inbound". Kenmore Square is "Outbound".

The flowers are blooming in the Public Garden (walk, or green line to Arlington St), and you can ride the swan boats, or just take pictures. Park Street/Downtown Crossing area has Filene's Basement if you're looking to shop. Government Center is a short walk away from Fanueil Hall, which, while touristy, is fun to walk around if the weather is nice. This is also near the Holocaust Memorial and Union Oyster House and close to the North End (our version of little Italy), Paul Revere's House and Old North Church.

I could go on and on. My email is in my profile if you have questions. Have Fun!
posted by FreezBoy at 2:53 PM on June 6, 2005

Everyone's got this stuff covered. But I feel obligated to add a few more because I lived about a quarter mile away for a number of years:

-Clery's is a bar that is about three minutes from your hotel. It's down Dartmouth street just a little past the T station (and on that side of the street). It combines decent food, reasonably-priced and varied beer and good atmosphere to make for a nice spot to get a beer and a bite (especially to read the paper and hang out while your wife works!) The directions will make sense when you get there.

- Another few blocks down Dartmouth Street is the South End neighborhood, full of neat shops and awesome cafes. Unfortunately, it's also the city's gay neighborhood and that's going to be SUPER crowded his weekend. Once a year the diversity that makes the neighborhood so cool makes it impassable. And that's this weekend. But you still might want to just look even if eating isn't worth the hassle. It's all brick with 150-year-old townhouses, courtyards and the like.

Lastly, avoid that Lenox hotel bar like the plague. It's called "Falite" this week, I think. Bad faux Irish in a city that does very good faux Irish.

You're welcome to cc me if you email FreezBoy.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:25 PM on June 6, 2005

Everyone's right; the T is the only way to get around in the city. BUT - if you want to go to DeCordova Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, or most of the other out-of town sites (maybe excepting Revere Beach, but it's not that great), you'll need a car.

You CAN get to some out-of-the-city places on commuter rail (which is also part of the T): Lowell has historic textile museums that are a good slice of the early labor movement; Ipswich is on another line; last time I looked, you could still get a train to Concord and see the Alcott's house (Walden and the North Bridge are both a couple of miles from the train, in opposite directions). Somebody else can fill in the T-accessible places on the South Shore.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:02 PM on June 6, 2005

Kirth's right - outside areas do fall on the commuter rail. Peabody-Essex is at Salem, deCordova is the same stop as Walden, but I forget which it is. Revere is at the far end of the blue line (Wonderland, Revere Beach, or Beachmont). Should have labeled those earlier.

Have a great trip.
posted by whatzit at 6:45 PM on June 6, 2005

And me, I forgot that the train that goes to Concord stops in Lincoln before that. That may be closer to Walden, but I doubt it. DeCordova is still a hike from the Lincoln station, but it's worth seeing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:03 PM on June 6, 2005

Check out the Boston Phoenix for music, film, etc listings.

I agree with Mayor Curley about the South End -- definitely check it out, but watch out for how busy it'll be this weekend. For great places to eat there search Chowhound's Boston board.

When you see a bunch of women carrying signs and yelling Friday night, potentially in front of your hotel... it's just the Dyke March.
posted by jdl at 7:39 PM on June 6, 2005

Neither Concord T stop [there is West Concord and then Concord and then South Acton which was mine growing up!] is very near Walden Pond. Here's a map of the commuter rail system. You can see the teeny subway system in different colors in the middle. They have good trip planning from this site too, it's all of Boston area public transpo. It's not a rough drive out from the city [take Route 2] but I'd argue it's not worth a whole day trip out either. The DeCordova is a great museum but not so far above the other ones that it's worth the car rental or the hike unless you're a real museum fiend.
posted by jessamyn at 8:44 PM on June 6, 2005

If you're interested in film, both the Brattle Theatre and the Harvard Film Archive show old, obscure, foreign, and indie films. You may want to check out their schedules and see if you're interested in what's playing this weekend.
posted by ubersturm at 11:23 PM on June 6, 2005

The DeCordova is a great museum but not so far above the other ones that it's worth the car rental or the hike unless you're a real museum fiend.

I'm with Jessamyn. We like to picnic there now, and it's more about being great space than having great sculptures. Floydd, don't sweat the DeCordova. You have great spaces at home I bet.

The Peabody Essex museum is really incredible, I agree. But you can save that for another trip. You have plenty to see in a few days without going to Salem.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:02 AM on June 7, 2005

The Gardner is an absolute must. For music I'd have to recommend the Keren Ann/Juana Molina show at the MFA on Friday night.
posted by anathema at 4:11 AM on June 7, 2005

No-one has mentioned the Boston Duck Tours yet. It's a fun way to see tourist sites, especially on a warm day - the bit on the river is lovely then.
Harvard's Sackler Museum is worth a look, too, and is on the T. (Harvard Square stop on the red line). Harvard has 2 other art museums, but I've not been.

Take a walk on the Esplanade on a nice afternoon, or along one of the Charles River bridges at sunset for gorgeous views of the skyline.
Or go see the USS Constitution if you're into that sort of thing
posted by darsh at 8:50 AM on June 7, 2005

You guys are the BEST! Looks like we'll have to schedule a whole week sometime.
This trip, though, it's the Gardener, the MFA, Glass Flowers at the Peabody, (too cool!) and seafood, seafood, seafood. And beer. Red Tide, though, so I guess no mussels, clams or oysters.
We'll stroll around the South End, I'll hang out at Clery's, we'll catch the Keren Ann/Juana Molina show Friday night, maybe watch the parade on Saturday (I'll let my PFLAG fly,) the MIT museum, The Granery Burial Ground, the library and the Mapparium, the Constitution....
I'm going to seem like a regular baked bean brahmin!
I can hear it now: (suspiciously) "You said you'd never been to Boston...."
"Oh, I have friends....."
posted by Floydd at 9:26 AM on June 7, 2005

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