Boston is a city of great variety and great stature. My excitement about meeting it has grown exponentially in the last two or three years with a developing interest in American history—a subject I passively glazed over from grade school to high school—but it’s also a vivaciously dynamic city with much more going for it than just its revolutionary tales. I’m sharing five of the best places I visited during my week in town. Unintentionally, many of them do happen to have great historical significance; the city’s fabric is just woven too tightly with the thread of a nation’s beginning to ignore.
Boston Public Library — 1848
If you’re asking a librarian (which you are) it doesn’t get much more romantic than city libraries, and the Boston Public Library easily clinches a spot in the top three of several I’ve been lucky enough to visit. Established in 1848, everything from its art collections to the courtyard fountain to the building itself, its stateliness is overwhelming and beautiful, and an entire afternoon could easily be dedicated to combing through its extensive collection. Don’t miss Bates Hall to get the iconic and studious green lamp shot.
Beacon Hill — 1795
One of the oldest neighborhoods in America, there’s nothing to dislike about Beacon Hill. Also home to one of the most photographed streets in America (Acorn Street), prepare for perfection abound in every lane. Take a few minutes and stroll through each street for as long as you can handle it. Every exquisite home is unique in its façade, and some even stand out as historical gems with a bit of a back story. It presents itself as the ideal neighborhood, and it should be. It’s had the most practice out of anyone on the mainland.
Freedom Trail — 1634-1809
You can’t do Boston without doing the Freedom Trail. A major revolutionary hub, just about everything happened in this city short of signing the Declaration. It’s extremely entertaining to start at the head of the green line—there’s a literal paint line along the sidewalk that takes you by each landmark—and follow the crowd along the 3 mile stretch of history. The highlights? The Old Granary Burial Ground, where you can pay your respects to Paul Revere and Mother Goose; The Old North Church; and my personal favorite, the Old Corner Bookstore (frequent visitor Louisa May Alcott’s work was published here!) which is now, sadly, a Chipotle.
Regina’s Pizza — 1926
Not everything in Boston is as old as the hills. Like every other city in the world, everyone in Boston has their own opinion about the best slice. The only one I made time for was Regina’s Pizza, and I can still taste the perfectly seasoned sauce. A small, always-bustling space in the lively and cozy North End, the atmosphere is warm and joyful because everyone sitting there wants to be (be prepared to wait in an outdoor line). The pizza is served fast and hot, and the bathrooms are laughably small. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a family-run space tucked into a city corner, draped in twinkle lights and autographed celebrity headshots.
Harvard University — 1636
I went to Harvard for Legally Blonde, and I stayed for all the other reasons. Harvard surpassed any expectations I may have set for it (I don’t recall if I had any, now that I’ve been), but I felt its importance in every step on the pavement. Besides the fact that it’s Frasier Crane’s alma mater, thousands of vastly important (real) people have attended and walking in the footsteps of some of the smartest people in the world made me wish I had a sliver of their commitment to learning. It’s been around since 1636. Let that sink in. It’s also home to the second largest collection of secular stained glass in the world, which happens to be housed in the freshman dining hall. It’s this kind of weighted casualness that makes walking the campus a progressively humbling experience. Learning historical facts about a place when you’re standing literally in the middle of it always tends to strike a stronger chord.