We decided to head up to Boston for the long Thanksgiving weekend, perhaps following in our American History tradition (last year it was Philadelphia). We started out early Thanksgiving morning, made good time, and arrived in the early afternoon at Walden Pond, just outside Concord. We visited Thoreau’s cabin, reflected on a life lived deliberately, and took a walk around the pond. Then we headed over to Concord, where we took in the house where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women, the house where Ralph Waldo Emerson and later Nathaniel Hawthorne lived, and several key sites for the American Revolutionary War, including where Paul Revere was captured and where the first shots were fired at Lexington. Feeling sufficiently literate and historical, we headed to Boston to look for some pie.
Boston is a fairly small city, very walkable. You really don’t need a car there; in fact, there is no where to park it on the streets so you’re better off leaving the car behind and flying in (a bus from the airport to the city is $3) or parking your car in a garage for the weekend (our hotel offered $25 a night parking/$16 for weekends). For getting around town, we walked, and we took the Old Town Trolley, a series of hop on/hop off busses that will take you to the major sites around the city. They have a really good deal for the winter months: a trolley ticket gets you into the Tea Party Ships Museum (a $26 value) and the Old State House Museum ($10 value) and the bus ticket was $35 for two days so really there was no reason to not take the trolley tour. The info we got from the conductors was way more than we had researched on our own, so that was great. When not on the bus, we were following the Liberty Trail, which is a double-brick line that literally goes down the sidewalks and streets of Boston for 3.5 miles, and encompasses all the sites such as Paul Revere’s house (where he lived with his two wives and sixteen children), the Boston Massacre (or “The Incident on King Street” to the British), the Tea Party, Bunker Hill (actually Breed’s Hill, but close enough), the burial site of Revere, Adams, Hancock, and others, and a monument to the 54th Regiment and their leader Colonel Shaw.
Boston is not just revolutionary war history, though! We spent some time in the Boston Public Library, which is the oldest library supported by taxpayers (there are older libraries in the US that were either subscription libraries or donated books), and that building is amazing! They have done a great job combining the old with the new and making it all work. They have dozens of works of art there and an exhibit on Shakespeare, and there were literally hundreds of people utilizing the library on a Saturday afternoon/early evening. Here’s a few pictures:
Just outside the library doors is the finish line to the Boston Marathon. I did run across it, I just had to set down my coffee and donut first. Speaking of donuts, when we are on our trips, we try to eat at local restaurants and not national chains, but I did have a Boston Kreme donut from Dunkin Donuts- because DD began in Boston! We stopped by Cheers, but no one knew our name so we left. In the interest of trying local foods, we also went to the Omni Parker Hotel, which originated the Boston Cream Pie, and had a piece there. And we discovered that Malcolm X was a busboy there, Ho Chi Minh was a pastry chef there, and JFK proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier there (not all at the same time). We also tried seafood chowder twice (delicious both times) and had a lobster roll on our last night. We did not get around to having Boston baked beans, although I did look up why they are famous there (it has to do with the triangular trade route and cheap molasses coming up from the West Indies).
On Sunday, before driving back to DC, we drove through Harvard Campus, where our monkey George was pleased to find the world’s only Curious George store at Harvard Square, and then we drove to Salem to visit the Salem Witch Museum and the memorial to the unfortunate twenty people who were accused of witchcraft and killed in 1692. Salem looks like a pretty interesting weekend destination for people who live within driving range- and teachers get in free to the museum there. Also in Salem is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “House of Seven Gables” and the Peabody Essex Museum.
We like to watch a movie about or set in the locations we visit, so for Boston we had to choose from:
The Departed/Good Will Hunting/Spotlight/Black Mass
Or, settle in to seasons of David E. Kelley’s Boston Legal, Boston Public, Ally McBeal, or The Practice, or there’s always Cheers.