By Sonya Nersessian and Members of the Boston Host Committee: Bill Corrigan; Divya Das; Jan DeWolf; Susan Dey-Sigman; Linda Ng, MD; Sareh Parangi, MD; and Laurel Sgan
Ever go to a new city and wonder what the locals do with their guests when they have free time in their schedules? This Insider’s Guide to Boston will give you some suggestions.
Sky Walk Observatory at the Prudential Center
“This is always the first place we take our out-of-town guests. It provides a great overview to the history, geography and major attractions of the Boston area. There are also a couple of movies that run on a continuous basis. Allow about 2 hours for the visit. Afterward, guests can decide what is of most interest to them.” — Divya Das, spouse of Andy Das, MD
Historic Walking Tours
Recommended by Susan Dey-Sigman
A fun and educational way to experience Boston.
Free Walking Tours
There is no charge for these tours, meaning that you may pay what you feel the tour was worth after it is completed. There is even a running tour of the Freedom Trail for those of you short on time and wanting to get in a run. Tours are usually narrated by a local who is a history buff.
Walk Boston History
This is a tour group operated by a local history aficionado with lots of interesting information! You don’t have to spend a lot of money to learn about a variety of topics including the Boston Massacre and Paul Revere.
An ancestor of Paul Revere, Ben Edwards offers these customized tours and gives inside information with personal papers of his family. This is best experienced with a group of about 10 people.
Boston Architecture Tours
Boston By Foot
“Designed” by the Boston Society of Architects and narrated by Boston by Foot Tours, this architecture tour is a 1.5-hour cruise on the Charles River.
The Boston Public Library
“The Boston Public Library has an art and architecture tour that focuses on its impressive buildings and outstanding art inside. Afterwards, you may try lunch or tea there. The building and courtyard are beautiful. Nice afternoon treat. May need to make reservations for tea to be sure.” — Laurel Sgan, spouse of Adam Kibel, MD
There are so many! Some favorites are:
“Not a common tourist spot, but a great museum for science buffs — high school age and older. It takes about 2 hours to visit.” — Divya Das
“Very different and cool. Appeals to very science-minded kids.” — Laurel Sgan
Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum
People named “Isabella” enter for free. An outstanding small museum established by a woman with very eclectic artistic tastes.
“Have lunch at the Museum café.” — Sareh Parangi, MD, spouse of Aria Olumi, MD
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Recommended by Divya Das and Sareh Parangi, MD
“This is the home of the amazing glass flower collection. Stunningly unusual and unique.” — Divya Das
Peabody Essex Museum in Salem
“Worth the trip north, this is a wonderful museum with excellent exhibitions and a reconstituted Chinese home that is fascinating. Plus, the best museum gift shop ever and, nearby, excellent fried clams.” — Laurel Sgan
Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
This is a great way to experience Boston’s history around the Revolutionary War through interactive exhibits. Very popular with tourists and often suggested by locals.
A visit to “Old Ironsides” is a must for history buffs interested in the War of 1812. However, note that the boat is undergoing a 2-year restoration and so it is in dry dock.
John F. Kennedy Library and Museum and Edward M. Kennedy Institute
These two wonderful museums are right next to each other on a peninsula overlooking Boston Harbor. Really worthwhile to take a trip out there — about 10 minutes away by cab or Uber from the convention center (not in rush hour). You can see almost everything in the JFK Library and Museum in 2 hours, and the exhibit on the Space Race is fascinating. The Edward M. Kennedy Institute is new and there is a replica of the Senate chamber.
Museum of Fine Arts
Don’t miss the spectacular, newer wing of American Art and the Japanese Tea Garden. Note that there will be a blockbuster show, “Matisse in the Studio.” And if you want to experience upscale food at the museum, make reservations for lunch at Bravo on the second floor. It’s pricey but delicious. The less expensive Museum Café on the first floor of the new wing was named one of the best museum restaurants in the country but it doesn’t take reservations.
Museum of Science
This is the place to go, especially if you have children with you. An incredible array of fascinating interactive exhibits await you. And the IMAX films in the Mugar Omni Theater, if you have time, are thought-provoking and interesting.
Other Fun and Entertaining Tourist Activities
Boston Public Garden
The most visited place in Boston is the Public Garden. Definitely check out www.audisseyguides.com as this website is truly spectacular for its audio information. See where the “Make Way for Ducklings” statues are (near the Frog Pond) and take a ride on the swan boats. Head toward the State House (the one with the golden dome) and visit the very famous statue directly opposite the front door commemorating the regiment of black soldiers from Massachusetts who fought in the Civil War.
