Things To Do Around Boston



venues_rehearsaldinners13_r1Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is one of the most romantic art museums in America. Only a few short blocks from the much larger MFA, the Gardner Museum provides a more intimate experience envisioned by it’s namesake. Gardner was a patron and friend of leading artists and writers of her time, including John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, and Henry James. The collection houses many fine examples by both America and European artists and was the scene of the largest art theft in american history in 1990.

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The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the largest museums in the United States. It contains more than 450,000 works of art, making it one of the most comprehensive collections in the Americas. With more than one million visitors a year, it is the 55th most-visited art museum in the world as of 2014.

Among the many strengths of the museum's collection are extensive examples from Egyptian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French Impressionist, and 18th and 19th century American artists. The museum also has one of the most extensive digital databases of art and artifacts in the world.

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"Opened in December 2006, the Institute of Contemporary Art in South Boston is arguably more interesting for its architecture than its art. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the museum is all glass and sharp angles, a stark departure from the city's presiding aesthetic. One of the most arresting features is the rear of the museum, a cantilevered glass expanse that hovers vertiginously over Boston Harbor" (Time).

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Historic Attractions

Freedom Trail

"The Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile, red-lined route that leads you to 16 historically significant sites — each one an authentic treasure. Explore museums and meetinghouses, churches, and burying grounds. Learn about the brave people who shaped our nation. Discover the rich history of the American Revolution, as it began in Boston, where every step tells a story. The Freedom Trail Foundation offers a daily schedule of public walking tours of the Freedom Trail. Purchase discounted online tour tickets here" (Freedom Trail).

While the full trail is worth visiting, if you're short on time you may consider an abbreviated version that hits slightly fewer landmarks, but don't miss the Old North Church.

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Old Ironsides

Image25The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat in Charlestown. Built in Boston’s North End Shipyards it launched in 1797 and served in active duty until 1881. Constitution is most famous for her actions during the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships: HMS Guerriere, Java, Pictou, Cyane, and Levant. The battle with Guerriere earned her the nickname of "Old Ironsides" and public adoration that has repeatedly saved her from scrapping (Wikipedia).

For the last 100 years it has served as a floating museum, and it is still crewed by a full staff of active duty Navy Sailors. Visitors today have the option to view the top deck while Old Ironsides undergoes extensive renovations or going to the USS Constitution Museum across the street. IF you're in the area you may want to stop by Bunker Hill Monument which is just up the road.

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America’s oldest university, founded in 1636, is named after former colonial Puritain minister John Harvard. His statue now sits in the middle of Harvard yard and school lure says that rubbing his toe can bring one luck. Certainly that account for all the prestige that that has been concentrated in and around the Harvard community, which now claims to have educated or employed 47 Nobel Laureates, 32 heads of state, 48 Pulitzer Prize winners. In addition to all the accolades, Harvard also boasts the largest academic library in the world, and one of the most outstanding art collections in private hands (which, for the most part, are on display for free).

Harvard is within walking distance from the Courtyard Marriott and the Hyatt. Also, while there are fewer art museums and tourist attractions, there is another world class university in Cambridge.

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“…two if by sea.”

Whale Watch

410194360-whale-watchingRide Boston’s 3-hour Whale Watch. Destination: Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, a rich feeding ground for whales, dolphins, sea birds and more. It’s home to several kinds of large whales, including humpbacks finbacks, minkes, pilot whales and the critically endangered right whales. Trips depart from Central Wharf in Boston.

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Canoe & Kayak

small-boston-weeks1Maura and Ben’s first adventure date! This great kayak spot is directly across from Wedding Headquarters and offers a variety of boat rentals, from canoes and stable recreational kayaks, to stand-up paddle-boards and faster sea kayaks!

They have a few locations around the Charles depending on your interests. We love the launch across from the Commander's Mansion in Brighton, but if you want to see more of the Boston skyline you may consider launching from close to Kendal Square.

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Harbor Islands

boston-harbor-islandsThe 2.6-mile Spectacle Island perimeter walkway is a beauty — almost like you’re walking on water, says one parks official — though there’s little shade; it is also wheelchair- and stroller-friendly. You can take a dip at the beach or climb the south drumlin for spectacular views of the city. Choose Georges Island to explore Civil War-era Fort Warren or grill at the sheltered picnic areas. For overnighters, the new direct ferry service to Grape Island means camping by Atlantic waters is just a ride away from Hingham (claim a site through Ferries leaving Long Wharf, Boston, go direct to Spectacle Island or Georges Island; from Hingham, direct to Georges or Grape.

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Fresh off a World Cup victory the top players in US Women’s soccer will be getting back into their domestic season. Boston’s Breakers represent New England in the National Women’s Soccer League and they have been the home club of some of the national team stars who featured in Canada.

The Breakers play in Harvard’s athletic fields which are set between the wedding venue and the Courtyard Marriott in Cambridge. Tickets are well priced and on sale now. Kickoff for the match against the Seattle Reign is at 4pm on Saturday, August 1st. Plenty of time to catch a game and still make the welcome event at 8pm.

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Red Sox

venues_rehearsaldinners13_r1The Sox haven’t been having the sort of success this season we’ve become accustomed to, but on the bright side, you can still get tickets to most games. The Red Sox are hosting the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:45pm on Saturday, August 2nd and it looks like it isn’t sold out.

If you’ve never been to Fenway don’t pass up a chance to visit the oldest ballpark in the US (built in 1912), which has hosted 10 world series and some of the most memorable moments in recent baseball history. In 2012 Fenway was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and it remains one of Boston's most iconic landmarks.

