Friday, November 25, 2011

Guide: What to do in Boston in One Day

There's always a problem in deciding how to fully maximise your time in a place- not dwelling too long at a particular place, and yet hoping to see everything interesting there is in a place!

Before I left Boston for Singapore, I decided to do a one last walk around in Boston. While the guide that I'm going to write here won't exactly match it, I think it's to a certain extent what people would probably like to see if they only had one day to spend in Boston!

What to do in Boston in One Day
1) Get a day pass
Well, first and foremost no matter where you are, get yourself a day pass from a T station. Boston's pretty easy to get around via the T. A day pass costs $9 whereas one trip is $1.70, regardless of distance. Doing the math, this means that as long as you take the T 6 times, it's more than worth it. (I'm assuming you are not travelling by car- if you are, check out the parking prices) Get yourself acquainted on how to use the T. It may be confusing initially- you have to walk to the end to reach the staircase to get to the other side.

For reference, here's a map.

2) Rise early!
It doesn't make sense if all you have is a day and you end up lazing the day away. Prepare yourself with a map (hopefully free) from where you're staying. Otherwise, print it out off the internet before leaving.

3) Coolidge Corner
I mentioned this place earlier in one of the blog posts, but here's some elaboration.

If you do not stay in the US, you may want to take a look at the trader joe's here which sells organic food. Trader Joe's has other branches (e.g. near Hynes) and you may pass by them later on. But anyway, it opens really early. Many varieties of interesting food that you will probably be quite amazed by the variety.

There is the Coolidge Corner Theater which is a not-for-profit arts institution. But I suppose you wouldn't really be spending time there.

There are plenty of interesting shops here- independent book stores, a variety of cuisine (japanese food (Fugakyu's my favourite!), chinese food, mexican food, creperies etc.) There is also a popular farmer's market on Thursdays from June to October.

4) Boston University
You may want to have a look at Boston University, and maybe have a walk along the Charles River. Boston University runs on the B line from BU West to BU East. Do find from the map how to get to the Charles River though. Then take the T to Hynes.

5) Hynes (Prudential Centre)
From Hynes, you can walk to the Convention Centre (do you have anything business there?), catch a concert at the Symphony Hall (if they have afternoon concerts), or walk to the Prudential Building. (if you want to shop for pricier things, or eat at Cheesecake Factory/Legal Sea Foods)

Okay Legal Sea Foods should not have been in the brackets. I apologise for this understatement. Legal Sea Foods is one of the most popular and touristy places to visit. I spy with my little eye I'm told they are well known for their lobsters and clam chowder. You ask me, I say they are overpriced and you might get something better elsewhere cheaper. But for the sake of the convenient location, maybe give it a try.

You can also go to the First Church of Christ, Scientist along your way because I must say it looks pretty spectacular, even more so at night.

And this might make the females happy, but Newbury Street is here. If you're going to spend one day in Boston, shopping at Newsbury Street isn't probably the best idea. It stretches all the way to Boylston, so you might just want to walk there anyway.

6) Copley
The public library's here- for those who love to have a look at some great architecture of libraries, here's a great place to go. For Boston Legal fans, you might want to walk to find 555 Boylston and take a picture with the building.

7) Bolyston
If you had left your stomach empty until now, it may be a good time to eat! From Boylston, you can walk to Chinatown, which is a pretty small Chinatown compared to the big Chinatowns in other parts of US, like San Francisco or New York.

Oh and how could I miss it out, the Boston Commons/Public Garden (they are next to each other)? This place is beautiful all year round, although the level of fun you get out of this place depends on the season. (there just isn't much to do during winter.)

From Chinatown, you can then proceed to Downtown Crossing, which honestly has nothing much besides a Macy's, a Payless and a Claire's. That's pretty much what I remember of it anwyway.

8) MIT/Harvard
If you would like to take a look at these famous institutions (or rather YOU SHOULD), take the T (Green) to Park Street, and then change to the red line and get off at Kendall/MIT or the Harvard Stop. Do note that for both, there are guided tours. It's pretty cool just to spin around and to listen to the stories for free, or if you are feeling polite and courteous, tip the student generously!

At MIT, this is probably one of the coolest buildings although another building called the Strata is equally cool. This place exudes nothing but geekiness, which I suppose they are very proud of anyway.

At Harvard, there's a tour that will bring you all the way from the Information Centre to the ins and outs of Harvard. This might be particularly interesting if you watched The Social Network.

9) Government Centre
Here's where the famed Freedom Trail is. It's 2.5 mile, check out where it starts and where it ends. I can't give much comments about this, because I never completed the 2.5 miles. Blame it on the distractions along the way.

One of the obvious distractions is Quincy's Market. Many say that Quincy's Market is a tourist trap. I think it is a tourist trap, but a trap that might well be worthy to get yourself into. There are buskers performing stunts all the time- I'm not so sure about winter though. Plus they have little food stalls selling all kinds of food- you might get yourself stuffed just walking through!

10) Little Italy
By this time, it should be dinner and your stomach should be pleading with you desperately to let it have some food. This place has the famed rivalry between Mike's Pastry and Modern Pastry. You can get yourself a canoli either as an appetizer or a dessert. There's can never be too much food!

For dinner, you might want to consider going to Neptune Oyster. Neptune Oyster, I believe, has blown many peoples' mind for its lobster sandwich. I wasn't too particularly impressed. Instead, you might want to hop into one of the authentic Italian restaurants. The servers may be a little snappy, but if you are a person who can tolerate a little snappiness in exchnage for delectable good food, go straight right in!

11) Aquarium
For those with children, you might want to sacrifice the Little Italy Trip and hop over to Aquarium on the blue line instead. The aquarium is pretty impressive and everyone can take a walk along the beautiful harbour line at night! There's also a place called Barking Crab which has endless queues forming every night, so either go there really early, or go there really late!

Few Last Words
Experience says that it would be nearly impossible to cover half of the above itinerary. Threfore, choose and pick the ones that you would really want to go to, though I would recommend having one of your meals somewhere which serves lobster! You haven't been to Boston if you haven't tried the Boston lobster!


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