|Photo by Jeff Gunn via flickr|
Kathy Arnold, The Daily Telegraph, April 15, 2015
Kathy Arnold enjoys American art, sport, food and history in the city with freedom and revolution at its heart.
1. Redcoats marching, Paul Revere galloping and the staccato sound of fife and drums: in and around Boston, Patriot’s Day brings commemorations of the start of the American Revolution. On April 19, 1775, Lexington and Concord, small communities just west of Boston, were the sites of the first skirmishes between British soldiers and local farmers. Now, what is a local holiday weekend brings re-enactments and ceremonies that are a great excuse for locals to dress the part; ironically, most want to be Redcoats.
Main events include the dawn salute, a 21-gun volley of muskets and cannon, at Concord’s North Bridge on April 19. On Patriot’s Day (observed on April 20 this year), Lexington recreates the early-morning clash between the town’s militia and the British regulars. The green resonates with musket fire and marching, historically accurate storytelling, parades… and pancakes. Full details are at nps.gov/mima/patriots-day.htm .
Another highlight of the Patriot’s Day weekend is the Boston Marathon, which finishes downtown just after noon. Despite the bombings of 2013, enthusiasm is as high as ever for what is the world’s oldest annual marathon (April 20; baa.org ). But even if you miss Patriot’s Day, an easy introduction to the Revolutionary period of American history is available year-round: just walk Boston’s Freedom Trail ( thefreedomtrail.org ).
Read more: Boston city guide
2. For understated luxury, personal service and a top-class restaurant, nothing beats Fifteen Beacon (001 617 670 1500; xvbeacon.com ) at 15 Beacon Street. The 1903 building still has the original Beaux Arts exterior, from colourful mosaics to elaborate cornices. Inside is the expensive hush of a top-quality hotel. The 63 bedrooms have antiques and modern furniture, soothing coffee-and-cream colours, gas fireplaces and Krug champagne in the posh version of a minibar. It’s also close to the Freedom Trail. Doubles from £205.
Check availability: Fifteen Beacon, Boston
3. Despite its size, The Hotel Commonwealth (933 5000; hotelcommonwealth.com ) successfully blurs the distinction between business and leisure. At the western end of Back Bay, Kenmore Square is a busy place and the hub of a student neighbourhood. Kenmore T station is outside the front door. Reception is small and discreet; sofas in the lounge are comfy. All 149 rooms are comfortable and spacious, with the requisite hi-tech gadgetry. Doubles from £145.
Check availability: The Hotel Commonwealth, Boston
4. The Chandler Studios Boston (482 3450; chandlerstudiosboston.com ) provides a handy base for couples or families spending a few days in the city. Recently built, the 12 studio rooms are in the trendy South End, with its tree-lined streets, brownstone row houses and the buzzy restaurant scene around Tremont Street. Windows that open are a plus; rooms at the rear enjoy views of back gardens and tree tops. The kitchenettes come with hobs, sinks, coffee- makers, microwaves, cutlery and china. Bathrooms are large and modern, with first-class walk-in showers. Doubles from £120.
Check availability: Chandler Studios Boston
Read more: the best hotels in Boston
5. For an easy lesson in American history, walk the Freedom Trail (357 8300; thefreedomtrail.org ). This two-mile route passes 16 historic sites, all with tales to tell. Many are must-sees in their own right, such as the Old State House, the Paul Revere House and Old North Church. Start at the Visitor Information Center on Boston Common. Each attraction has its own entry fees and opening hours. Do it yourself for free, or pay for a 90-minute guided tour. T stop: Park Street.
6. Like a combination of the British Museum and the National Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts (267 9300; mfa.org ) has a collection that spans the world. Highlights include European Old Masters, Impressionists and the Art of the Americas Wing. This covers 3,000 years of South, Central and North American art. Don’t miss the portraits of American Revolutionary War heroes and rooms featuring the beautifully crafted furniture that the early colonists enjoyed. The full-price admission (£16), includes a second visit within 10 days; free tours, talks. T stop: Museum of Fine Arts.
7. Across the Charles river, Cambridge ( cambridgeusa.org ) is home to Harvard University. Pick up the student vibe in and around Harvard Square; explore the campus on an irreverent Hahvahd Tour (855 455 8747; harvardtour.com ). The revamped Harvard Art Museums ( harvardartmuseums.org ) are in an imaginative Renzo Piano-designed complex. Linked by a glass-and-steel roof, old and new buildings now house three renowned collections: the Fogg (European and American art from the Middle Ages to the present), the Busch-Reisinger (art from Europe’s German-speaking nations) and the Arthur M Sackler (classical and Asian art). Harvard’s rival academic hothouse is MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), whose museum shows off MIT’s Nobel Prize winners’ inventions, from Polaroids to robots. T stops: Harvard University, Harvard; MIT, Kendall/MIT and Central Square.
Read more: New England in the Fall - Trip of a Lifetime
8. A long-established mover and shaker on Boston’s food scene, executive chef Jody Adams features regional Italian dishes using New England produce at Rialto (661 5050; rialto-restaurant.com ), including juniper-marinated venison or honey panna cotta with blueberry compote. For good value order the fixed-price, four-course regional menu (£48). Reservations essential. T stop: Harvard.
9. Peter and Colleen McCarthy are passionate about sourcing local, usually organic, produce; they even credit farmers, fishermen and growers on their menu. In a comfortable, casual setting, EVOO (617 661 3866; evoorestaurant.com ) features modern American cooking at its best. Order the bargain seven-course tasting menu, served Monday through Thursday nights for £48. Reservations suggested. T stop: Kendall Square.
10. If you sneer at chain restaurants, think again. The first Legal Sea Foods ( legalseafoods.com ) opened in 1968; now there are about two dozen branches in and around Boston. Go for local oysters, clam chowder, wood-grilled fish of the day. The Copley Place branch is a good example. No reservations are needed. T stops: Copley, Back Bay.
This article was written by Kathy Arnold from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.