Boston will soon re-emerge from under its thick snow blanket just in time to present springtime travelers with clam chowder, baseball games, outdoor concerts and historical reenactments. Whether you set sail for whale sightings in the harbor, cheer marathon runners through the city or eat a picnic on the hushed lawns of Harvard, you can end your winter hibernation by experiencing some or all of Boston’s most treasured spring hallmarks. In no particular order, we present Beantown’s top 10 spring destinations for adventurous travelers of all ages.
First, Boston wouldn’t be Boston without its “chowda,” and in the spring you can find it just about everywhere. Anthem Kitchen + Bar, conveniently located in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, has won or placed second at Chowderfest for four years in a row, so it might be the most obvious place to start. If you’re looking for a memorable New England date without the kids, however, B&G Oysters has more verve. Also conveniently located, they serve guests at 550 Tremont Street. However, if you just want a quick, affordable meal to fuel a busy day, the Boston Chowda Co. has locations throughout the city and its local reputation stands just as strong.
If seafood isn’t the fare for you but still hankering for a distinctly Bostonian flavor, what could beat a slice at Fenway Park? The Red Sox have played in this cozy stadium since 1912, and the city’s Italian-American heritage manifests in lots of great pies throughout the park. The games themselves won’t disappoint either — Boston’s home team won the World Series in 2013 (and 2007 and 2004!). Get your tickets early, they usually sell out before the first pitch. The season opens on April 4 with a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. And don’t forget: you’re in Boston, so you’re rooting for the Sox. Shout it loud!
If culture interests you as much as food, you must see the city’s most famous musical ambassadors, the Boston Pops. Kids younger than 6 would be delighted by one of their kids’ matinees, such as “Oz with Orchestra” on May 10. Otherwise, the Pops themselves start playing on May 7 at Symphony Hall with singer and entertainer Jason Alexander (more famously known as “George” from Seinfeld). Other guests throughout their spring season include film composer, John Williams and Cirque de la Symphonie.
A library may sound like an unlikely required destination, and perhaps it isn’t particular to springtime, but the Boston Public Library surpasses all expectations of what you think a library should be. The second-largest public library in the country, the BPL draws more comparisons to Versailles than to other municipal buildings. Seriously, even if it only had one book in it, and that book was How to Solve a Rubik’s Cube, the BPL would still be a top 10 Boston experience. (Fortunately, it has about 9 million other books, too.)
Out in Cambridge, Harvard Yard will also soothe a bookish craving, in a different way. It’s spring, so you might get to see the famous crew team practicing on the Charles River. Otherwise, try out one of the on-campus museums or just enjoy the college atmosphere without any of the stress of its classes. If you don’t bring a picnic and you’re not watching your cholesterol, try the iconic Mr. Bartley’s Burgers. Along with the standard burgers and fries, you can also get specialty hamburgers named after pop culture icons such as The Beyonce, The Obamacare, and The Joe Biden—all delicious no matter what your politics are! But be sure to hit up the ATM before you go because this restaurant is cash only.
Back downtown, Beacon Hill offers another relaxed sightseeing venue, perfect for spring strolls. Cobblestone streets, gas street lamps, beautiful brownstone buildings and tons of good restaurants await your meandering pleasure. If you fancy sneaking in an afternoon pint at a bar where everybody knows your name — that’s right, Cheers, from the TV show – head on over to 84 Beacon Street.
Of course, a visit to Boston would be sorely incomplete without a walk along the Freedom Trail. While other American colonial cities may boast the signing of a document or the giving of a speech, Boston’s history packs more punch. You will see the location of the Boston Massacre, relics from Paul Revere’s midnight ride, the “one if by land, and two if by sea” Old North Church and some of the actual tea dumped into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party. You can take a tour with a guide if you want to experience everything or you can download a tour map app and do it on your own schedule. The self-guided version allows you the freedom to stop off in Little Italy for cannoli. This is a huge, huge plus.
As we all learned in eighth grade, the Boston Tea Party actually happened in December. But watching its reenactment is much more enjoyable on a sunny spring day! Just south of the city’s famous Public Garden, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum combines traditional museum exhibits with live-action portrayals — even the visitors play a role in the hybrid experience. Tours begin every day from 10am to 4pm. Tickets are a little cheaper online, so buy ahead of time.
If you are up for a sea adventure, take a whale-watching cruise from the Boston Harbor. Cruises begin on March 29 and leave between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Check the Boston Harbor Cruises schedule ahead of time. In addition to sightings of whales, dolphins, and lighthouses, the view of Boston from the water never fails to astonish.
Finally, the Boston Marathon remains the city’s most community-focused spring event. Celebrate with the locals, as thousands of impressively dedicated individuals complete the 26.2-mile run on Boylston Street. (Just across from the Boston Public Library, incidentally. See above.) Stand anywhere from Beacon Street to Kenmore Square to see the runners, but if you want to watch the finish, walk from the green line’s Arlington Street stop to Copley Square. Get there early.
You would still have distinctly Bostonian adventures on a trip to the Cradle of Liberty any other time of the year, but these springtime experiences surpass any of them. Boston is at its most charming just after the snow has melted, when restaurants drag tables and chairs onto patios, and local passersby beam at you in the newfound sunshine. Take a light coat, a pair of good shoes and your loved ones to enjoy that vernal Boston, Massachusetts!