Boston‘s spirit is unwavering, and it shows throughout the city. The Boston Marathon Memorial is set up in Copley Square and open to anyone who wants to pay respects to those affected by the April 15 tragedy. While you’re there, don’t forget to walk down Boylston Street and stop into some of the restaurants and shops that line the marathon route. Show them some support as they try to find a sense of normality.
Be it the strong sense of communal pride (the Boston Strong benefit concert with Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffett and others is May 30) or something else, it only takes two minutes to fall in love with Boston. But if you’re lucky enough to be here for two days, you’ll find plenty of reasons to come back. Whether you’re a sports fan, a history buff, a foodie, an art lover or traveling with family in tow, the city has something for you.
On your first morning, take a moment to explore. Start in the North End with a cup of a coffee and a pastry from one of the city’s famous Italian bakeries; we’re partial to Modern Pastry. After the early-AM treat, begin your journey at the same place Paul Revere did: the Old North Church. The Freedom Trail starts here, and will take you through a history-laden walk through Boston. Follow the red-brick line through the city toward Boston Common.
Boston Common is one of the most historical parks in the U.S., and it once served as cattle-grazing ground before the city was built up. From here, you can view the copper-domed capitol building and make your way to the Boston Public Gardens, where you can hop on a bird-shaped Swan Boat and give your legs a little rest.
Just past the Gardens is Newbury Street — Boston’s trendiest shopping corridor, where you’ll find everything from Chanel and Valentino to Urban Outfitters and Steve Madden. Shop your heart out, but don’t forget to break for lunch while you’re here. Newbury has blocks of outdoor cafés and restaurants, and makes for some great people-watching. Stephanie’s on Newbury is the ultimate see-and-be-seen place. Steven Tyler, Ted Danson and many others have been known to lunch here, so keep your eye out for celebrities. After lunch, walk across the street to the Prudential Center and hop on one of the famous Duck Tours.
The Duck Tours are a great way to wind down your first afternoon in Boston. They’ll take you through all of the city’s historic neighborhoods and for a ride in the Charles River, where you’ll get to see Harvard University and MIT from afar. While on the tour, make note of all the things you might want to see on day two.
Start your evening off right with cocktails overlooking Boston Harbor at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf, followed by dinner at the Four-Star No. 9 Park on Beacon Hill. Start with the prune-stuffed gnocchi, a is a signature item. And be sure not to miss the legendary cheese course. (Another tip: You may need reservations at No. 9 Park, and I suggest you make them well in advance. Request a table by the window for the ultimate views of Beacon Hill.)
Your next morning starts at one of Boston’s famous sports landmarks: Fenway Park. Whether it’s a Red Sox game day or not, head over to the park first thing in the morning for a tour of the historical stadium and its famed Green Monster. (If you have tickets to a game, there’s plenty to do and see around Fenway before the action. If you don’t, getting here early for a tour will help you avoid the crowd of folks heading inside the ballpark.)
Spend the afternoon walking through Harvard Yard or exploring one of the neighborhoods in Boston. If it’s raining or cold, visit some of the city’s top museums, such as the Museum of Science or the Museum of Fine Arts. But for this two-day jaunt, we suggest the New England Aquarium. It’s fun for all ages, and the friendly penguins have no problem walking around and joining in on your tour. After that lunchtime excitement, head over to Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Boston and enjoy afternoon tea in The Bristol Lounge (weekends only; reservations are recommended).
There’s no better way to end a night in Boston than back in the North End, where you started your two days, Find an empty table at a bar or café such as Lucca Restaurant or Caffé Vittoria on Hanover Street and watch the world go by with a cappuccino and danish.