WHERE TO START
When I’m planning a trip I always start at the beginning... How am I going to get to my destination? Whether it be by train, air or renting a car - I first decide this. When it came to planning my Boston trip, the Amtrak Train was my first choice. A few of my friends recommended this mode of transport, as you are able to see the ever-changing countryside, heading North towards Boston, which is beautiful. I have since realised that I am a big fan of the Amtrak, and highly recommend using it to get around when in the USA , where ever possible. I headed over to amtrak.com to sort out the best priced tickets. If you are really on a budget, it’s best to travel early morning before peak hours; you can get some really good deals, but for me who is not such a morning person I decided to grab the 9AM train.
WHERE TO STAY
Once I had booked my round-trip tickets, I then moved on to my next order of business; finding the near perfect accommodation. Perfect would be the Four Seasons, but alas my budget doesn't allow for that just yet. When travelling somewhere especially for a short period of time, my main objective is to find a hotel or Airbnb in the centre of the city that is close to public transport and within walking distance of my areas of interest. When it came to Boston I didn’t know where to start, when it came to finding accommodation, or what area to stay in, it was the great unknown for me! So I did some research to figure out where I should stay, and there were two options; the North End and then South End, towards Boston Common. I was to arrive on the South End by Amtrak and I figured out that would be a 15 minute Uber to get to my hotel, which was perfect. I searched Trivago for some deals on hotels and came across a really great one for the Bostonian Hotel, which seemed central, safe and based on reviews; clean which was everything I needed. I knew it wouldn’t be the most Instagramable room, but on the plus side it had a quaint balcony facing onto Quincy market (and a Sephora, oh dear) with many other local attractions nearby. Visiting Boston again I would most probably look for an Airbnb in the South End which is lovely area with great restaurants and quaint stores nearby.
WHAT TO DO
My next order of business was to decide on what I wanted to see, eat and experience whilst in Boston. I found a lot of great suggestions from Sara Fennel of Broma Bakery who had recently mentioned some great places in one of her Instagram stories (which I had screen grabbed, not knowing I was going to visit Boston - the universe right?!). I also did some more research via Instagram and Google for any blog posts about Boston, and then I picked out what I think I would enjoy, saved the locations into my Google Maps (this was something new I began doing this past year whilst travelling and it made everything so much easier and cost effective for me), so I could figure out where everything was. By doing that it helps me plan my day, figuring out in what order I want to eat, shop and explore. Getting around isn't cheap in the States, so heading to certain areas and walking ends up saving a lot money.
One thing I really wanted to do while in Boston was visit the SOWA market, which only takes place on a Sunday so I planned my train to arrive midday, head to my hotel and check in, then make my way to the market. Spending a Sunday perusing markets is one of my favourite past times. The market was great as it had the arts and crafts and as you walked a few blocks food trucks appeared, in a circular formation in an empty parking lot. Strings of lights hung from inside and industrial building, where everyone found seating to enjoy their foodie finds and enjoy the local band of the day, the vibe was great! Unfortunately I had spend too much time choosing artwork and arrived as the food trucks were shutting their hatches, but I did manage to find the most delicious Thai basil lemonade and without a doubt the best doughnut I have had the pleasure of devouring from Blackbird Doughnuts, a classic vanilla doughnut, that was soft on the inside crunchy on the out - it was perfect!
I then took a look at my map and the places I had pinned in the surrounding area, it was a short walk towards Coppa Wine Bar, the neighbourhood enoteca - which was high on my list, so I decided to head through the beautiful suburbs towards Shawmut Avenue, along my walk I discovered the cutest dog bakery, Polkadog and yes knowing me I had to purchase something (Molly still enjoyed the biscuits 2 months later, when I returned home).
At Coppa I settled on ordering a cold glass of rose and a simple cheeseboard. The atmosphere was great! I only wish I could’ve had room to sample more of the menu, but the table next to me ordered each course and I was able to see how perfect the offering was. After all the walking I decided to grab an Uber back to my hotel, returning I made the decision to pour myself a gin and tonic and spend the evening in with Netflix & room service.
One thing I am terrible at is waking up! Especially when I’m cocooned in a soft delicious hotel bed. So I decided to plan my day around brunch, which I always think it’s a good idea! Tatte Bakery was high on the list of places to try as I’ve been following them on social media for as long as I can remember. I then remembered my full proof way of getting around the city and seeing all the sites at a decent price, a hop on hop off bus - but in this instance in Boston a trolley. I googled where to find ticket office, conveniently it was so it was a stones throw away from my hotel. I purchased my ticket and headed to the first stop and patiently waited for the driver to begin the tour. I must say the driver was incredibly entertaining had a great sense of humour, I learnt quite a lot of interesting info about Boston in that short 20 minute ride - before I decided to jump off at the Boston Common. This was my closest stop to Tatte Bakery. I walked through the common and took in the beauty of the everyday life and the local Bostonian people. I opened the door of the bakery and the warmth of Tatte enveloped me. A croissant with scrambled eggs, tomato & arugula was my choice of the moment, a warm flat white and to finish zesty lemon tart. Satisfied and warm I headed down Newbury Street towards the Back Bay which was lined by some great high end stores. At this point I made the decision not to head towards Cambridge and Harvard as I had already walked about 15miles and my feet were growing weary. Next time...
WHAT TO BUY
One thing I always look for in a new city I am visiting is a Christmas ornament, I love the idea of having my tree covered in all those beautiful memories and places! I also like sourcing prints that are relevant to the city I visited, I can then take home to frame. Apart from that I didn't find anything in Boston that I would recommend sourcing. Although Sephora and I had a rather expensive date :)
Jumping back on the trolley - I headed in the direction back to my hotel, an icy wind had picked up and a hot shower was needed. I had noticed on my tram ticket a boat ride was included in the tour, after warming up and adding a few more layers I took a 5 min walk from my hotel to the harbour, to the boat. My favourite way to see a city is from the water. I think it gives you a great perspective. Although cold, I really enjoyed the views of the grey, historical city.
After the chilly boat ride, a serious coffee was needed! Quincy market was still on my list of places to explore, and as it was right next to my hotel - not a more convenient dinner location. I acquired my coffee from Magnolia Bakery, and decided I was in the mood for some hot chips as my final meal of the day.
I woke to the rain streaming down my hotel windows, as I was only leaving Boston in the afternoon, I had some time to kill - a trip to the cinema was my go to. I ended up at a rather new cinema on the North End, that basically had a restaurant and you could take nachos into the cinema. Life changing right?? A quick Uber ride back to the Amtrak station on the South End and I was on my way back to New York City, with a whole new bag of memories, some dirty laundry and the cutest Christmas decoration.