If you’ve had your fill of the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross House and want some new historic scenery, a quick trip north can provide equal parts education and entertainment.
Boston is to the Northeast what Philly is to the Mid-Atlantic region: a very walkable hub of American history, infused with modern attractions to appeal to visitors of all stripes (though Philly’s moniker as the City of Brotherly Love is rivaled by Boston’s affability — cars actually stop for pedestrians!).
Beantown is a quick five-hour trip from Philly (or shorter if you’re adept at flying under the police radar).
Among the city’s claims to fame is its iconic role in the development of Revolutionary War-era America, best explored through The Freedom Trail (freedomtrail.org). The 2.5-mile walking tour takes visitors to more than a dozen sites — cemeteries, government buildings and even Paul Revere’s home — that collectively tell the story of Boston’s rich history. Guests can grab a Freedom Trail map and set off on a self-guided tour (given a 21st-century boost with the use of a mobile app), or hop on a guided tour.
A quirky addition to your history lesson can be found at the Mapparium (marybakereddylibrary.org), where visitors can explore the changing global community from within the bowels of a three-story, stained-glass globe. Located at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, the nearly century-old structure fuses art and history, for an experience that is enlightening on a number of levels. Make sure to test the unique acoustics of the globe — which allow whispers to carry in crystal-clear form across large spaces.
A must-stop on a Boston history tour is the iconic Faneuil Hall (faneuilhallmarketplace.com). Originally built in the mid-1700s, it served as a merchant marketplace, a purpose that continues through today, with vast shopping and dining offerings. A wide array of street performers enliven the marketplace, and make an afternoon stroll around Faneuil Hall an engaging and fun endeavor.
Outdoor strolling is a staple of a visit to Boston. The downtown portion of the city, popular with tourists, is just 1.5 square miles, so you can cover a lot of ground in just a few hours.
SWAN BOATS IN THE PUBLIC GARDEN
One of the cornerstones of this area is Boston Common, dating to the 17th century. Today, the 50-acre park includes historic monuments and memorials, picturesque landscaping and greenery and a pond that transforms into an ice rink in the winter months. Cultural events and festivals are often held in Boston Common, which is adjacent to the Public Garden, home of the historic Swan Boats — a tranquil lagoon tour with a great view of the park and its many sightseeing and people-watching opportunities.
Like Philly, while Boston’s city center is bustling with attractions, the areas surrounding the downtown area all offer their own tastes of Boston, such as northern neighbor Cambridge. With neighborhoods comprised largely of “squares,” Cambridge is a hip, yet historic, city. In its Harvard Square, you can stop at Harvard University, where visitors are welcomed to marvel at the architecture and grounds (and lament their educational choices), or peruse book shops, cafés and even the world’s only “Curious George” store.
With Halloween approaching, Boston is also a stone’s throw (or quick ferry trip) from Salem, Mass. The home of the famed witch trials is the place to be in October, as the town explodes with ghost tours, haunted houses and more.
While Salem is the crème de la crème of Halloween haunts, if you’re looking for the best of the best in accommodations, head back to downtown Boston and the Nine Zero Hotel.
The luxury boutique property, a member of the Kimpton family, offers much more than a place to lay your head. But, starting with that … you may be hard-pressed to leave your room — with plush, expansive beds you can nearly get lost in, luxury bath products, high-speed wifi and incredible views of the city. And if you do manage to slip out of your room, you don’t need to go far for fun.
The property’s Highball Lounge is styled as a vintage cocktail lounge. Highball encourages patrons to kick back, with a game room complete with board and arcade games, a laidback environment perfect for evening noshing and drinks.
NINE NINE ZERO
Speaking of drinks, Nine Zero offers a nightly (and complimentary!) wine hour in its lobby. Guests can mix and mingle over a glass and game of chess and get to know their weekend neighbors (a process that is fueled as the refills start flowing). On our visit, the happy hour was bustling with diversity: a gay couple with their two dogs (Nine Zero is pet-friendly!), a father and daughter from Alabama, a family with kids and a smattering more of LGBT folks (it’s also very LGBT-friendly!).
The lobby is also home to complimentary coffee and tea each morning and fruit-infused water throughout the day. Nine Zero is centrally located, just across from Boston Common and stops along the Freedom Trail, and with more dining options than could be visited in just one trip.
A return trip to Boston is already in order for this visitor.