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Boston, Salem

Boston, Salem

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Trip Plan Tags: 
road trip w/rlk
Destinations: 
Boston,
Cambridge,
Lincoln,
Massachusetts,
North America,
United States

No Description Available.

ITEMS

Eating

Oleana, Massachusetts

134 Hampshire Street, Between Inman Square & Kendall Square
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
Tel: 617 661 0505
Website: www.oleanarestaurant.com

To experience what farm-to-table really means, come to Oleana during the growing season. Between April and November, almost all the vegetables chef Ana Sortun immaculately prepares are grown on her husband's organic farm in Sudbury, some 20 miles outside the city. Sortun has also earned a devoted following among the artsy intelligentsia for a liberal use of exotic spices in the Eastern Mediterranean–influenced dishes that emerge from her surprisingly tiny open kitchen: A sculpted disc of smoky eggplant purée dotted with pine nuts complements impossibly tender tamarind-glazed beef, and three pieces of spinach falafel sit on top of a flatbread spread thinly with tahini and topped with yogurt, beets, and mâche (cut lengthwise between the fried balls to make individual roll-ups). Like the food, the restaurant blends natural elements, such as wood and stone, with Middle Eastern accents (woven rugs serve as wall hangings). Book ahead when the weather is nice, and ask for a table in the blooming garden. There's also a spin-off bakery and café, Sofra, across town in the Fresh Pond neighborhood of Cambridge (1 Belmont St.; 617-661-3161).

Open Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm.

Shop

Newbury Street


Website: Newburystreetleague.org

The shopping street to end all shopping streets, Newbury's eight-block span (approximately one mile) is home to some 73 clothing boutiques, 40 art galleries, 30 day spas, and 30 restaurants. Some names are familiar, from Valentino and Cartier to H&M and American Eagle, though others are native to Beantown. Tess & Carlos (no. 141A; 617-262-8377; www.tessandcarlos.com), Dress (no. 221; 617-424-7125; www.dressboston.com), and Matsu (no. 259; 617-266-9707; www.matsuboston.com) all carry big-ticket items by high-profile designers; and Trident Booksellers & Cafe is a nice antidote to the big-box sellers (no. 338; 617-267-8688; www.tridentbookscafe.com).

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See + Do

Boston Duck Tours, Massachusetts

Prudential Center, 800 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02199
Tel: 617 267 3825
Website: www.bostonducktours.com

Put your skepticism aside: This tour of Boston on WWII amphibious vehicles is actually fun and informative (with the occasional historical embellishment). The brightly colored Ducks motor around the city then plunge into the Charles River to catch skyline views of downtown—once you're in the water, you might even get to pilot. The personable guides (sorry, "conDUCKtors") have all passed rigorous tests about city history and lore. You might learn about the chemical reaction that causes some Beacon Hill houses to have windowpanes of bluish-purple glass (and why this is desirable), and the sticky situation the city found itself in after the Great Molasses Flood of 1919. Tickets sell out fast, so if you're intent on "ducking," reserve ahead online (up to five days in advance). Tours depart from (and tickets are sold outside of) the Museum of Science and New England Aquarium; there's also a ticket booth in the Prudential Center.—updated by Jon Marcus

Available daily from March to November and Saturdays and Sundays in December 9 am until one hour before sunset.

See + Do

Freedom Trail, Massachussetts

Boston Common Visitor Center, 148 Tremont Street
Boston, Massachussetts 02111
Tel: 617 357 8300
Website: www.TheFreedomTrail.org

