First time to Boston
June 1, 2007 9:53 PM   Subscribe

Will be going to Boston on our 25th wedding aniversary, Thursday June 7th for 2.5 days, staying at the Westin Waterfront 425 Summer Street. Need your recommendations on: Best way to get from hotel to downtown (don't mind public transportation) Good local places to eat, seafood,italian,etc ( not formal, please) for lunch & dinner Interesting must do things,etc,etc This trip was sort of a last minute thing, and don't have too much time to research, so please HELP Thanks
posted by FLHunter3006 to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As far as transport to downtown: your feet will serve you well. You're going to be less than a mile from downtown; just walk down Summer St., cross the channel, and you'll be in downtown.
posted by killdevil at 10:21 PM on June 1, 2007

Happy Anniversary! The MBTA Trip Planner is the way to figure out how to get around most of Boston. Where downtown are you going to be that you need to get to the hotel from? Your hotel is on the number seven bus route, the Silver Line [sort of a fakey bus line that pretends it's a subway and goes almost nowhere but it does go to the hotel and to the airport] and about a 3/4 mile walk from South Station which is one of the big bus/train stops in the city. Subway fare is $2 and if you want transportation to be easy and hassle free, buy a $15 pass for seven days and forget about it, give it to someone else on your way out of town. The subway is pretty easy, doesn't run terribly late [midnight or one on weekends CHECK if you are night owls] and is pretty safe though not terribly clean.

Your hotel is nice but you're in a bit of a dead zone by the Convention center with a few block walk to get to the waterfront area but there are a good chunk of restaurants closer to the water. Depnding what you're into there are a few odd and interesting museums near you

Boston Fire Museum
Institute of Contemporary Art
Boston Tea Party and Ship Museum
Hull Lifesaving Museum

The Boston Phoenix Listings will give you an overview of what is going on in Boston. If you get a Boston Globe on Thursday there will be a calendar section which will have what's going on over the weekend. If the weather is nice, you might want to take the subway and check out parts of the Freedom Trail, a self-guided walking tour through parts of Boston's history. The John F Kennedy Presidential library and museum is sort of neat if you're into JFK. I like libraries so I also suggest checking out the downtown branch of the Boston Public Library because its lovely. They also have free wifi, you can register for a card [I think] at any library and use their internet. The City of Boston website has some more information.
posted by jessamyn at 10:21 PM on June 1, 2007

A tip: if you're going to book any popular restaurants, book now. You're arriving on Harvard's graduation day.
posted by shivohum at 10:32 PM on June 1, 2007

Do The Duck Tour. You'll see most of the historic sites in the city in about a 45-minute, very entertaining ride. The amphibious vessel takes off from Copley Plaza. When I lived in Boston, I did this tour with all my out-of-town visitors and it sort of fulfilled everyone's need to see historic Boston while still having time to have good beer and good food.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 11:01 PM on June 1, 2007

Seems like the MBTA has been doing some work since I moved away. There's a new subway called the "Silver Line". It looks like the "World Trade Center" station is a block from your hotel.

The Silver Line runs to Logan, so that may be your preferred means of getting to the Westin when you fly in.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:50 AM on June 2, 2007

Since you're going to be staying so close to the North End (Boston's Little italy), I'd recommend Pomodoro for dinner. The calamari is amazing and it's got an intimate vibe that I have always loved. After dinner bypass the overly crowded Mike's Pastry and walk across the street to Cafe Vittoria for an espresso and cannoli.

During the day take the green E line inbound to the Museum of Fine Arts stop and then walk PAST the MFA to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The Gardner features a fine collection of art and boasts a gorgeously landscaped courtyard that is open to visitors during the summer...tres romantic.

Have a great time!
posted by dagnyduquette at 4:08 AM on June 2, 2007

2nd the Gardner, but get off at the Mass College of Art. It is a couple of blocks closer. Although the Museum of Fine Arts has an Edward Hopper exhibit.

So Boston's new waterfront... Within walking distance of the hotel you have the No Name restaurant, The Barking Crab, and the Legal Test Kitchen. Cross the bridge into Boston's financial district, and you will be disappointed. The whole section of town empties at 5:00. However take the Silver line to Chinatown, open any restaurant door, and you'll find happiness.
Silver line to Red line to Central Square in Cambridge for a variety of ethnic foods. Try the Middle East. Harvard Square will be busy, and besides there's nothing left of "The Square" it has become an outdoor mall. Except for Bartley's Burgers, and the Fogg Art Museum, but it is commencement week...ymmv.

Nightlife? iMax at the Museum of Science- REAL iMax, with the domed screen!. Try Shear Madness at the Charles. It has been running longer than you've been married. Happy Anniversary.
posted by Gungho at 6:19 AM on June 2, 2007

(food only)
  • Bova's in the North End for some late night walking and munching. 24 hour bakery has great bread, nice pastries (try the ricotta pie), and stuffing calzones and sandwiches (no sandwiches between 1 and 6 am). It's a nice, but not too long, walk from the hotel.
  • There's a lot of fantastic Brazilian and Portuguese food in Inman Square, Cambridge. They both feature lots of seafood. If you're in this area, check out Casa Portugal or Moqueca (but not on Mondays).
  • Another Iberian favorite, Iruña, in Harvard Square, is more easily accessible, and very cozy in an anniversary kind of way. Garlic soup is awesome.
  • Boston has quite a few good Japanese restaurants. There are recommendations in other threads, too, but just yesterday I had a yummily delicious shyabu shyabu (hot pot) at Kaze just at Chinatown. Since you'll probably come towards this area during your tour (also near Downtown Crossing, State House), you should try it too.
  • Consider finishing your anniversary dinner with dessert at finale, specializing in beautiful desserts. There's one at Harvard, and a couple more in Boston.

