Boston is the heart of New England, brimming with culture from history to sports, art to education. Though "The Hub" was founded in 1630 by Puritans, Boston is now home to over 100 colleges and universities, attracting some of the brightest minds in the country to come study hard and play hard. Know that Bostonians love Dunkin' Donuts, rarely look before jaywalking, hate the Yankees, are the most liberal in the nation, and will claim to be either from either Italy or Ireland.
And we're Boston Strong and proud of it.
Must see in Boston
Boston is famous for its lively and dedicated fans; join the spirit of Red Sox Nation and catch a Sox game at Fenway Park, the nation's oldest ballpark. Before, during, or after a game, party with the locals and enjoy a Sam Adams on tap at any nearby bar, particularly the ever-popular Cask'n Flagon. For culture of a different variety, spend a day at the impressive Museum of Fine Arts, home to world-class visiting exhibits as well as a tremendous permanent collection including important works by Monet, Sargent, Renoir, and more. To see more of the city and get a feel for its history and contribution to the American Revolution, walk the Freedom Trail, a two and a half mile trail visiting 16 historical sites; just follow the red line painted on the bricks, with or without a tour guide.
Where to stay in Boston
The Back Bay is considered by most to be Boston's most desirable neighborhood; beautiful brownstones line charming streets, and you can stroll down Newbury Street, Boylston Street, and Comm. Ave (Commonwealth Avenue) as well as explore Copley Place and the Pru (Prudential Center), all boasting trendy shops, excellent restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.
Downtown Boston includes the Boston Common, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market as well as the city's financial district. Shopping and dining is ideal for locals and tourists alike in the shops in and around these marketplaces. Kids will love the cobblestone streets, street performers, and proximity to the aquarium. Adults will love the nightlife, with options for both younger and more mature crowds.
The heart of Red Sox Nation lies in Kenmore/Fenway. Fenway Park is actually located in Kenmore Square, and these adjoining neighborhoods are home to much of Boston's academia as well as the Museum of Fine Arts and Symphony Hall. You'll find more great dining and shopping as well as some better hotel pricing than in the Back Bay, and the area around Fenway Park, including Lansdowne Street especially, is full of nightlife for a younger crowd.
Best and worst time to go to Boston
Boston is beautiful in the spring, particularly around May (though spring isn't always definitive in Boston and is sometimes nearly skipped entirely), when magnolia trees bloom along Newbury Street and locals can finally venture forth from their winter hibernation. Of course Boston is famous for colorful foliage in the fall, with the most fiery reds and blazing oranges usually appearing mid to late October. The summer is lively but can be hot and humid, particularly in August. The winter can be a disaster with record snowfalls closing the city and canceling transportation in, out, and everywhere in between. If you book flights into or out of the city between December and March, consider travel insurance to cover potentially cancelled flights.
Where to get lost in Boston
Absolutely wander around the Back Bay. Newbury Street is the city's "Fifth Avenue" but with more history and charm, and you can make your way to Copley Square, where you'll find Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library and, in the warmer months, often catch a free concert. For a pastoral oasis in this bustling city, stroll through Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden. For one of Boston's oldest neighborhoods exuding both history and affluence, meander the brick lined streets of Beacon Hill. For a taste of Italy, explore the North End, and grab a cannoli at the famous Mike's Pastry.
The best deal in Boston
The Boston Public Library is completely free and is a destination for literature, history, and art lovers alike, while younger visitors can enjoy a newly renovated teen room. The BPL features not only books, but also sculptures, murals, and an entire gallery devoted to John Singer Sargent. You can also spend a day wandering around Harvard Square in Cambridge (take the Red Line there), visiting Harvard Yard, Radcliffe, and Harvard's huge bookstore, the Coop.
Transportation in Boston
Boston is a walking city, but to see more of it, take advantage of the MBTA (or the T) system and get yourself a Charlie Card. Trains are mostly reliable, but sometimes walking can be quicker, and buses are another option as well. Don't bother with a car unless you plan to venture outside the city; parking is a pain, and Boston drivers are notoriously discourteous, to put it nicely, probably because the city's streets were originally cowpaths.
Getting in from Logan
While you can take a cab, the T (including the Silver Line and the Blue Line) takes you downtown quite easily, quickly, and inexpensively.
Local tip for visitors to Boston
Go to the Top of the Hub for excellent dining, tasty cocktails, and the best views of the city. The fare isn't cheap, but you'll pay nearly $20 anyway to visit the Skywalk at the top of the Pru, which is actually two floors down from the restaurant. Be sure you make reservations, request a window seat, and try for sunset. Also, check the Red Sox schedule and expect to find traffic and the T especially hectic before and after a home game, particularly around Kenmore Square; the Green Line after a game can be completely packed, car after car.
Author's bio: Deborah Jarvis is a freelance writer who grew up and currently lives in the Greater Boston Area. She never pahks her cah in Hahvahd Yahd and tries not to drive like she's from Boston if she can help it. She thinks Boston is wicked pissah and hopes you come visit.