My Top 7 Summer Picks in Boston

Boston Gardens

As summer quickly approaches it seems like most of my expat friends are busy making plans for their summer trips back to the US. I normally visit the US in summer too– but this year I’ll be spending all summer here in Spain, and hopefully visiting my stateside friends and family in October.

I’m happy to spend the summer in Spain– after all I’m in the midst of starting a business, Ale just began a new job as well and whenever the heat gets to be too much, we know that we can hop on the next train down to the lovely beaches of Cadiz. But a small part of me is sad that this will be my first summer without backyard barbecues, the wild beaches of Cape Cod, Maine lobster, and Boston day trips. It’s the expat sacrifice I suppose!

BBQ Skewers
My Dad’s Backyard BBQ

I feel lucky to be from such an awesome part of the US. Massachusetts, and New England in general, is full of history, amazing food, great people, and beautiful places. Boston is a vibrant and exciting city, a place I would love to live if it weren’t for the 8-month winters.

Thinking of my expat friend Cat, who will be experiencing Boston for the first time this summer on her trip stateside, here are some of my top Boston picks. If you are heading to the US this summer why not make Boston a layover stop? Choose from some fantastic Boston hotels then hop on the T and get ready to have fun in my home city!

Boston Commons
The Boston Common

1. Experience Fenway Park

Let’s start big with one of my favorite summer activities in Boston. Seeing a game at Fenway Park is incredible– the stadium (the oldest Major League Baseball stadium in the US!) is picturesque, small and always full of cheering fans. Tickets can be tricky to come by and expensive, as the entire season usually sells out on opening day! But never fear, it is (almost) just as fun to head down to Yawkey Way and see the game surrounded by other ticketless fans at any of the area’s impressive sports bars.

Boston Fenway Park
Boston’s Baseball Field

2. Stroll Through the Boston Common and Public Garden

The Boston Common is Boston’s Central Park and makes a great place for a leisurely walk. Once a former cow pasture, then a British Camp and later the place for public hangings, the Boston Commons is full of history. Today you can attend concerts, public markets and other great events, or simply join the many people eating lunch on the Common. The Public Garden is located adjacent to the Boston Common and is full of bright flowers and manicured trees. It has a lovely pond, which is home to its resident swans and well-known swan boat tourist attraction.

Boston Swan Boats
The Famous Swan Boats

3. Walk the Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a red brick path that leads visitors around downtown Boston, visiting 16 important historic sights. It is a fantastic option for those who prefer a self-guided tour– or those map challenged people (like myself!). If you prefer a tour guide try a free tour by a National Park Service Ranger. The free tours are limited to 30 people, so get there early!

Freedom Trail Emblem
The Boston Freedom Trail

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4. Check Out Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall is a beautiful Boston building, which used to be a former marketplace and meeting hall. It now serves as an enormous food court and shopping center. While the food court options are a little less than stellar, they do the trick for a quick bite or when no one can agree on a restaurant! With a multitude of cuisines represented here, it is also what I tell people American Food is really like!

Yet the best part of Faneuil Hall is what is happening outside of it. Street performers are usually entertaining the crowds with magic, acrobatics, hip-hop dancing, and comedy shows. The performances are top notch and really fun to watch.

Fanueil Hall Performance
Street Artists at Faneuil Hall

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5. Browse the North End

The North End is Boston’s Italian section of the city, as well as Boston’s oldest residential community. It is a great place to check out, especially when you’re hungry! The North End is full of Italian eateries– many of which are very good. Prices vary, so look around for a restaurant that meets your budget.

No visit to the North End is complete without pizza from Regina Pizzeria. Although this place is now a chain, its other locations taste nothing like the original in the North End. I’ve waited in an hour-long line to eat here– and it’s worth it! After dinner try a cannoli from Modern Pastry, right across the street from the crazy popular Mike’s Pastry; it’s less crowded and just as delicious!

Pizzeria Regina
Boston’s Best Pizza

6. Have A Cup of Chowder at Union Oyster House

One of the most authentic places and dishes to try in Boston is clam chowder at the Union Oyster House. It is known for being Boston’s oldest restaurant and serving an amazing bowl of New England Clam Chowder. If planning far enough in advance, try reserving the Kennedy Booth where J.F.K. enjoyed many meals in the upstairs dining room.

