Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tour Guide

Alternate working title: Things to do in Boston after the Ice Age.

The tourist season is coming up for the Boston area. Snow will be gone, streets will be swept, light will last just a tad longer each day and before we know it, we’ll be lunching by the harbor and enjoying beautiful women wearing sun dresses. No stupid, shapeless, heavy, burdensome coats blocking my appreciation of the female form.

Plus a new internet friend is coming to visit and she needs some hangout spots.

First, C, I’m assuming it’s the Boston Marriot Long Wharf at which you’ll be staying. If so, there are a ton of sites to see in the area. And even, better, a majority of these places are within walking distance from your hotel.

Let’s get to it.

Tia’s: This is actually the outdoor bar attached to the Marriot. Not sure when it officially opens, but if you are visiting during nice weather chances are there will be people mingling about. Now, keep in mind I don’t recommend this place for the prices or selection but for the opportunity to witness the elusive douchebag in his native environment. Fake tans, sunglasses at night, Euro-trash wannabes, golf shirts with popped collars; they can all be found here. Feel free to make them feel uncomfortable or ridicule their wardrobe. That’s what I do when I’m there. Does have a nice view of the harbor.

The North End: This is about three to four blocks away from hotel. You can walk through Christopher Columbus park right into another era. This is Boston’s Italian neighborhood with tiny restaurants in every nook and cranny. It’s been yuppified since the Big Dig has been completed, but has kept its charm. Marvel at the extremely narrow streets and wonder how anything moves during winter; visit cafes, pastry shops, and enjoy the old fashioned vibe. I would suggest taking half a day and just wander the streets.

Also, you need to try one of the following: Modern Pastry or Mike’s Pastry. DA will have to help me with which one. I need you to try one of the canolis. This deliciousness was directly responsible for a man losing his high paying job and facing serious jail time when he stole them from my friend.

DA, let us know which shop she should visit. If you’re still reading, that is.

Faneuil Hall: This is the shopping market directly across the street from the hotel. Too much to do here to recommend one spot, but if pushed I would say Durgin Park for their clam chowder or lobster (which they will steam instead of boil if you want). This is nearly a must visit if you enjoy seafood. Plenty of shops to occupy your time in the area, as well and if you hit it right there will be live entertainment (magicians, comedians, dance troupes, etc).

While you’re there, check out our atrocity of a city hall across the street and realize that back in the Seventies that was considered cool and cutting edge. Yeah, welcome to Boston.

Newbury Street: You’ll have to cab it here, but take half a day and just wander. There are specialty shops galore as well as the standard fare. Can be on the expensive side, but chances are you’ll find an item somewhere you’ll find nowhere else. Check out the original Newbury Comics if you see it. My little slice of music heaven.

New England Aquarium: You would have to walk approximately 200 feet to reach the front entrance. It’s a bunch of fish, but still an option.

Lunch Cruise: In the same area as the Aquarium. Buy a ticket for a cruise out to the Harbor Islands. There is also (or was last time I was there) and option to jump on a boat for an hour long lunch cruise. Basically goes out, putters around the harbor then back again. Only do this if the weather is spectacular.

Boston Common/Public Gardens: If you visit Newbury Street, may as well take a stroll through this park, especially if you hit Boston in the spring when everything is in bloom. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could walk through the Commons, hit Downtown Crossing (a seedier shopping mecca than Newbury Street) and walk back to the hotel. A bit of a haul, but a gorgeous haul depending on the time of year.


Kitty O’Shea’s: One of my favorite pubs in Boston. It’s right on State Street (near Faneuil Hall and about two blocks from your hotel). This is a quaint, smallish Irish pub complete with one of the coolest wooden bars in the city. It helps that most of the bartenders and serving staff are from Ireland and have those adorable accents. In fact, let me know when you’re going here and I’ll meet you for a few beers. They have live Irish music every Sunday night, too.

The Black Rose: Right around the corner from Kitty’s and directly across the street from McFadden’s (see below). This tends to be the younger, binge drinking crowd, but can be a ton of fun if you’re in the mood for that type of thing.

