American History; Boston Style (With Martinis)

WHY GO? Boston, MA will be forever linked to America’s revolutionary stirrings – Tea Party, anyone? – and in 2013, the Old State House celebrated its 300th anniversary.  Even if you snoozed through history class in High School, there are plenty of engaging ways to learn about our nation’s birth here, from Tea Party reenactments to Ghost Tours. Boston’s major highways have gone underground (The Big Dig), the putrid harbor has been cleaned up, and now it’s time to rediscover the city that made Paul Revere a household name.

Skyline of Boston MA at night - lights of Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall - Boston MA

Things To Do In Boston

WALKING TOUR:  First-timers to Boston should meander the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail – a self-guided walking tour that ushers visitors by (and into) 16 highlights of the American Revolution. Starting at $125, hire your own personal (or group) costumed tour guide to take you along on an entertaining trip through history.  Start at the Visitor’s Center and sign up, or purchase a walking tour booklet. You can also book online.

VISIT: The Old State House. Built in 1713, the Old State House is the oldest surviving public building in Boston.  Initially it housed the Council Chamber of the Royal Governor and offices of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Our Founding Fathers debated the future of what were then British Colonies within these walls. The Boston Massacre took place right outside, and the barely dry Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony to a patriotic crowd below.  Listen to storytellers expound upon the history of the building, take a guided tour of the Boston Massacre site, and watch a thrilling multimedia presentation through Revolutionary Boston at the Old State House.

VISIT: Tea Party MuseumYou’ll be revved up by agitators, dump bales of tea into the harbor, and stare agape at put-you-there holograms. But will you be tar and feathered?  That remains to be seen at this ingenious Living History museum that puts you in the middle of the action.  Learn about the original Tea Party in the very place it happened. $25 adults, $15 kids.

Where To Eat In Boston

SNACK/COCKTAILS: North 26 gets high marks for libations like “Cupcake Tini,” and blue-cheese-stuffed martini olives that, when soaked in Chopin Vodka “opens heavens gates,” according to one fan.  You and 11 friends can hold court at the Chef’s Table adjacent to an 18 ft. tall glass wine case, and enjoy inventive bites like Mushroom-Onion Gallet and superb grilled calamari.

EAT: Quincy Market/Fanuil Hall is less known for its culinary star turns and more for its pubs, shops, pushcarts and tourist traps.  If you have never been there, go to say you have.  Otherwise, wander to Neptune Oyster in the North End and slurp down a few of those pearl-makers.

DRINK: Are you 21 or over? Is it Tuesday? Do you enjoy beer and stories of Boston’s treasonous events? Led by an 18th century costumed guide, this “Historic Pub Crawl” includes a tour of Boston’s oldest and finest bars (Union Oyster House, the Point, the Green Dragon, and Bell in Hand) and samples of a variety of Samuel Adams beers and light fare. The 90-minute outing is offered every Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m., and begins at the BOSTIX Booth at Faneuil Hall. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance. $43 per person.

Where To Stay In Boston

STAY: Millennium Bostonian Hotel The Millennium literally sits atop U.S. history, spitting distance from Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall. When the Bostonian Hotel was built over 60 years ago, architects were required to preserve a maze of historically protected cobblestone alleyways – some only a few feet across – within the building’s footprint. They did this by designing three separate structures joined by enclosed skywalks from which visitors can now peer into our nation’s past.  After a recent $25 million redo, gone is the stodgy décor and in its place is one hell of a stunning and exotic hotel lobby. Shiny red and black lacquered bookshelves, cherry-hued area rug, charcoal-grey floral brocade couch, zebra-skin stools, and large gold apples accessorize the gateway into this service-is-key hotel right across from historic Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall.

Chic colorful hotel lobby - red lacquer bookshelves - zebra striped stools

Your sleeping quarters might front a cobblestone byway or Quincy Market and the Big-Ben like clocks of Faneuil Hall.  Huge travertine bathrooms feature rain-shower heads in a glass shower fit for two, and custom toiletries include an arm-sized loofa. Ask for Room 442, which gives you dead-on views of the market and a perfect perch from which to catch street performers.  If you’re lucky, you’ll hear the sweet sound of a saxophone playing The Star Spangled Banner as the sun goes down. Room rates from $260-$600 in high season includes complimentary organic coffee in the morning and homemade lemonade in the afternoon.  WiFi costs $9.95 per day.

STAY: XV Beacon. Devotees of XV Beacon include politicos, celebs and refined-luxury hounds who check in to this 62-room boutique hotel for an Old World Boston Brahmin mansion experience complete with contemporary amenities. Within steps of the (new) State House, a stylish abstract black and white parlor that serves as lobby often buzzes with locals (and visitors) making plans.  Picture yourself post…..shower; in your Frette bathrobe, sprawled out on a luscious pillow-top contemporary four-poster, reading a delivered-to-your-door New York Times in front of a flick-of-switch gas fireplace.  Walls and floor, accessories and bedding, are in coffee colors of every permutation from café au lait to dark Arabica. And unexpected architectural details – like chunks of crown molding that break up the brushed nickel fireplace façade – give the crisp, modern aesthetic an interesting twist.  $375-$1500 per night for rooms and suites includes complimentary in-town chauffeured Lexus Sedans, complimentary shoe shine, free wi-fi.


In Category: Arts & Culture, Massachusetts

Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of newly released cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday and New England Boating Magazine (formerly Offshore/Northeast Boating Magazine), with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

Show 3 Comments
  • Adam May 29, 2013, 2:23 am

    As someone who lived in Boston for quite a while, you’ve certainly covered the basics. XV Beacon looks like a lovely hotel – I hope to stay there on a future visit!

  • Tony Trots Globe May 20, 2015, 12:04 pm

    Have only been once, but I have to say that Boston just “feels” like America and all the places you have mentioned are perfect. Neptune is a great place, but don’t ever forget Lucky’s little family bakery in the North End, either! Great post.

  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen June 27, 2015, 8:38 am

    Thanks for the shoutout, Tony!! Yes, Boston has such history. One of my favorite American cities! Malerie

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