Weekend in Boston

Growing up in Connecticut you are one of two types of people. Red Sox or Yankees, Pats or Giants (ok, there are the few, like my family that shamefully love the Jets also), Boston or New York. I have always been a New York girl. My family are hardcore Yankees fans and the quick 90-minute train ride into the city always made it easy to go watch a play on Broadway, explore China town, or window shop on Fifth Ave.

I can count the number of times I’ve been to Boston on two hands, and each time I was with someone else who knows Boston much better than I do. I always took the back seat on planning, exploring, and leading the way. So basically, I feel like I have never been there until last month.

In December my sister and I took a weekend trip up to Bean Town to experience their winter activities, check out the historical sightsee, and find some amazing foodie spots. It was the perfect, preholiday getaway.

Where we stayed:
If you’ve been around here a while you know I love me a good hotel and here we hit the jackpot. Since becoming a travel agent, I have become quite the hotel snob. We spent two nights at Boston Park Plaza hotel, a AAA Four Diamond hotel that is registered with the Historic Hotels of America. We had a Deluxe Room that gave us an amazing view of Park Plaza and sunrise views over Boston Public Garden and Boston Common.

For the most part, everything was within walking distance to our hotel which was great because I don’t like driving through cities I don’t know too much. Also, lucky for us, it was easy on and off of the Mass Pike (Route 90) and Route 93. And while they had easy Valet parking just outside the door to the hotel, there was also an off-site garage about a half a block down the street where we parked.

Where we ate:
Directly next to our hotel was an awesome little Irish pub, MJ OConnors where we ate the first night we got there. Staying true to Boston’s Irish roots I got Fish and Chips. Okay, okay, I know this is a little more English but I’m an Italian girl so that’s as close as you’re getting me to meat and potatoes. While the food was great the drinks were just okay. Stick with what the Irish like and you’ll be good: beer and whiskey.

The next morning, we started with a cold brew from Ziggy’s Coffee Bar before eating an early lunch at 21st Amendment on the north-east corner of the Common. This little, prohibition era themed, whole in the wall reminded me of anyone’s neighborhood bar. I had the 21st Hangover Burger which was topped with a fried egg. Put a fried egg on a burger and I am a happy girl. But they also had a braised short ribs grilled cheese which is defiantly what I will be trying next time.

That night I wanted Italian. Boston is supposed to have fantastic Italian food and I wanted a taste. We headed down Newbury St. to Papa Razzi Trattoria where I started with a Caprese salad. Stepping outside of my normal, penne ala vodka for my first time at a new Italian restaurant, my sister and I both ended up having Porcini Agnolotti, a lightweight pasta with wild mushrooms in a sherry sauce. A. Maz. Zing. UH! Literally probably one of the best dishes I’ve had in a long time. The food was amazing, the service was fantastic. We had to wait a while for a seat, but in the city on a Saturday night, we didn’t expect anything less. Hands down most fantastic meal of the weekend.

We spent the night at Sip Wine Bar and Kitchen and then headed over to Off the Common, our hotel’s lobby bar for a night cap. The next morning, we headed back over the Newbury St. to the Thinking Cup. A cut little local coffee shop with three locations throughout the city.

What we did:
Saturday morning, we woke up pretty early and started exploring the city. We walked through Boston Public Garden and Boston Commons. The cold weather kept the Swan Boats out of the water but was perfect for the ice skaters on the Frog Pond.

We headed east out of the Common. past Granary Burying Ground where Sam Adams and Paul Revere are both buried, past the Old South Meeting House and to Faneuil Hall where we browsed the shops and debated on stopping for another cup of coffee. Tip: If you are visiting Boston to explore the historical aspects of the city, get a Freedom Trail map. We pasted by a lot of important spots like the Boston Massacre Site and the Old State House and had no idea until we were looking at a map later on in the day. Also go out near Faneuil Hall at night. It was freezing so we stayed pretty close to our hotel at night but I’ve been out in that area before and it’s a ton of fun. The Black Rose is fantastic and so much fun.

Across the street from Faneuil Hall is Boston’s City Hall where just behind there was a holiday market with an ice skating rink built for visitors. Boston Winter is open through February and has booths selling all sorts of homemade goods. Olive wood kitchenware, family crest historical pieces, homemade lotions, soaps and candles, and so much more. I loved it.

After spending the morning walking around and exploring, we took an Uber over to the Sam Adams Brewery for a quick little afternoon tour. While I have been on much more in depth brewery tours (Hey Guinness Storehouse!) the tour ended with a half hour long tasting which was super informative and delicious. Super interesting: the Boston brewery on Germania St. is the smallest location of all Sam Adams’ breweries. Because it’s so small, they can’t mass produce much so they use the location to test experimental beers on guests that sometimes go to make bigger batches, and sometimes don’t. We tried a Marzen style nano brew, which I loved.