You can do this by yourself. So much to say about this! It is a 2.5-mile walk through history — past Faneuil Hall and Paul Revere’s House and other sights from Revolutionary days, and across the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the newly completed above-ground art and public space area under which is the Big Dig. Lots of fabulous food trucks on the Greenway as well as very important public art.
Public Art and Statues
Start your own walking tour at the Public Garden and proceed up to Commonwealth Avenue. Find the 40’ tall marble and granite Ether Memorial near Arlington Street and Beacon Street, commemorating the discovery of anesthesia. Get the map from the Boston Art Commission at www.publicartboston.com and check out the other walks at the bottom of the page for the Black History Trail (www.afroammuseum.org) and the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail (www.bwht.org).
Milk Street Cooking School
Have you heard of Christopher Kimball? If you haven’t, you will want to. Take a class or a tour. — Recommended by Susan Dey-Sigman
Student-led Tours of Harvard and/or MIT
Hosted by charismatic students from both schools, these tours regale participants with school history, research and innovation achievements, and stories of classic stunts done by students of years past, like placing a police car on the Great Dome.
These amphibious vehicles leave from the Prudential Center, the Aquarium and the Boston Museum of Science, and travel on land with a tour guide and then enter into the Charles River for a quick boat ride.
Going out into Boston Harbor on one of these cruises will orient you to Boston and its harbor islands. There are historical tours and whale watches, among a variety of sailings, which are lovely on a nice day.
The entire Boston HarborWalk path is 38 miles and is adjacent to the water. However, you can do a nice tour of it that covers just a mile if you start at Fan Pier near the convention center.
This area offers small shops with unusual items, some high-priced stores and others at more reasonable prices. There are also many fun places to grab lunch.
Anchored by Neiman Marcus and Barney’s New York, this mall connects by overhead skywalk to the Prudential Center, with Saks, Lord & Taylor and many other stores to visit.
The Prudential Center
This is the location for the newest Mario Batali restaurant — an eating experience, called Eataly.
Downtown Crossing is a shopping district in a small part of downtown Boston, located due east of Boston Common and west of the Financial District.
Faneuil Hall/Quincy Marketplace
Since 1826, this structure has been serving the Boston public for daily retail foods of meat, produce and dairy to today’s colonnade of eateries, shops, pushcarts and entertainers.
Also known as TD Garden, this large sporting complex is home of the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. Outside, you can see the statue of Number 4 Bobby Orr “in flight” scoring his famous goal.
Home of the Boston Red Sox. Yes, the AUA is going to the game on Friday night, May 12. Check out the AUA Annual Meeting website for details.
Boston is one of America’s great culinary cities! AUA Members and their friends and families share some of their hometown favorites below.
Restaurant Recommendations by Bill Corrigan, spouse of Linda Ng, MD
Best options within walking distance of Seaport-Convention area
Row 34 – Great seafood, craft cocktails and oysters. Linda loves this place.
Oak & Rowan – Just opened in late November. Excellent craft cocktails and creative cuisine, including different types of fish (e.g. Hake on the menu recently) and game (e.g. pheasant appetizer, lamb 3 ways).
Blue Dragon – Celebrity chef Ming Tsai’s city location across the street from Oak & Rowan. Mostly small plates and it’s tiny (a former greasy spoon diner). Ming Tsai is the star of the cooking show “Simply Ming” on PBS and the owner/chef at Blue Ginger in Wellesley. — also recommended by Laurel Sgan
Smith & Wollensky (Atlantic Wharf location, NOT the Castle location in the Back Bay) – This is a very good location with a stunning outdoor patio that overlooks the Tea Party ship. Also there are some nice rooms inside for group dinners. Make sure you contact the right one — NOT the boring one in the Castle in the Back Bay.
Rosa Mexicano – This is excellent Mexican with tableside guacamole and a large list of tequilas and other drinks. Fun place.
Other good places to eat within walking distance of Seaport-Convention area
Legal Harborside, floor 1 – Classic Legal Seafood overlooking the harbor. The standard Legal Seafood menu, including simple grilled fish and raw bar. — Recommended by Divya Das
Legal Harborside, floor 2 – More upscale than the first floor. Serving more experimental dishes and sauces but you cannot get simple grilled fish here. — Recommended by Divya Das
Del Frisco’s – Classic steakhouse with great views of the harbor. A bit overpriced but you’re paying for the view.
Casa de Pedro – New, huge Tex-Mex place. Very fun atmosphere with mariachi band playing, etc. Could be a good place for a group dinner as there are multiple rooms. We think the food is better at Rosa Mexicano but this place is fun and maybe is better now (we went the first week it opened).
