Pretty much avoid anything, Boston is terrible.
Just joking. Mostly. On the whole, really, it's just another big city but it smells like seafood and smoke. The whole city is overpriced. Perspective: a bagel sammy and a drink in Detroit at Dunkin' $5+ but in Boston for the same is $8+ and it's only a .5% higher sales tax! Extreme.
The first time I was there I walked all over town, got lost a little, walked more, and so on. I visited Copps Hill Burial Ground, Old North Church, The Tea Party Museum and a few other small things since it was raining and I was only passing through town for about seven hours. Keep reading to find out an outsider's perspective on what's fun in Boston and what's cliche, overpriced or just plan not worth it.
Now, I'm not a total hater, because I did enjoy a few things whilst in Boston both times. For instance, the food is pretty ok if you find something far away from the constant scent of clam chowder. Mostly the pizza is good. I did just hear recently that Boston became the number one pizza eating city in the US- so that's something! Plus, every other block here is pretty photogenic- landmarks, historic buildings, modern buildings with nice copper accents, Leo DiCapio in the wax museum window! Gotta love that!
I understand that Boston is really proud of it's sealife and foodlife. There are lobstahs everywhere. And clams. And cream sauces- which I do like. The restaurants pretty much all serve clam chowder, which I get because it's their thing, but every single one can't be the best, you guys. And none are cheap. Pro Tip: Pretty good rule of thumb is that if they have a menu outside in a case for your convenience- it will not be a cheap date. We did go to Benveneto's on Boston's North End and had a really great meal. I got the spinach crepes and it was delightful and filling. A tad overindulgent, but totally worth it. The bill was nearly $100 for two people after tip, though. A fun night out but not a habitual thing.
The Boston Tea Party Museum: Pretty cool if you're really into Boston history and things. It cost $28 and was def not worth it. But, since the price is not listed anywhere when you walk up, by time you order your ticket in and they're handing it over to you, you're kind of harangued into the price (sneaky), lest you look like a jackass saying "nevermind" as you run away. It was good visual learning and the actors were a lot of fun and very helpful. I got to participate and shout about windows in a court room, throw some tea into the harbor and commit treason. Unless you have money to burn, there's almost no real point in coming here because it's an expensive 4th grade history book reenactment.
Copps Hill Burial Grounds: I loved this. It's a free activity, and you can see some really old grave stones. The Mather's family tomb, which, for any Salem Witch Trial know-it-all, is something worth seeing. Chump. What's really neat is the explanations of the old stones, and their symbols. Death's Head on your stone represents mortality (as if you need it to represent it- you're dead. It's obvious.) as do skeletons. They later evolved into winged skulls to add religious influence. Other winged beings came later, like cherubs, which are scarier looking than a skull, but what can ya do? Urns are prevalent, as well, to symbolize death (again, see the words burial ground) and weeping willows were, you guessed it, a symbol of death but being sad about it. Those came about in the American Revolution. Coats of arms and family crests are also seen, but a touch more uncommon since they cost more money and skill and not everyone could afford it. Those are the only style that don't seem to redundantly scream "Here lyes such and such- he's really dead and wants you to know about it".
The epitaph on Captain Daniel Malcolm’s tombstone at Copp’s Hill is riddled with the marks of British bullets- I wish I would have known that while I was there. How festive! I really like old cemeteries and grounds, and especially ones like this that are historical, decayed and broken. So, naturally I would recommend it. It's right down the road from the Old North Church. The uphill walk will kick your butt, too, but it has a nice view of the Charles River and the dynamics of the city.
Good: The best part of Boston? THE PRIMARK STORE!!! Ok, not the best part, but it's pretty cool. My Dutch friends have been sending me gifts from Primark Holland for years, so to see the size of the Boston Harry Potter section was a treat! Some other nice spots: Chinatown is typical but it has some beautiful graffiti! When I was there in May everything was surrounded by cherry blossoms so that made it feel pretty dreamy, but the art is really cool and they seem to really love cats. I really like the North End neighborhoods and apartment buildings. Everything is really close together, but in a way that when you look at it it almost feels like you're on a sitcom set. Plus, the little pockets of restaurants is nice, like the area where Benveneto's is located.
The bad: Boston is expensive. Can't repeat myself enough there. And, oddly, there are small convenience stores (party store for us Michiganders) that are still cash only BUT it's not posted any place, they just tell everyone as they get to the register! Old North Church isn't necessarily bad, but it wasn't really anything worth seeing. Yes, it's old. But the whole city is old. Sure, Paul Revere went there. But it's still a pretty empty church and after walking for 25 minutes to find it, I spent about two minutes inside, a little disappointed, because there's almost nothing to see, and I think I even had to donate a buck just to go inside. I couldn't even light a candle. Not to besmirch a good church, as I am sure some people love it, but really, I felt like I had walked two miles in the rain to see the church only to go "oh, that's a big hill, I wonder what's there" and it was Copps Hill. That's the nicest thing I can say about it. Sorry. As for easy food, you saw my bit above there about how Dunkin' Donuts is almost twice as expensive. Walking around downtown, if you only want to spend a few bucks on something quick there are almost no options unless you just want snack bars. A bagel and drink, oi, I tell ya! I was constantly sticker shocked in May because it was my pit stop to get to my destination, so I wasn't ready to drop a bunch of cash just to eat in my pit stop town! I still had a week ahead of me. So, if you're using Boston as a layover, bring your lunchbox and thermos.
The Ugly: Another not great thing is that in city center there's a troupe of dancers like there is in any major tourist city that use kids, grown men and women and dancers from "all over the world". Its legit a 20 minute show, filled with great movements and content, but they talk a lot of shit and make people feel badly or stupid for not donating a $20 spot or more. I'm a sucker for street performers, really I am, but these guys were all dicks. I get it's their shtick, but, it comes off greedy, arrogant and offensive. Fuckin bros. Get a handle on your panhandlers, Boston! They rude! Good dancers, though. Also, people don't want you to pet their dogs.
I'm sure everyone has something to say about this historic city, let me know your thoughts on places to visit in Boston, places to eat, and things to do in the comments below and maybe I'll check out your suggestions!
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