Boston is one of my favourite cities. It’s a short flight from Toronto (1.5 hours), you can walk the whole thing, and there’s so much to do and eat while you’re there. I took my boys—ages 8 and 9—for 48 hours this summer and managed to pack a ton of fun into a single weekend. If you’re considering a trip to Beantown, here a few can’t miss off-the-beaten path activities:
For baseball fans or history buffs, a tour of Fenway Park is a must. My kids loved learning about how baseball has evolved throughout the decades, sitting in the Green Monster seats and getting a behind-the-scenes peek at the field being readied for a game. We also got tickets to see the Red Sox play the Yankees in what is perhaps baseball’s biggest rivalry. Red Sox fans are pretty hard core, so if you’re going to a baseball game, be prepared to get caught up in the hoopla. Even though my boys are Blue Jays fans, I insisted on getting them a t-shirt as a souvenir in one of the many baseball shops in the Fenway Park area. Visit their site for information on tour dates and times.
This quaint area in Cambridge is also a must. It was an easy ride on the T (the Boston subway) from my centrally located hotel, The Taj, to Harvard Square. You can book a historical tour of the Harvard Square area with a local tour operator, but I provided my kids with a personal tour. I told them about some movies that were based on Harvard or filmed here and we discussed all the smart people who attended (or almost graduated from) Harvard. They were pretty impressed. We also stopped in at The Coop to buy another souvenir—Harvard caps! After a little sightseeing and shopping, we crossed over the Charles River to the Harvard Business School campus. Their cafeteria, called the Spangler Food Court, is a best kept secret, featuring a healthy gourmet buffet and delicious food stations for very reasonable prices. I had salmon on spinach salad and my boys ate stir-fried rice. Dessert was a serve yourself frozen yogurt.
We happened to be in Boston during a heat wave, so a thrilling speed boat ride was exactly what we needed. Located in the Boston Harbor, we jumped aboard the fastest boat ride my kids have ever encountered. My little guy was scared at first, but soon enough, he was whooping it up with the rest of the riders as we toured the harbour at 40 miles an hour. We got refreshingly wet during the 45-minute tour. Afterward, we visited the New England Aquarium and took in a 3-D IMAX film. It was just steps away from the Harbour and another great way to cool off in the heat. For dinner, we crossed the street and ate at Legal Sea Foods. My kids tried clam chowder for the first time and loved it!
I know we have a great Little Italy in Toronto, but if you’re going to Boston, a visit to their most famous Italian bakery for cannoli is also a must. We walked from the harbour after dinner to the North End down Hanover Street for dessert. It was a pretty stroll to the bakery, but when we got there the bakery was packed with locals and tourists alike. You’ll be amazed at the variety of desserts and at how delicious they are. When my boys tried their pastry for the first time, one of them literally moaned “Oh Lord!” because his chocolate chip cannoli was so good.
There is no experience more traditional than riding a swan boat in the lagoon at the Boston Public Garden. Built in 1877, this tourist attraction is sure to be a favourite memory, especially for little kids. It’s an inexpensive, 12 to 15 minute serene ride where you can see ducks and the lagoon’s two resident swans Romeo and Juliet. The Garden is a beautiful, open space in the middle of the city with a splash pad in the summer (skating rink in the winter) and a traditional merry-go-round ride. My kids loved exploring the vast space.