History, hospitals, and higher education are often what comes to mind when people think of Boston. And while we’re wicked proud of our heritage, our city is about a lot more than that.
Boston is one of the best places to be an athlete, whether you’re throwing pitches at Fenway or just logging miles along the Charles. And it’s not a bad place to be hungry either. We’ve left behind baked beans and Boston cream pie and moved onto fresher fare like juices, veg-friendly eats, and the best seafood around.
We’ve got the lowdown on all that and so much more that you need to know to make the most of your time in the Hub. So let us be your guide to this city upon a hill.
A decade ago, it was rare to see someone commuting by bike in Boston. Today, the city’s streets are full of cyclists on their way to work, doing errands, or just out for a ride. With some protected bike lanes and even bike traffic lights, plenty of places to ride off-road, and several local bike shops to help get you geared up, Boston has become a cyclist’s paradise. Don’t have two wheels to call your own? No worries. Just hop on a Hubway bike at one of 180 stations across Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville. You can ride all day for just six bucks.
Tie your shoes nice and tight for a seven mile stroll along the Emerald Necklace. This Frederick Law Olmsted-designed green space (he’s the same guy who did Central Park) connects the Back Bay Fens with Jamaica Pond, the Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park via the Riverway. This connected pathway is truly the jewel of Boston (hence the name). And for those who need a break, there’s plenty to do besides walk on this urban trail. Stop for a picnic, take a sail, or even visit the zoo.
There aren’t any true hikes right in Boston proper, but don’t let that stop you from getting outside. There are two awesome options just outside the city. Head north to the Middlesex Fells Reservation to tackle the challenging Skyline Trail, where spectacular views of the city will be well worth your huffing and puffing. Or head south to the Blue Hills Reservation, where a trek up to the Blue Hills Meteorological Observatory will provide similarly stellar views of Boston. Either way, we just can’t get enough of our city’s ever-changing skyline.
When it comes to aquatic activities, Boston is absolutely spoiled. There’s the Charles River, the Mystic River, and, of course, the ocean! To see the sights and get your sweat on, paddle a canoe or kayak, OR try your hand at sailing the Charles. Don’t want to get splashed? Hop aboard a Duck Tour or the Charles River Boat Company. On the ocean side, you can surf, SUP, or take a ferry to the Harbor Islands. Looking to get wet without getting salty? Head to one of these 10 swimming holes for the most epic summer yet.
Boston is a running city. It plays host to that super famous marathon, after all. Not ready to tackle 26.2? No worries. Try one of these other awesome races. And while self-respecting Boston runner can call themselves that without logging miles along the Charles River, there are plenty of other urban paths and scenic trails in the city made for runs long and short. Don’t want to go it alone? You don’t have to! Boston has a bunch of super friendly run clubs that’ll disprove our reputation for being a snarky city.
No matter what type of yoga you’re looking for, Boston has a studio that can satisfy your desire to stretch the body and relax the mind. YogaWorks (Back Bay and Comm Ave.) is a staple of the Boston scene with a packed schedule offering 75 classes a week. Or work out all your kinks with 60 minutes of foam rolling or anti-gravity aerial yoga at South Boston Yoga. But, we know that some like it hot, so for anyone looking to really sweat it out, you should head to Baptiste Power Yoga. Want to save some dough while practicing down dog? Try one of these free or cheap yoga classes. And don’t miss all of the ways to bring your practice outside once the weather warms up.
If you’re looking for a an epic CrossFit experience in Boston, look no further than Reebok CrossFit Back Bay. The box (that’s what CrossFitters call their gyms) is a bit less bare bones than most, so it’ll really appeal to anyone who loves the luxury gym feel. Don’t let the nice digs fool you though. The WODs (that’s ‘workout of the day’) at this box are intense and sure to leave you panting. Looking for a more stripped down place to get in shape? Try the new CrossFit Lando in Charlestown. It’s the box where everybody knows your name (and probably some of your PRs).
When Brooklyn Boulders Somerville opened in 2013, it took the local climbing scene by storm. And the factory-turned-climbing-facility has only gotten better in the years since. The 40,000-foot gym has a huge bouldering wall, a beginner’s auto-belay area, and a 50-foot climbing wall with views of Boston. Plus, at BKBS you’re welcome to stick around after you’re done climbing. Hunker down in the co-working space, take a yoga class, or attend an event. Ready to test your climbing skills in the real world? Take it outside at one of these local climbing spots.
We told you all the ways and places to bike outside in Boston. But Boston has got indoor cycling covered, too. A class at one of those studios is sure to leave your legs feeling like jelly and your heart pumping. We’d be remiss not to mention one of the city’s best ways to workout: The November Project. It started with two friends in Boston and now has groups in cities around the country. “Just show up” three mornings a week to get your sweat on outside, rain, shine, or snow. Need more motivation? There are tons of unique ways to get your sweat on in Boston.
If you prefer a plant-based diet, there’s no better place to satisfy your hunger than Life Alive in Cambridge. This urban oasis serves up hearty grain and noodle bowls, wraps, and salads that are packed with good for you eats that actually taste good, too. Pair your meal with a freshly-made smoothie, juice, or local kombucha (a fizzy, fermented tea). Just down the street, but on the other side of the plant-based spectrum, is Veggie Galaxy. This diner serves up all of your favorite comfort food, sans meat. Don’t miss the mile-high pies and frothy frappes (that’s a milkshake for everyone outside New England). And new to the vegan scene in town is the highly anticipated by CHLOE., where the setting is as lovely as the food on your plate.