  • The duck tour can be fun if you're the right type of person. Another "organized" way to see the highlights are the trolleys that you pay for an all-day ticket on and can get on and off all day, all over the city. More value for your dollar (both are $25-30ish).
  • I'd say both the Gardner *and* the MFA are worth your time, if you wanted museums. The MIT Museum (Cambridge) is also fun - it's small, and has really neat permanent exhibits of holograms and kinetic sculptures.
  • This is a great walking city. Walk along the Charles, in the Esplanade, to the North End, maybe through the South End, and you can see it all. The T is there whenever you get tired, and a couple key landmarks can keep you in the right general directions. If this were my anniversary, this would be the kind of way I'd want to remember it: a clear day, walking across the bridge after a filling meal and a day full of adventures.

  • posted by whatzit at 6:27 AM on June 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

    Seems like the MBTA has been doing some work since I moved away. There's a new subway called the "Silver Line". It looks like the "World Trade Center" station is a block from your hotel.

    This is a bus, actually, not a subway line. Just FYI.

    Also, the MBTA trip planner can be really wonky, so you might actually do a little better just to look at a map and figure it out yourself.
    posted by sutel at 6:30 AM on June 2, 2007

    One interesting point about the Silver Line - you can't get very far on the route that goes past your hotel. That line stops at South Station (the one with the Chinatown stop is a separate line). However, from South Station all you have to do is take the Red Line one stop to Downtown Crossing and you're in the heart of the city.

    Seconding Caffe Vittoria, I always stop there when I'm in the North End. If you like dim sum, go to the China Pearl on Saturday, but get there early - no later than noon. Otherwise you'll be waiting in line.
    posted by backseatpilot at 7:01 AM on June 2, 2007

    My favorite Italian restaurant in Boston is called Pagluccianos. It's on Parmenter street in the North End. It's always crowded, so expect a wait, but it's not formal at all. It's an ordinary family restaurant with great food. Try the veal saltimbocco. (I'm sure I've spelt that wrong.) It's to die for, if you like mushrooms.
    posted by vilcxjo_BLANKA at 8:00 AM on June 2, 2007

    I'd recommend Pomodoro for dinner.

    I second that! I just made that recommendation for "out-of-town" friends last weekend -- andf they, too, loved it. The food is great. It's small (seating for 24), loud, cash-only, no dessert, no coffee, and no bathroom, but extremely popular. It's great food. Chevon, the owner, can sometimes be gruff, but often sweet. If the wait on the sidewalk is too long, she'll bring out baskets of free calamari. She's quite a character -- an amateur power-lifter and one of the few Irish-Americans to launch an Italian restaraunt in the North End (having actually rebuilt after having the premises once firebombed). I get a kick that she doesn't use a cash register, and often has a stack of bills "pinned" to a wooden table by a very large kitchen knife! Message clear: don't mess with me or my money!

    Not too far from your hotel are a few newer restaurants -- Legal Test Kitchen, Channel Cafe, Potbellies Kitchen.

    There's also the popular Barking Crab and The No Name for New England fare close to your hotel.
    posted by ericb at 8:12 AM on June 2, 2007

    On preview -- some of what Gungho said!
    posted by ericb at 8:14 AM on June 2, 2007

    BTW -- the weekend you are here is Gay Pride Weekend. There will be over a million participants. There's a new Saturday Parade route this year. Navigating surface roads by cab, bus, etc. from the South End to the Back Bay, Boston Common and then City Hall may be difficult -- so walk or take the "T" that morning to early afternoon. Hey, you may (or, may not) enjoy the parade!
    posted by ericb at 8:26 AM on June 2, 2007

    You'll be able to tour the JFK birthplace in Brookline, too.
    posted by brujita at 10:43 AM on June 2, 2007

    Response by poster: You guys are the BEST!!!!!
    Thank you very much for all the ideas! I hope we have time to try the restaurant recommendations and attractions

    Thank You very much!!!!!!!

    ps. I mentioned the hotel to downtown, because I figure that's where the best place to walk around would be, ex: Fanueil Hall, etc....
    posted by FLHunter3006 at 6:03 PM on June 2, 2007

    I really loved Ristorante Toscano.
    posted by Morrigan at 2:13 PM on June 3, 2007

    Response by poster: Came back from Boston, some info of the trip:
    Got the Weekly MBTA pass used it for 3 days and gave it to a family before leaving, Boston has Great transportation!
    Westin Waterfront: Very nice hotel (not on the waterfront) about 200 yards from the Silver Line station, very convenient".
    Walked downtown from hotel, nice walk,felt safe even at night.
    Followed some recommended places above,etc:
    Pagliuca's on the North End (1/2 price lunch) lots of food.
    Mike's Pastry, crowded but not too long of a wait.
    No Name Restaurant at the Fish Pier not far from hotel was pretty good.
    Durgin Park Restaurant was good also.
    Too many good places to eat, not enough time in the city!
    Saw Shear Madness at the Charles Playhouse, funny comedy.
    Had a great time in Boston, Thanks for the recommendations
    posted by FLHunter3006 at 7:23 PM on June 11, 2007

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