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Profile

Boston is a city packed with culture and long-standing traditions. Its history dates back to the early 17th century with the earliest settlers migrating from England. Boston is the oldest major city in the U.S. and emerged as a leader in intellectual and industrial circles, noted for establishing the first public school, Boston Latin School, and first University, Harvard, in 1635-36, as well as the first printing press in nearby Cambridge in 1639.

With its well-positioned harbor, Boston became the leading commercial center in the early colonies, eventually dubbed "The Hub of the Universe" by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Colonial Boston was a leader in shipbuilding and the primary port of North America. It was the birthplace of freedom during the late 18th century during a pivotal stage in American history where such events as the Boston Massacre, The Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill successively set the stage for what would be the American Revolution in 1776.

Boston is an intimate yet world-class cosmopolitan city home to more than 600,000 people throughout its 20 neighborhoods, as well as a thriving college community that includes such high profile universities as Boston College, Boston University, MIT, and Northeastern. It's a storied sports town that is home to historic venues like Fenway Park, and for nearly 70 years, the legendary Boston Garden, as well as major sports teams including baseball's Red Sox, basketball's Celtics and America's first professional hockey team, the Bruins. Boston is also site of the nation's oldest, most revered Patriots' Day tradition, the Boston Marathon.

New England weather often varies from day to day. The coastal regions are generally milder than inland, while the northern extremes are cool throughout the year. Springtime peaks from April through mid-June with temperatures in the mid-60s during the day and cooler evenings. Summer season lasts to the beginning of September with its balmy mid-80s temperatures. Autumn lasts through November with a similar spring-like climate and cooler evenings, while winter temperatures run through March and drop between 20 to 40 degrees.

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Boston's very heritage suggests a number of interesting attractions for the weekend visitor or weeklong vacationer, from parks, markets, museums, entertainment, and more. Whether exploring "America's Walking City" by foot and all its historical sites and symbols, or by sail for a leisurely stretch along the harbor, Boston offers plenty to do for the whole family.

The 2.5-mile red brick path known as the Freedom Trail is the best way to begin exploring Boston's past and the story of American independence. The trail, marked by a red line on the sidewalk, includes the sites of the Boston Tea Party, the home of Paul Revere, Bunker Hill, and the Boston Massacre, among many more. Pick up a map at the Visitor's Bureau at the foot of the trail at Boston Commons and set off by foot, or opt for one of the early afternoon guided tours sponsored by The Freedom Trail Foundation (617-357-8300; www.thefreedomtrail.org), which offers professional public and group tours led by Colonial-costumed character guides. A number of additional options are available.

After a walk through the city's history, take a quick getaway for the Boston Harbor Islands where more outdoor adventure is available, yet still within easy reach of the city. The Boston Harbor Islands national park area includes 34 islands situated within the Greater Boston shoreline. The islands offer visitors a place to hike through trails, walk through a Civil War-era fort, climb a lighthouse, camp, picnic, fish, and swim, as well as a number of daily special events, including harbor tours and family fun days. For more information visit www.BostonIslands.com.

After a ground level view of the city, try the view from above-as in 360 degrees from 700 feet-at the Skywalk Observatory & Exhibit - Prudential Tower (800 Boylston St., 50th Fl; 617-859-0648). Visit displays like "Dreams of Freedom," featuring the Boston immigrant experience, take in an Antenna Audio tour or soar among the skyscrapers and historic sites on the "Wings Over Boston" aerial tour from within the Skywalk's newest state-of-the-art theater. The Skywalk Observatory is open every day.

 

The New England Aquarium (Central Wharf; 617-973-5200; www.neaq.org) offers a variety of exciting and educational exhibits featuring more than 8,000 aquatic creatures in a variety of settings and special events. Peer among playful sea lions, look over leafy sea dragons, awe at the IMAX theater presentations, adopt a penguin and swim with sharks. Visitors can also head over to the aquarium dock and board the Voyager III to set off for some real adventure with the Aquarium's Whale Watch tour. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (617) 973-5206.

For a few hours of fun mixed in with some learning, bring the kids over to the Boston Children's Museum (308 Congress St.; 617-426-6500; www.BostonChildrensMuseum.org). The museum is designed to help children understand and enjoy their world by providing true-to-life experiences in an informal and imaginative environment through such exhibits as Construction Zone and Science Playground. The museum is Boston's best place for kids ages 10 and under, as well as an entertaining experience for their parents.

