Find Gems in Your Own Backyard – A Weekend in Boston

Ok, we all know I am from Boston, so one could guess that I am a bit biased towards my beloved home city, and frankly I should be, because it’s a pretty awesome place, small enough to walk the majority of it in a day, big enough to offer a lot of cultural diversity, and is absolutely crammed with some fantastic history. In Boston we have taken great efforts to preserve our history, and yet advance technology at the same time. The weekend I have planned below can actually be done completely via public transportation, but if you prefer to take your car, that’s cool too.

Freedom Trail through the Gaslight Section

Let’s start off the weekend right by heading to Charlestown. Pick up a bit of the freedom trail (that’s that big fat red line on the ground) through the North End, and over the Charlestown Bridge to the Gaslight Section of Charlestown. The Gaslight Section at dusk is one of the most inviting in all of Boston. Relics from the 1830s, the three clustered lanterns shine a dim glow over the streets, transporting you back in time a bit. While there, head over to the Warren Tavern. In continuous operation for over 225 years, this pub has served the likes of Paul Revere and George Washington. Offering up excellent pub fare and very reasonable prices (no entree is over $20), you might be able to use some imagination and re-live some of the plotting that was done here via candlelight to start a revolution.

From the Tavern, stroll over to the Charlestown Navy Yard and check out the USS Constitiuon. “Old Ironsides” as she is known, is the oldest commissioned ship in the world, and a current member of the US Navy’s fleet.

A view of Boston through the rigging of the USS Constitution.

Named by George Washington himself, she has sailed all over the world and is manned by 70 active duty members of the Navy today. From the edge of the dock you will have a fantastic vantage of one of the lesser seen Boston skylines. If you are finished before 8:15pm, take the MBTA‘s water ferry back to downtown Boston, at less than $2, it provides a great view of the city, and a really relaxing way to end the night.

Looking to escape the city and check out a bit of the country, no problem. Departing from North Station in Boston, hop on the MBTA‘s commuter rail on the Fitchburg line out to Lincoln. In only forty minutes, you will go from downtown to the middle of no where! Take a 10 minute walk from the station and you will reach the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Drumlin Farm.

Herb garden and barn at Drumlin Farm.

This place is fantastic, enjoy three miles of rolling hiking trails, a working veggie garden and livestock farm, Drumlin offers a bit of the country life in a reasonable bite. Stroll on the nature trails, observe the many birding opportunities, and head over to the barn to meet pigs, goats, sheep and chickens. Don’t forget to pack a lunch, because Drumlin is a great spot to lay out a blanket and enjoy an impromptu picnic.

After a few hours, catch the train back to Boston, and from North Station take a 20 minute stroll over the Longfellow Bridge (also called the salt and pepper bridge – can you guess why), to Charles River Canoe and Kayak. From $15 an hour, you will be able to rent canoes, kayaks or stand up paddle boards, and have free reign over the Charles.

Let me tell you, there is nothing like seeing Boston from the water. And the view from the river gives you a scene of unprecedented beauty. Don’t forget your camera, because the sun sparkling off the water and the buildings make any armature photographer look like a pro. As you are paddling, keep an eye out of community boaters sailing around in their sunfish, crew teams from Harvard, BU and MIT, and recreational boaters, the river is a hub of activity in the summer and fall.

View of Boston from the Charles.

Now that you’ve hiked and paddled a few hours today, you totally deserve a delicious dinner right? Absolutely, I am right there with you, so I will recommend one place and one place only: Myers and Chang. Think 1970s kung fu mixed with some of the most creative Asian street food you can find, and there it is. My favorite restaurant in Boston. From downtown you can either cab it, or take the MBTA Silver Line from Boston Common to its Washington Street location. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Still looking for something to do? Alright, how about this, retrace your steps back to Boston Common and check out Shakespeare on the Common, where every Saturday night starting July 27th through August 14 from 8pm to 11pm all are welcome to pull up a spot of lawn and catch a free performance. Bring your doggie bags, grab a bottle of *ahem* wine from a nearby store, and you’re ready to finish off the night.

Sundays are for relaxation, at least in my book, especially after all the great activities we did on Saturday, so this morning what better way to chill than to stroll over to the SoWa Open Market in the South End. You could walk, drive, cab or take the Green, Orange or Red lines on the MBTA and then walk over from their respective stations.

The SoWa Open Market is an explosion of arts, crafts, creativity and most importantly, food trucks! Featured every Sunday from 10am to 4pm during the summer and fall, this is the perfect place to pickup a handmade necklace, some vintage tee shirts, or try a few samples from the various gourmet offerings. And, of course, I won’t even get into the abundance of people watching!

The famous tasting room of the Harpoon Brewery.

Ok, last stop, I wouldn’t send you home from Boston without at least a beah (beer to all of you who actually use r’s)! In the early afternoon hop on the Red Line from the SoWa Open Market to South Station and then switch to the SL1 Silver Line bus, tell the drive you are headed to the Harpoon Brewery and they will be sure to let you know when the stop is. Head across the street and take a tour of my favorite Boston made beer (no offense, Sam Adams). Last tour starts around 2:30-3pm on Sundays (you can call ahead of time to get the info) and costs $5. Unless you are really into beer making, the best part of the tour is the end, when the fine folks at Harpoon put on a monster tasting session. I dare you to leave without buying something, it’s virtually impossible!

You can either head back on the Silver Line to downtown Boston, or take a stroll back. Part of Boston’s Harborwalk trail, the walk is really nice, right along the waterfront, with a few places to grab a snack, maybe a lobster roll, or some boxed lobsters to take home at James Hook and Co., and feel the cool ocean breezes.

Head home, having enjoyed some of the best metro Boston has to offer.

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