Winding around 16 historical sites, the two-and-a-half-mile Freedom Trail is a good introduction to Boston history—and also to the city's sometimes complicated geography. Pick up a map at the visitor's center on Tremont Street at the edge of Boston Common and walk along the red line on the ground (it's sometimes painted, sometimes lined in brick). While it's possible to walk the trail in an hour or two, leave time to stop along the way. You'll pass the graves of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Ben Franklin's parents at the Granary Burying Ground; Boston's first meeting house, Faneuil Hall, which hosted debates about the Sugar Tax of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765—note the distinctive grasshopper weather vane on the top of the building, and don't miss the little-known military museum in the attic (4 South Market Building; 617-523-1300)—and the Paul Revere House. Dating to 1680, it's the oldest building still standing in downtown Boston, and a good example of Colonial-era architecture, though it's been used for so many purposes since Revere lived there (including, at one point, a cigar factory), and it really doesn't look much like it did then (19 North Sq.; 617-523-2338). As immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," two lanterns (as in "two if by sea") were hung in the belfry tower of the Old North Church to signal the landing of the British in 1775. It's a lovely building, though you cannot climb the tower (193 Salem St.; 671-523-6676). Launched in 1797, the U.S.S. Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in the world that's still afloat. U.S. Navy sailors take you below deck to explain what life was like for early-19th-century seamen, and there's also a World War II destroyer, the U.S.S. Cassin Young, berthed nearby (1 Constitution Rd.; 617-242-7511). Both are free.—updated by Jon Marcus

Guided tours are available daily between April and mid-November. Specialty tours, such as a historic pub crawl, are held the rest of the year. Tickets can be purchased online.

See + Do

New England Aquarium, Massachusetts

Central Wharf
Boston, Massachusetts 02110
Tel: 617 973 5200
Website: www.neaq.org

Located right on Boston Harbor on Central Wharf, the New England Aquarium is home to animals from both the Northeast and around the world. Atlantic harbor seals greet guests from an outdoor habitat, and 3 of the 17 penguin species are represented here—you can use a beam of light to encourage them to play in the water, or show up at 9 am or 2:30 pm for feeding time. There are exhibits on local ecosystems, such as the Boston Harbor Islands, but the centerpiece of the building is the 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank. Start at the top and wind down the ramp to view Murtle the Turtle, a 550-pound Atlantic green turtle, as well as schools of fish, sharks, and rays that rub right up against the glass. The largest IMAX theater in New England, which screens 3-D movies such as Deep Sea 3D (narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet), is housed in an adjacent building. Between April and October, the aquarium hosts whale-watching tours that last three to four hours; book in advance online.

Open Mondays through Fridays 9 am to 5 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 9 am to 6 pm. Summer hours, between July 1 and Labor Day, Sundays through Thursdays 9 am to 6 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 9 am to 7 pm.

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See + Do

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Massachusetts

Columbia Point
Boston, Massachusetts 02125
Tel: 866 535 1960
Website: www.jfklibrary.org

The JFK Library, which opened in 1979 in an I.M. Pei–designed building, is dedicated to the study of the 35th president's life and work, and houses his presidential papers and a museum. Start with a film chronicling JFK's life until the 1960 campaign season, then work your way through exhibits of campaign memorabilia (signs, buttons, and TV ads); video of the Kennedy–Nixon debates; correspondence between family members; and photos of the Kennedys at Hyannisport. It's great for history buffs, but be aware that getting there without a car is a bit of a schlep (on the T's Red Line, then a free shuttle bus); leave about 30 minutes each way. The museum, ringed by a pleasant harborside walking trail, is located adjacent to the University of Massachusetts Boston campus and steps away from the Commonwealth Museum of Massachusetts history, where you'll find original royal charters, John Adams's Massachusetts state constitution, and the copper plates from which Paul Revere engraved his famous etching of the Boston Massacre (220 Morrissey Blvd.; 617-727-9268).—updated by Jon Marcus

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm.

See + Do

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Massachusetts

280 The Fenway
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Tel: 617 566 1401
Website: www.gardnermuseum.org

Isabella Stewart Gardner was an heiress and something of a black sheep of late-19th- and early-20th-century Boston society: She was a rabid Red Sox and horse-racing fan. Tapping into a $1.75 million inheritance from her father (a linen merchant) and husband (a financier and heir to a shipping fortune himself), Gardner personally designed this four-story building, modeled on a Venetian palazzo, to house her extensive collection of art and antiquities. The exhibits include paintings by Manet, Sargent, Holbein, Whistler, Rembrandt, Matisse, Michelangelo, and Titian; 15th-century Flemish tapestries; a first edition of Dante's Divine Comedy; and inscrutable documents—look for the one signed by Marie Antoinette. A visit to the museum is like meandering through the attic of a wealthy, if eccentric, old aunt. Mrs. Gardner believed that art should be appreciated on its own merits, so almost nothing is labeled, though some rooms have laminated information cards that fill in the blanks (and some have blank spaces on the walls where masterpieces hung until they were stolen in one of the greatest art heists in American history). The indoor garden courtyard, filled with citrus trees, orchids, and seasonal plantings, is as impressive as the collection—and there's an explanatory book about it that you can pick up at the information desk. If your name is "Isabella," you will be admitted free, and there's a discount if you have visited the nearby Museum of Fine Arts within a two-day period. (Bring your ticket stub.)—updated by Jon Marcus