 

Boston is a city filled with New England culture. The streets are packed with history and tradition, featuring more than 40 different types of museums, art centers, parks, and monuments in every direction. A visit to Boston is like a visit into the founding of the nation.

Experience a connection to America's past with a visit to the USS Constitution Museum (Bldg. 22, Boston National Historical Park, Charlestown Navy Yard; 617-426-1812; www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org). Located adjacent to the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, and pivotal in preserving U.S. independence during the War of 1812, the museum brings to life the stories of the individuals who built and served on "Old Ironsides" through hands-on exhibits, 3,000 original artifacts, computer-generated re-enactments, and public programming.

Built in 1723, The Old North Church (193 Salem St.; 617-523-6676; www.oldnorth.com) is a rare, Georgian-style building that still serves as an active Episcopal church today. It also serves to remind of the beautiful art history captured in its original design as well as its marked fame in American history when on the night of April 18, 1775, two lanterns were hung from its steeple, setting off Paul Revere's famous ride and touching off the first round towards American independence. Guests are welcome to worship at and enjoy the quiet spaces around the church, which include the 18th Century Garden, the St. Francis Garden, the Washington Garden, and the Third Lantern Garden.

The John F. Kennedy Library & Museum (Columbia Point; 617-514-1600; www.jfklibrary.org) offer visitors an opportunity to step back into the 1960s era to experience the life and legacy of our 35th president John F. Kennedy. Period settings from the White House and 25 multimedia exhibits create a memorable account of the President's thousand days in office. The national memorial to President Kennedy sits on a ten-acre waterfront site on Columbia Point offering panoramic views of Boston's skyline and Harbor Islands. The library and museum offer special events and programs year round, plus numerous galleries of recreated presidential scenes and activities including debates and the inauguration, and true-to-life representation of the White House itself.

 

Bostonians are very proud of their sports heritage, and no team has a more loyal following of fans than their beloved Red Sox. But visitors from all ranks are welcome to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the oldest Major League ballpark in the country, the legendary Fenway Park (4 Yawkey Way; 617-482-4SOX; www.redsox.com). If Yankee Stadium is the house that Ruth built, then "Beantown" was birthplace to the Babe's baseball career. Witness firsthand the mound where the Babe first pitched from, where the "Splendid Splinter" earned his stripes as one of the game's greatest hitters or come face to face with the feared "Green Monster." Guided tours are offered daily year-round and run for one hour.

Enjoy an outing on one of the most scenic stretches of river in the country with a rental from Charles River Canoe and Kayak (617-965-5100; www.paddleboston.com). From the river paddlers will discover prime views of Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, and the Cambridge and Boston skyline. Guided kayak trips and tours and canoe and kayak courses are also available. 

On the other side of the season, the Weston Ski Track (200 Park Rd., Weston; 781-891-6575; www.ski-paddle.com) is a cross-country ski center that offers visitors to the Greater Boston area the chance to ski and snowshoe on trails of varying terrain along the banks of the Charles River. Events and workshops are available.

Football - New England Patriots - http://www.patriots.com/

Boston and its Metro area have more than 35,000 hotel rooms conveniently located nearby the many city sights, convention centers and major transportation. Boston offers a variety of lodging options, from large, upscale hotels, to mid-ranged properties to small boutique inns ranging from the Financial District to the Back Bay or a cozy corner just beyond the Charles.

A grand arch stretching high above the harbor is among the many majestic sights to greet travelers to Rowes Wharf set at the edge of Boston Harbor and the financial district. Belonging to the prestigious Boston Harbor Hotel (70 Rowes Wharf; 617-439-7000; www.bhh.com), the arch accentuates the hotel's internationally acclaimed architectural style and elegant interior design, which adds a new dimension of modern day flair to this historic section of the city. The hotel features 230 guest rooms, 30 suites, indoor parking, pool, and award-winning Meritage waterfront restaurant, while the harbor-based property boasts a golden-domed pavilion preceding the grand arch and a yacht marina leading to the entryway.

A local landmark since 1891, the Copley Square Hotel (47 Huntington Ave.; 617-536-9000; www.copleysquarehotel.com) is Boston's oldest, continuously operating hotel. As the Back Bay's first hotel, its notoriety is extensive, having served as one time election headquarters for President William McKinley, as well as welcoming such big name sports figures as Babe Ruth and jazz greats Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. The Copley is known for its European-style warmth and hospitality among its guest rooms and family suites, and is centrally located in the heart of the historic Back Bay neighborhood near to area highlights like Trinity Church, the Prudential Center, Newbury Street, and the Museum of Fine Arts. The property also houses Saint, an upscale music lounge.

