Boston and beach holidays aren’t always bandied together, despite the city’s bumper crop of sunbathing spots. Head away from the culture-stuffed centre, and you’ll find smooth strips of sand dotted all along the harbourside and coastline. Some tourists take the two-hour drive to Cape Cod for a beach day, when actually there are a bunch of picturesque options right on your doorstep.
Hop in a cab, and you can reach Boston’s longest stretch of sand in around 20 minutes. Revere Beach sprawls out for three and a half miles, with a nature reserve over its shoulder and the Atlantic Ocean at its feet. It’s been a sun-seeking staple for more than a century, and holds the title of America’s oldest public beach.
Constitution Beach comes with views you might not expect – it’s just across the water from Logan International Airport, so you’ve got front-row seats for incoming and outgoing planes. Even if plane-spotting’s not your thing, this lesser-known pocket of sand is well set up for sunbathing. There’s bags of room to throw down a towel, and yacht clubs bookend each side of the beach, so swimmers share the bay with the occasional bobbing mast.
On Fridays and Saturdays, you’ll find the liveliest shopping scene at Haymarket. This open-air collection of fruit and veg stalls is like a step back in time. Prices are lower, and the redbrick streets surrounding it feel more like London than the USA. They’re peppered with English-style taverns and quirky bars, and there’s a big indoor market just across the road.
For the best high street-style shopping, head to Faneuil Hall Marketplace – also known as Quincy Market. This three-pronged promenade lines up stores like Urban Outfitters, Sunglass Hut and a place where you can buy Christmas decorations all year round. Meanwhile, the middle stretch is loaded with restaurants and cafés. Elsewhere, the Downtown Crossing district boasts stores like Macy’s, Gap and Forever 21.
There’s a boutique feel to Newbury Street, with top-end stores tastefully tucked away in traditional buildings. It’s regarded as one of the most stylish streets in the city, and stores like Jack Wills, Barbour and Giorgio Armani line up along each side. Retro comic book shops and laidback cafés add a certain charm, as well.
In the Waterfront district, the bar scene’s got a contemporary feel. It’s less beer and more cocktails, with rooftop terraces and harbour-view places popping up among the skyscrapers.
For an up-tempo night on the town, head to the Faneuil Hall neighbourhood. It’s flush with cocktail joints and Irish pubs, and there’s even a Cheers bar where you can pop in for a drink. Later on, there’s a good selection of nightclubs to pick from.
This hearty dish is a New England favourite, and Boston has a good handle on how to do it right. A creamy soup’s ladled into big bowls, with clams, potatoes and onions piled beneath the surface. Herbs and black pepper add punch, and some places include diced bacon or pork for a hit of saltiness.
One of Boston’s best-known nicknames is Beantown, thanks mostly to the locals’ love of this dish. It first reared its head in the 18th century, when baked beans were mixed with treacle or maple syrup, before a handful of salt pork was stirred in. It’s still a culinary staple to this day, using the same age-old recipe.
You wouldn’t expect a sports stadium to have much clout in the food industry, but Fenway Park’s a different beast. As one of the oldest baseball stadiums in America, it’s had plenty of time to perfect its legendary hot dog recipe. The finished product, the Fenway Frank, has cemented its spot as one of Boston’s most iconic snacks.
It’s a pie, but not as you know it. Forget the pastry – this pie sandwiches custard or cream between two sponge cakes, with a glossy layer of chocolate glazed across the top. It’s so popular, it was named the state dessert of Massachusetts in the Nineties, and there’s even a spin-off doughnut version.
When in Boston, drink like a local. That means a frosty bottle of the local beer, Samuel Adams. It’s the Boston Beer Company’s number-one brew, and is named after the American Founding Father who was born here in 1722. Taste-wise, this caramel-coloured drop is like a malty mix of lager and ale.
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