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.

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See + Do

deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Massachusetts

51 Sandy Pond Road
Lincoln, Massachusetts 01773
Tel: 781 259 8355
Website: www.decordova.org

More popular with locals than tourists, the deCordova is off the beaten track by virtue of its location, about 16 miles west of Boston, in the picturesque town of Lincoln. The experience is well worth renting a car for the day. Set in a converted mansion overlooking woods and a large lake, the museum focuses on contemporary art, much of it by New England artists. But the real fun here is the sculpture park: 35 acres of rolling hills and wooded areas, populated by about 80 contemporary sculptures. You (and any kids you happen to be toting) will enjoy the time outdoors while taking in a little culture, too. Don't miss Jim Dine's Two Big Black Hearts: two huge bronze hearts with the artist's handprints and various tools, such as hammers and garden clippers, cast into them. If renting a car isn't an option, you can access the museum by taking the MBTA commuter rail (Purple Line) from Boston's North Station to Lincoln and then a taxi (see the Web site for details). And since you're in the neighborhood, you might want to swing by nearby Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden.

Museum building open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 am to 5 pm; sculpture park open daily from dawn to dusk.

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Eating

O Ya, Massachusetts

9 East Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02111
Tel: 617 654 9900
Website: oyarestaurantboston.com

On a side street in the gritty Leather District, O Ya's location is as unconventional as its tantalizingly novel sushi menu. Opt for a counter seat at this industrial-Zen Japanese joint to observe the sushi chefs as they pan-sear foie gras nigiri before topping it with a balsamic-chocolate kabayaki (grilled eel) sauce, or dress thin slices of wild Toyama Bay yellowtail with a mignonette of Thai basil and fried shallots. Dishes from the kitchen are equally inventive, such as crispy shiso (Japanese mint) tempura topped with a bite of succulent grilled lobster, charred tomato, and ponzu aïoli. Of course, such elevated cuisine comes at a lofty price, especially since one person could easily consume five to seven of the small plates (up to $20 apiece). The $140 tasting menu of 14 or 15 sample-size portions isn't necessarily a better value, but it is good for the uninitiated and indecisive. A recent spate of attention—including a Food & Wine Best New Chef award for O Ya's Tim Cushman—makes snagging one of the 37 seats a challenge. Book several weeks in advance for prime-time weekend slots, or inquire at your hotel—the concierge may have an in.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 5 to 9:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 10 pm.

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See + Do

Institute of Contemporary Art, Massachusetts

100 Northern Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02210
Tel: 617 478 3100
Website: www.icaboston.org

Founded in 1936, the ICA showcases work by the likes of Nan Goldin, Mona Hatoum, Paul Chan, and Julian Opie (major exhibitions rotate three times per year). But it's the institute's new building, a cantilevered structure by New York–based architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, opened in 2006, that's really special here. Large wooden terraces overlooking the harbor seem like a giant's staircase leading into the museum, though the main entrance is actually on the opposite side of the building. In summer, the steps serve as an amphitheater for free waterside concerts and performances. Inside are white-on-white galleries, a glass elevator the size of a small hotel room, and a glass-enclosed theater—curtains lower to block natural light from flooding in when necessary. The most dramatic space, however, is the Poss Family Mediatheque. Suspended from the main cantilever at a 45-degree angle, its inclined window frames the water with no land or sky in view, making you feel as if you're about to fall in.

Open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 5 pm; Thursdays and Fridays 10 am to 9 pm (free after 5 pm).

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.