Boston is a perfect getaway for anyone from New England or even just flying in for a couple of days before heading over to Europe. The food options in Boston were way better than I had anticipated and the coffee shops and little bars were perfect. And for the historians out there, is there anything more historical than Boston? Where’s your favorite spot in Boston? I’m hoping to get up there again this summer and would love some more recommendations!

Day Trip to Salem, MA

Salem, Massachusetts is full of history. From being one of the first fishing villeges in the new world, to the infamous Salem Witch Trials less than 80 years later, there’s so much to see and do in this quaint little New England town. Last weekend I woke a few of my friends up early and made them join me for the three hour trek to Salem. We are lucky enough to be able to make this trip a quick day, but I would recommend a weekend if you really want to imurse yourself in the witchary.

October is the busiest month for tourism in Salem for obvious reasons. So definitely be prepared for a lot of people, and a lot of strollers.

What we did:

the Old Burying Point Cemetery and Salem Witch Trials Memorial
First touristy spot we stumble upon was the Old Burying Point Cemetery and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. I have this weird little love for ridiculously old cemeteries. It’s so crazy to see the families together, and try to figure out what their family relationships were like. Like why are there three *** buried next to each other.

Then we headed just outside the cemetery to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. This is a memorial to the 19 women who were killed in 1693 after being accused of witchcraft.

Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair
Right on the other side of the Peabody Essex Museum is Essex Street where vendors lined the streets selling homemade goods. But if you aren’t there on a weekend they are having the Biz Baz Street Fair there are plenty of stores and museums to wander in and out of. We visited the first weekend of October, which is also one of the busiest weekend of the season. There were strollers and people everywhere. This area is somewhere I would probably not run too next time. Instead maybe visiting during a slower time of year would be better.

Artists’ Row and Salem Town Hall
This beautiful area was a great place to stop inside a few shops, snap a few photos and check out local artist’s work. Starting on coble stone Front St. where there are clothing shops and souvenir shops, we stopped in front of Salem Old Town Hall. Directly across the street we headed down the small ally known as Artists’ Row. A few small shacks line the ally with wood carvings, ceramic pieces of art and plates. This was such a good little find if you like supporting and appreciate local artists.

Where we ate:

Salem Beer Works
For the past 25 years this restaurant has been brewing beer throughout their seven locations in Massachusetts. We headed straight here after parking our car in Salem, and started with a spicy Bloody Mary while we waited for our table to be ready. With bacon mac and cheese on their specials menu the weekend we were visiting Salem, we knew exactly what to share as an appetizer as soon as we sat down. Absolutely amazing. For our meals, the three of us got a burger, a haddock sandwich, and a fried chicken sandwich. All of which were ehhh. Nothing great. I didn’t get to try any of their beers while we were there, but definitely something on my to do list for next time I visit.

Sea Level Oyster Bar
After walking around all day we needed to take a seat for a minute and grab a small bite before we headed out on our three hour drive home. We stopped over by the Derby Waterfront District to get something to eat at Sea Level Oyster Bar. This duel level, inside-outside oyster bar was delicious and I wish we had found it earlier to enjoy a full meal. Two of us had their New England Clam Chowder was fantastic, and I’m not a raw bar type of girl, but the size of the oyster’s my friend got were out of control! This is absolutely a place to head over to, if not for food, at least for a drink with a  view.

Brew Box on Essex
I love me a good coffee shop. Being as basic as they come, I am always be happy with a Starbucks, but when I’m able to find a mom and pop coffee shop, I take advantage. This cute little shop along Essex St. is worth a stop in. And supporting local mom and pop shops is always a good thing.

Parking Tip:
Depending on the time of year you are visiting Salem, parking can be a definite issue and hassle. As we headed toward Derby St. we took a right on Margin St. and parked at a Napa Auto Parts for $20. Across the street the high school cheerleaders were also running a parking lot. While a little out of the way, the walk wasn’t too bad and not fighting the line of traffic to find parking was worth the walk.

Next Time:

Salem Willows Park – At the tip of the peninsula in Salem sits Salem Willow Park. I looks absolutely beautiful and next time will definitely be on my list of places to check out.

The Witch House – The home of Judge Corwin, known for the Salem Witch Trials, his home offers guided and self guided tours with seasonal hours of operation.

The House of Seven Gabels – This famous home of merchant John Turner is a staple in Salem history and deserves a visit.