48 hours in Boston


By Sunshine Flint

Photography by Denis Tangney Jr/Getty Images

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February 2017

The historic US city is bursting with culture and heritage, from the story of its role in the American Revolution to the hallowed halls of Harvard. Local writer Sunshine Flint shares her tips on where to eat, sleep and visit with 48 hours in the Massachusetts capital.

Day one

Make yourself at home

With multiple daily flights to Boston’s Logan Airport from London Heathrow, you’ll have plenty of time to check in to your hotel and head back out again to make the most of your sojourn in Beantown.

South End is a charming neighbourhood of bow-fronted townhouses, brick sidewalks and art galleries, packed with top-notch restaurants, oyster bars and pubs

Staying in Back Bay puts you in a central location close to major attractions with easy access to transport and the rest of the city. The Fairmont Copley Plaza, with its arched windows and red awnings, has been one of most distinguished addresses in town since it opened over a century ago. The Midtown Hotel is a modern, affordable option, and also conveniently located on the edge of Back Bay.

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  • Gaze at the colonial-style architecture of Copley Square © Getty

    Did you know…

    Boston is home to the oldest public park in the USA. Residents and visitors have been using Boston Common for recreation and relaxation since 1634. Fly from London to Boston from:£126 each-way

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  • Enjoy the small tasting plates at Little Donkey © David Ma

    Tempting tapas

    Try the shrimp sourdough toast or the Wagyu steak tartare from the exciting fusion menu. Don’t forget to wash it down with a signature cocktail, like the Plymouth Street Harvest made with rye, Applejack and sherry.

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  • Marvel at the art and antiquities as you wander through the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum © Nic Lehoux

    Habit of art

    Don’t miss the museum late night on Thursdays, when it opens until 21.00. Check for discounts too, such as wearing Red Sox paraphernalia, or if it’s your birthday.

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21:00 – Night moves

Just south of Back Bay and Copley, the South End is a charming neighbourhood of bow-fronted townhouses, brick sidewalks and art galleries, packed with top-notch restaurants, oyster bars and pubs. The bartenders at The Gallows, a gastropub near the site where public hangings took place in colonial times, produce some pretty creative cocktails. Or head to Banyan Bar + Refuge for its delicious, Asian-influenced late night dinner menu.

Day two

09:00 - On your marks

The Boston Marathon was first run in 1897, making it the oldest annual marathon in the world. From your hotel, it’s a quick walk to the Marathon finish line in Copley Square in front of the imposing Boston Public Library, a Renaissance revival marvel that was built just two years earlier in 1895.

10:00 – Walk this way

Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall was built to house market stalls in 1742 and still does today. From here catch the Boston Old Town Trolley to the North End, now Boston’s Little Italy and home to numerous pre-Revolutionary sites. Grab a Stumptown coffee at the Thinking Cup and then tour the Paul Revere House. From there, follow the red bricks of the Freedom Trail to the Old North Church and onto Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. Hop back on the trolley at North Station and you’ll pass the Old State House, Boston Commons, and the Boston Public Gardens on your way back to Copley Square.

13:00 – The world’s your oyster

You can’t visit Boston without indulging in some of the city’s finest seafood. In Back Bay, the Select Oyster Bar serves local scallops, Maine lobster and sea urchin, plus platters of fruit de mer, while at Saltie Girl the kitchen spins out savoury plates of everything from fresh crudo to tinned Spanish anchovies and Portuguese sardines. Walk off your lunch by exploring the nearby shops and boutiques along Newbury Street.

  • Take a quiet moment to stroll around Harvard Art Museums © Nic Lehoux

15:30 – Picture perfect

Take the T (Green Line) to the Museum of Fine Arts stop and walk a couple of blocks to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The palazzo and cloisters are filled with the art, textiles, manuscripts and other treasures that Gardner collected during her lifetime and can be explored in just a couple of hours. And bonus if your name is Isabella – you get free entry for life.

19:30 – Land of milk and honey

When Boston chefs are opening restaurants in New York and Dubai, you know the city’s culinary scene is thriving. Taste the talent at Townsman, where chef Matt Jennings serves shellfish plucked from local waters and New England charcuterie, along with seasonal and regional ingredients and produce.

22:00 – A little night music

Boston’s booming student population (there are 35 universities and colleges in the city) fill dorms, apartments and shared houses from Somerville to Jamaica Plain. And where there are students, there’s live music. If you want to catch prog metal, indie electronica or alternative reggae, head out to where the students live – the Paradise Rock Club and Brighton Music Hall in Allston and Brighton, or the venerable Middle East in Cambridge.

Day three

10:00 – River crossing

Head across the Charles River to Cambridge and walk along Riverbend Park, the greenway running between Memorial Drive (that’s Mem Drive to locals) and the river, and then take JFK Street to Harvard Square. The Coop is the student bookstore for Harvard and MIT, and the Harvard Art Museums are also open to the public.

12:00 – Ivy League lunch

While there are a number of chain and student-friendly restaurants around the square, head down Mass Ave to sample the small plates at Little Donkey – the latest offering from two of Boston’s top chef/restaurateurs. While the duo has imported their Toro restaurant to New York and Bangkok, it’s clear their hearts remain in Boston.

15:00 – On the waterfront

The cold, grey North Atlantic is an integral part of Boston’s geography, history and climate, and you’ll have a whale of a time walking around Boston Harbor or soaking up the Revolutionary War history aboard the restored Boston Tea Party ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver. In the summer months, a ferry runs to six of the harbour islands.