The Inn at Harvard (1201 Massachusetts Ave., Harvard Square, Cambridge; 617-491-2222; www.theinnatharvard.com) is housed in a classic red brick structure crowned by a majestic four-story atrium that combined, offer both an intimacy in Old World style and the stately elegance that is synonymous with Harvard. The inn is located on the University campus and near to all its landmark museums, libraries, and theaters as well as lively Harvard Square. Guest rooms are elegantly appointed and feature spacious work stations that are Wi-Fi accessible, oversized windows overlooking the square, and plush furnishings. Use of the Harvard Faculty club is also a privilege for guests.

 

Boston offers countless options for shopping throughout its numerous neighborhoods and historic districts. Whether one is looking for vast shopping malls, charming boutique shops and galleries, designer goods, or cobblestone walkways lined with vendors of all types and sizes, there's always some place close by.

Faneuil Hall was established in 1742 and served primarily as a center for city political debates earning it the long-standing nickname "Cradle of Liberty," while its first floor operated as a central marketplace. Today, it continues to operate as a market for stores offering handcrafts and souvenirs, while its other floors function as a museum and source for tourism. Located in the middle of Boston at the lively core of the historic waterfront, the four buildings collectively known as Faneuil Hall Marketplace--Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market--house shops, pushcarts and more than 20 restaurants. The Marketplace is a continually busy attraction that buzzes with the activity of shoppers, diners and sightseers. The fully restored 18th- and 19th- century structures are grouped around a cobblestone promenade where jugglers, magicians, mimes, and bands perform for local passengers and tourists (www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com).

The Shops at Copley Place (Two Copley Place, #100; 617-262-6600) contain more than 100 stores, including Tiffany & Co., Armani Exchange, Hugo Boss, and Neiman Marcus. Located in Boston's historic Back Bay, the Copley Place property features nearly ten acres worth of shopping, restaurants, office buildings, hotels, and parking, and is within walking distance from many of the area's historic landmarks and is among the many stops along Boston's public transportation.

A stroll down the world-famous Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay is an unparalleled shopping experience. Lined with Victorian-style architecture, this formerly residential area has evolved into Boston's most enchanting street and thriving commercial locales. Featuring eight blocks lined with something for everyone's taste, visitors will discover everything from upscale salons to fine wines to designer clothiers, sidewalk cafes and trendy galleries, luxury shopping to bargain hunting. Among Newbury's unique qualities are its many hidden shops that can easily escape eye-level of the casual observer.

 

Boston and Salem Beer Works (112 Canal St.; 617-896-2337; www.beerworks.net) is known for their award-winning beers, traditional and some "un"-traditional American fare, which includes salads and seafood options not typically found in a brewery. For those with an active pool cue, they feature 15 championship billiards tables. Beer Works is also known as the oldest restaurant and brewery in Boston as well as the largest in New England.

A quick trip over the Charles River into Cambridge reveals a number of nightly getaways as with the popular Plough & Stars Irish bar and Pub (912 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-576-0032; www.ploughandstars.com). The bar offers live music every night of the week, everything from blues to rock to country to an eclectic mix that caters to all crowds. The oldest Irish pub in the Boston area, Plough & Stars has received the Best of Boston award for Best Bar & Irish Pub. It features a wide variety of imported beers and is reputed for the best pint of Guinness in town.

The Go Boston card offers visitors unlimited admission to more than 60 Boston attractions and tours plus savings and special offers on shopping, dining and more throughout the city. Cardholders receive free museum admissions and visits to historic sites, special vacation packages, guidebook planner, and more. The card is also ideal for group travel. Visit www.gobostoncard.com to learn more.

The Boston City Pass offers visitors nearly 50 percent savings on six popular attractions and an itinerary for the best of Bean Town. The City Pass booklet of tickets provides free admission, the ability to bypass ticket lines and helpful tourist information and insider tips. City Pass attractions include the Museum of Science, New England Aquarium, Museum of Fine Arts, Harvard Museum of Natural History, and more. Visit www.citypass.com/boston for details.

For a historic sightseeing tour, the original orange and green Old Town Trolley departs daily every 20 minutes from stops throughout the city including the New England Aquarium, U.S.S. Constitution Museum, the Trolley Stop Store, and most major hotels. Tours run for 100 minutes and are fully narrated. Tickets include complimentary coupons to various area attractions. Visit www.historictours.com/boston for more information.

