Fancy chilling in beautiful Boston to experience a little culture but also a live American football game?
After an incredible once-in-a-lifetime sailing trip on friends’ private yacht down the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie to dazzling New York and also exploring manic Manhattan, it’s time for a quick side-trip to Boston.
Tip: This article is now available as a mobile app on iTunes and GooglePlay. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.
Where is Boston?
Shrouded in history, Boston is definitely worth a side-trip if you happen to be visiting New York.
From New York, it’s an easy comfortable 5 hours on the intercity Greyhound bus, until you arrive in Boston.
Heading out of the Greyhound terminal and into crazy New York’s traffic, it’s not long before you settle in to watch Long Island Sound’s picturesque coastline, pass by.
Turning inland, the rest of the journey travels through many towns and cities, surprisingly with English names from the south-west. I even spot a Glastonbury, which is where my partner is from in England.
Founded by Puritan settlers, Boston’s architecture is an eclectic mix of colonial and Georgian flavour from the 17th century, and adorned with Victorian-style buildings from the 19th century.
Engulfed in fog for most of the stay in Boston, this thick blanket provides an intriguing and mysterious backdrop to this beautiful city.
At times, the veil is so dense that our clothing becomes quite damp.
Resembling an ominous scene from a movie concealing much of the city, the shroud buries Boston in its path.
The cloak finally lifts later in the day to allow rays of sun to drench the aged alleyways.
Getting around Boston
Apart from strong legs, the trains, trams, and buses run efficiently in Boston making it super easy to get anywhere.
Behind us, a rather loud and agitated conversation is taking place, and one that is very hard to ignore.
It appears that the lady is discussing a robbery that just happened to one of her friends. The robbery itself isn’t that important. Instead, the crux of the matter is that: “it’s black on black and if it was black on white, I’d understand”.
Take a stroll along the Freedom Trail following the red stripe, which takes you to 16 significant sites marking the beginning of American liberty and Boston’s founding.
Boasting the most sites for America’s fight for independence during the American Revolution, the Freedom Trail is a brilliant education for everyone.
On this 4-plus-kilometre walk, you pass Boston’s most historic neighbourhoods drenched in wonderful architecture.
All sorts of guided tours are also available if you prefer to go in company.
Bunker Hill Monument
Across the Charles river to the north stands the Bunker Hill monument, a granite obelisk, which marks the Battle of Bunker Hill.
This site is one of the first where major battles were fought between Patriot and British forces in 1775, during the American Revolutionary War.
Granite for the monument was quarried from nearby Quincy.
Dating back to 1614, Boston Harbour’s legacy includes its status as the site of The Boston Tea Party, which saw a political and mercantile protest against the Tea Act of the 1700s. An entire tea shipment from the East India company was destroyed by protestors.
Under this Act, the British East India company could sell tea from China throughout America without paying taxes.
Wandering along the harbour front, everywhere seems devoid of people today – perhaps it’s the abrasive October coldness.
Boston’s financial centre is almost enveloped…
Boston Navy Yard
Whilst you’re meandering Boston harbour, stop at the Boston Navy Yard – originally named Charleston Navy Yard.
One of the last relics of WWII, which also survived one of the last Kamikaze attacks of this war, the USS Cassin Young sits in dry dock at the Boston Navy Yard – its home for 30 years.
Owned by the navy but maintained by the National Park Service, the destroyer’s fate is unknown as it is no longer economical to repair, and cannot be re-floated without a lot of money spent on hull repairs.
USS Constitution Museum
Located in the Boston Navy yard in an old shipyard building, the private non-profit USS Constitution Museum offers free entry and guided tours through the museum.
Venture on to the USS Constitution (known as Old Ironsides) heavy frigate and be thrown back in time to the late 1700s, when this ship was launched.
Named by George Washington, she is also the ‘world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat’.
Lovingly maintained, admire the canons and original ship’s characteristics whilst receiving an educational lesson.