McFadden’s: I tend to shy away from this place just due to the sheer volume of people that cram themselves in here. Still, huge bar, good selection of beer and friendly enough.

The Times: Frankly, this isn’t as great as it used to be, but they now have an outdoor seating area you can enjoy if the weather is nice. Go for the nachos – which weren’t on the menu last time I was there but you can still order. Just try not to use the restrooms. This is strictly a ‘one and done’ type of place.

Sullivan’s Tap: This is a pub right near the Boston Garden that must be seen to be believed. The bar runs an entire city block, but the actual place is so narrow you can barely walk from one end to the other. One of the remaining landmark places in the area and was around before the Celtics won their first championship. If this is too crowded you can hit…

Boston Beer Works next door. This place has two floors, pool tables for rent and a large selection of their home made brews. I’ve never had a bad time in this place. There is also Hurricane O’Reilly’s a few doors down, but there really isn’t anything special about that place. Standard food and drink, but pleasant enough atmosphere if everywhere else isn’t to your liking.

I was going to recommend Canal Street Tavern, but the last three times I’ve been there they’ve run out of the beer I was drinking. And it was three different beers. They’re officially off my list of go to places. Three strikes and you’re out.

JJ Foley’s: This is my home away from home. Dark, kind of dingy and grubby, great selection of beer and fantastic buffalo tenders. Again, if you’re going here let me know and I’ll meet you. I hearby challenge you to a game of Golden Tee!

Speaking of Golden Tee, a buddy of mine told me the BeanTown Pub now has a large screen (like a full wall) Golden Tee game. I have yet to check it out myself, but that is another option. They also have coin operated pool tables in the back and it’s always a good time.

That’s all I can think of for the moment. There are also the stand by ‘tourist’ things to do: The Duck Boat Tours (which you can book right outside your hotel), the Swan Boats (if they’re open by the time you visit), the Freedom Trail, State House and I’m sure you’ll find some gems in the North End you’ll love. You can also check out the Sail Loft nearby.

I would avoid Bell in Hand unless you enjoy young, rowdy crowds and beer being spilled on you. There is also the Theater District, but that hasn’t held much appeal for me over the years.

Hope this helps and you enjoy your visit.

Today’s distraction: More good news for the Boston waterfront. At least five new restaurants are opening soon. Can’t have enough good food. Having grown up with the old, ugly, green highway running above the city, I am floored by how beautiful the city has become. Keep it coming, Boston!


c. said...

Beach - Thank you so so much! This is fantastic! I would almost guarantee we will be hitting up Kitty O'Sheas as an amazing Irish bar is totally on my list. I'll have to get your info pre-trip so you can join us for a pint.

Our buddy Ryan who will be along for the fun requested you recommend a good Italian joint on the north end, any favorites come to mind?

Thanks again, now I'm even MORE excited to see Boston!

BeachBum said...

Here is a link to all the Italian places in the North End.

As you can see, picking one isn't really possible. Get on Hanover Street and pick a small mom and pop restaurant. They're all very good to great.

The last one I went to was G'Vanni's which is a closet in a back alley with (maybe) 20 tables. Great food, but very cramped.

And, yes, we'll exchange info so we can meet up if possible. Haven't been to Kitty's in a while.

Rob said...

C and Beach -- hands down the best restaurant is tiny Pomodoros a few buildings down and across the streeet from Mike's Pastries. Siobahn is the owner and sometimes waitress, and she has done wonders with the menu. The freshest ingredients and just authentically delicious dishes.

Beach -- thanks for the heads up about the new restaurants coming to the Seaport district. Remy's near Fenway is very fun, so I'm happy to see another one is coming in this part of the city. I'm surprised you did not mention the Barking Crab. The outdoor, covered seating over the harbor is the best place to be on a warm evening for a cheap, but good seafood meal and a cold beer.

Rob said...

Yelp reviews of Pomodoro:

BeachBum said...

I was going to mention it, but spring can be iffy for that place. Not exactly well insulated on a chilly day.

c. said...

Beach sorry I forgot to get contact info. We got into Boston late this morning. We're sitting at kitty's having a ball.swing by if you happen to be in the Area.