PARENTS SPREAD OUT blankets and mingle with friends while their children run wild at the nearby playground. Lovers find a secluded spot under the shade of a maple tree, dogs chase Frisbees, and a softball game ensues on the fringes of this city block. It’s a typical spring day. You could be in almost any metropolis in America, but inevitably you’ll come across one of the numerous plaques that read, “Boston Common, America’s Oldest Park, Founded in 1634.” Bostonians like to boast about their city’s lengthy history.
Author Stephen Jermanok Photography Augustus Butera
DAY THREE / Overlooking the Public Garden and just around the bend from the Taj is The Four Seasons’ Bristol Lounge, the spot for power breakfasts during the week and a gluttonous brunch on Sunday. Choose from smoked salmon, eggs Benedict, waffles, and seasonal fruits.
Have the doorman whistle a taxi for your drive to the new home of Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Architects Diller Scofidio & Renfro have built a gem on the water, where each of the floors offers a slightly different vantage point. The highlight for most will be the glass-enclosed fourth-floor galleries, which extend over the Atlantic, offering views of sailboats gliding by and the city skyline on the adjacent shore. Cutting-edge paintings, sculpture, and new media also can be found.
As you’ve come to realize, Boston is a great place to leave the car in the lot and use your legs. Behind the art museum is a section of the growing HarborWalk.
If the weather cooperates, you can take a wonderful 30-minute walk along the waterfront all the way to the North End. You’ll stride by the glass exterior of the Moakley Federal Courthouse, the yachts docked at Rowes Wharf, the New England Aquarium, and Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.
Turn left on Richmond Street and right onto North Street to reach The Paul Revere House and the heart of the Italian community in the North End. For lunch, try the tasty eggplant Parmesan and pasta dishes at Artú on Prince. Afterward, stroll on Hanover Street to Mike’s Pastry for a chocolate-covered cannoli.
Or wait until you cross the Charles River into Cambridge for a bite at Legal Seafoods, near Harvard University. At Harvard Square, you’ll find street performers, including Ecuadorian musicians, mimes, heavy-metal guitarists, and jugglers—all entertaining the ivy-league crowd. You also can tour the Fogg Art Museum to see the excellent collection of pre-Raphaelite works and the Harvard Museum of Natural History, home to a rare collection of glass flowers. Then, grab a Harvard University T-shirt from the Harvard Coop.
Any itinerary in Boston would be remiss without dinner at L’Espalier. Walk up the spiral staircase into one of the rooms of this Back Bay townhouse and you’ll be treated to such innovative fare as seared Hudson Valley fois gras topped with cocoa sable. If the setting weren’t so formal, you’d want to lick the plate. Next up is tender lamb loin that falls off the bone. End with a selection of cheeses from France, Italy, and Vermont and a glass of 10-year-old port or Alsatian Riesling. After all, you won’t be driving back to the Taj. It’s just a short walk down Newbury Street.
Stephen Jermanok, a diehard Red Sox fan and Boston-based scribe, doesn’t have to whine anymore about not winning a World Series since the Babe Ruth era. He’s a contributing editor at Boston Magazine and writes regularly for The Boston Globe.
Boston’s May weather is dictated by one thing: the wind direction. The city is on Massachusetts Bay, which can bring some pretty chilly weather. An easterly wind keeps Beantown cool with high temperatures as low as the mid 40s. Strong westerly winds can produce highs well into the 90s (the record high is 96). The average high temperature for Boston in May is 67 degrees. Summers are warm and frequently humid, but occasional cold fronts and sea breezes bring some relief. Fall is a great time of year in Boston, with warm days, cool nights, and beautiful changing leaves.
Weather information is provided by The Weather Channel. For more Boston climatological details, visit weather.com.
From Boston’s Logan Airport to the Taj and other downtown hotels, you have your choice of taxi ($15–$20), water taxi to Rowes Wharf ($10), or the subway’s Blue Line ($2). Once in town, the most efficient ways to get around are to walk, take the T (subway), or hop into a taxi. With congested one-way streets, confusing rotaries, and high parking costs, driving yourself around the city is no small task.
A Boston Children’s Museum (Tel: 617-426-8855) Perfect for the preteen crowd. Reopened in April after a $45 million expansion.
B Museum of Science (Tel: 617-723-2500) Interactive displays and IMAX theater make this a popular spot.
C New England Aquarium (Tel: 617-973-5200) The four-story ocean tank will amaze all ages. Especially impressive is the large, green sea turtle that swims near the top.
D Boston Duck Tours (Tel: 617-267-3825) Renovated World War II vehicles give tours of Boston via land or sea. Departure points include Museum of Science and The Prudential Center.