Boston, Massachusetts, is yet another perfect USA city to travel to: rich history, beautiful neighbourhoods, a young student crowd, plenty of green space, and easy to cover on foot. I spent two weekends there during my USA road trip, including on a stinking hot Independence Day complete with spectacular 4th July fireworks down on riverfront. And don’t stop there. Make sure you travel to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and get a taste of New England beach side living at it’s best.
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
RED SOX | try and catch a game at Fenway Park in Boston, Masachusetts. When our group of 4 friends went, the Red Sox won so the atmosphere was even more amazing. Baseball is such an iconic American sport and you couldn’t find a much better venue to watch it.
CAPE COD | if you make it to Massachusetts, try and save time to travel further afield to Cape Cod. By then our band of three very frugal travellers had adopted a $20/ night group-dinner-budget-challenge and stocked up on mini airport booze bottles to smuggle around!
- Hyannis is a quaint, very monied boating town with a cute little hostel: there’s a nice beach, but it’s not amazing. Walk along the port to a JFK memorial past gorgeous patriotic houses: proper white picket fence USA stuff.
- Quaint little Falmouth (very near my UK hometown namesake) is worth a coffee stop, and was hosting a $1 a bag book sale when we drove through.
- At the other end of Cape Cod is more isolated Truro (also a town in Cornwall!) with a stunning, rugged hostel on the cliff top. The beach is lovely and the Beachcomber bar in nearby Wellfleet is famous along the Cape.
- Provincetown adds another twist again as Cape Cod’s large gay holiday community full of colour and characters.
BACK BAY | in Boston, Massachusetts, is lovely with plenty of little shops and cafes should you want to browse. There’s the beautiful Boston Public Library which was unfortunately shut, and sadly the finish line of 2013’s Boston Marathon bombing.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
HARVARD UNIVERSITY | the geek in me was really excited for the Harvard tour in Boston, Massachusetts, but disappointingly you couldn’t actually go inside any of the buildings. The institution boasts many famous students including most American presidents, Mark Zuckenberg, Matt Damon, and Natalie Portman. Impressive.
FREEDOM TRAIL | Boston has a distinct English feel: most evident along the famous 2.5 mile Freedom Trail that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States around 1770. Try and time lunch at Quincy Market by the Old State House, then on for ice cream in Little Italy. We were there in July and it was so, so hot… Unfortunately me and Sis slacked off the final Bunker Hill Monument hill climb due to exhaustion, and by which point we didn’t feel like we were properly learning anyway!
BEACON HILL | I stayed with friends in the Boston suburb of East Cambridge, from where you can walk across the bridge to the city and turn right along Charles Street in Beacon Hill. Grab more ice cream at JP Licks and explore the tranquil back streets, including a pretty Louisburg Square where Little Women author, Louisa May Alcott, lived.
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
HOSTELLING INTERNATIONAL | this Hostel in Chinatown epitomised to me the issue with many ‘budget’ traveller options these days: it’s expensive, kitted out beyond the necessary max, pretty darn posh, and definitely a little soulless. The saving grace was this amazing Japanese called Irashai Sushi around the corner!
CHEERS BAR | I’m sure you’ll swing by for a pic if not a pint, but the original exterior of the Cheers Bar in Beacon Hill made famous by the 1980s TV show – and originally founded as The Bull and Finch in 1969 – is heaving with tour bus crowds jostling for a selfie. Don’t bother. No interior shots were ever filmed here and the pub downstairs doesn’t resemble the TV bar in any way.
SALEM | which featured in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and is most known as the location of the Salem witch trials of 1692, is a pretty place but very random! We drove to Salem, Massachusetts, from Boston, grabbed lunch at the Lobster Shanty, then walked around the streets on painted line?! I’m sure the history is interesting in that it’s macabre, but we struggled to scratch below the surface.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
MARTHA’S VINEYARD | is a long-time New England summer colony, with picturesque harbour towns and lighthouses, sandy beaches and farmland, accessible only by boat or air. Typically, we missed said ferry boat by minutes!
AND KNOW THIS: modern life progressed on many levels thanks to Massachusetts: the birth control pill was developed in the 1950s at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, by Dr. Gregory Pincus whilst Whirlwind I, the world’s first digital computer that operated in real-time, was created at MIT in 1951. It was originally conceived as a way to design a flight simulator for the U.S. Navy.
–> –> –> Next stop The Ocean State | Rhode Island –> –> –> (post coming soon)