I want to fall in love.. (with Boston)
November 25, 2006 3:53 PM   Subscribe

I want to fall in love (with Boston).

Alright so this is a cheap rip off of an earlier post about Chicago but...well I guess I have no shame.
How does one fall in love with Boston? I am a new (3 months here) transplant to the area, living in the happening North End and going to grad school here (read low low low on money) and I am looking for help. As of today Im not sure if I will be here in a year but I am all for a "fair go" and so I thought I'd ask away.

What made you fall in love with the Hub. If not love then, well maybe a serious crush or an unhealthy obsession perhaps.
posted by Meemer to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (31 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Two words: "Boston Legal."

(Although I'm not from Boston and have never actually been to Boston and the show doesn't actually tell you that much about Boston. My other suggestion was going to be "Good Will Hunting." Both of those productions have given me an abiding fondness for Boston, and have had me considering a move to Boston, despite the fact that I have absolutely no reason to be interested in Boston otherwise. Boston Boston Boston.)

posted by limeonaire at 4:00 PM on November 25, 2006

I've long wished to visit Boston for the rich history of the area. To walk the streets of one of the cities that gave birth to our Republic would be fascinating.

This is, of course, the opinion of a historical fetishist from the opposite coast, so maybe this suggestion won't work for you. But were I to move to Boston, I'd get right on the ball touring historic sites and learning the city's story in detail.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:10 PM on November 25, 2006

In the mid-90s, it was just a serious crush. In 1999, I moved up here, and I thought it was just going to be a short term fling. In 2002, I passed on a job in Japan to stay, and I realized it was infatuation. Today, seven years and three months after I moved here, I realized this relationship is a bit more serious then I ever imagined getting into.

I've lived in Waltham ('99-'04) and Cambridge ('04-today), and I love everything about this place except cost (much like most other major cities) and driving in snow in the winter.

I love the food (you live in the North End!), the culture (the MFA and MOS), the architecture, the history, the universities and the students (annoying when drunk, energizing the rest of the time).

I hate Logan, but I love being near a major airport that can take me anywhere in the world. The T is pretty good. "The other side of Boston" is a 20-minute walk from wherever you are. I love the fact that I just walked to get some Chinese take out, and I walked past the place where Washington took command of the military. Where else can you say something like that?

Sure, the people tend to look down while they walk. Sure, one of our sports teams is the Bruins. But this is just one of the best cities in the world.

What do you think you're missing? Perhaps your MeFi Tour Guides can help you out. ;-)
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:11 PM on November 25, 2006

I moved here from LA almost 2 years ago. Here's a few things, in no particular order. I don't know where you're from, so of course, none of this may ring your bell:

  • Burgers at R.F. O'Sullivan's in Somerville
  • The nighttime view when the Red Line goes above ground over the Charles, between the Kendall and Charles MGH stops
  • Walking along Memorial on Sundays, when they close the street down to cars (particularly in the fall)
  • Rock shows at The Middle East, The Abbey, O'Briens (closed for renovations)
  • Watching The Phantom Gourmet and then Bowling For Dollars (candlepin bowling) on Sunday mornings
  • Taking guests from out of town over the Mass Ave bridge, from Boston into Cambridge (and vice versa)
  • Talking to whoever is driving my bus
  • Investigating the abandoned state mental hospital (Metropolitan State Hospital) - buried at the back of a 17 square mile wildlife reservation (Beaver Brook) in Belmont/Waltham
  • Watching Patriots games at my local bar
  • Comparing my daily commute to work here against my daily commute back in LA
  • Walking from Harvard Square to Central
  • Taking my dog to Callahan State Park (in Framingham) for a puppy swim and then a run through the woods
  • Driving aimlessly up to New Hampshire, or Maine, and then back
  • Hopping on the Fung Wah to visit friends in NYC for the weekend

  • posted by pazazygeek at 4:11 PM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

    The nighttime view when the Red Line goes above ground over the Charles, between the Kendall and Charles MGH stops

    I occasionally go downtown at night for no other reason than to see that view.
    posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:15 PM on November 25, 2006 [2 favorites]

    My goodness, what amazing people you all are.

    Although I cant say my search is done (ie keep the reccos comming), heres what I will say about the first 5 responses.

    Thank you. Period. From TV to bridges, to diners to trips it seems to be exactly what I was looking for.

    And. I created a new tradition recently that I thought yall would be interested in: everytime I cross the Charles (on that fateful red line) I think of three or more things that I am thankful for, small or grand it matters not. Maybe we can spread the practice?

