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Sep 15, 2008 06:10 PM

Almost there!

Well, after what feels like a very long time, my solo trip to your beautiful city is a couple of weeks away...I have planned visits to the Fine Arts Museum, Isabella Gardner Museum, Salem, a day in Newport, a day in Cambridge, shopping in Newbury, a performance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a "foodie" tour of the North End, and just general walking around and seeing the historic and wonderful sights...I have reservations for dinner at Hammerly's Bistro, Oleana, and Prezza's.. Breakfast is offered at my hotel every morning during my stay, and The Oak Bar is at my hotel, so I will probably at least do drinks there...I have ideas for lunches, if I do lunches, at Neptunes and possibly B & G Oysters...I am in town for 8 days...I obviously have a few more slots for dinner, but at this point, I just thought that I would play it by ear....Can you tell me if I am absolutely missing a must do or must dine at opportunity? (For example, is the Kennedy Center a must do?).....Thanks so much for all of your advice......

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  1. Give yourself some time to sit in places like the Public Garden or along the waterfront. We don't have a great street food scene but some of the farmers' markets can offer a fun way to grab a bite and enjoy the scene. There are market at Copley Square on Tuesdays and Fridays, City Hall on Monday and Wednesday. You can also pickup some fresh fruit and baked goods for hotel room noshing.

    You might consider combining your Museum of Fine Arts or Gardner Museum time with Trattoria Toscana on Jersey Street in the Fenway neighborhood.

    Get a 7 day MBTA pass for $15.00. It will allow you to ride the subways, buses and some trains for a great price. You can buy them at any station. If you are flying here, you can get from the airport to your hotel by subway and buy the pass at the airport.

    You may want to have one drink at the Top of the Hub - (Prudential Center) just to enjoy the view.

    And, when you need a break, stop at the Copley Square branch of the Boston Public Library. There is a little cafe with so-so coffee but good tea and the most beautiful, peaceful courtyard. A place to journal your thoughts, relax and even research your next move.

    The best coffee near your hotel is at L'Aroma Cafe on Newbury between Clarendon and Berkeley Streets.

    6 Replies
    1. re: BostonZest

      BZ, I wasn't aware of the peaceful courtyard at the BPL. Cool.

      1. re: pollystyrene

        Best kept secret in town. Great places to impress out of towners not into the museum thing and that need a break from a busy Newbury day. And it's free.

        1. re: sailormouth

          We'll have to do a brown- bag meet-up there some afternoon!

        2. re: pollystyrene

          Here's a little more about it with photos. Has anyone tried the restaurant at the BPL for afternoon tea? The cafe can be okay if you are at the library working and the Copley Market isn't open that day. Soups are not bad especially as the fall sets in.

          1. re: BostonZest

            Thanks, BZ! It's gorgeous; I can't believe I didn't know about it. Are there benches? Chairs? Tables? Do you have to live in Boston proper to get a library card there (for the WIFI)?

        3. re: BostonZest

          If you do the museum/Trattoria Toscana combo, visit the Fenway rose garden on your way. In Cambridge, the glass flower/marine animal collection at the Harvard natural history museum is unique and a good use of a rainy day. Free Sundays before noon. Possible Cambridgey lunch in/near Harvard Sq.: Bartley's Burger Cottage (touristy but in a good way, can be a zoo, no bathrooms), Cafe Pamploma, Cafe Algiers, a slice of Sicilian pizza at Pinocchio's (all in the Square); Plough & Stars (down Mass. Ave. near Central). Harvard Sq. area ain't what it used to be but can still be a fun wander.
          T passes are only sold at certain stations & shops. I recommend just ordering one online.

        4. You sound so excited! I hope our weather cooperates with you. I would add Pizzeria Regina, the North End location only, to your list if you like fantastic pizza. I'd recommend ordering it without toppings so it doesn't get soggy and because they intrude on the pure pizza deliciousness. I'd top it off with cannoli from Mike's.