Boston Garden was modeled after another famous arena, New York City's Madison Square Garden. In 1928, the president of Madison Square Garden, Tex Rickard, announced his intentions to build a similar boxing arena in Boston, which he appropriately named "Boston Madison Square Garden." Soon after its' November 1928 opening, the "Madison Square" reference was dropped leaving just "Boston Garden." The Boston Garden went on to become one of the most legendary arenas in American history.

Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau

Boston City Tourist

Boston Tourism & Travel Guide

Massachusetts convention Center

 

Cheers - Beacon Hill

Known for years as the Bull & Finch Pub, and always one of Boston's biggest attractions since its televised namesake drew "Cheers" from millions of viewers more than 20 years earlier, diners will find friendly service and some basic grub served just the way its regulars would have loved it. Menu highlights include "Sam Starter's," "Frasier's Favorites," "eNORMous Burgers," and "Diane's Desserts," all featuring traditional pub food with a slight Bostonian accent. Cheers features an award-winning Bloody Marys and a variety of draft beers. When there's a wait, stop by the neighboring gift shop and catch an episode or two on the set while sorting through the vastness of shirts, shorts and souvenirs, and anything else they could slap the logo on.

Cheers - Beacon Hill
84 Beacon St.
(617) 227-9605
www.cheersboston.com



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Capital Grille

Big, bold and slightly old world, Capital Grille is a steak house for the ages with a rich decor, white-jacketed waiters, a healthy-sized single-malt Scotch list, and a prodigious wine list including one entire category given over to "interesting reds." Drawing most attention are the thick porterhouse steaks and juicy filets unlike any you've seen in a long time, not to mention the North Atlantic lobsters and seafood. Order carefully. Food here is really big and ordering too many separates -- creamed spinach, cottage fries and garlic mashers -- may leave you unable to do justice to any. For dessert, don't miss the cheesecake with giant strawberries. Even if you don't smoke, it's the kind of meal you'll want to top off with a cigar.

Capital Grille
359 Newbury St.
(617) 262-8900
www.thecapitalgrille.com



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Kingfish Hall

Located in historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace and in the middle of all the action, Todd English has done it again as he serves Boston’s visitors and locals alike in his comfortably elegant Kingfish Hall. The South Market Building glows with authentic charm. Expect fish, fish and more fish on the inventive menu. The raw bar includes a nice selection of oysters and diners can also enjoy plenty of peel-and-eat shrimp. Notice the striking whole fish rotisserie and be sure to sample the house special Kingfish Hall Clam Chowder, a delectable concoction of smoked bacon, leeks, potatoes, and chopped clams. Classic crispy lobster and a Thai inspired bouillabaisse are tempting. If dinner is not an option, try the brunch where shrimp scampi frittatas and crab cakes Benedict are on the menu.

Kingfish Hall
188 Faneuil Hall
South Market Building
(617) 523-8862
www.toddenglish.com


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Meritage

One of the city's prettiest views is found at the Meritage Restaurant overlooking the waterfront in the Boston Harbor Hotel. The interior is world-class, featuring glittering decor and lush furnishings wrought of only the highest quality earthly elements. On the menu, chef Daniel Bruce's dedication is showcased in thoughtfully prepared dishes offered within a seasonally changing menu of wine-friendly food using locally available ingredients and imported specialty items. Such would include the New York State Foie Gras, Nantucket Scallops and Vermont Pheasant to name but a few. Try the sauteed Block Island Swordfish with a light white, or Italian plum glazed New Brunswick Salmon with a fruity red.

Meritage Restaurant
70 Rowes Wharf
(617) 439-3995
www.meritagetherestaurant.com


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Mistral

Mistral was one of the first fine dining establishments to make gourmands sit up and pay attention to Boston as a culinary city when it opened in 1997. Located in the city's stylish South End, this gorgeous restaurant continues to draw adoring crowds. Taste the food and you'll know why. A casual bistro in the front section serves sandwiches and pizzas while the back opens into a dynamic dining room featuring the French Mediterranean dishes of chef Jamie Mammano. Confit of duck with foie gras served in brioche with dried cherries and roasted halibut with shrimp and corn succotash are samplings of a very creative menu. Elegant and romantic, this restaurant serves notice that as a city Boston is a culinary force here to stay.

