Boston, Part 1

By Nomadic Matt | Published June 25th, 2008

Boston city SkylineWith my time in Boston coming to a close, I decided to really get out and explore the city. It has been ages since I’ve actually explored it. Isn’t that how it is, though? You never really see the city you live in all your life because it is always there. Well, not anymore!

Boston is a small and compact city. It’s easily walkable, and so I broke up my city tour into various walks. My first walk took me around the city parks, the statehouse, and the famous Beacon Hill, the residence of Boston’s elite.

In the middle of the city is Boston Commons and the Public Gardens. The Commons are a combination of a few things: fields for sports, a wading pool, the historic freedom trail, and tree-lined walkways and grassy knolls where you can relax the afternoon away.

During the summer, the Commons are filled with people relaxing out in the sun. Little kids play and splash in Frog Pond while students lay out in the sun enjoying their break. Workers flood the benches during lunch time, catching some fresh air and enjoying the weather before retreating back to their cubicles. Tourists roam the park and groups are often out playing sports. If it is summer, it is packed. With such harsh winters, Bostonians take full advantage of all our nice days.

Boston commons

Across the way is the Boston Public Gardens. A mini-park, the garden is exactly that – a garden. Paths crisscross the area with various flowers and trees dotting the trails. At the entrance stands a welcoming and strident statue of George Washington. It’s a great place to stroll through during the summer and a cool place to photograph in the winter. In the center is a lake filled with swans – both real and wooden. You can watch the real ones float across the pond while couples paddle by in giant swan-shaped boats. Float across the pond and watch all the people and animals. It’s our mini-Central Park, and exploration of both the Public Garden and the Commons is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Boston public gardens

Right next to these parks is Beacon Hill. Beacon Hill is home to our golden-domed statehouse, where all the legislative action happens and people like John Adams and John F. Kennedy used to roam the halls. The surrounding neighborhood is home to Boston’s historic colonial houses where Boston’s upper class used to and still does live. It’s here you’ll find tiny cobbled streets and lampposts, colonial mansions, and stately brick homes. You’ll see colonial actors leading tour groups through the area, explaining the history of all the homes and the leaders who used to live here. This area was home to the likes of John Adams and John Hancock. It’s a neighborhood drenched in history – political, cultural, and architectural. It is reminiscent of the historic area of Philadelphia.

Boston beacon hill

Suffolk University, my graduate school, is located near here, and, while I frequently walked the outlying streets of the area, I never really explored all of Beacon Hill. I had always made plans to do so, but it never worked out, so it was good to finally make time for it. If any of you are in Boston, do not skip this area. It is a walk back in history, something Boston has a lot of.

For more information on the United States, visit my country and city guide to US travel.

comments 11 Comments

Russ

Nice article Matt! I am a fellow Bostonian as well, I live over in JP.

Beacon Hill is definitely a great part of downtown to roam at night with its charming gas-lamp lined streets. Your description of The Common and all its activity is right on. It is the ultimate spot for relaxing on the grass and just watching all the people do there thing. Looking forward to the other parts…

Cheryl

Your timing on this post was perfect! I’m looking forward to hearing all about Boston from you. I can’t wait for my trip there! What are your recommended *can’t miss* haunts?

I love that there is so much green space in Boston.
Even though it’s a major city you never feel smothered as you sometimrs do in say New York.

If it weren’t for those winters, Boston could be on my list of places I’d like to live. But damn I hate cold weather. It’s a lovely place in summer though.

I can’t wait to read the rest of your Boston posts. To be honest, I don’t think I have ever trekked beyond Beacon to really explore the neighborhood, I should get to that.

NomadicMatt

@Quick: that’s another reason why I like Boston. More open space.

@Theresa: Same! I hate the cold. That’s why I migrant to asia every winter! nice and warm!

@sforshner: Where in the city do you live?

Lovely article ..your pictures are literally taking me there..Ive always postponed exploring the cities where Ive lived..sometime I must take a cue from this and explore Bangalore and Madras

Ron in L.A.

Boston is one of my favorite cities. A fantastic food town, a great place to spend several days. Unfortunately, it’s been 2 years since I last visited…

R(etc… )

I can see lots of similarities with Bristol in the pleasant public parks and the older historic neighbourhoods.

Gillian

Sounds like you and almostfearless are both madly trying to see your home cities before you leave. I have always been a fan of being a ‘tourist in your home town’ but there are certainly sights that I should still get out to.

Good Luck!

NomadicMatt

@gillian: Almostfearless and I are from the same city! :)

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