Visito[u]r Guide: Boston, MA

6 Feb

Yesterday while I was entertaining Bostonians with my killer dance moves on Storrow Drive I had that feeling of nostalgia remembering how much I love this city. 


I was taking a walk along the Esplanade and as I was crossing Storrow Drive on the footbridge, I realized how weeeeeird it feels to be standing directly over a car that is going 50+ mph.  I’ve probably walked on these footbridges at least 23043259 times in the three and a half years that I’ve lived here and somehow it had never occurred to me that this is AWESOME.  I got excited.  So then I started walking in slow motion…  then backwards… then forward… added a moonwalk and realized that people driving under the bridge were smile-pointing at me.  Lord knows I should not be encouraged….because the next thing you know I’m dancing.  Obnoxiously.  My moves were obviously killer because everyone driving under me was laughing/smiling/honking/pointing/thumbs-upping/waving/dancing… etc.  That means they love me, right??  This went on for about twenty minutes until I realized that 1. it was freezing  2. my friend was waiting for me to actually cross the bridge (ie: not dance) 3. I had been spilling my $14 peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks all over myself and most importantly #4. I’m not half as hilarious as I think I am.  I LOVE YOU BOSTON!

That said – this really is an amazing city.  Last year I (very literally) spent 27 hours creating a PowerPoint for The Mullet Reunion Weekend (three of my best girl friends’/college housemates’ annual get-together) of things we could do while they were here; this PowerPoint has now become a template for all my visitors, and I’ve even had friends here use it for their visitors! (I need to start charging for that thing)  So here’s some free advice for things to do in Boston if you’re visiting, or live here and are bored with your life, or are trying to stalk me (please don’t stalk me).