Mistral
223 Columbus Ave.
(617) 867-9300
www.mistralbistro.com



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No. 9 Park

Barbara Lynch has been receiving almost universal acclaim from food magazines for her casually elegant 1940's style townhouse restaurant, which sits near the State House on Beacon Hill. No. 9 Park serves distinctly European fare with fusions of Northern Italian and Southern French. Steak tartare, pizettes and tagilatelle in a Tuscan meat sauce are among menu items garnering attention. The poached pear in Gewurztraminer was once nominated for the city's best dessert. You'll need to reserve well in advance to get a table here where the trendy meet to eat and drink.

No. 9 Park
9 Park St.
Beacon Hill
(617) 742-9991
www.no9park.com


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Radius

A recipient of numerous "Best of Boston" awards, Radius is an imaginative French bistro with a Japanese minimalist decor located in the heart of the financial district. Gothic hand-painted silver gray ceilings and taupe-colored furniture lend a cool, contemporary ambience. Even the waiters are stylish in slick gray uniforms. Entrees to steal your heart include wolf fish and chanterelles, and torchon of French foie gras served on mango. Chef/Owner Michael Schlow likes to mix ingredients with an artist's touch. As tasty as the food are the plates, beautifully presented and colorfully arranged. An expensive experience, but one of Boston's finest.

Radius
8 High St.
(617) 426-1234
www.radiusrestaurant.com


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Russell House Tavern

If you slip over to Cambridge to check out the excellent museums that are part of the Harvard tradition, you can just as easily slip into the Russell House Tavern, a high-end, yet unpretentious gastro-pub that has garnered great reviews since it opened last summer. The bar scene in this largish restaurant is friendly, yet sophisticated, as the bartenders serve inventive cocktails. Choices include inventive small plates, a tasty burger, thin-crust pizza, steaks, and fish. The lure here is the unexpected as created by chef Michael Scelfo, in what has become a neighborhood tradition in a very short time.

Russell House Tavern
14 JFK St.
Cambridge
(617) 500-3055
www.russellhousecambridge.com


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Sel de la Terre

Yet another one of Boston's gourmet chefs has downscaled to great success. Frank McClelland, best known for the very chic L'Espalier, opened Sel de la Terre with his former sous chef, Geoff Gardner. This casual, sunny Provencal bistro, located right on the waterfront not far from the aquarium, offers a light menu with bistro-like options including potato leek soup and chopped salad, grilled swordfish and braised rabbit. Not to be missed are the homemade breads served both in the restaurant and at the adjacent boulangerie which opens at 7 a.m. for early risers. Very affordable, the prices are nearly as good as the food.

Sel de la Terre
255 State St.
(617) 720-1300
www.seldelaterre.com


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Sonsie

Sonsie is the perfect place to begin your morning. What could be finer than to sit at the open air, streetside cafe with a huge mug of java and some wonderful pastries watching the world pass by? And, on Newbury Street, there's a lot of world passing by. Stay for lunch or dinner and sit inside the French-styled salon with its colorful dining room and glass front vantage to the action outside. Award-winning chef and owner Bill Poirier serves up a multi-national daily menu that includes thin crust pizzas from the brick oven, truffled ravioli and crab cakes. The desserts are perfect comfort foods. And as the day turns to night, relax with a martini and enjoy the music reflective of the restaurant's European ambience.

Sonsie
327 Newbury St.
(617) 351-2500
www.sonsieboston.com



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The Summer Shack

The Summer Shack is a casual fish joint in Cambridge run by renowned Boston chef Jasper White. Without a shred of formality, the 'Shack sports paper tablecloths and picnic table-seating in an enormous 300-seat room with a cacophonous noise level. Seafood is prepared any way you like it. Corn dogs, baked beans and slaw are crowd pleasers for adults and children. A 1,500-gallon lobster tank in the middle of the dining room sets the decor along with an open viewing fish cutting room. Moderately-priced, come expecting huge waits.

The Summer Shack
149 Alewife Pkwy.
Cambridge
(617) 520-9500
www.shackfoods.com



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Union Oyster House

Before John Kennedy was president he and his cronies would visit the Union Oyster House, located on the Freedom Trail near Faneuil Hall, every Sunday for the seafood and clam chowder. America's oldest restaurant, established in 1826, is a ramshackle of rooms filled to the brim with bits of history including furniture, photographs, pictures, and art depicting the history of Boston. Very New England, the Yankee-style seafood and shore dinners are casual and a little on the heavy side, but also tasty and reasonably priced. Oysters on the half shell are a long time favorite along with the Boston scrod. To really follow in his footsteps, you'll have to request the Kennedy booth. Marked with a plaque, it's the busiest table in the place.

Union Oyster House
41 Union St.
(617) 227-2750
www.unionoysterhouse.com

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