Empire – Cool pan-Asian place, sort of a poor-man’s Tao.
Strega on the Waterfront – Classic Italian with good wine list.
Babbo by Mario Batali – Very good pizza, fresh pasta and salads. — Recommended by Divya Das
The Envoy Hotel Rooftop Bar – If you are looking for an interesting venue for a group gathering, they do a nice job at the rooftop bar at the Envoy. Even for a small group, they can cordon off a piece of the roof and have light or heavy appetizers. Great views of Boston.
Not within walking distance of the convention center but worth the ride!
Deauxave – One of our favorites in the whole city, corner of Mass Ave. and Comm Ave. – excellent food overall, French but not over-the-top with sauces, etc.
Ostra – Back Bay, one of Linda’s favorite seafood places in the city. Very nice atmosphere, too.
Douzo – Sushi in the Back Bay (across from Back Bay T Station) – parking next door for $5.
O–ya – Very pricey but excellent sushi.
Oishi – South End sushi, nice atmosphere.
Abe & Louie’s or the Capital Grille – Very fun steakhouses on Boylston. Great places – A&L might be a bit more festive atmosphere.
Island Creek Oysters – Kenmore Square, excellent oysters but they offer everything and have lots of cocktails. Could be combined with a tour of Fenway Park if you want to show people a real Boston experience.
Bar Mezzana – South End (on the first floor of our building), Colin Lynch who worked for Barbara Lynch for 17 years recently opened this to great fanfare. Good crudo and homemade pasta.
Lionshead – next door to Bar Mezzana, a new speakeasy opened by Ken Casey, the lead singer of the Dropkick Murphy’s. Who are the Dropkick Murphy’s, you ask? Only the most famous local Celtic punk band.
Bricco – North End, great wine list and good Italian food.
Mamma Maria’s – North End, more upscale than other Italian places, despite the name which connotes the opposite – right near the Paul Revere House. Still one of my favorites. — Also recommended by Sareh Parangi, MD
Eataly – More casual but a cool experience. Mario Batali’s new Italian experience in the Prudential Center. There are several restaurants within this multi-story complex as well as outdoor, Italian village-style markets.
Café Vittoria – Coffee, gelato and dessert in the North End. Highly recommend skipping dessert at your restaurant and bringing people to this café, next to Mike’s Pastry on Hanover Street. Great gelato and pastries from Mike’s, and coffee and full bar.
Recommendation from Jan Dewolf, spouse of Bill Dewolf, MD
Oceanaire Seafood Room – The food is delicious! Great bar, great atmosphere.
Recommendations from Laurel Sgan
Tatte Bakery and Café and Flour Bakery and Cafe – Both small local chains with the yummiest breakfast, lunch, etc.
Henrietta’s Table at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square – Lovely leisurely breakfast.
Copley Square Farmers Market – Excellent market with plenty to eat; open on Tuesdays and Fridays but no tables.
SoWa Art and Design District – Market on the weekend — worth the ride — food trucks, farmers market, artisanal wares — great vibe, fun! Spans the area from Mass Ave. to Herald St. and from Shawmut Ave. to Albany St.
Recommendations from Sareh Parangi, MD
No. 9 Park (on the Common, small, intimate) – Chef Barbara Lynch’s first restaurant; other three include the pricey but memorable Menton, the fun Sportello and Drink — all within walking distance of the convention center.
Mamma Maria – Italian restaurant located at the North End.
Mare – Seafood restaurant located at the North End.
Grill 23 & Bar – Steakhouse.
Lala Rokh – Traditional Persian cuisine located in Beacon Hill.
Restaurants with an AUA connection
(All owned by Rebecca Roth Gullo, daughter of former AUA Board Member, Robert Roth, MD)
Banyan Bar and Refuge – An Asian fusion experience.
The Gallows – Casual, comfort food with a fun vibe.
Blackbird Donuts – Clearly the best in Boston.
Recommendations from Divya Das
L’espalier – Great choice for a special meal. Impeccable service, French and New England cuisine in the Back Bay neighborhood.
Bistro Du Midi – Well prepared French bistro cuisine in an elegant setting.
Menton – Another great choice for a special meal. Modern French cuisine by Chef Barbara Lynch.
Alden and Harlow – Modern American cuisine in Harvard Square.
Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar – Mexican taqueria with tequila bar in the Back Bay neighborhood.
Flour Bakery and Café – Great for a quick bite. Salads, sandwiches, pastries. 6 locations.
Toro – Great tapas. They do not accept reservations so suggest arriving by opening time, or be prepared to wait! Located in the South End.