Clam chowd(ah) and Sam Adams, The Freedom Trail and the Cheers Bar are just a few iconic Boston attractions. But this coastal city has so much more to offer than what you read in the guidebooks. Areas like the West End are right next door to the city’s most picture-worthy mansions. Across the river in Cambridge, off the beaten path bookstores and bagel shops are frequented by the country’s best and brightest.
Overlooking the Charles River with views of Downtown Boston is the 236-room Kimpton Marlowe Hotel. Meander through its otherworldly courtyard, and you’re in a prime location to stroll through Cambridge or walk across the bridge into the West End where the stylish Kimpton Onyx Hotel and the rest of Boston await. Here’s how to explore these standout neighborhoods like a local.
Boston may have its roots based in England, but there’s a lot more than just baked beans for breakfast. The Paramount is a no-frills West End institution serving up comfort food. This cafeteria-style spot is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but their breakfast, especially their cinnamon French toast, really shines. Down the street is another Boston breakfast mainstay called The Friendly Toast. To score a coveted table at this retro diner, come early and expect a wait.
Across the river in Cambridge, Bagelsaurus creates unique handmade bagels, spreads and sandwiches. Try the Charcuter-brie with French brie, fennel salami, salted butter and arugula—you won’t regret it.
Boston is one of the country’s premier cities for education and museums. With its history dating back to the 1700s, the West End has multiple historic mansions available for viewings. The Otis House Museum is the only mansion still standing in the neighborhood. Built in 1796, it was the home of former Boston Mayor Harrison Gray Otis and is now a National Historic Landmark. Tours of this brilliantly restored Federal-style home are available from April through November, Wednesday to Sunday.
Afterward, walk by the famous George Middleton House, the oldest surviving home on Beacon Hill built in 1786. Its namesake was a general in the Revolutionary War and a leader in Boston’s African American community. Today, the home is a private residence.
Over in Cambridge, walk through Harvard Yard and soak up the history of the world’s most notable educational institution. Just down the street is the Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site. This is where iconic poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived and where George Washington set up his headquarters during the Siege of Boston in 1775.
Ducks in a Row
The kids will love Boston’s famous “Make Way For Ducklings” sculpture. Just down the street from Kimpton Onyx Hotel, inside the ethereal Boston Public Garden are a row of bronze ducklings following their mother. This classic childhood story tells the tale of a family in search of a home to raise their children. The ducks decide to settle on an island in the middle of the Boston Public Garden, surrounded by the iconic swan boats. Today this sweet statue serves as a place for children to play and a family photo op.
Another place full of ducks is the Charles River. Not flying ducks, but duck boats. These amphibious vehicles are incredibly popular with tourists and book early. Thankfully, both the Kimpton Marlowe and Onyx have nearby boarding stations, which makes sightseeing along the Charles River in a Duck Boat easily available. In addition, the Kimpton Marlowe‘s fleet of kayaks and paddle boards offer a fitness-friendly means of perusing the bank between Cambridge and the West End as well.
Bookworm Buys or Boutique Books
Once you’ve perused The Harvard Coop head to nearby Raven Used Books in Cambridge. This eclectic bookstore stocks 15,000 books including discounted bestsellers, scholarly titles and used classics. If sonnets and haikus are more your beat, the historic Grolier Poetry Book Shop has you covered. Operating since 1927, this charming store focuses entirely on poetry books and readings. Rodney’s Bookstore is another off the beaten path local favorite with used books, posters and knick-knacks.
Back in Boston, on glamorous Newbury Street is Trident Booksellers and Cafe. This beloved neighborhood shop sells independent books and bestsellers as well as a mean Cape Codder sandwich.
Wander Boston yourself, and it won’t be long before you find even more hidden gems of your own.