    Thanks again. And btw I am from the west coast and so for me, the T is AMAZING.
    posted by Meemer at 4:25 PM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

    Watching movies from the balcony at the Brattle theater, the(mostly gone)bookstores, having ice cream in the vault at Herrells, the chestnut trees in the Back Bay, the bready smell at BPL, that there's much less attitude than there is in New York.......
    posted by brujita at 4:40 PM on November 25, 2006

    I created a new tradition recently that I thought yall would be interested in: everytime I cross the Charles (on that fateful red line) I think of three or more things that I am thankful for, small or grand it matters not. Maybe we can spread the practice?

    I think that's a great idea. Count me in.

    Here are a few more things that come to mind:

    1. Meat on a stick at the Hong Kong downtown
    2. Playing with someone else's dog during off-leash hours in the public gardens
    3. Upper Slice, the pizza place on Charles Street in Beacon Hill that Jack Welch wrote about in his book Winning
    4. The Boston Public Library
    5. Sam Adams the patriot
    6. Sam Adams the beer
    7. The double cheeseburger at Charley's Kitchen in Harvard Square
    8. Speaking of Squares: Kendall, Porter, Inman, Charles, and Harvard in Cambridge, and Davis in Somerville.
    9. Used book stores
    10. We actually have four seasons
    11. Cobblestone streets
    12. Sitting in the courtyard at the BPL on a fall or spring day, listening to the water fountain
    13. Gas lights
    14. Walking around Louisburg Square
    15. A very active Boston Craigslist
    16. Ryles Jazz Club
    17. The movie theater in Harvard Square
    18. Free public lectures at Harvard, MIT, BC, BU, and NEU
    19. Mt. Auburn Cemetery
    20. The Big Dig (great in bars in other cities: "You think your public works department is fucked up? I'm from Boston, buddy. Three words: The. Big. Dig.")
    posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:48 PM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

    According to my mom (who's from boston) the cool stuff to do is hang out at Faneuil Hall and Haymarket square, which is the historic downtown market area, apparently.

    For my own two cents, I love the Common (ripped off Halifax, but done very well). There's a great second hand book store there as well as at Harvard square.
    posted by tiamat at 4:56 PM on November 25, 2006

    I have lived here for the past 2.5 years while in law school. I think I have found my new home-city.

    I also live in the North End. Some specific things about the N.E. (mostly low-budget) that made me fall in love with living in Boston:

    1. The N.E. is BRIMMING with local shops. Get to know the people who make your neighborhood function. I recommend Joe from Tutto Italiano on Fleet Street but also the shopkeepers at True Value, in the Golden Goose Market and many of the other local business add local flavor.

    2. ITALIAN FESTIVALS! These happen mostly in the spring-summer but they are AMAZING! Also, don't miss the flight of the angel during the Fisherman's Feast.

    3. Free Wine tastings. I know that Hanover Wine and Spirits and The Wine Bodega (cant find the link but its also on Hanover) offer free wine tastings. I would recommend the Friday 5-7 tasting at the Bodega.

    4. The low-cost veggie and fruit market at Haymarket.

    5. Last minute tickets to sporting events only a short walk away at the Garden. (B's and Celtics tickets can be as low as 15 dollars!)

    6. The LOCAL North End branch of the public library. A Great resource AND a great spot to people watch.

    I love the North End but some things outside this small neighborhood:
    Redbones BBQ in Davis Square
    People Watching at Harvard Square
    Coolidge Corner Cinema
    Discount Event tickets from Bostix..

    Good luck falling in love!
    posted by irisell at 5:09 PM on November 25, 2006

    I've moved to and from Boston (et al) for the last 20 years, sometimes out of state, sometimes out of country, but always returning. I'm not always sure why. Some ideas:

    I love that it's a bunch of little villages, like London or Paris.
    I love that it's not on a grid system.
    I love the brick sidewalks and brownstones and triple deckers and victorians.
    I love the Van de Graaff generator at the MOS.
    I love walking across the Summer St. bridge to Fort Point when the wind has turned and it's all fishy and moist.
    I love that gold dome.
    I love the ice cream, the Arboretum, Forest Hills cemetary.
    I love paddling on the river.
    I love daring to cross the river on foot when it's frozen.
    I love that it's truly walkable.
    I love the look on visitors' faces when I get them from here to there in a car and it only takes 15min on streets they've never been on and I find a parking spot and nail it in one take.
    I love the bookstores. And the books.
    I love sitting in Castle Island at night and watching the planes roar off overhead.
    I love the cyclists, the rush hour Financial District crosswalk jams, the cab drivers I can talk French with.
    On return from many, many cities, I love and appreciate how green and tree-filled a city it is.
    I love that piano filled with flowers in the Longwood area.
    I love being around so many schools.
    I love open studios and the Christmas sales at the art schools.
    I love all the science and history that has Happened Right Here.
    I love that there are parts of town with no electrical wires.
    I love the many small movie theatres and miss the departed ones.
    I love the characters you get to know in any neighborhood if you open yourself to meeting them.
    And the Sox, though I'm a very reserved fan unless they're in the Series.

