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Posts Tagged ‘parks’

lines color greenway east Boston

From this weekend: lines on the East Boston Greenway (my new running route), a triple-decker on my street, and the Golden Stairs Park near my apartment.

triple decker building east Boston

golden stairs east Boston

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A little reflecting at the coffee shop this morning…

reflection darwins cambridge ma

…and a little more in the Public Garden this afternoon.

reflection public garden boston ma

reflection puddle public garden boston ma

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I get a lot of questions from blog readers, real-life friends and some people who fit into both categories about “must-sees” in the Boston area. These questions ramp up in the summer, when the travel urge hits America and the tourists descend in hordes.

I love playing tour guide (real or virtual). So I’ve put together a few mini-tour posts to answer your questions. (Bonus: I can point people to these posts when they ask similar questions.)

First up: History! As we all know, Boston is teeming with it. (The series will also cover charming neighborhoods, food, gardens, college campuses and whatever else I decide you can’t miss.)

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My favorite thing about Boston’s history? It’s woven into everything else.

For example: you can spend an afternoon lounging on Boston Common and then tour the beautiful Massachusetts State House, above. (It’s free, though only open on weekdays from 9 to 5, and you can take an interesting guided tour or wander around on your own.)

You can also go for ice cream downtown (or in Harvard Square) and pop into a lovely old church or cemetery. You can tour Paul Revere’s house in the North End and walk down the street for an Italian dinner. You are always walking through – sometimes walking on – history.

The Freedom Trail links together many historical spots downtown, beginning on the Common and going all the way to the U.S.S. Constitution and Bunker Hill in Charlestown. I have a deep love for the Common itself (about which I have written many times). It is Boston’s (smaller) answer to Central Park, green and open, a hangout for all segments of Boston society. It’s also the home of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument and the Shaw Memorial (featuring the regiment from the film Glory).

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Just past the Common, behind the Park Street Church, is the Granary Burying Ground, where John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and Crispus Attucks (among others) are buried. (That’s my mom, above, perusing some of the epitaphs.) You can wander at will, or take a tour starting on the Common.

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Down the street is King’s Chapel, a lovely old Royalist church. That is an interior shot above; there are lots of helpful signs around the sanctuary. (As you walk down Tremont St. toward King’s Chapel, pause before you reach the Omni Parker Hotel and look up: you can see the spire of the Old North Church. The view is protected by city ordinance. I love that.)

paul revere house street view

There are many more stops along the Freedom Trail, varying in size and admission fees, but my other favorites are over in the North End: Paul Revere’s house (above) and the Old North Church.

The Revere House is smallish, and it gets crowded during the summer, but I love seeing where and how the Revere family lived, as well as seeing Revere’s handiwork on display (he was quite the silversmith). And it costs $3.50 per person: a bargain.

The Old North Church, where they hung the signal lanterns (“one if by land, two if by sea”) is similar in style to King’s Chapel, but larger, and quite lovely. (All the cemeteries along the Freedom Trail are free; the churches are all “suggested donation.”)

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At the other end of the Freedom Trail, the U.S.S. Constitution (above), alias “Old Ironsides,” sits anchored in the Charlestown Navy Yard. She is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat, and manned by active duty members of the U.S. Navy. They give free and informative tours every day except Monday. You can walk there over a bridge (it’s about a mile from the Old North Church), or you can take the ferry from Long Wharf to save your tired feet.

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And finally, in Quincy (where I live), you can tour three houses connected with the John Adams/John Quincy Adams family. The tour center is directly across from a subway station (on the Red Line); the tour costs $5 and includes a trolley ride. The two original Adams birthplaces stand 75 feet apart from one another, and then you board the trolley again to tour Peacefield, the family “mansion” pictured above. (It features a detached library lined with ancient, beautiful books – obviously my favorite part.)

This is just a taste of Boston’s history – but if you’re visiting for a few days, these are my can’t-miss places. Stay tuned for more mini-tours, and feel free to ask questions in the comments!

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The first time I came to Boston, it was March, and snowy, and FREEZING. So on our one day in central Boston, our group didn’t visit Boston Common. So I had no idea how wonderful it was until a few weeks ago. (Bethany had told me it was lovely – she described sitting on it in the May sunshine, eating a bag of fresh cherries – but I had yet to see it for myself.)

And, well, now I love it. It’s simply beautiful, a big park of trees and grass and a baseball diamond and a playground and a couple of fountains in the middle of Boston. There are great stretches where dogs can run, or people can play Frisbee, or you can sprawl out and do nothing at all. It’s right in the middle of everything, close to my beloved Brattle Book Shop and the Downtown Crossing shopping area, and right next to Charles Street, which offers shopping and food, and of course it’s cheek by jowl with the lovely (slightly more formal) Boston Public Garden. And late summer/early fall is the perfect time to enjoy it.

Pretty much every time I’m in the city, I end up on the Common, sometimes with a book, sometimes with a chai or cup of tea in hand, nearly always with my camera. And I sit and people-watch and laugh at the dogs and squirrels, and snap a few photos and feel the wind on my face and the sun on my shoulders. It reminds me of my beloved South Park in Oxford. And since it belongs to the people of Boston, it also belongs to me.

(The squirrels are not shy, the frogs who guard Frog Pond are charming, and the light is lovely.)

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