Holidays in Boston 2013/2014:
Boston’s crucial role in America’s story continues to lure visitors keen to understand the events behind the birth of the nation. But alongside all its historical sights, modern-day Boston is also known around the globe as a centre of high-tech innovation and highbrow culture, with dozens of world-class museums and colleges attracting a diverse and progressive populace.
Boston is also a great port city, with fabulous seafood restaurants, a harbour full of islands, and a freshly-energised waterfront as the result of a huge project to move old elevated highways underground. Get acclimatised by wandering along a section of the Harborwalk past wharves, piers, fish markets and art installations.
Back inland, walk through the compact streets of the North End, Boston’s own Little Italy (though locals don’t call it that). Just beyond, there’s great shopping to be found along Beacon Hill’s Charles Street and Newbury Street in Back Bay, or jump on the subway to Harvard Square for more boutiques, bookstores and cafes along Massachusetts Avenue towards Porter Square.
Finally, don’t forget that Boston is a city utterly obsessed with sport. Devotion to its baseball team in particular knows no bounds. A tour of highly-atmospheric Fenway Park - home of the Boston Red Sox - will go a long way to understanding what makes Bostonians tick.
Things to do/Attractions
Few cities blend the past, the present and the future as seamlessly as Boston, a fact borne out by the breadth of historical landmarks and modern attractions on offer. A Boston Trolley Tour links colonial-era sights like the Tea Party Ships and the evocative Paul Revere House to cutting-edge temples of culture like the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the futuristic ideas on display at the M.I.T Museum. Small-scale Boston is also a pedestrian-friendly city of neighbourhoods and green spaces, so save time to explore backstreets lined with opulent Victorian brownstones, and to lounge with the locals in the many parks and gardens. You can wander at leisure through Faneuil Hall, once a farmer’s market and a soapbox for revolutionary speakers, it still is a bustling marketplace where all kinds of goods and foods are available. Boston is a unique city, and is one that you’ll fall in love with the very first time you visit.
Boston’s dynamic dining scene includes innovative options for all budgets. Head to the North End for authentic Italian, where popular and unpretentious eateries rub shoulders. The resurgence of the Seaport District has been helped along by its excellent restaurants, with steakhouse and seafood venues leading the way; the New England clam chowder is reputed to be especially good. Head to the upmarket South End to dine at some of the most talked-about establishments in town.
Live music, comedy and a thriving craft beer movement makes up much of Boston’s current nightlife scene. Classical music fans are superbly catered for, with the world-famous Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops performing at the landmark Symphony Hall, while more contemporary acts play at classic venues like the House of Blues, the 1852-built Orpheum Theatre and Scullers Jazz Club. The Wilbur Theatre hosts headline names in comedy, while rising stars of stand-up work the boards at Improv Boston. Over 100 beers are on tap at Meadhall in Cambridge or Back Bay’s tiny Bukowski Tavern, while true Boston-Irish spirit can be found at the Brendan Behan pub in Jamaica Plain.
Not to be missed
Discover the story of the American Revolution right where it began, by walking the 2.5 mile red-brick Freedom Trail through downtown Boston. You’ll pass 16 historical sites, including the handsome Old State House – the city’s oldest surviving public building – before arriving at the world’s oldest commissioned warship, the USS Constitution, where free guided tours are available. Ride a slowly-gliding Swan Boat in the Public Garden, explore the cobblestone alleys of Beacon Hill, indulge in a Boston Chocolate Tour or stroll the desirable avenues of Back Bay. Hop over to Cambridge on the other side of the Charles River for a student-led campus tour of Harvard University.
Best for families
Boston is one of the USA’s most family-friendly destinations, with plenty of stimulating and fun attractions. Learning is never a chore with the interactive range of exhibits at the Museum of Science and Boston Children’s Museum, and is even more hands-on at the New England Aquarium where you can mingle with penguins and gently stroke a bonnethead shark. Discover the city from land and water in Boston Duck Tour’s WWII-style amphibious landing vehicles, then share a special ‘ice cream pizza’ at one of ice-cream parlour Emack & Bolio’s five city branches. The Colonnade hotel is always a hit with kids as it boasts the only rooftop swimming pool in town and the Back Bay hotel is one of our Virgin favourites and features good size rooms sleeping up to 4 and late check-out at 2.00pm. A family holiday in Boston will certainly never be dull.
Best for couples
Snuggle up and see downtown Boston from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage, or drift along the Charles River in an authentic Venezian gondola with Boston Gondola Tours. When dusk falls, whizz up to the 50th floor of the Prudential Center to admire 360-degree views from the Skywalk Observatory, before a sunset cocktail or dinner in the proposal-worthy Top of the Hub restaurant and jazz lounge. For a romantic place to stay, try the newly-renovated Fairmont Copley Plaza in Back Bay, home of the elegant Oak Bar and the most renowned oysters in town.
Your Boston wedding can be as sumptuous or simple as you want it to be. Some luxury hotels, like the Langham and the Ritz-Carlton Boston Common, offer fully-inclusive wedding packages so you won’t have to worry about a thing. Alternatively, opt for a completely unique setting for your wedding ceremony, like beautiful 204-acre Thompson Island in Boston Harbour, or even onstage at the Boston Opera House! Honeymooners are equally well-catered for too, with accommodation like the ultra-modern W and classically elegant Boston Harbour Hotel offering fabulous suites and first-rate spas.
Kids love walking inside the giant, three-storey stained-glass globe known as the ‘Mapparium’ at the Mary Baker Eddy library. Due to the globe’s weird acoustics, a simple whisper reverberates around the entire space. Film fan? Spot locations made famous in Good Will Hunting, The Departed, Mystic River and lots more on the Boston Movie Tour, or catch a screening at the distinctive Somerville Theatre, also home to the hilarious Museum of Bad Art. Beer drinkers can learn about the history of beloved Bostonian brew Samuel Adams on a free brewery tour, with the chance to knock back a few award-winning samples.
