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

WHY GO NOW?

WHY GO NOW?

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.

BEAM DOWN

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.

CHECK IN

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.

TAKE A RIDE

...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.

LUNCH ON THE RUN

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 .

TAKE A HIKE

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.

WINDOW SHOPPING

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.

AN APERITIF

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.

DEMURE DINNER

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.

SUNDAY MORNING...

...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).

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

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).

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

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?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor