2012 State of the City: What Makes Boston Special

Spring is the perfect time to visit Boston. Bats are swinging, swan boats are plodding along, the Boston Public Garden is in bloom, and hip waterfront restaurants have opened up their terraces. This spring, when many local institutions are celebrating their centennials, is an even better time to get acquainted with these much loved landmarks or to revisit old favorites. We’ve shared some of our favorite spots and walks in this post. Read on, watch the video below, and get excited about coming to visit!

Boston is one of America’s most walkable cities: put on colorful springtime flats and get started on a Boston centennial tour. If you’ve ever met a Red Sox fan you know that Boston’s love for the game is undying. As Jimmy Fallon’s character says in Fever Pitch, “They’re here. Every April, they’re here. . . . And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don’t get divorced. This is a real family.” The stadium is celebrating its 100th anniversary; try to score tickets to a game: if you do, be sure to get a Fenway frank and a beer (we recommend locally-brewed Harpoon). If there’s no game on, Fenway holds hourly tours at very reasonable prices (about $15). Beware out-of-towners, you may catch the fever!

While the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum isn’t celebrating its centennial, the museum just added a stunning new wing. Walk up through the Fens – one of Boston’s revered public spaces designed by Frederick Law Olmsted – towards the museum. The ISG was the home of the museum’s benefactor and has been kept exactly as she designed the building and arranged the art. The museum is famous for an unsolved heist in which a Rembrandt, Degas, Manet and Vermeer were stolen. True to the museum’s character, the empty frames remain.

Tired yet? Take a cab up to Copley Square, there’s lots to see in this area and plenty of shopping on Newbury. First stop at the Fairmont Copley, also celebrating its centennial, for lunch. The Fairmont is one of the city’s premier hotels but is also great for a quick visit. Originally, the building served as the Museum of Fine Arts. Civic planners intentionally designed the square to epitomize the “dawn of the American experience.” When you stand in the square you are surrounded by buildings that represent education, religion, art and civic engagement.

After lunch head up to the Boston Commons to just watch the world go by. Pass through the Gardens, home of the swan boat, on your way into the more casual Commons, a site originally designed for shared grazing land. It’s also the centennial of the Parkman Bandstand, a large fixture on the Gardens.

Beacon Hill and the North End are both short walks from the Commons. We’d recommend strolling down Charles Street, and taking in the beautiful and historic homes on the Hill. At the end of Charles and can walk along the Esplanade towards the North End, a busy neighborhood known for it’s Italian feel and excellent restaurants. It’s been a long day; why not enjoy a casual slice of pizza – we recommend Ernesto’s or Regina’s – and a delicious pastry from Modern Bakery.


Because we’re always looking for new ideas to share with our friends and clients, we want to know YOUR favorite things to do in Boston. Tell us about your favorite way to “Experience Boston” to be entered for a chance to win the Castle Experience Boston contest! What’s in it for you? Besides the thrill of sharing your story with our readers, one lucky entry will win a weekend stay at the Westin Boston Waterfront (2-night weekend stay, dates based on availability). The Waterfront is all the rage, and with warm weather right around the corner (we hope), there is no better place to enjoy Boston’s most vibrant new neighborhood. Just steps from hip restaurants, trendy shopping and fabulous harbor views, The Westin is one of our favorite places to stay/work in Boston and is in the epicenter of all that is buzzworthy in Beantown. Don’t forget, this contest is about EXPERIENCES so we want to hear your narrative! Post the story of your most memorable experience in Boston as a comment on any “Belles of Beantown” blog post April 9th – 13th to be entered for a chance to win. The winning entry will be announced next month when we return on May 7th—LET’S GO!