How To Spend One Weekend Exploring Boston

If you’re a tourist in town and need some ideas of what to do during a weekend trip to Boston, here’s how I spent one glorious weekend during July 14 through 16th. Granted, you’ll probably want to explore the Freedom Trail and some more prominent activities, but I think this really sums up much of the beauty of this historic city.

Friday

After work at Her Campus in Fenway, I went with a fellow intern to the Lawn on D, which is basically a cute lawn/park on D Street in South Boston. We took the bus from Copley and then walked a bit through the neighborhood. The Lawn has a swing set with white, hoop-shaped swings perfect for relaxing and chatting. You can even put your feet up, kind of like a hammock. I also got a hamburger for $6 that had two patties and was quite a deal. We were supposed to go with our whole office but since it was cloudy and potentially rainy, the event was officially canceled but it didn’t rain and we had a wonderful time just hanging out in the park.

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From there, we walked towards a bus stop to go to the North End (the Italian quarters) for dinner. But when we got to the bus stop, we decided to just keep walking! It was about 1.6 miles to the North End, but we got to walk through the World Trade Center (a pretty, grand building with views of the city and harbor surrounding it) and along the Boston Seaport, which had shops, glass skyscrapers and a financial district vibe. Eventually we started walking more into the North End area with fountains near Christopher Columbus Park and the carousel. It was cloudy, and the steam of chlorine and brick walls near Faneuil Hall set the mood.

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We walked to Benevento’s, which some of our bosses had recommended for dinner. We put our name down and waited until 7 p.m. to meet our other friend to get off work at Madewell. In the meantime, the two of us went to the weekend farmer’s market by the Boston Public Market to get some fruit. It is THE place to get fruit and veggies in Boston if you’re a broke college student slash intern. It’s full of shouting vendors trying to hook you in, so a bag of grapes is $1, three mangoes are $2 and four peaches are like $1…it’s great prices. The fruit I’m sure isn’t like organic high quality, but the groceries around here are so expensive that I wanted to try it—and the fruit tasted pretty good later that weekend.

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Dinner was crazy crowded and cramped, so we got tucked into a little corner table that was a one or two person cafe table with three of us. I have the Spukone pizza with basil, sweet Italian sausage, ricotta and mozzarella. It’s amazing brick oven pizza— cost about $15 and enough for two meals. Delicious, delicious pizza; the ricotta added a sweet cheesiness that was mouth watering. The other interns got gnocchi and fusilli pasta that I need to try.

For dessert, we went to Modern Pastry, the rival of Mike’s Pastry, to see which one was truly the best cannoli in Boston. I got a mini ricotta cannoli and chocolate ganache, which is a rectangular ganache cake. The cannoli was quite excellent with a crispy shell and sweet filling. Although I think the experience of Mike’s is better since it’s more famous in my mind, Modern Pastry has a nicer shop interior and I actually like their cannoli more in terms of freshness and texture. Granted, I’ve ordered different things at the two different places, so a true blind taste test still needs to happen.

We sat at the North End Park, which is sort of like a promenade in between the North End and the rest of Boston proper. It’s become our go-to sitting spot since there are fountains, tables and a beautiful view of the Boston skyline at dusk. Last time, when we got Mike’s Pastry, we forgot napkins. This time? We forgot forks for our cakes. Needless to say, I saved my ganache for the next night.

Saturday

This weekend, I met the same two interns for brunch at Blunch, which is sort of in the South End of Boston down Massachusetts Avenue. Although it was also about a 1.5 mile walk, I’m so glad I walked because I strolled down the brick neighborhoods full of cute brown apartments with bright flower baskets. I turned down a side street that had trees lining the brick sidewalks and shaded brownstones for the full Boston apartment aesthetic (lol). Blunch, on the corner, is known for being visited by Guy Fieri on the Food Network.

I got their salmon bagel sandwich for $8.99 and a chocolate chip cooke, which they are famous for. The cookie was amazing. I really have no complaints. It was the perfect size with a crispy rim but soft interior. Lots of chocolate both inside and on top, yet not overly dominating the brown sugar cookie flavor of the moist and gooey center. GET IT.

The lox bagel was also phenomenal. It’s served open faced in two halves because it’s packed with salmon, boursin cheese (AKA heaven), cucumbers, a light vinaigrette, tomatoes and capers. The flavor was wonderful—nothing overpowered anything else. It was filling yet refreshing, and my palette was totally satisfied. Blunch is not only famous and tasty, but also affordable. The down side is the extremely limited seating, as maybe 10 customers can sit at once. It’s tiny but worth it.

