You only have one day to visit Boston? Let’s make the most of it.
My travel partner and I recently returned from an amazing week in the Azores. Since we were departing from Boston Logan Airport and we were both flying in from the Pacific Northwest, we’d figure the safest (and most fun) bet would be to fly in the night before our international flight, giving us 24 hours to explore Boston. So move over Anthony Bourdain, this is my Layover: Boston Edition.
Straight off the bat, if you’re taking an Uber/Lyft ride, use extra caution at pickup area at Boston Logan. Be careful and stay behind the line so you don’t get clipped by a car darting into the pull through parking spaces. After I ooohed and aahed at all the architecture during the drive from the airport to the Financial District, we arrived shortly thereafter at our digs for the night, the beautiful and hip boutique Godfrey Hotel Boston. The Godfrey is located in the epicenter of it all, Boston’s Downtown Crossing.
Godfrey Hotel Boston
505 Washington Street
We settled into our corner room, unpacked our bags, pulled open the curtains and soaked in the view of the city as the sun set behind the skyline.
From the flat screen TV on the wall, the million dollar view and the modern styling including a periodic table of elements theme, I was right in my element.
Downtown Crossing is in the heart of the city and in general, the city itself is very walkable. After we decided that yes, we would actually brave the elements outside, we pulled on our scarves and boots to head to Chinatown, which was just a 5-minute walk. After a quick check on Yelp for Chinese restaurants, we decided on a dinner of dim sum, followed by an exploration of Chinatown and an early night. When we party, we party HARD. Like putting on the complimentary robes, watching Netflix in our room and talking about the Boston Public Library.
After a cozy night in our comfortable beds, we had only 12 hours to tackle Beantown. Now I’m sure Boston can be a delightful city when you walk the Freedom Trail in the warmth of the summer sun, but when we arrived on the first day of Spring, the temperature plummeted and an actual gale advisory was in effect. Apparently Boston didn’t get the memo that it was Spring. The forecast predicted a high of 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but it felt like 6. So layered clothing and hot coffee was in order before we started our day.
“I guess no true Bostonian would trust a place that was sunny and pleasant all the time. But a gritty, perpetually cold and gloomy neighborhood? Throw in a couple of Dunkin’ Donuts locations, and I’m right at home.” ― Rick Riordan,
Did I mention that the Godfrey Hotel is connected via the lobby to artisanal coffee shop George Howell? If the in-room Starbucks Keurig served in cups printed with T.S. Eliot and Hugh Jackman quotes aren’t enough to kickstart your morning, simply walk downstairs to George Howell and grab an almond milk latte (my drug of choice) and a breakfast sandwich. This coffee company is keepin’ it G by supporting the coffee farmers and providing a dedication to excellence in both coffee quality and service.
No seriously. There was a Hugh Jackman quote on my in-room coffee cup. Clearly, the Godfrey Hotel and I are soulmates.
Oh that wasn’t enough? How about some T.S. Eliot poetry with a view of the city from my cozy bed? It made my literature major heart sing with joy. Or perhaps it heart palpitations triggered by caffeine. Whatevs.
We wanted to head back to the airport around 7 pm for our flight to the Azores, so we planned our day over a light breakfast at George Howell. With only a little bit of tourist shame, we decided to take a tour on one of the many Hop on/Hop off tour buses because it was too cold to spend the whole day walking in frigid winds and it would provide both our transportation and a little background information on Boston’s history. (This was my first time to Boston and my travel partner’s millionth. Because she’s an awesome human being, she is always a good sport and willing to revisit monuments, museums and attractions even if she’s been there for the upteenth time.)
Boston is a compact, walkable city and you can complete the tour bus loop in about an hour. After the first loop, you know where you’ll want to hop off on the second time around. It’s a great way to get an overview of the landmarks, sites and cultural history of Boston – from the delightfully off color story about General Hooker (you’ll pass by the General Hooker Entrance at the State House), to the Great Molasses Tragedy, to the first reading of the Declaration of Independence in Massachusetts.
Check out the TripAdvisor Reviews for CityView Trolley Tours and Old Town Trolley Tours. Do tip your tour guide/bus driver.
The two striking things about Boston:
- It’s so freakin’ cold
- There are SO many Dunkin’ Donuts. This town is clearly running on caffeine and carbohydrates.
Any guesses on our first stop? Not Dunkin’ Donuts, but something even better…the legendary Mike’s Pastry in Little Italy. (FYI, this was not a great week to have just started a diet.) There are endless trays of pastries, from classic croissants, to cannolis to the quintessentially Boston Lobster Tail.
I wanted to head to Luke’s Lobster, but in the interest of time, I settled on grabbing a lobster roll from a vendor at the Quincy Market. Big, sad, tasteless mistake. I’m sure there are plenty of delicious lobster roll options at the Quincy Market, just not where I purchased. Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall are in close proximity, so you can check them out at the same time.
My Mini Must See List:
- Mike’s Pastry
- Boston Commons
- Freedom Trail
- Boston Public Library
- Trinity Church – art and architecture
- A pub – we hit up Bell in Hand for some good old American beer. This pub has been around since 1795.
While Boston may be famous for the Cheers bar, we would be remiss to neglect its history of Irish pubs and there are plenty of them. Hop over to Boston Magazine for their top 17 Irish pubs. Directly across the street from Bell in Hand is a public Holocaust Memorial that is utterly emotional. Absolutely take the time to walk through the etched glass towers and read the survivors’ quotes. This is town built on freedom and this sobering memorial is a call to action to not be silent when freedom is at stake.
After a couple of ales at the Bell in Hand, we walked 30 minutes to the Boston Public Library, which is a magnificent architectural work both outside and inside surrounded by beautiful churches. I would be too embarrassed to admit that we found ourselves walking reverently through the Law Library section in awe as if we had been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and then stood at a carrel reading encyclopedias while our phones charged. So I won’t admit that. If someone happened to see a tall redhead reading an encyclopedia about Portugal, it was just someone who looked like me.
After our 17,000 steps according to Fitbit, we walked past the Paramount concert venue and the beautiful Boston Opera House to fetch our luggage from the Godfrey before departing on the next leg of our adventure – The Azores.
Boston, that’s a wrap for this visit. See you next time, but only if you promise to be warmer. What about you? What are your “Must See” sites in Boston?
Disclaimer: The Godfrey Hotel graciously hosted us but all opinions are my own. Because seriously…a chic boutique hotel that’s still affordable and located next to a Chinatown?! I am so in love. I am looking forward to staying with them when I’m in Boston or Chicago.