A week long trip (or at least a 4-5 days long trip) to Boston, Massachusetts, was a perfect time-frame for us to admire the beautiful architecture (17th/18th century and modern) and to explore the very rich history that is embedded in the by lanes of the city as it had the honor of hosting some of the critical events that led to the American Revolution against the Britishers in the 17th century. You instantly feel the difference in the architecture of the city that is so different from the fairly newer architecture that you come across in the other cities of US. You see beautiful Victorian style buildings in Back Bay (picture above) and equally amazing federalist style of architecture in Beacon Hill, Boston’s poshest neighborhood. There are many ancient buildings that capture your attention and interest. There’s the First Unitarian church that was built in 1630, the King Chapel Anglican Church that was built in 1688, the Boston Public Library’s present building at Copley Square location that was built in 1895, and so the list goes on.
A visit to Boston also provides first hand education about the monumental historical events that occurred in here, like the Boston Massacre of 1770, the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and the Declaration of Independence that was first read from the balcony of the Old State House in Boston on July 18th, 1776. From that point of view, the timing was perfect for us as my 5th grader son had just finished studying the chapters on American Revolution, and the series of events were still fresh in my freshman daughter’s mind from learning about it in her middle school years.
Apart from the historical events, the city boosts of being home to some of the very famous historical personalities as well- two of America’s presidents are from Quincy, a Boston suburb, the ‘Sons of Liberty’ lived here- Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and others. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the ‘Christian Scientist’ religion lived here, who was probably the first woman to have founded a religion of this size. Moreover, there are many ‘firsts’ and ‘oldest’ associated with Boston. The Boston Public Library was the first public library in America. The Union Oyster is America’s oldest restaurant that is still running. It is 159 years old. The USS constitution, or the ‘Old Ironsides’ as it is sometimes referred (interestingly, it is made of thick oak and not iron), is the oldest commissioned navy ship that is still an active member of the US navy. It was launched to fight in 1797 and it went undefeated in her career. Boston Common is the oldest city park in America, built in 1634. The Harvard University, built in 1636, is the first College founded in the American colonies. The Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the world. More recently, Berklee College of Music, founded in 1945, is the world’s largest independent music college. To top it all, the ‘modern’ feel of the city is just as intriguing.
Knowing that a week long trip can’t be chalked out on everyone’s calendar, here we have a four day trip planned out for you- if you haven’t already visited Boston but it is very much on the cards. Of course, we recommend that while there, do buy the four day pass for the ‘Old Town Trolley Tours’ that allows you unlimited hop-on and hop offs during a four day period. So here goes your itinerary…
Stroll around the Quincy Market area. Visit the Faneuil Hall that was built in 1742 by Peter Faneuil, Boston’s wealthiest merchant. Faneuil Hall was a meeting place for the Sons of Liberty and many inspirational speeches were given here by Samuel Adams and other patriots, some that were instrumental in protesting against the Sugar Act in 1764 and in establishing the doctrine of “no taxation without representation.” Quincy Market itself makes a perfect lunch venue as there are ample choices there, with food stalls lined all along the long corridor. Eat a good hearty lunch of Lobster Bisque Soup, Sour Dough Bread and perhaps even Catfish Kebabs if you enjoy seafood. If you are a vegetarian, no worries, try the delicious Kadhi Chawal combo from ‘Gourmet India’ stall right there. Check out the famous ‘Cheers’ bar and restaurant. Yes, there’s one in Quincy Market as well now, due to the enormous attention that the original one in Beacon street gets. As you know, the pub was the model for the famous American sitcom, ‘Cheers’. Come back to the Quincy market later in the afternoon for ‘Chai and Samosas’ from the Indian food stall there while the kids enjoy a smoothie or an ice cream. End your day with a short 45 minutes city tour on ‘Old Town Trolley’ that gives you a good glimpse of some of the places you would want to visit in the next couple of days.
If you happen to be in Boston on July 4th, you should be able to witness the reading out of the declaration of Independence from The Old State House balcony in that area. If you’re lucky you might be able to catch the re-enactment of the Boston Massacre of the 1770 as well. It was this event that had triggered the American revolution of colonists all over America.
Start your day with the full city tour on Old Town Trolley. That way you get ample time to get off at certain points along the way. Remember you can’t hop on after 4:30 pm. Even if you decide to not get off, you are fine. Just sit back and go back in time- as you listen to the role of the ‘Sons of Liberty’ in US independence movement, as you drive past the beautiful Victorian buildings, as you learn about the various famous people who lived in Boston, as you see the many historical sites all along the way during the two and half hour tour. Tour the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of technology) campus or spend the evening at the Harvard Square. Venture into the huge book stores there, especially ‘The Coop’, listen to music played by students looking to get some extra cash and generally wander around among the local intellects. End the evening at the awesome Indian restaurant in the area there, called the ‘Maharaja’. The food is simply superb there- especially the items that are marked as being a secret royal recipe- like the ‘Dal Makhani’.
Visit the Boston Public Garden. Walk along the Newbury Street, see the Boston Marathon Finish Line Memorial where there’s a permanent yellow line painted to honor those who were killed or severely injured when two bombs went off close to the finish line at the Boston Marathon in 2013. Have lunch at the Indian restaurant called ‘Kashmir’. Walk over to the Boylston street. Visit the Boston Public Library and take their free tour. You’ll be amazed at the history of this first ever free public library of America that was made with the goal of educating the many Irish refugees who had ended up in Boston in trying to escape the Potato famine of 1845. The library’s magnificent art and architecture is breath taking. The library boasts a wealth of rare books. It holds the personal library of John Adams. Go to Copley Square. There, visit the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel (right across the library) that shares it’s address with the Tipton Hotel in the famous TV
series, ‘Suite Life of Zack and Cody’. Drop by the Old South Church, also near the library, that was built in 1630. Shop at the mall in ‘Prudential’ tower, Boston’s second largest building and end the evening at the ‘Top of the Hub’ restaurant, an upscale place- either for dinner or a coffee break with good latte and some desert- Crème Brûlée was awesome! The panoramic view of the city from the top is simply phenomenal.
First thing in the morning, experience the “Boston Tea Party” re-enactment at the Boston Harbor (picture above and right). If you have a fifth grader child, you’ll find him/ her completely engrossed in the tale of the tea party that turned out to be the turning point in the American Revolution. Afterwards, have lunch in the “Top of the Hub”, it’s much more casual during lunch and you can enjoy some Paninis and Chips. Visit the Mary Baker Eddy Museum and the Mapparium (experience seeing the world of 1935 from inside a globe)- that’s interesting. On your way back from the area, be sure to take a coffee break at ‘Georgetown Cupcake’ on Newbury street-a famed cupcake store with their own TV show ‘DC Cupcakes’, although the original store is in DC their cupcakes are truly delicious.
To summarize, visit Boston for three reasons-
1. It’s impressive architecture,
2. The history that is it’s integral part;
3. The tales of the famous personalities that it tells. We returned from Boston well educated on the nation’s history. We were left in awe of Boston’s spectacular architecture and rich history.