• Wednesday, October 28, 2020

things to do in boston

We're Headed to Boston
October 14, 2020
By , Writer

You’ve settled into a good home routine. Wake early. Start home school. Take your other kids to school. Begin your day at the office. Zoom. Zoom. Pick up the kids. Homework. Dinner. Work. Work more. Sleep. Rinse and repeat. But why not take a field trip where history comes alive, it’s prime leaf-peeping season and you can gorge yourself on all the chowder you can handle? Yes, it’s time for a road trip to Boston.

Fall foliage, festive haunted houses and family fun — Boston is notoriously beautiful this time of year.

If you’re looking to get away for a weekend, look no further than the foliage capital of the country. Not only are there great natural views, but Boston is home to some of the best shopping, eating and historical sites. If you’re with the fam, you’re going to want to get to Salem for Halloween — the spooky streets will get you in the mood. From New York, this sweet city is just four hours north by car and will be the urban escape you need to rejuvenate your remote working juices. From Faneuil Hall to the Common to the Seaport, spaces that normally would be packed with tourists are mostly populated with the locals — young politicians working nearby at the statehouse, tech buffs and oh so many of the brightest students around.

Good For: Families or couples, but bear in mind, your trip plans will change based on whom you’re bringing along. Most places are closing early (10 or 11 p.m.), so you’ll probably be doing a lot of nightcaps from the comfort of your room (we recommend staying in a suite at the Four Seasons for this reason), but with most high-end places doing takeaway, you can still enjoy luxury. A steak from Ostra served in a plastic dish is still a steak from Ostra, and in our opinion, there’s something about eating it in your bathrobe while watching the sunset from the State Suite that makes it taste even better.

Suggested Stay: A long weekend or up to a week if you’re doing day trips to the Harbor Islands or P-town.

Where to Stay: Boston has some lovely hotels that fit every budget. We’re looking forward to visiting the Newbury Hotel, the soon-to-open newly renovated Taj, and you can’t go wrong with the Mandarin Oriental. But if you’re looking for luxury service in an unbeatable location, we’re going to have to say both of Boston’s Four Seasons locations. Specifically, we love the original Back Bay spot. It’s a stone’s throw from the gorgeous public garden where you can have a romantic picnic, and you can walk around Newbury and Boylston Streets to stumble upon a cute restaurant. The service is always stellar, and the open pool and gym fill those nooks and crannies in your days. Though the Bristol isn’t yet open for dining, you won’t care as you have dozens of options for delivery, dine-in and takeaway around the corner.

What to Do:

Walk the most walkable city in the world. Start at the South End, then make your way up to the Harbor. Pretty much no matter where you go, you’ll find something fun and quirky hidden around a corner. Boston isn’t the biggest city in the world, which means you can traverse multiple neighborhoods in one day. And enjoy strolling in neighboring historic towns like Salem, where you can take witch-hunting tours or find the oldest candy shop in the United States.

See the history. We recommend following the Freedom Trail, which starts near the Four Seasons and takes you through the North End all the way to Cambridge. You will learn about the incredible journeys people took to find freedom, while walking through some of Boston’s most iconic neighborhoods.

Take a tour. Trolleys may seem like a San Francisco thing, but trust us, they’re just as big in Boston. They might actually be one of the best ways to see the whole city. You can hop on and hop off when you please, and with their open-air design, they’re a perfect COVID-19 friendly way to spend your afternoon.

Shop. Maybe you can’t make it to the Champs Élysées this fall, but you’re sure to find a similar experience on famed Newbury Street. We heard this is where Gisele used to shop before her spin classes at the local SoulCycle. Nearby Boylston Street is also home to designers and local boutiques, and with COVID-19 sales, you’ll wish you packed a bigger bag to take home your spoils.

Eat. There is no shortage of restaurants in Boston, whether you’re looking for authentic Italian in the North End, the highest-quality seafood, raw bars, buttery lobster rolls or international cuisine. Right around the corner from the Four Seasons in Back Bay is Ostra, a five-star dining experience doing dine-in and takeout right now. Also nearby on Newbury Street, we recommend Saltie Girl, which does unbelievable tiered oyster towers and an upscale take on the lobster roll. The name sounds cutesy, but you’ll leave the kids at home for this one. This is a place you’ll want to sit for a glass of wine and the lovely outdoor ambiance courtesy of COVID. Also, we normally wouldn’t recommend Quincy Market for more than a passthrough, as the stalls are usually packed with people and it isn’t worth it. But with their recent reopening and COVID being COVID, the large market is actually surprisingly empty for lunch. We love that the Salty Dog Oyster Bar and Wicked Lobsta have pop-ups here (this is where you’ll find a real lobster roll).

Get out onto the water. If you’re with the kids, a whale watch or a ride on the famed Codzilla is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon. These short boat rides whip you around the harbor so you can take in the gorgeous Bostonian architecture both new and old. Or, if it’s just you and the hub, take a trip on a harbor dinner cruise and see the sunset while wining and dining.