  • The Obvious “Must Sees” and historic sites – most of which can be seen on the Freedom Trail
  • Favorite walks around the city
    • Esplanade (noun: ess-pluh-nod) – paved walking/running/biking/rollerblading path along the Charles River.  Quite possibly my number one favorite thing about this city.  Stop on the Mass Ave bridge for a great view of the Boston skyline
    • Comm Ave Mall – gorgeous in all seasons.  Dec –Feb they light ALL the trees with white lights and it’s soooo beautiful.  In the spring there are these huge crazy awesome pink  Magnolia trees, and fall – well it’s Boston, everything is gorgeous in the fall… and the brownstones along the way are ridiculously beautiful too
    • Jamaica Pond/Riverway – good if you feel the need to get out of the city without driving; a little gem I found not too far from my apt
    • Fens – used to take Dude here all the time after work; gorgeous in the fall and a little bit of a shorter walk.  Another gem that not a lot of people take advantage of!  ::Disclaimer:: DO NOT GO HERE AT NIGHT.
    • Public Garden/Boston Common – DOI!  Great for people watching too.
    • Forest Hills Cemetery – it IS in fact a cemetery and I generally would not go to a cemetery, but this place is BEAAAAUTIFUL!  Again, great if you feel like getting out of the city but don’t want to drive.
    • Arboretum – HUGE area with tons of walking trails.  Generally pretty packed with people/strollers, but really pretty.  Also provides a great view of the Boston skyline if you go to the end of the park and go up the ginormous hill.
    • Blue Hills Reservation – great walking trails, especially gorgeous in the fall.  I once got lost for 3 hours in there because we were pretending the leaves that were falling were bombs so we tried to run after them and catch them before they hit the ground in order to save the world.  DUH.  All fun and games until we realized we were off the trails and had no idea where we were… whoops.
    • Amory Park – small local park, so I guess not really a “walk” BUT! you can catch little league games here and play with cute cute cute puppies.
    • Memorial Drive shuts down on Sundays making for a great walk on the other side of the river, near Harvard.  Don’t recommend rollerblading there… FYI.
  • Coffee Shops
  • Breakfast Spots
    • Zaftigs – Jewish style deli.  Great food.  HUGE portions.
    • Busy Bee – comical service.  Cheap and divey – don’t go expecting to linger and drink your coffee, you will be kicked out.  Lots of charm and the best TRUE diner I’ve found here
    • Friendly Toast – Great food.  HUGE portions.
    • Paramount –Great omelettes
    • Mckay’s – Irish place with a huge/cheap breakfast sandwich and homefries.  Most of the wait staff are Irish which makes everything more fun AND it’s across the street from John Quincy Adams’ birthplace…. pretty awesome if you ask me.  I lived around the corner from this place when I first moved to the city and they saw A LOT of me.
    • Martin’s Coffee Shop – great little diner close to my apartment.
    • Stuart Street Grill – across from my office.  They have great breakfast sandwiches that are made to order and super cheapt; this place is a hidden gem for the local workers
    • Make sure and checkout Phantom Gourmet for good food – breakfast, lunch, dessert, dinner… ANYTHING!  They’re great and I love their “hidden gems”
  • Burrito Spots – the California in me had to include this as its own sub point.  I even ranked them for you:
    • #1 – El Pelon – My roommate introduced me to the super burrito.  Try it immediately
    • #2 – Villa Mexico (aka Grandys gas station) – Although in a gas station, this place is MOOOONEY and the woman (owner?) calls you ‘my friend’ making standing in a gas station convenience store totally worth it.  AAHHH that’s her on the front page of the website!! So cute.
    • #3 – Viva Burrito – great if you’re heading to The Garden for a Celtics/Bruins game; quality meets quantity at an extremely reasonable price.  Plenty of seating too.
    • #4 – Backbay Station burrito cart – don’t let the cart food fool you, SO GOOD and Mario and Luigi work there.  Stop by sometime… you’ll see what I mean.
    • #5 – Boloco – I love this place and eat here a ton, but I ranked it fifth because it’s more of a wrap place than an actual burrito place.  That said, their Summer burrito with white chicken is totes delish and I have yet to get anything else on the menu.
    • #6 – Boca Grande (tied for 6th) – decent burritos, but not my fave… pretty much Anna’s
    • #6 – Anna’s Taqueria (tied for 6th) – decent burritos but extremely overrated but they’re all over the city so good to get your fix in if you’re in a bind
    • #8 – Burritos Express – not that great, but had to be included in my ‘best of’ list because if you get the special they pay you $0.15 to take a can of soda… meaning the burrito special (soda included) is cheaper than a lone burrito… something tells me this place won’t be around long
  • Favorite Bars/Pubs/Drinks
    • Cornwalls – my old homebar where everybody knows your name… literally.  It’s a family run pub and if you go one time they’ll at the very least remember your drink order – the Cheers vibe is definitely what keeps you going back.  Or maybe it’s the local brews on tap.  Or the board games.  Or the bartenders.  Or the Cali Burger (my favorite burger in the city).  We may never know, but I’ll continue to go back until I find out!
    • Coolidge Corner Clubhouse – slowly becoming my new home bar; lots of beer on tap and locals only/minimal college students.
    • Post390 – my favorite cucumber cocktail in the city
    • Eastern Standard – love ALL their cocktails
  • Live Bar Music
    • Wally’s (jazz) – went for the first time this weekend and loved the hole-in-the-wall, low-key, exposed brick, underground vibe
    • Beehive – food here is a little over priced, but pretty decent… music is allllllways good
    • All Asia – the dive bar of all dive bars…  they have pretty decent local musicians and there’s never aaaaanyone there; support your local music!  Also important to note – this is where I first became friends with The Compass Rose; love you guys!
    • Courtside Karaoke – “music” might be pushing it, and it’s a horrible dive in east Cambridge (read: unsafe) and they have a claw machine with porn instead of stuffed animals… but both times I’ve been I’ve had the best time ever.  To quote Brittany: “It’s like I have my own personal Aretha Franklin”
    • O’Learys – tiny tiny bar with older guys that just like to jam.  More of a weeknight-need-to-get-out-of-the-apt-but-don’t-feel-like-dressing-up spot.  Not worth going if you have to travel more than 15 minutes to get there.
    • Green Briar – a little out there, but a good scene balance of going out but staying low-key.  Not worth the drive, but if you’re nearby you should stop in… definitely a good time.
  • Favorite Dance Spots
    • Bell in Hand – yeah, yeah… I know it’s ridiculous, but I have yet to have a bad time here.
    • Clery’s – good if you’re not feeling the Faneuil scene but still wanting (needing) to dance
    • An Tua Nua – horrible place where your feet stick to the floor and at least half of the people there used a fake id to get in, but for some reason my friends go here a lot and it’s aaaaaaalways a good time.. no joke!
    • Wednesday nights at MIT – Swing dancing!  I’m a horrible dancer and I only went one time but had a blaaaaaast!!  Everyone there is so good and willing to teach you awesome moves and twirl you around as much as your little heart desires.
  • Churches
    • Park Street Church – my home Church and an awesome place for people in their 20’s looking for community.  Highly educated pastors that aren’t afraid to tackle tough issues and guide you through the issues using scripture.
    • Reunion Church – awesome community and an incredible pastor with really inspiring sermons
    • Hope Fellowship – haven’t made it out there for a service, but I know a lot of really awesome people that go there, so I can only imagine it’s great
    • Unite Boston – great way to get plugged in to the Christian community in Boston and see events going on at aaaalllll the churches
  • Sports Leagues
    • Social Boston Sports – great/afforadable way to play the sports you love with people you’ve never met.  Super social and good competition without going over the top.
    • Boston Ski and Sports Club – pricey and pretty hardcore; I’m about to start playing in their volleyball league because me and my vball friends (that I met at SBS) have outgrown the SBS league and won the championship at least twice… haha… hopefully we survive in this league!!!
    • Monday nights there’s a good crew that gets together and plays ultimate.  Sadly I haven’t played in over a year, but still sending my love!  They used to play at the Hatch Shell and now are in Cambridge at MIT, but maybe will move back to the Hatch Shell once it starts staying light out past 5pm

So there you have it!  Some of my favorite spots around the city and things to do.  If you live here, or have ever visited… please feel free to add your favorites too.  This place is incredible.


Sarah “I’m quitting my day job to write travel guides” Iverson

P.s. The pictures below are mostly from my phone… you should probably come visit and take better pictures for me 🙂


6 Responses to “Visito[u]r Guide: Boston, MA”

  1. Grady K. February 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Side note, the Busy Bee is also the best for males in need of a self esteem boost. The ladies love us there.

    • sai04a February 7, 2012 at 8:42 am #

      no… just you Gradybug… kindred spirits

  2. Cassie Ladd February 6, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    Huh… seems like I’m missing out. Every time I go to B-town I usually just hit up Legal Sea Food and make it to the Commons, and the H&M that’s near there. Hey – we don’t have one in Texas.

    • sai04a February 7, 2012 at 8:43 am #

      girl – you need to come visit 🙂

  3. Dave February 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Can I get a copy of “that” slideshow? My sister is coming to visit, and I feel that might help get her amped up about the weekend!


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    […] Visito[u]r Guide: Boston, MA […]

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