The ship’s pristine blocks and tackle are still used when the Constitution sets sail on outings.
Such a pleasure to explore this gorgeous piece of American history made famous during the 1812 war against the United Kingdom – defeating five British warships and capturing numerous merchant ships.
The Shipyard Gallery
Cross the bridge to East Boston’s Shipyard Gallery, which promotes ‘creative and sustainable ways of living’, through its outdoor gallery.
Founded in 2009, this is another great non-profit organisation.
Museum of Fine Arts
A visit to Boston is not complete without enjoying one of Boston’s 50-plus museums.
Set aside a lot of time when visiting Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) as there’s just too much to see…
Founded in 1870, this gorgeous building houses over 450,000 works of art.
Not only is this the United State’s fifth largest museum, but also home to the ‘most comprehensive collection in the Americas’.
Information overload for some – this is also how I feel after hours at the museum…
American football is the United States’ most popular sport and Boston is home to the massive Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, which hosts many NFL (National Football League) games. With a capacity of almost 67,000 people, this is an impressive stadium.
If you can’t get your head around this stadium’s size, to give you an idea it takes around 15 minutes to walk the 5-storey ramp that lines the outside of the stadium, until we reach our seats – this is a gentle workout.
To say that the atmosphere is electrifying is an understatement.
With this shear amount of spectators, it’s an incredible vibe. Everyone is friendly and here to enjoy the game between the home team – The Patriots thrashing it out with The Cowboys.
The NFL Game
Excitement builds as more people flood into this massive stadium.
Today, the stadium is full and I’m struggling to see any empty seats.
Music, attractive cheerleaders strutting their stuff, the field lined with Confederate soldiers firing their rifles on a touchdown, pop-corn and hotdog aromas wafting through the air, makes for an exciting build-up to the finale.
The New England Patriots is my partner’s favourite team and so, this is another once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The atmosphere and adrenalin are immense. Half-time and touchdown shows, and of course the game are absolutely electric. Even for a non-follower, it’s fantastic.
Everyone should go to a NFL game at least once in their lifetime. Just experiencing the passion of the spectators is something to behold…
After a tense neck-to-neck game between the teams ferociously fighting to win, incredibly, Tom Brady – quarterback for the New England Patriots – delivers his touchdown during the last two minutes of the game, winning 20-16 – a super exciting finish!
Of course after the game everyone is hyped up and the Patriots shop at the stadium draws everyone in like a magnet – beware, the merchandise isn’t cheap.
Where to sleep
Staying in Dudley/Brunswick King neighbourhood is a cheaper alternative than other areas.
The lovely clean room with shared bathroom in a private home is a pleasant way to experience local hospitality. Fanny and Candice are friendly and accommodating, and happy to share local knowledge on Boston.
Sadly, in 2019 this accommodation is no longer offered on airbnb.com.
Where to Eat
Boston boasts many great culinary delights and you’re spoilt for choice.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Head to the fabulous historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace for a wonderful dining (and shopping) experience.
Absolutely everything is on offer here for your taste buds, try the to-die-for creamy clam chowder – one of Boston’s signatory dishes.
Whilst you enjoy your meal, ponder the hall’s history. Built in the 1740s, the hall housed important pro-independence speeches.
If seafood isn’t your thing, then try famous Quincy’s Place for a burger or ice-cream whilst you’re visiting Faneuil Hall.
Once you’ve worked up a thirst traipsing all over the city and if you’re in North Boston, check out Little Italy for great coffee and delicious food.
Pop in to Monica’s Mercato & Salumeria for a scrumptious but not-too-cheap panini, or to stock up on authentic Italian groceries.
Trading since 1995, this store is bursting with delectable Italian cheeses and salami’s, of which the aromas arrest your nose as soon as you traverse its entrance.
Where to Next?
After an incredible month visiting New York and lovely Boston, it’s time to head back to New York to fly out and continue the extended South American backpacking trip. Still too much to see and experience on this spectacular continent.