Boston, Massachusetts, has long been a place I’ve wanted to visit. From the art culture to the historical buildings, Boston has been at the top of my travel list for a while. So when my birthday once again fell on a weekend, my partner and I decided to make a trip out of it! Since we are still in the middle of a pandemic, we made sure our plans in Boston would keep us outside as much as possible.
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Here are a few places and restaurants to check out if you are planning a trip to Boston, MA!
Places to Visit in Boston, MA
Even though we had limited time to visit places in Boston, our visit was still so much fun and memorable! We got to see some amazing architecture, explore new National Parks, and enjoy some interesting museums.
National Park Sites + Partner Locations
We visited all of the National Parks and partner locations listed below. I’ve included info and links to my favorites in the paragraphs following.
- Charlestown Navy Yard
- Faneuil Hall
- Boston National Historical Park
- Old South Meeting House
- Old State House
- Museum of African American History
- Black Heritage Trail
- Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
I think this was the fastest we’ve ever gone through some National Parks. Both Faneuil Hall and Boston National Historical Park were so full of people that we moved quickly through both.
The Museum of African American History (MAAH) is actually a private museum and not run by the National Park Service; however, they do seem to coordinate efforts and you can see MAAH mentioned on the NPS website. My husband and I did not know it was a private museum so we did not reserve the necessary tickets to enter the museum and to get a guided walking tour on the Black Heritage Trail. Since the info for the Trail is online, we just ended up walking the Trail on our own and reading the online descriptions.
One of my favorite parts was definitely our visit to Charlestown Navy Yard. We got to walk through USS Cassin Young and learn about the different parts of the ship. When we visited, the USS Constitution was out and hosting a veterans’ celebration but we were able to stay and watch it come in!
We overheard quite a few people that were disappointed when they learned USS Constitution was out, so a reminder that you can check the NPS website for alerts about any changes! The USS Constitution is actually an active ship under the U.S. Navy, which means there are times when it is out at sea and not available at the Charlestown Navy Yard for viewing.
If you would also like to keep track of your National Park visits like we do, check out the items below! It’s the exact National Park Passport Book we use, plus a few extras we like to keep on hand.
Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum
This museum visit was definitely at the top of our Boston trip list. The pictures online were beautiful and it seemed like such an interesting visit! I didn’t do too much research about Isabella Stewart Gardener because I thought there would be little descriptions throughout the museum BUT the museum had no descriptions! However, they had lots of QR codes scattered throughout to scan with your phone but they were audio descriptions and I had not brought my headphones. If you plan on visiting, DEFINITELY pack a set of headphones so you can enjoy the descriptions and stories.
After our visit, I learned about the theft of the Gardner Museum. I don’t remember seeing any information about it in the exhibit but it’s totally possible it was in the audio descriptions that I couldn’t listen to. However, I do remember seeing empty frames and spots throughout the Museum but I figured they were being updated or cleaned, NOT that they were stolen!
There’s been a few different movies made about the robbery. Netflix is the most recent one to create a movie, “This is a Robbery”, but Amazon also has “Stolen”. NPR also has a podcast about the heist, “Last Seen”.
Boston Public Library
This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but, since I work at a public library, this was definitely a visit we had to make! There are some really great photo spots at the Boston Public Library, especially in the garden area and in the lobby of the “old” section of the library. If you need a little pick-me-up during your visit, there’s a café in the modern section of the library.
Institute of Contemporary Art
This was hands-down my favorite place of the whole Boston trip (only slightly above the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum) but it almost didn’t happen! I saw some of the exhibits online and wasn’t particularly interested in them but there was some miscommunication with my partner and he ended up getting us some timed tickets. Well, boy, am I glad he did!
There was an exhibit about Virgil Abloh, who is the founder of Off-White. I learned so much about him and his brand and his philosophy that I didn’t know about before. It also just gave me a much deeper understanding of Off-White, which I’ve seen on YouTube and social media but hadn’t really dived into yet.
If you have chance to view the exhibit, I would definitely recommend it. There’s a collection of some his clothes, a few videos, and so many items are showcased. Virgil Abloh has had a very well-rounded career, from fashion to design to sculptures and installations. Though I knew about the Off-White brand, he’s also been involved in many design projects so there were many cool pieces in the museum. Be sure to ask the staff about their experience with him because there’s some great behind-the-scenes information!
Visit www.icaboston.org to learn more and to get tickets!
P.S. The Institute of Contemporary Art also has some amazing views of the Boston Harbor!
Restaurants to Visit in Boston, MA
After walking around Harvard Square for a while, we had dinner at The Druid. I was so excited because all their branding was about being a “true” Irish pub and they had fish and chips on the menu!
I definitely ended up enjoying this restaurant even more than I expected because it introduced me to malt vinegar and I feel like I can never have fries again without some malt vinegar. My quality of life has truly improved just from that experience. I also got to try a new beer and it was delicious!
The ambiance at the restaurant was so good! There were actually a few musicians in there and it made for a great environment. Their fish and chips were so good, and so was the shepherd’s pie (my husband’s order). The fish and chips came wrapped in newspaper and were so nice and hot! The shepherd’s pie came in a heated bowl and also came in really hot so I definitely suggest breaking up the food in the middle to help the heat escape a little faster. Overall, definitely recommend the restaurant!
Visit their website at www.druidpub.com.
No. 9 Park
This was my birthday dinner! The whole dinner was absolutely delicious! The ricotta fritters were one of our favorite items; we were so close to simply licking the bowl ?!
No. 9 Park is an absolutely gorgeous restaurant with amazing views. When you enter, you immediately see their bar and it’s gorgeous! Due to COVID-19, they also have some gorgeous patio seating available.
For my birthday dinner, we decided to do the tasting menu without wine pairings. Our favorite was definitely the ricotta fritters, but the whole dinner was really delicious and full of good flavors.
Visit their website and explore their menu at www.no9park.com.
Cathedral Station, Sports Bar & Grill
We had plans to do brunch at a different spot during our Boston trip but it was so busy that we decided to venture out and find a new place. We came across Cathedral Station and decided it would be the perfect spot for brunch! Since it was a little misty and rainy, we were excited to be seated next to some windows to watch the rain while we had an amazing brunch!
I decided on a classic eggs benedict and my spouse chose the Cathedral burger! Both were absolutely delish and exactly what we had been looking for as a brunch option (it didn’t hurt that the drinks were also delicious)!
Visit their website at www.cathedralstation.com.
Our visit to Boston, MA, was absolutely amazing and full of delicious food! I’m honestly already thinking about another trip back…
While we got to visit some amazing places and try some ridiculously good restaurants, we came across so many places in Boston that we just didn’t have time for in this trip. Boston is such an old city that I’m sure there’s many more things to explore and learn.
I high recommend planning a visit to these places and restaurants in Boston, MA! I hope this post provided you with some inspiration for a visit to Boston and I can’t wait for you to explore on your own!
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Places & Restaurants to Visit in Boston, MA.