    I've lived in the South End, SoWa--or whatever that area is now called-- well before gentrification, JP, Beacon Hill, Fort Point, South Boston, Mission Hill, Allston, Back Bay, Watertown and now Cambridge. Immersing myself here has been like getting to know to a lover. And maybe it's helped that I've fallen in and out of love here five or six times.
    posted by cocoagirl at 5:19 PM on November 25, 2006 [2 favorites]

    There are a lot of threads regarding what to do in Boston; most of them aren't aimed specifically at "falling in love" with the city, but most of them do offer a lot of things to do that might help. These are just the first I dug up; check out other stuff tagged with "Boston" for more.

    [And yeah, sure, you might not fall in love with Boston in the end, but it's certainly too soon to tell. In this thread and in previous ones, there's a lot of stuff that's worth checking out before you make any sort of a judgement.]
    posted by ubersturm at 5:28 PM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

    I grew up a few miles outside of Boston, but of course wasn't born liking it. It's been years of getting to know it and really loving the place.

    My recommendations (some are seconds):
    • Drive aimlessly to Western Mass especially in the fall - just get on Route 2 west.
    • Seconding this because I love the place: Louisburg Square (look up it's history)
    • Sorry seconding the Mt Auburn Cemetery too, it's an amazingly beautiful place.
    • The festivals of various saints during the summer in the North End
    • The Head of the Charles Regatta in October
    • Take a ferry over to George's Island in the Harbor for a picnic. Better yet, camp on one of the Harbor Islands.
    • Red Sox games
    • Films at the Coolidge Corner Theater
    • Have a Guinness at one of the many Irish bars (James Gate in JP and the Burren in Somerville are two good ones),
    • Go for a walk at Castle Island in Southie and watch the planes take off from Logan
    • Get pizza at Santarpio's
    • Skate at the Frog Pond and go on the Swan Boats in the nice weather (read Make Way for Ducklings)
    • Walk the Freedom Trail
    • Go to Watertown's Armenian shops for great food
    • Learn to sail at Community Boating or rent a kayak and see Boston from the Charles.
    • Visit Doyle's in JP, it's been around since the 1800s and every local pol has had a pint there at one point.
    I could go on, but I'll quit here. I hope this helps!
    posted by jdl at 5:37 PM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

    Oh and cocoagirl I love that piano, too. It's not far from another thing I love, Devotion Street (in Brookline) with it's Dead End sign.
    posted by jdl at 5:41 PM on November 25, 2006

    Nthing jdl's recs, above, and adding: during the first (good) snowfall of the year - when it's fluffy snow falling quietly, and it's hardly windy at all - take the the opportunity to walk Comm Ave in the Back Bay, and Louisburg Square. Especially in the evening, when the gaslights are lit.

    Oh, and go to Christmas Revels at Sanders Theatre. Goofy and fun.

    Community Boating rocks!
    posted by rtha at 6:05 PM on November 25, 2006

    Chinatown - it's a small one, but very good for food and shopping

    Harvard's amazing collection of museums - if you're at all into anything old or natural, it's a treasure trove

    Try walking across the Longfellow bridge on a summer night.

    The Weeks footbridge. A big, wide, classically beautiful bridge over the local major river, and it's just for pedestrians.

    Actually, the whole set of Charles River bridges between Cambridge and Boston.

    Some of the really good stuff is gone (Truc in Harvard Sq., Club 47, sniff, Stoddard's), but most of it has been replaced with other good stuff. Your mission: find it.
    posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:14 PM on November 25, 2006

    Newbury [fucking wicked retahded] Comics, duh?
    posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:04 PM on November 25, 2006

    I only had a brief flirtation with the town, a couple of years back, but remember loving how walkable the place was. Everything was so compact. I loved the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, the common and went on a really interesting walking tour of abolitionist Boston that started at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial.
    posted by Sara Anne at 8:15 PM on November 25, 2006

    Man, when I moved for college to Boston from Florida it took me a full year to learn to love the city.