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The New England Revolution have been the Boston area’s home for professional soccer for almost 20 years. As one of the original teams in Major League Soccer, they have enjoyed some of the most vociferous fan support in the league. The Midnight Riders, The Rebellion, and La Barra occupy the fort at all home games where they do their best to impersonate bigger foreign clubs by signing team songs.

It’s a bit of a hike out to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough to watch the Revs match against Toronto FC Saturday night at 7:30pm, but if there are any die hard US Soccer fans in the group, this would be a good way to prove it.

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Things to do with Children

Swan Boats

These Boston icons first embarked on the waters of the lagoon in 1877. The Swan Boats are nestled in the Boston Public Gardens which maintains the Victorian traditions of historic Boston so you can judge its beauty for yourself. Admire the rich and unusual plants, the Lagoon, the monuments and fountains, and the Swan Boats created and operated for over 100 years by the Paget family.

The Public Gardens also abuts some of Boston’s best shopping on Newbury Street. Eight blocks filled with salons, boutiques, and dining. There are plenty of additional sites along Newbury Street, including Copley Square, Trinity Church, the Boston Public Library, and a number of other historically or architecturally interesting churches. But if you love shopping, you can easily spend an entire day just browsing in all the stores.

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NE Aquarium

You could be one of the 1.4 million visitors a year to see one of Boston's most beloved museums. The museum does an amazing job of introducing visitors to dozens of aquatic environments and a rainbow of magical underwater creatures. Some of the larger animals on display include turtles, sea lions, rays and sharks. The Aquarium is also directly next to the launch point for Boston Harbor whale watching cruises.

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Ever wonder what it would be like if lightning struck indoors? You can find out at the Boston Museum of Science, which house the world's largest Van De Graaff generator. Looking for something a little less powerful? The MoS has a hall of butterflies with dozens of spices and examples of each stage of the transformation from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. For those with a more high tech orientation, there is an ongoing exhibit about the science of Pixar, and the onsite I-Max showing family friendly and expansive documentaries.

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Outside of Boston

Singing Beach

Manchester-Singing-Beach-Moonrise-credit-Dale-BlankAn oasis only a few short miles from Boston, Singing Beach is accessible by the Commuter Rail in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA, and is known for it’s unique sand that's whistles in the wind. If the weather is nice it’s worth getting there early to beat the rush, or you can usually pop over in the late afternoon without too much trouble. If you’d prefer to head further afield, Plumb Island and Crane Beach are also wonderful driving destinations.

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Minute Man NP

At Minute Man National Historical Park the opening battle of the Revolution is brought to life as visitors explore the battlefields and structures associated with April 19, 1775, and witness the American revolutionary spirit through the writings of the Concord authors (NPS).

The decade-long political feud between the British government and the American colonists, determined to retain their rights as British subjects, came to a devastating climax as British regulars clashed with colonial militia and minute men on April 19, 1775 at Lexington, Concord's North Bridge and on the long, bloody road back to Boston. The fighting that began that day soon grew into a war for independence that lasted more than eight years. Many years later, Ralph Waldo Emerson used the phrase "the shot heard round the world" to describe the significance of this event (NPS). Also, a visit to Minute Man National Park can be combined with dip in Walden Pond and American History from another Era.

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Blue Hills

15867068Located only minutes from the bustle of downtown Boston, the DCR Blue Hills Reservation stretches over 7,000 acres from Quincy to Dedham, Milton to Randolph, providing a green oasis in an urban environment. Rising above the horizon, Great Blue Hill reaches a height of 635 feet, the highest of the 22 hills in the Blue Hills chain. From the rocky summit visitors can see over the entire metropolitan area. With its scenic views, varied terrain and 125 miles of trails, the Blue Hills Reservation offers year-round enjoyment for the outdoor enthusiast.

The living treasures of the Blue Hills include flora, fauna and natural phenomena – from coyotes to copperheads, dogwoods to lady's slippers, and turkey vultures to dragonflies. Trails traverse upland and bottomland forests, marsh, swamp and pond edges, meadows and an Atlantic white cedar bog. A great variety of plant and animal life thrive in the diverse habitats, including several rare and endangered species in Massachusetts, such as the timber rattlesnake. (State of MA)

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Workout Options

Swim (MDC)

img_3786Our local neighborhood municipal pool has been a great place to cool off for a few decades. It's less Hollywood chic (a la Lady Gaga) and more rugged and urban (a la Raising Victor Vargas). That said it's worth a trip if you'd like to take an outdoor dip along the Charles River. Here are the details:

Veterans Memorial Swimming and Wading Pool
719 Memorial Dr., Cambridge, MA 02139 (at Magazine Beach)
(617) 661-0564
June 27 - August 23, open daily 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

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Bike (Hubway)

2013-07-10-17.54.24Boston is a fantastic biking city because everything is rather compact, there are very few hills, great bike lanes, and of course the Esplanade. If you weren't able to bring your bike to Boston, don't fret. Boston has one of the first (and most extensive) bike sharing program around: Hubway. Anyone with a credit card can rent these bikes a conveniently located through out the city. These bikes are designed to be "point-to-point" so rentals a 30 minutes. If you need to get from say Kendal Square to Harvard square, just fine a bike stand near you, locate another at your destination, and drive it on over.

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Run (Esplanade)

201212-ss-urban-running-trails-the-esplanadeThe Chareles River Esplanade is one of Boston's most iconic landmarks. Connecting the Back Bay to Beacon Hill via the River, there aren't too many more beautiful running trails in major cities. Pick a two bridges to make a loop if you'd like to have vistas of Cambridge and Boston along the way.

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