          Tacked onto your Newbury St. shopping day, walk across the Park and Common to Beacon Hill, poke around the shops on Charles St., say hello to John Kerry and his neighbors on historic Mt. Auburn St., and before or after dinner (Grotto, maybe?), have a spectacular cocktail and the corn agnolotti appetizer or a cheese plate at the bar at No. 9 Park. You will certainly know you're in Boston at the end of that day.

          You may be confusing the Kennedy Center in D.C. with the JFK Library. If so, I'd go to the library only if you're really into the Kennedy's. I find the building and the site breathtaking, but the exhibits on the bland side. I think the Museum of Science and Omni Theater, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Natural History at Harvard--particularly the astonishing beetle collection (and I'm no bug nut)--more exciting.

          Have a blast!

          1. Two restaurant suggestions: The Helmand (Afghanistan) in Cambridge. Really different, and accessible by the T. If you truly love sushi and want to splurge, try Oishii in the south end. Amazingly fresh, very high end, prices to match. I agree that a trip to the North End (and to Mike's pastry) is a must. Oh, and you should walk the Mass Ave bridge from Boston to Cambridge- great views of the city. Check out free museum nights at the ICA and the MFA. Wander around Beacon Hill. Wander around Harvard Yard. Have fun and welcome!

            1. Welcome and a wonderful time.
              Just read about this new Chinatown Tour. 2 1/2 hrs learning the diff many regional cuisines, tips on cooking and storing food, enjoy tasting in local markets, including a bbq shop with Cantonese roasted meats and a local bakery with true chinese moon cakes and bubble tea, an herbal pharmacy leaning the history of chinese medicine and philosophy of yin and yang.. Tour concludes with a lesson in traditional dim sum etiquette adn a dim sum lunch ordered from carts (yum!!!!)

              We live just outside Boston and really want to check this out - has anyone else??

              1. I second the Helmand. Their free bread is awesome, and the two dumpling dishes, mantwo and aushak give me cravings all the time. If you plan to check out MIT, you might want to go after dinner, and walk along the Charles and check out Boston across the river at night.

                If in the Harvard Sq. area, I would recommend stopping at Tamarind Bay. I really liked their lamb dumplings, even if they give you around 4 or 5. The rack of lamb is a good deal though, and mighty tasty. Lizzy's and Herell's are both pretty great Ice Cream joints and they're both in the vicinity. I prefer Herell's for their chocolate pudding and mud pie flavors.

                If you are going to Chinatown, I strongly advise against a tour. There aren't that many large establishments that serve Cantonese Dimsum, so it won't be hard to find. I like Hei La Moon and China Pearl, but Hei La Moon is a bit out of the way. Other than knocking on the table with your knuckles when someone pours tea for you, I'm not sure there's too much else to learn about dimsum etiquette. I would stop at a bakery and get some mooncake though. It's daunting at first with all the freaky flavors, but I'd stick with lotus seed paste if you like sweet alone, and lotus seed paste with salted egg yolk if you like a little bit of savory in there. I think coconut butter buns are a pretty awesome mix between savory and sweet, and most chinese bakery breads are very fragrant with butter or dairy. They make for very appetizing snacks. For more pastry-ish things, I'd go to Eldo's cake house. Their sponge cake is very light, and most things there aren't very sweet. The strawberry cake is good, as is the chestnut paste cake. I like the coconut mochi-ish balls with peanuts inside at most bakeries also. If you're going to buy bakery goods after dinner, only a select few bakeries will be open. For dinner, I would take Penang or Xinh Xinh over Chinese food. Most Chinese restaurants have gigantic menus of which only 1/2 or even 1/3 are good. To top it off, a lot of restaurants have their specials listed on cards that have no english, and those specials are often the money dishes.

                Trattoria Toscana could be stuffed in with the gardener museum, as they are somewhat close.

                I've never been, but every saturday there's a chocolate buffet at cafe fleuri if that's your thing. The prospect sounds a little scary, since I would feel the need to get my money's worth even when my stomach, which would probably be empty of savory foods, protests.

                The Christian Science Center at night is gorgeous, though I would categorize it as more of a romantic thing, it is just outside prudential so if you find yourself there...
                The south end, which is right next door, is also really gorgeous, as far as residential areas go.