    I hated having everyone up on top me.

    When I finally graduated, I was sad for moving away. Hell I still am.

    Go have a beer at the Publick House in Allston.
    posted by drewbage1847 at 1:03 AM on November 26, 2006

    I live in a neighborhood - a real neighborhood, not one of these warehouses for the transient middle class. Housing is expensive because there's nowhere left to build; you're living in something that has been lived in many times before. You connect with your predecessors that way. There's no frontier. Everyone you meet has a story about what it was like before you got there. That's Boston.
    posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:50 AM on November 26, 2006

    The MIT Flea market (3rd Sunday, April- October)
    The Smithsonian Observatory in Cambridge
    Taking the Blue Line to the beach, and eating Kelly's clams
    Kite flying at the beach or at Pope Paul park in Dorchester.
    I used to think Harvard Square was cool, but it has lost a lot of character lately. Still there's Charlies Kitchen, and Mr. Bartley's Burgers, the Hong Kong , Grendle's Den and the Garage Mall.
    posted by Gungho at 5:53 AM on November 26, 2006

    Go to Revere Beach and have a roast beef sandwich at the original Kelly's

    Tiki drinks at the Kowloon

    Eat a big-ass steak and an iceberg lettuce salad at the Hilltop in Saugus; marvel at the neon cactus

    Have a lobster dinner at Woodman's in Essex

    Get a raspberry lime rickey at a Brigham's, if you can find one that's still open.
    posted by briank at 6:18 AM on November 26, 2006

    I have to add the Maparium to your list of things to do.

    Beyond that, just pay attention to the character of the place when you're walking around doing all of these things. That's how you get to love a city -- by understanding how it works, how the people think and feel. Once you start letting that seep into your system, you'll become a part of the place. Pay attention to the rhythms of life in Boston (e.g. riding the T twenty minutes after a Sox game gets out). Focus on the dialect -- start identifying things that might be "quee-ah" or "wicked." Ask your neighbors why they love Boston, whether they grew up there or if they're new arrivals.

    When you get to a new city, it's easy to be overwhelmed by everything going on -- public transportation, local government, sports teams that you've only heard about in passing. It's easy to feel ignored, or separated from the city. But you're there now, you're part of it. Boston is now your city. You're not a tourist, you're a resident, so treat it like a new friend. Figure out the parts of its character that match well with your own. Find the places that move you. As you can see, we all have them, and all the things listed above add up to form what Boston means.

    Don't forget that Boston is the largest urban center in New England, so when you're traveling through the Cape or the Berkshires, or southern Maine, know that all those little cultural elements that you find are filtering their way into the city to give it its character.

    Once you feel like you have a good idea of what Boston's about, try going to other cities nearby. New York is a great counterpoint because the two cities are so completely different. After you get back from NYC, you'll probably find yourself feeling more at home than you expected in Boston. Providence is kind of a weird cousin of the Hub and might help to re-frame your understanding. You can get there on the commuter rail.

    Finally, I'd recommend watching a bunch of movies about Boston to see how people depict it. Fever Pitch is pretty schlocky, but it made me homesick. "Salesman" is an amazing documentary about traveling salesmen working in the suburbs north of Boston in the early sixties -- it's a good way to see where current Bostonians came from.
    posted by one_bean at 8:44 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

    I'm so in love with Boston it makes my heart hurt to think of moving away!

    Seconding what people have said above and adding:
    • Reading *Weekly Dig*. Those guys are all over Boston and it comes through in the writing.
    • Exploring the Financial District (especially Post Office Square) on a Sunday when there's almost nobody else around
    • Crossing the Longfellow Bridge between Charles Station and Kendall Station, YES YES YES. Especially at night.
    • Just keeping an eye out for all the local events - read the Dig and the Phoenix, get on the email lists for Coolidge Corner Theater, the Brattle, Harvard Book Shop, crazy art studios, performance groups, etc., etc. This helps for experiencing all the stuff that really makes the city alive beyond what the tourists can experience in a short stay. There is just so damn much going on around here, it makes it hard to decide what to do on any given evening.

    posted by cadge at 9:18 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

    Having grown up outside of Boston and had to move when I was 16 to Florida, let me please just say...

    thanks for the first case of homesickness I've had in 20 years, folks. :-}
    posted by baylink at 10:09 AM on November 26, 2006

    - Top of the Hub when people are visiting (drinks only, food is not recommended)
    - Eating in the South End
    - The esplanade in the spring/summer
    - Terminal A at Logan

    But really what I like best is that it's large enough to have big city things but somehow still feel like a small town.
    posted by cmicali at 12:24 PM on November 26, 2006

    hey meem. i know you know most of my boston favorites, but in case i may not have mentioned some of them, here are mine, in no particular order.

