I generally stay with my sister, although with my husband, I've stayed at the Four Seasons. It's right on Boston Common, the great park that dates back to 1634, when the town fathers paid a reverend 30 pounds for the property. It's 45 or so acres, and it's one of the country's oldest public parks. The park is gorgeous, but not necessarily in the winter. They have the Swan Boats, on which you can go out on the lake. Very picturesque and quintessentially Boston. I love to go to the North End. My girlfriend used to live down there, and we would always just take a walk and wind up in some incredible Italian café, having cappuccino and pastries. You know, you can't go wrong there.
Bree would, of course, go shopping. Where?
Newbury Street, of course. Fanny and Delphine is a great new clothing store that carries interesting designers for women in Kenmore Square. But we grew up on Filene's Basement. Oh my gosh, that's where you could get a bargain. Everything was about a bargain when I was growing up. My mother loves a bargain. So you could go in there, and whatever thing was top-of-the-line, you could find it at a reduced price. Shopping at one was always a little bit crazy - the one in Boston probably being the most hectic. You are elbow to elbow with people, especially around the holidays. Everybody is there, excited and trying to scoop up some fabulous piece of clothing, and usually you are pretty successful. After you're done shopping and people-watching on Newbury Street, you can relax at the Trident Booksellers & Café, a fantastic bookstore and newsstand with great healthy food. And you can get frozen yogurt next door at J.P. Licks; it's a local favorite. The North End is where you get your cannoli and cappuccino. My friend's cousin travels on the Mass Pike from the burbs to the North End every Christmas morning to pick up cannoli from Mike's on Hanover Street.
Where should we sample the best local fare?
Pizzeria Regina is the famous one, with red-and-white-checked tablecloths. The Flour Bakery & Café is great; it's in the South End. For great Boston clam chowder and other seafood dishes, go to Legal Sea Foods. It's now a chain, but it started in Boston. I love Boston clam chowder. I can't eat that Manhattan stuff. Manhattan clam chowder is red, tomato-based. Boston clam chowder is more creamy and milky. It's fantastic with some oyster crackers. You can get it all over Boston, at Legal Sea Foods, or Durgin-Park, or, even more atmospheric, at Union Oyster House. They shuck the oysters and clams right there. It's been there for nearly two centuries. You can send lobsters from James Hook & Co. and Legal Sea Foods to your family and friends back home by mail.
What are some good neighborhoods to stroll through when you want to walk off all of that delicious chowder and Indian pudding you just ate?
You have to see the South End. There's great food, new boutiques, great architecture. And, of course, Harvard Square is fantastic. Actually, my sister lives right near Harvard Square in Watertown. Harvard Square is just ... you know what's great about it? It feels really smart. ART, the America Repertory Theatre, is right there. They have fantastic plays. You have the campus of Harvard right next door. Then you have fantastic little boutiques and great bookshops like the Harvard Book Store, and people are sitting outside, and it's quaint and quintessentially Boston. Walking through Harvard Yard is always inspiring. You know, some things sort of don't match up to the fantasy, but that one does. It is actually picturesque and romantic, and I always wonder what is going on behind the brick walls, with all of the bright young students.
By this point, we might require some culture. Where are the best places in Boston to
The Boston Children's Museum is where kids rule. As a parent or an auntie, you never have to say no. The displays are all for the kids to touch and climb and play on. Interaction is the rule, not the exception. The Museum of Fine Arts has it all. A great collection, a beautiful building, a wonderful café, and a music and film series. Don't forget about the smaller, intimate Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum just a few steps away. She was kind of a queen of Boston society. She lived in this Venetian-style palace that's now known as one of the great small art museums of the world.