With historic sites, charming neighborhoods, beautiful public parks, a variety of museums, and delicious dining options, there’s no shortage of things to do in Boston. It is one of those cities I could repeatedly visit and experience differently each trip. But, what should you do on your first visit?
That is exactly what I tried to figure out during my first trip to Boston.
The Massachusetts capital had been on my travel wish list for years. Finally, I visited in October 2018. I spent a mere 3 nights in the city, which of course is not nearly enough to explore everything throughout the city, but enough to get a good glimpse of some of the many cool sights. There is something for everyone, you should just make sure to pack your best walking shoes, as the city is perfect to explore by walking.
Day 1. Start day, actually start every day with breakfast at any of the many Tatte locations throughout the city. There is always one close to your destination. Tatte is a bakery with mouthwatering cakes, breads, and pastries. I highly recommend the traditional shakshuka, but steer away from the cherry tomato and feta quiche. Tatte also has a location at your first, the Ivy league university, Harvard. Throughout the day students gives visitors a free tour of the grounds, which is a good way to get a feel of the historic grounds dating back to 1636. Fun fact: Harvard’s alumni includes eight U.S. presidents, and others have gone to win 10 Oscars, 48 Pulitzer prizes, and 108 Olympic medals.
There are a dozen of museums worth visiting at Harvard, I am a total natural history nerd, so went straight to their Museum of Natural History, obvi. Simply start your walkthrough at the glass flower exhibition and work your way through the great mammal hall and large selections of mounted animals. It’s very impressive.
When you are museum’ed out, grab an Uber (or walk) to the Back Bay area for a stroll through some of iconic Boston streets like Marlborough Street and Commonwealth Avenue. And do swing by the Boston Public Library as you are in the area, there are a few great pics to be taken for your Instagram. Speaking of Instagram, the most photograph street in Boston is also in the area, Acorn St., expect hordes of fellow photographers capturing the cobblestoned street in the historic Beacon Hill area.
End your day with at the best seafood restaurants in town, Neptune Oyster. Come early as the restaurant only sits around 40 people, so do expect a line. As we only had a big brekkie, we were starving, which ended up being a good idea, as you want to indulge on everything on the menu. Order anything from their raw bar and their fried clams are a good way to start, plenty to share. We went straight in for their Lobster Spaghettini, which is only served on Monday, but OMG. Def worth the wait.
Day 2. Today is big museum day. Needless to say, start with breakfast at the Tatte ‘s Huntington Ave location, as it is basically just a short walk from your first stop, Museum of Fine Arts. The museum is endless halls of great paintings but curated in such a way that you never grow tired of watching the same style over and over again. Walking among Gauguin, Monet, van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock, Mondrian, Kahlo, and many many more. Until January 2019 there is also a pretty sweet Winnie-the-poo exhibition worth visiting.
Just down the road, you’ll find one of the world’s most impressive private art collections at Isabella Stewart Gardner’s grand Venetian-style palazzo. The rooms are themed (Early Italian, Chinese Loggia), and every inch—plus the halls and stairwells—is packed with more than 2,500 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and rare books acquired by the philanthropist and socialite, who lived in Boston from 1860 to 1924 (her portrait, by John Singer Sargent, hangs in the Gothic Room). The Palm Courtyard is one of the prettiest places in town (for the best view of it, head to the third-floor stairwell).
From there, make your way across town to the harbor and catch a ferry by Milk St, which will take you on a cool 20 min. boat trip to the Charlestown Navy Yard. Not only is it super cool to see Boston from the water, but the navy yard is also worth exploring.
DAY 3. Actually, we only had half a day, so we decided to spend it with one of the alumni Harvard presidents, JFK. We were lucky our Airbnb was within walking distance to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. It will take you a few hours making your way through the halls of the museum giving you a great perspective of some of the major decisions JFK had to make as a president. If you have time, grab one last pastry at one of the Tatte locations before heading to the airport.
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