Day-trip. Look, the Cape and the Islands are likely booked up, and even if you can get in, you’re going to be spending a pretty penny. We recommend holding on to your change and doing day trips instead. If you’re looking for that quintessential New England experience, the speed ferry to Provincetown is the way to go. P-town is a notoriously fun town on the tip of the Cape (think outrageous Pride parades and beach-town vibe), filled with fried clams and big beaches. Likewise, the Boston Harbor Islands have never let us down. These small islands off the coast of Boston are filled with historical bunkers from the Revolutionary War period, as well as sea glass-strewn beaches. Whether you want to hike trails and bird watch or sit on the beach, these islands are close and easy to hop to and from, making for the perfect day trip.

Visit a museum. That’s right, museums are starting to reopen, and Boston’s art scene is one to beat. Head to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for a socially distanced walk through the famed socialite’s house. Usually, you’d be elbowing your way through to view her magical courtyard and historic paintings by the likes of Rembrandt and Singer Sargent, but if you reserve ahead, it’ll be you and 35 other people, which will allow for some unheard-of tranquility.

Dine outdoors or better yet, on a rooftop. Countless restaurants have moved their seating outside, making for a fun, lively street experience. In the North End, it really does feel like little Italy with blocks cut off from vehicle use, making room for tables on the cobblestones. Rooftop bars are also a must. We love the view at the Cambria Hotel.

Stroll in our favorite neighborhoods. Faneuil Hall and the North End, Back Bay, the Seaport, Salem, Harvard Square

See fall foliage. The East Coast might be most famous for the beautiful red and oranges that line the landscape come October. You could head out to the Berkshires to Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway for some of the best views around. Along this 35-mile drive, you will follow historic rivers and wind your way through small towns. If you choose to hike Sanderson Brook Falls, you’ll see a waterfall and foliage mashup that you won’t regret sweating to see. But if you’re looking to stay local in the city, have no fear because plenty of the town’s gardens turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red. We recommend the Public Garden or the Common. We also love the Charles River Esplanade and the Arnold Arboretum.

Do Halloween in Salem. If you’re looking for a spook this Halloween, Salem is the place to go. Located just north of the city, Salem is a town you won’t want to miss for all the haunted houses and witch-themed activity. Known for its 1692 witch trials, the town has taken on Halloween as its reason d’être, and there is plenty to do when fall comes around. The best part is that museums and restaurants are all still open through COVID-19. For a real thrill, we recommend the Salem Witch Museum, which walks you through the history of the trials in detail. But even if you’re just walking about, you wouldn’t be hard pressed to find enthusiastic people dressed up and bringing life to the town. If in Salem and looking for something not quite so scary, we love the Peabody Essex Museum, which has beautiful architecture and even a reconstructed Qing-era Chinese house complete with a koi pond.

What to Know: There’s a lot to do in Boston, but the city’s smaller size reveals itself in the crowded tourist areas. But right now, Boston is unusually quiet (thanks COVID). Take advantage of the empty streets and spend time in the Public Garden. Take a walk to see the Old North Church, and definitely check out the pop-up outdoor bars in the Seaport. We’re pretty sure Boston is unlikely to see so few tourists for a long time.

That also means this is prime time to act like a tourist, taking walking tours from Boston By Foot or visiting (around) Fenway Park. Even though the ballfield is closed, the surrounding neighborhood has loads of food and activities. It’s worth it, even if all you do is sit and dream of owning one of the gorgeous Victorian brownstones.

You can probably leave your fancy clothes at home for this stay. Boston is pretty casual all around. You’ll probably be finding yourself picking up fresh produce from Deluca’s Market and picnicking with the locals on the Common.

Restaurant List: Again, there is no shortage of good food in Boston. What they lack in Michelin stars, they make up for in quality, unbeatable classics and tried-and-true five-star restaurants that have been around forever. For something high-end, we recommend Terra, Ostra, Celeste or Giulia, which will satisfy your cravings for handmade pasta or a great steak. But for the seafood that we know you’re really here for, we recommend Saltie Girl, or Eventide by Fenway. Eventide is more fast-casual, but their location in Maine won a James Beard Award, and their Boston location is just easy enough to visit multiple times while you’re in town. We also love Boston’s cute Starbucks alternatives for coffee and a quick pre-walking-filled-day breakfast. The birthplace of Dunkin’ Donuts knows coffee better than one might assume, and Bostonians won’t settle for just any old cup of joe. Multiple locations of Tatte Bakery, Blue Bottle Coffee and Caffè Nero have lattes worth waking up early for. On Newbury, you can sip on a capp or a bubble tea while reading one of your fave classics at the renowned bakery and bookshop, Trident Booksellers. Equally as unique to Boston is Caffé Vittoria in the North End, Beantown’s original Italian cafe.

Overall, with all that’s going on, we think Boston is the way to go. There’s plenty to do, even bearing in mind that COVID-19 is a reality, and we wouldn’t mind bringing the fam or doing a weekend get away with the SO. We weren’t planning on a staycation, but who knows how to plan for anything these days, and Boston’s ease makes for a great on-the-fly destination to get us traveling and make the world seem right again.