48 hours in Boston

It's a perfect autumn destination: the golden city where Harvard students ponder their glorious futures and whales splash in the bay. By Vincent Golding



Autumn is a season of frenetic activity in Boston, and the New England climate is now at its temperate best. Walk, rather than drive, around the golden-leaved streets of this compact American city and enjoy the genteel diversions it offers; the Boston Ballet season began two days ago, and the Charles River Regatta takes place on 23 and 24 October. To find out more about what's on in Boston, call the Massachusetts Port Authority office in London (0171-431 3434) or visit their website: www.bostonusa.com.


There is healthy competition on flights to Boston: four airlines fly direct from London to Logan Airport (1) : American Airlines, British Airways, United and Virgin Atlantic. Continental also sells some space on the Virgin flight, and has a "direct" service from Manchester (though you have to change planes in Newark). There are also good deals on Icelandair via Rekjavik and KLM via Amsterdam; a base price is around £200 return, including tax. On arrival, take the free shuttle bus to Airport Station and then the MBTA blue line train (a three-day pass is $9 - around £5.50) into town.


For a real Bostonian experience, book in at a Victorian "brown house" B&B (a small, discreet hotel), of which three good examples are: 82 Chandler Street (2) at South End (00 1 617 482 0408); the Beacon Townhouse Inn (3) at 1087 Beacon St, Back Bay (00 1 617 232 0292); and the Newbury Guest House (4) at 261 Newbury St, Back Bay (00 1 617 437 7666). You should expect to pay $100-$150 (£60-£90) per night for a standard double room at any of these. Alternatively, enjoy universal service with a smile and improbably big breakfast buffets at one of the many central chain hotels (to book, call Citywide Reservation Services: 00 1 617 267 7424). Try to book before you go; in testament to the city's autumnal popularity, hotels fill up quickly.


...up the John Hancock Tower (5) at 200 Clarendon Street (open from 9am-10pm, $5, £3), a striking glass monolith that reflects the sky it scrapes. After a stomach-raising, ear-popping ascent, all of Boston unfolds below the 740ft observatory: pick out the old docks of "Tea Party" fame, Italian-influenced North End, and Downtown, the financial district. A pride-filled recorded voice helps to explain the view as you gaze across Boston Common toward the wealthy residential area of Beacon Hill, the West End theatre district and Chinatown. To the north is the Charles River, Cambridge and its universities; to the west, the reclaimed land of the fens; and beyond, the suburbs of Jamaica Plain.


Grits, subs, burgers, bagels, doughnuts, ice-cream, smoothies: wherever you are in Boston, you'll find fast, inexpensive food. There is something for sale on every corner, so don't stop moving or eating. Try pizza in the North End (6) at Galleria Umberto, 289 Hanover Street, whatever takes your fancy at the Kam Lung Bakery and Restaurant (7) at 77 Harrison Street, Chinatown or take a seat beneath the golden dome of the State House at Curious Liquids, (8) 22B Beacon Street. One to avoid, unless commercial tack is your thing, is The Bull and Finch Bar (9) at 84 Beacon Street, which supposedly inspired the famed TV series, Cheers .


At the Tremont Street side of Boston Common, by the Visitors' Information Center (10) (00 1 617 536 4100), the Freedom Trail begins. Pick up a map or join one of the four daily tours that lead you, with the help of a red-brick line, through three centuries of Boston's colonial and revolutionary history that led to independence. Among the 16 sights are Faneuil Hall (11) and market, the Old North Church (12) in the heart of the North End. Other walks include the Black Heritage Trail and the Irish Immigrant Trail.


Filene's Basement (13) , at 426 Washington Street, is a 90-year-old Boston legend in bargain-basement shopping, and the place to go for Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein or Donna Karan. But hurry - the store is currently facing financial uncertainty, and these really could be the final reductions. Next door on Washington Street is Macey's (14) , another mecca of US consumption. If you're still not up to your credit limit, then pass through Copley Place Shopping Galleries (15) , at 100 Huntington Ave, on your way to the super-chic enclave of Newbury Street's designer boutiques.


The new term has begun at Harvard and the MIT, and Cambridge is alive with re-runs of Love Story and Animal House . Work off dinner - or up to it - with an evening stroll around Harvard Square, to watch the numerous musicians, mime artists and comedians. For a late-night tipple and live music try The House of Blues (16) at 96 Winthrop Street, or mosey up Quincey Street and over a ramp through the floodlit faculty of Visual Arts (17) , architect Le Corbusier's only building in the USA, then down Cambridge Street to the calm Inman Square (18) , with its restaurants and bars.


Make a reservation at Up Stairs at the Pudding (19) (10 Holyoke Street, Cambridge; 00 1 617 864 1933) for an amazing glimpse into the privileged past of the Ivy League. The restaurant continues a dining tradition that began with the Hasty Pudding Club, a secret thespian society dating back to 1795. Its traditional collegiate atmosphere contrasts with the relaxed welcome you'll get from the ever-present proprietor, Mary-Catherine Deibel. Try steamed Wellfleet Littleneck clams followed by lobster or cowboy steak, then bittersweet chocolate amaretti terrine - all for around $70 (£40) a head. For a more central alternative, try Sonsie (20) at 327 Newbury Street, Back Bay. It boasts a stylish, buzzing crowd and a menu that ranges deliciously from red snapper to brick-oven pizza.


...get some sea air with a whale-watching cruise out into Boston Harbour and the Atlantic Ocean. Whale sightings are virtually guaranteed at Stellwagen Bank - a natural playground for humpbacks, finbacks and minke whales - and, after three hours at sea, you'll feel like you're up to PhD level in marine biology. Some trips also stop off at a couple of harbour islands en route to Stellwagen: get spooked on haunted George's Island, or spot the gentle residents of Deer Island. Try Boston Harbor Cruises (21) at Long Wharf. Trips leave daily at 8.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm, and cost around $28 (£17).


Boston feels like one big museum, but if you need a specific target, head for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (22) at 280 The Fenway (open 11am-5pm Tue-Sun, $10 [£6]), home to eclectic artworks beloved by its late owner. Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (23) , at 465 Huntington Ave, has an exhibition, "Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamun" which opens on 14 Nov, while the Museum of Science (24) , at Charles River Dam, is showing a New Omni film, Virtual Egypt . For something more contemporary, try the JFK Library and Museum (25) at Columbia Point. A Boston City Pass costs $27.50 (£16) and allows access to all of the above (call the Visitors' Bureau in advance on: 00 1 617 536 4100).


Sports fan or not, you will soon notice the Bostonian obsession with baseball, and particularly with the Boston Red Sox's performance (or lack of it). In season, visit Fenway Park (26) , the team's home ground (games most evenings at 6.30pm, $15 - around £9) to catch the fans in action. There's no aggression on these terraces; just family fun and Mexican waves. As the season's drawing to a close, Bostonians are transferring their energy to other sports. Next weekend, join 300,000 spectators at the world's largest two-day rowing event, the Charles River Regatta (from Boston University Boathouse to Herter Park; Sat 1.30-4pm, Sun 7.40am-4.45pm), and feast on upmarket "cookouts" and chardonnay.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Johnny Handle, Northumberland, Ted Relph, President of Lakeland Dialect Society, and Sid Calderbank, Lancashire, founder of the National Dialect Day
newsMeet the enthusiasts determined to stop them dying out
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager - Bristol

    £31000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the UK, the major project fo...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Meetings & Events (MICE) - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achieving...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Account Executive - Hotel Reservation Software - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly growing Hotel ...

    Recruitment Genius: Tyre Technician / Mechanic

    £15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game