Boston has two great options for meat-loving paleo eaters: Neptune Oyster and sweetgreen. On the high end, Neptune does seafood better than almost anyone, anywhere. And that’s saying a lot in this seafood-obsessed city. A North End favorite, many of the menu items are already paleo-friendly or can be made that way. But be sure to plan ahead, the line at Neptune can get really long. We promise it’s worth the wait. On the casual side, sweetgreen’s make-your-own salads are sure to satisfy. Pile them high with fresh veggies, proteins of your choice, and delectable dressings.
It seemed like Boston took forever to jump on the juice trend, but now that it has, there’s no shortage of places to get your liquid fix. Mother Juice, with locations in the Boston Public Market, on Newbury Street, and in Kendall Square, has everything you need for a healthy meal or snack. The fresh juice and smoothie combos are seriously sippable, plus they’ve got tasty rice bowls and toasts featuring local ingredients. Newer to the local scene is The Juice Union in Somerville, which serves up all-vegan concoctions, including B’Nice bowls where bananas are whipped to the consistency of ice cream and topped with all kinds of goodies.
We know — America (and New England in particular) runs on Dunkin’. There’s hardly anything more Boston than drinking an iced Dunks during a snowstorm. But locals would make the case for trying a local brew instead. No list of where to caffeinate in Boston would be complete without mentioning Pavement Coffeehouse, where you can grab a healthy snack or meal alongside your cup of joe. Diesel Cafe in Somerville is another go-to spot for specialty coffees that pair with fresh eats like salads, wraps, and soups.
Three words: the Boston Marathon. Every April, thousands of runners celebrate Patriots’ Day—AKA Marathon Monday—by tackling 26.2 miles. And thousands more come out to cheer them on. The energy in the city is positively electric and may even inspire your own marathon dreams. Just remember: right on Hereford, left on Boylston, and you’re home.
If you prefer to get around on two wheels instead of two feet, the Pan-Mass Challenge might just be the biking event for you. Every August, 6,000 cyclists from around the country and the world come to Massachusetts to ride anywhere from 27 miles to nearly 200 miles. And they’re not just doing it for themselves. These riders are slogging it out in the summer heat to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Since its founding in 1980, the PMC has raised nearly $550 million for life-saving cancer research. It’s the perfect place to do good and feel good.
Few things are better than a summer night of Yoga at the Frog Pond in the Boston Common. You could hardly ask for a better location to practice pigeon pose – though, let’s just hope the real pigeons stay off your mat. And with FREE sessions happening every Thursday from June through August, this may soon become your favorite way to unwind during a busy week.
Boston and craft beer go way back. Sam Adams and Harpoon have been on the scene since the mid-80s. While they’re both big-time now, we still love these hometown brews. And if there’s one beer + running event we look forward to every year, it’s Harpoonfest and the Harpoon 5-Miler. Sip suds for two days at the brewery then take to the streets with 4,000 of your fellow road runners for a five-mile race that ends with even more brews. Sounds like a match made in running and beer heaven.
There are plenty of guides that will tell you all of the typical Boston to-dos, so we’re going to skip them and let you in on some local favorites. Get to the North End, AKA Boston’s Little Italy. This maze of tiny streets feels more like Europe than North America. Start your walking tour with a sizeable sandwich from Bricco Salumeria and Pasta Shop. After you’ve had time to digest, do a cannoli taste test from competing shops Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry. For dinner, we recommend tucking into heaping plates of homemade pasta at either Trattoria di Monica or its sister restaurant, Vinoteca di Monica. And of course, don’t miss neighborhood highlights like the Old North Church, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, and the Paul Revere House.
Somerville is an artsy, quirky, hipstery (just go with it) little city just north of Boston that’s home to some of the best restaurants and breweries in the area. Snag a slice of pizza and try your hand at candlepin bowling at Flatbread Company in Davis Square. Across town, the new Winter Hill Brewery serves up a mean cup of coffee during the day and a selection of tasty housemade beer at night (soak up those suds with the Spicy Korean Brussels Sprouts). Gluten-free? Hit up Bantam Cider, just outside of Union Square. While you’re there, check out the decadent delights of Union Square Donuts, which are decidedly not gluten-free… or healthy, but well worth every calorie. If you can, try to time your visit with one of Somerville’s many festivals, like Somerville Open Studios, PorchFest, ArtBeat, What the Fluff?, or Honk!
We’ve already told you about a few of the tasty treats you’ll find in Boston – doughnuts, Fluff, and Italian pastries – but there are plenty more ways to be tempted. You might have to call in a few extra cheat days, but trust us — they’ll be well worth it. Start your day by carbo-loading with the Texas-Style French Toast at The Paramount. Don’t tell your doctor about this next one: the Franken-Burger from The Gallows. This monster of a meal is a beef patty topped with bacon, pulled pork, fried chicken thigh, and foie gras aioli. Top it all off with one of our city’s favorite ways to splurge, the Sticky Bun from Flour Bakery. Make sure you grab some extra napkins for that one.
Boston may be more about history than being hip, but we’ve still got our fair share of cool places to rest your head. With Fenway Park as its backdrop, The Verb Hotel straddles history and hipness like an expert. It’s got deep roots in the neighborhood and a recent renovation has highlighted its rock ‘n’ roll connection. Don’t miss the sweet vintage bus parked right outside – you might even recognize it from a photoshoot with hometown band Guster. On the other side of town in Beacon Hill, you’ll find The Liberty Hotel. The building began its life as the Charles Street Jail in 1851, but you won’t be sleeping in a cell. The Liberty’s rooms have been upgraded to plush comfort and have terrific views of the city skyline and river.
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