Weather/Best time to go
There’s often still a nip in the air but springtime in Boston can be gorgeous, especially when the flowering bulbs of the Public Garden and other parks come into bloom. Summer arrives early – around late May – with hot, sunny and sometimes humid weather right through until September, though there’s normally a cooling breeze to be found along the waterfront. Autumn is unsurprisingly Boston’s most popular season, when the climate is mild and temperate and fall colours hit their golden-hued peak. Winter heralds a fabulous calendar of cultural events and the chance to ice skate on Boston Common Frog Pond. It does get cold and snowy in the winter, but the nearby ski resorts allow you to take advantage of those conditions. The climate in Boston is pleasant all the year round without extremes.
Get a taste for the seafaring life and learn to haul the sails on a classic tall ship schooner in Boston Harbour. In Massachusetts Bay you can spy humpback whales and white-sided dolphins on a high-speed catamaran whale-watching tour, or even join an experienced captain on a deep sea fishing charter. During the summer months, take a ferry to the Boston Harbour Islands for excellent sea kayaking and swimming, or hike one of the many trails that criss-cross the islands. Some allow wild camping if you want to stay the night.
Shopping is also a big draw for visitors to Boston! Head to Newbury Street for designer clothes and one-off shops. Malls such as Copley Place and Prudential Center offer all the high-street names, while Washington Avenue is great for designer bargains. Try Filene's Basement, Macy's, Marshall's and the wonderful DSW - 3 floors of designer shoe bargains! The 18th-century Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, with their eclectic shops, food stalls and street performers, are also a must.
Most sights are easily accessible by foot, plus there's an efficient public transport system including the T - a comprehensive metro system, as well as a linking bus service.
Plymouth (or Plimoth)
The city of Boston isn’t far from Plymouth, where the Mayflower first landed in 1620 with the Pilgrim Fathers. The rest, as they say, is history. Many descendants of the original settlers migrated to New England, the area of the United States in which Boston is located, and today there are reminders of that history everywhere. In the centre of the city is the house once occupied by Paul Revere, and the Old North Church, famous for warning the settlers that the British were coming, is nearby.
North, South and Back Bay
Boston is a great city for walking, but a good map is a must. Streets, seemingly with no logic to it, just begin and end. The “north end” of the city isn’t actually due north - it’s more north-east, but here you’ll find the famous “Little Italy” and some of the best restaurants and bakeries are in this area. The South End is actually to the west of downtown, where you’ll find an eclectic mix of homes and businesses. Just to the north of that is Back Bay, housing Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library, both of which are a must-see while in Boston. If you look across Beacon Street from Boston Commons or the Public Gardens, you may be able to spot some windows with a purple or lavender hue. These are extremely old windows that had an imperfection in their manufacture, causing them to turn purple over time, but they are now highly prized by their owners as being something of a status symbol.
By Land and By Sea
When you’ve tired of walking, hop aboard one of the Duck Tours and see more on your city break. These vehicles can travel on both land and water, so you’ll be able to see everything from the Charles River to the Bunker Hill monument. Because of its association with the Declaration of Independence, Boston throws a huge party on Independence Day each year, July 4th. The 18th century ship USS Constitution makes its annual sailing into Boston Harbour; the Declaration of Independence is read aloud from the balcony of the Old South Church just as it was in 1776, and the Boston Pops orchestra plays patriotic music in the evening while fireworks light up the sky.
So, if a holiday in Boston sounds like a perfect city break getaway, take a look at our fantastic Boston hotels and package holidays!
Boston Wine Festival
March 2013 -
World Irish Dancing Championships
April 2013 -
Boston Marathon and “Art in Bloom” festival of art & flowers
June 2013 -
June 2013 -
September - Tanglewood Music Festival
June 2013 -July-
August 2013 -
August Moon Festival 2013 Beach Street, Chinatown and Caribbean Carnival Parade & Festival
September 2013 -
Beantown Jazz Festival
October 2013 -
Tufts 10 K Largest women’s road race in the world
December 2013 -
Boston Holiday Pops
All events listed are for helpful information only and many are subject to entrance fees and/or prior reservation, and may be cancelled at any time. Please check with the relevant tourist office if you need further information on these or any of the other events in this region.
Our Top 5 hotels
If you like your swimming pool to come with a view, you’re in luck, the Colonnade boasts the only rooftop pool in Boston, a fine spot for summer lunches or evening cocktails! Stunning vistas can also be enjoyed in the fitness centre, which has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking historic brownstones.
Once the Federal Reserve Bank, the Langham is a charming and sophisticated hotel, which effortlessly combines old-world grandeur with every modern comfort possible. Guest rooms are sumptuously furnished with Italian marble bathrooms and plenty of home-from-home amenities.
Situated in the heart of downtown Boston, this delightful property combines historic charm and modern-day luxury. Rooms are beautifully appointed, while facilities include the delightful Parker's Restaurant which features a clever blend of traditional and contemporary cuisine, and Last Hurrah bar where you can enjoy signature martinis.
Converted from the old Boston Police Headquarters, an earnest and grand looking 1920s landmark, the clever use of illuminated glass for the lobby stairs transforms the interior of this incredible hotel in to a modern, breath of fresh air that couldn't be further from it's former intention.
A stunning luxurious hotel located on Rowes Wharf, one of the most historic in America. With its instantly recognisable 80-foot arch and rotunda this hotel has a reputation for outstanding customer service. Centrally located just a short walk from many of Boston’s historic attractions in the downtown area, it also have the bonus of having some of the largest guest rooms in Boston.