I always have a great time when I visit the land of Marky Mark, clam chowder and Boston cream pies. This time it was just for a few days–only two nights and one full day. So my mom and I made the most of it!
We stayed at Envision Hotel in Brookline. It’s just a quick 10 minutes T ride into the city and the prices are very reasonable compared to a place in the city. It doesn’t include breakfast but there are plenty of places on your way into the city to grab something.
My mom and I chose to stop at Thornton’s, which is just a stone’s throw from the Prudential Center. The food was very delicious and hearty and the prices were SO CHEAP. I couldn’t have found a place that had better prices–and coming from the Midwest, that says a lot! I had a salmon eggs benedict, while my mom had an omelette. What we liked about Thornton’s is that there are no hidden fees. The price you see on the menu is the price you get. You don’t have to pay extra add-ons in your omelette or for a side of bacon. Although there’s plenty of seating, it does get busy around mid-morning (~10:30am), so arrive earlier!
Since we still had time to kill before our Duck Tour, my mom and I walked around the Prudential Center a bit. I love the airy, open feel of the mall. It’s a positive stroll through, even if you’re not in the mood to buy anything. We did end up shopping though and got some great lotions from Crabtree & Evelyn, one of my favorite brands for lotions/soaps. My favorite smell was Pomegranate & Argan Oil, although we really liked the Evelyn Rose and Goatmilk & Oat smells too. So we stocked up and bought quite a few bottles of lotion!
Onto the infamous Boston Duck Tour. Although it’s on the pricier side ($40 for a 2.5 hour tour), it’s a great way to learn about the city of Boston, it’s neighborhoods, people and history. The tour guides really bring the tours to life and animate them very well. Each tour guide is a “character” and we got lucky with “Harvey Heartbreak (pronounced “Hahvey Heahbreak” because of that Boston accent), who told us about his multiple Boston Marathons and a lot of personable information about the city. The tour also gives you both a land and boat tour, since the cars are designed for both land and water due to their WWII styled structure. The Boston Duck Tour Company also heavily invests in their local community, with charity runs for their Boston Police and Firefighters, merchandise that profits army vets and partial admission options to donate to cleaning up the St. Charles River. It’s a great way to support the local community as well as learn about Boston!
Next, my mom and I started our way down the Freedom Trail. This is a self-guided walking route that goes for about 2.5 miles and follows significant historical landmarks in the city of Boston. Some of my favorites were the Granary Burying Ground, the Old State House and the Site of the Boston Massacre. The Granary Burying Ground is the burial location of several American founding fathers and revolutionaries, including Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams and (if it counts) Ben Franklin’s parents. The five victims of the Boston Massacre are also buried here. And, if you see a man handing out folders at the entrance of the Granary Burying Ground, take note that he is not trying to sell you something or preaching about religion! He’s just a kind Bostonian who wants you to learn more about his city by handing out folders with information on the history of Boston and the significance of the Granary Burying Ground. They’re very helpful to navigate your way around the burying ground!
Also note that although there are many stops along the Freedom Trail, many of them are closed to the public or require paid admission to enter. My mom and I didn’t find it necessary to pay to walk around an old state house or church, so we observed from the outside. A guided walking tour would be helpful to learn more about the Freedom Trail sites too. There are plenty of free walking tours–you just need to reserve a spot in advance. We also did not walk up to Bunker Hill or the USS Constitution since it was getting late. The USS Constitution does have a free tour as well–admission is free but donations are suggested.
My mom and I ended our walking tour at the Long Wharf, where we found some long chairs and relaxed for a bit. The wharf is very busy and there are plenty of restaurants and bars, although we didn’t check any of them out. You can also catch a ferry from here to Salem, a historic city with a beautiful downtown known for their 1600s Witch Trials.
Once we felt rejuvenated, we headed over to the Saint Anthony Shrine for mass. There are a few masses throughout the week. On Saturdays, they have a 4pm, 4:15pm and 5:30pm. 4pm and 5:30pm have music and are located on the second floor chapel, while the 4:15pm mass if quiet, without music and located on the first floor. While walking around the shrine, my mom and I came across a beautiful display of nun dolls, one each from various orders throughout the world. We ended up meeting a friar who makes these dolls from scratch, which is quite impressive since they look as professional as American Girl Dolls! Brother John Jaskowiak told us that he contacts different nun orders and asks for a copy of original habit design so he can replicate it exactly. He has over 150 dolls, although only about 15 were on display in the shrine. His passion for teaching others about nun orders and the Catholic religion is clearly resonated through what he told us about these dolls, so it was a pleasure talking to him! Check out this article from the Boston Herald to learn more about his hobby: LINK.
To end our exciting but exhausting day, my mom and I stopped by Legal Crossing for some early dinner before heading back to our hotel. The food here is INCREDIBLE. We each had some clam chowder, along with a few shared appetizers to top off our meal. My favorite was the calamari, although the grilled asparagus and lamb meatballs were just as good. The sauces the chef used really made the meal and the wait staff was so friendly!
We had a great experience in Boston and took off to Maine the next day. Stay tuned for more New England vacation posts!