Creamy Clam Chowder
Delicious New England Clam Chowder

7. Do A Brewery Tour & Tasting

Boston is home to some fantastic breweries, with Samuel Adams and Harpoon stealing the spotlight. Both places offer wonderful brewery tours and tastings– so great that I couldn’t choose a favorite. Sam Adams gives a great tour, it’s absolutely free, and includes 3 samples and a tasting glass to take home! It is hard to beat, but Harpoon’s tours and tastings are also free and include unlimited samples (basically, as much as you can drink in the allotted sample period). The only trade-off? You can’t keep the glass!

Samuel Adams Beer Glasses
The Sam Adam’s Samples

Boston is an amazing and diverse city with an incredible amount of history and a fantastic food scene. These 7 suggestions just break the surface of the list of great suggestions for a Boston visit. If you have anything to add or question about Boston, please comment below! If you’ll be in Boston this summer, I’m officially jealous!

Comments

    1. Like Christine, I’ve been dying to get out to the East Coast and am so happy you thought of me! Just forwarded this to my dad and sister. And you know Bri will be taking me to Regina…just wish you could join us!

  1. Great list! I’m very proud to say that we hit up almost all these stops on our trip to Boston last year (it was Dani’s first so we had to do the full-on sightseeing!) We didn’t do the full Freedom Trail, though. A walk down Newbury Street (perhaps for brunch at Stephanie’s?) is always high up on my list! Also, I always recommend hitting up the North Shore (Salem, Marblehead……)

    Enjoy your trip Cat!

  2. YAY BOSTON! City of my heart!!!!

    What’s interesting is that I also started thinking about (all right– getting really homesick for Boston) while in Spain: http://www.aroundtheworldl.com/2010/04/17/7-ways-to-battle-homesickness-and-general-melancholy/

    I traveled around the world 8 months with no problem, but there was something about Spain that tugged my Boston-loving heartstrings! Anyway, I’ll keep the city warm and toasty for you.

  3. I loved Boston when I went there back in high school (this was about 13 years ago I would guess), lovely city, wish I’d had more time to see it. I’m a huge beer snob (looking forward to my after-work-beer here in a little bit as we speak!) and I’m a huge fan of micro-breweries and craft breweries like Sam Adams, so honestly I’d go to Boston just to tour their place. However, I’m also a huge fan of New England clam chowder and haven’t had of the proper stuff in years, most places just don’t do it very well, primarily I suspect because they either don’t have access to fresh seafood for it or they do but use the frozen stuff anyway. I honestly think the last time I had any good chowder was when I was in Delaware visiting relatives (don’t suppose you’re familiar with Lewes?)

    Did you go to university in Boston?

    Love your website, by the way, I primarily focus on the Spanish language in a non-country-specific sort of way but recently my interest has shifted a bit from Latin America (which I still very much look forward to visiting) to Spain, I think it might have been the episodes of No Reservations that Anthony Bourdain has done there–do you watch his show?

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Boston is truly a great city– go back soon! Clam chowder isn’t the same without fresh seafood, but you can get pretty close– I have a recipe on my Spanish blog here: http://recetasamericanas.com/2012/06/01/clam-chowder-receta-crema-de-almejas/

      I didn’t go to uni in Boston (unfortunately!) I had a somewhat chaotic university route– 1 year in Washington D.C., 1 year in Amherst, Massachusetts 4 months in Granada, Spain, 5 months in Buenos Aires, and another year to finish up at the University of Massachusetts in Western Mass. What about you?

      Thanks for the complements on the site– yours is pretty great too! I absolutely love Anthony Bourdain– follow in his footsteps and come to Spain already! 🙂

      1. I went to school for 3 years at Tulane in New Orleans but dropped out to start my own business, I intend to get around to finishing up my degree in a few years but right now I’m a bit busy (still trying to get that business going, haha).

        Thank you, I’m glad you like it, I’ll take any suggestions I can get for what it’s worth.

        Good lord, can I ask why you moved around so much for university? At least you got to travel a lot.

        If I had access to decent seafood I’d try your recipe in a heartbeat but alas I’m in a small down in Texas several hours from the ocean: they don’t know what “fresh” is here 🙁

        Cheers,
        Andrew

  4. There’s just something about summer in the US … ahhh. I’ll be back in August (to spend time with my family and to go to my brother’s wedding), so I’m glad of that — I hate missing it totally. I went to Boston a long time ago, as a kid, with my family, but I’ll go back someday!

    1. Exactly– We probably have such an attachment to summer since it is usually when we were on school vacation and did fun things, went to camp, etc. It’s great you’ll get to visit this summer!

  5. I miss New England so much! One of my best summers I had was spent in Amherst. I miss barbecues and beach days, and lobsta, lobsta LOBSTA!!

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