No bucket list is complete without at least one trip to Boston, a city that’s forever coming up with new ways to entice visitors to return.
Sure, there’s always Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail and those zany duck boat tours. But while you were away, the Cradle of Liberty sprouted some wicked cool new stuff.
Here’s your guide to Beantown, both on and off the beaten path:
If you’re a runner or a history buff, or both, you’ll be hot to trot for RunBase (bostonrunbase.com). Part interactive museum, clubhouse and retail outlet, RunBase opened last spring near the finish line of the iconic Boston Marathon. It’s a great place to find someone to share a run along the nearby Charles River, or simply to learn more about the rich lore of the 119-year-old marathon, America’s most storied footrace.
Across town on the harbor, check out the renovated giant ocean tank at the New England Aquarium (neaq.org). It got a $17.8 million remake in 2013, and 52 viewing bays now look out on a coral reef teeming with more than 1,000 fish species. Unleash your inner Cousteau beneath the new reflective ceiling dome, which gives the entire aquarium a shimmering undersea vibe. If you’re visiting with kids, this is a must-see.
Need some fresh air? Stroll the Rose Kennedy Greenway, one of the nation’s premier showcases for unusual open-air art installations. There’s abstract sculpture, a labyrinth and more.
Coming in spring 2016: the Boston Wax Museum. This won’t be just another Madame Tussauds; Brazil-based Dreams Entertainment Group says its U.S. debut venture will feature wax likenesses of influential Bostonians through the ages in politics, sports and entertainment.
Non-negotiables: lunch and shopping at Faneuil Hall Marketplace in the heart of downtown, where Samuel Adams and other patriots agitated for rebellion against the British. Ditto a leisurely walk through Boston Common and the adjacent Boston Public Garden, the heart and lungs of the city.
You can’t truthfully say you’ve done Boston without following the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile route that takes in Old North Church, Paul Revere House, Bunker Hill Monument and a dozen other colonial sites (thefreedomtrail.org). A raucous alternative is a splashy ride on a duck boat: a World War II-style amphibious vehicle that rumbles past most of those landmarks.
Other must-sees: the highly interactive John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum (jfklibrary.org), devoted to the 35th president and Massachusetts’ most favorite son. Or, if high-end retail therapy is your thing, try the fashionable salons and boutiques of Newbury Street.
For heaven’s sake, don’t go home without genuflecting before Fenway Park, a shrine that deserves a visit even if the Red Sox inside aren’t always worthy. Catch a game in season and consider an hourlong walking tour and a selfie atop the ballpark’s signature Green Monster wall.
By now, you’ll be ravenous. Head to the North End, a warren of narrow streets lined with Italian restaurants. Slake your thirst with a tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery (samueladams.com/boston-brewery).
Pack an umbrella: Boston’s weather is famously unpredictable. If you’re planning to visit in winter, keep in mind that February tends to be the region’s snowiest month. (Last winter, Boston got 9 feet of it. Just saying.)
Taxis can be expensive and elusive. If you’re not into Uber or other ride-sharing services, MBTA public transit — known simply as the T — will get you virtually everywhere, and it’s much cheaper. You can buy reloadable CharlieTicket and CharlieCard passes and save a bundle (mbta.com).
Make like a local and get out of town. No, really. Just across the Charles is Cambridge, home to a certain Ivy League college and its eponymous Harvard Square. Fine, technically it’s not Boston, but who’d quibble when it’s replete with so many fabulous watering holes and seriously interesting indie bookstores? Pro tip: Don’t even try to pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd; just take the T (Red Line).
Visiting in summer? Grab a blanket and some munchies and catch a free open-air concert on Boston’s riverside Esplanade park. The city’s beloved Boston Pops orchestra has been performing in the outdoor Hatch Shell for decades.
End your trip by having a drink at Top of the Hub, a bar and restaurant 52 floors above the Back Bay (topofthehub.net). It offers stunning 360-degree panoramic views of the city that boasts it’s the “Hub of the Universe.”