Best of Boston

The glowing red brick and glimmer of America’s revolutionary history makes Boston a hugely attractive city, ticking many of the boxes for a weekend break. It’s easy to navigate, particularly with the Freedom Trail, a route from Boston Common Bunker Hill Monument that ambles past 16 of Boston’s historic landmarks. The ultimate holiday money saver is finding cheap accommodation so try a Boston youth hostel then try out our pick of the best places to eat in Boston for hearty cheap eats and buzzing nightlife.

Best Shop…

Poor Little Rich Girl
This is my ideal shop. The owners handpick the best modern high street pieces (at secondhand prices) and unite them with well-preserved staples from the 40s through to the 80s. For those who don’t dare to don head to toe retro but like a splash of vintage feather, sequin or chunky knit with their contemporary basics, Poor Little Rich Girl will be a treasure trove of key pieces to fill your wardrobe.
166 Newbury Street

Best View…

You have to puff for it, but climb the 294 steps to the misnamed Bunker Hill Monument at the end of the Freedom Trail and be rewarded with one of the finest views of Boston. It is in fact Breed’s Hill.

Tour guides, displays of weaponry, a 360-degree painting of the battle and an enormous diorama of fighting soldiers all attempt to recreate the atmosphere. Climb the monument’s 294 steps for a breathtaking view of Boston.

Follow in the footsteps of history by walking the city’s heritage trails. For first-time visitors the Freedom Trail is a must; a winding red line on the pavement takes you on a 2.5 mile urban tour of the key sites of the American revolution.

Best Hostel…

HI – Boston Downtown
Just across the road from Fenway Park the hostel throws in a host of freebies including breakfast, a free city tour and a range of workshops and films. Shared rooms from €23pppn

Best Event…

Head of the Charles Regatta
Bring a blanket, a thermos and a picnic to the banks of the Charles and watch Boston draw on England’s competitive rowing tradition. Today, more than 8,000 athletes from around the world come to compete and be named ‘head of theCharles’. The Regatta is now so popular it has become a 2-day event.

The Head of Charles Regatta will be held on 23 & 24 October 2010

Alternatively, catch a rare Red Sox game on the morning of Patriots Day in Boston’s beloved Fenway Park stadium. The stadium has one of the last hand-operated scoreboards!

Best Quirky Museum…

The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library
A journey to the centre of the Earth of sorts, this to scale walk-in globe is about 30 feet in diameter and is capable of displaying over 16million colour combinations alongside futuristic sound installations. Stand on the intersecting glass bridge and admire the world as it was in 1935, that’s right, the map is out of date. The show lasts for seven minutes.
200 Massachusetts Avenue
Admission: €4, concessions €3

Best Building…

Institute of Contemporary Art
Home to galleries, a theatre, bookstore and cafe, the ICA is a prominent structure best viewed from the harbour. The glass building dominates the waterfront and the theatre even has a controlled transparency facility which can harness the harbour view as a backdrop if needed.
100 Northern Avenue, Waterfront
Admission: €11, concessions €7, free to all 5-9pm Thursdays

Best Gallery…

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Housed in a 15th century reconstruction of a Venetian palace, the museum is as quirky as its patron: Isabella Stewart Gardener was apparently the inspiration for Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady. There’s an eclectic mix of tapestries, paintings and furniture but the interior courtyard with the seasonal floral displays is particularly spectacular. The museum was the victim of one of America’s largest art heists with 13 pieces stolen from its collection. The blank spaces on the wall remain. Oh, they offer free admission to everyone called ‘Isabella’ too.
280 The Fenway
Admission €9, concessions €4-€8

Best Cheap Eats…

South End Buttery
You can’t go far wrong at a place with ‘buttery’ in the name. Their produce is organic and locally sourced where possible. The Eggs Benedict,  Huevos Rancheros or Eggs in the Hole certainly set you up for the day or pop in for their delightful classic cupcakes, named after the owners’ errr three dogs. 314 Shawmut Avenue

The Paramount
A big hit with locals since 1937, the bistro serves up probably the best brunch in Boston, as well as lunch or something from the grill for dinner with mains costing between €4-€10. Atmosphere is always bustling and queues can be out the door at weekends. A very good sign we think! 44 Charles Street

Best Nightlife….

With a student population of 250,000, the youth need SOMEWHERE to let their hair down. Akin to NYC’s Brooklyn, Boston has Allston which is located next to Harvard Avenue. It’s the cheaper part of town and home to plenty of music venues and nightlife spots with probably the bets bars in Boston. Try Great Scott (1222 Commonwealth Avenue) for local bands and a nice outdoor seating area. It’s small inside but in exchange you get that nice intimate atmosphere which draws a fun crowd.

Another popular local hangout is Harry’s Bar and Grill (1430 Commonwealth Avenue). You can fill up on under €8 pub grub and no nonsense booze.

Like this? Read our guide to Fall Foliage Destinations

Thanks to Chloester, bbaunach, M. Keefe, David Salafia and gkristo for the images off Flickr!

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