Things to do in Boston
Unlike many American cities, you won’t need a car to get around Boston, and walking is the best way to see the sights. Turn a corner and you’ll stumble across spectacular architecture such as the Romanesque Mother Church, built in 1894. Aim to be near Harvard Bridge at sunset, where you can watch varsity rowers paddle towards the city as daylight dims.
While New York City’s shopping scene attracts the world’s elite, few know that many locals drive the four hours north to splash their cash in Boston. Back Bay is the city’s prime retail destination, located in South Boston and set within an eight-block radius of gorgeous Victorian brownstones. There’s something for everyone here – Newbury Street bustles with haute couture shops such as Chanel and Burberry, while on Massachusetts Avenue you’ll find a selection of high street names.
Boston has bars and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. As with any trip to the USA, Sunday brunch is a must, and Toro in the South End is a big hitter. Sip on mimosas while sampling their tantalising Iberico hash, made with Jamón ibérico, diced potatoes, fried eggs and hollandaise sauce. If you’re too busy shopping to make it in time for brunch, the restaurant also does an excellent selection of tapas, including chilli scallops and smoked duck drumettes. Further north, stop at Pizzeria Regina, which has served first-rate pizza since 1926, or, for something quirkier, check out Taranta for fusion Italian and Peruvian fare.
Massachusetts was the first US state to end slavery in 1783, and Boston’s liberated black community was a driving force in the abolition of slavery nationwide. The Museum of African American History offers a heritage trail across some of the movement’s most significant sites, including the African Meeting House, the country’s oldest black church built in 1806. Elsewhere on the trail you’ll find the Lewis and Harriet Hayden House, a stop on the Underground Railroad where the Haydens were known to have sheltered slaves from bounty hunters. Free guided tours are available in high season.
Two of the world’s top universities lie within two miles of each other in the heart of Boston. Both MIT and Harvard lead tables worldwide, with MIT outranking Harvard in recent years. Famous alumni include Buzz Aldrin, Kofi Annan and Benjamin Netanyahu, and the public is welcome to wander the grounds, taking in student life. There’s also an onsite museum open daily. Meanwhile, Harvard’s grounds have been the backdrop for a number of seminal films, including Good Will Hunting and The Social Network. Make time to visit Adams House, dubbed “Harvard’s most historic residence”, having housed the likes of Henry Kissinger, Seamus Heaney and John F Kennedy.