36 Hours in Boston

36 Hours in Boston

Boston is known for its bricks and brownstones, but the city is starting to take on a glossier, more modern sheen.

With the completion of the $15 billion Big Dig, downtown now stretches unimpeded to the harbor, making Boston feel like a whole new city. History abounds, of course — Faneuil Hall still stands, Paul Revere is still buried at the Granary Burying Ground — but it is now joined by a high-tech exuberance, modern parks and a reclaimed harbor. Revere would not recognize it.



4:30 p.m.

In a city this historic, it’s not every day that a new neighborhood is built from scratch. But that is essentially the story with Fan Pier, a former industrial blight on the South Boston waterfront being transformed, albeit slowly, into a hub of fashion, art and dining. Anchored by the Institute of Contemporary Art (100 Northern Avenue; 617-478-3100; icaboston.org), a glass-and-steel museum that seems to hover over the harbor, it is becoming the go-to place for the cool crowd. Shopping’s a draw, too: LouisBoston (60 Northern Avenue; 617-262-6100; louisboston.com), the high-end store, has opened a 20,000-square-foot flagship next to the museum.

8 p.m.

There’s more to Boston than baked beans and oysters. As the city becomes more diversified, so do its culinary offerings. Case in point: Teranga (1746 Washington Street; 617-266-0003), a Senegalese restaurant that opened in May 2009 on a busy South End street, far from the well-dressed masses. An elegant space with exposed brick walls and a long banquette, it serves spicy, fragrant dishes like nems, spring rolls stuffed with vermicelli ($6), and thiébou djeun, a popular West African dish with kingfish, jasmine rice, tomato sauce, carrots and cabbage ($15).

10 p.m.

There are plenty of places to catch a show but not to hear live music with no cover. The Beehive (541 Tremont Street; 617-423-0069; beehiveboston.com), a restaurant where the lights are low and bands are chill, fills the void. Descend the staircase to be closer to the band, or stick to the quieter bar upstairs. Either way, don’t leave without catching the intricate, hand-painted bathroom walls.



11 a.m.

Downtown was once defined by an elevated steel highway. Then by the Big Dig, the seemingly never-ending project to sink the roadway underground. After billions of dollars and an untold numbers of delays, it is finally home to the Rose Kennedy Greenway (rosekennedygreenway.org), a mile-long ribbon of lawns, public art and much-needed playgrounds snaking along Atlantic Avenue. To explore this emerald oasis, start at South Station and meander toward the North End, stopping to frolic in the fountains or take a spin on the carousel. At Christopher Columbus Park, find a spot under a wisteria-covered trellis and watch as boats bob in the harbor and planes take off from Logan Airport. It’s been worth the wait.


1 p.m.

It’s a cliché for a reason: you can’t visit Boston, smell a salt breeze and not want to eat seafood. Steer clear of the waterfront traps and head to Neptune Oyster (63 Salem Street; 617-742-3474; neptuneoyster.com), a tiny spot where Sam Adams-swilling frat boys rub shoulders with fabulous Champagne sippers at the marble bar. The attraction? Why, the lobster roll, a mountain of warm, butter-slicked lobster piled into a soft brioche bun, with a side of crispy, skin-on fries ($25). For lighter fare, try yellowtail sashimi on a bed of kimchi ($13) and an array of clams and oysters plucked from nearby waters.

3 p.m.

Boston’s Little Italy has become more Milan than manicotti, with boutiques popping up between restaurants and pastry shops. Acquire (61 Salem Street; 857-362-7380; acquireboutique.com) melds vintage and modern housewares; the Velvet Fly (28 Parmenter Street; 617-557-4359; thevelvetfly.com) does the same with indie designers and old threads. In the continuing battle between women and the perfect jeans, the ladies win at In.jean.ius (441 Hanover Street; 617-523-5326; injeanius.com), where the friendly staff stops at nothing to turn up that perfect pair.

6 p.m.

Tired of forking over $15 for a cocktail that doesn’t quite speak to your individual tastes? Then pull up to Drink (348 Congress Street; 617-695-1806; drinkfortpoint.com), where mixology becomes personal. Instead of providing menus, bartenders ask patrons about their tastes and liquors of choice, and try to concoct the perfect tincture. The bar is reminiscent of a booze-drenched chemistry lab, and any experiments that don’t turn out right can be sent back. You can’t go wrong with the Maximilian Affair, a smoky combination of mezcal, St. Germain, Punt e Mes and lemon juice. Beer lovers, on the other hand, should head to Deep Ellum in Allston (477 Cambridge Street; 617-787-2337; deepellum-boston.com), an elegant pub with 28 taps that regularly rotate with Massachusetts breweries like Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project.

8 p.m.


The Boston-New York inferiority complex is nothing new, especially when it comes to restaurants. But Boston has raised its culinary game recently with Bistro du Midi (272 Boylston Street; 617-426-7878; bistrodumidi.com). Opened last November, this bistro is run by Robert Sisca, formerly the executive sous chef at Le Bernadin, who has created a Provençal menu with a focus on local fish. Favorites include the sweet and spicy pan-roasted cod with chorizo, chickpeas, pimentos and golden raisins ($28). Ask to be seated upstairs, where businessmen and dolled-up couples sit in buttery yellow leather chairs and gaze at unbeatable views of the Public Garden outside.

10:30 p.m.

A cozy antidote to the tourist trap that is the “Cheers” bar is around the corner at 75 Chestnut (75 Chestnut Street; 617-227-2175; 75chestnut.com). Tucked on a romantic side street, this dimly lighted restaurant feels like a modern take on an old brownstone, with tin ceilings and mahogany pillars. For a younger and cooler scene, check out the Delux Café (100 Chandler Street; 617-338-5258), a reigning temple of kitsch with walls decorated with records, comic books and a bust of Elvis. To get some New England hipster cred, order a tallboy Narragansett Beer ($3.50), the region’s answer to Pabst Blue Ribbon.



10 a.m.

Put your sunglasses on and grab an outdoor seat at the Woodward, a restaurant and tavern at the Ames Hotel (1 Court Street; 617-979-8200; woodwardatames.com) that is injecting minimalist style into the staid Financial District. Brunch offers modern New England fare, like the lobster and leek hash ($16 for large portion), along with great people-watching.


The Charles River is cleaning up nicely. Relive your Head of the Charles days and rent a kayak at Community Boating (21 David G. Mugar Way; 617-523-1038; community-boating.org) for $35 a day. Paddle out for some of the best views of Boston and Cambridge. Sunny days are spectacular, with light bouncing off the gold-domed State House and the city’s skyscrapers casting shadows on the intricate architecture of the Back Bay. The city has never looked so futuristic.


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