    1. Sunday brunch at Paramount, and walking home the long way down Charles.
    2. Live music at the Beachcomber on the Cape, at Cahoon Hollow beach. Sorta like Canes in PB, only way, way better.
    3. Landsdowne Street on game days.
    4. Tuesday trivia at the Living Room. (we must do this soon).
    5. Outdoor shows at Great Woods, er, Tweeter Center.
    6. Upper Crust on Newbury.
    7. Being surprised by the pops in the common on the walk home from work.
    8. Ray LaMontagne on my ipod walking in the Public Garden. As close to Disneyland as the East Coast offers.
    9. Boys in Sox caps and blue and white striped button downs.
    10. The last weekend of fall, when the leaves are all down bbut they still have that crunchy, woodsy smell.
    11. Falling in love with no-name rock stars at the Paradise
    12. Marathon Monday and the fact that it inspired me to run one.
    13. Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. Nothing on the West Coast to compare it to. I dare you. Live Free or Die.
    14. Millions of cordoroy blazers at the Havard/Yale game.
    15. Tailgating before an apple picking jaunt in Marlborough.
    16. Twinkle lights on Hanover Street in December.
    17. Marlborough Street in the falling snow
    18. That random park that snakes through the South End.
    19. Tommy and the fact that he has made a Patriots fan of me.
    20. The perfect balance of sky and buildings.

    Thats all for now. Lets go get a beer.
    posted by itsallhappening at 2:42 PM on November 26, 2006

    Thanks a lot. This thread has made me homesick for a city I've never even visited. Yeesh.
    posted by HighTechUnderpants at 9:05 PM on November 26, 2006

    You're welcome. Here - have some chowdah.
    posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:56 AM on November 27, 2006

    itsallhappening: "Tuesday trivia at the Living Room. (we must do this soon)."

    Trivia is a great way to meet the nerdy side of Boston. I've never seen it played to this extent anywhere else. And there are a whole ton of Stump trivia locations in the Boston area, on any given day of the week. (I don't suggest the Livingroom for trivia. The atmosphere is more like a club than a pub, and the drinks are on the pricey side. Personal favorite locations of mine include Joe Sent Me on Mass Ave just west of Porter Square on Tuesdays and Clery's on Dartmouth St on Wednesdays.)
    posted by Plutor at 6:24 AM on November 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

    Lots of good suggestions above. And also,

    The Rockmore (floating restaurant) - a bar on a dock in the middle of Salem harbor. Perfect summertime activity. There's a Boston location now too.

    Bearskin Neck - tip of Rockport - crafts, ice cream, smoked mackeral, old harbor.

    Gloucester, and the Gloucester stage.

    Watching polo matches and sipping champagne in towns along Cape Ann.

    The Clambox of Ipswich.

    Giacomo's Restaurant in the North End for quick, fresh, delicious Italian food; Pomodoro in the North End for delicious Italian seafood (bring cash).

    The Border Cafe in Harvard Square for fun margaritas and yummy tex-mex food. Grendel's Den in Harvard Sq., although it's not nearly as good as it used to be.

    Kimball Farm in Carlisle for worth the drive ice cream.

    Fugakyu in Brookline and Sudbury - fun atmosphere, fantastic sushi.

    Walden Pond. The Concord Cheese Shop - a real gem. Try the "hot mexican" dip, or the amazing wine and cheese and pate selection.

    Paste, Etc. in Lexington. Try the crabmeat pasta.

    The Wellesley College campus, especially the arboretum and the astronomy building.

    Jasmine Sola. Although now it's becoming a big chain....

    People watching on Newbury Street.

    EVOO, the Elephant Walk, the Blue Room for fancy restaurants.

    Hiking Mt. Monadnock, and see MA, NH and VT from the peak.

    Pat's Peak in Henniker, NH - skiing or hiking by day, then staying at the Meetinghouse Inn, enjoying some private hot tub time, and then eating a delicious dinner at the Inn's restaurant.

    Patriot's Day (Apr 19) - reenactments, parades, fairs.

    Proximity to both skiing and ocean.

    Grand Opening.

    The Improper Bostonian.

    I'm sure there's more....
    posted by Amizu at 3:15 PM on November 30, 2006

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