I took an Uber to Boston’s Mapparium, which is a giant room whose walls are a stained glass globe. It’s like walking into a huge globe. The Mapparium costs $4 to enter and is located at the Mary Baker Eddy Library. It only takes about 15 minutes to enter and watch a short video before walking out of the Mapparium (no photos allowed inside). The coolest part honestly is the acoustics and the sounds. If you stand directly under the North Pole, your voice becomes surround sound even when whispering. If you whisper at one end of the map, you can be heard on the other end. The room is about the same size as a living room, and we could hear all the echoes and whispers of everyone talking as clear as if they said it directly to us. CRAZY. The map was beautiful with colored countries and a light show, but it isn’t that much to see since it’s just walking into a room for 15 minutes.

I got Dunkin Donuts coffee (because #EastCoast) and walked a few blocks to the Prudential Center (or the Pru), which hosts the Top of the Hub , a fancy restaurant with a huge overhead view of the city of Boston from the top floor. The lower floors, however, are shopping. They have nice stores like l’Occitane and Vera Bradley and Ann Taylor and Club Monaco and Kate Spade. I got a shirt for an upcoming conference, but mostly just window shopped since I haven’t been to a mall in so long. There’s a courtyard outside with a huge grassy expanse and seating at cafe tables with skyscraper views. I sat in the sun and finished my book “Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?” by Alyssa Mastromonaco, which I highly recommend if you’re interested in media or politics.

Moving on, I headed a mile further into Boston through Back Bay and up to downtown crossing, where Primark is located. The store is the best thing ever with all of its cheap clothing, decor and supplies. I wanted to get a few little purses and trinkets, including a Boston t-shirt for the tourist in me. I also got some grey flats for the conference. I loved the summer weather of just walking through Boston, and it oriented me well to the surroundings. I highly encourage you to walk around Boston if you visit—sure, take the T for that experience as well (it’s so much better than the Subway), but definitely walk so you can get a feel for the city atmosphere. It’s SUCH a walkable city. You can get almost anywhere central in probably 20 minutes.

Sunday

The cherry on top of the weekend in Boston was the Ice Cream Scooptacular (pun intended, poorly executed). The SoWa market, which stands for South of Washington Street, is a market that includes food trucks, a farmer’s market and art vendors all in the artsy area of the South End, surrounded by bricky and luxurious art galleries.

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I arrived with a few other interns around noon and we started our Sunday with food trucks. I went to an Asian grill food truck (I believe called Saté) that boasted vegan and gluten-free options, but I got the noodle salad with bulgogi beef. It was very filling and a good portion for $8 or so. We also needed a water because it was searing hot outside. The yellow noodles and salad added a level of refreshment whereas the bulgogi was sweet and filling. It wasn’t better than KBBQ in Los Angeles, but it filled me up. Tons of food trucks were parked in the courtyard and offered a smorgasbord of grilled cheese, burgers, tacos, veggies etc. Lots of options!

We then wandered through some brick tunnels to the next section of the SoWa market, including the farmer’s market section and a sundae buffet for National Ice Cream Day. We, however, opted for the Honeycomb ice cream sold at a booth instead of the sundae bar. This meant a scoop in a waffle cone for $5. I got the chocolate chocolate swirl and it was so delicious—rich and creamy. Honestly, the cone was top notch. Usually I think cones taste stale or like a waste of calories, but this one tasted like a vanilla cookie—probably the best cone I’ve tasted. We sat on a stoop by an art gallery to eat it, and then peeked inside to look at wax waves with vintage photos and nails that created a multimedia beach painting.

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The art vendors in the third part of the market sold cute signs, t-shirts and leather purses, but I didn’t buy anything since it was a bit pricey (two cardboard signs with quotes for $25?!).

It was only about 2:30 p.m. so we decided to Uber to the Boston Common (with our big group it was about the same price to Uber and take the T). Our driver stopped in the middle of the road near Beacon Hill, so we hopped out and walked to the Public Garden to watch the swan boats and sit in the grass. The Boston garden is a lovely family spot that’s picnic-ready. If it’s your only weekend in Boston, you can take the Swan Boats for a ride, though it’s not essential.

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It was really hot outside (did I mention that?), but we somehow dragged ourselves to Newbury Street to check out Zara’s sales. I got a red embroidered dress, and you can find all kinds of up-scale shopping on Newbury, which offshoots directly from the public garden. We stopped at Trader Joe’s for groceries (oh how I missed you) and headed back home to top off a well-rounded summer weekend in Boston, Massachusetts.

Where are your favorite spots in Boston?

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