3 things to do in Boston to experience the city like a local
By Dan Koday, Jun 2020
Boston is great as a visitor but even better when experienced like a local. Whether you're ending the great debate on North End cannoli, finding the best Fenway bar or dining at trendy hot spots, there are plenty of things to do in Boston. We've gathered intel from locals on their favorite places and happenings so that you can enjoy the city just as much as they do.
See Boston from a new vantage point, inside and out, at the Institute of Contemporary Art, which overlooks Boston Harbor.
1. Memorable museums
A stop at Fenway might be high on your list (we'll get to that), but don't overlook Boston's museum scene. Everyone has heard of the Paul Revere House and the Museum of Fine Arts, but locals know that the world-class Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art are worthy of special visits.
The Gardner Museum is an inspiring place filled with art and archived objects collected by a wealthy 19th-century Boston aristocrat. The museum is noted for its incredible collection of paintings and rare and restored objects and its beautiful courtyard and gardens, but it's most storied for an unsolved 1990 heist in which 13 valuable pieces of art were stolen. The ICA is housed in a modern marvel overlooking Boston Harbor, and it's home to rotating exhibitions that span visual art, music and film. The museum also gives visitors access to artists and the intimate art-making process.
Don't limit a museum day with just the high-brow, though, because just steps away from ICA is the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, a floating museum that recounts the history of the Boston Tea Party, which helped spark the American Revolution. Aboard a replica of an 18th-century ship, you'll experience Tea Party re-enactments, see the Robinson Tea Chest (the only surviving tea chest from the Boston Tea Party) and have a spot of tea (or an adult beverage).
Satisfy your sweet tooth in Boston's North End, where traditional Italian pastries like cannoli reign supreme.
2. North End eats
Another one of the top things to do in Boston is to seek out Italian pastries like cannoli, rainbow and wedding cookies, chocolate-dipped biscotti and ricotta pie in the city's famous North End. Despite being trendy, the once predominantly Italian neighborhood still retains its old-world charm.
One of the top cannoli draws in the North End is Mike's Pastry, which opened in 1946. Is it tasty? Sure. Mike's cannoli, the crunchy shells of which ooze sweet ricotta cream, are popular and the Hanover Street storefront has the long lines to prove it. But locals know that Modern Pastry is where it's at when it comes to the North End's finest Italian baked goods. Meanwhile, the North End staple Caffé Vittoria is a great place to watch soccer games and to sit down and savor a mouthwatering cappuccino and tiramisu combo.
Visit historic Fenway, the oldest baseball stadium in the United States.
3. Fenway fun
Whether you're a Red Sox fan or just a general baseball enthusiast, experiencing a game at the iconic Fenway Park is a treasured experience that should appropriately be followed up by a trip to a local Fenway bar, especially if the Sox win. Game On! is a Fenway institution, but we suggest swapping out the pingpong tables in favor of red leather-backed chairs at the slightly more upscale Eastern Standard. It gets crowded, so go only if a wall-to-wall celebration is your speed.
You could also park it for a post-game cocktail at Hojoko. The hip Japanese joint can easily be spotted by the graffiti wall near its entrance; its bountiful bar slings Sake bombs, Japanese whiskies, Tiki drinks and more under the watch of a disco ball. The kitchen serves sushi, rice bowls, ramen, sandwiches and other tasty snacks to the communal tables, lounge and outdoor dining areas. Eventide Fenway, Cheeky Monkey Brewing and Tiger Mama are also local favorites near Fenway.
You won't ever have trouble finding things to do in Boston, but when you hang out like a local, you'll see why people love to call the city home.
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